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Bedtime Routine

The Bedtime Routine

I wrote this post about 7 weeks ago and never posted it.  

Our bedtime routine is probably not unlike most families with two little kids.  It’s tough. It’s lengthy. It’s noisy. It’s frustrating. These little people should be exhausted by the time the day is finally over, you know you are, but they’re not.  Not even close.  They run from one room to the other trying to escape, refuse to open their tiny little sugar ridden mouths for brushing, decide tonight is the night to go commando, and refuse to wear anything but fleece pajamas in the middle of the summer.  Book choices tend to be whatever is long, and the story I hate the most.

I’ve been making note of our bedtime routine for a while, hiding it from the outside world because I am the mom that lays with my son.  It didn’t start out intentionally, but I was just pregnant and basically up for a nap at any moment of the day.  It was easier, and frankly I couldn’t muster the energy to climb off the bed and make the parental “you’re going to bed alone” stand.  My son was great about going to bed.  We read books, we turned off the lights, a little back rub, and goodnight. See ya tomorrow. Mommy’s alone time begins.  My husband and I switched off nights putting the easy kid to bed because the nights where we didn’t have to read books to the baby was like bliss.

Out of the blue one day our oldest decided he only wanted daddy to read.  We decided after arguing about “it’s mommy’s night, it’s daddys’ night” we’d just let him choose.  Well, after about a week of daddy reading he wanted mommy.  9 months later he wants mommy to read every night.  Why? Because I lay with him, I get him water, I let him choose an extra book, I rub his back, arms, legs, feet, tummy, and hair.  I’m guilty through and through.  It’s the only time of day that he snuggles with me, that he stays still for more than 5 minutes, and obviously I love that.  I’ve read blog posts about laying with your kids and enjoying that time with them etc. and I totally felt validated, but the biggest difference is that many of these moms that say they lay with their kids because it’s their chatting time, they’re only young once, etc. aren’t caught in a trap of having to lay with their kids.  They choose to lay there for a bit, but aren’t stuck laying there until they fall asleep because it’s easier than sending them back to bed 10 times and yelling at them until 10 pm when whey should have been asleep by 8.

I’m stuck there.  If I can manage to stay awake through all of the tossing and turning until he falls asleep my alone time can begin between 8:30 and 9, but if I fall asleep I’m down for the count until at least 10.  Last night I woke up in his bed at 10:30.  What?  This has to stop!

I Ferberized this kid hard when he was 4 months old and I thought my work was done.  Ha ha moms and dads who decide on some other method.  You’re missing out big time!  My kid sleeps from 7 pm to 9 am.  It’s still light out when my kid goes to bed and in the morning I can drink an entire pot of hot coffee before I have responsibilities again. Well, I got mine! Ferber’s got nothing to say now.  Apparently he thinks he’s so great that he doesn’t need to write another book on what to do when your kid is 4 and refuses to stay in his bed.

In all seriousness though, if you’ve got a baby that won’t sleep, this book will change your life!

So, one night I realized I’ve got a baby coming in 4 weeks and I did what any mother would do and got my information from Facebook and proceeded to order…another book.  Yup, because I still think that there must be magic in one of these damn bed time books that will make my son forget about the noises outside, the shadows in his room, the zombies under his bed, or any other multitude of random impossible things his little imagination can think of. Something so magical that he will actually be tired and feel comfortable falling asleep without me. Maybe I’ll be the next parent to comment on Amazon with 5 stars.  I’m crossing my fingers that this little book holds the key to mine and my husband’s sanity!

Additionally though, we’re cracking down hard core on all of this crap.  You want water?  You get it before you get in bed because there’s no water trips anymore.  You want Mommy to read tonight?  Sorry, it’s daddy’s night. You want 5 books?  Sorry only 2 and your brother is reading with you.  You want to sleep with all of the lights on?  Sorry! Haven’t they taught you anything about Melatonin in daycare yet?

We need our life back, like now!

I was able to score the magical book of the century and had the opportunity to read it to my oldest at nap time.  Let me tell you, it was shocking!  I decided I would try it over nap time on a day when we actually had afternoon plans where he HAD to take a nap first or we weren’t going. I figured that since he needed to be out by 1:00 in order for this whole day to go my way, this book would do it 100%.

First of all, lets just get it out there that if I ever want anything to go my way and there’s some kind of plan and other people involved, and always when things are pre-paid for it will NEVER, I repeat NEVER go as planned. This day was not unlike any other day with a plan.

I showed him the book while he was eating lunch.  He seemed excited.  There are two really cute tired little bunnies on the front cover. I was already pumped because usually it takes a little bit to convince him to try out a new book. I read the directions, and the warning.  Warning?  Yup, right after the title of the book there’s a warning about not reading it near anyone who is driving.  Woah!  Ok.  So, we get up to his room, get comfy, and he starts throwing a fit, like straight up yelling at me, shaking his finger, pointing at me.

“You are not reading that book to me.” “I don’t want to listen to this book.” He turned his back to me, crossed his arms and sat at the end of the bed.  Sometimes he’d come and check out a picture before he’d toss himself around on the bed, kicking the mattress, kicking me, yelling at me.  To be clear, this is out of character for him completely!  I mean, sometimes he doesn’t want to take a nap but he always snuggles for books.  Always.

It’s like he knew he was being psychologically manipulated.  He totally saw right through the whole thing.  He was making these really weird faces.  It was truly the strangest reaction I’ve ever seen.  Needless to say, the nap never happened. Our afternoon plans never happened and we ended up taking a drive for 30 minutes just so he’d fall asleep and stop yelling at me and his little brother.

