So many days, so many memories. I love this capturing project. At first when I was starting this project in the winter, I was frustrated by it. But now that we are already 119 days into the 2019 year it actually feels nice to have settled into a routine/pattern to reflect for a moment on each’s day highlights real of our lives as a family. I am definitely glad I did not bail on the idea of the 365 project back in February when the snowy, dark days had me feeling tired because now this is an enjoyable activity and I cannot wait to print all of these for a family album at Christmas time.
"I fear Squirrels the most," my brother Bryan said one random evening over dinner. We all cracked up laughing. Not because his fear isn't legitimate since squirrels are pretty terrifying. They just sort of freeze-up when you see them and then shift side-to-side as they contemplate their escape and you engage with them in this awkward dance as neither of you knows which direction to shift your weight into and you fear that the beast will choose to leap onto you face! But that exact sentence has been repeated in our family countless times because of its beautiful construction and the way it brought us all together in agreement that squirrels might be the creature to fear the most. Prior to the articulation of our familial collective phobia of squirrels (known as "Sciurophobia"), there was and remains another creature of equal trepidation: The Music Snob. Now this person is not insufferable, entirely. In fact, the music snob is a much important species in the ecosystem of humanity. Except, the music snob is super intimidating. You know you are in the presence of a music snob based on four telltale signs:
- The snob wears an over-ear-set of headphones of probably some sleek vintage looking variety.
- The snob hates pop music <period>.
- The snob complains about what is found on radio stations.
- The snob ask you about some band they just saw live that is so obscure sounding, you can merely nod your head for fear of embarrassment
Mostly, this person intimidates me because my musical preferences are so pedestrian. Tops 40s are my jam and I rarely download a single song but enjoy whatever the radio personality puts on. Live shows don't compel me to purchase tickets and I don't think I even own a set of earbuds. There does exist a desire to be more musically inclined but no follow-up is ever consistently achieved. When people share their favorite songs during ice-breaker activities, my face heats up in a panic. "What was a song on the radio that I heard this morning?" as my mind floods with anxiety before my turn to share out.
But there are three songs that no matter what else is going on in the world, when the introduction chords or baseline drops, I pause. These three songs compel me to listen to them in their entirety because I sort of love them and they make me think about the three most important relationships in my life. They aren't maybe the coolest and they likely would not impress a music snob, but they are literally music to my ears and in the past 24 hours I have heard each of them on the radio and gotten a little smile from coincidence. So take that hypothetical music snob judging me! haha
At least 3 times a day, Henry and Owen ask if today is Christmas. We have tried giving them the numerical time frame between today and December 25 but the number is too big and abstract. We have tried to share that first comes the celebration of Halloween and then Thanksgiving and then Christmas so you have two holidays before TODAY is Christmas. But both of those other holidays are not as exciting as Christmas so they are easily skipped over. We tried using the temperature and trees as way to tell time with your senses: the trees need to be naked and there will be snow on the ground at Christmas time. But again that excitement factor for Christmas to just be here trumps all logic, reason, or cues. So instead of tempering their excitement for the winter holiday, I am just going to fully embrace it. They are only this little for a short blink so if they want to gear up now for Christmas let it be!
We have started a list of all their "to-dos" for embracing the winter wonderland: make snow forts, build a snowman, eat snow, hold icicles, go for a sleigh ride, see Christmas lights, visit Santa, see a reindeer, eat cookies, bake cookies, eat cookies (they really want to eat their holiday joy!), wear hats and gloves, make a snow angel, make a snow ball, wear cozy footie pajamas, stay up late with mommy and daddy, open presents, and start a list of presents for Santa.
Their list though they refuse to write down. Instead, they get an idea for something that they would love to open on Christmas morning like: Batman Lego mini-figures or any number of little toys they saw in the Lakeshore Learning magazine that came to our house and they immediately run to the chimney. They grab ahold of the fireplace hearth gate and say, "Hello Santa, could I have a Batman Lego mini-figure for Christmas, please? ::they pause:: "Thank you." And off they scamper back to the playroom and share that they think Santa will say yes. It is the cutest little thing and it is getting me really really excited for the season they are longing for so much.
Bedtime: (n.) sometimes a verb too..
- The perfect time to ask meaning of life questions, to take multiple trips to the bathroom, to request food & a couple of different kinds of drinks in varying cup distribution methods, to require additional nightlights, to request a full musical of songs, and to give heart-melting amounts of cuddles.
But silliness aside, we are pretty lucky with the routine-ness of our bedtime routine with the little dudes. Each night around 7ish, it sort of depends on a weeknight versus a weekend night and what sort of fun shenanigans we are up to as a family, we clean up the playroom together and march ourselves upstairs. The boys either take a bath or slip into their pajamas and nowadays they get themselves potty-ed and dressed which is pretty stupendous. We chit chat about our day and share our favorite moments and then there are some stories piled next to the chair and a snuggle and a trip into the imaginative world of Paddington or Curious George or another fantastic heroine/hero before we head to Owen's room for the first slumberland express drop-off. Three songs are on this little man's daily list: ABCs, I Love You, and How Much is that Doggie (because he is crazy for all things dog related). Then it is time for a little tuck in to bed. Owen nestles under his crotchet blanket, requests that he is surrounded by this three stuffies, and then gets one last lullaby before it is kisses and lights out. Next door, his big brother follows a similar routine. Laying in his big kid bed, David and I sandwich him with hugs and sing three songs of his choosing. Sometimes he picks the exact same ones as Owen, and sometimes he chooses something new or something we have to create on the spot like "The Mr. Potato Head Song." And then he too gets his final lullaby, kisses, and squeeze and lights out.
