Thursday, December 26, 2013

Mommy Notes

I have so many things I want to write about.  Every single day I think of 5-10 blog posts.  Then I can't get to the computer or I'm at the computer but have a million things to do for work.  But today is the day after Christmas and I'm one of the only people in Washington DC at work.  I may be one of the only 5 people in my building today.  So screw work right now, I'm going to write this instead.

Often times, I forget that my family is not a silo.  Clif came from parents who love him.  I came from parents who love me.  We get so wrapped up in our family, that sometimes we forget that there are these extensions.  We forget that our kids won't always be this little, that someday they'll be grown with their own families and we'll be the extensions.  I want that for my kids, because the family that Clif and I have built makes me more happy than anything else in the world.  But the thought makes me sad.  I don't want to think about a day when Ainsley and Freddie and Cohen aren't hanging out on the couch in their PJs on Christmas morning.  And all I have to do to make them smile is buy an American Girl Doll, a big tractor, and a box for Cohen. 

On Monday, I brought Ainsley to work with me.  She was off of school, it was a half day right before the holiday for me, it was just easier than working something else out.

She wrote me this note...

And today I'm sitting here looking at it and feeling sad because I think, how much longer will she write me little notes like this?  How much longer will she call  me mommy?  How long before she wishes someone else were her mother?  She's growing up so fast, I can't believe we just spent our 7th Christmas with her.  That's more Christmases than Clif and I spent together, without her.

So today, I  have a letter.  Not for my kids, but for my mommy.  Because as a mommy, I know my kids will always be my babies...I can only imagine she feels the same way.  And I'd like to think that 30 years from now, I can still get a note from my "dotr" that will warm my heart.

 Dear Mom,

Sometimes, when I'm having a difficult time with one of my children, I think about you.  I wonder how you did it.  You were SOOO much younger than me.  I think, here I am at 36 feeling like I'm going to just sit in the corner and throw a screaming, crying fit because my 3 year old will not stop jumping on the couch and the baby won't sleep and the 6 year old insists on sounding out every single word in the book for the last 30 minutes.  I'm 36 and I want to act like a 4 year old in these moments.  How did you do it at 19 or 21 or 25?  Proof that maturity is not always linked to age.  You have told me more times than I can count, you do what you need to do.

And you hear all these stories about women who just can't step up.  Who are young and not ready to be mom's and they just abandon or neglect their kid.  You've told me that you once hoped to grow up and raise St. Bernards, not children.  But there you were, with 3 kids and if you hadn't told me that story, I'd have never known you never imagined yourself as a mother.

I don't know how much advice you got from your mom.  I know you weren't reading parenting books, or googling "how do I get my damn kid to freaking sleep."  You just did.  I don't for one second think it was easy, but as a kid, I never felt like it was hard.

So I want to thank you, mom.  Thank you for making barbie clothes, thank you for teaching me to count the seconds between thunder and lightning, thank you for screaming and cheering at my softball games, thank you for my microscope, thank you for telling me the truth, thank you for being an awesome grandma, thank you for bad hair cuts, thank you for not allowing me to wear make up, thank you for fake cabbage patch dolls until you could afford a real one, thank you for grounding me for bad grades, thank you for loving my husband, thank you for teaching me to ride a bike without training wheels, thank you for being a strong woman, thank you for going back and finishing your education, thank you for making me get a job early, thank you for giving me chores, thank you for taking me to church, thank you for letting me make my own mistakes, thank you for asking my permission on anything concerning the kids...thank you for being my mommy.  I've always felt loved and wanted.  You have been the perfect mom for me and I'm so thankful for you.

Love your dotr,

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Number Three

I always knew I'd have at least three kids.  Clif and I are both the oldest of three, so it always seemed to be a given.

I'm sure there are those out there who think we're crazy.  I can't even tell you how many times someone would comment on how perfect we were with one boy and one girl.  That started when I found out Freddie was a boy.

"Oh perfect, one of each."

"You're so lucky to have on of each."

"Well now you can be done."

I would always nod and be polite but what I was thinking was "Who cares if I have one of each?  And I plan on having more."

Until you've felt it, it's hard to explain the need to have another child.  You just know there's another little soul out there that you're meant to be with.  It's not really a decision or a conscious least it wasn't for me.  It just was.

I have to say, that if you're having that feeling, go for it.  Three is awesome.  Everything is just so natural and easy at this point.

Now, let me be clear.  Life is not always easy.  Life is hectic and chaotic and crazy most days.  But that is not because of the third child, it is just part of having three kids.

Cohen is pure joy.  He is everything good about having a baby with none of the bad.  I'm no longer a nervous, worried, always questioning mom.  I feel like I can just enjoy every moment.  I'm completely confident in my abilities and decisions. 

I still worry about Ainsley.  I worry that she's not reading at the right level.  That she's not making enough friends.  That she's not involved in enough, or involved in too much.  When she was a baby I worried if she was eating enough, or too much.  Was I producing enough milk?  Why was she spitting up?  Did we do tummy time long enough?  Is she rolling over on time?  Would she be able to wear this outfit long enough?  Is she smiling, laughing, responding...blah, blah, blah. 

Freddie was so different from Ainsley, that he humbled me.  I thought I knew what I was doing, but he just never responded the same.  So I worried that I wasn't bonding with him enough.  That I wasn't meeting his needs.