This book did not work for him.  I thought maybe it would be interesting to see what happened if I tried reading it to my little guy.  Being 2 he’s pretty good about bed time, but sitting for stories is difficult for him.  Maybe if I can get him to sit he’d relax and not lay awake so long in bed at night.  So, I showed him the book.  I said, look at this cute book.  You want mommy to read it to you?  He took one look at the front cover, grabbed it from my hand, pulled a Nolan Ryan on me and chucked the thing across the room.  Seriously!  Then he screamed at the top of his lungs, like I’ve absolutely never heard before “NO!”

And there you have it.  Do my kids have super human powers? Are their brains different than the other kids whose parents are raving about this book? Probably not. But for now, this book is shelved.

Anyone want to borrow it?

You want a good book for your kids?  Journey is great! It may not hypnotize them into a sleepy state, but it grabbed my son’s attention immediately and he absolutely loves it.

(Photo by Iana Dmytrenko on Unsplash)

Hot Mess Mamas | "My 'No Plan' Plan"

My “No Plan” Plan

Do you know anyone who’s been pregnant forever?  Well, I suppose not.  Not until now.  Okay. okay. So my due date is tomorrow, but I seriously feel like I’ve been pregnant forever! Most pregnant women feel that way and say the same thing I’m sure.  I got pregnant in January and now it’s the end of September. That’s longer than a year right?  I’ve been through all of the seasons. I’m kind of like an elephant.  I feel like one and the gestation period of this child is pushing 2 years…i swear!

So, I don’t have a plan.  I’ve had 2 kids and I didn’t have a plan with either of them.  Just basically get pregnant and wait for it to come out some day.  I was warned against the plan thing from the beginning because they say the birth never goes as planned so it keeps you from being disappointed.  I mean, sure it’s good to know what hospital you want to be at, if you want an epidural, and if you plan on pooping.  Wait?  Poop? Everybody poops…True Story!

So, here I am, The “No Plan” Plan Lady, and my plan has been foiled. Turns out I did have a plan.  I guess it’s kind of impossible to plan nothing, but I thought mine was pretty fool proof.  I just intended to go into labor naturally at home like I did with the other two, wait for my contractions to be close to 5 minutes apart, and then head to the hospital with just enough time to get an epidural.  Take a nap while my husband stares in awe at my strength through all of those contractions on the monitor, wake up, push, and welcome number 3 into this insane world.

Number 3 comes early right?  Number 1 is always late, number 2 is usually a few days early, and numbers 3+ are ALWAYS early.  Nope, not here.  I was so sure this kid would be early I was actually concerned when I received a birthday present in August with the birthstones of my kids, one of which was displaying September.  All I could think about for like 2 weeks was how I was going to have to return it for the right month.  I’ve been having contractions for well over a month.  Braxton Hicks they call them.  Well, Dr. Hicks, I am not your biggest fan. I never had a single contraction with the other two until I was actually in labor.  This time, every day is a false alarm. Every day it hurts, every night I figure I’m headed to the hospital, and every morning I wake up…still pregnant. I guess because I anticipated an early birth I feel like I’m a month overdue.

So I hit the doctor’s office AGAIN last week and we discussed induction.  No!  I don’t want to.  I really don’t want to, but there are lots of things to consider I guess.  Being late leads to baby’s first bowel movement in the womb.  That happened to me when I was born and I was really sick.  It happened to my first and luckily he was ok, but there was concern.  I don’t want that.  Then there’s the practical stuff like my doctor’s schedule.  Will she be available to deliver my baby?  Of course, we all run the possibility of showing up at the hospital on a night our doctor isn’t on call and it all just goes that way, but when you’re making the decision to have the baby on a specific day, don’t you choose your doctor?  I like my doctor.  She seems confident.  She did fine with my second kid.  I mean, she was there.  I saw her face.  My kid came out unharmed.

More practical stuff like my parents postponed their anniversary trip five days so they could be here when the baby was born, assuming it would be here by then.  My sister is in town for the weekend and she’s hoping there will be a baby before she heads back to her life in New York. My arm is numb. Apparently from extreme edema, or double crush syndrome as my chiropractor calls it.  Basically I have a numb hand and an on-again off-again burning sensation in my arm.  I can’t feel the keyboard keys with my right hand and I’ve had about enough of this.

But then, then there’s this really weird part of me that thinks that if the baby is forced out when it’s not ready and it’s not an emergency that they will forever be energetically unbalanced.  Maybe?

So, I jumped in.  I made the appointment for tomorrow morning.  I have to be at the hospital at 6 a.m.  The good parts are that I won’t have to call my mom in the middle of the night and wait for 30 minutes for her to get here to stay with the kids wondering whether or not I called her too soon or too late.  My husband’s boss won’t wonder where he is tomorrow morning on the day his office is supposed to relocate to a different city.  Did I mention my husband is kind of a big part of that move and without him it may be difficult?  I’m tooting his horn a little bit, but seriously losing a member of your team to baby day isn’t that great for them.  At least they know it’s coming.  My induction options were limited provided I want to have my doctor there.  Like I said before, why bother choosing a doctor that fits for you only to choose to have someone else deliver the baby?

