Posts in Family
It is almost done...

WHOA! I am never been so MIA from my blog. First, I want to apologize. The truth is that I was having a major writer's block, I have been feeling super overwhelmed, and have leaned into the 365 photo project as a way to keep me connected without having to commit to writing anything more than a sentence or two. The is for sure a hard season, for me and for many. The short days just send out strong hibernation vibes and the courses I taught this winter term were very demanding. Crushed under grading was the truth of it. This dynamic though was double edged. The students in my classes were curious, investment, high-achieving, and excited to learn which pushed me to raise the bar over and over again for them. I know, I know isn't this a teacher's literal dream? And, yes it was and is. But at the same time this meant more time crafting lesson plans, designing projects, and leaning into hard grading and feedback sessions. I stopped eating in the cafeteria in order to sneak in more time for grading and arrived to school an hour before classes and graded way past my bedtime. It was exhilarating but a bit disconnecting and definitely exhausting.

Most of these winter months felt hard to balance all the plates that were spinning around me. This impossible task of: being a wife, parent, daughter, friend, potter, and teacher had me thinking often of that story of the philosophy professor that has been shared throughout social media for years now:

One day a philosophy professor brought a large glass jar and some beautiful river rocks to class with him.

"Raise your hands when the jar is full," he instructed his students, and he began putting the big rocks into the jar.

Soon the lid would no longer fit, and all the students raised their hands to indicate the jar was full. The professor then pulled out a bag of smaller black and white pebbles and poured them into the jar. As the pebbles rolled down, they filled in the little gaps between the big river rocks.

The students smiled and raised their hands. This time the jar was completely full. Then the professor produced a bag of sand and began pouring it into the jar. When the sand had filled the tiny gaps between the rocks and pebbles he triumphantly placed the lid on the jar and asked his class if the jar was now full. They all clapped and agreed, “Yes, it is full!” At that point, the professor opened the lid and slowly poured two cups of coffee into the jar. The coffee completely filled the tiniest gaps between the rocks, the pebbles, and the grains of sand.

"Now, life is very much like this jar," he said.

The river rocks represent the most important things in life, such as your ethics, your family, your loved ones, your health. Even if you lost everything else, your life would still be full with these most important things in it.

The pebbles are the things in our lives that are pretty
important - but our happiness shouldn’t depend on them. Things like our job, house, car, etc.

Finally the sand represents everything else - the countless small, busy things in our lives. If we fill up our jar with sand first, then we won’t have any room for the river rocks or pebbles.

If we fill our lives with just the small stuff or the busy stuff, we won’t have any room or time for the things that mean the most of us.”
After a brief moment of silence one of the students asked,

"Professor, what does the coffee represent?"

"Ah, I’m glad you asked, replied the professor. "It means that no matter how full your life is, there’s always room for a cup of coffee with a friend"

I am glad this season in which my coffee pot was overfilling feels like it is coming to an end. The afternoons are sneaking in some more daylight and I feel like a switch is flipping from winter survival mode into a more calm, create, breathe, and explore mode.

Happy 2019!

We might have gone to bed around 9:30PM last night, which I know is totally lame, but we did wake up early and watched the sunrise on the first day of 2019. I am excited for the next 365 days and to see all the ways this little family of mine continues to grow and explore together. Over breakfast we chatted with the boys about how sometimes people like to set goals for the year ahead and if they had any in mind for themselves:

Henry "to play legos, ride my bicycle, learn to tie shoes, and do dishes." Hahahahaha um....yes to all of those particularly the dishes one!

Owen: "to read books, go fishing, and ride my bicycle." Yes yes yes! Let's definitely get outside and try new things.

David: "to foster relationships, to not check his phone in the middle of the night when he wakes, and embrace vulnerability"

Me: "to keep making pottery, be actively engaged in with my family, to positively encourage and love those around me"

FamilyMelissaComment
Portland overnight

When I was kid, probably an early teen, my parents would go away for a "romantic weekend," in the Poconos. My brother and I would always laugh and laugh at them thinking there was just no way that sounded like fun. But then David's mom and step-dad said they would babysit our little guys for us for an overnight stay in Portland, Maine and well it was AWESOME!