Not with Cohen.  He's 5 months old.  He barely rolls over because I never put him on the floor.  He smiles and laughs more than he cries.  He eats when he wants and stops when he's done.  And I know that he's just fine.

It's not that I didn't enjoy my other kids as infants.  I did.  But now, I feel like that's all I do is enjoy him.  I don't let any worry or questions cloud that enjoyment.  I've managed to keep two other kids thriving past 5 months, so how could I go wrong here?

Your first baby rocks your world.
Your second baby builds your character.
And your third baby solidifies your confidence that you are totally cut out for this whole motherhood thing.

If only we could have that third baby, first - imagine how awesome we'd be.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Nag, Nag, Nag

So I have this little voice in my head nagging me...

"Write a blog post.  Write a blog post.  Write a blog post."

It won't shut up!!!

The problem is that all the other noise - good noise, but lots of it - that fills my life is totally drowning out that little voice.  I hate not writing.  I love writing and I feel so complete when I'm doing it regularly.  It's been way too long since I did it regularly.  But so often it happens that you do what you have to and what you love has to take a backseat for awhile.

So enough people have nagged me that I'm just doing it.  Yes, Tara Pratt, you are the straw that broke the camel's back.  And having people "like" the post helped push me over as well.

It's not a burden.  I love this blog.  The problem is time.  So here we go.  Let me give you some updates and then I'm really going to try to put up a post once a least.

Let's start with me, because that's who you care about right?  Riiiiiight.  I'm just the most boring.  The reason I'm so busy?  Other than the 3 little people clamoring at my feet every waking moment?  Well, I got a promotion at work.  A whole new and different job.  Same department, same coworkers, but more responsibility and learning a whole new job.  Good right?  Right.  Bad part...they have not filled my old position.  So guess who's pulling double duty at work?  This girl!

So I get in at 7.  I bury myself in budgets and spreadsheets and schedules and marketing strategies and conference calls and PUMPING and then BAM, it's 3 o'clock, or sometimes 3:15, and it's time to run out the door and pick up Ainsley.

And then it's 66 and traffic and bus stops and daycare pick ups and dinner and laundry and baths and bedtime and then I'm DONE.  Even if our computer at home was worth the table it sits on, I don't think I'd have the energy to carry myself down the steps and pound out a post.  I know it wouldn't be my best.  So I save it for another day.

As for Clif, he's equally boring as me.  His job is going pretty well.  He gets the kids off in the morning so I can go in early.  Then once he's home we eat dinner and get the kids ready for bed.  We do sneak in "The Walking Dead" every week.

So that's us.  Now on to the good stuff.

Let's start with Ainsley.  Notice anything different about our buggy? 

Yeppo, she got a hair cut.  She's been begging me to cut it off for months and months.  I finally caved.  It's shorter than I wanted, but she gets lots of compliments on it.  It's growing on me and I know before I know it she'll need it cut again.

I've already filled you in on the attitude that is required of first graders, so we'll skip that.  Ainsley is great.  She's tall, with loooooong legs.  Reminds me of my sister.

Ohhh, speaking of my sister....look what she got...

This is Brooks Patrick.  He is a precious doll.  Mommy, Daddy, and little Brooks are all adjusting well and doing great.

Okay, back to Ainsley.  It's amazing how quickly a child can change and grow.  Just about every week she's reading more, writing more clearly.  Crazy stuff watching that transformation.  She's also taking Spanish at school and she's doing awesome.  Last night we got her report card and her best scores were in Spanish.  So I asked her if she could speak it at all and she rattled off a bunch of words and songs.  I couldn't believe it.  I guess I'm so focused on her homework and reading that I don't even ask her about Spanish...which she LOVES.  So I need to be better about that.

She's riding her bike like a pro.  I have a whole post planned about her finally learning to ride it this past summer, but it has not come out of my fingers yet.  I still want to write about our summer, so I will, eventually.

She has also learned to tie her shoes and blow bubbles.  Not at the same time.

She's dancing again this year...ballet, tap, and jazz.  But, I will say, she's not as into it as she once was.  She's asking to do other things, like play soccer and take ice skating lessons.  So we may take a break from dance soon.  Let her try some other things.

She's still doing cheerleading at school and loving that.

Also, Girl Scouts.  Yes, I know!  I had this totally bad view of girl scouts.  No chance, I thought.  But here I am, learning the Girl Scout law and all.  Like so many things, I had it judged all wrong.  It's all about bringing up women and treating everyone like a sister and friendship and giving back to your world.  All right up my alley.  I'm glad we're doing it.  So now you all know where you can get your thin mint fix come Spring!

Alright, who's next?  We'll go with Freddie.  

This kid "Cracks me out" as Ainsley would say.  He is so funny and so sweet and just incredible.  Rotten...rotten to the core, but a good rotten.  He's loving preschool.  Loves his friends, loves his teachers, loves the school, and gives me the biggest hug every night when I pick him up.

He is obsessed with the Power Rangers.  Oh yeah, they're still on.  Jason and Kimberly (a big thank you to Chris and Eddie for making sure I know those names) are long gone, but they have been on for the last 100 years or something ridiculous like that.  Ainsley and Freddie were both Power Rangers for Halloween.

Freddie just finished his first season of soccer.  It was just a developmental league, no games, but he seemed to like it.

