Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How A Mommy Enjoys Her Morning Cup of Tea

I so wish I were exaggerating. But I'm not. This post describes perfectly what life is like in our house right now.

Every morning brings a routine of chaos. If I wake up covered in my infant's urine, I am instantly relieved. Phew, it wasn't poop this time! As I'm changing the baby and myself, my toddler erupts into the room. He literally erupts, he throws the door open and springs forward, filling the entire room with his presence as he yells some morning command or greeting (such as "Good Morning Jose!"). As the room fills with Ryan's presence, it also fills with the poignant smell of poop that has been marinating in his diaper for at least an hour or two.

So, I change Ryan, grab the baby, and step into the hallway. That's when I see my six year old gazing mesmerized by the TV (Power Rangers) while sitting atop a giant pile of Legos. (Yes, the messes begin before I even open my eyes). Jacob sees me and asks what's for breakfast. Usually, I'll be out of the easy breakfast foods, like oatmeal, waffles, or cereal. So I'll have to choose between preparing a breakfast egg sandwich, whipping up a batch of from-scratch pancakes, or dropping a pile of cough drops on the table and hoping they will forget about food until lunchtime (yeah, right).

I feed the kids, usually while holding a fussy baby and scarfing down the scraps and leftovers for my own breakfast. Then I feed the fussy baby. Then I attempt, with much rocking and swaying and shushing, to get the fussy baby to sleep. If this is accomplished, I might finally have a chance to take my first morning breath and consider what day it is. This is when I really, really love to enjoy a couple sips of hot tea.

This morning, after feeding the kids and getting Jonathan to close his eyes for a second or two, I put the kettle on and made myself a cup of tea. Jonathan's eyes popped back open before the water even finished boiling. So I prepared the tea one-handed (fussy baby in the other). As I was stirring in my hazelnut creamer, I heard a loud "gush" and peeked into the dining room (slash living room, slash tv room, slash playroom, slash entryway) to discover that Ryan had knocked over an entire cup of water.

I put my tea down, I put the baby down, and began to clean up. Two minutes into the clean up, the baby is crying. I pick him up and feel the slimy texture of infant poop. It's seeping out of his diaper, through his clothes, all over me. I rush Jonathan into the bathroom where I do a quick wipe up and bath (the entirety of which he screams through). I walk into the kids' room to grab a fresh outfit for Jon and almost trip over my six year old's sopping wet, urine soaked pullup. Discovering the pullup is similar to what I imagine it must be like to throw a giant rave party, pass out in the wee hours of the morning, and wake up to discover my living room is occupied by a half dozen hungover college students. Wait. It's probably not like that at all. But it IS very unpleasant.

I yell at Jacob to throw away his pullup. Then I put on some socks because I can't shake off that nasty feeling of sopping wet diaper crystals touching my flesh. Finally, I pick out a new outfit for Jonathan, who has been hanging out in the nude this whole time. Just as I put Jonathan in a cute penguin romper (if your baby's clothes aren't ridiculously embarrassing, you're parenting wrong, people), I hear Jacob and Ryan yelling at each other in the other room. Short version: despite the fact that BOTH sides of the couch are equally comfortable, Ryan and Jacob both want to sit on the right side.

As I dictate the terms of a negotiation between the two older kids, Ryan asks me for something to eat. I glance at the table where the breakfast sandwich I slaved over sits untouched. Another negotiation ensues and ends on the following terms: Ryan will eat his sandwich if I feed it to him "like a baby" (aka: cut it up, stab pieces with a fork, and place them in his mouth). Lazy jerk.

Still holding Jonathan, I feed Ryan approximately half of his sandwich before he declares that he is full. So full in fact that there is not room in his tummy for a single, tiny 'nother bite (two year olds are so dramatic). As I clear the table, I come across my untouched mug of tea. It's almost jeering at me. It's cold so I pop it in the microwave while I try to empty the dish drainer with one hand (baby). As I lean forward to put away a casserole dish, I knock over a bowl. It breaks. To be more precise, it shatters. All over the floor. I ban all children from the kitchen, put the baby down (who begins to instantly cry), and sweep up the glass.

Finally, I'm done. I refuse to touch the rest of the dishes until my husband comes home in approximately eight hours, sixteen minutes, and 45 seconds (but whose counting?). I grab my tea out of the microwave, cuddle the baby, and finally, FINALLY sit down on the couch. Phew, I realize that this is the first time I've sat down all morning. I put my feet up, rest the baby-laden arm on a pillow, reach for my tea and bring it to my face. The sweetness touches my lips. And it's cold.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Resolution To Ban All Gifts

I wish gifts could be banned from Christmas. I dislike getting gifts. I dislike the stresses of giving them. I dislike watching my children unwrap gifts like greedy little monsters. I dislike reinforcing the false notion that objects bring happiness.

If you really think about it, gift giving (in its present form) during Christmas is completely ridiculous. Buy a bunch of objects for people who buy a bunch of objects for you in return. It's basically just an obligation to trade (usually unnecessary and superfluous) objects. And maybe the person will like what you buy them. Or maybe they will hate it and pretend to like it. And maybe you just purchased a gift for someone off of their carefully crafted wish list. This just seems so transactional. Why not cut out the middle man and have everyone buy their own gifts?.

