Thursday, February 27, 2014


We went to the zoo on Monday, a little crew of us, my boys and I, my mom, my sister-in-law and my nephew...


Spending weekday mornings at our little city zoo & conservatory during the winter is magical.  Warm, streaming sunlight enveloping you from every angle, the fragrance of greenery and spring flowers tickling your nose, the peaceful quiet, the space for children to roam and wander and explore and not be in anyone's way.

For some reason, being in this wonderfully charmed place reminds me that these days truly are fleeting. These slow weekdays with my children, in the middle of a relentlessly cold winter, it won't be like this forever.

Gus is growing up, he will be in school in the mornings next year on my days off of work.  The year after next, he will go to Kindergarten full time, every day.  And next up will be his little brother.

Someday not far off it will end, these little whimsical adventures. There won't be enough time.  The schedules of four people will be too full.  We will have to play hooky from "real life" to make these things happen.  It will become more inconvenient and more difficult as time goes on to spend our mornings like this, to wake up and say, "What should we do today?"

Time doesn't stand still.  And that is a good thing, because this life stage is so much work, the zipping up of tiny coats and the wrestling with car seats, reminding little boys to wash their hands after going to the bathroom, tripping over Legos and tiny plastic animals strewn all over the living room, making your 1,000th peanut butter and jelly sandwich, kissing skinned knees and wiping messy faces, playing mediator for sibling squabbles, pacifying cranky toddlers in the grocery store with crackers.  It is a mother's work.  It is good work, but it's still work, and it can be tedious.

I wouldn't want it to last forever.

But still, the realization that it won't be like this forever hits me with sadness. I know I will miss this.

These days are fleeting.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Photos that never went anywhere

Let's commence one of those kinds of updates where I empty the photos from my iPhone that never even made it to Instagram (as far as I remember, eh, maybe a few of them did) and provide little snippets of stories.  Or big snippets, as tends to happen on this here blog.  Or maybe I'll just say nothing. We'll see.


Oh these two.  They seriously have such a bizarre relationship.  These photos pretty much depict exactly what it's like right now.  On one hand they are attached at the hip, partners in crime, displaying their love of one another in such sweet ways on a daily basis.  But also? They are intent on driving one another crazy.  Needling, picking, complaining, taunting, teasing, bragging, arguing.  These are their most treasured hobbies.

I let them watch a show when they get up in the morning, since they both wake up very slowly and often somewhat crabby. A little television seems to be the best way to ease into the day, not to mention if it's a work day I'm usually scrambling to get myself together and it goes much smoother when I am not playing referee between brothers or curling my hair with a 30 lb toddler on my hip.  (Though that usually still happens, since TV keeps Louie's attention for about 10 minutes these days before he inevitably ventures off in search of a mommy's legs to hang on.)

Of course, they always argue about what show they're going to watch.  On one particular day, they were sitting on the couch on each side of me as I scrolled around on Netflix screaming back and forth, "I get to choose!" "No Gus, I gonna choose!" "That's not fair, I want to choose!"

Get this: they both wanted to watch the same damn show.  But still, by the end of it, both boys were in TEARS about whose turn it was to choose even though it had already been established that they would both choose the same thing.

Lord, give me patience.

And as I went up the stairs I could hear them arguing about which one of them had chosen the show, "I chose Curious George Gus." "Nuh uh, I chose it Louie!  Mom! Tell Louie I got to choose!"

I can't even.

While it can be amusing, sometimes it's downright infuriating.  Not to mention the fact that Louie has taken to screeching at the top of his lungs at the slightest offense, oh the screaming, so much screaming.  It pierces my soul and gets my blood boiling to the point where I have to talk myself down from flipping my lid.

You guys!  How did I forget what it's like to live with a two year old?! Gosh.  I just LOVE HIM, he is so smart and so quick and so funny.  But my goodness, he whines and complains and demands and I think it's safe to say he puts the household on edge a bit.  I am much better with Louie than I was with Gus at this age, about just letting him be mad sometimes.  With Gus I had to try so hard to catch myself, because my people-pleasing instinct (I know, not healthy) is to fix everything, and that can carry over to my kids.  Also... I mean really... sometimes you're just so desperate to make the screaming stop!

