last week // this week no. 3

nom

book boy

banda

davis 1

zonked

I don’t have a ton of pictures from this weekend, because I HAVE NO PHONE.  Early Thursday morning, while we were rushing around before speech therapy, Milo decided that dunking my phone (repeatedly, like a cookie) in my coffee would be cute.  I was in the shower and Ben was in the bedroom- we were both just steps away, but he had enough time to destroy it.  We tried shaking it off and wiping it off and plunging it in rice…but RIP, cell phone.  My constant connection to the adult world.  I miss you dearly.  The replacement should arrive today, but it shocks me how naked I feel without it.  I used a digital camera at Farmland this weekend.  Seriously.

-We got our season pass to Davis Farmland on Tuesday, and have already gone twice.  I managed it easily with both boys by myself, and then we took Ben, my parents, and Laurel on Sunday.  This works out really well because both boys are free, so we just got a season pass for one adult; however, I think Ben will want to go often on hot Sundays and Mondays, and if I can offer free admission to friends I’m dragging along this summer, I’d be pleased.  So we might add an additional “guest” adult to the pass.  Between farm animals, dramatic play in huge sheds, tons of playgrounds, and the spray park, I’d say we’ll be there twice a week.

-It’s now almost too embarrassing to weigh in at Weight Watchers.  Since I weighed in after the stomach bug ( a solid month ago), my weight has gone up every week.  The fact that I stopped breast feeding Elliott goes into that, but I also pretty much do what I please Friday-Monday, and then start trying to get back on track around Tuesday…my math isn’t adding up.  I keep rededicating myself because I simply want to weigh less, fit into the clothes I already own and like, and want more energy.  I’m not going crazy or beating myself up.  Just saying, “do better.”

-Ben kicked ass and helped me completely clean the back porch (again) last night.  We vacuumed 7 million spiders and 10 pounds of cat hair, moved furniture around to make more running room for Milo, and Ben bought a play kitchen at Salvation Army that we scrubbed to glory.  We haven’t even bought the fake food yet, and Milo already loves putting things in the microwave, closing the door, and hitting the buttons.  After we said “beep beep beep!” a couple times, he makes beep noises now, which is a big speech milestone!  He also loves to chuck plastic Easter eggs and run so they scatter at his feet.  I’ve been reading about the “types” of kids (childhood personality types) and I definitely think Milo is “The Determined Child.”  He needs physical activity, autonomy, and parental support; having the space in the back made for such a happy kiddo.  This morning before daycare he asked to play on the porch instead of watching cartoons.  Maybe that’s a humblebrag but maybe I like it that way.  Now my eyes are peeled for a water table, a grocery cart, and some good fake food- I’ll buy almost everything else used, but Milo will definitely eat the fake food all the livelong day, so I better get something fresh.

-Yesterday, by allowing myself to revel in my filth and stay in my pajamas all day, I managed to get a huge amount of work done on my top secret awesome sauce project that I love.  It’s homemade and scrappy, I’m remembering the tiny bit of HTML that I learned to spice up my livejournals in 2002, and its going to be yet another outlet for me to listen to the sound of my own voice.  What could be better?

-We’re eating a shit ton of popsicles over here.  I found these ones called “mighty minis” that are literally Milo sized and he can eat them before they melt and it looks like someone shrunk a real pop so cute.  Ben brought home the GOOD thick freeze pops and he loves those, too.  Also, despite my love for good craft locally brewed beer, I’m remembering that there is little more refreshing that Bud Light Lime in the summer time, particularly following ANY type of physical labor.  It’s lawn-mowing beer.  I don’t care, I love it.