When it comes down to it, present day holiday gift-giving is basically done out of obligation or expectation. We do it because that's just what we do. Children or spouses expect gifts on Christmas or expect that the gifts they give will be reciprocated. That's not REAL gift giving. Real gift giving should communicate something. It should communicate that we are thankful or appreciative, or that we recognize a need, or that we are thinking of someone. (Sadly, the $25 gift card I gave my son's teacher was probably the most genuine gift I gave all season- it communicated my appreciation and thankfulness for all her hard work and kindness without any expectation of a gift in return.)

When I watched my kids tear open gift after gift (on Christmas Eve with my family, Christmas morning, and then on Christmas evening with my husband's family) all I could see being communicated was consumerism and materialism. We are teaching them to put all their expectations and happiness in receiving objects. Gifts are the big climax. We are expected to feel fulfilled from a bunch of wrapped boxes? It's no wonder people experience let down or become gloomy after Christmas. The objects that we anticipated all year failed to bring us the happiness that we expected them to.....big surprise there!

My kids would kill me for saying this but, I truly wish gifts would be taken out of Christmas. I mean, I want my kids to learn about giving. But I want to teach them to give in other ways. Like giving their time. Or giving food. Or meeting a real actual need in the community. And I'm all for donating toys to children. But every time I passed by a toy drive I kept thinking to myself, "maybe the kids who don't get toys have a better understanding of what Christmas is about?"

I've been a parent for six years. I know what really happens to toys. Most toys get old within a week. They break or get lost or become uninteresting or just take up valuable shelf space. And as I shelled out my credit card this year to purchase toys for the kids, this is all I was thinking about. I was thinking about the heaps of toys in their room that rarely ever get touched and the bags of toys we take to Goodwill each year (small house). Why feed the cycle? I'm pretty sure my kids would be more appreciative if they received just one gift for Christmas rather than a slew of them.

This year, Christmas totally snuck up on me. It came and went so quickly that it almost feels like it never even happened. What do I miss the most now that Christmas is over (the Catholic in me has to disclaim that, in fact, Christmas is NOT over until the Epiphany)? Certainly not the gifts. No way. I miss the lingering in the presence of company and family. I miss staying home in pajamas with no where to go. I miss the rest and the food and the singing and the holiday parties. I miss sitting in a pew with my entire family for Christmas Mass singing Joy to the World. I miss cuddling up and watching Christmas movies. I miss Christmas lights. I miss the charity and the good deeds. I miss the Christmas tree and Christmas candles. I miss the scent of pine and cinnamon and peppermint. THESE are the things I miss the most.

Objects? PFFT. I can buy for myself anything I really need or want that badly.

What makes Christmas so special is the warmth and togetherness of company. The laughter and the memories generated from family outings. And you know what? We can have these things all year round, if we make the effort. Even though I'm really tempted to lament the fact that Christmas has come and gone so quickly that I almost missed it, instead I'm going to make an effort to plan more family time and family outings. This way we can have the pleasures of Christmas all year round without all those stupid gifts to get in the way.

A couple years from now, I'm pretty sure I'm going to remember these moments much more than any gift I would have received:

Jonathan's big smiles

Laughing with Daddy

A million baby hugs by treelight

 Brothers doing brother stuff- and sometime even showing affection

Making cookies

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmasy Things & Etc.

What? Christmas is this week? How did that happen?! The one problem with doing all your Christmas shopping online during the week of Thanksgiving is that removing yourself from the constant commercialization and stresses of holiday shopping kinda makes Christmas seem a little less imminent. That plus the regular chaos of having a new baby (and two other kids), has kind of let time slip away from me. I guess this is an appropriate time to also admit that my heart has been a little TOO busy preparing for the clinching of a Seahawks playoff spot and slightly less focused on preparing for the birth of Jesus. Ooops. My bad.

Jon in his football Sunday best...right down to the shoes!

But we have our Christmas tree and our decorations up. For the record, when you don't have a mantle, the TV is an appropriate place to hang your stocking. My Someday Dream Home will have a real mantle, with a real fireplace. Also a gigantic jetted tub. And a dishwasher. And a shower that rains liquid chocolate and an indoor swimming pool filled with chocolate bars. I really don't think I'm asking too much.

Stockings were hung by the TV with care:

Last week I made Jonathan's Christmas stocking. This might sound kind of lame, but once I found out we would be having another baby, one of my biggest worries was whether I would be able to make his stocking in time. You see, I'm a teeny bit lazy. I've been known to leave dry clothes in the drier for an entire week. Or turn my underwear inside out when I run out of clean ones (seriously, true story). Or use my socks to wipe up spilled milk instead of getting a towel. Also, up until last week and for the first two Christmases of his life, Ryan's stocking had been incorrectly labeled with the letter "M" - we were going to name him Marcus. And to top off examples of my laziness, I even tried to convince my husband to name Jonathan "Marcus" so that I wouldn't have to fix the stocking.

My babies. Pictures of the three of them together still take my breath away. I have three kids? That's crazy! Heart-splosion.

This little stinker reminds me so much of Jacob. Or at least how I remember Jacob looking when he was a baby. I stare at him sometimes and have to convince myself that I haven't been transported back into time or given birth to the same baby twice. But lately, Jonathan has been developing his own look. I can't wait to find out whether his eyes stay dark, dark blue or if they change brown. I (the super Aryan who is 3/4 German with blue eyes and dark blonde hair) have always wanted a brown-eyed baby).

