Monday, July 28, 2014

3 Distinctly Different Milestone Charts- 1 Mother

I woke early this morning to get some work done before tiny eyes popped open and little hands started grabbing for mommy. I was sitting at the dining room table, typing as quietly as possible as sleeping babe #3 was mere feet away in his pack 'n play. 3 bedrooms- 3 young children- for us this means that one is currently sleeping in the dining room.

I wasn't very far along in my work when I glanced over to the pack 'n play and saw that not only was Eli awake and grinning at me, but he was standing. In the pack 'n play. Where he just pulled himself up for the bazillionth time. He turned eight months this weekend.
My breath caught in my throat for a moment. He is so strong and eager to be on the move. He crawls, pulls up, he is even taking steps. And to be honest if he had been my first child, my attitude would have been all "MY CHILD IS A GENIUS!" and "I ROCK!" and so on and so forth.

But as I stared into Eli's muddy blue eyes and grinned in return to his impish smile, I couldn't help but think about how I've lived through this before. I've seen babies perform milestones ahead of time or on time. I've seen babies perform milestones super late with tons and tons of therapy helping them.

And this morning as I looked at the tiniest, pudgy hands grabbing hold of the pack 'n play to balance himself on his two chubby legs- I couldn't help but think that in the long run, none of this matters.

Don't get me wrong- I am immensely proud of my little boy. He works hard and things have been coming easily to him. I love to see his progress.
But I have learned that milestones do not define a child. The timetable in which they occur say nothing about the person that is in that tiny body.

Early milestone development or late milestone development does not make a child greater or lesser. It just is.

As I stared at the pudgy thighs that my baby was balancing himself on like he was born to do this- I thought of Addison's countless hours of therapy. I thought of the success when she finally achieved this same skill at around 2. I thought of Carter, how his legs were even chubbier than Eli's and as a result it took him to eight months just to start crawling- he wasn't quite yet pulling up to stand.

3 very distinctly different milestone charts- 3 very distinctly different children.

When Addison was born, milestones were VERY important to me. We knew she would have delays, but I was determined that MY child would ROCK THE SOCKS off of those therapists because SHE was AMAZING. She would still do everything shockingly early. She would SHOW Down syndrome who was boss!

And when she didn't perform to my expectations, I was crushed.

She dressed herself and picked out her own outfit. Why yes a shirt can absolutely be worn as a skirt.
But now she is 4 1/2. She is such a big girl. She is full of personality, laughter, and a kind of light that I didn't even know was missing in our family until she lit up our lives. Do I lay awake nights worrying that she didn't walk independently until 27 months? Nope. Do I care that it took her so long to sit up? Crawl? Say her first word? Not even a little bit. She is complete just the way she is. Those delayed milestones are just part of her story. Not lesser. Or greater. It just is.
When Carter was born, I half expected him to come out walking and talking because he DIDN'T have Down syndrome. Therefore- he should rock this! But his milestone check sheet has been average at best. Definitely didn't set any records. And at the time it bothered me. I fretted over his lack of early achievement. I needed him to make up for Addison's lost time! But now looking back on those early days when Carter was a newborn, I smile and think about how every step of his journey was just him being him. There was no rush- no contest. There was just a little boy settling into life at his own speed. Goodness knows I don't know why I wanted him to rush it. Now at almost 3, the amount he climbs and runs adds gray hairs to my head faster than I can count. I kinda wish that his gross motor skills were perhaps a bit less enthusiastic. For his own safety.

He was supposed to be napping. (This is why Babe #3 sleeps in the Dining Room)
I love the perspective in motherhood that time affords. I love that I stare at my 8 month old and appreciate all of these quickly fleeting seconds not because he is performing milestones quickly, but because I am soaking in this Phase. A Phase where I was once tricked into thinking certain numbers were important, but really it's just A Phase in which I can better get to know the beautiful life entrusted to me. A Phase in which new skills are introduced and conquered at the speed the child is ready to accomplish. A speed which really means nothing. It is just a necessary byproduct of a newborn turning into a toddler.