We missed the boys so so much, but it was also so so fun just being a couple again. It felt like we time travelled a decade. Back ten years into our past when we would just slowly meander about, kiss more, explore more, and eat at all the posh locales. It felt exciting and a little tummy-butterfly-nervous to be away together. We were tourist in this little coastal city together and explored the fun of a new place. Deciding to eat well, lunch was at Duckfat and consisted of delicious local beers, Belgium frites and mayos, a pear and porchetta salad and we shared a brisket with Asian slaw panini and a tomato, bacon, goat cheese panini. Dinner was over at Fore Street where the line started fifteen minutes before the doors opened and we enjoyed some tasty drinks at the bar with a lovely older couple before sinking our teeth into an outrageously good charcuterie. David had the pork loin served with some Brussels and an insanely delectable cranberry bourbon reduction and I inhaled a monkfish with bacon shiitakes and polenta. The flavors were so good, I want to eat there every night. We saw so many pottery shops, and window shopped up and down every street. Stopping in bookstores and pantry stores throughout the day to warm up for a few minutes and look through the wares.

It was clear that with a little extra band width, we could be totally smitten with one another and have such a playful time just the two of us. Chatting all day and talking through topics from future plans and dream travels to memories and ideas we hold dear was so luxurious and beautiful. Dating on this little excursion with David was delightful and I am super grateful for our moment away and hopeful for future adventures both with the boys and just us two. It was so sweet to reconnect so intimately with my husband and best friend and we talked so much about how our lives are changing now that the boys are older. We can see more of these easy excursions with them too. They are just so damn good and getting to be so damn easy that things are really feeling different in our neck of the woods. But little vacations for just us are also so damn good and needed too!

Thanksgiving: Part II

At certain points, it felt like the universe did not want our thanksgiving travels to go down. Some of the occurrences were very small and easily dismissible except when added to the other crazy events surrounding them, then the signs were clear! This trip was disrupting some homeostasis. It all started like every Thanksgiving break with the insane end of the Fall Term. In 7 days time, teachers are tasked with wrapping up course content and student work, grading any remaining products, writing finals, grading said finals, lesson planning for the new term of brand new courses with brand new students, writing comments which is approximately 150 words per students, proof-reading colleague comments, uploading grades, and any other loose ends that inevitability have to be tied. It is a bananas timeline and you can feel the faculty stress levels boil over. But this frenzy is sadly "normal." I was ready to "tackle" this in order to squeeze into a break with my family. The other pieces though only more deeply complicated this already wacky time. Henry broke is leg. To be exact, he broke the femur growth plate and ended up in a cast from his toes to his hip. He refused to walk on it for quite some time, and then found moving even short distances both frustrating and exhausting with his heavy green "hulk leg" cast. Over a few days, he adjusted but the concern was: How will he navigate the epic trip which includes flights, Disney, and the beach? Then David burned his arm, because our oven never properly cooks anything and we had a suspicion that it was not rising to the appropriate temperature, David was on a mission. To catch our sneaky oven in the act of under-warming, David bought a thermometer to hang from a rack. But, he forgot that racks get hot and burned a giant letter I in to forearm leaving him with a bad-ass wound and a tender limb.  When driving home from work the next day, I pulled over to a random urgent care because I was tired of being so tired and started to think it wasn't just the lack of work-life balance anymore. Alas, it was walking pneumonia. With three days left to our departure, we were a mess. I could not breathe or keep my eyes open, David was trying to manage the house, grading was piling up, and Henry was incapacitated. Then my sister-in-law called to say she had a horrible eye problem and we all held our breath! If her issue did not adjust in the next 24 hours she would need to be hospitalized and our trip should then just be called off because the universe was starting to laugh at us little too hard.

In the morning light, Jessie was convinced her eye was improving so we packed our suitcases only to be hit by winter storm Avery! Six inches of snow fell and we braced for flight delays and indeed landed in Orlando at midnight. Waiting for over an hour on the jetway, our stroller had gone missing. My reaction to this "not so terrible occurrence" was to lose my freaking mind. Everything suddenly hinged on whether or not we had that stroller to navigate this epic trip with our son with a femur cast. The children were melting down to epic proportions because it was almost 1AM and we were waiting for over an hour and they were so exhausted and tired and frustrated and I was about one second away from throwing a tantrum right on that carpet next to them. When we finally boarded the Mickey Bus to bring us and our chaos to the hotel, the charming driver turned on her Disney princess voice at 2:30AM and declared, "Good Morning and welcome to the magical Disney bus!" and I nearly lost my head from the intensity of my rolling eyes. We got off the Magical Express and left behind our sweatshirts on the bus because losing something other than our minds was needed and we crashed in our beds to only wake up at 7AM exactly 4 hours later. But, all of the other members of our travel team slept in, and David and I just started to laugh the kind of laughs of unstable people, because all of this happened and we were in literal shambles and everyone was crying and we were about to start our first day at the Happiest Place on Earth.