He's at that age where his vocabulary is expanding rapidly but he hasn't mastered all of our grammar quirks.  So instead of saying "I hate the couch" he'll say "The couch hates me."

He loves potty talk.  Oh and he's potty trained...finally.  I worked on it all summer with little success, he went back to preschool and was potty trained within 2 weeks.  Sure does make you feel like a big success as a parent!

Anyway, we are trying to curb him of his potty talk, but he's a boy.  It's like what they live for.

My favorite thing he says is "Dat's weally cule!" (That's really cool).  Can't get enough of it.  Then of course at dinner, after he has fought tooth and nail not to eat a thing on his plate, he finally takes a bite and says "Mmmmm, yummo!"  I swear, I could make him the exact same thing every night and he'd cry when he got to the table every night and eventually try it and say "MMMMMM, YUMMO!" every night!

So that leaves us with this guy.

Cohen.  He's the reason I feel the worst about not blogging.  My blog is my baby book and I'm missing all these milestones because I can't get it done.

He's rolling over now.  Barely.  Apparently he does it at daycare, but not much at home.  He also started baby food last month.  We're just about through all the fruits and veggies.  Sometimes he eats it up, other times he wants nothing to do with it.

He is grabby grabby these days.  He loves our water bottles.  And wooden spoons.

He thinks Freddie and Ainsley are hysterical.

He's huge.  Last time I checked, over 17 pounds.  He just turned 5 months on Saturday.

He has no hair, so he's very jealous of cousin Brooks.  We try not to bring it up.

My favorite thing about Cohen right now is when he's excited to see me he tries to kiss me.  Like when I pick him up from daycare or when he's been fussing and I've been busy and he's been waiting for me to hold him, he flashes a huge grin, grabs my face and pulls it towards his mouth like he's going to kiss me.  Really, he probably just thinks my nose or chin are nice chew toys, but it reminds me of someone grabbing you and kissing you excitedly.

So there you have it.  Life is good, it's really good.  It's busy and hectic and sometimes I want to jump on a plane to a deserted island for a few days, but it's really awesome.  I am often reminded how lucky I am.  I have bad days, but I wouldn't trade my life for anything.  Clif and I are truly blessed and we know it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Facts of Life

You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have...

Today I have been back to work for one month.  Cohen is four months now.  Ainsley and Freddie have been in school for five weeks.  We should be settling in to a new routine, but instead, I feel like my life is in a tailspin!

The first time you have a baby, you are shocked by the change to your lifestyle.  You wonder how you ever got anything done...EVER.  Laundry piles up, dishes don't get washed, dog hair accumulates in the corners, and it's hard to remember your last shower.

Then eventually, you adjust.  You figure out a new system that works.  I think after Ainsley it took me about a year.  Maybe you don't scrub the bathrooms once a week anymore and maybe toys scatter the living room floor, but you become okay with your new reality.

Then the next baby comes and you think, "well I've already done this, so I'll go back to my normal routine again."  But you forget how exhausting life is with a baby.  How you're nursing always.  How everything takes just a bit longer.  And that you now have this new person to fit into your family.  So again, toothpaste builds up on the bathroom sink, fingerprints don't get wiped from the windows, and mail takes over the counter. adjust.  You nail that new system.  I think after Freddie, it took me less than a year...maybe 8-10 months.  Now hopefully you can get the sheets washed once a month and the toys just belong in the corner of the living room.  But again, you change your expectations and you learn to live in the new now.

So then you have a third baby...and wow, are you dense.  Because really, you think "I've done this twice, how hard can it be."  Hard.  It can be really hard.  So hard that you end up on the verge of a nervous breakdown in the middle of your disgusting kitchen while your children run around naked because it's bath night - but you don't have time for a bath because it's also bedtime, and your baby gnaws on your arm because you haven't had time to feed him yet.

I walk in the door right around 5pm every night (side note...I leave work at 3pm - yeah NOVA traffic rocks).  In that moment the baby needs to eat, the dogs need walked and fed, the older kids want a snack, dinner needs to be cooked, homework needs to be completed, everyone wants to enjoy the cool weather outside, and all I can think about is crawling into bed.

I wonder how long it will take this time?  And I wonder what my new normal will be?  Before Cohen came along, I had a system.  A few simple chores each night, heavier cleaning on Saturdays, groceries on Sundays, a load of laundry every night.  Now, Clif has has gone to the store two nights in a row for things we can't get by without.  I'm not sure when I'll be able to fit in an actual trip.  I don't know when I'll be able to sign up for a 5K or train for it.  It may be years before I see the bottom of the hamper again.  Not sure if I'll be able to finish Cohen's letters before he outgrows the crib.

But I do know that we will all come out of this eventually.  We always do.  I have my moments of utter hopelessness.  I'm a crier.  It's the way I let off steam.  But somewhere in the back of my brain is always this little chant "This too shall pass, this too shall pass."  My life can be spinning out of control and a little voice keeps saying "This too shall pass, this too shall pass."

And it will pass.  The good and the bad.  It always does.  And even though I am eager for this constant overwhelmed feeling to pass, I can not wish away the days or hours.  They already fly by too fast.  So I will take the good with the bad.  Because the good is seeing Ainsley finally figure out a tough word in a book, even though I'm digging through the dirty clothes to find a pair of pants that haven't been spit up on.  The good is listening to Freddie sing a new song, even though the sink is too full of dishes to drain the pasta.  The good is seeing Cohen smile ear to ear, even while delicately removing the onsie he just pooped all over. 