Yes, that is applesauce oatmeal muffin on his face- his favorite accessory.
I am an extremely competitive person, and when I first became a mother, I thought that my child's milestone chart said something about me. It defined whether I was a good mother- if I was teaching well. When my child performed well "YAY I am the BEST MOTHER. LOOK AT WHAT I HAVE DONE!" When my child took longer to learn "What is wrong with me? How am I teaching this incorrectly. Walk little legs. WALK NOW."

Now I say- this isn't about me even a little bit. So I think I can push teeth through faster? That I'm responsible for the exact moment when an impish little person decides they want to take off into the mobility world? That my dedicated flashcards and at home therapy can FORCE a tongue to figure out words? That the obstacle course I designed and coached them through would CONVINCE legs that they should get on mommy's movement timetable?
It's almost funny. Addison- with the most delayed milestones- was taught and coached the most. We're talking 4 therapy sessions a week for 3 years. Eli- with the most advanced milestones (so far- we are still early here)- has been pretty much ignored on all fronts when it comes to milestone development. He has just done it completely on his own (of course watching his siblings for his own private therapy and coaching). If this was really all about ME and My Efforts- these numbers would read quite differently.
Milestone: Learning where ice cream comes from
I have learned that parenting is not about who we make our children into, but rather about how we respond to who they fundamentally are.  How we teach, love, and accept our children right where they are at rather than where our minds wishfully tell us they should be. So much about our children we cannot change. Our response to them? That is the key. The milestone chart has been a big part in teaching me this.

So as I do another day with the added difficulty of keeping a baby safe who no longer stays in one place while two toddlers are flying circles above his head (what? your kids didn't cross "flying" off their milestone charts???) (-; I am equally enjoying my 3 distinctly different children.

It's so interesting to see them at such different places on so many things and yet all be in the exact same place in my heart.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

10 Tips on Cleaning Your House With Many Small Children Underfoot

With a newly crawling baby added to the two toddlers, I have found cleaning has increased in difficulty around here. Yes, it is still getting done (mostly). And yes, I am still working hard at it. But I made this list today to make myself laugh. Here you go.

10 Tips on Cleaning Your House With Many Small Children Underfoot:

1. Wake up at 1:30 am. Clean vigorously and silently for an hour. Sit really still in the super clean house soaking in the goodness around you until 5:30am when the children sense a force out of place in their universe and awake for early morning bonding with mommy and a whirl around the house hurricane style. There, now wasn't that nice?

2. Place a small bowl of semi sweet chocolate chips in a back bedroom. Wait until the toddlers discover the bowl. They will think they have discovered stolen, unforbidden goods and settle down with a toddler claim flag and a cone of silence much like Christopher Columbus when he discovered the new world.  In the amount of time it takes tiny fingers to pick up the tiny chips and lick the bowl clean- you will have enough time to mop at least one room on the other side of the house uninterrupted. Be prepared to change all sheets/curtains and shampoo the carpet in the room where you left the chocolate chips.

3. Turn on your child's favorite movie/TV show. Enjoy show while you fold laundry. Feel sheepish that Elmo so completely captures your attention. Wonder where the toddlers went. Discover them in the bathroom testing out all their new crayons on the wall. At least the laundry is folded.

4. The night before make a daily list of household chores to accomplish. Use the beautifully scripted list to mop up spilled cereal off the floor first thing the next morning. Spend the rest of the morning at the store buying paper towels. Go home after an hour and a half with angry, hungry children and a cart full of groceries. Realize you forgot to buy paper towels.

5. Scatter a handful of Cheerios on a clean floor. This will attract the baby's attention which will then attract the toddler's attention. While the toddlers spend the next fifteen minutes trying to eat all of the Cheerios off of the floor before the baby- you can organize one stack of papers and pay three bills. Spend the next two days finding Cheerios in every corner of the house. But at least you'll have electricity with which to see them.