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We did pull it together and we did have a great time, but Smith also did puke to add one last moment of chaos to the journey, but overall these were the parts of the trip that social media usually glosses over but the parts of the trip that were so real, and so ridiculous that we inevitably had to go from there!

 

 

Thanksgiving: Part 1

Traveling for the holidays will inevitably be rife with challenges even under the best of circumstances. But while this might have conjured hesitation, when we decided to head down to Florida with the kiddos, my brother and his family, and my parents for a week in the sunshine, we knew it was going to be an excellent time. Seeing Henry and Owen with their cousins is more magical than Disney, but going to Disney it also pretty magical.

We spent the first two days of our vacation in the "world's amusement park capitol," and hustled our way from fast-pass to fast-pass along with 7 billion others. Despite what you might be feeling, it was not as claustrophobic as it might seem. Jessie did an insanely amazing job pre-planning the Disney extravaganza which helped us navigate the rides and break up our day with perfectly timed meals and breaks. Epcot was our first destination and since everyone was partying it up over at the Magic Kingdom for Mickey's 90th birthday party (which we had not idea was happening), the park was pretty quiet and we were able to ride on some of the attractions multiple times with no wait. This definitely helped when the Nemo Ride was a big smash hit for the boys. We ate and drank our way through England and Germany and left feeling blissful content, full, and ready for bed. Our second day at Hollywood Studios was a little less smooth in that the crowds were more present.  With Toy Story land opening in June, the desire to ride on the slinky dog roller coaster was outweighed by the over 2 hour long line to do so. But we had a great time on Toy Story Mania and the Alien Ride and taking in the intricate details of the Disney's imagination for the space. Smith even got to be the "Kid Director" for the Indiana Jones Spectacular which he literally talked about for days leading up to be chosen at random to fulfill his dream. Talk about having the best day ever!! Owen force pushed Kylo Ren and we ended our night with our best meal of the trip over at the Boathouse in Disney's Springs where we ate one slice of baked Alaska that took the restaurant 5 days to prepare and was carved into massive heaps able to fill the bellies of all 10 of us.

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From Disney we drove across the state to the beach. Eight years ago, David and I got married at the Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast. It was crazy driving back up to the front gate of the resort now with our kids and reflecting on how much our lives have changed and how much life has just happened in 8 years. David and I got to walk through the spots where we had our ceremony and reception and re-imagine some of the highlights together. We took our kids with our family to the beach. Henry was confined to a beach blanket in order to keep sand out of his massive cast but he was SUCH a trooper and just played in the sand and brought lego man down to build a world for them. Owen was also the sand king and sat beside Henry savoring the texture of it, while the rest of us looked for shells, put our feet in the ocean, and played silly games. My favorite part of this segment of the trip was the mornings waking up to the sunrise. For some reason, the boys slept in everyday which allowed us to wake gracefully and watch the sunrise over a cup of coffee and in jammies.

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Then we blended the families! David's dad lives not too far away and one afternoon we packed up the troops and headed out to the woods to visit. It was so nice having the opportunity to see his Dad and step-mom, grandma, brother & his family, as well as, a cousin and his family. Then my family arrived and all the kids played together inside and outside of the house. They launched a potato cannon, toasted marshmallows, and wrestled each other. My favorite part was watching them hug goodbye because you could see the connection they made even in that short visit. Getting to grab on to my sister-in-law, Heather, and her family was such a treat after not seeing them for a long time. And it was so crazy to be able to pick up right where we all left off over some wine, laughs, and good chicken!

This was probably the first vacation where I came home and did not immediately wish for more time to decompress. It was a nice mix of Disney Mania, Beachy Breezes, and Family Bonding.  I hope you had a positive Thanksgiving too!