On Wednesday, I accompanied my husband to an work event in Seattle for local nonprofits. We were kid-free for about five hours. I had two full glasses of wine. I wore something other than yoga pants. And no one talked about poop or baby farts. It was AMAZING. 

The event was held at the Seattle Art Museum. And for several hours, my husband and I wandered slightly tipsy throughout the museum chatting with real adults, sipping on alcoholic beverages, scratching our heads at the weird modern art (I could just frame Jacob's drawings and hang them on the wall and no one would be any wiser), nibbled on heavy appetizers, and enjoyed each other's company. 

Nine months of pregnancy plus two months of nursing has clearly made me out-of-shape for the modern sport of drinking. Two glasses of Pinot Gris and this is what happened on the ferry ride home (photo credit to my lovely husband, who is always there to capture my best moments):

Sexy, no?

Because Christmas came early for us exhausted, kid-overdosed adults, my husband and I got to go on another date on Saturday. We met up with two couples in Seattle for dinner and it was almost the best night of my life. No joke. Again, I had two glasses of Pinot Gris, which I've decided is my new favorite drink. The night was amazing for several reasons. For one, this happened:

Tipsy pose with ice snowman:

I may have taken a NSFW photo with the snowman's large carrot nose. But I think I'll spare you all (Merry Christmas). It was also amazing for the fun conversation and non-stop laughter and our attempts to turn all the menu items into something dirty. For example, there was a tuna poke, a cocktail called the Chimney Slip (when you slip and go in the wrong entrance and leave presents under someone's tree, wink, wink), and something called a beef cheek?

I love hanging out with this guy. And *sometimes* (when I'm not trying to make out with ice snowmen) he even likes hanging out with me too.

So now that we have all that good, clean adult fun out of the way, I am excited about facing this next week with a refreshed mindset. I can't wait to relive all the Christmas magic through my kids' eyes.  I have to admit that for as much as I despise the damn Elf on the Shelf trend, I really truly love how excited my kids are each morning to find their elf. I brought the elf out of the Christmas storage box only reluctantly this year. But the kids' excitement and wonder started to rub off on me and *shame face* I actually look forward to thinking up new elf ideas.

If they are this excited about a silly elf, I can't wait to see how excited they will be the morning after Santa arrives. Speaking of which, we have a teeny, little problem:

Hell no! No baby cats (aka: kittens) in this house for Christmas. I very rationally explained to Jacob that he didn't ask Santa for a baby cat when he sat on his lap the week before. I thought I was in the clear, until Jacob equally rationally responded: "Well, if Santa knows if I've been naughty or nice, he will know I want a baby cat." Um...... Maybe I can find a stuffed animal kitten and tell Jacob that he never specified that he wanted an ALIVE baby cat. Sorry dude, Santa's not a mind reader.

And now I will end this post with a Christmas miracle. Yesterday Ryan asked to hold Jonathan (Jacob and Ryan often fight over who gets to hold Jon). I set Jonathan on his lap and Ryan asked me to take a picture. I refused at first because 2 year olds and 2 month olds are not the best subjects even on the best of days. But Ryan was insistent that I take a picture and some battles you just don't need to fight. So I set up my phone, told Ryan to smile, and half-heartedly snapped the shot. It wasn't until I looked at the final product that I realized the miracle that I had captured. Not did Ryan actually smile, but JON smiled too! 

And now this is my new absolute favorite picture (thanks Ryan for being so stubborn).

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Mom To The Rescue

Yay! It's the weekend and I'm still alive. I survived another full week. And, guess what? My kids did too. Yup, ALL of them. I think that is a reason to celebrate around here.

So, Jonathan. Big deep sigh. I don't think his acid reflux medication is working. It's been two weeks and he's still hit or miss. And by "hit or miss," I mean that some days he will cry and scream every non-feeding waking moment and other times he will scream and cry only for half of the non-feeding waking moments. It wouldn't be so bad if I only had him. But extremely fussy baby + two other kids (especially in a tiny house without a playroom) is just A LOT to handle. When I tell people he is fussy, they are all like "oh yeah, I had a fussy baby too" or "yeah, all my babies went through a fussy stage" or "you say that about all your babies" and I'm like "no, I'm sorry, but this is beyond fussy. You DON'T EVEN!" And they all just look at me like I'm a crazy first-time mom. And I want to punch someone in the face.

Warning sign of impending eruption
Typical scene in our house:
I have absolutely no desire to ever leave my house. Not only will Jon scream the entire car ride and back to any destination, but once we arrive at our destination (usually the grocery store to buy booze, I mean tea), he will scream incredibly loudly up and down every single aisle. And on top of this, people STARE at us everywhere we go. Everyone wants to catch a glimpse of the source of the non-stop screaming (and perhaps judge me for having a screaming baby in public). Most people also like to comment. I can't leave a grocery store without hearing "Oh, someone is unhappy" from at least fifteen different people as they glance curiously into Jon's car seat. I just reply, "yeah, me! I'm unhappy!" Then everyone likes to give their opinion about why my baby is crying and offer their advise on how to make him stop. "Is he hungry?" "Maybe you should just hold him." "Does he need his pacifier?" "There are chairs over there if you need to feed him." And then I move down the next aisle and it all starts over again.