I seem to be able to tolerate Louie's screaming a little better though, and I'm better at getting down on his level and talking to him about how he's feeling, while still explaining that I can't allow him to have cookies and veggie sticks for lunch, and that he can color on the paper, or a coloring book, but he can't color all over the table.

One day at a time people.


In January I watched my niece (2) while hanging out with Dan's little brother and sisters a few times (9, 11 & 13), when my mother-in-law had an appointment or something to take care of.  On one of those mornings I took the picture above because for a moment it felt like I had things together.  I felt accomplished.  I had all these kids in my house and five out of six of them were busy and happy together, sitting at my dining room table, absorbed in an educational activity, not arguing.  It felt like a glimpse into the future when my kids were older and more civilized and wouldn't need me so much all the time.  Sometimes that kind of glimpse into my future makes me really excited, sometimes it makes me sad, makes me want to slow down time.  Ahhh man, moms are crazy.  Myself included.


My boys reaaaaaally love their little nephew Graham, and he does not stop smiling when they give him attention.  They seem so big here, compared to that little guy, it's easy to forget that Louie is only 15 months older than him, and it's very possible that someday they could very well be thick as thieves, riding their bikes together all over the neighborhood, kicking a ball around in the back yard, skinning their knees in my driveway.

Children's Museum

We've had such a blast at the children's museum this winter, we've been there a few times and it's remarkable how much easier it is to manage both kids this year than the last.  Gus listens so much better when I tell him to stay near, he actually comes to me (usually) when he's ready to move on to a new room rather than just leaving, which as you would imagine, can be momentarily terrifying.  He doesn't get feisty with other little kids like he used to, though he still can be overwhelmed by big crowds and gets frustrated when groups of kids gang up on him or try to boss him around.  And Louie is so much more independent, his attention span longer, and his nap or bedtime can be stretched if needed, since the museum is a bit of a trip for us from the west side of the city.  One-year-olds are very challenging in these settings, and I'm very happy to realize that I really do enjoy outings like the Children's Museum with my 4 year old and 2 year old.


I was inspired to make smoothies for the boys one day after a trip to Costco during which Gus BEGGED me for a smoothie from the little snack area.  He loves him a Costco smoothie but they are so terrible for him, so much sugar, probably full of high fructose corn syrup, blech.  So I promised him we'd make smoothies together when we got home.  He was ecstatic and super excited about being able to help. So when we got home I busted out the unopened immersion blender my mom gave me for Christmas is 2012 and went to work.  Banana, frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries, greek yogurt, a little soy milk, handful of spinach, voila!  Immersion blenders are indeed awesome, I can now vouch for them after finally opening mine.

The reaction was mixed.  First of all the bananas weren't very ripe, so I don't think they masked the spinach as much as they normally do, and 2nd of all, Mr. Picky Pants is now intent on thoroughly examining everything he consumes and hence was very disturbed by the little bits of "vegetables" in his smoothie.  Blergh. Whatever. The next time he asked me to make it without vegetables and I did, and added a little maple syrup as well, and that batch was a huge hit. So whatever. He eats an insane amount of vegetables already, so it's not the end of the world, but his brother is another story.  Would have been nice to be able to get some green vegetables in my meat-and-carb-only-eating 2nd born.  I'll have to try again at some point.  Maybe try it in an opaque glass.


The super hero stage has not let up, and the novelty for me is starting to wear off.  I am a BIG superhero chick, total nerd and clearly grew up with two X-Men card-trading brothers.  So at first I was soooooo excited when Gus started getting into this stuff.  So excited that I even let him watch some questionable superhero cartoons that I later decided (after he started repeating a lot of really snotty and sarcastic age-inappropriate dialogue) were geared towards kids a few years older than him.

Superheroes at the park

But the superhero play has taken over our lives and his imaginative play has gotten so.... specific and convoluted and detailed.  I can't just run around shooting webs from my hands or pretending I can fly like superman.  We've moved on from that child's play.  Now there are these complicated set-ups that involve giant evil robots and force-fields and shrink rays and lasers that can either freeze or shoot fire or shoot glue.  I am just so terrible about this kind of imaginative play.  Or maybe I'm not so terrible at it, it just is a lot of work for me.  But Gus's eyes gleam with excitement and happiness when we play these games with him, especially when we throw out something new that he's not though of, something he can run with and expand on.

It's so fun to see him exercising this intense imagination, experimenting with ideas and creating these worlds.  But man.  I am way better at playing house and zoo and farm and doctor.  Thankfully he allows me to switch it up some days.  