Coming up this week I’ve got some work on my June bucket list,  getting back into Couch25K with the return of my phone, park time now that the heat has broken, and cheering Laurel on at a race this weekend.  Have a good week!

last week // this week no. 2

milo toy story

e man

dinner

mama milo mirror

buzz at the libraryLast week was like we turned  corner.  I don’t know if it was just in contrast to the insanity of the week before, or if Ben and I were more on the same page after spending some time talking about our family values, or if some weeks are just going to suck and some are going to go well.  Probably that last one, which is comforting and terrifying at the same time.  We watched less TV, ate more family dinners, played with bubbles, met with friends, got really into Toy Story, exercised a ton, and had the most mundane week possible.  Perfect.  Here are some good things that happened and good things to look forward to:

-I’ve been tracking my Weight Watchers points carefully, using Couch 2 5K to learn how to run again, and playing Wii Fit on my running rest days.  I spent the entire week staying right on plan, and it felt really great.  I’ve been going to meetings for about a month or so, but being fairly lazy and shifting up and down without really losing any weight, so last week reminded me that nothing is going to change until I get my ass in gear.  It might be corny, but when I run I think about Milo and Elliott, I think about running after them on the playground, I think about running a race and having them jumping up and down at the finish line, saying, ” My mom is strong.”

-Milo is really into his toys lately.  I’ve always been an “outing” mama, planning walks and park trips and library stops, but twice this week, Milo would wake up from his nap or get home from daycare, run excitedly to his Toy Story collection, and start building Mr. Potato Head or piling all the action figures into the Fisher Price dollhouse.  I would say, “Get your shoes, we’re going for a walk” and he would wrinkle his eyebrows and sit down hard.  “Do you want to stay here and play?” would be answered with “Yesh!  Yesh!”  I’m so proud that he can express himself to me and that I can squash my gogogo attitude and sit with him.  We’ve had the best slow afternoons.

-Milo is getting some help with his speech delay.  At his 18-month appointment, we expressed some concerns about how many words Milo would regularly use, and we got a referral for Early Intervention services.  He was assessed and qualified, and last week we wrote up a plan for getting him therapy to help him better communicate.  There were definitely times over the last two weeks where I felt overwhelmed- the process is very proactive, simple, and accommodating, but the idea of Milo being “behind” in any way was stressful.  I was scared that he was be frustrated by the testing (he was) or that people might treat him differently once they understood that he was getting extra help (they haven’t), but now I’ve just reached a point of excitement.  Tomorrow is our first in-home visit, and I can’t wait to see how it rolls out.

-Yesterday Ben spent a lot of time with the kids so I could have some time for myself.  Elliott came with me to a brunch with friends (he’s the price of admission to most places) while Milo and Ben went to the park, and then I slipped off completely kid-less for a pedicure and a run!  We also fit in family dinner and a family walk.  We have a busy week coming up, so it was a lovely, restful Sunday.

-We’re headed to Florida!  My youngest sister is graduating college, and we’re spending the weekend helping her celebrate.  My twin sisters and dear cousin will get to meet Elliott for the first time, and we’ll all be together, which happens so rarely.  I’m anxious and excited to fly with both kiddos- Ben is staying behind for work but LAurel will be there to help me.  I have plans to pack a special backpack of treats for Milo, and Ben surprised me with an early Mother’s Day gift of a Kindle Fire!  This will probably be the final factor that makes for a smooth ride.

This week coming up is packing, making birthday/graduation/mother’s day cards, hanging with Ben before we’re separated for a long weekend, and travel!  What made you happy last week?  What are you looking forward to?

Yay, you’re 27, congrats, go to work.

milo peep

babies

three boys
milo supermarketThings have been wild.  News coverage, Twitter overload, trying to stay in touch with endangered loved ones.  Early Intervention, play-based assessments, diagnosis, sensory issues, baby sign language.  Family dinners, less TV, deflecting unwanted advice, keeping up with chores, dealing with an ant problem.  Baby and toddler digestive issues (read: LOTS OF PUKE AND POO).  I tweeted on Thursday: “This week has been really heavy. Which made me realize that last week was, too. Which made me realize that this is life. I’m tired.”  But I’m also done with excuses.  Because THIS IS LIFE.  There will be a weekly tragedy, annoying e-mail, childhood illness, sisterly hangout…or maybe all of them at once.