With Love, Becca

My dear friend Becca, over at With Love, Becca is sort of a rockstar.  She is hilarious, like big belly laughs hilarious because she is willing to show you the real side of life as a working mom. We all know that it can be quite unglamorous, full of hustle & bustle, feelings of success, and often feelings of failure. I sometimes imagine that life is like the quintessential circus performing song on in the background while you spin 2 dozen plates of "the many demands on you" in endless circles. But then maybe that is too melodramatic. What I do know to be true, is that Becca's stance on life is finding the humor in the moments when you are ready to throw your hands up and scream "My life is a dumpster fire." And to me that is pretty magical. We all know that life gets in the way of life, when you are running late from work and need to do daycare pick-up and then get home and find a mouse on the floor in your house and think great add it to the pile. So when I get an update from Becca's blog, I know that she is about to share a glimpse into her real world and that this glimpse will be full of humility, kindness, insights, guidance, and belly laughs. I hope you go and visit her site and stay there for a while. It is good for your soul, trust me. Sometimes now when I see Becca, I get a little starstruck. It is silly to say out loud, but she is doing such amazing work with her blog and becoming more and more retweeted, and shared, and growing her platform because her sh*t resonates so much.   Add to this all the ways in which she is supporting women through her guru work in career development, entrepreneurial guidance, branding, and marketing and I forget that I have known this crazy, cool lady for almost 2 decades and no matter how many more people in the world get to see her amazingness and no matter how many people love her for all she gives out and shares, that she is still my dear friend and timelessly available to laugh and connect. She is the realest deal and has helped me shake off my "imposter syndrome" around my pottery by giving me a platform on her blog to share like a professional potter because she is that kind of friend.  You know, the kind that believes in you when you are covered in self-doubt. She is the person in your corner always. Whether you need a hug or a kick-in-the-ass, Becca is the person you want in that corner and you want to be reading her blog starting today, right now, go over there! Screen Shot 2018-11-15 at 3.21.58 PM

FamilyMelissaComment
Thursday moment & a broken leg

This one has to go out to little Henry who found himself at the hospital on Thursday with a broken leg! Our sweet little dude jumped from a cubby at school on Monday and then had a normal day. At bedtime, he started to express discomfort but we hugged him and loved him and wished him sweet dreams. In the morning, things changed. We woke to him crying out from his bed that he could not get up. Not sure what was wrong with him, I carried him downstairs and set him up on the couch with a little snack, a little blanket and a little TV while David and I got dressed and ready for school. A few minutes later my mom arrived and sat with him and the two of them started their morning with Owen joining in shortly. We kissed goodbye and backing out of the driveway, David and I headed out for a normal work day. About 15 miles from home, my mom called and said that Henry was inconsolable. This wasn't just a bruise or a pulled muscle. He was crying on the floor and unable to take himself to the bathroom. Immediately turning around, it was time to bring Henry to the hospital and his pediatrician agreed. After a long walk from the parking garage to the hospital entry, in which Henry was quite uncomfortable, we finally made it to the doctor's office. A few Xrays later and Henry was getting his "hulk leg" cast to stabilize and immobilize his leg which showed signs of a break at the growth plate of his femur. For the next three weeks, he will be donning this new look. He was so brave throughout the process. He waited so long in multiple doctors' offices, then had to experience his first Xrays, followed by a full leg cast, and having to be carried in the pouring rain back to the car with a bag on his leg. Not once did he complain or fuss. He just cuddled and played with his toys and answered all the questions that the doctors asked as his team worked to locate and understand the problem. He even laughed a little while we tried to make it to our car as quickly as possible while the heavens poured down on us. It is crazy to say this, but seeing him tackle this and conquer this just makes me fall in love with him all over again because he is crazy brave and crazy cool and just the sweetest little guy.

Fall in New England

Yes, we had the most beautiful and basic New England fall days this weekend. We have less then 14 days until the end of the school term and what I like to think of as the official kick-off of the holiday season and this past weekend was a glorious lead-up. From time spent together, to time spent outside, to a date night finished off with a kids ice cream sundae for each of us, it was a quite good one.

FamilyMelissaComment
When is Christmas?

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.

Alkire00020Alkire00037

One time I saw a psychic

I thought about that one time a lot this weekend. About 10 years ago, on a super rainy afternoon (I think maybe even a tropical depression was sweeping across Boston), David and I and a friend went to see a psychic downtown. It was a creepy event: gray skies, torrential rains, and the storefront sitting directly across the street from a colonial period burial ground. What brought us there? Our friend had shared about her previous experience in which the psychic saw deep into her past in explicit and concrete ways and even made not-so-soon-into-the-future predictions that rang true with her head space for the decisions that needed to be made. As a total skeptic, I thought it would be more fun than anything else to get my tarot card read and check out that one-time experience of psychic predictions. The space was exactly as you might imagine it. Dark lighting, some old thread worn carpeting, and lots of decor of stars, moons, and other celestial bodies filling the room along with various pillows of what was supposed to be lush and plush ornamentation but read more like a Pier 1 clearance aisle ransacked. We sat on chairs, that reminded me of seats from the local Columbus Hall,  in the waiting space behind a silk screen partition for our turns. The psychic was a heavy set man, probably in his mid thirties. I was beckoned over to his folding table covered in a tapestry tablecloth where he asked me to cut the deck of tarot cards to begin.