6. Give your children chores. Make a sticker chart. Insist that they finish their list so that they can earn their stickers. Spend the entire day overseeing their chores. Realize after the entire day that you 1. didn't make any dinner 2. didn't wash any clothes 3. didn't pick up any clutter 4. didn't clean anything of significance 5. aaaaand you are exhausted. Celebrate the one bookshelf picked up and bin of toys neatly stored. Watch it become undone 30 seconds after you put your children to bed for the night.

7. Find a really awesome nontoxic cleaning line that sets your mind at ease with small children. Get so excited about it that you want to share it with all your friends. Schedule a party to promote the product and show off your new cleaning prowess. Become overwhelmed with the thought of all of your friends coming over on the same week that all your children have emotional meltdowns every other hour. Hire a cleaner to clean your house before the party.

8. Sell all your stuff. Every last little thing. Less is more. Minimalistic is in. And then in your beautifully, echoey empty house you only have to clean and pick up the random toys that are birthed from the walls. Walls near little children are extremely fertile.  Who knew that a plastic spatula, a block, a sock, a torn book, and a tiny little elephant could be siblings.

9. Set the timer for 15 minutes. Sit on the couch and watch how quickly your house can be destroyed. Sip cool beverage. Take your kids to the park. Pray for a miracle to happen before you arrive back home.

10. Run around house and throw all items on the floor in a laundry basket. (Except make sure to leave baby). Sweep. Vacuum. Dust. Hide laundry basket in random room to be sorted out later. Just know that your child WILL find that laundry basket and dump it in the middle of the living room seconds before your guests arrive.

There you go. Tips. You.Are.Welcome. (-;

Monday, July 21, 2014

I deleted my last post and here's why

As I explained on my Facebook page- I deleted Thursday's blog post.

I had very good intentions posting it, but I wasn't quite clear in my delivery.

When describing the "Creepy Stranger"- I was trying to portray a mommy vibe that I got that something wasn't quite right in regards to our safety. You ever get "a feeling" and then you go to whatever lengths necessary to keep your babies safe against the situation that gave you "the feeling"? Yes, well- that.

I then came straight here and tried to make light of not feeling safe at our own park- because making light of scary situations is something that I do to cope. Also, I thought if I had specific record of the entire park encounter- maybe it would somehow keep us safe because I now had a lot of 'witnesses' to the incident.

But the way I described "Creepy Stranger"- listing his actions and perceived character traits in an attempt to explain not feeling safe- I think it came across to some of you as me making fun of his personality- which I in no way intended to do.

When it comes to annoying personalities- I think I am probably the top of the list. I have an extremely annoying personality (this I know). I do not hold personalities against people anymore than I would want them to hold mine against me.

Furthermore- to those of you who to wrote me about this- I am well aware that individuals can have hidden disabilities and that cute kids with disabilities grow into adults who could be perceived as annoying at the park to people they don't know (believe me, I think about this reality every day). And this is why I once again say- it wasn't that I was annoyed by this stranger. I make it a point to always be kind and gracious to those who present differently than I do because you truly never know what battles they are fighting- disability or not. The issue was- I did not feel safe. And I think it is okay for there to be a different attitude toward the two vastly different realities as a mother alone at the park with three small children.

I do not mind getting to know people at the park or making new friends as our kids play together. I welcome the company! Staying at home can be a lonely gig. But the issue the other day was that I felt that the safety of my children was threatened- paranoid as that may seem. This is why I isolated out the incident and wrote about it the way I did. Writing about it- probably not the best call on my part because this ambiguous concept coming from a tired mommy brain that tends toward over dramatization was easily misinterpreted.

The issue with wanting Addison to do things herself- this I will write about again soon because I feel very strongly about it and the incident in the park reminded me that this has happened numerous times with many different people. I am ticked every time this happens. This random stranger got the brunt of it in my last post because it had just happened yet again. I included it in the post because it was hot on my mind and my fingers typed faster than my "post filter" could keep up and make sure that the post was even cohesive in its presentation.

