Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Attached at the hip and teaming up against Mommy.

It is every mother's dream to have children grow up without sibling rivalry, instead loving and sharing with each other.  Pete and Chester, of course, have days where they beat on each other.  This morning, I had to send Chester to time out for clocking Pete in the head with a hockey stick.  But for the most part, my little guys love each other and are becoming totally inseparable. 

Weeks ago, as Chester started learning two-word phrases, he started with "Pete, wait!"  Every Tuesday and Thursday, the drop off at pre-school is agonizing, dragging Chester back out to our car while Pete hangs up his coat and heads into the music room. 

You may think it's just one-way, that Chester idolizes Pete and Pete could care less, but that's just not true.  When I take Pete out for his special date to Dunkin Donuts or the grocery store, he asks "Where's Chester?"  and "Can Chester come too?"

It used to be a problem putting them to bed together because they would get out of bed and play together.  Or if Pete could be convinced to stay in bed, I would find Chester in Pete's bed, jumping on his head while Pete tried desperately to pretend he's asleep.  So we've been putting them to bed separately for about the last year, waiting for Chester to fall asleep before adding Pete to the room.  Last week, we bought them a big boy bedroom set complete with bunk beds and suddenly, they want to go to bed together.  Chester won't go to sleep without Pete in the top bunk.  Chester climbs out of his bottom bunk and comes out to find Pete, over and over until I finally send Pete to bed too.  In the morning, if Chester gets up and comes to our room, we hear "Mommy, where's Chester" once Pete wakes up and misses his brother. 

But tonight takes the cake.  I put Chester to bed, and let him keep his sippy of water.  Pete headed to bed too, and started whining that he was thirsty.  Though I don't allow Pete to have extra water at bedtime (this kid is a peeing machine all night, and often wets through his pull-up, soaking the bed) I relented because Chester got out of bed to get up and offer Pete his "bup".

It warms my heart to see them run and play together, totally worth the struggles and hassles of two boys 21 months apart.  I love to see them giggle and "getcha getcha" but I can't help feeling like they're starting to team up against me, and with the addition of a third soon, I know I'm in big trouble. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Okay, I actually know exactly where you are.  There's no hiding from me, little baby dinosaur!  I have decided on the "if you pack it, the baby will come" method (and thank you to Kim for helping to name that method)

Today marks just shy of 38 weeks, and as of Wednesday, I'll be eligible to deliver at the birth center (instead of the associated hospital).  For those keeping stats, this morning I measured at 1cm which is not surprising at this stage, but also doesn't indicate impending labor.  I warned the midwife that the baby is nice and low, and she was still surprised this morning because his head really is right there.  I am hoping for a nice, easy, quick, birth center water birth just like last time.

I'm also prepared for things to go differently, and have planned accordingly, arranging back-up childcare for the older boys and considering all the different requirements for a transfer to the hospital if necessary.  The extra hospital forms are on file, and I've taken a tour of the hospital. 

The cradle is ready (Thanks Jennie and Shannon!) the car seat is ready, the diapers are folded and the clothes are washed and put away.  The list of people to call when I go into labor is complete.  The iPad is loaded with music for labor, and the Nook is loaded with books for reading while we hang out in the hospital for two days after the baby's born. 

Earlier this week, I shaved my legs and gave myself a pedicure.  I also picked up water-proof mascara, as my current mascara is merely smudge-proof and certainly not birthing-tub-proof.  Laugh all you want, some women say the last thing they're thinking about is looking good while giving birth.  I think anything that gives you confidence as you're going into labor is worth the effort. 

I packed my bags with comfy clothes for the birthing tub, and extra clothes for after I get out and dry off to hang out with my new baby.  Also packed my makeup and favorite soaps and shampoo.  Don't forget the hair dryer!  I didn't pack one with my first baby because it wasn't on the hospital's packing list.  I guess they don't expect new Moms to want to shower and dry our hair?  Again, no problems if that's the last thing on your mind, but getting back to presentable makes me feel better, and a hair dryer is pretty important to that process. 

I am ready and impatient, just like all the other moms-to-be are right about now.  Scheduling a birth is a modern convenience that comes with additional risks that I'm not willing to take, so instead I will just wait.  Impatiently.  I want this baby to come for the 2011 tax break.  I want this baby to come so I'll be sufficiently recovered to enjoy my trip to San Diego in January.  I want this baby to come so I can sleep comfortably with fewer than five pillows.  I want this baby to come because my last one was over ten pounds at 41 weeks and I'd prefer a nice eight pound sized baby.

But in reality, this kid can hang out as long as he needs to, and I'll let him come in his own time (minus a few gentle methods to coax him out like primrose oil and walking the mall) because a happy healthy baby is more important to me than the tax deduction for 2011.  I am blessed not to be affected by pre-eclampsia or any other medical conditions requiring medical interventions in my delivery, so this baby will show up when he's good and ready.  Besides, we still need to come up with a name...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chivalry (or perhaps Pity) is not dead.

Last week I went grocery shopping on a Sunday night.  Anyone in my local area will tell you Sunday night at Market Basket is the worst idea ever (even worse than the Commissary on the first of the month!).  I was actually pretty excited about it because I scored an evening shopping with only one child, while Ryan kept Chester home to get ready for bed. 

The grocery closes at 7pm on Sunday nights.  I arrived at 5:30pm with a short shopping list, including some turkey and cheese from the deli.  Pete pulled a deli number for me- number 52.  I checked and saw they were only on 15.  Seriously.  15.  The deli was mobbed, as expected, with everyone who packs a lunch for work or school every day.  I finished my shopping, checking back often to make sure I didn't miss my number.  After finishing my entire list they were on 31.  So Pete and I settled in to wait for our number, and I mentally prepared myself for a tantrum or meltdown.  We compared his number (that's five-two for the three-year old crowd) to the deli number and I chatted him up about school, and what letters he learned this week (J and K), and what starts with letter K (kite, kitten, kangaroo). 

Either we were the most annoying cart in the deli area, or this older gentleman was truly an angel because he walked over and told me he had pulled a number, and his wife had also pulled a number, so would I like number 37?  I can't exactly jump for joy, and in would be inappropriate to kiss a total stranger in the grocery store, so instead I just thanked him earnestly and accepted his extra number.  Even Pete must have been relieved because he also said "thank you sir" (I seriously love this kid, I can't claim I've been the best mom, but he is the best three year old I know!) and started comparing his new number to the deli numbers.  "Mom, we're three-seven, and that says three-two, are we next?" 

Less than ten minutes later I ordered our turkey and cheese and we headed for the checkout.  Checking the clock as we left, I realized that without that gentleman's kind offer of his extra number, we wouldn't have gotten our deli order before the store closed. 

So thank you, kind man at the deli counter, you made our week.  Or at least our sandwiches this week.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's finally acceptable.

For months, I've been lying about my due date.  I just got tired of the shocked or horrified look on people's faces back in July when I told them I was due in January.  So when some well-meaning stranger asks when I'm due, I just pick an appropriate fake date and smile.  Random strangers have no agenda, they're not trying to ruin my day or my self-esteem.  They just want to be part of a happy moment, this beautiful time when you're creating life and what's the harm in that?

Please note, this does not excuse family, who, KNOWING the due date, continue to make remarks like "you look huge" or "are you sure it's January" or "ohh my, HOW much weight have you gained".  Shame on you.

Aside from the fact that this beautiful time of creating life is really quite painful and miserable, there's no harm in a stranger wanting to congratulate you and celebrate with you.  So instead of getting worked up over these strangers, I've chosen to give them what they want without horrifying either of us.  I lie about my due date. 

I was tired of explaining that this is the third baby in four years or that I started ten pounds heavier than with the first two, while the well-meaning stranger tried to back peddle or just plain looked embarrassed (for me being so huge or for them being so rude, I'm not sure which).

Around 10 weeks, I hadn't gained a single pound, yet I was already in maternity pants and looking quite puffy and round.  The bloating made me look approximately five months pregnant, and the vomiting made my face as puffy and round as my belly.  Most people haven't even announced their pregnancies at 10 weeks, but I was already claiming September as my due date.   

At 20 weeks, and only up 4 pounds, I looked like a beached whale at my cousin's wedding.  I'm wicked glad the focus was on her stunning dress, his adoring smile, and their bright future because it pre-empted most of the standard "when are you due" questions.