But what happens after this is far cuter in mine eyes. At some point in the evening, probably right after we leave Owen's room, he has one final element to his bedtime routine. He gets up and tosses out every blanket and stuffy he had just two minutes before needed placed in its "perfect spot." Then with nothing but a naked bedsheet he settles in, tucking his arms in under his body, and facing down in to the mattress. It looks a little bleak and the position is a little scary, but he seems to find comfort in this very simple final sleep routine element. Henry too emerges himself from the covers and flips upside down on his bed with only his precious "Maggie dog" alongside of him. Neither child wants a blanket or the "correct orientation" and I love to sneak in and steal one final peek at the boys before going to bed myself, just to confirm they each flipped and flopped into their preferred position. It is so cute the ways in which they settle themselves for the long night's rest until they open their eyes at promptly 5AM to start their new morning...
The 12 weeks of summer vacation were so sweet. With both boys excited for little adventures and outings, we started the summer by making a bucket list of activities and places we wanted to seek out and embrace. Afraid of getting into a routine of just slow mornings and lounging, I tried to tackle one item a week so there would be a good balance between "get out and be busy days" and "sip coffee and settle in days." With only 24 hours left of my summer being a "stay-at-home-mom" with my kiddos, I am feeling nostalgic for the warm, long summer days we shared. It hurts so much to return to the rigid school day schedule after savoring this time together as family, but this summer there are no regrets or "I wish we hads." We carpe diemed the Sh*t out of our summer together and I am happy to look over the memories we captured as our trio explored together. If only I could get paid to just have time home with my family, that would be the life! I know that once school starts on Monday, it will feel fresh, and good, and exciting to be back on campus, but tonight I want to halt time and stay in this summer sunset longer. What was on the bucket list?
Beach Days... yes, multiple!
Lunch with David
Get a pottery wheel
Hopkinton State Park
Ashland state park
Running in a Fountain
Roger Williams Zoo
Riding bikes (my only picture of them on wheels)
Visit to Long Island
Have a kickass birthday party for Henry
Duck boat ride
Savor our family
Which items didn't get crossed off this year?
Castle Island, SoWa, Provincetown, Mass MoCA, Portland Day Trip
Not bad! We almost did it all, but I am glad we stuck to picking from our list. The boys loved hearing about the different places we could visit and would fall in love with one location and then want to go back and visit over and over again. This might be a fun little tradition to embrace and to maximize our time together and our explorations of this beautiful region of the country we get to call home.
Last year getting out with two littles into the city seemed a little much for this mama so I promised David that this year we would make multiple attempts at lunches with daddy. Today's first venture out proved that the kids are at an easy breezy stage. We dropped Henry off at camp (more successfully than any previous day with minimal tears at transition time) and then Owen and I walked to a nearby T stop and hopped aboard. Mesmerized by the subway, Owen talked all about the view and people holding the rails so as not to fall over. Once above ground, we spent most of the morning meandering around the Boston garden watching the ducks and enjoying the shade. On a whim we were able to sneak in a coffee break with our friend Lauren! My only wish was that we had more time with her to really catch up and then it was off to lunch with David and a toe-dip in the fountain. We grabbed a train back and Owen fell asleep for Henry pick-up. And because we only get 18 summers of our kiddos being our "babies" tonight we are off to swim because I just want to have the best of times with these two minions of mine and their daddy-o!
UPDATE: Henry finally had a fantastic day at camp!! He swam, did the back float, used a barbell floatie, had a hot dog and popsicle and came into the car smiling. HOORAY!!!
Last year's Mother's Day was a little silly. In some ways, these holidays in which we pause and share some extra love to a parent can be a little bit of a set-up. Maybe it is just me, but I imagine a day of laying in bed late (like 9AM-10AM late) followed by everyone getting along, no messes, no fuss, and lots of indulgences. And while much of this could in theory happen you cannot take the Mother out of Mother's day. And there is the set-up. I love my kiddos and husband with every ounce of my being but no day will ever go by without a little fiasco on the spectrum of silly, family drama. When you have a 2 year old and a 3 year old, it is inevitable and the more you can embrace it, the more likely you will laugh when it unravels. Ironically, this year's Mother's Day came pretty close to perfection and awesome-sauce. David made my favorite Dutch pancakes with homemade whipped cream, we enjoyed a stroll through Cambridge to a little coffee shop for a latte, ate too much for second breakfast including chicken and waffles at Tupelo, and then headed home for nap time for the boys and pottery for me. Tantrums were at a minimum and family time was a delightful maximum. But last year's Mother's Day was definitely more "eventful." Brunch is my favorite. Breakfast at an in-between hour full of delicious decadences like ricotta cream pancakes and honey lattes and I am ready to go! Last year, Henry was two and Owen just turned one. I thought I was in the "sweet spot" of motherhood. No more breast-feeding and two independent kiddos to dine out with. Today, I can look back and say that was a good time but this current situation is even sweeter. But anyway, back to last year:
Owen was a gaggy kiddo. Seriously, every single meal Owen would eat some random thing and begin to epically choke. He would purse his lips out, make a growl, and look as though a second more he would pass out. Typically, I would panic, grab him, flip him upside down, and bang on his back. There was a 50% chance that he would dislodge the the item (be it a morsel of chicken or a crumb of bread or a spoon of applesauce) and continue enjoying his dinner as though nothing had just occurred. The other 50% of the time he would vomit his dinner up and then continue to enjoy his dinner as though nothing had occurred. Either situation left me sweating and exhausted from the roller coaster of panic to disgust to confusion over what I should clean first. We never made it through a single meal for months on end without this kid having a good ole choke.