All that to say- to those that this post came across to in a negative way- I completely apologize. I am very sorry. If you ever feel like a post of mine is demeaning another person, I beg of you to assume that this is a mistake- to privately message me with a "Did you mean this????" Because I assure you most likely I did not.

To those of you who caught what I was trying to say in my last post- thank you as well. Glad to know that I'm on the same wave length as at least a few other people. (-;

I leave you with this picture from our weekend. It was a good weekend. And yet a hard one. Sometimes I can't write about the hard stuff, and this is probably one of those times. But today I am holding my children close and appreciating our small moments together. Happy Monday to all of you.

Monday, July 14, 2014

My #1 Motherhood Priority

I have moments of complete smugness when it comes to my current occupation as mother. Perhaps it had been a good day with the children. Perhaps their good behavior corresponded with an opportunity to get a lot of housework done. Perhaps I got up super early that morning and knocked out all kinds of work even before they awoke and my "children hours" began for the day. In this moment of complete smugness, I turn to the frazzled, bad mommy, horrible housewife I was last week and say "What's your problem? This is easy!!!!"
These moments never last very long. In fact, as soon as those thoughts form in my mind like some ominous toxic curse on myself- the world around me slowly unravels. A child pees all over their room. A library book is torn to bits (and then peed on as well because of course). A child pitches a temper tantrum- out in public- where PEOPLE ARE WATCHING HOW I DEAL WITH IT. Laundry piles up and forms billowy oxygen sucking mounds of clothes that I didn't even know we had. The kitchen sink breaks and fills the house with a something-died-but-we're-not-really-sure-what odor that I can't fix myself and hubs is too busy at work to assist. A behavior issue I thought was done springs up bigger, badder, and more discipline resistant than ever. Out of nowhere, all three children all of a sudden refuse to sleep- ever, ever again. The beautifully healthy meal that I produced as a labor of love is refused with cries for "ICE CREAM. ICE CREAM." and then tantrums when I refuse (x2).

And without fail, just as on those days when I look around my tiny kingdom and think "This place looks awesome- you rock!", no one ever just "stops by" to witness said "rocking". On the days when all 3 children are scurrying about like mice destroying and contaminating everything they touch- on the days when the house smells like dead sink and the couch is full of laundry- on the days when the tight grip I had on "super mom" relaxes to grab a death grip on survival- THAT is when people stop by, look around, and leave with a silent clucking sound as my name goes up in the "women who don't know what the heck they're doing" hall of non fame.

Picture a newly crawling baby. He confidently pulls himself along, happy and determined to crawl to the next shiny thing that has caught his eye. He is moving like a ship in a calm sea- silently, quickly, and with a mission. Suddenly and without warning, he loses balance and pitches forward to be smacked in the face by the floor. Tears ensue. Cuddles are needed. I mean- the floor? Really?

That is me in motherhood.
And honestly most of the time it's not even the outward manifestations of motherhood success. Sometimes just the responsibility and the complexity of my role overwhelms and smothers any chance I had at confidence.

Think about it. Every day, not only am I responsible for

1. Keeping 3 children safe
2. Feeding 3 children
3. Clothing 3 children
4. Cleaning the home to keep it safe and happy
5. Washing clothes to be able to clothe the children tomorrow
6. Shopping and planning food items to be able to feed the children tomorrow (that are a. healthy and b. something they WILL eat)

It goes much deeper. Every minute of every day has lasting consequences. I'm supposed to

7. Read to them A LOT a lot a lot. Like probably one book every ten minutes. SLACKER! Five minutes. Okay one book every five-THREE minutes.
8. Teach them constantly throughout the day. Teach them about life- about colors- about our family- about how to behave in the store- about numbers- about letters- about what that sign means on the side of the road- about the animals and what they all say- how to dress themselves- how to USE THE POTTY (omg why is this SO HARD!)- about every thing in life that I have learned in 29 years boiled down into simple sentences- about speaking in complete sentences Subject, Verb, and THEN their request. "I want_____PLEASE- oh yes, how to say "please and thank you"- how to be kind and share- how to say "sorry"- how to entertain themselves- how to….(this list could go on forever)
9. Do flashcards to help with speech progress or counting or reading or Latin prep
10. Establish a discipline system that is consistently followed. I can't keep them safe if I can't keep them under control. And I can't keep them under control if they sense they have the upper hand. Getting on top of issues immediately- this is hard stuff and takes the patience of a small country.
11. Encourage good eating habits NOW so that they're not fifteen and surviving on Pringles and Little Debbies alone. Watch out- they might swell from 30 pounds to 90 in the next month if you let them have that one small dish of ice cream. DON'T DO IT!!!!