Starting around 28 weeks, I got the "you must be glad to be almost done!" to which I just started answering, "yes, I am glad, we're very excited, thank you."  About 96% of babies born this early will survive, so yes,  was very excited to be at a point where my baby would likely live if he were born today.  And "almost done" is a relative term, so I wasn't quite lying.   

Finally, at 37 weeks, I look like I'm 37 weeks.  We attended a holiday party for the District One Admiral yesterday, and if felt great to answer "yes, due just after Christmas, any time now is just fine with me" to all the sweet older ladies asking when I am due and if I am ready yet. 

Here I am, huge as a house, but it's finally acceptable.  Please excuse the lack of makeup, I've come to the point of simply storing it in my car, since that's the only place I have time to apply it. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The snuggles keep me from going bat shit crazy.

Despite any (okay, a lot) of frustration with the pre-schooler recently, he really is my sweet little guy.  Pete will be four in April, and he's finally giving up naps.  I'm a little sad, because it means I'm losing about two hours of my day where I could also lay down for a break.  Realistically, adding in the third baby next month meant I was going to lose that two hours anyway, so now is a good time to accept the new routine.   But the consequence of an overtired pre-schooler around here means he can dissolve into a fit of tears over the slightest provocation that wouldn't normally phase him.  It also means he is quite hyper, literally running into the walls, the couch, the chair over and over while screaming made up songs in an effort to fight the sleep.

Pete is now typically able to make it all day with just a quiet time after lunch while Chester sleeps, but occasionally he just can't take it anymore.  Here's what happened while I cooked dinner earlier this week:

Tonight I could see that Pete was having a rough afternoon, barely keeping it together while I made dinner (a failed attempt at General Tso's but that's a whole other blog).  We pushed up the time for jammies, cleaning the toys and 30 minutes of a special show (the current favorite is the DVR of Ice Age Christmas) and by 7pm we sat down to read a book in our rocking chair.  I snuggled him up on my lap and read the Lion King book.  And then he fell asleep in my arms as we rocked.  It's been years since Pete has fallen asleep in my arms and it's one of the sweetest things in life.  It's enough to give me the strength for tomorrow, and one day at a time is all you can ask for with soon to be three boys under four. 

Dum Dum awards

At our MOPS group, every other Thursday morning, we take a moment to share our "dumb" parenting moments.  You get a dum dum lollipop to celebrate your folly, and we all share a good laugh.  It's a reminder that we ALL have those moments in parenting, and the only way to move forward is to laugh it off. 

A few weeks ago, I shared the story of my super-productive day.  I was showered, with my hair styled and make-up on when we left the house for pre-school at 7:30am.  This alone, is a miracle!  I dropped off Pete, attended a great MOPS meeting, went grocery shopping, went to the bank, picked up Pete, had a meeting with our insurance agent to finalize a few documents, cooked a healthy and balanced dinner and I was ready to head out to my "Meet the pre-school parents" night when my friend arrived to babysit.  It was one of those days you feel like you've got your sh*t together and you are on top of the world!  Then I looked in the mirror to check my makeup before heading to the pre-school night, and realized the shirt I'd been wearing all day was see-through.  I had been wearing something else when I first got dressed, but during breakfast, the boys or I must have spilled something, so I just grabbed another t-shirt  and topped it with a little cardigan.  Unfortunately, I had selected an old and very thin t-shirt, and looking in the mirror now at 7pm, it was glaringly obvious that my bra had a lovely flower and lace pattern under the t-shirt.  All day I had been flashing people, though my friend swears up and down she assumed it was a camisole and not just my bra, so I can only hope others thought that as well. 

How did I get through an entire day without looking in the mirror?  I must have used the bathroom that day, didn't I take two seconds to check my outfit or look for a smudge in my makeup or a flyaway hair?  I guess I must have been so busy being productive that I was completely un-self-conscious.  Coming from a person who does my very best to look presentable in all situations, I'm shocked that it was an entire day I didn't look in the mirror, but I guess that's what motherhood does to you.

This blog is like those dum-dum awards, because really, my life is constantly one mishap after another.  I think it's important, though that I've accomplished the laughing part.  When your husband shatters two Christmas ornaments crashing them together to demonstrate that they're plastic and not glass, you have to laugh or you'll cry.  When your children refuse to share any of their toys during a playdate and the other children at the playdate are also throwing a tantrum, looking for barbies to play with and the whole situation is just so ridiculous you must laugh together because sharing that laugh meant you weren't alone today.  When haul out the presents and wrapping paper to start wrapping your Christmas present during naptime, only to find that you're completely out of scotch tape after just three presents, there's absolutely nothing you can do about it, so you might as well put them all back in the bags, then have a cookie and go lay down next to your sleeping toddler.   

My life, and my blog are our own little world of dum-dum awards and I wouldn't have it any other way.  We're too busy having fun to get everything right, and sometimes getting it all wrong is the most fun anyway.   

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I could get used to this.

Six years ago, I spent my first Thanksgiving as a newlywed baking with a girlfriend in the first tiny apartment that my husband and I rented. 
Pretty sure we didn't make a turkey, so I'm not sure what she's carving!

Then I spent my first Christmas as a newlywed back in Ohio with my parents, with only a brief phone call from my husband who was floating somewhere in the middle of the Caribbean.  I enjoyed an email on New Year's eve, but I made big plans to celebrate our first Valentine's day together when he finally returned.  It's been hit or miss, in the six years since that first Christmas, if he's home for any particular holiday or family celebration.  I knew, or at least I thought I understood, what I was getting myself into when I married a man in the Coast Guard.  I've shared holidays with friends, taken in stray non-rates for holidays, moved 600 miles on Christmas Eve, but thankfully I've never been alone.  It's been an adventure for sure!

This past summer, Ryan transferred to a land-based billet where he doesn't stand duty.  This is a first for us, a first for him, and quite a treat, after 10 years of boats and standing watch, sometimes every other day/night.  He's been home for birthdays and holidays, and barring some sort of national disaster, he should be home for all the holidays for the next thee years.  It's likely he'll be present when our third child is born, and even have some time off to help me recover and adjust to life with three boys.  While this is considered standard in the civilian world, it's a total luxury for active duty. 

So for our Thanksgiving, we decided to relax and celebrate, just the four of us.  The boys and I baked pies in the morning, and then they watched football with Ryan while I made a roasted chicken, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, and mashed potatoes.  I even made gravy from scratch, with no lumps.  I'm a veritable Suzy-homemaker.  

 I meant to take a picture BEFORE we started serving....

Pete decorated the pie- that's a gingerbread man and hearts on Daddy's cherry pie.

Please note: there aren't even cracks in my beautiful pumpkin pie.
I could get used to this, and what's even worse, I will get used to this, only to be left behind in three years when Ryan goes back to sea.  It is the Coast Guard, it is a sea-going service, and what's even worse (or maybe better) it's what Ryan loves to do.  He enjoy his time on the boat, out in the middle of the ocean.  While some Coasties try for a station or other land jobs, Ryan would spend all his tours on a boat if he could.  So I'll just enjoy my three year break, full-well knowing that I'll be left behind in three years to begin celebrating all our holidays a week, or a month or a few months late again. 

The first casualty of the Holiday Season

It's a good thing I have a sense of humor.  And a good thing we have good health insurance. 

On Black Friday, Ryan returned home early from work, and we set out on our holiday tradition to set up our Christmas Tree the day after Thanksgiving.  Nevermind that I've been celebrating Christmas for almost a month now, that's just a fluke of the snowstorm before Halloween and my desire to rush my due date.  We went to our local tree lot, picked a nice full tree and headed home to decorate.

After pulling the Christmas boxes out of the basement, Ryan hung the lights, then the boys helped with the garland and plastic ornaments.  On a side note, when I say that some of our ornaments are glass, let me suggest you not slam them together to test that theory.  (Ah-hem, Ryan!)  But we survived putting up the tree, and it looks great! 

Next we pulled out the decorations for the mantle, including a garland of pinecones and dried berries, and this is where the evening goes downhill.  Chester must have pulled a few berries off the garland, but I only noticed as he was pulling them back out of his nose.  He was also pointing to his nose, telling me "ouchie".  Because of a story my friend KH told last week at MOPS, my mind instantly jumped to the conclusion that he had a dried holly berrry up his nose.  We pulled out the flashlight and tried to look, but couldn't see anything and I was about to call it a night, but he again pointed to his nose and told me "ouchie."