Even in the chaos and mess, the good comes through.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Name Game

Naming someone is very hard.  Clif and I take it very seriously.  We want names that are unique but not weird.  We want names that mean something.  I don't mean that the name needs to mean peace or love or anything, but that it has something behind it.  And I do not want to see my kids' names splashed all over every kid's show and kid's store advertisement.  If it's in the PBK catalog you best believe a thousand people are falling in love with it.

We picked Ainsley from a TV show.  And not a current TV show.  The West Wing.  Which was not on when Ainsley was born, but my husband is obsessed with it and watches the whole series once a year.  Well, he used to, before we had three children. 

It is still the most beautiful name I've ever heard.  I love it.  And it's not over used.  There are lots of pretty names, but you just hear them everywhere.  Coming from a Jaime Lynn who was born the year the Bionic Woman hit the airways, I think it's nice to have a name like no one else.  Even though my mom did not pick my name because of the Bionic Woman, I ended up in elementary school with two other Jaime Lynns.  In a small school I was forever known as Jaime L.  And they were Jaime G. and Jaime M.  Then when we got to middle school there were two more Jaime Lynns.  They ended up being Jaime T. and Jaime R.

So I'm glad that Ainsley, so far it seems, will be the only Ainsley.  Her middle name is Lynn.  My middle name, my mother's middle name, my mother-in-law's middle name.  Then my sister is CaroLYN and my sister-in-law is CaitLYN.  So lots of Lynns.

Freddie was our easiest child to name, but it was the most difficult nickname.  I didn't want him going by Frederick Clifton White IV.  Though Clif and I always knew that if we had a boy, he'd have that name.  I love it and it has history behind's the 4th one in a row.  But Freddie was tough.  I didn't want him going by Clifton or Clif, not because I don't like the name but because I didn't want two in the house.  We tried to find something with the IV, like people do with III (Trey, Trip, etc), but nothing really worked.  People suggested Ivy or Court to play off the 4.  Nothing really struck me as perfect. 

Freddie was the very first nickname we thought of, but I didn't really like the idea of people calling him Fred.  So then I tried to think of other Frederick nicknames...Derick, Ricky.  All nice names, but just too common.  So about a week before I had him, we decided...Freddie.  So far we don't know any other Freddies and have not come across any in school or other activities.  I personally think there is no other name that would fit my Freddie better.  Even my mother-in-law (who once said "no grandson of mine will be named Freddie") agrees - love you, Denise.

Cohen was HARD.  Boy names are HARD.  Before we found out he was a boy and I was SURE he was a girl, we had two names picked out.  Both of which would have used my grandmother's name in some way.  So when he turned out to be a boy, we could not come up with something that we both liked.  We had lists and lists of names.  Cohen was one of the first ones I threw out there.  Clif was kind of indifferent on it.  Didn't love it, didn't hate it.  Eventually, he came around.  Flynn came from Ainsley and Freddie.  It was on our list, but it wasn't my favorite.  When we were at our wits end in the naming game, we enlisted the help of Ainsley and Freddie.  They loved Flynn.  Most likely because of Flynn Rider in Tangled.  So Cohen Flynn it was.  And I have NEVER heard the name Cohen on anyone.

And then today this in my email...


I have one thing to say...Step OFF Pottery Barn Kids.  I better not see Cohen on every page of your next catalog!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Little Miss Thaaang

This is my Ainsley the week she was born.

And here she is at her first birthday.

She has just turned four in this picture.

Cute and sweet, right?  Right.  She has always been so sweet.  I would dare say, she's just about perfect.  She listens, she hates getting in trouble, she helps out, she's a good girl.

This is Ainsley on the first day of first grade.

This picture sums up my daughter these days.  Hand on hip, check.  Cutesy head tilt, check.  Attitude, check.

There is a body snatcher in her first grade class.  I sent my sweet little girl and got back Miss Attitude.  There are fights, and tears, and screams, and door slams.

After 3 weeks of this attitude every day at the bus stop, I had to take a step back and really look at the situation.  Honestly, I was tired of losing my mind and fighting with her every. single. day.

Little girl has plenty of attitude and sass.  She's definitely feeling high and mighty these days, so she needs to be taken down a notch.  I think Ainsley has been put in "time out" of some sorts more these past few weeks than she has in her first 6 years of life.  I'm trying not to let the attitude escalate.  She back-talks, she goes to her room.  She speaks nasty, she gets an extra chore.  She's ugly to her little brother, she gets a time out on the stairs.  She throws a fit and acts like a 2 year old, I treat her like a 2 year old and take away 6 year old privileges.

But you see, that's the easy part.  There's another component to this tug of war.  Me.

Again...this is my sweet baby girl.

And I think in some way, I will forever see her this way.  Big blue eyes, round face, bald head.  When really, this young lady stands before me.

A young lady who is just starting to find her way.  A girl who is testing the waters and yearning for independence.  A little kid, on the brink of becoming a big kid...finding her own path and desperately wishing to be grown.

It's my job to preserve her innocence, to let her be young.  But it's my responsibility to let her be free and become the strong, independent woman she'll be.