and each act makes me wonder what the reaction to my actions will be in ten, fifteen, twenty years

12. Will this prepare them for academic success?
13. Will this give them an interest in a future occupation or will they try to live on my couch forever?
14. Will this scar them forever needing intensive "mommy recovery" therapy as soon as they hit middle school?
15. Will this food give them cancer?
16. Will they hate each other in high school if I don't totally understand their sibling dynamic now?
17. Will they hate ME in high school if I don't totally understand their personality now?

and of course

18. NO TV (do you want to rot their brains?)
19. NO SUGAR  (do you want to rot their teach?)
20. NO ________BRAND OF DISCIPLINE (omg you are going to RUIN their self esteem! but don't let them be spoiled!!!!)

and every time I log onto Facebook there is another article telling me that

24. Whatever food you are feeding them will mess with their brain and cause a million problems in 3…2…..1…..
25. You're not doing enough fun projects with them! Try this super simple 1,000 piece sea shell wreath MAKE SURE THEY DON'T CHOKE ON THE TINY SHELLS
26. You're not going them THIS supplement??? DO YOU NOT LOVE YOUR CHILD?
27. Make sure they don't swallow air too quickly and start to ASPIRATE and CHOKE and DIE IN THEIR SLEEP! Watch them EVERY SECOND!
28. You're not capturing every moment perfectly! Put together this week's memories in a picture album and PRINT IT. Or else you will FORGET the MAGIC.
29. You're not enjoying this all enough. They will grow SO FAST. ENJOY. NOW. ENJOY. BETTER.
And as I find myself on the floor, just having been smacked in the face by something (I know it's hard to imagine that I can't juggle all of these pressures on a daily basis), I wonder if we are going to make it.

I look up from my position on the floor and see grinning children tearing the cushions off of the couch so that they can jump on them (because of course). I see the baby find a cushion and pull himself up to stand- dangerously close to where the 2 and 4 year olds are hurtling themselves down onto the soft cushions that swallow their tiny bodies as they land.

Picking myself up, I rush over to stand guard over the baby. When he topples on his own with a grin, I am there to catch him. When the jumping children need tickles- I am there to find that perfect spot and cause giggles that explode into the room. And instead of rushing to put the cushions back to TEACH them that the cushions DO NOT BELONG on the floor. Sometimes I just lie there with them.

I exist only in that moment. The lists up above mean nothing to me. The shoulds, coulds, and next twenty years don't have a place in the moment. Dinner plans, laundry progress, and teaching ideas- not important right then. In that moment, the only thing that matters is holding small, warm bodies. Kissing noses and brushing back hair that fell in eyes. Giggling with them. Asking them questions. Listening to their answers. Pushing away responsibility and just enjoying that they are mine. That we are a family. That moments build days and days build years and years build a lifetime. And I want to stamp those moments with happiness, trust, and the simple act of simply being more than I want to stamp those moments with perfection and a well-structured child.
And as we lay on the floor, breathless with play and capturing something so sweet that no photo book in the world could capture it even if I tried (it would be like trying to take a picture of the wind "That's a good gust! PRINT IT!")- I grasp the memory tightly- replacing the survival and "super mom" grips of before.