Thanking God that we have good health insurance (read: no ER co-pay), I called our pediatrician and headed for the ER.  The pediatric ER at Salem Hospital got us in, through triage and registration and to a treatment room within 10 minutes of our arrival.  The pedicatrician arrived less than an hour later, confirmed a berry was still lodged up his nose, and used a little spray to numb his nose and shrink the nose tissue to give her a bigger path to remove the berry.  Then she used this really neat little glowing fiber-optic noose to get behind the berry and pull it back out of his nose.  About 90 minutes after our arrival, we were handed discharge papers and headed home.  Ater Chester's slip in the kitchen and subsequent stitches this spring, and his weekend ear infections last winter, I'm beginning to think that he's earning a gold level frequent flier card at the Salem Hospital ER. 

I should mention that the discharge papers did include tylenol for any discomfort and the instructions to "teach your child not to put things in his/her nose".  Thank you, Captain Obvious.  My firstborn managed to live to the ripe old age of 3.5 without shoving anything up his nose so far, so I'm not going to be guilted into feeling like a bad mother just because my 21 month old shoved a dried berry up his nose.  Some kids are just a little more.... adventuresome than others. 

Other than crying while being held down as we looked up his nose, Chester was totally chill through the entire process.  He played happily in the treatment room, climbing on the bed, jumping on the painted shapes on the floor and counting the numbers on the IV pole.  Chester is my polite little sweetheart, and he thanked the Doctor, even with tears still in his eyes after we had to hold him down and shove a fiber-optic noose up his nose.  He enjoyed his popsicle while we waited for his discharge papers, and then ran down the hall yelling "bye-bye, thank you".  He even pushed the door-assist button and turned around to wave as he waited patiently for the door to open before making a dash to the exit. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It was the best day, it was the best day.

If you've seen the Progressive insurance commercials recently, you might be humming along with me.  "It was the best day... it was the best day."  I looked around online a little, and I didn't come up with the title or composer or the rest of the lyrics, so I'm assuming it's just a jingle someone wrote for the commercial.  But it does make me smile, watching the guy dream of his perfect day with the Progressive insurance sales lady. 

I have to imagine that this morning was something like that perfect dream day for Pete and Chester.  Our Tuesday and Thursday mornings can be a bit hectic, but this morning we made it out the house on time, with no yelling, and everyone dressed (except for Chester's shoes- see yesterday's blog about the ocean...).  Any morning that Mom's not yelling by 7am is a good morning around here!

I looked up the train schedule last week and discovered that there's an 8:01am commuter train at Beverly Depot, which is just down the street from Pete's school.  The reward for leaving the house on time is to pull into the parking lot and watch the train.  It's a great vantage point to view the train because not only do we get to see the train, it's also makes the clang, clang sound as it pulls into the station, sits to wait for passengers getting on and off, then makes the clang, clang again as it pulls away.  This particular train is always going backwards since it's an inbound commuter train, and we get a great view of the engine as it leaves the station. 

Leaving on time, fully dressed, fully fed, with no yelling, and getting to see the train would normally be enough to declare today a success, but the day didn't stop there!  When we arrived at the pre-school parking lot, there was a firetruck in the parking lot.  A brand-new-sparkly red and black firetruck with its lights on.  What a treat.  Seriously.  I'm not sure, but I think there's something in the Y chromosome that makes little boys love firetrucks, because both of my boys are completely infatuated with firetrucks.  Chester's eyes lit up and he screamed in glee, "yuck, yuck, ed yuck".  Though we clearly have problems with T and R and any leading consonant, he got his point across, so we stayed a little longer to stare at the truck after dropping Pete off at school.  After all, my physical therapy appointment wasn't for another 30 minutes, so we had plenty of time. 

And our lolly gagging in the parking lot paid dividends I couldn't have planned!  The doggie day-care down the street must take the large dogs for their walk after the school-drop off to minimize potential dog-child conflict.  However, we had overstayed the drop off time by over 20 minutes, and low-and-behold here come 6 large dogs.  Not little dogs like Killer, but huge, fluffy dogs taller than Chester.  If there's anything more fun than a firetruck, it's a "ig oggie!"  And the squeals of glee moved from "Hi uck" to "Hi Oggie!"

All of these are such little tiny moments in the day, or even an annoyance to many adults, but when you're not even two years old, the innocent joy of seeing a train, firetruck, and big doggies all by 9am is so overwhelming... that you must fall asleep in the car, having fulfilled your excitement quota for the day. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mom of the year. Or not.

I had a great Mom of the year moment at our playdate this morning.  We explored a new playground in Nahant, and walked down the street to throw rocks in the ocean too.  Good times had by all. 

Pete managed to jump off the playground equipment from the very top while I was pushing Chester in the swing.  He's fine, but the other mother and I had just finished talking about older children being bad influences at our other local playgrounds. 

We walked down the street to the beach, where my children proceeded to pick up handfuls of sand to throw into the ocean while her children picked up the rocks to throw into the ocean.  Perhaps we need to visit the beach more often so they learn proper behavior with sand.

Chester managed to get swamped by a large wave, soaking his shoes and pants.  Did I mention today is November 14 and we're on a beach just North of Boston?  Thankfully it was 65 degrees outside today, so he wasn't in danger, and in fact, he wasn't even uncomfortable.  We walked back to the car and I stripped him down to a new diaper and sweatshirt, and he still wanted to play on the playground instead of going home.  Why didn't I have a change of clothes for him in the car?  Because I never replaced them after his poosplosion incident at Chase's birthday party a few months back. 

Finally, on the walk back to the car, Pete decided to dash ahead to the end of the block.  Seeing as how it was a quiet street, and the end of the block was our car, I didn't even think twice about letting him run ahead.  Meanwhile her children walked quietly along with us.  He did stay on the sidewalk (as I expected!) and he did stop at the parked truck (as I instructed by yelling from 100 yards behind him) but I did feel a little bad for the example my child set in front of her obedient children. 

This is only our second playdate, and I really enjoy the Mom's company, so I'm hoping my boys' energetic behavior hasn't scared her off.  The kids did play well together, so as long as her children don't start jumping off the top of the slides, I'm hoping she'll give us another few chances.  I may not be Mom of the year if being Mom of the year means well-behaved angels, but like most of the Moms I know, I'm trying my best.

After all, this is just a normal day in our wild lives!  My boys are curious, adventurous and brilliant.  They are tiring, trying and stubborn.  I see myself in them, and I see my husband in them.  As far as I'm concerned, that makes them perfect and perfectly mine.  My children are somewhere on a spectrum between "spirited" to "total hooligans" but I love for who they are and I wouldn't trade them for well-behaved children.  Well, usually I wouldn't trade them in, but there are some days when I see obedient, docile children happily playing quietly...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Define: Vacation

We've just returned from what many people would call a vacation.  Ryan had a big presentation in Tampa this week, and I happened to find reasonably priced tickets to Tampa for the boys and I to join him for the week.  I was thrilled to cancel a class, pull Pete out of pre-school and fly to Florida for four days to spend some time with Ryan and see the big presentation of this project he's been working on for months.  After all, the hotel and car were paid for, and how often do you get a family vacation for four to Florida for just the price of the plane tickets for two? 

But that's where it's important to adjust expectations.  A trip to Florida with a 20 month old and a 3.5 year old is not a vacation.  It's an exciting trip for the boys.  It makes precious family memories.  But it is not, in any way, shape or form a relaxing vacation.

Part of the reason that we didn't book this trip right away when Ryan's presentation was first scheduled is that I'm nearly 30 weeks pregnant.  Since, as everyone knows, I'm miserable while pregnant, I wasn't sure if I would feel up to this trip at 30 weeks.  I knew there would be challenges, but when I found the tickets on sale, I was feeling well enough to take the chance.  Many people asked me how I was going to manage through this trip, and to be honest, it was a breeze. Still not a relaxing vacation, but certainly an easy trip!  

First logistical detail, getting two small children to an airport, security lines, boarding lines, and onto the plane before 8:40am.  There are not many times I'm excited that my children wake naturally around 5:30am, but  on a travel day, it certainly helps!  A limo company that provides toddler car seats in the shared van to the airport was another big help.  Chester rides in the umbrella stroller, Pete walks pulling his own suitcase full of books and toys and I check our cothing bag, leaving only a carry-on bag with diapers, cash and snacks for me to carry. 