In the bottom of my heart, deep down though, I want this whole naturally going into labor thing.  I held so much in this one being just like the other two in that respect and now its not looking like it’s going to go that way at all.  This is my last pregnancy and I really don’t want to spend those hours in the hospital having contractions when I could be at home.  It’s the only way I know.  Now I’m entering foreign territory, which is kind of strange on your third trip to the rodeo.

Everyone has their own story and every story is different.  Come the end of the day tomorrow I’ll have three completely different stories to tell.  Every day is different. It wouldn’t be exciting if everything were the same all of the time.  Tomorrow is no exception.

Hot Mess Mamas | Lost in Ikea

Lost in IKEA Purgatory

To those of you who have been to IKEA before, you know it can be a mad house. And to those of you who haven’t had the torture pleasure, the store is a uni-directional eternal labyrinth of hell that cunning Swedish architects use as a psychological weapon to disorient their customers into impulse shopping like no other store has done before. Jussayin’.

You first grab a yellow-bagged shopping cart with its independent little wheels that are a fun and refreshing change from your typical shopping cart. IKEA then dazzles you with its airy model showrooms and tantalizes with endless Nordic possibilities. This area gives you an initial burst of energy fueled by desire and the denial of instant gratification…all to lure you in where you cannot escape. You think, this is not bad at all! I can totally do this. I never knew I needed that side table. But I do.

The innocent showroom (Source).

IKEA herds you through their marketplace where the incessant flow of people makes you realize you have just one chance to wade over to that stack of place mats or you will get swept away forever. The current of the crowd pulls you along and you grab onto whatever is in reach at that point to satisfy an unidentifiable, disoriented need.

As your cart gets heavier you notice its preference for the left and begin to slide into your fellow herded livestock. Rather than look like an idiot trying to fight it, you decide to just turn the cart sideways and push on. You reassure your introverted self that no one will notice.

The promises of an exit are starting to become cruel and you look around for those shortcuts you can’t seem to find. The fear of accidentally short-cutting yourself back to the beginning makes you  shudder and you stay focused and plow forward.

Once you arrive at the children’s section, you foolishly decide to let your toddler play with the only mini kitchen in the whole store, which has been touched by a million snot-smeared hands. And while you are no helicopter, you watch her like a hawk because you know the other 500 cattle who also thought they were brilliant for arriving at 10AM on a tax-free Sunday are about to stampede through in record time. Peripherally, you notice the yellow and blue striped cowboys lazily monitoring from their saddled stations.

You don’t want to experience your worst fear (losing a child), so you continue to follow your toddler as she explores each little bedroom and then slips harmlessly through a child-sized tunnel into the adjacent section. You drag your obliquing cart around and realize this is the storage section where rows of wardrobes obstruct your expectant view. You look once, twice down a different row, call out, and nervously laugh to yourself because surely you can’t lose a kid you had your eyes glued to in a mere second. You call out louder. You try to speed-walk your gimpy cart against the current but don’t get very far, politely excusing yourself in between louder and more panicky calls.

Fear and bile rise up from your gut. Because she is nowhere to be found. You curse yourself for letting her wander–she is a runner after all, but was deceptively compliant at the time. What you don’t know is that she had a plan the entire time. With only one chance of escape, she honed in on the shortcuts that she took mental note of while her mother was busy hoarding things not on her list.

She looks so innocent…

Full-blown hysteria ensues 60 seconds in and you can’t understand why the IKEA cowboys just stand there ignoring your bovine cries. The livestock, however, realize you are holding up the flow and several cattle ask if you are looking for the giggling little blonde girl. “Yeah, she’s over in the bedroom section now.” “Oh, the little hysterically laughing girl? Yeah, I just saw her in kitchenware.”
Oh. My. God.

Other parents understand your distress and like a ramp agent to a rather large plane, they marshal you around corner after corner. You finally see her in the distance in bedding (probably on her second lap) and your heart leaps with relief. She sees you in the distance and her bare feet leap to escape. She squeals in delight. You squeal her name with all the blood-curdling passion you can muster. You barrel through the herd, orbiting cows into flight left and right, and glancing back as the cart takes out a few more in its sideways wake. “MOOOOOOOVE!!!”

You finally catch her and hold her close. Through gritted teeth, you force out your reprimand in a way that finally gets her attention and you wipe away both her tears and yours. You turn around after a tap on your shoulder and you hear, “Your is child missing her shoes, right? I think they’re all the way back in the showroom.” How is that even possible? Such is the sorcery of IKEA.

You are no longer under the store’s spell, but nevertheless remain a pawn in its sadistic game. You sail through the remaining rooms on your damned sideways cart looking like an effing idiot only to screech to a halt in their mile-long, vertigo-inducing warehouse. You still try to salvage this shit-show of a nightmare and when at last you reach the bin you are convinced is named after a Finnish armpit, you realize it’s not the side table you wanted and never knew you needed. But you’ll learn to love whatever it is anyway and you wedge it under your brimming yellow-bagged cart. Such is the sorcery of IKEA.

You’re not the only one either. Everyone else is panting from exhaustion and cow-eyed bewilderment, dreading to discover what’s in their own yellow bag. All are about one Swedish meatball away from implosion. But you eventually break free, leave depleted of energy, devoid of hope, and lacking a soul or anything on your list.

At home, you put up your three plates, a napkin ring, a 200-pack of straws, a toy rat, a dog bowl for a dog you don’t have, some sort of wall mount for maybe curtains, and an orange nightstand so bright it appears to radiate heat. As you cry yourself to sleep (warmed by your new nightstand), you silently curse IKEA’s business plan, your stupidity, and the perfect storm the combination of the two creates.