So why did we think brunch on Mother's Day would be any different? Well, I held out hope that the stars would align and Mother's Day would be special and therefore if he only ate truly soft items or stuck to purely liquid foods we would make it through brunch at the cottage in Wellesley without an issue. We sat at the table amidst a crowded dining area filled with loads and loads of moms and children of all ages. We ordered and chatted and mostly maintained a state of calm with the kids and a handful of little table toys. Owen was to eat some scrambled eggs and I was ready to sip my latte and have some crab cake Benedict. The meal went on like this for maybe 30 or 40 minutes and I remember sighing and thinking: Wow, this is amazing.
And then it happened. Owen's breath caught in his throat, he was choking on barely a finger-nail sized piece of mushy scrambled egg! HOW COULD THIS BE HAPPENING?!?!? I tried not to panic. This was routine and like a well-practiced, first-responder I hoisted him out of his chair, tipped his head toward the floor and administered a solid thud thud to his back. The egg flopped out and placing him back in his seat, it seemed like the crisis was averted. Taking the napkin to the egg bit on the floor, I sat back up in my chair just in time for it. Owen's choke was the 50% in which he lost his breakfast contents. He spued the contents of his baby breakfast which somehow multiplied on the way out all over himself and the plate in front of him. I WAS THAT MOM! How could I have come to a fancy-ish brunch with a sick kid? Except everyone at my table KNEW he wasn't sick, this was standard non-sick behavior. I did the only thing I could think of. I sacrificed every clothe napkin on the table to cover his spillage and then stripped him naked to his diaper. I took his clothes and asked David to throw them in the garbage in the bathroom. As though a Navy Seal on a covert Op, David snuck off to complete his assignment. No use saving that little shirt and pant if our dignity was also gone! The waiter came back to the table and you could see he was pausing. You could almost read his mind saying, "Something happened here." The baby was naked but everyone else was dressed in button-downs or sun-dresses, everyone was nervously laughing and in unison we asked for the check!
We walked out into the sunny parking lot like we had just sprung from jail and raced to the car as though anyone from the restaurant would follow us. Buckling the kids into the car, we turned on the ignition and looked at each other the only way parents do when you are simultaneously thinking: this is nuts, WTF, and I love this family.
Does this happen in your house? The weather gets a touch warmer, the sun shines a bit brighter, and the general consensus becomes....It's Spring! You cannot ever say this too loudly in New England of course, because surely if Mother Nature sees the rejoicing, she will inevitably throw one last April snow storm your way. But, this is not about the slow slide into Spring. In our house, we have a problem. A serious one. Well not so serious, but hilariously annoying. Henry and Owen have plum forgotten how to deal with short sleeves. After over 150 days of cold temperatures and a commitment to cozy long sleeves, jackets, sweaters, gloves, hats, long john's, and heavy socks, this weekend I pulled out a short sleeved shirt and their world melted. Really though! It all started like a normal morning. We cuddled in bed as a family and laughed and talked about our day. We ate some breakfast slowly and I drank a cup of coffee. Then we headed upstairs to shift into our attire for the day. They slipped on their pants, one leg at a time and chatted about their interests and ideas. No issue when it came to the socks either. Then it was time for the shirt. This item had drastically changed in their 24 hour cycle. With predictions in the mid-60s, it was time to try a short sleeve. Naively, I thought nothing of this moment. It was just part of the normalcy of my own Spring transition. A time of year, that is exciting and much anticipated.
But, for the boys is was HARD and devastating! What the heck are short-sleeves? Why are my arms suddenly exposed? What do I do in the breeze? They fussed quite a bit as I tried to wrestle them into one. THEN once on, they were not impressed. Bottom lips all the way out, it was clear they were not happy with this new development. Each tried harder than the other to pull the little sleeves down their arms. Unfortunately, this only made the shoulder become exposed as it popped out the neck opening! Then came the arm slapping as though that would generate some sort of warmth or coverage. Finally they pulled their arms inside and down their shirts to stick alongside their torsos. And there we were, my armless boys unwilling to give Spring a try and I a tired and sweaty parent not sure how to get them outside to run and enjoy the shift in weather. They won the battle. Donning long sleeve shirts and demanding jackets and gloves too, we headed out. Slowly they shed the gloves, then the jackets. They did not budge on the shirts though. By Sunday, we got Henry into the short sleeves as long as they were batman. Now we wait the little one out. The temperatures will eventually convince them, no?