When we arrived at the airport, I initially sat the boys next to the window so we could watch the planes, but I quickly realized they were in no mood to sit at all, no matter what exciting planes and trucks were driving by he window.  The little girls sitting back in our gate happily colored in their coloring books, but there's just no chance that would keep my boys quiet.  So instead I moved them to an empty gate nearby and let them run up and down the ramp like airplanes.  Problem solved, even if everyone at our gate was probably wondering why I couldn't control my kids.    

The boys watched movies on the iPad for the first flight (Thank you Miss M for loading the movies on the iPad for me!), then we enjoyed a leisurely lunch in Atlanta before walking around the terminal reading numbers and letters.  Sure, Chester pitched a fit at lunch because I insisted that he eat his pear before he could have a cupcake, but that happens at home too.  I'm sure it was the entertainment of the day for the restaurant staff and fellw travellers, watching Pete reason with Chester to "please eat your fruits so we can eat cupcakes" and Chester sitting in his high chair screaming "cupcake, cupcake" while Pete polished off ALL FOUR CUPCAKES (okay, just the frosting and sprinkles) because Pete ate all his pears and Chester took a bite of his pear and spit it back out.  The second flight was even better, and Pete put his head on my shoulder during taxi, and had his eyes closed by the time we took off.  Chester screamed from the time we sat down until we left the gate, then promptly passed out for the entire flight.  Those 7 minutes of howling must have scared the rest of the passengers, but I knew it was just naptime coming on.  I even got to read a magazine while they both slept.  Piece of cake.

Ryan expertly reserved a car with two car seats, had a co-worker pick us up from the airport and we relaxed at the hotel until he joined us for dinner at Maggiano's across the street from our hotel.  The rest of the week went similarly smoothly, with a visit to the zoo with an old friend, her husband and their two children, a date with the sitter arranged by the hotel and a trip to the convention center to see Ryan's booth. 
All in all, a great trip, and in no way, shape or form a vacation.  In fact, it took me over a week to have the time and energy to finish blogging about it. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Oh, who needs sleep anyway?

This is actually not about my children.  Well, it is, but it's mostly not their fault.  Today's exhaustion is brought to you by the third child, the one not yet born.  Even when my other boys give me the opportunity for plenty of sleep, the third child keeps me from resting. 

Last night Pete and Chester, exhausted from a birthday party,were in bed by 7pm.  I was into my pajamas and snuggled in bed at 7:17pm and by 7:30pm, there was no more noise from the boys, they were both asleep!  Then the party started.  The party in my belly.  Baby Three had a grand time, rolling and punching and pushing for almost two hours.  At first, I enjoyed identifying body parts and picturing this little two pound baby inside of me playing around, but by 9pm I was just annoyed.  This is my chance to go to sleep early, don't you understand that Baby? 

Sometime during the Wisconsin/MSU game I drifted off, only to wake again just after midnight to pee.  (Also Baby's fault).  Just after 1am, the toddler came crying down the hall.  It only took 2 minutes to soothe him back to sleep in his bed, but I was officially up and staring at the ceiling.  Just when I thought I might fall asleep, the dog flipped out.  He rarely barks, so I was seriously concerned and hopped right out of bed and grabbed my phone ready to call the police, only to find the dog was still in his bed, asleep under his blankets.  He must have been dreaming about the squirrel who taunts him in the backyard from the neighbor's tree.  Back in bed, I gave up and pulled up Facebook on my phone for a little entertainment. 

You know you're old and boring when most of your friends from the East Coast are already in bed and not playing on Facebook around 2am.  I used to see lots of funny status updates and embarrassing drunken pictures posted by friends when I first started using FB while Pete kept me up all night on a Saturday night three years ago.  Now, all I see is other Moms commiserating online as their children vomit all night.  At least I have friends in other time-zones to keep me entertained!  It was nice catching up with you Hawaii and Alaska ladies last night! 

Let me just pause to send hugs and prayers to little CTK who broke his leg last night in a bouncy house in Hawaii!  We hope you're comfortable while you heal, and that your Mommy can keep you entertained for the next six weeks.

The final straw last night was Pete.  He started quietly crying in his bed, and then mumbled "I want a sprinkle doughnut" before crying a little bit more.  I went into his bedroom to find him still asleep as well, but when I covered him back up with blankets, he woke up and asked for water. 

With everyone watered, snuggled and back in bed, I headed back to my bed just after 3am. 

And the boys were up and ready to play just after 5am.  That's right, total count last night, approximately five hours of sleep between 7pm-5am.  That score is pretty close to the average test scores in my Monday night Financial Accounting class.

Pregnancy insomnia is like practice for your newborn, but I've done this twice already, I don't need practice!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Helicopter parents vs. Chip dip parents

I've complained about this topic before, and my husband continues to tell me to keep my nose out of other people's business, but I just can't leave it alone.

We went to a wonderful birthday party today (um, sorry for arriving late, I didn't take into account that the route to your house takes us directly through downtown Salem, MA right in the middle of Halloween season!).  It was clear my friend had put a LOT of effort into her son's birthday party.  The house was decorated, there were themed games and themed snacks and drinks and cupcakes and treats.  She literally thought of everything, down to the skull straws and the sensory bucket for the children to dig through and hunt for spiders and bugs.  The kids were all outside playing a pin-the-bones-on-the-skeleton game when we arrived, and the fun never stopped, with a pinata and another pumpkin bean bag game. 

LW, if you did all that prep work with your husband out to sea AND made all those chocolates yourself, I'm going to have to hire you to put together Chester's birthday party in February!

Anyway, the point is, she put a lot of work into this party, and there were parents who basically sat in the kitchen and munched on her wonderful snacks and completely ignored their children's behavior.  I am not talking about a momentary child escape (because Chester ran out the door to play with the pumpkins plenty of times, and I swear I got an extra mile on my workout chart for chasing him!) and I'm not talking about children who got into the treats early (because Pete definitely managed to stick his finger in a cupcake while I was chasing Chester out the door).  Not shockingly, the most attentive parents were other Coast Guard moms, who not only watched their own children to keep them in line, but also helped with the other children.   

I am talking about the children who basically climbed into T's lap while he was opening his presents.  It was total chaos, and at one point, even T said "you're too close, you're in my space!".  LW was unbelievably cool-headed and asked everyone to make a circle and sit back, but it was too late.  Kids were opening presents and playing with T's new toys.  I was so sad for him!  And while the veggie dip and the homemade butterfinger candies were unbelievably tasty, I managed to drag my pregnant butt away from the food, out of the kitchen and into the living room to keep my kids from bum-rushing the birthday boy.   Now, I was barely able to hold a conversation with my friends because I was busy chasing my toddler, but the PARTY IS NOT ABOUT ME hanging out with my friends, IT'S ABOUT T celebrating his birthday and having a good time and I think this is where we have the huge schism between parenting styles.  The chip dip parents were there to have their own good time, while the helicopter parents were there to ensure our children weren't being hooligans ruining anyone else's good time.

Though I am always looking forward to a day or evening with my girlfriends, I cannot imagine sitting in the kitchen to chat with them while my child is at a birthday party.  Now, if my children were perfect little angels, they would have sat in that circle all by themselves and I could have enjoyed my carrots and dip in the kitchen.  But left to their own devices, my children do things like eating the icing off their cupcakes and then wander the room to steal other children's cupcakes and lick the frosting off their cupcakes too.  In fact, that happens even when I'm sitting next to one child.  It's like they discuss the game plan before the party- "you get Mom to help you with your cupcake and I'll make a run for it, grab three more cupcakes and we'll meet back by the pumpkin to split the loot".

So, to my CG moms who kept watch of their children, and helped me with mine, thank you for being helicopter parents, your children were very pleasant.  And to the chip-dip parents, I hope you enjoyed your party.  My little boy went home asking why all those kids were getting presents and he couldn't have one.  I  had to explain that they were playing with T's birthday presents before he even had a chance to play with them and that wasn't nice, but that he had been a very good boy at the party and I was very proud of him. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Proud Mommy Moment!

About two months ago, I was sitting up late at night worried how my three-year-old would adjust to pre-school.  I wasn't worried that he would miss me and cry all day or anything, just that we've spent the last three years trying to form him into a decent human being and pre-school is the first big test.

Last night the Robinson's hosted a "Meet the Pre-school  Parents" night to meet and mingle with the other parents.  Some of us are first time pre-school parents, while others are celebrating the last of seven children finally making it into preschool.  That's right, I said seven children (ages 16-4).  This is, after all, a Catholic pre-school!  