Such is the sorcery of IKEA.


Everything is Messy

Summer has been busy and writing on the blog has been something I’ve been thinking about constantly, but never actually getting the energy, inspiration, or time to sit down and do…anything about my hot mess life.  Every time I think of a post it comes up boring, or worse yet, not even a hot mess.  As I sit here in my office (my dining room table) between Optimus Primal and cloud dough gone mad while my kids spend the morning at my parent’s house I think about how some days this mess is the worst thing to happen to me. Finding space at our gigantic dinner table to actually eat, hoping my husband won’t notice his plate is sitting in the sticky honey mess from snack time (I blame the geniously chosen hand scraped table from World Market…worst purchase a family with small sticky oatmealy children could have made), and hoping my kids don’t think anything of it.

Like I said, I kept thinking things weren’t hot or messy enough to be interesting. Like my life is so regular and ordinary without any major moments of pain, hilarity, or danger to be worth documenting until I took a step back, looked at my life right now, and realized there’s one big hot mess happening right in front of my eyes.

Baby #3 is coming in a matter of weeks. We’re all a little freaked out about it.  Well, everyone except Hudson who just goes on about his almost 2-year old business in complete care free mode.  He’s different than my first one was when it came time for baby #2.  He’s a little more oblivious and more like what I imagined kids to be like when more babies arrive. Ryter on the other hand…breaking my heart for the second time.

We’ve done everything I promised to do.  We’ve talked about the baby.  We’ve prepared for the baby.  At least once a week he picks the gory magazine the OB gave me in my “yay, you’re having a baby” welcome pack so we can look at all of the pictures of the baby growing inside me month by month right before he drifts off into a blissful, multi-time waking, wetting the bed sleep.  We’ve discussed epidurals, mommy’s pain, spending time in the hospital, umbilical cords, placentas, and lanugo. We’ve talked about names, what if it’s a girl (he’s not having that!), how he’ll be the big responsible brother-mommy’s little helper.

Then I realized, what I imagined as fun, interesting, and something only he and I could chat about, has become an amazing amount of pressure. This time, though, he’s 4.  What were acceptable 2-year-old tantrums have turned into downright nasty moments. He talks back to me, like a lot.  It just happened.  One day he just started yelling at me and blatantly refusing to do anything I asked of him.  Sure, part of it is being 4.  I get that.  He’s not perfect, no children are. They’re all a healthy dose of Jekyll and Hyde, but woah!  He called me a bad person.  He’s being really honest I guess.  At the moment I told him we had to leave the playground because giving him 3 chances to stop talking back to me about putting his shoes on was enough…I guess I was a bad person to him. Does he really know what it means to be a bad person?  Of course not, but it hurts when you hear your kid say stuff like that.

I haven’t even had the baby yet and we’re already in survival mode.  Just trying to smooth over all of these icky moments, make it to the next one, and hope nobody gets too hurt, scarred, or forgotten about in the process. Exciting moments are on the horizon that will make the next 5 weeks fly by I’m sure.  Between birthdays, visits to the grandparent’s house twice, more birthdays, a wedding, and school starting, September 21 will be here before we know it. We’re rearranging the biggest boy’s bedroom, making space for baby “Skeleton” in the guest room, and turning a baby room into a big boy room.

While all of this is happening, I just have to keep reminding myself that kids are sensitive.  They know things you think only you know.  They feel everything you’re feeling and it’s a lot for their little bodies to handle. Every change is an upset for them. The next few months are going to be tough as I figure out how to handle 3 kids, my kids figure out how to deal with a baby, and my husband figures out how to…just deal and before I know it it’ll be 2 years later and I’m sure I’ll be wondering how we ever made it through!


Hot Mess Mamas | My Mini Me

Mini Me

My lady toddler is starting to have quite the personality. She will say, “Do you want to wear my tutu, sweetie?” to her little cousin as she does a shimmy. Or she will snuggle into a soft blanket and coo, “Ahhh, all nice and cozy!” Or when I help her get her clothes off for a bath she will look down, giggle to herself, and scream, “I’m naked! I’M NAKED!!! Time to dance.” and proceed to prance around the house, wiggling what her mama gave her. Or she’ll whisper, “You need to wake up, precious, m’kay? M’kay.” to her snoring dad and then in response to his “just a few more minutes, honey,” she will throw her head back in annoyance, roll her eyes, and whirl away with a flit of the wrist reminiscent of jazz hands. Wait, what?

Lately, if her request for yet another package of toddler crack is denied, she’s been known to roll her head back in defeat, look to the sky as if only the birds knew her pain, and trudge off, shoulders hunched, in pure dramatic disgust at the world. Wait, WHAT.

Where in the world does she come up with this stuff anyway? SHE’S TWO AND A HALF!

Pretty proud of my husband for building this little house this weekend!

Well, it’s apparently from…ehem…me. Cue this morning: I was leaving the house early for work, so proud to get out of the house at 6AM to get a good start to my work week, when I remembered I needed to install a car seat into my mom’s vehicle for the day. Shit. She graciously was helping me watch N since her school was closed for the 4th of July holiday and that was the least I could do for her before leaving.

On a side note, is it just me or does anyone else look completely ridiculous installing car seats? I found that if I try to use my entire weight on the seat, I can get a really good hold on the straps. But that means I have to essentially sit in the damned seat and thrash about like a fox caught in a leg hold trap. Probably not good for the integrity of the car seat, I’m realizing as I write this, but I swear I saw it on YouTube once, so you know, it’s legit.