Oh and Louie gets in on the superhero play, but mostly just DESTROYS and SMASHES and delights in ruining the scenarios his brother has carefully put together. Typical. ;)

Snow inside

Oh yes, this was a particularly desperate below-zero day.  By 3:00 in the afternoon Gus was asking me if we were going to go do something fun, begging to go swimming or to an indoor park.  But it was also Friday, and I knew how absolutely against any of these outings his father would be after a long week, not to mention the fact that his brother was napping off a nasty cold.  And as cooped up as I was feeling, it was SO COLD OUT and I had zero ideas as to what we could do...

So I emptied out the tub full of micro machines and went out to the backyard for some clean snow.  We gathered up some towels and let them go at it.  It was a hit, as long as their dad was playing with them.  ;)

2nd cousins

My dad's extended family had their Christmas party in the middle of January and Gus was enamored with my cousin's 6-year old son Evan.  They chased each other around for over an hour playing "sheriff", taking turns being the good guy or the bad guy, and even Louie amused himself by running behind them giggling and shrieking, oblivious to the details of the actual game they were playing.

Louie missed his nap and neither kid ate more than a few bites all day long so we picked up Wendy's on the way home at 5:00 PM and I spent the entire thirty minute drive across town badgering Louie to stay awake. He very nearly fell asleep with a chicken nugget in his mouth, twice, so I got desperate and pulled out all the stops with You Tube videos on my phone for the last 10 minutes.  What Does the Fox Say? to the rescue.  It wasn't the first time, and it won't be the last.

Snowy walk

There have been a few intermittent warm days this winter.  (Just a few.)  On this particular day we went sledding before naps and then went outside AGAIN before dinner!  Over achievers.

Yoga pants

My fancy Athleta leggings that Dan bought me for Christmas.  His new thing is to buy me really expensive yoga pants and work out attire for birthdays and holidays.  (Santa even gave me a sports bra.)  I could be offended, thinking he's trying to tell me something with these purchases, but I'm not.  I love it.  I would never spend $90 (I know) on a pair of running pants, but as a gift I will take them.  And they actually inspire me to work out, so total win-win.

Dirty snowball

Yeah, that's my baby ("I'm not a baby, I'm a big boy!") carrying around a really dirty snow ball.

Snowball fight

Snowball fight!  According to Gus, snowball fights are his favorite thing to do in snow.

Daycare lady's number one rule for winter play?  No throwing snow.  Bummer dude.


We are not prepared with snowman making materials.  I couldn't even find any rocks for eyes.  Dan gave me the dirtiest look when I came outside with clementines to use for his eyes.


Robots on roller skates!


Forts in the living room.  Flashlights.  Pajamas.  CABIN FEVER.


My most favorite place ever this winter.  The library.  It is warm, it is quiet, there is sunlight, so many activities for the boys.  A latte in my hand.  I hear an Hallelujah chorus when I look at this picture.


More library goodness.  Gus has been known to sneak away to the children's graphic novel section and pour over the illustrations for a good twenty minutes.


McDonald's play land.  Yup, we have gotten that desperate.

More than once.


Celebrating Grandpa's birthday.  These two are never far when it's time for cake.


They were obsessed with this Mouse Trap board game they found in the basement at my in-laws.  Missing a few pieces, but that didn't matter to them.  I wanted this game so bad when I was a kid.


Gus is into superheros and robots.  Louie is still obsessed with animals.


Valentines day crafting! Coffee filters, marker, squirts of water from a sprayer, voila!  Proven to be a hit even for little boys who hate nearly all crafts.  (That would be Gus, Louie is actually pretty into crafts, THANK GOD!)


Made this lego robot all by himself, zero help.  He was so proud.


A few Saturdays ago my girlfriends and I had our semi-annual girl's night (in the summer it's a whole weekend!) and in the above selfie I was lounging around the house, waiting for a few of the ladies who were meeting at my place.  Dan had left with the boys hours earlier and I truly had no idea what to do with myself  in the house all alone.  I tidied up.  Made a cup of coffee.  Watched an episode of Downton Abbey.  Read some blogs.  Twiddled my thumbs.  The silence was unnerving AND amazing.  The morning had been such a whirl-wind, Louie up at like 5:15 AM, so I think I was just spent, and couldn't think of a thing to do even though there never seems to be enough time in the day to do everything that I want to do.  So weird.  Such is the curse of motherhood and sleep-deprivation I think.  I need to keep a running list of all the things I wish I had time to do so that doesn't happen again.  But on the other hand, why am I feeling guilty that I accomplished nothing in 2 hours of alone time?  Maybe I NEEDED that nothing time, and I need to cut myself some slack.