Oh my gosh! My baby is crying?! I had NO IDEA. Maybe I should try giving him the pacifier that is clipped to his shirt. Maybe I should stop starving him?! Maybe I should actually change his diaper once in a while. I'm such a weirdo. My baby is screaming and I didn't even THINK about trying any of these things to make him feel better. (That was sarcasm, by the way)

I think I need to carry around a sign that reads as follows:

DEAR PEOPLE. My baby is crabby. There is nothing the freak wrong with him. He is fed. He has a clean diaper. He is just crabby. No, I won't try feeding him rice milk. No, I won't buy another stupid swing or bouncing baby seat. He cries like this all the time. It's just his thing. There is nothing I can do to stop it right now so I just need to buy my effing groceries and go home. Please leave me alone. MY BABY IS  JUST AN EFFING JERK AND THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO TO STOP IT SO LEAVE ME ALONE!

Oh man. Sorry about that. I just REALLY had to get that off my chest.

On the rare occasion the two babies fall asleep in the car, I park somewhere, leave the car running, and rip into a bag of chocolate. This usually buys me two minutes of free time until someone wakes up crying again:

On Wednesday, I accompanied my husband to a work event in Seattle. We dropped off all three kids at my parents' house before catching the ferry. When we came back, my mom informed me that Jon had cried basically the whole night. I was like, "See! I told you! I'm NOT crazy. He really DOES cry all the time." Then my mom proceeded to lavish me with pity and sympathy and then more pity. And it felt really good. That's when I realized what it was that I had really been needing all week long. Instead of non-stop curious stares and unhelpful advice, I have really just been needing someone to understand how hard my days are and tell me they are sorry and try to empathize. To have someone walk four hours in my shoes, experience all the craziness first hand, tell me that they finally get why I'm always complaining, and then reassure me that they are in my corner, it's all I really need right now (well, that and four arms and five bottle of wine). I'll tell you, it was amazing to finally get that.

And how did my mom know that was all I needed? Because no matter how old you are, moms are always there for you (I say this as I rock a very unhappy 2 month old that no one else wants to hold).

Epilogue: I bought some baby probiotics today on the advice of several readers and FB friends (thank you!). I'm crossing my fingers that this helps a little.

Past out from exhaustion:

Thank goodness he's cute when he's not crying:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

An Office Party Christmas Story

Tonight we attended my husband's office Christmas party. So of course, I woke up this morning to the sight of my two year old looking like this:

"Mommy, I color my face!"

Sidenote: Why is it NEVER the yellow marker? Also, it takes a lot of baby wipes to get washable marker off flesh.

Like last year, the party was held at a fancy country club. This required that I wear something other than yoga pants for the first time in two months. Let's just say it was painful. I almost forgot how to get dressed. There is nothing like wearing business clothes to tell you the honest truth about your post-pregnancy body. My yoga pants are so very kind to me and tell me that I'm already at my pre-pregnancy shape. My pencil skirts and blouses tell a completely DIFFERENT story (damn them all! So all this time, I really shouldn't have been indulging in my post-dinner bags of kettle popcorn. I liked it better when I didn't know this fact).

UNLIKE last year, my husband's work set up a disco ball and a karaoke machine in the corner of the large dining room. Disco ball + karaoke machine + Christmas cookies + a half dozen children. I think you guys already know where this post is going. Am I right? I'm pretty sure that my husband's work imagined that the karaoke machine would cater to the adults in the room who suddenly found themselves overcome with Christmas cheer (and several glasses of wine). I'm pretty sure they DIDN'T imagine that my two oldest children would use it to make unpleasant noises during a catered meal eaten on CLOTH TABLECLOTHS. Cloth tablecloths always set off a loud warning signal in my brain. My family shouldn't be allowed anywhere with cloth tablecloths. I generally draw the line at newspaper (preferably the comics) or plastic.

So as the CEO of my husband's work steps up to a podium (places with podiums are also generally off limits) to give a lengthy pre-dinner speech about the successes of the year, my two year old and six year old stretch out on the floor next to the disco ball like a bunch of high-as-a-kite hippies staring up at the pretty lights that are changing colors and twirling around the walls. We thought the kids were being pretty harmless but were eventually forced to intervene when Ryan got up off the floor and started running circles around the disco ball while Jacob stood over it to cast a shadow of his butt on the ceiling.

Sharing our table with my husband's direct supervisor, we all enjoyed a lovely dinner of chicken parmesan, risotto, and broccolettes (which look exactly like the love child of an asparagus and a broccoli). As we were digging in, I heard a clanging sound and looked over at Ryan who had submerged a purple toothbrush into his fancy glass of ice water. Where did the toothbrush come from? Funny you should ask. Ryan's pockets are mini worm holes with the power to teleport his hands into the farthest reaches of any junk drawer in the continental United States. Ryan pulled his toothbrush out of the water glass, smiled maliciously, and then began vigorously scrubbing his teeth. I looked at my husband and we gave each other the universal parental look of "is there any way we can pretend he's not ours?" We shrugged it off and intended to go back to our dinners when Ryan began repeatedly dipping his toothbrush into the water glass, pulling it out, and loudly slurping all the water off the bristles. The sound made me cringe and took my back to the time I caught my grandma in the middle of the night slurping on chunks of leftover turkey through her denture-less gums. Ryan's toothbrush was taken hostage for the rest of the night.