Now I have names and numbers of other Moms to help arrange pre-school drop off when I'm too big or tired to drag my toddler out of the car to drop off Pete at his classroom.  I have to carry Chester because he refuses to hold my hand, and either sits down to cry or successfully escapes my hand-holding to make a run for it.  Oh, I had forgotten about this fun stage when Pete was nearly two!  The thought of dragging a pre-schooler, toddler and newborn out of the car to walk to the classroom had been seriously weighing on my mind, especially since it will be January, with plenty of snow and ice. 

Miss Angela, Pete's teacher, also attended the party and we chatted a bit about Pete's first two months at school.  She confirmed there have been no "Wipe me please!" incidents at school so far.  That worried me, but he's not the only three year old who can't sufficiently wipe his own butt, and luckily, he just hasn't had to poop at school yet!  I've been spared the horror of Pete explaining that "I'll wipe first and I'll be the passenger cars on the train, then you wipe last and you can be the caboose".  Where does he come up with these things?

My proud Mommy Moment of the night:  Miss Angela confirmed for me that Pete DOES say "yes ma'am" at school.  Though he is occasionally confused, like on Tuesday when he asked Miss Angela for "more apples please, sir!"  At least he's making an effort, right?

When was your best? Now? Now? How about Now?

Just the other day, I was thinking about how life is pretty darn good right now.  This may be the best part of life.  Of course there are frustrating days (no sleep, crabby kids, single income) but those are all minor speedbumps on the road of life.  And where we are on that road right now has some lovely scenery: A handsome and generous husband, adorable mostly sweet kids, great friends and family, and literally lovely scenery- we live by the beach in New England!  The end of twenties and beginning of thirties is great, even going to bed at 9pm on a Saturday can't damper the fun.  Ryan once said of the 17 weeks he spent at Officer Candidate School "the days drag but the weeks fly" and I think that applies to the last 4 years of motherhood, the days sometimes suck, but the weeks give us memories to cherish.  I do my best to cherish the moments, even at 5:17am...

Looking back, the mid twenties were also amazing.  Some highlights include travelling the world with friends, running two marathons, getting settled in a career, meeting and marrying the man of my dreams.  Okay, actually I never dreamed of anyone like him- I like to say he's everything I needed instead of being everything I thought I wanted.  Things I thought were important mean nothing and things I never considered have become the basis of an extraordinary love.  God clearly had better plans for me than I had for myself!  I may have not have saved a ton of money while I could have, but I certainly won't ever forget hang gliding off a mountain in Alaska with BCS, serving as a bridesmaid to friends like EAAL and  LVdMF, frequent flier miles to Nashville, weekends in Boston with KP, NI, CFC, and CR, camping in the White mountains with CP,  and Thanksgiving in Amsterdam.  Again, there were bumps along the road back then, but they don't really pop to mind when I think of those roaring twenties! 

Oh, and the memories of those early twenties and college!  I won't even write out the details as half of them are probably illegal and at least immoral and ill-advised, but let's just say I had a lot of fun, and in the midst of heartbreak, betrayal and other life lessons, I have some very special memories of my sorority sisters and 14 days straight at CJs.  Been there, done that, I even literally got the t-shirt.   

So many of my friends say they hated high school, but I loved it.  When you can live with all your needs and most of your wants provided for you, and merely spend time studying and learning and "hanging out" with friends with no real responsibilities, there's really nothing to complain about.  I loved seeing old classmates at my 10 year reunion, and I love that Facebook reunites us with them in a community, even while we are spread around the country and around the world. 

I can honestly say the only part of my life that I hope I skip if/when my life flashes before my eyes is middle school.  Let's just pretend those awkward years just never happened okay?  I think that's allowed. 

But back to the point, so far, every phase has been the best phase, which gives me hope that these grey hairs I've been sprouting recently aren't the beginning of the end.  When I wonder "how can it get any better than this" I just have to look back and see how many times I've wondered that before only for life to get even better.  Long ago in Sunday School, we discussed what Heaven might be like.  The general consensus was that we, as humans, can't even imagine God's glory.  Yet, I prefer the idea that Heaven is simultaneously living in every happy moment, so as I collect all of these cherished memories, and enjoy all the best times of my life, I have an even happier time to look forward to:  Eternity. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Another score for toy rotation (or our ridiculously messy playroom)

Recently, the playroom has been carpeted with toys.  No matter that we rarely buy toys for our children, we receive such a blessing in hand-me-downs and gifts from friends and family that the toy room is filled to the brim with trucks, trains, dinosaurs, animals, legos and stuffed animals.  Just a glimpse into our playroom will leave you no doubt that we are a family with two (soon to be three) little boys. 

The boys can barely walk into the room, and every time I have it cleaned up (and yes, they help!), it is trashed again within an hour (sometimes two hours if they cleaned it before naptime).  No matter that there is a toy box for the toys, they must pull out every single toy looking for the one they want.  And yet, inevitably, there are still toys at the bottom of the toy box that haven't been played with for months.  I started toy rotation by accident, actually, just thinking I'd pull out some of their favorite toys for a summer trip to Grandma's house.  The boys played happily with the chosen toys for six weeks, and when we returned, the toys at home were suddenly cool again.  I just slipped the packed toys upstairs into a closet, and thus began the toy rotation.

I'm pretty sure Pete knows I put toys upstairs in the closet.  He's seen the closet, he's even asked for some of the specific toys from the closet.  Occasionally I give in and pull out the requested toy, but for the most part, the toys stay upstairs for a few months at a time.  They're gone just long enough that when I bring down the banished toys, it's like Christmas morning all over again.  This effect is especially helpful when I'm at my wit's end because they're being total hooligans on a rainy day. 

Yesterday I removed all the firetrucks, teddy bears and little people and replaced them with duplos and train tracks.  The boys haven't played legos/duplos in months and of course they were instantly enamored with building trains and train tracks.  It was especially fun for me to see how Pete has improved his hand-eye coordination in building with the duplos, and his problem solving skills in putting together the trains.  Last time the trains were out, Pete just pushed around a train made of the chassis, and ignored the duplo pieces that actually form the body of the train.  Chester, well he still just destroys everything we build, but at least now he brings me the broken pieces and says "uh oh, sorry" instead of laying down on the table and creating lego-angels like snow-angels. 

I may be scarring my children for life with this toy rotation scheme.  Tonight when I asked the boys to pick up their duplos, Pete asked if we were putting them back in bags to go back upstairs.  They had the train tracks spread all over the living room today, but after dinner, Pete and Chester cleaned.  By cleaned, I mean they picked up everything in the living room and tossed it in the playroom.  Good enough for government work, as Grandpa says.  In true Pete fashion, he's already found a new favorite in the bunch, and wanted to take it to bed with him.  I compromised, allowing the sacred train to stay in the living room overnight instead of being banished to the playroom. 


Salty, on the Bridge.  Pete's work of Art on display all night.

Oh, and if you were wondering, the playroom is still ridiculously messy, tonight it's carpeted with duplos.  Some things can't be solved by toy rotation, I guess.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Funny sh*t my kid says.

Right now only one of them talks with any real communicative skills, and I'm rolling on the floor already.  I can't wait for both of them to talk, I imagine I'll be laughing too hard to type when that finally happens.

I try to weave the new Baby into some of our daily conversations, just to prep the boys for their soon-to-be baby brother.  I didn't really bother with this when we were expecting Chester, I just pointed out pictures of babies and said "baby", while Pete repeated "baby".  Whether he knew or understood that a baby was coming to his house is still up for debate, but it worked out in the end.  This time, I just bring up the new Baby randomly and see Pete's reaction.  Chester... he still doesn't care about a baby, and just spends his time pointing to pictures of large cartoon characters, saying Mommy. 

This morning, I served Pete and Chester their eggs and toast.  Pete specified that he wanted "Bagel Toast" so we had a few extra minutes to chat while the bagel toasted.  I asked Pete if the new Baby would eat eggs and toast for breakfast too.  He said "No, babies drink milk."  Oh, that's right, good job!  We probably should have just stopped there and considered the conversation a success. 

Pete asked if he could feed the new Baby Dinosaur and I told him that some babies eat milk from bottles and some babies eat milk from boobies.  I asked Pete if he remembered when Chester was a little baby, did Chester eat from a bottle or boobies?  For the record, Chester did take bottles sometimes too, and both of my boys have done bottle and breast, and Pete usually answers this question correctly.  This morning, however, he skipped my question and went right to his own question, "can I feed the Baby Dinosaur too?"  I explained that I could make some Mommy milk for Pete to put in a bottle for the baby.  Oh, but that wasn't good enough, he wanted to tell me more about his plan to feed the Baby Dinosaur. 