Anyway, I usually do this in the privacy of my own garage, so thank GOD it was 6AM when no one was watching me because…’t’aint pretty. I mean, I am a big person — like twice the size of most moms — so the sight of me getting my 6’1″ lanky body and fat ass into a toddler car seat and sweating and fighting and thrashing and cursing must be extraordinarily humorous to a bystander. Legs fly. Ears cringe. So thank 8-pound-6-ounce-newborn-baby Jesus I was alone in the dark.

After much annoying effort I finally finished.  I slammed the door with exasperation. I threw my head back in annoyance, looking to the sky as if only the birds knew my pain. And I stomped off with defeated, hunched shoulders and a furrowed brow towards my own car in pure dramatic disgust at the world.

I then hear a giggle coming in the general direction of the shadowed driveway. And then an, “I know EXACTLY where she gets it,” in a familiar voice by my husband’s truck. I whirl around with a flit of the wrist reminiscent of jazz hands to find my husband has been observing me for a quite while.

“What do you mean? I’m not–” He reenacts my hunched, stomping walk and I instantly know. CRAP. It’s. All. Me. And so I reluctantly conceded that yes, I am a dead ringer for my daughter’s expressions. Or rather, she is a dead ringer for mine. “Yikes. Am I really that dramatic?” He just stares back, wide-eyed and slack-jawed. I’ll take that as a yes. So I’m inadvertently creating a nonverbally dramatic monster one sigh at a time. At least she’s a verbally polite dramonster, m’kay? M’kay.


I Could Make That!

My oldest is turning 4 next week-seems impossible, but it’s true.  He’s at the age now where kids are starting to have parties.  I thought maybe we could squeak out one more year before we have a party, but he knows too much. It’s not the kids or the parents or anything like that.  It’s my internal battle between Pinterest mom and my desire to be lazy and not overdo it for a kid and guests who won’t remember it past Sunday.

I’m totally obsessed with this stuff…


(Image Source)

but internally settling for the crock pot, disposable aluminum pans, and store bought cake. What parent of a 4 year old has the time to produce such magic I ask you?  It certainly isn’t me despite the fact that I love crafts, Pinterest, Hobby Lobby, etc. I literally die and go to heaven in the sticker and paper aisles and cannot resist the idea that I’m going to decorate individual treat bags for 15 kids.

“It’ll be easy” I think to myself.  “I’ll start early.  Make one decoration every night.”

“I can always go on Etsy in a pinch and buy adorable things that other people have made.  Yeah!  That’s actually a better idea.  $35 for a Robot banner?  FU Etsy! I could make that.”

So, it’s been 1 week since we decided to have this party which means there’s 1 week left until the party.  Well, I got the invitations out…thank you Evite!, but the Robot themed plates, napkins, and stickers (for my home made silverware wraps) are still in my Amazon shopping cart and the robot t-shirts I almost purchased for the entire family are still in my Etsy shopping cart.  I’ve done nothing except think about how cute it could be if I really busted my ass.

Another thing that is hanging over my head is the food.  I love party food.  I love making party food.  And I LOVE eating party food.  I can’t.  I just can’t.  Seriously, I can’t even make dinner on a Wednesday night without melting down into a puddle of tears and olive oil, but literally nothing is stopping me from thinking “I could make that.” What makes me think for a second that I’m going to be making individual sandwiches for every guest, wrapping them in wax paper and that cute stripy natural string?


(Image Source)

Which of you isn’t just waiting to be invited to a party where that happens?

I could just order stuff and have my parents be in charge of picking it up for me, but then I look at the catering menu for a sandwich shop and I think…”I could make that.”

Additionally, our house has been in a state of renovation for the last 2 1/2 years and will likely continue for at least another year.  Right now our focus, and what we’ve slowly been doing is REMOVING OUR SCREEN PORCH.  Great idea Lindsey, lets have a backyard party with kids around a dilapidated screen porch.  BRAVO! Maybe I should just make it a construction themed party and give everyone a hard hat and hammer when they arrive.  It’ll be like the opposite of a Barn Raising.  We’ll fill the Bagster up with balloons to start and the goal will be to pop them all with rusty nails, corrugated metal, and splintered wood.  Sweet!  You think Etsy has any cute party banners for that?

And then there’s the toy stress.  Is my son going to get toys for his birthday?  Absolutely.  Will they be F*@#ing awesome to him and will the whole experience be just exactly what any 4 year old boy could ever want? Totally!  In all of the excitement will he forget to say Thank You to everyone during his group present opening?  Sorry, but Yes!  Will I have to find a home for all of these toys?  Yeeeeeeees.

I’ll never forget my sister’s 4th birthday party.  Maybe it was 5?  Lets go with 4 because this is totally something a 4 year old would say.  So, she opened a package of Play Doh which incidentally I LOVE unlike many parents, and before the Thank You, before the Ooohs and Aaahs she says “my mommy doesn’t like it when I play with Play Doh”.  It’s true.  My mom totally didn’t let us play with Play Doh because our entire house was carpeted (even the kitchen…yup) and I’m pretty sure she thought it would get stuck in the carpet or something. But, being 8 I knew that was so NOT what you say to someone who so graciously brought you a gift that they were so excited to see you open.  Seriously, the thought of that happening gives me nightmares. Luckily, being the mess that I am, about the only thing I won’t let my kids play with is sharp knives.  They have to be pretty sharp though.