After dinner, the floor was opened for karaoke and the microphone was turned on. And, just as you would imagine in a room full of sober coworkers, everyone steered clear. That is, until a toddler wandered over and began smacking the microphone against the floor. I chuckled softly as some other mom ran toward the stage. Then the "thwacking" sound morphed into high-pitched "heeee heee heee" sounds. I chuckled again at the thought of another sorry mom running for her kid. That's when my husband elbowed me and whispered, "um, I think that's Ryan." I looked over at Ryan's seat and, alas, saw that it was empty. My husband disappeared for a moment and brought back one kicking and screaming two year old.

But it's ok. This story has a happy ending. I gave Jacob permission to go up and sing a karaoke song. After cautiously circling the mic, he finally took it, ducked behind the speaker and belted out "Colin Kaepernick got run over by a Seahawk!" to the tune of Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. Hopefully no one in the room was a 49'ers fan. I gave him the glare of death and then he started to sing the entire first verse and chorus of Jingle Bells. He ended to a loud round of applause from the room (he was the first person to actually use the mic to sing anything). I was so proud! He clearly did not get his gregariousness from me, nor his singing voice.

My pride lasted a full .25 seconds. His courage having been propelled by the loud applause from his new adoring fans, Jacob prepared for a majestic encore. And suddenly the room was filled with a symphony of horrendous fart noises. Yep. Now THAT he may have gotten from me.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Great Christmas Tree Hunt of 2014

This morning we left the house early to meet some friends for our annual breakfast + Christmas tree hunting tradition. We got out the door without too much fuss (we only had to turn around once for a forgotten item). As we piled into our Subaru for the second time, I considered it a small miracle that (1) Ryan had a complete pair of shoes on, even though they WERE crocs, (2) no one smelled like poop, (3) the baby wasn't screaming, or even crying!, and (4) I had successfully convinced Jacob not to bring the kitchen spatula (aka sword) that he wields to the horror and demise of entire populations of imaginary zombies. (Dear Zombies, you can thank me later.)

As we pulled out of the driveway (i,e. tiny patch of cement and grass in front of our house) I looked down at the time. 9:05. Perfect, we were right on time for our 9:00 breakfast reservation. No seriously. That's on time for us.

At the local pancake house, we met up with our good friends, two childless couples. It is quite possible that the only reason they still hang out with us is because we offer a hearty affirmation of their choice not to have children. Hey, always glad to be useful! We sat down and I promptly ordered the largest coffee available and then added a quarter cup of cream and five packets of sugar (because: four hours of interrupted sleep).

As Jacob was regaling our friends with the tales of his two missing front teeth and his visits from the tooth fairy (which involved a lot of Jacob pulling up his lip and shoving his toothless, gaping mouth inches from their faces), Ryan hurled himself at the booth next door and dove under the table giggling. One not-so-gentle reminder about restaurant etiquette later and I was downing my coffee while the kids sat in their seats sipping hot chocolate. Yeah, so whoever invented the idea of giving children scalding hot (breakable) mugs of liquid sugar topping with extra heapings of whip cream was a pure genius. NOT.

Less than two minutes after the hot chocolate arrived, I heard the loud swooshing of a mini waterfall and glanced over at Ryan to find that he had attempted to dump the entire contents of a full glass of ice water into his full mug of hot chocolate. That kid needs a lesson on spatial distribution. Watery hot chocolate flowed all over the table and trickled down into a puddle on the floor as chunks of whip cream formed into floating glaciers and slid past our plates. In Ryan's defense, he was just trying to cool down his hot chocolate. Mental note: add $2 to the tip.

Insert: random pictures of my children

Where did his double chin go?! No!!!

Oh, there it is, phew.

After things got cleaned up, the food arrived. As our childless friends dug heartily into their warm meals, my husband and I each grabbed a plate of bear-face shaped pancakes and began the meticulous task of cutting them into itty bitty, teeny pieces. You know, kids' food should really come pre-cut. Why isn't that a thing?! Also, if you cut a fake pancake bear's whip cream eyes in half, you will have to answer to a very upset six year old. Doesn't matter that the bear's eyes are just going to be chomped to death, forced down a tiny throat, and dissolved violently in stomach acid. Logic isn't part of the equation, afterall.

A million tiny pieces of pancake (except for four, mostly intact whip cream bear eyes) later, we finally sat down to our own plates. That's precisely when Jonathan began crying from his car seat (which had been perched haphazardly under our table-- third child, anyone?). But that's ok, because I'm actually training for the very likely possibility that someday I might lose an upper limb.... so I really need to practice buttering toast with one hand.

Like a carefully rehearsed routine, the kids ate ten miniature bites of pancake and then promptly engaged themselves in a game of restaurant-booth wrestling. This game was prematurely ended by my husband. Thereafter each child declared himself the winner, which initiated a verbal battle as to who is stronger. After trying unsuccessfully to explain rationally to the kids why we don't use phrases like "buttface" and "dumb jerk"(at least not in public), I gave up and bribed them with balloons. Works like a charm every time.

We finished breakfast without any casualties and then drove out to our favorite local tree farm. At the tree farm entrance, the employees offered us a saw to take with us. I grabbed it through the passenger window, laughed hysterically, and said "Hey kids, look, mommy has a saw!" The employees, who no doubt noticed the layers of bags under my eyes that would put an airport luggage carousel to shame and sensed the desperation in my weary mommy-soul, were not amused.