Pete has decided that I should put milk in his belly and sew it up so he can give the baby some boobies.  Oh, and we can practice with Killer.  Killer will like Mommy milk, and Pete will give it to him from Pete's boobies. 

Score:  Mommy- 0, Pete- 1

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sing along with me: I've had the time of my life...

Walking Waddling along this morning on the treadmill, I spent some time rehashing the previous night's date night. It was a beautiful evening and we had a sitter swap arranged, so we were planning a romantic dinner with NO CHILDREN!  A date night before children used to consist of dinner, wine, and dancing until the wee hours of the morning.  These days...

Saturday afternoon, the boys and I enjoyed a playdate and ran errands, allowing Ryan some extra time alone to work on a project in the basement.  When we arrived home, I expertly (if I do say so myself) balanced making dinner for the boys and their sitter with my limited time to shower and get all dolled up for our date.  I managed it all in just under 90 minutes, splitting time between steaming broccoli and a steamy shower, spicing the spaghetti sauce and slathering on Blushing Cherry Blossom lotion.  I wore the Little Black Dress, makeup, jewelry, heels, the whole package.  As my other Mom-friends know, this amount of effort in 90 minutes is a big deal at 27 weeks pregnant, and the fact that we left on time is practically a miracle.  Add the happy smiley faces on the boys with no crying when we walked out the door and you have a successful date night before ever leaving the driveway. 

That's where the success of date night nearly turned into disaster.  We had 7pm reservations at Cafe Polonia in Salem, a new North Shore location of our favorite Polish restaurant from downtown Boston.  Clearly it's been a while since I've been out to dinner at a reasonable hour because I neglected to think about parking at 7pm on a Saturday night in Salem in October.   (The 4:30pm Early Bird special on a Tuesday doesn't have such problems!)  We couldn't find a legal parking spot any closer to the restaurant than our own house, so we detoured to an Italian place in Swampscott instead. 

I've been meaning to try Paradiso Ristorante since we moved here in 2006, so cross that off the North Shore Bucket List.  We talked about everything except the kids while savoring lobster ravioli and pescatore.  Did I mention I'm 27 weeks pregnant?  That means there's not a lot of room in my stomach for food these days!  Skipping an appetizer and dessert makes dinner awfully short.  I can't exactly savor a bottle of wine (for obvious reasons) or an after dinner coffee either (keeps me up all night suddenly!).  And besides, it was getting to be my bedtime... so we went home.  At 8:30pm.  We're the life of the party, I tell you!  Date night was perfect, I had the time of my life.

Monday, October 3, 2011

School, work, family, work?

The other day, I had a great conversation with another adult (doesn't happen often) about our career choices, and the family choices we've made that have altered the course of our careers.  We both spent years working towards our education and building careers, then married men we follow around the country, and had babies.

I love my children very much, but I miss my career a lot too, and I make no excuses, I simply can't hack it as a working Mom with my husband in the Coast Guard.  My old job requires the kind of hours that daycares don't handle, and his schedule require the kind of hours/days/weeks/months away that daycares don't handle.  So either I bring in a Nanny (not a huge fan for a few reasons not for discussion here) or work a reduced schedule (aka a normal 9-5 workday), which just barely pays for two daycares, or I stay home and do a better job of balancing the budget than our Congress seems to be able to do.  I'll take the stress of balancing a budget over the stress of getting two kids ready for daycare by 7am! 

I'm still in contact with my old coworkers and the head hunters in the accounting world, which often leads to solicitations for my resume.  They dangle a generous salary in front of me, and promise family-friendly hours (which we all know is a lie) but I just can't bring myself to go back and add the stress of a job to the stress of two kids 21 months apart and a third one scheduled 23 months after the second.  And the other day, after a wonderful conversation about balancing family and career, I had a lovely dream with THE SOLUTION:  Soon Chester will be old enough for pre-school when he turns three, and I can go back part time! 

Umm, until I woke up and remembered I'm pregnant.  Going back to work will just have to wait. 

As another wise friend said later in the week, "The light at the end of the tunnel is really far away right now, but it is there."  She's proof- her lovely children are in high school, middle school and 3rd grade.  It's a different kid of busy, a different kind of stressful, but she's also beginning to reclaim herself.  She can go on dates with her husband on last minute notice because her oldest can babysit her youngest!  She can work part time without paying ANY daycare!  There are, of course, scheduling issues with school activities that we don't have yet, but like she said, it's a different kind of stressful. 

I'm taking my time, trying to enjoy these babies while they're little (which is wicked easy some days and definitely a challenge other days!), and counting my blessings that I can stay home with my babies until they're older and I will re-enter my career (as long as Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan doesn't pass and make my job as a tax professional obsolete).  I can't spend my time worrying that I'll be hopelessly out of date when I prepare to go back.   I shouldn't bother wondering if all those years of school were the best plan when I'm not using them.  This is my role for now, and I just have to remember that I won't be the only one in the applicant pool with a 7 year gap in my full-time employment.

Of course, I might just change my mind and career path midstream, and go back to school for something else, you never know!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

You drove your tricycle where?

Friday morning we went to the Children's Drop and Shop in Essex, MA.  It's a twice a year consignment sale of children's clothing and other gear.  I never used to need to shop for children's things, in a store, at an outlet, on sale or at a consignment sale because we received the best hand me downs for Pete and Chester from my awesome sister in law and another friend.  For the first three years of Pete's life, we basically bought nothing.  However, my little monkeys are now super tall monkeys and Pete is outpacing his older cousins and friends, so the hand me downs only help Chester these days and shopping at the seasonal Drop and Shop is the best way to get great clothing at a good bargain.

Having been to the Drop and Shop before, I knew the big ticket baby items would go quickly, but it would be a madhouse right at the 10am opening.  So I devised a plan to put Chester in the hiking back pack and use a monkey backpack leash to keep track of Pete while I hunted down a Pack and Play, Halloween costumes, winter boots and coats (The remaining items could wait until later that night when it would be less crowded and I could return to the sale without children.).  Sadly a search of the house didn't turn up my monkey backpack leash, so I just had to trust that he would not cause too much havoc or run away while I looked through the nursery items.  I explained to Pete what we were doing, and that there were also toys inside, so if he was a big boy and stayed right by me, he could pick out a toy at the end.  I got in line with my friend Lia at 9:50am approximately 300 yards from the entrance and groaned, just dreading what a total debacle this was going to be, but without other options, I just had to grin and bear it. 

I made it inside, and by the grace of God, the boys shoes and boys clothing section was right next to the toys.  I scored slipper, rain boots and winter boots for both boys while Pete debated the merits of a school bus vs. a train set.  I also finished the Halloween costumes and then moved to coral Pete to the coat room and nursery furniture room.  Then God really smiled on me.  He placed a $5 tricycle in our path to the nursery room.  While I inspected pack and plays, Pete zoomed under tables of ice skates and baseball cleats.  As I sorted through coats, he made figure eights around the racks of snow pants all within viewing distance, and never once running into someone, even in the madhouse full of over-caffeinated bargain hunters.

He rode that tricycle while we waited 30 minutes in line to check out, then he rode it down the hill, into the parking lot and over to our van where he lifted it up himself, to store it in the back of the minivan.  I congratulated myself on surviving the Drop and Shop rush, and celebrated my awesome bargains. 

Now nearing noon, both boys, of course, fell asleep on the way home, so I carried in my purchases and retrieved our bags and shopping list to head for the commissary while they continued to nap in the car.  I'm not really sure why I left the tricycle in the car, but I did, and thought nothing of it while we headed for a playdate and grocry store on the Air Force Base. 

When I woke Pete to go into the store, he asked if he could drive his tricycle.  I'm not sure who was more surprised when I answered yes.  I strapped Chester into the cart and again explained the rules that Pete must stay near me and not crash into anyone in the store.  And wouldn't you know it.... he listened!  We took a quick trip through the fresh produce, dairy, bakery and frozen foods (there's nothing wrong with craving blueberry pancakes, but I have to settle for frozen blueberries now that they're out of season!)  Each aisle we turned down, he waited patiently for permission to race me to the end, then returned, without fail, to my side ready to move to the next aisle.  No whining, no running, no begging for snacks or candy.  It was the easiest grocery trip I've ever taken with two children. 