How is my baby TWO!?!? Seriously though, it breaks my heart. Two years ago, I spent the day at school with classes and then "Fun Day." I drove home from work wondering when I would meet him, I picked David up from the commuter rail at 5:00PM and then Owen was in my arms by 6:42PM. He came into this world fast and that describes these two years too!
A blink ago, he was this mushy human a mere 8lbs of love and sweet smells and today he is a busy little boy always looking around the corner for the next thing to get involved in. This year though was really quite awesome with Mr. Owen. His personality is so darn cute, I feel like I say, "He is so cute" approximately 1 million times daily. Born the year of the Monkey, he is exactly what his Chinese zodiac predicts, known to be a smart and light-hearted prankster. After being a little mischievous this guy will crack a grinning smile and say, "I funny?" in the tiniest of baby voices.
He loves to do everything his brother does. They play, run, bump, and swing together. Every night we all go into Owen's room and sing a few songs and do shadow puppets against the wall and then Henry gives Owen a kiss and hug and Owen gives Henry one of each and my heart explodes from the sweetness of it all. Owen has truly become Henry's best friend this year. They play all sorts of imaginary games from super-heroes to construction workers to sitting with a pile of cars or laughing through a game of hide and seek.
Owen is jumping and skipping and working on practicing using a balance bike, he walks up and downstairs "by myself" as he would state, and is starting to the use the potty. And should you mention a number, he begins counting right away from 1 to 13. In so many ways he has just become a real little boy shedding so much of his baby-ness this year. His talking is non-stop. He loves to share all sorts of stories and repeats his phrases to practice his articulation. Stringing along multi-word sentences, it is so easy now being his parent because he so clearly can engage in conversations and shares exactly what he is thinking about and wants. Climbing into and out of his carseat, he is ready to go. Grabbing books and his milk cup, he is a light packer with few needs once outside of the house and onto an adventure. He eats anything we put in front of him from kale to steak to apples to peppers to fish. The favorite eats are shrimp, raspberries, chicken, and broccoli. But he definitely has a sweet tooth and would eat himself into a cupcake coma if left alone with a dozen.
Mickey Mouse is currently his obsession. After going to Disney world for Thanksgiving he has been mad for that mouse. He loves wearing the fashionable Mickey on shirts and requested his birthday party have that theme. He loves to color and paint and could get lost in creating with play-doh for hours. He can easily cover himself (or the floor) in stickers and requests a tattoo a day always in the same spot on his arm which makes for a fun layered style that is uniquely this kiddo. Should a dog cross his path, he is easily smitten and looks for Buster and Bella every morning. When the afternoon gets lazy, he cuddles his Bella dog and sometimes "cooks" for her in his kitchen or reads her a story.
An escape artists, we are crossing all the fingers and toes to keep him in his crib a touch longer. We are currently onto trick number 2 to keep him in there (a backward sleep sack since little man can get his legs up and over the side of the crib and do zippers with ease). At night after we get into pajamas, and read stories, and sing songs, David takes Henry out to his room for a few extra stories (before I join them in there too), and I stay behind with Owen. In the dark on the glider, we cuddle-in and chat for a few minutes. I share with him how much I love him, how special he is to me, that he will always be my baby and that I am so proud of him and love a whole litany of things about him. He always smiles and grabs my lips and I could stay in that moment with my baby for forever. This has been a magical year, sweet boy. Daddy and I are crazy about you and your brother is too! Thanks of completing our family and giving us so many laughs you naughty little monkey.
Owen had ear tubes put in last summer. We like to say that that was the moment when he went from our most difficult human encounter to an insanely sweet, cheerful fellow. But seriously, it was like night and day following that procedure. So many evenings had been dedicated to sleeplessness prior to his mini-surgery. Every 45 minutes, David or I would be in his room rocking him, pacing with him, shushing him, singing to him, bouncing him, and praying for a reprieve to the nightmare of sleep deprivation and for sunrise. Then after a fifteen minute visit to the OR, he popped out cured of his ear troubles and has been utterly delightful and our best sleeper since (even sometimes staying in bed on Sunday mornings until 7AM). It took until today though to really understand how miserable that poor baby must have been. Of course during his troubles my mommy heart broke for him and empathy washed over me like a tsunami but I had no gauge for the real level of his pain. Clearly it was real enough to keep him up all night for sure but I had no comparison to measure it to. Then this weekend hit! Out of no where, my ear fell to the same plight as Owen's. I suddenly could not hear, had shooting pains, and could not sleep. I felt sick from sleep deprivation and scared I was losing my hearing. Hightailing over to the ER, I worried through the examination and prayed it would be okay and that I would walk out suddenly cured. The doctor confirmed my eardrum as the culprit and referenced if I was child I would get tubes and I thought about Owen and how my poor baby stomached this discomfort for months and months and months before he was given relief. How strong that little human was and is!! My ER doctor prescribed me a strong antibiotic, patted me on the back and said it will get worse before it gets better, and handed me a script for Vicodin. If your drum ruptures you might need this he noted. Sitting in CVS waiting to fill my medicines with everything crossed that this acute pain subsides and my ear drum does not rupture so I can travel to China with no problem is two weeks, I just keep thinking of baby Owen and how much pain he endured and I am so glad that procedure helped him because he is just so stinking sweet and loving and giving and clearly very brave and strong!!