So, in the name of getting our shit together, here are some good things, happy things, positive things, back-to-business things.

-I just loaded my reader (ugh, still stuck on Google, not loving The Old Reader yet) with new blogs about Weight Watchers and weight loss.  If reading about fancy mamas who take lots of instagram pictures makes me want to be a fancy mama who takes a lot of instagram pictures, I’m hoping the same logic will extend to reading about these ladies and their work outs and meal plans.  I have some kids to chase, blah blah blah.  This just needs to happen.

-I’m also working on a family photo book for Milo, and it’s looking really cute.  I’ve hunted down and gathered pictures of our family members and edited them with the names in bold font.  One of Milo’s favorite pastimes is walking around our house, pointing at faces in pictures and asking us to name them, so I want to give him this for the cuteness factor, and to help with his new shy stage (Here is the hierarchy- 1. Ben, 2. Me, 3. Whoever is holding Elliott.  Otherwise- nervous.)

-Ben and I filled an entire dumpster with garage trash, got some quotes on a landscaping overhaul, and have been taking the boys out for lots of walks on our street.  All of these things=being friendly and more involved neighbors.  Our curb appeal is still more like curb appalling (ha HA!), but we’re getting closer to being adult homeowners.  And we finally took our Christmas wreath down.

-This is my current parenting mantra: “Example is not the main thing in influencing others.  It’s the only thing.”  -Albert Schwertger.  Want kids that read?  Read to them…READ IN FRONT OF THEM.  Want kids that eat vegetables?  Put vegetables on the table…AND EAT THEM WITH GUSTO.  Want kids that are kind to people and animals?  DO THAT.  DO IT ALWAYS.  ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU THINK THEY AREN’T LOOKING.  My kids are still teensy, but I already know that this is going to be very important, even more so if they have personalities anything like mine.

-It’s all going to happen.  You can stress and freak out and make lists and demand things of yourself.  You can berate and dismiss yourself, make 1000 excuses, come up with a new system every Sunday night.  Or you can let it be.  And trust that it will happen.  I’m noticing chores get crossed off the list, phone calls returned, little corners getting cleaned up, all in the natural course of life.  If I’m living it right, everything else falls into place.  Honestly, I can only remember this fact when I’m sitting still during 15 minutes of weekly clarity…but it’s true.  Trust that it will happen.

(The pictures with this post are from the last few weeks, just some sweet little gems that never made it to the internet light of day.  Whenever I’ve sad, these subjects ground me right back to where I need to be.)

April 2013

superherosHappy April Fools day!  I was tempted to tell Ben I was pregnant again as a fun prank, but I thought I might push him over the edge and cause some permanent emotional damage, so I passed.  My mama is here for an entire week, which is a huge treat, and we’re planning to visiting some family, having dinner in the city with Laurel, and taking Milo out so she can see him action on playdates.  Here are some other plans we have for this true beginning of spring:

Nightly movie theme: This is superhero month.  Plans include the Spiderman franchise, the Xmen franchise, Avengers, Superman, Ironman, the Hulk…anything we’re missing?  I’m definitely going to pull for Keaton Batman on the nights it is my pick.

Holiday plans: This month we have Earth Day AND April Vacation!  When I was teaching, April Vacation always felt like the kick off to the countdown to summer.  This year, I want to do some fun trips with the boys- maybe even a beach day with Ben.  The Boston Marathon is also sometime this month, and I’d love to go watch a little of it with Laurel.  She’ll be running it one day, and I can’t wait to be cheering her, so getting some practice is probably a good idea.