Friends. Booze. Guacamole. Faux fur and faux leather vests. This is the life.


Low lighting courtesy of Barrio.


Horrendous flash courtesy of a waitress at The Local.


I took the boys to the Mall of America to go on rides and play in Lego Land.  Just me and them.  Usually I have my mom or Dan, or another mom and her kids with me on these types of outings, but this time it was just us.  And you know what?  It was awesome.  I miss out on a lot during these experiences when there's another adult there.  This time felt slower, easier, more intimate.  We packed a lunch and ate peanut butter and jelly in the food court and the boys ate SO SLOWLY but I resisted the temptation to play around on my phone or hurry them along out of boredom.  We just sat there.  Talked.  Giggled about nonsense.  And I could tell they really appreciated the time with me, despite the fact that it feels like we're always together. We are together, a lot, but I know I'm often distracted or trying to get something else done, especially at home.

It was also one of those days with my first-born where I was a little overcome by how much he has matured.  He was so polite, and inquisitive, and helpful, and talkative, and FUN.

Yeah, this was a really good day.

Graham 11 months

Babysitting Graham one afternoon, I realized he was wearing a t-shirt that my mother-in-law gave me, that Louie wore for sure, maybe Gus too.  We lent our baby clothes to my brother and sister-in-law and this kind of thing makes me so happy.  Dan's little brother (brothers?) wore that shirt, then my kid, then my brother's kid.  Very sweet.




Trying to get ready for my work party (on outfit number 8?), in the middle of the process of trying to curl my hair, and this kid woke up from his nap, earlier than I had hoped.  But so happy, so he was forgiven.


Ready for his sleepover at grandma and grandpa's!  I guess the next morning he woke up at 7:15 (late for him) and yelled from the bed he was sleeping in, "Mom?! ... Mom? ... ... Everybody?"


Mardi Gras souvenirs from my work party.  Ridiculous.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Moms Make It Work - Guest Post

Hi friends! Julia at My Life in Transition asked me to be a part of her Moms Make It Work Guest Blogging Series.  I feel undoubtedly unworthy, but also incredibly flattered, and I'm very happy to share my story about my life as a part-time working mom.


I've never really felt like I have everything together, especially since having kids.  I definitely would not consider myself one of those moms that makes it look easy.  Ha! NOPE.  Probably the opposite.  Like I just can't quite seem to get my wits about me when we're all out in public.  Despite all of my best planning, I often find myself in these situations in which I'm feeling sweaty and frazzled, and definitely awkward.  I am the chick at the zoo with grown out bangs hanging in my face, wrestling an over-flowing diaper bag while pinning down a floppy-haired argumentative toddler to secure mittens on his little paws.

But gosh darn it, I try. Not to be perfect, but to be the best "me" for my kids. Hopefully that makes me at least relatable, if nothing else.

Louie and mom

So click on over to Julia's blog and see what I have to say about how I tackle this life, raising little children while working part-time outside of the home.  And then if you're feeling all "Kumbaya, moms are awesome, we're all in this together!", you should go and read the rest of the posts in the series.  I tell you, I look forward to Julia's guest posts every week, it's really interesting to get a glimpse into the lives of all of these other women, how and why they got where they are today, and how they all make it work.  Many of them are doing things completely differently than I am, and it's seriously all good.

Kumbaya ladies.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

As if we need one... another reason to HATE WINTER

Early yesterday morning around 3:00 AM I was awakened by Louie's cries on the monitor.  Out of habit I hopped up and out of our warm bed, all discombobulated and still half asleep, prepared to do the dreaded walk up the flight of stairs to the nursery.

Holy hell it was cold.  Shockingly cold.  There was that kind of icy chill in the air that makes you catch your breath and causes your leg hair to stand on end.  Sure, I was wearing a tank top and shorts, which seems ridiculous and highly inappropriate for the the middle of January, but ever since giving birth to my second child I seem to be prone to bizarre night sweats.  So I always keep a sweater hanging on the closet door handle that I can throw on if (oh who am I kidding, when) one of the boys needs me in the middle of the night. But this chill was different, I knew instantly that it was more than a consequence of my inappropriate winter sleeping attire.  My bare feet on the freezing cold hard wood told the whole story.  As did the thermometer.