I need these moments. The other day- I let the entire afternoon be like this. I ignored my lengthy TO DO list, and pretended that I was the babysitter. I wasn't responsible for anything in the house- except for being with the children. Yes, this did include some teaching- but not because it fell on a list. Because it happened in the moment. Questions led to answers. Independent play happened. Mommy led play happened. We just sat out on the porch, enjoying the gorgeous summer weather, the deck toys, and each other. The organic nature of the afternoon bonded us in a way that Pinterest crafts never have. Nothing was analyzed. No guilt was there. No fear. No shame of a job done badly.

I need these moments.
And then the next morning after I slacked off the entire afternoon before- (if merely soaking in the essence that is my children can be considered slacking off) and someone drops by to observe the disaster that once upon a time was a neatly kept house? I hold my head high. I own it. I refuse to care.

Because I know that to get the moments that we need, something else has to give. And we will get to those lists. We will do the things required of us. But we will go off list sometimes too. And not only is that okay- it is good. It is necessary. 

It is motherhood.

Sometimes when magic is made, a little fairy dust is left behind. And I have learned that sometimes fairy dust comes in the form of laundry, dishes, and clutter. Worth it.

(yes, that is popcorn in Addison's hair #owningit)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My Grocery Shopping Evolution

The other day I had the rare privilege of going to the grocery store with just one child. ONE. This cutie right here:
And it got me thinking. Wow have I evolved in the whole "taking kids to the grocery store" thing. Because the whole time I kept thinking how easy and fun it was to just have Eli with me at the store. There was a time I thought taking a baby with me to the grocery store was the HARDEST THING EVER. 

 (note: this is MY story. I'm not saying anything about anyone else's experiences or making a statement about the hardness of a certain number of children. Just telling how it's gone down here in the evolution of having 3 kids in the past 4 years.)

Let's start with before I had kids.
Grocery Shopping Before Kids:
I dressed in a cute outfit- you never know who you might see at the store! I grumbled at the long car trip between stores. Must hit all the grocery stores in town to get the best deals at each one! I breezed through the aisles- haphazardly filling my list because why remember that noodles are in aisle seven with the tomato sauce when I can go back to the aisle multiple times- making sure I saw and capitalized on every deal possible? I had a file folder of coupons that balanced on the front of my cart. I had a specific, organized meal list with a plan for each item. I checked out- no rush! I argued with the cashier when he overcharged me .05 on some cereal. Yay! I saved $49 and spent $51. I am a rock star! I leisurely loaded my groceries back up. I neatly parked my cart back in the cart station and then headed home. Maybe hubs would be there to unload them for me? No? Life is so hard!!!! I made an elaborate, homemade meal for dinner that night.

Grocery Shopping With One Kid:
I dressed in a semi cute outfit but put Addison in the CUTEST outfit. You never know who might gush over her adorableness in the store! I grumbled at the long car trip between stores because I couldn't see her very well and I wanted to make sure that her breathing position was optimal in her car seat. I breezed through the aisles- haphazardly filling my list because my baby sat sweetly in her carseat and snoozed with the motion of the cart. I got most of the deals possible. I had a small stack of coupons that I carried in my wallet. I LOVED strangers to notice MY BABY and comment on her. OF COURSE SHE'S THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BABY EVER- THANK YOU FOR NOTICING! I checked out- slightly impatient because she might wake up if I stalled for too long. I mentioned to the cashier that he charged me .55 too much but didn't make a big deal of it. Yay! I saved $20 and spent $75! I am a rock star! I loaded my groceries after positioning Addison back carefully in her seat. I take the cart back to the cart station, but I hurry. Precious cargo in the car! Maybe hubs would be home to unload the groceries for me? No? Well, I've had worst days. I made a homemade dinner- nothing too elaborate.