Routine: As I get more used to Elliott, he’s gaining weight and his health is solid, and I have more emotional strength to handle the ups and downs of being out and about with a toddler and an infant, I’ve been keeping Milo home from school.  It’s getting nicer and there are fun things to do around town that I’d like to experience with my son while I have the chance to be home during the week.  I’m hoping to spend Monday volunteering at my school, Tuesday/Thursday doing things with Milo and Elliott (Mom’s groups, library, museums), and Wednesday/Friday running errands and having one-on-one time with Elliott.

Health: I just rejoined Weight Watchers, and I’m pretty excited to having even MORE structure in my life.  I like rules.  The first week on plan, I hadn’t done any special grocery shopping and already had a meal plan written, so I just did my best to track and lost 2 pounds.  I went a little wild at Easter brunch (I’m not skipping lobster mac and cheese, thank you), but it’s a new week and a new month and I’m ready.  Ben and I are also planning to start walking in the mornings before he goes to work.  I have a couple of motivators- bopping around in my bathing suit all summer, my mama’s 50th birthday cruise in November, and being a healthy example for my two little mirrors who will do what I do, eat what I eat, and act like I act for most of their lives.

Goals: This month I will read 2 new books from the library (I’m thinking The Secrets of Happy Families and something fictional and escapist), I will lose at least 5 pounds, I will paint my fingers/toes, and I will write a meal plan/shopping list before every weekly shop.  These things will make me infinitely happy, healthy, and help my family.  All four of them.

I hope your outlook for April is sunny and fortified with love.  Spring is coming, good things are on their way!

(The image above was found on Pinterest, and this site is the closest credit I could find.)

 

bright spots: some things making me happy lately

candles happyThis image (credit here) is something I found on Pinterest and makes me happy.

*Little girls in the cart behind us at Target singing lullabies to Elliott while we waited to check out.

*Mailing Valentine’s packages to all our family members (a day late, but it’s the thought that counts).

*Fancy takeout eaten on the living room floor while watching Workaholics and The Kroll Show (it’s Ruxin from The League and I love it so much.  Here is the PubLIZity skit that’s my favorite, but I like most of his characters and have watched every episode more than once while feeding Elliott.)

*Writing Elliott’s one month letter and looking at the comparisons of Milo and Elliott.

*FaceTime with Mimi and Grandpa Ray, texting with my sisters, phone chats with my Papa.

*Trying out some Pinterest sensory activities and watching as Milo gets old enough to play with a rice bin or even do a little scribbling. Even a few weeks ago, most craft and sit-down activities were a bust.

*Walking away from my laptop to take care of one child or another and coming back (sometimes hours later) to find a string of characters pounded into whatever window was open.  Often this is accompanied by Milo beaming at me and running away quickly, torn between knowing he’s not supposed to and being so delighted that he did.

*Ben doing a sink full of dishes before he leaves for work.

*Reading about other people’s clean eating or sugar elimination plans.  Getting myself interested in trying something like that for the spring.

*Booking plane tickets for Elliott’s first trip to Florida in May- Laurel, Milo, Elliott and I are making the trip down to see my little sister Julianna graduate from college.  Elliott will get to meet his Grandpa Ray, my Papa, his aunties, and so many other important people.  Huge kudos to my sister Laurel for braving this travel with me…it’s going to be interesting.

*Taking 20 minutes to gather up all Milo’s favorite picture books and read on our bed before his morning nap.  I love watching him choose which ones he wants to read.  There was so much enthusiasm this morning that I got solidly clocked in the lip with a copy of My First Superman Book.  It’s a board book.  It hurt.  But there was book joy, so it’s okay.

*Making time to read for myself.  Even if it’s a page.  Even if it’s the 6th Harry Potter book, which I have read 1000 times.  It’s vitamins for my soul.

*This quote: “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good,” from Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project.  This has been my mantra when I’m overwhelmed with a messy house, babies who have been watching too much TV, and a diet that is more on-the-fly than planned for nutritional value.  When I repeat it to myself, I can usually relax long enough to do the dishes, put out a little project for Milo, and make us all a round of smoothies with spinach hiding within.