That is when things got weird. I remember at the time begin taken aback by many of the claims and insights he shared. The ones that have stuck with me throughout the years were:

  • Are you lactating? You are giving off a "milk making" vibe.

WTF!! This is crazy. Who has a milk making vibe? Did I smell like milk? I was not. Nor was I planning to have a baby any time soon since David and I only started dating.

  • You have a thyroid problem.

I do? Whoa....my recent blood work had not revealed this issue.

  • You live in Southborough.

I lived 10 minutes by T from this dude's psychic location, not 20+ miles from downtown Boston

  • You will have four children but two of them will be girls' and they won't be your children.

Huh? I don't want four children, that is just too many. Also, what does "won't be yours" mean? Like will I steal them? 

I left the session dismissing all the crazy. While it was fun, it was also an apparent waste of my time. But his prediction sat with me because they felt so bizarre in how direct and confident he was in delivering them. Every time they crept back into my mind, I would remind myself that of course he needed to share confidently whatever crazy story he was spinning because otherwise he would not have a "job."

So ten years later, perhaps if I bend around the tale a little you can make the argument that all of his predictions ACTUALLY came true.

  • I nursed both boys and it was a relatively easy experience though exhausting. It felt really awesome to accomplish that despite early troubles getting started and working full-time.
  • When I was pregnant with Henry and Owen, I did have thyroid problems and now who knows potentially I might see my thyroid crop up again on to the "naughty" list of organs not doing their job.
  • While I don't live in Southborough, I do live way outside of Boston. Perhaps he got the town's name wrong but knew that my true point of settling would not be within the confines of the metropole.
  • I have two sons. This should come as NO surprise to anyone. BUT I do have 2 goddaughters. When Avery was born, my brother and sister-in-law asked me to take on this super special role and then just this past weekend, I was asked a second time to be the godmother to my bestie's baby, Juliet. So I have 4 children but the two girls are technically "not my children."

Who would have thought that a kooky visit to a psychic might turn out to have been 100% valid over the course of a ten year landscape....or perhaps I am just remembering it that way, haha.

Alkire00019

By request

Last night was this crazy sweet moment. The four of us were sitting at the dinner table sharing some grilled chicken and veggies and a side dish of silliness. Henry shared about his memories of preschool which sometimes blends multiple days' experiences into one and Owen shared about his time with Mema visiting the new puppy and bringing Henry to school. It was a sweet scene peppered from time to time with a little hysteria over whether or not someone will taste every item on their plate. We try not to make the dinner table a battlefield but we do encourage everyone to taste everything...this trend tends to turn the highly objectionable item into a substance approvingly (and sometimes delightfully) consumed because, wow, that thing actually doesn't taste like poison after all! And last night while running through these family norms, Henry asked if he could come down and watch me "do pottery." Then Owen mimicked the request and I thought for a moment how awesome it would be to bring together these two worlds. So often, I wait and wait and wait until the kids are asleep, the house is picked up, my students' worked is graded, lessons are planned, emails are sent before finally giving myself the time to find my pottery wheel. Late and alone, I do one item and feel both elated and guilty that I am not in bed and guilty that I don't figure out a way to navigate this hobby better into a daily practice. How do I do all the things? But, last night after dinner was eaten and picked up, the boys came downstairs with me and to watch "the pottery." They helped me cut the clay and they asked questions about why I was doing what I was doing. They shared little amazements about the simplest things, like when I used a sponge to bring water onto the spinning wheel and ball of clay and it shot out like splatter plaint art. When I pulled the walls, they were both so excited and shouted, "Look at that!" And then Henry got nervous and asked, "How tall can it go!? Will it be bigger than our house." And all I could do was smile because sharing this with them and seeing their wonderment was so freaking awesome. We are moving into this new phase of life where David and I can share in real ways our passions and hobbies with the little ones and they want to grow and expand on these little introductions and get their hands dirty and share together more as a family experiences because the basic survival mode of life with tiny babies is fading.