Much of the day of mommyhood is processing and responding to funny, sweet, and weird phrases, conversations and requests from Henry and Owen. So many of these parenting gems have been lost to the abyss of noise that is forever constant from sunrise to sunset, but every now and then, I have enough mental clarity to recall from my working memories those little sillies and jot them down for posterity. And then add to this an assortment of the many socially acceptable behaviors we try to encourage and discourage the boys from doing in an attempt to socialize them to the cultural norms they are a part of. From the parents:
No, you can't lick your brother
Don't touch your butthole or you will get pink eye
Eating a cake pop off the floor of Starbucks is yucky
Did you pee pee on the couch? Where should we go to the bathroom?
Buster doesn't want you to ride on him
From the babies & toddlers:
Let's play pretend tiger. What is that? It is when I roar at you and then you scream and then say wait you are just pretend.
Baby in there, as Owen points to my boob
I have an idea, how about I eat my dinner and then we go to CVS for a new toy?
Can we play hide the ball? I will hide it first....okay ready Owen runs over to the hidden spot and points to where the ball is. No, Owen stop it, be more fun.
Ce Ce Ja Ja? Puppy Ja Ja? Santa Pajamas or Puppy Pajamas what Owen wants to wear all day everyday.
Can we just do dinner and a show? Trying to have dinner small talk and Henry would prefer to do otherwise. Ha Ha nice try kid!
Hands mommy Hands! Any time we ride in the car, Owen gets his shoes off and slides his socks onto his hands. His proudest moment.
One year and 6 months ago, Owen arrived on the scene! In the last 3 months, he has transformed from a baby into a little boy: thinning out, getting taller, running around with the fastest of feet, babbling and talking, pointing and making his presence known from the moment wakes up until he heads to sleep. He is really quite silly and smart and it has been so much fun watching him grow into his unique self. Despite crowding his bed and room with stuffed animals, he prefers to sleep at night with a small rubbery bouncy ball. He holds the ball in his hand and tucks it under his arm while he sleeps only to wake up in the morning to bang it on his crib rail when he is ready to start his day! Sometimes we hear him throw it across the room and immediately regret his decision. No matter how many nights we follow the same sleep routine, he always seems surprised and saddened that in fact it is bed time. He will play during stories and "ignore" the inevitable, and he will fuss during songs, and when it is time to transfer into his bed he clings to his carrier and begs for it not to be so! He enjoys twinkle twinkle litter star before bed followed by the I love you song from Barney and he loves to give us kisses on our lips at the part of the song, "With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you..." And my heart just about explodes every time! He is great with chores and loves to clean up the dog bowls and throw ANYTHING in the garbage. He laughs non-stop and loves to run around at top speed after Henry. He is terrible at hide and seek always giving up his position by running out smiling or walking over to me or David and pointing at us when Henry is searching, but I cannot get enough of this phase of life with Owen. He has some phrases now like when David dropped his apple on the floor and he said, "Dadda apple uh oh." He mimics everything he sees and hears. If you are talking about something in the car and you think for a second he is not listening, if you look back at him through the mirror you can see him touching his head or feet if the conversation was referencing these body parts. Dogs are his obsession. If you want to get his attention you need to show him a dog, talk to him about Buster and Bella, or read a book about dogs. While he prefers to dip all of his food in every condiment possible, he is generally a good eater and will at least try everything we offer him for dinner including olives, fish, and random vegetables. The funniest thing of all is that he still prefers momma most of all and I can almost hear him saying "not the momma," when anyone else tries to hold him. No matter what this little peanut is all ours and all cuteness and finally sleeping like a pro through the night with an awesome nap in the afternoons too! So while he might have been a "tough" baby, he is a killer awesome toddler and I want him to stay forever 18 months old!
Some days Owen really surprises me. Today took the cake. This little guy can be so independent and fiercely so. I have heard mamas say that the way their babies entered the world was indicative of the kiddos' personality and that is so true about baby Owen! Owen was born fast, without hesitation, daringly missed arriving in the parking lot. He is our courageous and fearless one. He is always ready to try something new and death-defying that keeps his momma's heart racing. But today he was calm, quiet, and cozy. He "knew" that something was going on and about to happen. When we arrived at the hospital, I worried about containing my free spirit during the pre-op stuff that would inevitably take forever. Owen sat with David and me, played with a single toy, and laughed gleefully as we blew him bubbles. He snuggled hard and always wanted to be touching. He waved to every nurse and bashfully hid his face in my shoulder. It was sweet and simple and it made the whole experience so hard at the same time. He had no idea what was going to happen today! While getting tubes put in is a "routine" procedure, it still felt so scary as his momma. I just wanted to stay with him through the whole thing. When it was time, he gave his daddy a kiss and while David walked into the waiting room, I carried Owen to the OR. The room was big and bright. It was our first time ever in an OR. Everyone in there was so friendly and warm. We sat in a chair together and they pulled out a farm animal book. It warmed my heart because Owen loves animals so much. He watched and listened to the story and they placed the mask over his face and despite the warning from the doctors that he will fuss, wiggle away, and potentially scream, he just sat there listening to his book. He fell asleep and they took him from my arms and I kissed his little cheek while he laid on a huge bed. It was the longest walk out of that OR. Some many days I have complained that my arms were tired from motherhood. My arms were heavy and sore from it all, but that walk my arms felt empty, and that emptiness was devastating.