I have not yet decided if the tricycle will make a second appearance at the grocery store.  There is probably a rule against such behavior, especially on an Air Force Base.  At the AFB, at 5pm each night, they call attention, play the Star Spangled Banner, then announce permission to carry on.  For the crime of speeding, they don't bother to ticket you, the MPs just revoke your driving priviliges on base (and it works, I've never seen anyone speeding).  If there aren't already rules about driving a tricycle through the commisary, I'm sure someone is working feverishly on a new directive after seeing Pete riding his around the store on Friday.  But driving the tricycle sure did make that trip pleasant, and if thats the trick to grocery shopping without hissing at my children to be quient and stay right by the cart, I may just consider it the best $5 I've ever spent and leave the tricycle in the back of the van for use during every grocery trip. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Everyone loves a party!  Except at 3am.  Well, actually, there was a time when I loved a party at 3am.  They were called late-nights at our school, though I've also heard to them referred as after-hours.  Regardless of what you call them, I long ago stopped looking for a party after the bars closed.  In fact, it's been years since I closed down a bar and over six months since I've been to a bar at all. 

Last night, however, I was the unwilling attendee at a 3am party in my house.  Chester decided to throw a bash, and insisted I come with him.  He came stumbling down the hall (very reminiscent of previous 3am parties) and stood next to my bed.  I gently took his hand and guided him back to his bed, tucked him in, patted his back and left.  This was repeated 15 minutes later, 30 minutes after that, and once more at 4:15am. 

On a side note, I'd like to mention that the infamous third-trimester insomnia seems to have arrived two weeks early here.  I had little to no hope of falling back to sleep between these visits, even if Chester had actually gone back to sleep himself.  This is yet another phase of pregnancy that I despise.  Even completely exhausted, I have a tough time falling asleep at night, and waking up, even to pee (because every pregnant woman I know pees all night, don't deny it!) can bring hours of boredom staring at the ceiling fan or listening to passing cars and every squeak or sigh of the house settling. 

Back to the party last night, I heard him playing in his room until he returned to my room, quite insistent at 5:30am. At least he wasn't crying, I suppose.  After Chester returned to my room, he climbed into the laundry basket, throwing all the dirty clothes on the floor so he could use the overturned basket to climb up and stand in the window.  I can only imagine what would have happened if a police car or other mandated reporter drove past the house with a toddler standing on the windowsill waving to passing cars at 5:30am?   

I finally removed the gate to the living room and turned him loose, thanking my lucky stars that I cleaned it before going to bed so that he could have the run of the living room and playroom while I tried to reclaim any of the last 2 1/2 hours of sleep I had lost to his party antics.  He promptly rewarded me for granting his freedom by bringing me a ginormous care bear from the pile of teddy bears in the playroom.  And then the stuffed turtle.  And the stuffed Harley dog.  Finally he stumbled back to his own room and jumped on his brother at 6am. 

At this point, working on approximately four hours of sleep, I turned on an episode of Dora for the boys and set about my morning.  I served eggs and toast in the living room, unwilling to fight a battle to get them to the kitchen table.  I started a load of dishes in the dishwasher, washed and packed grapes with cheese sticks for the class snack, dressed a pre-schooler, a toddler and myself and made it out the door by 7:30am.  Though quite reminiscent of the many Friday morning classes I attended with little sleep, now ten years older, and pregnant, I'm not quite as perky after a night of little sleep.  I managed to leave for preschool on time with everyone dressed and all of our bags in the car for the day, which is an amazing feat on eight hours of sleep, let alone four. 

After we dropped off Pete, Chester and I headed for the gym.  By then, he's been awake for over 5 hours, leading me to believe he'll pitch a fit and get thrown out of playcare before my boot camp class has even started.  I arm the playcare ladies with chocolate milk, chocolate graham fishies and grapes cut in half.  Yes, I'm the Mom feeding my kid sugary snacks to keep him happy at the YMCA, judge me, I dare you.  Shocked that we made it through class, I returned to pick up Chester, only to find him fast asleep.  He looked so peaceful that if we didn't have to pick up Pete from school, I would have left him there while I curled up on some yoga mats!  Sigh.  I guess when you get up at 3am, naptime can be 10am....

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lessons from Apples, New England in the fall.

Last weekend we went apple picking with friends.  We've gone to the same farm, Russel Orchards, for three years now, taking a hayride behind a tractor to the orchard, wandering the rows of trees searching for our favorite types of apples.  The apples have taught me many lessons over the years, and I'm glad it's part of our family's fall traditions. 

Apple picking 2009

Apple picking 2010

Apple picking 2011

Apple picking 2011
First, I didn't know there were so MANY types of apples.  The grocery store where I grew up would have Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, Granny Smith and that was it as far as I knew.  Apples were Red or pale Green or bright Green.  The apple orchards at Russels are filled with names I've never heard, but I'm loving every one of them!  Last year, we scheduled our trip too late in the year, and missed the Honeycrisp, I was devastated and vowed to check the status of my favorite apples.  I'm happy to report that this year, my apple bag was filled with plenty of crisp, sweet, luscious Honeycrisp apples, perfect for baking and eating. 

Chester has decided he likes Honeycrisp too!
Second, to my parents and grandparents, who grew up on farms, apple picking is not a fun fall family event, it's what your family did to harvest the apples each fall- WORK!  The concept of apple picking as fun was a difficult one for my parents to digest, but they did enjoy it with us two years ago. 
Grandma and Pete 2009
Grandpa and Pete 2009

Next, I owe an apology to the professors from ACC 499.  As a business student, I couldn't wrap my head around people choosing to pay more for organic foods (which I now purchase) or farmers turning their fields into tourist attractions (which I now visit).  They said that small farms would have a tough time simply producing food to sell as their sole business and offered educational school tours, seasonal festivals and CSAs as examples of ways a farm could bring more income without significantly changing their core business values.  I laughed at these tree hugging demma-commies and barely passed the class.  (It didn't help that it was at 9am on a Friday morning in the spring of my senior year, I was slightly distracted or hungover for most of the classes.)  I don't even remember the professors who taught the class, but I'd like to apologize.  I tip my sulfite-free-organic-wine to you gentlemen!

Finally, the lesson that should have been obvious to me:  Even a very enthusiastic three and a half year old little boy can't handle a peeler without slicing a chunk of his finger off.  Thankfully, it did not get on any of the other apples, and I was able to stop the bleeding and bandage his poor finger before any further damage was done.  I guess that part of our fall bonding will have to wait another year or two. I peeled and sliced the rest of the apples while the boys watched Diego.  Both of the boys, however, thoroughly enjoyed licking the spoons after I mixed together the flour, butter, sugar, oats and spices for the apple crisp topping.   I guess that part doesn't have an age restriction!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pillsbury, I hate you.

Chester is getting so much better with his words!  I knew this day would come, and of course it's exciting, but also bittersweet. 

He can say "candy" clear as day in the checkout line at the store.

His "yes ma'am" is totally understandable, though only I can understand his "more please".

There's a little confusion between "baby" and "belly" but I think that's honestly confusion because we have him pat the baby in my belly while saying "baby" and then ask him to pat his own belly saying "belly".  Hopefully that will also pass.

And of course, I'm thrilled when he comes running to me after MOPS or YMCA Playcare yelling "Mommy!"  However, I was less than thrilled tonight when he flipped through a magazine and came to an add for Pillsbury Brownies.  He pointed to the Pillsbury Dough Boy and said "Mommy".  I assured him that those are "yummy" and told him that's the "Pillsbury Dough Boy."  He looked at me, looked at the ad, pointed to the Dough Boy again and said "Mommy" quite firmly.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Stupid things people say to pregnant women

You may choose to blame my pregnancy hormones, or society's downward spiral into lack of tact, but today I'm a little cranky about things that people find appropriate to say to a pregnant woman.  I'm not talking about children, or even non-moms who've never done this before.  They are blissfully ignorant and should remain that way until (or if) they eventually become pregnant themselves.  I'm specifically referring to other women who've DONE this before and should know to have a little compassion, or tact.   
Here are two from today:

So are you getting tired of being pregnant?  Let's be clear, there are two parts of pregnancy that I like: the beginning and the end.  The beginning, for obvious reasons, and the end because labor is a lot like running a marathon.  I'm all excited and giddy with anticipation to start the race/labor, and once you get through labor and power through that brick wall at 20 miles and cross the finish line, you feel accomplished and hyped up on the surge of endorphins.  Plus, you get a baby out of the labor, which is better than any marathon medal I've taken home.  But the middle?  The 40+ weeks of misery?  I was tired of that from the second the test popped positive.  So yes, I'm tired of being pregnant. 