Ahhh, Christmas tree hunting! I had been looking forward to this day for weeks. I had imagined the activities of this day several times. We would frolic among the douglas firs and the nobles, Ryan and Jacob would be filled with wonder and delight as they agreed upon the Perfect Tree, the baby would gaze quietly with wide-eyes out at the expanse of greenery, and we would all get a frame-worthy photo before heading home with our prize and our sweet, sweet memories.

Surveying the land

Reality: Three feet from our car, Ryan stepped into a hole and cried hysterically. Jonathan was not happy about being woken up from his nap (or the blinding sun in his eyes) and screamed intermittently. Jacob ran in the opposite direction and got lost in a small cluster of trees. My husband circled the tree farm repeatedly without finding an acceptable tree. I made everyone pose for pictures, which required much screaming and threatening ("Jacob get your butt here RIGHT NOW. Ryan GET OFF THE GROUND. Both of you LOOK AT ME DAMMIT. Now, Smile!")

This would be a great picture, except for Jacob's zombie eyes.

Daddy's boy

After pictures were taken, I realized that my prescription sunglasses (which Ryan stepped on last week and which had been haphazardly taped together) had fallen out of my pocket. I offered $1 to the first child to find said sunglasses. In response to my offer, Ryan whined that he wanted to go home and asked my husband to hold him and Jacob grabbed a stick and started whacking random trees with it. Oh well. Who needs sunglasses in Seattle anyway?

We finally settled on a tree and the big boys took turns helping Daddy chop it down. How many boys does it take to chop a tree? At least three.

Our lovely tree made a quick journey into the back of our friend's pick-up truck (yay for friends with trucks). I love this picture :)

We paid for our tree without too much hassle, sampled some apple cider, and headed for home again.

Later in the day, our friends told us that they enjoyed following behind our station wagon during the drive back to the city. She said that we looked like a car full of cheer. Through the windows she could see all five us packed closely together, talking and laughing as balloons floated around our heads. One big happy family.

Little does she know that, in reality, my husband and I were yelling at the kids to stop punching their balloons into the front seat, begging and pleading for them to stop touching each other, and enduring Jacob's made up lyrics to the tune of "Jingle Bells." ("Jingle Bells, Santa smells, Batman pooped his pants." and "Jingle Bells, Superman wears diapers, Ryan is a dumb face.")

Oh Christmas. Bring it on!

Now if we could just figure out where to put the tree. Our dining room (and half of our living room) currently looks like this:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cough Drops For Breakfast

Thank you so much everyone who left a comment or word of encouragement on my last post. Sometimes I don't know why I keep blogging and then, like the other day, people jut come out of the woodwork when I really need it. So THANK YOU!

Most of the time I feel like I keep things pretty positive around here and I force myself to see the humor in every day. Because as long as I'm laughing, I can't be crying! Ha ha. Ha ha. Laugh. Laugh.

So, speaking of laughing (and not crying), the other morning, I was enjoying some sleep after being up most of the night with Jonathan. The two of us were slumped wearily in my bed, both exhausted from a night of Jon's fussing. At some point during a cycle of shallow sleep, I felt a short, humid breeze trickle across my face. The breeze smelled faintly of milk and hot dogs. A bit disoriented, I forced one of my eyes open and took in the view of two dark and foreboding nostrils looming a mere hairsbreadth from my face. Somewhere below the nostrils, a two-year old's voice bellowed loudly, "GOOD MORNING JOSE!"

Startled, my heart jolted as if I'd just been infused with five cups of coffee (wouldn't that have been nice) and I jumped halfway out of bed. Ryan laughed, leaned back into my face, and said, "Hi Jose. I want pancakes."

"Sorry, wrong Jose," I exclaimed and laid my head back down on my pillow. By the way, who the heck is Jose?

"Mom, I'm hungry for breakfast!" Ryan was not going to let me out that easily.

I lifted my arm to the side table and fumbled around until I felt a small oval object. Bingo! I unwrapped the object and tossed it at him. "Here, have a raspberry cough drop." Happy, Ryan ran out of the room and I sank back into a valiant attempt to regain some sleep.

That's when I felt the warmth of a mysterious liquid seeping quickly all over my torso. It didn't take me long to find the source. I looked down and glared at the 12 pound infant sharing my bed. He also happened to be separating me from approximately 90% of the surface area of my mattress. But he was sleeping soundly and I was exhausted. So, I relished my sliver of urine-soaked bed and closed my eyes.

Of course, that's when Jacob busted through my bedroom door. "Mom! Ryan has a cough drop!"

"Stop tattling. Go away. I'm sleeping."

"Can I have one?"

"No, it's medicine. It's not for eating."

"But Ryan has one!"

"Seriously?!" I grabbed another raspberry-flavored cough drop and tossed it at him.

"Oooh, Thanks!" He was just about to walk out when he turned around and asked, "Mom, can we have pancakes?"

I thought for a moment. Then, having made up my mind, I grabbed the half-full bag of cough drops and tossed them at Jacob. His eyes lit up like I'd just handed him a 1,000 piece Star Wars Lego set. "Share with your brother! And don't bother me again until they are gone!"

I had peace. Finally! I also pretty much guaranteed that one of the kids will develop a cough in the near future. Because....I'm plum out of cough drops.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

For A Loop

I can't tell you how many times I've sat down and attempted to write a blog post only to be interrupted by a baby's scream, an unintended nap, or my husband's invitation to watch a TV show (yes, adult time!). The past couple weeks have been rough ones but I am surviving thanks to quality time with a treadmill, late night naps in a hot tub while my husband watches the baby, and chocolate. Always chocolate.