Grocery Shopping With Two Kids:

I dressed in clothes that sort of fit and were mostly clean. The kids were attired in perfectly clean, seasonally appropriate clothes. On a lucky day they might be even matching. I cut out the long car trip between stores and only went to one store- the one with double carts where you can buy in BULK to maximize each trip. I breezed through the aisles with a specific list per aisle- no time to dawdle when both children suddenly turned into octopuses who liked to grab random objects from each shelf. At any given moment one child might be sitting peacefully in the cart, but the other one would be trying to dive out on his head. And then the one you thought was happy might start screaming just as the diving one finally settled down. Forget coupons. I barely remembered my wallet. I loathed the constant "Are they twins?" comments and started keeping track of them as a "Mommy just earned another piece of chocolate when we get home" sort of deal. I checked out in a huge rush. I couldn't look at each item's price as it was rung up because just then one child started choking the other. I spent $100 and got five items. Awesome. I loaded my groceries after getting two wiggling kids back in their seats while both were screaming because "HE'S STILL IN THE CART WHY DO I HAVE TO GET IN THE CAR!" and "YOU PUT HER IN THE CAR FIRST NO FAIR." I was afraid my cart of groceries will roll away while doing so so I held onto the cart with my ankle while maneuvering small bodies behind buckles. I leaft the car on and quickly give the cart a shove toward the direction of the cart station. Maybe hubs will be home to unload groceries for me? Oh well, I figured out I can put the groceries on the back deck, bring in and secure children in the house, and then retrieve the groceries the rest of the way. I make a super simple dinner- boil hotdogs, dump chips in bowl.

Grocery Shopping With Three Kids:
I get in the car and double check to make sure I'm dressed. Stained tank top and second day worn workout pants? Bring it. Three children are all buckled in, miraculously dressed, and QUIET behind me. I drive in long circles to the store because the silence is so amazing and refreshing. I find I need a detailed transition plan just to get us from the car TO the double grocery carts. Infant seat- check- two toddlers- check. Wait- where do the groceries go? I had a great meal list, but I forgot it at home. I throw random items into the cart as we fly through the store at a breakneck speed to keep all the toddlers entertained and happy whilst convincing the infant of the miracle that is sleep. "Sit down Carter!" "Stop crying Addison!" "NO DON'T THROW THAT ON THE BABY!" Wait…you need to breastfeed RIGHT NOW? When a stranger approaches me with questions, I throw one of my "Yes-my-hands-are-very-full" and "Yes-they-are-all-mine" business cards their way. I get to the checkout and pay the entire year's grocery budget on all the items that were on the end caps. What exactly CAN you make with toilet paper, baking soda, and salsa? I don't make eye contact with the cashier lest she comment on the new blobs of toddler-Costco-sample smeared all over my shirt and muddy thighs from where children constantly kicked me for the past half hour. I sprint out to the car with the cart because they all randomly started screaming right when the most people were around us. I get an entire workout in finagling them into their seats while the full cart drifts away into oncoming traffic. I grab as many items from the cart as time allows before a toddler starts beating up the newborn in the car. I leave cart where it randomly rolls. Beaded with sweat and exhausted, I get back into the driver's seat- and realize that I left an item that I paid for back at the cash register. I drive away. We arrive home. I park in my driveway, lean back, and pray for the rapture to come before I have to unload the car. Peek open my eyes- still all here. I take fifteen trips to the back deck while the car runs and children whine over the fun music I left on for them. I unload children and drag them to the house because they are exhausted and "Go to the house NOT the road" is a mean, horrible command that only parents who hate their children give. I finish bringing in the food. I wipe the sweat off my brow. I order pizza.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Our weekend- biking, eating, parading