And for the record, that question came from a family member who knows how much I hate being pregnant, so really, it was just a cruel question to remind me of the 16 weeks I have left.  (Like the SPD that causes my crotch to feel like it's being ripped apart and the recurring nausea and exhaustion aren't enough!)  This is the third time in four years that I've done this, I was tired of it the first time, and Chester and Baby3 should just be thankful I was willing/stupid enough to do it again after I knew what I was getting in for!

You getting big yet?  Or how much have you gained?  Or my, you're huge.  Or any other size-related comment.  My grandmother asks stupid questions like this every time we get on the phone.  There is no reason to ever comment on the size of a pregnant woman.  I've looked five months pregnant since about the first week, thanks to the extra 10 pounds I never lost after Chester, and the horrible gas/indigestion/bloating that goes with my first 20 weeks of pregnancy.  So when strangers ask, I just give them the answer they expect:   I'm five months.  Who cares if I was actually 8 weeks?  These people are never going to see me again.  And for those, like Grandma, who will see me again know better, I just explain that I'm five months and the baby is due in January.  Hmm, doesn't that make for a 13 month pregnancy?  Yes, Grandma, that's why my babies are so big. 

But, for the record, I did not berate either person who asked me these questions today.  I smiled and gritted my teeth and said "Only 16 more weeks to go, we're so excited!" and "We're right on target according to the midwife".

Then I hung up the phone and had some saltwater taffy.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Just one of those days, I guess. Remarkable!

Did you ever have one of those days that you just want to keep living over and over?

So many of my days recently, I've just been praying to end.  Just get through today.  Just make it bedtime.  Please don't let me strangle anyone before breakfast/dinner/bedtime.  But today was a better day, today could have lasted forever.**

**Until 6pm, but that's later in the story.

We slept until 5:30am, which, around here, is late!  Chester even went back to sleep at that point, while Pete and I snuggled and Ryan got ready for work.  He was going in late because we were driving him in with some equipment that can't ride on his motorcycle. 

Pete happily got dressed (instead of crying about changing out of his pajamas), and enjoyed eggs and toast with Daddy while I packed a bag for the day.  I wish I could have recorded a picture of the look on Pete's face when Ryan told him "YES, we are going to drive over the Toby bridge this morning."  Seriously, you might as well have told him we were going to Disneyland.

Chester woke up just in time to have eggs and toast in his jammies before getting in the car.  Considering he's been getting up at the crack of dawn, I'm not bothered in the least that he left the house in his jammies because he got up "late" at 6:.30am.

The day got even better when we arranged a last minute playdate and grocery date at Hanscom AFB, and of course, when I told Pete where we were going, he was just thrilled to death.  For the record, that's TWO consecutive hours so far of totally gleeful pre-schooler- no whining and crying, and no screaming or spanking.  Who cares that we were stuck in Boston's rush hour traffic?  And who cares that Mommy took a wrong turn off the Elliot Bridge and we were headed for who-knows-where before the GPS got us turned back towards Route 2?  We had nothing but time today.  Nothing but happy time. 

Arriving at the gate to Miss J's house, Pete asked if we could play on the playground (there are LOTS of playgrounds there, as he tells me every time we grocery shop at Hanscom) and I got to tell him YES, we're playing on the playground with Miss J and Baby O today.  I'm pretty sure Pete thought he had died and gone to heaven.  In his little three-year-old head, this was the best day ever:  Daddy was home for breakfast, we drove over the Toby Bridge, we're going to see Miss J, play on the playground, AND no one has yelled at him yet. 

We got Chester and Baby O dressed since they were both still in jammies, and when we were ready to walk to the playground, I asked Pete to hold hands with Little E, the little boy that Miss J watches during the week.  This was going to be a long walk, and Little E sometimes wanders away, but I knew Pete could help.  They held hands while we walked to the playground, and talked.  Oh, my heart just melted listening to these 3 year olds talk to each other. 

E: My Daddy goes on a boat. (I'm not even sure if his Dad is in the Coast Guard, but I'm thinking he must be!)
Pete:  That's pretty cool.  My Daddy used to be on a boat, now he goes to an office in  Boston.  We took him there this morning on the Big Green Toby bridge. 

After playing on the playground for a bit, we decided to walk all the way to the Dunkin for some Pumpkin Spice Lattes and donuts for the kids.  Chester no longer wanted to be carried.  He wiggled and wiggled until I let him get down to walk.  He ran up and joined the older boys.

Seriously, how cute is that?  Ignore Pete's bedhead- we dealt with that after coffee!

I told Pete and Little E they were being good listeners, and big boys.  We barely had to correct them to keep them on the path.  Unbelievably good behavior all the way to the Dunkin. 

They ate their donuts and hot chocolate at the table with a reasonable mess, no one cried or screamed, and Chester only made one little run for freedom.  While we ate our donuts next to the Exchange's vendor tables, Pete and Little E even listened when we told them to look at the gifts with their eyes, and not touch with their hands. 

So we braved the barber shop to get Pete's hair cut.  As you can see from the picture, he was more than a tad overdue for a trim.  Though the barber shop was crowded, they all sat with bottoms on their chairs and said yes ma'am and please and thank you for the lollipops.  Even the little old retired men made comments about what remarkably well behaved children we had.  Pete sat quietly for his haircut, though he did help himself to a second lollipop after they finished.  So often I'm apologizing for my children's behavior, or hissing at them to sit down and be quiet, trying desperately to distract them enough to keep them quiet while others stare or give me pitying looks.  Not today.  Today, all we got were compliments. 

After a long walk home, they all took naps (shocking, considering our recent sleep troubles) and I was able to grocery shop at a record speed without any children at all while Miss J kept the boys asleep in her spare room. 

They woke a bit confused, but not the crying messes they can be after nap!  Chester happily gobbled my sushi and seaweed salad, then Pete enjoyed a cheese stick before we piled into the car to go pick up Daddy.  Even the hour commute home was fully of pleasant conversation and not much whining. 

Everyone, including the dog, had some apples while I made dinner, and then they ATE IT without complaint, and Pete even asked for more.  I was beginning to think I'd entered the twilight zone.

But just like that, my bubble burst.  Chester and Pete headed out to the backyard and while Ryan was grabbing a beer to sip on the back porch, Pete yelled inside to us that Chester pooped.  This was not his normal time of day to poop, and I had thought nothing of letting him run around without a diaper after he took off his diaper to practice peeing on the potty.  But clearly when he escaped to play in the backyard without a new diaper I should have expected disaster.  My mistake, I'll own that one.  But even more horrifying, Pete drove the tricycle through it.  Seriously. 

Ryan took one for the team and cleaned the poop from the back porch and the tricycle and just as he brought in the cleaning supplies, grabbed another beer and headed back out, he poked his head back in the door to tell me "Pete pooped in the backyard too".  I thought he was joking.  Sadly, he was not and we had a case of Monkey-see, monkey-doo-doo on our back porch.  I'm not entirely sure what Pete was thinking, but the day had gone so well that we reacted calmly even to this mini-disaster.  I got Pete inside to the potty while Ryan was again stuck with poopy duty. 

Though bedtime wasn't a picnic (it never is) I enjoyed my chance to snuggle in my bed with Pete and his blankie and shark while Chester cried in their room.  I told Pete how happy he makes me, how he's my best Pete, and how proud I was of the way he helped with Little E today at the playground and on the walk to Dunkin.  I told him he's a good example for his brother.  We talked about the new Dinosaur Baby and Pete said he was "a little bit" afraid of the new baby.  "A little bit" seems to be his favorite quantitative phrase these days, and the way he says it is just the sweetest thing ever.

It's remarkable how unremarkable today was, but how special it was.  I wasn't at my wit's end with them by 7am.  No one was throwing a tantrum when we had to leave the playground.  No one got spanked and there wasn't any screaming.  Pete was a good role model and a gentle friend.  I was patient and encouraging with timely situation appropriate praise.

I'd love for tomorrow and everyday to be just like today.  Sorry if this wasn't as amusing as most of my harried stories, but for me it was perfect.  I'm going to bed with a smile on my face and peace in my heart.  Today was a good day.