So, then I start to think about everything that I have accomplished and I start to feel better about myself…for a couple of seconds.  I got my living room bookshelves styled.  Yay!  I painted my super cute side table from black to aqua and bought a plant for it. Yay! I painted the used playscape we bought a couple months ago. Yay!  I cleaned out my craft closet in the baby’s room to make room for that little bundle of joy. Double Yay! Then I realize that nobody cares and none of that has ANYTHING to do with a 4 year olds robot themed birthday party.

Oh! I reserved the bouncy house, because obviously I can’t make that!

So, this kid is going to have the best robot themed party with basically no robots (except the invitation), because I guess this year robots aren’t as popular as Ninja Turtles, Frozen, Star Wars Rebels (whatever the hell that is), or anything nautical.  Nautical!  His first birthday was a nautical theme and I couldn’t find a damn striped napkin within 50 miles.  NOW?  Now, I can buy everything at Marshalls for about $10.

For those of you planning a party about 4 years from now, keep robots in mind.  They’re going to be big!

Forced Family Fun

We kept it low-key this year for my side of the family vacation. We stayed at a lake house on Eagle Mountain Lake near Ft. Worth and had so much fun: zoos, pontoon boat rides, N’s first movie theater experience to see Inside Out, lots of swim time and boat races, good food, good wine, good laughs.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t have a few shit show moments, particularly when I used my child as a human shield to avoid a water gun (she loved it). Or when we viciously fought over Monopoly (the game for nice people) and strangely didn’t over Cards Against Humanity (the game for horrible people). Or when I tried to get my 8-hour boater’s safety course done in time to rent a boat only to realize it’s required for people born after 1991. Or when I forced my entire family to jump into a more brown-than-blue lake as I bellowed, “You will have fun whether you like it or not!” (everyone survived). Or when my husband wanted to drive the boat and realized he didn’t know how to reverse mere seconds before docking. Poo in pants. And it wasn’t my daughter’s.

My brother had a hard time relinquishing control. So he stood and directed. You know, just in case.

I love every bit of family vacations. I love planning them, the anticipation. I love seeing our sweet siblings, their spouses, and kiddos. It is a big reason we eventually want another child. I love the laughter and the long-ago childhood memories that feel as if they happened just yesterday, being grateful for the rare time together, appreciating our quirks and differences and loving them anyway. Aaaaaaand I love it when its over. Because vacationing with a toddler is effing exhausting!

In my youthful days, my idea of vacationing involved rest and relaxation. Throw in a massage, a Bloody Mary with breakfast, and some snorkeling, and it didn’t get much better than that. My idea of vacation does NOT involve waking up at 4-5AM every morning to a toddler who decides that vacation is the. perfect. time. to try out sleeping in a big girl bed for the first time (#soproud). It does not involve constantly worrying about little ones sneaking out of the house and diving into a pool. And it certainly does not involve poop in swimsuits. At least it wasn’t in my hand this time?

I know it will be like this for many deliciously exhausted years. And I wouldn’t change a thing. Because some day soon, we’ll have a moody teenager that probably won’t think we’re fun to hang out with. Some day soon, we’ll have a college kid who’s perhaps too busy for us. Some day soon, we’ll only hear dinging texts and chirping tweets from my daughter’s general direction. Some day soon, I’ll wish for those early mornings with copious amounts of coffee (instead of bloodies), watching my mother dance with my daughter to Frozen. Yet again.

Seriously. “For the first time in forever” is on repeat in my head right now. I can’t get it out.

Some day soon, they won’t need a boost.

My brother showing our kids what a “zebra bootie” looks like.

Some day soon, they won’t hold each others hands in my sweet sister-in-law’s arms.

And yes, that’s a paci. But vacation sometimes trumps the house rules.

Some day soon, she won’t need her dad’s help anymore.

This was right after I used her as my water gun shield. He loves playing “Good Cop.”

Some day soon, things like work or old knees or bad backs might prevent us from seeing each other.

If you squint, you can see the lake from our “lake house.”

So here’s to appreciating family and all it’s little quirks, adventures, and messes. And cheers to cherishing every exhausted moment.


(The Royal Tenenbaums’ source.)

The Mombie

We are in major sleep regression mode over here. I am a zombie mombie in every sense of the word again. In every phase of sleep regression throughout my toddler’s little life, it took me a long while to figure it out. You see, I’m not that smart in the middle of the night. Who am I kidding? Or the middle of the day either.
She looks better than me at 2Am and that’s not saying much.

Here’s how the phases of sleep regression go down at the Greuter Haus:
(1) The Is-She-Sick? Phase: She never really cries out, so on the rare occasion when she did, something’s gotta be wrong, right? So I would immediately run to her room, thinking she was sick for a night or two.
(2) The Guilt Phase: Then I would feel guilty and still go in to comfort her for a night or two.
(3) The Making-it-Worse Phase: Then I would realize I was encouraging her to wake up more often, but still couldn’t help myself for a night or two.
(4) The Good-luck Phase: Then I was so sleep deprived that I’d say “Good luck to ya, lady!” and turn down (then eventually off) the monitor to let her cry-it-out for a night or two.
(5) The Back-to-Normal Phase: Just when all seems normal for a few months…rinse and repeat.

The worst was when she turned a year old. That lasted a solid MONTH of CIO CIA-level sleep deprivation torture. I wish someone would have emphasized a bit more how bad the 12-month regression would be, though I’m sure it’s in the books I’ve stopped reading. Not that I would have believed them anyway. Every stinkin’ time, this mombie has to learn the hard way as she “feeds upon coffee and survives on wine.”