Things were going well as we made our adjustments as a family of five. And then there was Black Thursday. Three Thursdays ago, out of the blue, Jonathan became a different baby. He was crying and fussing every waking hour, he fought off all onslaughts of sleep, and when he finally would fall sleep, he rarely slept more than 45 minutes to an hour (yes, even at night!).

Jonathan is my third baby. I feel like I kinda know what I'm doing on the baby front. I successfully have not killed two previous babies and saw them to toddlerhood. With over 12 years of babysitting experience prior to becoming a mom myself, I pretty much assumed I knew all the ins and outs of babies. But Jonathan. Jonathan is trying all my last nerves and exhausting all my special baby tricks. I have nothing left. I have no clue what to do other than to take everything a half hour at a time. This means not thinking about the hours and hours and days and days of fussing and crying ahead of me, or dwelling on the hours and hour and days and days of fussing and crying that are behind me. I'm exhausted.

After the first week and a half of this craziness, I fought back the baby-pro inside of me who scoffed at the idea of calling a doctor just because her baby was "fussy" and made a desperate phone call to our pediatrician. She saw us that same day. I assumed the doctor would say he was just "colicky" and give no real, tangible solution other than to send us on our way with nothing more than a sympathetic look. I remember staring at the doctor through desperate, sleep deprived eyes and regaling her with my horror stories of the week about non-stop crying and screaming, all the while trying so hard not to cry myself. To my surprise, however, our pediatrician offered us a real, actual diagnosis: acid reflux. This real, actual diagnosis came with a real, actual solution: a prescription for baby Zantac.

(By the way, if you ever want to bypass a lengthy pharmacy line, just show up with a screaming inconsolable baby. The other customers will let you cut right ahead. It's amazing how a screaming baby can induce anxiety into complete strangers of all ages.)

And for a short couple days, I was filled with hope. There could be a REASON for all the crying and screaming AFTERALL. And just maybe that little vial of peppermint smelling medication was the key. This hope kept me going for the past seven days. It kept me sane through hour-long screaming fits. It kept me from giving up as I rocked and patted and cradled and sang to and shushed my crying baby with no result.  But you guys. It's been a week. And the medicine appears to be a dud. Some days are still just as hard as that Black Thursday was. Some days are better. There is no pattern. Nothing has changed.

My diet has also been the same since we brought Jonathan home. I can't point to any food that I eat that may have triggered the upset and trauma that started that Black Thursday nearly three weeks ago. Most days, when Jonathan is not eating or sleeping, he is (at best) fussing or (at worst) screaming. He probably has twenty minutes of happy time COMBINED for each day. Those minutes are golden and precious. And in those minutes, he is the most wonderful, beautiful, charming, and smiley baby ever. Then he turns into Mr. Hyde.

The constant fussiness really hurts in more ways than one. It's hard to see your baby unhappy. The constant and mostly ineffective soothing and consoling is exhausting. But also, this is my last baby. My last maternity leave. And I feel like I'm being robbed. I'm not even getting the chance to enjoy things. I had so looked forward to my time at home with Jonathan. But now, I just count down the minutes until my husband comes home so I can have some help. This is not how things were supposed to be. And it all makes me very sad.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Story Time

Jon: "Please.....approach no further."
"Wait. What is going on here? Why are you touching me? Who gave you permission to touch me?"

"No. No I don't want a story. My brain isn't capable of comprehending complex story lines. Excuse me, your personal bubble is basically touching my personal bubble."

"I'm not sure how I feel about this. Why isn't mom saving me? I'm beginning to develop severe trust issues."


"Phew, I knew that old fart trick would work. Disaster averted. I think I shall take a nap now."

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sunday + How To Destroy Your Favorite Sweatshirt

Yesterday I took all three boys to church for the first time. It was Jon's first time at church and the first time we had been in (insert guilty face) several weeks. I was prepared for the worst, but either my expectations are SUPER low lately, or my children were nearly angelic.

First, I picked up Jacob from "church school" (by the way, whoever had the genius idea of scheduling church school to start 20 minutes after the first mass and to end 20 minutes before the second mass, clearly doesn't have three kids to cart around all over town). Since we had time to kill, I let the kids run out their energy at a nearby park.

The result? My kids went to church like this:

During church, the kids were (relatively) amazing. I was in a huge rush to get out the door that morning and hadn't packed a single thing to keep the kids busy except for a snack bag of cereal. I usually bring books and crayons and other quiet knick-knacks. Go figure that the one time I don't bring these things, the kids actually behave.

Anyway, Jon slept the entire Mass in the Babybjorn and the older boys only got into three poking fights. Jacob only snuck of out the pew (and jammed into the knees of all the other pew occupants) three times to use the drinking fountain. Suspiciously, the second time he left, he didn't return for about ten minutes...hmmm..... Also, parishioners just might be finding cocoa puffs in the church for the next several months. But other than that, the kids were quiet and mostly sat still. For three boys, that's just about as angelic as it comes!

After celebratory donuts from the 7-11 (we're fancy like that), we came home and Ryan put himself down for a nap (what the heck?!) while we watched the Seahawks play the Cardinals (awesome game!).