Bedtime routines

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 Balancing Act

Checking out of the grocery store way back in 2012, I vividly remember a magazine cover. The image immediately drew my attention. A little child sat in a mom's work briefcase looking up longingly with big, brown eyes. The bold black title that hung over head took my breathe away, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All." My response was shock. Yes, the work-life balance routine is hard. But, I thought I had it all. In 2012, I felt alive in my feminism, my career, my marriage, my community, and balked at that article. I didn't even read it, because it did not resonate with me and my life. Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 10.00.17 AM.png

But I never forgot that magazine cover. It weirdly haunted me.

Two years later, I became a mom. It continues to be the most amazing, rewarding, and enriching life experience that I have the privilege to share in with David. Our hearts grew when we added a second little boy 20 months later. But, then that article made total and utter sense! It haunted me all those years because I knew the message rang true. Raising a little human(s) is demanding. Not only because they have needs that their caregiver must provide, but also because ,as a parent, I had needs too. I wanted to be with these little creations. Sitting on the floor and cuddling them and playing with them was so important to David and me. They change so quickly that it is hard to leave them because my world shifted inward towards them. As they become more independent and interesting the desire to experience the world alongside of them continues to deepen. These three relationships are primary in my life because of biological and emotional connection. At the same the time, the house needs up-keep. Food needs to be bought, made, stored, cleaned-up as does the laundry, and so many other household "chores." When do you do these? In front of them cutting down on your time together to enjoy each other? When they go to sleep cutting down your time to rest and restart? It is a balancing act to do all the necessary tasks while also giving your love and attention to them. The layering of these two demands is heavy. Then add full-time work. This layer removes you from your primary loves for 8+ hours every Monday through Friday. Now your time together as a family is cut significantly during the week and the house piece of life gets squeezed into these odd pockets of time. Late nights folding laundry at 11PM means waking up groggy trying to be engaged in morning play  at 5AM but also who is going to make breakfast? The weekends follow a similar balancing routine. With teaching, I bring home work nightly. This adds to the time crunch. Family, house, work compete incessantly in my mind for the limited hours of the day. Then friends and fun become even harder to shift forward in the long-wait line.

A friend shared this comic with me a little while back and it reminded me of that article in the Atlantic. It visualizes so beautifully and precisely the inner turmoil of trying to have it all, do it all, and be all things to all the relationships you want to engage in and feel obligated, at times, to maintain despite knowing that unless you stop time you will fail at some or all of this often. Motherhood is the most humbling experience of my life because it forces me everyday to be give of myself as completely as I can to my family, work, and other relationships, to be efficient, to fail, and to try again at the same balancing game every day.

So why am I writing about this now? None of this new or likely different from the stories of other working moms. Obviously, women and moms, in particular, face this dilemma. But, for me, the transition from life as a "stay at home mom" in the summers always brings back into focus the intense shift of the school year. From having the time to focus on family, friends, travel, and interests and enough time to get the basic maintenance of the house in order, to being back to the grind of the school year and the game of work-life balance is such a hard transition for me. The craziness of it all because normal and lived and by June my "trying to make it all work" muscles are pretty good at it. But then the 12 weeks off, reminds me of that article in the Atlantic and I just wish there was another way....

Family, UncategorizedMelissaComment
Summer Bucket List

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?

Wingearshaek Beach

Beach Days... yes, multiple!

Lunch with David

Davis Farmland

Eat oysters

Get a pottery wheel

California

Newport, RI

Hopkinton State Park

Ashland state park

Kayaking

SUPing

Salem

Gloucester

Beach Picnic

Summer Concert

Aquarium

Running in a Fountain

Eating outside

Roger Williams Zoo

Strawberry Picking

Riding bikes (my only picture of them on wheels)

Lobster rolls

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.

No more babies live here...almost

Owen's summer has been full of major shifts. My sister-in-law came to visit on the last day of the school year marking the official beginning of our time home together as a family. A time when I get to pretend I stay home with my littles 24/7. And this summer included a long list of transitions. First, on the docket was potty training. As a second born, the idea of pottery training Owen was far less intimidating than the first rodeo with Henry. The main hurdle with training Henry wasn't the training part at all. It was the mental space I had to get over when you do anything new with a little one. Getting into a routine that works, that feels relatively easy, and that lets you get out and about isn't super simple to achieve and life always throws some curveball at you to undo your baby steps of progress, so the idea of intentionally disrupting  the "calm" was the hardest part for me. Once I got out of my own way, and we started the three day long process, it became apparent that this wasn't as hard as it originally seemed. So doing it a second time with Owen was easier to get started. And the little guy was definitely ready. Having a model in his big brother, he simply followed Henry's pace and he is always so eager to be like his brother that he waited in line behind H in the bathroom and we are officially out of diapers in this house. And just like that one of the biggest defining attributes of babyhood is extinct for us.