That was the last time we had major issues with sleeping. Until now. At 2.5 years. So we’re on day 10ish now and I’m finally in the “good-luck” phase. I’m over it. Cry it on out, honey. I wish you the best in your endeavors. So when she started crying last night yet again, I threw my pillow over my cringing ears and rolled my puffy eyes both in annoyance and in attempt to go back to sleep. I stood firm and convinced myself, “she’s gotta learn somehow!” Yet, against all efforts, I found myself peeking through a small opening between the sheets to where her silent cries flared brighter and brighter on the monitor. No. NO. NOOOOOOOO!!!!!

(On a side note: After about 15 minutes of sob-torture, my husband wakes up, gently taps me like a woodpecker on my previously tensed shoulder, and says, “Hey, love, can you hear that? I think she’s crying. I’d go in there, but…I don’t really know your method right now.” Nice one, hun. You’re just lucky its Father’s Day or this zombie would be ripping your sweet head right off right now. Your final Father’s Day gift is the gift of sleep. Enyoy, love.)

I felt bad for her as her cries started to turn into yelps and then wails. I was going to fold. I was going to keep this cycle going one more frustrating day. When I finally open her door, guilt immediately washed over me like a bucket of cold water. Her sound machine must have turned off and back on, switching from the sounds of a serene, loving babbling brook to the scariest noise that I don’t know why is even on these damned things: a meaty, pulsing heartbeat. What.

Poor kid! That’s the terrifying sound you play at Halloween parties. That’s the nauseating sound you hear at the scariest part of a horror movie just seconds before that jerky girl crawls through the television.

I know there’s a hellish heartbeat noise in this movie somewhere.

That’s NOT the sound you want playing for your 2.5 year-old daughter who has sleeping issues. What in God’s green earth is it doing on a sound machine anyway?

I mean, is it really that comforting for a newborn to hear a pulsating heartbeat? Really? No, I’m pretty sure they can’t stand it either. It’s just practically the only thing they hear for 9 months. Okay, sure, it’s probably pretty comforting right out of the chute when they haven’t heard anything else yet, but after a while? Come on. I’ve seen those newbie eye-rolls before. They know what’s up. They’re just as annoyed as the rest of us, but just can’t express it yet.

But my sweet daughter sure could. And at the top of her sweetheart little lungs, poor thing!

After I quickly and sheepishly turned her noise machine back to the familiar sounds of rain on river, I sang her a song, had a good long discussion on why it’s (ehem, still) important to sleep on your own no matter what kind of noise is pulsating beneath your bed, and eventually put that trooper back down.

We might be reliving the effects of that night some day on a therapist’s requested drawing, but until then I will take that night as one more lesson in poor judgment parenting. Note to self: you will never have it down to a science, you twit.

One Hot Mess of a Play Date

The three of us had the rare opportunity to see each other two weekends in a row last month. The first was a crazy girls’ weekend getaway to Savannah and Hilton Head, the details of which will remain in Savannah and Hilton Head. Though we did get a couple of great shots together.



The second was the following week in Austin when Lindsey was in town visiting family. This was the first time in a year that all of us (plus the kiddos) were under the same roof together. And what a memorable experience it was. So much so that we thought we’d share how we roll. On a play date.

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Lisa: I hosted, so I tidied and mopped the day before. Why bother when kids are coming over, you ask? Well, because they will inevitably eat off the floor, and this way the floor is at least somewhat sanitary. And if my house is clean, maybe people will forget about that hideous abandoned house at the entrance to my neighborhood. I now understand the value of a Homeowner’s Association.

Lindsey: Let’s just keep in mind the terror I felt going over to Lisa’s house knowing my kids basically destroy most things so fast I can’t keep up. Maybe destroy isn’t the right word because only one of Craig’s rare stalagmites got broken, but they definitely dump and run. I had nerves built up inside of me for months because the original plan was to dump my kids at 7:30AM and run like hell (wow, I wonder where they get it) and head to my cousin’s graduation ceremony. Do people with only one child get up that early on a Saturday? After further analysis of this very flawed plan I had come to the conclusion that getting up at 5AM in order to get ready and drop my babies off just wasn’t going to work. We got up at 3AM the day before to travel and the only sleep the kids got was in 15 minute increments between airport-restaurant-condo etc. So, I sheepishly cancelled on my cousin, let my kids sleep a good sleep, and headed over for a refreshed morning of play.

Lisa: That morning, I got out a scooping activity for the Little Dude, to keep him occupied while I started to get food prepped. Immediate fail! He dumped an entire bowl of dry lentils on the kitchen floor just moments before everyone started arriving. Of course!

Kensley: Murphy’s law.

Lindsey: Things are different at different people’s houses, and I just let my kids go when we walked in. Well, the first thing my oldest needed to do was pee. He usually waits until the last minute, dances while he unbuttons his pants, and hops up on the potty just in time. He usually says “phew” like he wasn’t really sure he was going to make it. Well, he didn’t. Have you ever seen one of these?
Lindsey: Of course you have! Because you’re responsible parents who lock the toilet so your child can’t toss your phone into the drink. Well, lets just say…they work! They work so well in fact, even I couldn’t get into it. Thank goodness I wasn’t the one that had to go because, well… So, my adorable son in his adorable blue collared shirt with whales and cute as a button preppy striped shorts were soaked. The floor was soaked. His feet were soaked. The toilet, seat, and lock were soaked. Welcome to the world of me on a play date.