Ten minutes is not a long time at all. I sit captivated for twelve 10 minute segments of the Bachelor weekly, but those 10 minutes of waiting were long and quiet and while we sat there I felt my breath catch. The doctor came out soon and I stood up and said to David, "it's time to go." But the doctor held up his hand and said, "just a minute." For a millisecond, my heart sank and I panicked! What, what, what!!! He methodically explained that he had to go back to his office and would not take us to recovery and that Owen was fine, we could see him shortly, and that the poor baby had a "tremendous amount of fluid in his ears" and much needed the procedure. We shook hands and I shook off those little fears. Finally a few minutes later, we were brought into recovery by the anesthesiologist. He explained that while many kids wake up upset, crying, and clawing at their cribs to get out, Owen (our wild man) was just sitting up looking at puppy pictures with the nurse. Seeing him there with groggy eyes was the best moment. He reached out to me, I grabbed him, and my arms knew that familiar weight again, my nose took in his smell, my cheek felt his bristly hair, and I snuggled my baby long and hard. He drank some of his juice and fell asleep until we got home.
He is a little wobbly right now at home and napping hard this afternoon, but we are home and it went much better than expected. And we saw some yellow butterflies in our yard and if you know me, you know I take that as a sign of my nanny.
Every summer my to-do list gets in the way. I end up racing around doing errands, home projects, and school prep and before I blink it is time for back-to-school. I am making a promise though to myself to not let that happen this year. The boys will only be this small for a short while and our short summer together should be filled with time together adventuring and exploring. Those window frames can wait to be painted, it is okay if my garden is not meticulously tended to, and no one will judge me if all my dishes are not cleaned up after mealtime. The hardest part of this plan is going to be sticking to it, reminding myself to take a breath and let it be, and to savor the these fleeting moments. He boys won't remember their mommy cleaning up st this point but they will remember the sand, waves, and cuddles. So just going to do that this summer!
Okay, I did something crazy yesterday. But when I say that, I don't want you to think it was unplanned or rash. What made it crazy wasn't the idea but rather the follow through. While driving home from work, I pulled off the road I drive on everyday and walked into a tattoo parlor and got inked. WHAT!? This past month has been emotional. I have written about it and shared some of the emotions that have gone into these past 30 days and many of these feelings feel "accepted" now. Have you ever felt like you walked 1,000 miles in a moment? That was this past month. There was a lot that happened, a lot that changed, a lot that was projected on to the future, a lot that was processed, a lot of transitions, a lot of living, a lot of growing, a lot of discomfort, a lot of frustration, a lot of tears, and finally it feels like some acceptance. Almost a month ago exactly, David went in for the "snip." Almost a year ago exactly, I was 100% on board with that decision. Having just had a natural childbirth, I swore on every holy text that I never wanted to feel the uncomfortableness of childbirth again and that our family was truly complete with the arrival of our second baby boy. Of course, those immediate postpartum feelings subsided. The "nope never again will I feel those contractions" conviction wanes as your once helpless little baby starts walking around, babbling, and becoming independent. Maybe this isn't the sentiment of everyone, but for me that one year mark is the beginning of the return of "baby hunger." Every inch of my heart starts to ache for a baby. And as both the one year mark and the date of David's procedure approached and intertwined within 24hrs of each other, my emotional state became uneasy with the reality that our baby making days were over and that my baby was growing up faster than I was ready for. The next 30 days were and still are a period of letting go. Yesterday, while scrolling my Instagram a friend shared this quote and it resonated deeply, "Life is a gentle teacher. She will keep repeating the lesson until we learn. Help me remember that frustration and confusion usually precede growth. It my situation is challenging me, it is because I am learning something new. Rising to a high level of understanding. Help me be grateful, even in my frustration, that life is an exciting progression of lessons." When I read this, it might seem silly but I found some much needed peace in these words. Everyone always says that life throws you curveballs and to be able to roll with the waves of time. But this is a lot easier said than done. When one has a particular "set" look for the future and that doesn't end up being the reality, it is hard to grow into. At least, I found this really hard. I railed against the idea of not adding a daughter to our tribe, I did not know how to grieve the end of that dream and struggled to find comfort with David because in the moment he felt like the cause of my pain by going through with the procedure even though we had both always known that two kiddos felt "right" for our family. My questions kept me up at night, What if two was not the "right" number? What happens in five years from now when we wake up and realize we want one more baby but can longer even try? The finality of it all was very challenging to process.
I do not know how to explain it but some of the rawness wore off in the days following the initial feelings of shock, confusion, frustration, and sadness. David did the best he could to be a source of comfort, he demonstrated in a number of ways his love and commitment to me and to our family and in those moments with him at home and with our little boys, gratitude and appreciation for what I have bloomed bigger than the darker, superficial feelings of dissatisfaction, unfulfillment, and resentment. What exactly was I bemoaning? What exactly did I feel like I would be missing out on? When toddler cries out about being denied something be it licking a light bulb or being laid in a crib a common acronym shared among mommies is FOMO, fear of missing out. What was my FOMO? Yes, I will miss out on mother-daughter things, but I have to remember that nothing about parenting or motherhood has been what I expected or anticipated. My two boys have surprised me since the moment they joined our family earthside and that the realness of motherhood is not linear, it is not predictable, it is not gendered, it just is what it is. It is just giving love to the boys, sharing experiences with them, caring for them, and growing with them in life and if that is the perspective that I start each morning with there is nothing I will miss out on unless I throw up my own walls and dig myself into my own corner.