But if we are "advanced" in one area then we are "babyish" in another. We landed on a red-eye from California at the beginning of August and took away Owen's baby crib rail determined to transition our big kid into a toddler bed. The first night went well. Exhausted from his travels, Owen only attempted an escape once before resting his head for the night. David and I patted each other on the back for shedding one more baby-layer in our dedicated summer to big kid transitions. Then.....reality hit. For the next week, Owen ramped up his efforts to intimidate us. David left for Florida with Henry and I was alone doing a 2+ hour bedtime drama. Owen would scream, kick, tantrum, and leave his bed at least 1,000,000 a night. When he finally gave up the ghost, he slept so poorly waking up multiple times at night crying out for me and was "up for the day" at 5AM. When you go from solid, good sleeping to crappy sleeping you start to wonder maybe, just maybe, you made a mistake. Everyone you talk to about these big kid transitions tells you to stay the course, be firm, and hold on to the change. And I totally subscribe to this ideology. But every night Owen's refusal lasted longer and his commitment to waking up and having disturbed sleep grew. So while Owen might be pottery trained, he is back in a crib. Immediately after putting his crib rail back, he delightfully said, "my cribby." At bedtime, he snuggled in with his stuffies and went immediately to sleep and stayed in his bed until 6:30AM and he even napped again for 2 hours. He clearly feels secure and comfortable in his crib and has no desire to escape his cozy baby bed....yet. So do I feel like we made the right decision? In reality yes.  We will just try again at some other time when he and we feel ready again.

But to end on a high note of transitional success, we tossed out all of our baby sippy cups. This was definitely a reactive step on my part. None of the boys were really even using them but after feeling like we "failed" on our second major transition of eradicating cribs, I cleaned out the entire kitchen cabinet of baby plastic cups, spoons, utensils, etc. Immediately, it gave us more kitchen space to think about what the boys could use now as big kids, and felt like another chapter ended: no more soaking plastic cups, sippies, and plates. Every night since Henry was born there was some plastic kitchen equipment that needed special tending and now that was not a part of our routine and it felt both liberating and sad. We almost don't have babies anymore. And that leaves us with a lot of feels. I both want them to continue to be funny, spunky, creative, and playful "big kids" but I also want them to stay just like this and cuddle in their footie pajamas forever. Why can't we ever just have our cake and eat it too?

Too much fun in the California sun

Sitting here on the red eye back is not fun. Owen screamed for twenty minutes while thrashing about like a tuna fish hauled out of the sea and slapped onto the deck. The whole scene was quite horrifying for us. Although, thankfully, Henry remained unalarmed while he watched some shows and snacked on chips during Owen's epic airplane meltdown. Finally little man gave up the ghost and passed out on the floor between our row and the traumatized passengers in front of us. Henry graciously put himself to sleep and no joke slipped on his complimentary night mask and out he went. And I drank a mini bottle of champagne and stayed wide awake for our cross continental journey. Because at any moment the situation could turn and I needed to be ready to pounce on any screamer! But the now few minutes of silence before we begin our initial descent has me reminiscing about our SoCal adventure. Every time we visit, I just want to pick up the fam and move out to this coast. It is just so darn beautiful, tropical feeling, and the amount of fun we have with our family slipping into their daily lives for a few days is always beautifully awesome. We were out in the sun everyday exploring SoCal and trying new things with the boys from a visit to Legoland to ocean kayaking and SUPing, we tired ourselves out but enjoyed every minute of the family time. The kids fell even more in love with their cousins and I know they will be missing them super hard until we see them again in November.

The double double

Grab your Rosé mama and join me at the campfire for a tale so mystical and mythical that it may forever become part of motherhood folklore! When the event occurred, my awareness for the unique situation was keyed up. I both wanted to share the events with friends and strangers but worried that no one would ever believe me. There are dozens and dozens of memes about children sleeping in the carseat and the spectrum of crazy a parent emotionally tackles during this circumstance: Child fell asleep while mom drives into garage for 2 seconds and wakes up "totally refreshed" from the long blink, child falls asleep in carseat and parent decides to hit up the drive-thru Starbucks for a 40 minute silent car nap and coffee BUT baby takes massive blow-out and is screaming all the way home instead, and, of course, a dad dressed in a bomb suit trying to transfer a baby from carseat to house while sleeping. Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 8.00.02 AM.png

If you are a parent, you know these feels and these situations all too well. You likely experience them EVERY day plus so many more. But I am here to tell you that when the moon is blue, when pigs fly, and when you think that all hope is lost there is such a thing as the double double transfer!