That balance is proving difficult.  I'm not quite sure how to be this parent.  For 6 years Clif and I have had to do almost everything for our kids.  We've known their every move, haven't let them out of our sight.  Now, she's beginning to pull away and part of the attitude is coming from me not letting her.

So I'm trying.  Trying to let her wander the little girl clothes in a store, while I look at shoes.  Still where I can hear/see her, but not right at my side.  Trying to let her walk ahead of me from the bus stop, still stopping at every street crossing.  Trying to let her play outside without me hovering, as long as she stays in a certain spot.

Ainsley is our oldest, so she will get the most bruises from this bumpy path.  By the time Cohen is flexing his wings, we'll be pros.  But Clif and I were both the oldest, and we turned out...okay...I think.  Parenting is the ultimate dead end job.  In order to be successful, you absolutely have to make yourself unnecessary.  The pay is terrible, but the benefits are the best around.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My Temporary Life

Hello! It's been awhile, I know...and I kind of left without a word. See, I wasn't planning on being away all summer. I tried to write...I really did. But I had some other things going on.

I guess the last time I really wrote, I was getting ready to have baby #3 and be a stay at home mom for the summer. And my thought was that I'd write all the time. I'd post so much, you'd be sick of me. But here's the thing...I barely looked at a computer all summer long. I mean, I had my phone...I wasn't totally cut off from the world. But blogging on the phone...not easy.

Well, I had him. June 9th. One day after his due date, just as scheduled...

Meet Cohen Flynn.

He was born early on a Sunday morning and he weighed 9 pounds flat. We brought him home and he's perfect. Beyond perfect. I just don't know how it's possible to love someone so much. The day we brought him home we had parents night at Cheerleading practice and in-class dress rehearsal for the big dance production.

He is a third child. There were exactly 2 days of Mommy/Daddy/Cohen time before school was out and Daddy returned to work and Grandma came to stay. In those early weeks, he spent most of his time in a car seat running to preschool and end of year picnics and dress rehearsals and play dates and birthday parties. Then June was over and school was out and dance was done and most of our friends were on vacation and we were able to breath.

I spent the summer with these three.

We went to the pool, we rode bikes, we baked, we spent some rainy days watching Disney Jr in our PJs, we went to the beach, we threw parties, we rode trains, we saw animals, we did it all. And Cohen just tagged along. In the stroller or strapped to my chest. He's a trooper...but he's a third child...I guess he has to be.

I can't write it all out in this post. I'm going to try, once a week, to post summer adventures since I didn't do it as it was happening and I want my kids to always have this summer. The memories, even if they can't remember them. The summer that the four of us spent every moment together. No day care, no camps, no school, no babysitters. The summer that I got to see how the other half lives. My temporary life. So basically, this post is just to say...I had a wonderful summer, I hope you did too...but now it's over. I'm back at work, they're back in school, and I will probably be writing and reading blogs again.

This summer there was just no time for that.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Late Birthday Letter

Dear Ainsley,

Okay, so I'm late...I mean your birthday was two days ago, so I have dropped the ball a bit.  I haven't written a blog post in over a month.  Let's see if I remember how.

So I always get to your birthday and think "I can't believe she's 2 (or 3, or 4, or 5...and now 6)."  I can't believe it.  I can't believe that 6 years and 3 days ago I wasn't a mom and then you made me one and now it's 6 years later.  How is that even possible?

In the hospital - 2 days old

When I look at you, I have to pinch myself.  I can't believe you're mine. I can't believe that I've done something so perfect.  When I see you with a group of kids I wonder if any of the other parents are bothered by your perfection.  I know it sounds really, really snooty and uppity, but I look at you and think you are just the smartest, funniest, most talented, most gorgeous little girl I've ever met.  How can everyone else not notice?  How can they not be so jealous of me for getting to spend every day with you?  I mean, I get to be your mom!  That's the most awesome thing I've ever gotten to do.

First Birthday party

You have grown up so much this past year.  You have morphed into a full on "kid."  Baby days are so far behind us.  Our life is dictated by your dance/school/cheerleading/playdate schedule.  You are a small person with opinions and ideas and dreams.

Second Birthday party
You amazed me in school this year.  I was so worried last summer.  You could only recognize a handful of letters.  You could only write and read your name.  I thought maybe we shouldn't send you to Kindergarten. Maybe we should give you a year in a formal preschool.  But once again, you shocked me.  Now you are reading and writing and adding and subtracting.  You tell me about insects and seasons and magnets and water and presidents and other languages and on and on and on.  You've sucked up every little bit of information those teachers have given you.  I'm beyond proud of you.

Third Birthday
You learned to ride your bike this year.  No training wheels...ever.  It just happened a week or so ago.  I almost started crying when I saw you do it.  Because I am a HORRIBLE teacher.  I have no idea how to teach a child to do anything.  My brain just won't go back that far and I have trouble connecting.  So I may have held the bike steady and I may have pushed you and I may have run beside you for a time, but really you figured it out all on your own.  You were so determined and you just wouldn't give up.  You just kept picking the bike up and trying again and again until you were cruising right on by me.  You get all the credit for it, you did it all on your own.