It feels so much better emotionally to let go and not just because it was the inevitable next step but to let go because it was a choice I made with myself to be grateful, present, and balanced. A choice to look around not with expectation for how I think the future will unfurl raising two boys and being married to David but to look around for the possibilities within our day, for adventures, and surprises and to not box any of us in. I don't want to be boxed in by the narrative I wrote for myself when I was younger which I know no longer applies to who I am or what I want nor should I box in my spouse or kiddos because there is no fun in that. So why did I get inked?
Because life is about experiences and for a long long long time I have talked about getting a tattoo, drawn on my skin various designs but always backed out of them. Things that seem SO permanent are SCARY but also they don't have to be scary at all. David's procedure and its permanence was terrify and I am sure there will be days where I go back there, if momentarily, to that feeling of fear/dread, but I don't have to live there and that permanence doesn't change how much I love him, the boys, or our lives. Getting the tattoo helps demystify for me the power of permanence. It helps me remember that experiences are more important than check-lists. And sitting down to be tattooed by myself was an experience I will never forget. I felt braver in that moment than I thought I was capable of. It is a reminder that my marriage, my boys, and gratitude are my guiding principles, my doorways to the next great adventure, and that sometimes it is okay to do something permanent, brave, and unexpected!
I am feeling all sorts of nostalgia today for my baby boy. I keep looking back at his birth photos and crying because it has been quite a journey this first year and he is becoming such a sweet little darling. But all I want in life is for my babies to stay babies. It doesn't feel like too much to ask! A little trip down memory lane from Owen's first moments and days (and months) with us earthside because I cannot stop looking at all these sweet captured memories.
He did it!!! Owen officially took one trip about the sun. At 365 days old, the little man is the sweetest peanut and it is so hard to believe that a whole year has gone by. There might not have been a lot of sleep but there sure were plenty of cuddles, snuggles, and laughs. If given the chance, I would go back to do this year all over again. It is very exciting for Owen to be entering toddlerhood, but I am going to miss my little baby and can only keep everything crossed that he continues to be a mush for mommy. As soon as he sees me, little man wants me to grab him close and he lays his little head down into my neck nook and I could stay like that with him forever.
This was a very BIG month for O. He is totally walking now. He can transverse a room with incredible ease and delights in carrying toys about the playroom. In that "I pick things up and put things down phase," he can always been seen striving to carry the heaviest item he can find. And if he is able to lug this thing from point A to point B, the joy on his face is truly apparent. It won't be very long before the little guy is chasing after Henry and Mr. H will finally have to learn to share his toys with his active little brother. Owen also learned to drink out of cup and is in the process of being fully weaned. While I am excited to wear clothes that don't need to consider the ability to nurse in them, it is a bittersweet transition as Owen becomes ever more independent with each day.
He has become the king of the tantrum! When he doesn't get his way, he is very willing to let you know. He collapses in half on the floor and then lays out and looks up at you with eyes that say, "I am tantruming right now!" But most of the time, he can be pulled out of this mindset by picking him up and cuddling him. Owen is for sure our little boy who loves loves loves attention. And, before we blow out the candles on his birthday cake, Owen decided to get 4 more teeth! Project smile is well underway, and once those teeth emerge, they everyone is back to sleeping through the night! Yes, we are officially all sleeping through the night and it is glorious and while morning might be hectic here, they are at least happy!
I wish I could freeze this day. Hold on to my little boys just as they are. They are playful and sweet and so little and the world is so magical to them. They make David and I choose to be our best selves and they inspire us to see the positive, love hard and play hard. I love you birthday boy SO SO SO much!
Getting glimpses into what mornings will look like here. Henry is playing an elaborate Lego game at the kitchen island and Owen is walking about on his own playing with a pushcart. Drinking my big latte and watching all this is sweet and weird. They are self-entertaining and my "quiet" morning might be coming back to me but a part of me wants to scoop up the boys and create the chaos I am accustomed too. You never want what you have, huh?
The signs are already there. Owen is starting to nurse less and less. The world around him is far too interesting and stealing sips from Henry's sippy cup is exhilarating. As we begin the inevitable end of our nursing relationship, I have so many mixed emotions. First, I am so grateful to have been able to feed my baby by breast for almost twelve months. I never thought that I would want to nurse my babies but once we established our relationship it felt both natural and significant. I loved every minute of rocking baby Owen in his room while he nodded to bed and he ran his little fingers in my hair. I loved less the moments when he shoved his hand down my throat or grabbed and twisted my nose with all his might but hey he was bored there nursing and wanted to amuse himself. I will miss the way his eyes lit up as I carried him over to our little nook and he knew he could just snuggle in and have alone time together. I will not miss pumping at work to maintain my supply and ensure he had enough to drink while I was away. Those days of running between classes and meetings to the mother's room were not easy but they were necessary.
Second, I am so grateful that both Owen and my body made it work. While nursing is the most basic and natural human relationship it is SO hard to establish in our society. Without easy access to resources, nursing can be frustrating and isolating. I am grateful to all the women who supported us, cheered for us, and helped normalize this basic human act. And for David for being my lactation consultant and champion.