Double double transfer: verb. To move two sleeping children from their carseats into something else (i.e. crib, bed, stroller), and to successful return sleeping children into the carseat.

I know what you are thinking, NO WAY! Not is a million years could a parent successfully move TWO sleeping children out of their carseats into something and then back into the carseat. But on July 14, 2018 at approximately 1:05PM, in Wrentham, MA this happened. You might have felt the shift in the universe and thought it  was a minor earthquake tremor or perhaps a spirit moved through you, but no it was me experiencing the impossible.

After lunch on Saturday, we kissed David goodbye and packed the boys up in the car for a quick errand to the outlets. I barely backed the car out of the driveway when it became too quiet. Looking in the mirror, it was confirmed that the two little dudes had fallen asleep. Panic set in. The drive to the store was 15 minutes. That was not nearly long enough for a proper nap, but I also did not want to spend an hour + driving around for a car nap. I decided that I would just deal with them waking up after a 15 minute nod off and see what happened in the car ride home and just prepare myself for a moody evening with the boys because of that 15 minutes of shut eye. We parked in the lot, and I braced for them to wake up confused and angry!  Opening the trunk, I slide out and assembled the stroller and went for the first boy,Henry. There was NO way he was going to stay asleep. I would open the car door and his eyes would follow.  But then I opened the car door and his eyes remained closed. Thinking this was weird, I unbuckled him, lifted him, and settled him down in his stroller seat without a slight wakening. Then I started to hold my breath. Could I also do this with Owen? Feeling both cocky and terrified, I strolled over to his side of the car, opened the door, carried him out, and placed him in his seat. Taking my first breath in 5 minutes, I nearly fainted from the crazy transfer I just completed! WHERE WAS MY AUDIENCE? Where were the rounds of applause? Immediately, I called my mom and David because no one would believe this and it had to be documented. Then we headed into Jcrew and for the first time in maybe four years, I shopped "alone."  I went into the store with the hope that I could quickly grab one thing, and here I was meandering through the store slowly taking my time with each clothing rack, thinking about items, evaluating selections, and just shopping peacefully and quietly. Slipping the cashier my money, I was in shock that still they remained sleeping. Heading back to the car, I knew my time was up and I thanked the gods and prepared for the kiddos to wake up confused and angry when I moved them back into the vehicle.

Taking probably a dozen preparatory breaths, I attempted my first transfer of Henry. He slipped right back into the seat eyes closed. I felt invincible! Then Owen followed suit. It was a miracle: a double double transfer. Could I also fly? Read minds? Cure diseases? Win the Lotto? Life felt invigorating. And before you think, "Wow this is the lamest thing ever," I want to say that I have gone skydiving and the sensation of excellence, surprise, and thrill that I got from backing my car out of that parking spot was the equivalent of jumping out of that plane over Chatham and that is when I knew my identity as mom was cemented fully and I was totally cool with that.

More summer vibes

July is a month of celebrating! There is America's birthday, Henry's birthday, even Nathaniel Hawthorne has a birthday this month. David's dad and step-mom come for a visit and the travels of friends and family bring so many of our loved one into our daily life with stops in Massachusetts and quick reconnections. With all this, we are summering hard but somehow it is already mid-month! Sitting next to the boys this morning, I just feel so lucky to be able to soak up this warm month with them and am plotting and planning how we continue this awesome trend of exploring, enjoying, and entertaining.

Six squares

For Henry's birthday we got a few temporary Star Wars tattoos. He added a BB8 and a stormtrooper to each of his forearms and ran about believing in the magic of birthday parties and saving the rebel army. This morning his little tattoos were starting to rub off evidence of a good time and the morning after his soirée. Disappointed the pictures were not permanent, we chatted a little bit about tattoos and what they are and why people get them. Henry knew his Uncle Andy had tattoos and we tried to remember them all and their meaning together. Then he exclaimed, "you have triangles." And I do. In the way way back of the highlander I said that, "I waited until I was a grown-up to decide if I wanted something on my body forever and ever. I chose three little triangles because they represent you, Owen, and daddy. And you three are the most important humans to me in the whole world." Thinking quietly Henry said for his fifth birthday he would like to get six squares for his six ladies: mommy, Mema, Mom-mom, Alyza, Bella, and daisy. That is just about the cutest thing ever.