Fourth Birthday

You got a new baby brother this year.  You are such a little caring and gently with him.  You'll hold him for hours if I let you and he loves you.  He'll cuddle right up against your chest and suck his hand.  He feels safe with you.  And speaking of little brothers, you are amazing with Freddie.  I probably don't tell you enough what an awesome big sister you are.  You are patient and kind when he is cranky and demanding.  You play whatever he wants and always give him his way...probably not the best idea, but it's just who you are.

Fifth Birthday

I am awestruck by you every day.  I'm so impressed with the little lady you are growing into and I couldn't be more proud.

Just shy of six years old

I love you Ainsley Bug.  Happy birthday.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dear Baby No Name

Okay actually, you have a name...I think. But it's a secret until you show your face. 

It's 11:25 and in about 8 hours you will make your grand entrance into the world.  You and I will no longer share this space. Starting tomorrow morning you'll be your own little creature. 

I won't feel every roll or flutter or hiccup. I won't think about every little thing I put in my mouth. I won't imagine the color of your eyes or the shape of your feet. You'll be here. 

It's a little bittersweet, to know that tomorrow you'll begin your journey and that will only lead you away from me. I'm always a bit sad when a phase ends, even if it does involve swollen ankles, horrible sleep, and pelvic pressure. 

But...the upside is that I get to meet you and touch your soft skin and kiss your sweet face. I can't wait for that. I wish I could skip over the needles and the cutting and the worry and go right to you snuggled against my chest. That is what makes the rest of it worth it. 

So now I'm going to try and sleep. And when I wake we'll start our next phase, together. 


Friday, May 31, 2013

Decision Time

Tomorrow I will be 39 weeks pregnant. 

That is the most pregnant I have ever been.  Ainsley was born via C-Section at 39 weeks due to an incorrect ultrasound saying she would be over 10 pounds and that her abdomen, because of diabetes, was larger than her head.  I'm really not sure if that was the case.  It wasn't really brought up again.

Freddie was born via C-Section at 38 weeks because of the onset of pre-eclampsia.  Although, the more I learn about stuff like that, the more I realize, I don't think I was in any danger.  Yes, my blood pressure was up, it was in the 150/90 range.  Yes, that's high...but it's not as high as it usually is in pre-eclampsia.  Yes, there was protein in my urine...but trace amounts.  I know how dangerous pre-eclampsia can be, but I probably could have waited a bit longer.

During both of my previous pregnancies I never showed any signs of labor.  I never dialated, barely effaced, the baby never dropped, I never felt one contraction.  I was also very uneducated about the birth process.  I trusted my doctor.

She's a good doctor.  But I do wish I had been more knowledgeable back then.  I would have pushed back more, asked more questions, pointed out different things, because she is human.  Humans make mistakes.  I'm not saying she did.  I'm not saying that I wouldn't have ended up with a C-Section either way, but I do wonder.  I do believe that she was concerned about my well being in both cases.  And I do not look back on either of my childrens' births with regret or trauma.  Some women do, and I'm sorry for them because no matter how a child is born, it is a beautiful thing.


Going into this pregnancy, I was fairly convinced I wanted a VBAC.  I prepped for this pregnancy.  I started reading and learning and asking questions.  I learned a lot.  I went from the girl who absolutely thought natural childbirth was insane, to completely understanding why women make those decisions.  I went from the girl who couldn't believe ANYONE would birth in their home, to being in awe of the women who do.

The year before I got pregnant I lost 20 pounds.  I wanted to be as healthy as possible.  I wanted to give us the best chance at a VBAC.  Once I was pregnant, I continued to be healthy.  I knew that if complications started, my already uphill battle would become nearly impossible.  And I told myself, if this is a complicated- free pregnancy, I will have a VBAC.


It wasn't. 

My blood pressure has been up and down.  I have diabetes.  The baby is measuring large.  The baby's abdomen, even with a second opinion, is measuring larger than his head.

My new doctor?  I like her...a lot.  She's no bull shit.  I've asked her every question I wish I would have asked 6 years ago.  And she's answered, very honestly.  She told me in 21 years she's only seen one uterine rupture, and it ended fine.  In 21 years, she's seen some cases of shoulder dystocia, and even the worst case ended up being okay.

But still, it's out there.  These words and phrases just swimming through my mind...Uterine Rupture, Shoulder Dystocia.  And the fixes for them...hysterectomy, breaking the pelvis, breaking the baby's clavical, pushing the baby back in and having a C-Section, fetal mortality.  These big fears.  I have a high risk of both.  Now, high risk in both of these cases is under 3%.


What if I'm in that 3%?  It doesn't matter if the chance is low.  If it happens to you, it's tragic, and its forever.

On the flip side, if I move forward with a third C-Section, there's the chance I'll drop from a blood clot a week later.  There's a chance that my internal scarring is bad enough that my decision to have a 4th child or not will not be mine.  There's a chance I'll get some horrid infection in the hospital.

This has been weighing on my mind for months.  How I want this to go.  What my plan is.  And now it's decision time.

I've decided to go with my original plan...if I have a complicated-free pregnancy I'll have a VBAC.  Unfortunately, I have not had that.  So I have scheduled a repeat C-Section.  I don't feel great about it, but I didn't feel great about it before I made this decision either.  I'm a worrier, the worst possible outcomes are going to consume my thoughts until it's over.  I am thankful that I will be the full 40 weeks when it happens.  No early deliveries.  If I go into labor before then, I will labor and see what happens.  So I guess I'm leaving it to the universe to help make this decision.  However, I'm showing no signs of labor as of yesterday.  But then again, I've never been past 39 weeks, so who knows.