56 degrees.  Super.  Everything is NOT AWESOME! 

(Yes, Gus and I saw the Lego movie this weekend and it was as hilarious and sweet and ridiculous as everyone is saying.  I may have liked it more than he did.  Though remind me sometime to tell you about the time when Gus pulled down his pants at the doctor's office while I was talking to his pediatrician and started bopping around saying, "Where are my pants? Where are my pants?" OMG. That happened yesterday.  There, I just told you.  Yes, it's totally from the movie, which I made sure to tell the wide-eyed pediatrician, and yes I had to remind my kid in front of the doctor that we don't undress and dance around pants-less in public places.)

So yeah.  Our house.  It was really cold.

We live in an old house, we bought it 10 years ago and for almost as long as we've lived here we've had an issue with our furnace once or twice each winter. It's never convenient when your furnace stops running, especially with little children in the house, but it's even worse when it happens overnight.  Overnight breakdowns seem to be our furnace's jam.  Tell me what that is about?  Who did we piss off  to acquire this terrible furnace-related karma?

So until about 4:30 AM Dan messed around with things, tried to clean different little part doo-dads and tested tiny little flame sensors (impressed with my tech speak aren't you?) while I stood around in my terrycloth robe and wool socks (still did not put on pants though, this no pants thing is becoming a theme of this post) and sat there watching him until he told me there was absolutely no reason for both of us to be sitting up getting no sleep.  Especially when one of us was just standing there doing nothing, complaining about how cold it was and obsessing over whether or not she smelled gas and whether or not the kids were going to wake up and if we should really wait until the morning to call a professional.  

I put him out of his misery and went back to bed, and he joined me about a half hour later resolving to call at 7:00 AM.  When Louie woke up at 6:00 I was able to get him to go back to sleep for another hour by snuggling with him under a blanket in the rocking chair.  I woke up to frozen feet and a little boy who didn't seem to understand that he was supposed to be as miserable as I was about our chilly fate.

Furnace apocalypse

Dan went into work late, after securing a time on the schedule of the heating professionals, and the boys and I spent the day driving all over the city. First to my brother and sister-in-law's home to drop off Louie for an hour, then to Gus's over-due 4-year well visit at the pediatrician, a quick stop at a drive-thru for coffee and a little something to replace the breakfast that we didn't really eat because we were all too cold, then back to my sister-in-law's again to pick up Louie, my friend Suzi's house for an impromptu play date and lunch (she is the greatest).  I attempted for about 30 minutes to get Louie down for a nap at Suzi's after lunch before giving up and heading towards home, and ended up arguing with Dan over our furnace's diagnosis for most of the thirty minute drive, trying to make a mutual decision as to whether or not we should repair ($1K and could happen immediately) or replace ($3K after rebates and wouldn't be done until tomorrow).   

Furnace apocalypse
Sanity-saving play-date
We decided to replace tomorrow, which meant we needed to find somewhere to stay for the night.  Louie had an appointment with our chiropractor at 4:15, so Dan brought him there, I packed some overnight bags and Gus and I drove over to my brother's house where my lifesaver sister-in-law was slaving away in the kitchen while my nephew napped, cooking us an incredible dinner of meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  

And then I laid myself down on their couch and got under a blanket and wondered if I'd ever be able to get up again. You can't really understand what it feels like, how exhausting it is, to not be able to just go home after a long day.  Not until you can't.  

What a crazy day.  We had a lovely little sleepover at my brother's house and the boys went to bed before 7:00 and slept surprisingly well, but they sure were confused this morning about going to daycare and preschool.  Gus in particular, our little homebody, wailed as we were getting our boots and coats on, "But I want to go home! Why can't we just go home? Is the furnace fixed? I hate Debbie's house! Why can't we go home?"

Crazy way to start our week, hoping it can only get better from here, but so dang thankful to have incredibly generous family and friends around to take care of us in our time of need.  

They're fixing the furnace today while we're all at work/daycare, and I just can't wait to go home tonight.  I imagine my boys all feel the same.  

There's no place like home.