Third, it felt nice to be a mammal. This might sound weird but I enjoyed remembering that we are not special snowflakes in the universe but part of it and we feed our young just like our mammal friends. We grow our babies, birth our babies, and then feed our babies.
Lastly, I am sad. So sad that Owen is my last baby. That these next three weeks will be the last time I nurse a little human and that my baby is growing up. It feels unsteady to be closing this chapter. It feels bittersweet.
How can it possibly be that in 30 days our baby is one year old!! This will sound cliche but truly this year was the longest shortest year with Owen joining us as the fourth and final member to the clan. This month will be filled with many joyful tears as we mark the milestone. So much growth and development has occurred and I am both nostalgic for my tiny baby and excited for all that our little toddler-to-be is able to do now and will continue to be able to do into this next year! For starters, this month, at 30 inches in length, Owen abandoned his baby infant carseat carrier and transitioned into the toddler carseat. I would like to say that this solved our fussy transporter's issues around car travel but, alas, he remains underwhelmed by travel. Perhaps he will be similar to Henry and change his mind about the car once he is able to turn around and face forward in his seat.
Project smile is at a standstill. Everyday we are convinced that the next set of two bottom teeth and the two front teeth will erupt from the gums, and everyday we are left waiting. He clearing is teething as they inch closer and closer to the surface. We can see them! But, they remain submerged. But, the two-teethed boy is not deterred in his eating. He continues to prefer solid foods to puree and relishes in sausage, kale, spinach, pasta, fish, olives, berries, and cries out to try anything and everything he sees us eating. You truly cannot snack in front of Owen without offering him a bite. He refuses to let a single mealtime experience or opportunity pass him by. In order to convey this, Owen squawks at us, opens his mouth as wide as it physically can go, and reaches out with open hands to grab hold of that morsel. He has started to make the sound for "more" and taps his fingers together to sign to us that he wants more, more, more food!
You might call us crazy, but it also seems like he can say "ball." This is perfect considering his favorite toy is a ball. He will crawl his way over to a bag of balls or a kick ball, grab ahold of it and start smiling from ear to ear. He cannot contain his delight and squeals with glee as he taps and bops and hits the balls between his hands or onto the floor and says something like "baa laa" while playing. His other go to toys these days are: a dump truck full of balls, shaker eggs, a book that plays the song Old MacDonald, and a xylophone. His grabs the little kid table in the playroom and reaches for his mallet and then you begin to hear the sound of the musician at work. This is the most hysterical thing to the maestro who turns about smiling and laughing and waits for his applause. Music and dancing are definitely the preferred activities for Mr. Owen.
As with every month, there were many celebrations to enjoy from Owen's first Valentine's day to singing happy birthday and FaceTiming with family around the country as they commemorated their own years. Owen tumbled at Jack's birthday part and played in little gyms throughout the suburbs of Boston as both a way to explore and learn and as an attempt to avoid these last frigid days of old man winter. But whether we are home or out exploring, Owen is in a very clingy phase where he prefers to be snuggled and carried about. When he is ready to get down, he twists out of your arms and let's you know that this place or this thing is very exciting and he has got to go! Like when it is time for a diaper change he much prefers to be doing anything else, so I am left sweating while I try to wiggle him into his new attire before he scampers off naked. No matter how wiggly he gets though, he is the king of the hug and cuddle. He nestles his little head into my neck and just quietly lays against my cheek while he pats my back and I think, okay let's stay like this forever or for at least the next 30 years.
David won the bet! For the past two months, we have been patiently waiting to see when Owen would take his first shaky steps. The deadline was March 11 for David's victory and on March 8th, Owen let go of the coffee table and took four caution and independent steps to me. And with that David won himself a pack of Dr. Pepper! Congratulations, David. With Owen even more mobile we are preparing ourselves for the inevitable fights between the boys. We have had a glimpse of what is to come. Henry will be playing at the coffee table when Owen sidles up and grabs a hold of whatever had been capturing Henry's attention and just like that chaos breaks out and they each dig their little nails into the coveted toy and cry out! Yet when it is time to read stories they easily give up their difference and sit down together to follow along with the tale of Make Way for Little Ducklings or Where is Baby's Bellybutton? In those moments, I know that they will be friends and siblings, allies and rivals, but forever family and there to encourage and protect and love one another. And, that David and I are there to help them figure out those complexities.
As the month closed out, Owen had an ear infection (his first), but after a round of antibiotics he gifted up with multiple nights of major sleep! Owen went down to bed at 6:30PM and woke for the day at 5:30AM and I did a dance of joy throughout the house. I will absolutely miss our nighttime cuddles and nursing sessions when I would wrap his little Tintin curl around my figure and pet his cheek and smile and marvel, but I am also really excited to be getting more consistent and regular sleep through the night...especially since his naps can be unpredictable (sometimes two hours sometimes 20 minutes). But no matter the "hard" times of this first year getting to know our Owen, it will always be a wonderful year because our son joined us, we loved him, we watched him grow and change and develop and share his personality, we heard him say "ma ma" and "da da," and are so grateful to continue to be able to do this thing with him and for him. Much love Owen in this final month before we celebrate your very first birthday!