I can't go back and change the past.  I can only move forward and make the best possible decision I can with the information I have.  I hope I'm doing that.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I've Hit The Wall

This has been a really good pregnancy.  I mean, I have the diabetes, and that sucks because I also have a MAD, CRAZY sweet tooth...anyone else get that with boys?  But really, I've felt great through this pregnancy.  I've eaten really healthy, I didn't swell much, I ran until I was 6 months, I walk every day, I do yoga when I can.  I've felt really, really good.

It started like mine always do, I was sick.  But it wasn't as bad as I had it with Freddie.  I've missed beer, and sushi, and over-easy eggs.    But all-in-all, I really can't complain.

And then BAM!

People, I have hit the wall.  I am DONE. 

Today I am 37 weeks, 4 days.  So I know, I know...I'm I should not complain...but it's my blog, I'll complain if I want to.

I don't sleep anymore.  I see almost every hour on the clock. 

I'm swelling now.  My feet hit the floor in the morning and I can feel the fluid just rushing to them.  And they HURT.

The heat is killing me, and I am a summer person.  I hate the winter and snow and cold weather.  But seriously if it snowed right now, I'd sit in it on my deck. 

I can't get comfortable...not sitting, not standing, not lying, not walking.  I feel like my pelvis is going to explode.  Some part of this child's body is grinding my right hip bone.

Working is tough.  Sitting at my desk makes me swell more, and I'm so tired I can barely focus my attention on anything.

I have to pee every single time - and I'm not exaggerating - I stand up.

And all I want to do is lie on the couch and eat a VAT of ice cream.  With hot fudge...Clif - DO NOT FORGET the hot fudge when I'm in the hospital!!!

So that's where I am.  I have not felt like blogging.  I have not felt like doing anything with anyone in order to blog about it.  All I think about is being done, and then I think...

...that's sad, because what if this is it?  What if this is the last time I feel little kicks and rolls and hiccups?  What if this is the last time I wear my favorite maternity outfit?  What if it's the last time my kids hug my belly and tell me they love their baby brother?  The last time I pick someone's name (which we have not done, by the way!!!)? 

And then I feel like I can manage a bit longer.  So I'll be here...managing.  

Monday, May 6, 2013


I've been feeling a lot of stress lately.  Stress over schedules and finances and baby and health. 

I mean, I've done close to nothing to prepare for this baby.  I will say, with a third kid there's not a ton to be done.  I've got mostly everything covered.  There are no showers to register or prepare for.  There's no crib to buy and put together.  There's no nursery to pour over and set up.  But still, to think he'll be here in 5-ish weeks?  Scary thought. 

A part of me is so excited and another part just wants him to stay put a little longer.  I know the sooner he gets here, the sooner I'll be headed back to work and then figuring out the schedule of three kids in three locations with two working parents?  Holy hell, it makes my head spin.  I'm not even going to touch on the expense of it.  That is a number I don't like to think about.

Then there's the diabetes that I'm trying desperately to control.  It's going okay.  But I do have off moments.  Like when the office throws a "shower" for me and there's cake.  Even the smallest sliver of a piece sends my numbers over the top.

Oh and then there's also the ultrasound I just had where the doctor tells me the baby is currently 7 lbs.  Do you know that a baby gains about 1/2 a pound a week at this point?  That puts him around 9.5 lbs at birth.  Now, how much stock to I put in this estimate?  Not a ton.  The same was said about Ainsley and she was born at about 7.5 lbs.  But they were pretty close with Freddie's estimate.  And even though I'm smaller than I was with Freddie, I've gained half the weight I did with Freddie...I definitely feel like little man is bigger than Ainsley.  He's filling my abdomen.

Finally, there's  the delivery.  I've wanted to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).  Starting out I figured I'd do it if there were no complications.  Well, there are complications (diabetes, possible large baby, and not the most supportive area for it). 

So in the last week, I've been re-evaluating my life.  The stress is weighing me down and keeping me up at night.  I've decided I have to let some of it go.  I'm shelving the finance and schedule aspect of my stress.  There's not a thing I can do about it right now.  In a few months, Clif and I will need to make decisions.  Maybe I don't go back to work, maybe I find a part time job, maybe we move away from the area.  I don't know yet, but all those things are things that can't be acted upon today, or this week, or this month.  Right now, I've got to focus on keeping myself healthy and bringing this baby into the world.

I've got to let go of the ultrasound findings.  I can't put the fetus on a diet.  If he's big, he's big.  I've been extremely healthy and active this pregnancy.  I've done everything I could to bake him properly.  If that means he's a 10 pounder, then so be it.

That leaves delivery, which of late has been causing me the most stress.  My doctor is on the fence about a VBAC.  This week I'll need to talk to her again about it...which is causing me stress.  I really hate any kind of conversation with any doctor.  I hate going to the doctor.  My blood pressure will be high, she'll probably test me for pre-eclampsia...again.  Even though, I know what actual high blood pressure feels like.  I know what it actually feels like to be on the verge of slipping into pre-eclampsia.  This ain't it.  This is just your run of the mill anxiety.