*Lots of Gourmet Donuts iced coffee.

*Putting half of Milo’s toys in the basement (for the second time in a little over a year).

*Remembering to take a shower before Ben leaves the house.

*Conquering diaper rash.

*Collecting a whole bunch  of things that make me happy.  This new life vacillates WILDLY between extremely organized and moving smoothly, somewhat livable and surviving, and complete chaos where every one of us is crying, including the cat.  When I’m emotionally burned out, it’s really nice to remember that there are one thousand reasons to smile, above and beyond the amazing truth that I get to live this life as a mama to two sweet boys in a house that I own in a town full of friends with a car I can count on to get me to the coffee drive thru every day.  I am shined upon.

What’s making you happy?

Halloween 2012

Halloween this year was a week-long celebration.  Because of Hurricane Sandy, Leominster prematurely rescheduled their trick or treating from Wednesday to Saturday night.  Instantly I freaked out, as the Wednesday plan had been perfect for Ben’s work schedule and we had been looking forward to going as a family forever.  It all ended up working out and we got to enjoy the holiday (and cheap candy) well into November.

On Wednesday during the day, Milo dressed up in his old gloworm costume for daycare.  I was going to send him as E.T. but I thought the gloworm would be easier for his teacher to get on him.  He loved it so much that when I got home from work he was still running around the house looking so foolishly adorable that we had to take some pictures.  Then we changed him into his E.T. bear-snowsuit-cobbled-together costume to pose with Daddy in his red hoodie for another photoshoot.  Luckily, our awesome friends in a nearby town invited us to come trick or treating on Wednesday night with them, and going in a group was so much fun.  The neighborhood was well-established (there were some full-sized houses, holla) and we had so much fun hanging out with our friends and their cute kiddos all dressed up.  Milo’s first trick or treat was a huge hit.

We got to practice again on Saturday night, when Leominster had their night.  Milo was back in his gloworm costume and loved watching the kids coming to the door.  It took him about 45 minutes to figure out that other kids were getting the candy and get frustrated, but he was distractable.  When Ben got home from work, we took him for a spin up and down the street to show him off to the neighbors.  He spent the rest of the night walking in circles around the living room, transferring mini candy bars from one bowl to another, chewing on taffy through the wrapper, and being adorable.

Ben’s friend Vatche used photoshop to make all of our dreams come true.  Here is the picture of the century:

We also spent a ton of time looking at pictures of Milo’s first Halloween, when he was only a few weeks old.  He was less enthusiastic about the gloworm costume a year ago.  I am resisting “how did he get so big?!” because duh.  He grew.  But weird.

Now we have two costumes to save for Elliott, and Ben is already dreaming up what trio the three of them could be next year.  Farewell, Halloween!  Until next year!

I’ll just get this out and then move on.

Friday morning, I got a call at 6 am.  I jokingly texted my mom instead of answering.  I made some crack about early morning phone calls meaning bad news in our family.  She didn’t answer, so I called her back, and she told me that my Grandma, her mother, had died. Unexpectedly, of a heart attack, completely out of nowhere.  There are other people with failing health where the news would have been painful but understandable.  This blindsided me.  I hate that my mom always has to make those calls, has to listen to people on the other end break down, hear Ben wake up in a panic from the sobbing, hear me choke it out to him, all while she is hundreds of miles away.  Numbly, I got ready for school, went through the motions of all the other things that needed attention (a school day for my students, a baby shower for a good friend), but I was on autopilot, constantly checking my phone for updates on who knew, who had made it down to Florida, who was with my Papa.