 It's Monday morning. The house sits still as three sleeping children rest up from a busy weekend.
 It's been a LONG time since Daddy had Friday, Saturday, and Sunday completely off during such beautiful weather. We took full advantage.
 Daddy has been wanting to do some family biking for a while now, but I didn't feel comfortable including Eli in this until now. He is over seven months old and his head control and sitting independently skills are very good. We took a short test bike ride on Saturday over to Papa and Grandma's house, and then did a longer scenic ride on Sunday up on the Stowe bike path.
 The test bike ride taught me that even though Eli CAN sit up in the behind the bike seat- I just felt more comfortable with him in the trailer.
 I didn't want to put any undo strain on his neck, and even though it didn't seem to do so in the seat- my mind was convinced that it MIGHT AT ANY SECOND. So into the trailer he went with big brother Carter. He had a ton more support in the trailer and Mommy rested easier. The ride was gentle, smooth, and slow paced. Starting out easy. But we all had a great time.
 I kept imagining this same scene in five or so years. Would the boys be scooting around on their own bikes? Would Addison want to do this too? Will we be able to do long family bike rides with her low muscle tone? She's going to grow out of the bike trailer/seat eventually. Can we keep doing this long term?
 I don't know the answer to those questions, but as Aaron advised- I'm not going to borrow trouble for the future. Instead I'm going to enjoy these quickly snapped pictures from the many awesome moments that we collected as a family this weekend.
 I asked Aaron why we didn't do adventures like this before we had kids- just the two of us. It would have been so much easier!!! We figured out that starting the year we got married- I worked every single Saturday through grad school and then when we moved back to Vermont- he worked every single Saturday (and sometimes Sunday) up until a bit last summer. Only now are we to the point where we can take a weekend and go have some summer fun as a family. In a month we will celebrate our 8 year anniversary. It has taken us a while to get to this point- and I am so glad that it is finally here.
 We also spent time with the grands at the parade and Saturday night's dinner. A good weekend always includes lots of Papa time for this girl. (And of course, Grandma and Aunt KeKe time)

It's a rough life to be so completely adored.

 This little boy is such a good sport. He loved his first bike ride! 
 Wreathed in smiles- I think his favorite was sitting with Carter in the trailer. This boy adores his big brother….and looks ridiculously adorable in his teeny bike helmet (which we found at Walmart- for all of you who were asking where we found a helmet small enough for him)
 So to sum up- awesome weekend.
 The only problem being- the housework and laundry didn't do itself while we were off adventuring.
 This means that Monday has a full agenda of rather humdrum activities to pull us back together.
 Worth it.
Happy Monday to all of you! Hope that your weekend was relaxing and fun. Hard to believe how fast the summer is flying by.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pinterest Picnic Fail

Yesterday we went for a total Pinteresty outdoor, scenic picnic…aaaaaand ended up instead with a rather epic Pinterest FAIL.

Of course- I know that Pinterest didn't invent picnics. I even know that I somehow miraculously KNEW about picnics before Pinterest came along (gasp). I rather just use that descriptor as an embodiment of success- "A Pinterest Moment" if you will.

The morning outing to Shelburne Farms started out so well.

We went on a Tractor wagon ride. Grandma and Miss Katie came along so that we would have a 1:1 ratio with the children. Success!
We chased chickens
 We took selfies with the sheep.
 We drove tractors
We touched super soft bunnies.
 We even posed in a field for some adorably cute sibling pictures.
Carter is clearly the cooperative one of this bunch (sigh)
 In fact, other than the extreme heat, the entire morning was perfection until we sat down to eat a picnic lunch. It was a simple, simple lunch. But I knew the kids would eat it. I smiled as I laid out our blanket. I grinned as I set Eli down on it. I may have two helpers and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to serve…but Pinterest- You ain't got nuthin on me! (or so I told myself)
 But then these chickens appeared out of nowhere. At first we were like. "Huh. Chickens. Cool!"
 Until they zeroed in on Addison's sandwich.
 I stared, mesmerized, snapping pictures as my brain tried to catch up with current events.
Grandma rescued Addison while I…super mom of the year…took pictures of my daughter's lunch being stolen out of her mouth by a chicken. Why did I keep taking pictures? Reflex. My phone was pointed toward her already. The moment was rather funny. My finger kept pressing the camera button without really asking my brain for permission.
"Goodbye, sandwich"
 No one was hurt. Addison seemed to recover quickly. Round 1 went to the chickens. Also- now that I think about it- all the rounds went to the chickens…and Addison's sandwich.
We found higher ground and Addison got a new sandwich.
My mouth was full of the bitter taste of Mommy Pinterest defeat.

(Pinterest pin jinky art

Eh…..we'll get it next time.