Over the last few days I've been thinking about what I really want out of this delivery.  I've realized something.  I'm not really set on a VBAC.  I'm not one of these people who thinks I absolutely need to push a baby out of my body in order to be a woman.  A VBAC scares me as much as a 3rd C-section.  I've tried to read up on natural childbirth and VBAC...and I think I've gained a lot of knowledge...but it's just not something I'm super interested in.  I have a lot of friends who are.  Who are very into it and love it and have passion about it and I think they're awesome for it.  But it's not me.

I've realized that my biggest concern is being told I have to have him early.  I don't want to have him early.  I want him to come when he's ready.  Because of the signs of pre-eclampsia I showed with Freddie, he was delivered by c-section at 38 weeks.  I showed no signs of labor.  If Freddie gets a cold, he wheezes.  He's been diagnosed with Restrictive Airway Disease.  Which basically means asthma but they won't diagnose a kid with asthma until after they're 5 because so many grow out of it.  Although he's much better than he once was, we've had some scary moments with it.  The lungs are the last thing to develop in the womb, so I've always wondered...maybe, if he had stayed a bit longer...maybe he wouldn't have this issue. 

I know it's a what if, but as a mom, you can't help but go there.

So I've revised what my conversation will be like with the doctor.  I'm not set on a VBAC, but I don't want to schedule anything, and unless there is some life threatening reason, I'm not bringing him early.  Women have been doing this for a gazillion years.  Our bodies know what to do.  The babies know what to do.  He'll let us know when he's ready.

Now, I can just stress over my water breaking at work...

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


I'm not a "keeper."  I don't treasure every little scrap of paper or stash away first shoes.  I don't have boxes of ticket stubs or notes from high school.  I'm terrible at baby books and I don't write down every thing my kids say.

I've just never found it necessary.  I do love photos, but I feel like my memories are enough.  I am afraid I'll forget, miss something.  But it's not easy to keep up with it all, and I don't have a storage room I can dedicate to childhood artwork.

However, since Ainsley started school I've had trouble throwing things away.  Every night we look through her backpack and she never wants to get rid of anything, but I have to.  I already have an entire file box full of her stuff just from this year...and it's not over yet.  So after she goes to bed, I go through it again and decide what to keep and what to toss.  And it's always hard. 

In the past 8 months I have watched her learn to read and write.  I have watched her learn to tell time and add and subtract.  I have watched her make best friends.  I have watched her little heart triple in size.  All of it I've seen on these scraps of paper.  Her morning work.  Her art projects.  Her math lessons.

Last night, her bag was mostly empty.  Just a few things in it that I had her tell me about.  She went to bed and all of it was going in the trash pile.

Then I flipped over  her morning work and found this...

She almost always has a picture on the back of her morning work.  Her pictures started as floating heads and have become this.  Trees, with full bodied people, with curly hair, under a sun...and ants.

The ants got me.  So I kept it.  Ants!

The kids are obsessed with ants these days.  I guess it started one morning while I was at work and Clif was getting them ready.  My normally bug-phobic children found an ant in the bathroom and loved it.  Decided it was their pet.  We got home that night, and running across our walkway were a gazillion little ants.

"Mommy!  The ant had babies!!!" Ainsley exclaimed
"Where?!?!" Freddie ran over and squatted next to his sister.  They spent the next 10 minutes watching them scurry back an forth along the cracked concrete.  Ainsley even got one on her finger and didn't freak out.

They check on the ants almost every day.

So I had to keep her picture with ants.  I can just picture myself one day going through the box with her...

"And this is your first report card, your first class picture, and your first picture of ants."

So silly...yet not.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Picture Overload

I'm having trouble writing lately.  I have a lot bouncing around in my head, none of which I want to write about, so coming up with something I do want to write about is a challenge.

So, today just some pictures and updates.  Hopefully, my brain can calm down soon and I can entertain you with my awesome writing skills ;)

We spent Easter weekend in Connecticut with Clif's family.  It was a beautiful weekend, we found an awesome park, and the Easter Bunny found us on Easter morning...

My friend Shanna came to visit at the beginning of April with her two boys.  We spent Saturday afternoon at the Air and Space Museum.  On Sunday we went to a playground before they headed home...

Grandma and Mr. Charles came for a visit and took us to a CAPS game.  The kids seemed to enjoy it, after Freddie got over all the sirens and flashing lights for a goal.  Ignore my GI-normous hand in the first pic.  It was a late night but lots of fun and we got a WIN...

Wednesday is Dance Class night.  That means Mommy and Freddie walk around the shopping center for almost an hour...

Trying on silly glasses at the Gap while Daddy tries on jeans.  Ainsley has a lurker back there...

My nesting phase has started.  And the "Holy crap I have so much to do" phase.  I put Freddie to work...

Ainsley is so very excited for the arrival of baby brother.  This is how she fell asleep this past weekend...

I've been dealing with Gestational Diabetes again.  This is what most of my meals look like.  This was delicious, by the way.  Scrambled eggs with feta and spinach and a low-carb, whole wheat English muffin on the side.  If you ever have GD, get very friendly and creative with eggs.

And as an update from my last post, things are going well.  The Endocrinologist is awesome and I'm managing...most of the time.

Diva in training...

We are having dinner time drama.  Freddie refuses to eat or sit still.  Unfortunately this is where he ends up most nights...

And me, at 34 weeks.  Really excited for baby no name to get here. 

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