While I was using my prep to gather substitute materials in case I needed to be with my family over the weekend, I got a text from Milo’s daycare that he had a low fever, was acting strange, not eating or drinking…my heart gave a little squeeze.  Milo has never really been sick before.  I left, scribbling instructions for the rest of the afternoon, feeling a pang of guilt that others had to scramble to help me scramble.  When I got there, I could tell Milo wasn’t himself.  The TV was on to his favorite show, and he was spacing out, facing the other direction.  It was the beginning of a long, four-day introduction to the world of sick kids.

I’ve been manically questioning/reporting about Milo’s health all weekend on Facebook and Twitter, so I’m not going to bore you with another breakdown here, but basically, we were in and out of hospitals all weekend, calling doctors and getting conflicting reports, sitting in steamy bathrooms, spending a lot of money to hear “try to keep him comfortable and give him ibuprofen” many times, and dealing with a sad/whiny/croupy little mess day and night.  Today is Tuesday, and I’ve been home with Milo since 2pm on Friday.  He was given steroids in the ER on Sunday and is much. much better, although the ‘roids are making him so weird that I had to keep him home one more day before I could send him to daycare without feeling like a monster.  We’ve destroyed the paint job in his room with a humidifer mishap, and I’ve washed about 10 loads of germy laundry.

I’m pretty wiped out from the past few days.  I feel guilty because I don’t want to be home anymore.  I packed lunches and was completely prepared for us all to go back to work today, but I knew in my deepest mama heart that he wasn’t ready to be in someone else’s care.  I feel guilty because I miss my students.  Being away from them for two days is hard; I keep thinking about the things I want to be working on with them, and how weird it must be to walk in to a different substitute every day after I already bounded out on Friday afternoon.  I feel guilty because our new assistant principal sees me leave at 3:50 every day, run out of work two hours before the weekend, call out repeatedly.  I feel guilty because between bereavement days, professional development, personal days for scheduled doctors appointments, and holidays, I don’t think I’ll have a full week with my sweet students until almost November.  I feel guilty because I haven’t been able to process my grandmother’s death.  Because the rest of the family is reeling and I keep sending updates about Milo’s cough and it’s just not what is most important.

I feel like an ass because my 11-month-old is hurting my feelings.  After I have trucked him to numerous doctors, stayed up all night several nights listening to him breathing, researched dosage for ibuprofen, warmed him broth to get him to keep something down, called in to work several times, cancelled my birthday weekend plans to keep him comfortable…he wants Daddy.  Needs Daddy.  Lunges out of my arms to get away from me so he can finally relax once hes with Daddy. He’s alllllll about Daddy.  And it hurts.  It’s very stupid, because I should be grateful that someone can calm him.  Because I don’t love my son so that he’ll me back; I love him because it’s my most important job.  For the rest of my life.  No matter what.

I need to close by saying that I have been SO supported and given so much love over the past five days.  Friends texting me, rushing into my classroom just to give me huge hugs, sending flowers, offering food, answering frantic questions on Facebook, patiently tolerating my venting and freaking out, giving advice, and just telling me, “It’s going to be okay.”  In the frame of the world, my problems are tiny blips.  But no one ever reminds me that to my face in the middle of a ranting panic attack.  And for that, I am grateful.

I told Ben this morning, “I think I’m finished feeling sorry for myself.”  My jobs right now are: reach out to my family, give love where I can, get organized for the my grandmother’s memorial.  Do my grad paper, answer discussion questions, and organize plans for school next week.  Stay awake for an entire horror movie with my patient husband (who hears things like “I’m just overwhelmed and I need to sob right now, but DON’T STOP HUGGING ME!” more often than is fair), write some thank you notes.  Reschedule some doctor’s appointments, make a list for Milo’s birthday party.  Remind myself that this is my blessed, wonderful, miracle of a life, that I have things people would give anything for, and, most importantly, I can do hard things.

*Thank you for reading, for supporting me, for loving me exactly as I am, and being a part of my weird and wild existence.   I’m so proud that I’m surrounded by people like you.  You know who you are.

**Image by Laura George of Etsy, click for a link!