Lisa: This was C’s first actual play date at home, with kids his age, that aren’t family. But I wasn’t worried about it. He’s played with his cousins and his aunt & uncles (who are adopted and only a few years older) at our house before, and he loves all of his little buddies at school. Thank goodness he takes after my extrovert husband and not me. Right? Ha! Well, the little dude was NOT a fan of sharing toys that day. Or interacting with anyone. He whined. He pushed. He was kind of a brat. :-\ For the first half hour or so, all of the children ignored each other and played by themselves.

Lindsey: Yeah, pee pants played by himself until Craig was done cooking and then proceeded to swallow up all of his time sitting on the kitchen floor with Magformers (the most awesome toy ever!). Is it true that first borns usually play better with adults? I know I always did.

How big boys play.

Lindsey: My youngest took a little horsey ride on Calvin’s back and proceeded to steal all food and toys from everyone. He may or may not have eaten at least two different snack cups he stole from other children, and definitely took a fork or two from Nina. Talk about sticking up for herself. Man, that girl knows what’s up and she held her own with the boys no problem! Kensley, you have nothing to worry about! Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it because she takes no shit from nobody!

The gears are turning as he plots her demise.

Lindsey: After my youngest stuffed his entire breakfast into his cup of milk and proceeded to spill it everywhere, we had an awesome cinnamon pancake breakfast (I may be a pancake convert after that), which neither of my kids ate. Instead, they inhaled spoonful after spoonful of the precious honey I carefully transported back from Atlanta to Wisconsin to Texas and insisted on using a  knife to cut the cheese. After brunch, we headed outside for what was sure to be the BEST part of the day.

Aaaand I’ll help you with that.

Kensley: It got rather sunny that morning and when you get a break from Memorial weekend torrential rains that began the worst flooding in recent Central Texas history, you go outside for some water play. By the way, if you haven’t already, please donate to help the Central Texas flood victims!

Lisa: Suddenly, success! All the children gathered around the water table. All was harmonious and wonderful.

Mmmm. Sponges.

Kensley: Without a thought to packing a swimsuit, I just let Nina go for it and decided to suffer the drenched consequences later. Eh, it’s just water, what can happen?

Lindsey: My oldest had the squirt gun. The dominant older boy in the group that day, he actually listened fascinatingly well, but the rule to not squirt anyone got the better of him. He got Nina a few times and much to my surprise, she loved it! Phew! She loved it so much so that naked time was next on the list. I was worried.

The gears are turning as he plots her demise.

Kensley: Yeah, layer by soaked layer she asked me to help take off her dripping romper. I glanced at my friends as I helped peel off her top. Nervous laughter. Then she insisted on her shorts. “Um, she doesn’t normally do this.” (I think I’m that explanatory mom Lindsey can’t stand). Then she demanded her pull-ups! On the outside: “Well, that’s awkward.” On the inside: “FOR F%CK’S SAKE!”

Skin care first. Nakedness second.

Kensley: Yes, my daughter was the only naked tot in the bunch for a long while. And not just naked. Exhibitionist naked. I’m talking prancing around naked as if being liberated was her cue to begin the ballet performance she was too stage frightened to do a month ago. She even inspired another to lose his own layers and together they ran around in pure bliss as I satisfyingly doused them with a hose.

Lindsey: Maybe I should continue to worry. Was that Ryter’s plan…to get her naked? What would the boys think of the lack of…? What would she think of the presence of…? Well, turns out it didn’t look like any of them noticed the slight differences. Again, Phew!

Kensley: Yes, it was all fun and games until. It was time. TO POOP. Cringe. We are in the midst of potty training and she doesn’t always get the signal to go early enough to find a bathroom. So when she used the magic words, “I go potty!” and I saw her getting ready for battle on the back porch, I found myself with a naked toddler H-AAAAAND a turtle-head. As we raced to the bathroom I heard screams behind me and instinctively knew. To catch. The inevitable.

Lindsey: That shit was hysterical.

Kensley: I was traumatized.

Lisa: Little C decided he was tired of all this [barbaric] socializing and went inside. He convinced Papa to put his favorite movie on (My Neighbor Totoro). His indignant eye roll said it all: “It’s my party, and I’ll go inside and ignore everyone if I want to.” Sigh. I guess he’s inherited some of my introversion after all! Hopefully this means he won’t be the one streaking when he gets to college.

He was over being social. Get. Out.

Lindsey: After a couple of virgin mimosas for us…

Kensley: Correction: virgin mimosas for you. And you alone. Okay, and your kid.

Never fails to crack me up.

Lindsey: …and after the stalagmite oopsie-daisy, we started to pack it up.  Broken things are usually the sign that I’ve taken it a few minutes too far.  To finish off the day, my kids, after almost an entire year of not having pacifiers, gravitated to Nina like flies on shit when her paci came out. Trying to keep my youngest away from her face was nearly impossible!

The audacity of paci-stealing.

Lindsey: All in all, it was a great success.

Kensley: Except for the poop.

Lindsey: I’ve spent many a play date uptight waiting for my kid to hit someone for no reason so it was such a relief to see them both playing so nicely and listening so well! Again, one more time, Phew! And for the ride home? A treat from Lisa: homemade grapefruit white chocolate brown butter cookies…she only has one kid, people.

Tuckered out.

Now that’s what I call a play date.