Littlest 12th Man

The boys decorated gingerbread houses, which I discovered is the best way to use up Halloween candy. This is the first year that I bought pre-made kits. I usually make my own from scratch (last year, I resorted to super gluing the gingerbread parts together). I will NEVER make my own again. Pre-made is just way too easy. More and more, I'm starting to appreciate the beauty of shortcuts.

Before bedtime, my husband left to run a quick errand. And of course THAT is the precise moment that shit decided to hit the fan. Two minutes after my husband was out the door, as I was nursing the baby, Ryan came up to me screaming with blood literally squirting out of his mouth. I quickly put down the baby and set Ryan in the bathtub to contain the blood geyser. Of course I was wearing my brand new Seahawks sweatshirt, so I cupped my hands over his gushing mouth and ran him straight to the tub. I never did locate the source of the blood but after a few minutes the bleeding stopped (phew, ER trip avoided).

During this entire episode, Jon was thoroughly upset for having his meal interrupted and was screaming at the top of his lungs. I ducked out of the bathroom to check on him and found that he had his first huge diaper blowout. I mean apocalyptic poop. Poop everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Not gonna lie, all I could think about was my poor new Seahawks sweatshirt.

Oh hi, I'm going to poop now.

I decided that since 2/3 of the children were covered in blood or poop that it was a good time to give them a bath. I lured Jacob into the tub and cleaned all the children assembly-line style. And, you know, because my sweatshirt hadn't been through enough, Jon decided that bath time was the perfect time to pee. His aim is impeccable. PEE. PERFECT ARC. FACE. SWEATSHIRT. DRENCHED.

My husband came home to three sparkling clean children and one wife covered in blood, poop, spit-up, and pee. I was quite a lovely sight. In case you are wondering, I did not get any sweet, sweet lovin' that night. Not that I would anyway because, you know: four week old baby and exhaustion.

"I'm worth it. You love me."

You can just SEE the exhaustion on my face. You can also see a glimpse of my sweatshirt, pre-bodily-fluid apocalypse.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Hundred Goodbyes


I don't want to forget the large folds of skin on the back of your head.

I don't want to forget the way you contently caress my skin as you nurse.

I don't want to forget how, when I place you against my shoulder, your mouth opens and your head bobs spastically back and forth, like a newly hatched baby bird.

I don't want to forget the way your tongue reflexively flutters as you snooze.

How your whole tiny body heaves up and down when you sigh in your sleep.

The softness of your newborn hair.

The length of your eyelashes, straight and delicate, against your sweet olive skin.

The way you wrinkle your brow as your beady little eyes gaze with intense focus on an object of interest.

The shrillness of your cry, not fully broken-in.

How your pulse dances wildly in the soft spot at the crown of your head.

Right now I know you as a newborn. And I know everything about you. Our lives are completely synched and utterly interdependent. But everything I know about you will eventually fade away. I will begin to know new things about you, things that are not yet true, until all that I know about you in this moment is forgotten. It's happened twice before. And as much as I swear that I will not forget this time, I know I can't stop the forgetting. The forgetting is as inevitable as the passage of time.

Dear sweet little baby of mine. How I wish I could always remember. How I wish I could bookmark this moment and return to it at any whim, to gaze at your newborn face and to smooth your newborn fingers. God willing, I will have you to love for a long, long time. But you will never again be as you are today. So small. So tender. So synched with me.

Before you are grown and set off on your own, you will leave me over a hundred times. You will leave me slowly, day by day. As you grow and change, I will constantly be saying goodbye to the boy that I had loved. My only comfort is in knowing that each goodbye also brings a hello and that, as you change, I get the gift of getting to know you all over again.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Jon's One Month And Things That Make Me Sad

Welp you guys, I did it. I just seriously told my husband that maybe, just maybe it wouldn't be so horrible to think about having another baby (in four to five years). I never saw a man reach for the phone so quickly....to make a vasectomy appointment. He is insisting on getting it done this year, an effort I would have generously applauded and encouraged up until yesterday when I realized that Jon was growing out of his newborn clothes and I would likely not be able to use them (on a real baby) ever, ever again.

I just....I just love babies. Especially OUR babies. I kind of want a handful more (not all at the same time). I think I have a sickness.

Also, four weeks in to having three boys and I'm absolutely cured of all my previous desires and fantasies about being a stay at home mom. I'm such a better, happier mom when I go to work for a chunk of the day. I'll fully admit it. I just don't have the patience to deal with fighting, bickering, and whinning all day long. OMG, the FIGHTING. It's suddenly  nonstop. This is totally a new thing as of six months ago. I wonder if it's the fact they are both boys, if it's their ages, if it's the fact that they share a room and have zero personal space at all (gee, how do they think I feel when they are picking their noses in my face while I'm trying to straighten my hair each am...welcome to the club of tiny houses). Maternity leave was so much easier (and more fun) with just two. Also having kids TWO years a part is SO much different than having kids THREE years apart.

If I have to smell one more intentional fart, clean up one more uneaten meal, wash one more urine-stenched item of clothing, or pick up one more errant Legoman head, I may just have to go put myself in time out.

In other news, Jonathan (ahh, I still feel giddy saying his name, I love that name!) turned one month old today! He celebrated by showing off both of his chins, being extra adorable, and then refusing to sleep all afternoon and evening, demanded to be held constantly, and screaming his head off for an hour (very uncharacteristic). We are cuddling on the couch now and I'm afraid to wake him because I don't know if i will be greeted by normal Jon or crabby-ass jerk-face Jon.