Friday, January 30, 2015

Ryan Makes Super Bowl Snacks!

The only way to survive the infamous "terrific twos" is to learn the art of distraction. Toddlers have this crazy ability to focus on something, instantly decide that they hate it with every ounce of their being, and persist in their expression of this hatred for hours on end. For example, the time Ryan didn't want to wear a shirt at the grocery store and repeatedly cried, "I don't WANT a shirt. I HATE this shirt!" for our entire 45 minute shopping experience. For the record, the shirt he suddenly "hated" was the same shirt that he insisted on wearing after I had already dressed him in something else.

This morning after we returned home from dropping Jacob off at school, Ryan began to cry, "I don't WANT to go home! I HATE home!" We got in the house and he changed his cry to, "I don't WANT to take off my jacket."

"It's ok." I said, "then leave your jacket on."

"I don't WANT to leave my jacket on. This jacket is DUMB! I don't like it!"

Ugh. Not THIS again. I needed to distract him. But I knew if I suggested something, he would instantly protest. So.... I had an idea. I went to the bathroom and ran the bathwater. Ryan followed me and asked what I was doing. "I'm going to take a bath." I answered. "I want to take a bath with you!" he responded. BINGO. I filled up the tub and helped him in. Ryan didn't even notice that I wasn't joining him. Distraction: success!

All this is prelude to telling you about our adventure from yesterday. Yesterday in the late morning, Ryan was being difficult again and I was running out of patience. I desperately needed a way to distract him from his toddlerness. Inspired by that morning's episode of Sesame Street, I found a recipe for cheese-stuffed pretzel bites and had Ryan help me make them.

Ryan is my little chef. He loves playing with any kind of "dough"-- from pizza to tortillas to breadsticks. I always save a small piece for him to play with when I'm making dinner. I knew this cooking adventure was going to be a sure-fire hit. And it was! Not just as a distraction but also because of the end product: cheese-stuffed pretzel bites...mmmm carbs! (Did I ever tell you about the one time my sister talked me into going Paleo? I lasted 3.5 hours. Sorry, I just love wheat).

Not only were these pretzel bites amazing and will be an awesome Super Bowl Sunday snack, they turned out to be the perfect recipe for one young, hands-on chef!

The recipe calls for cheese cubes. But grating cheese is Ryan's favorite so I let him grate some just for fun.


After he helped me mix up the dough, Ryan added cheese cubes and rolled the dough into balls.


Here is an extra step Ryan added himself. Because all true chefs improve and improvise.


After you make dough balls, you have to boil them in water and baking soda. Adding baking soda to the boiling water was the best part - it made the water bubble up! I had no idea baking soda did this in anything except vinegar. Too fun! Ryan was happy watching from afar.


Then we "painted" the dough balls with an egg wash.


They baked for about 8 minutes in a 450 degree oven.


Tada! 


And it's a hit! We know what we are bringing to the Super Bowl party!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Flawing In Love.

Monday was a nearly perfect day. Well, as perfect as days can get when you have three children. Jacob got ready for school without any problems. Jonathan was happy. Ryan napped. Then we all went to the park and played in the glorious sunny, 60+ degree weather. The fighting was minimal and the kids all went to bed smoothly. I sat on Ryan's bottom bunk, stared at his quiet slumbering body and soaked it in. "I can't live without this," I thought. "I need to always have a kid in my house."

Then Tuesday happened. Tuesday quickly became everything that Monday was not. I was awakened by the older kids yelling at each other. And the fighting didn't let up once. After I dropped Jacob off at school Ryan whined and cried and complained about everything. He refused lunch. He refused his nap, all the while becoming more and more exhausting/exhausted. Jon also wouldn't nap and was equally fussy. When Jacob came home from school, the fighting ignited once again. At bedtime, I sat on Ryan's bed, craddling a not-sleeping and very fussy Jonathan, while Ryan screamed at the top of his lungs and refused to lay down. Jacob? He was with his dad at Urgent Care getting diagnosed with yet another ear infection. I wanted to cry. I wanted to melt into the ground and disappear forever.

How? How can one day be so magnificent and the next be so lousy? Sometimes I'm so in love that it hurts. Other times I'm just trying desperately not to roundhouse kick someone in the face.

Today Jacob stayed home from school because of his ear infection. The kids again had fought nearly all morning. Ryan kept hitting and kicking Jacob. Jacob kept yelling at Ryan for copying him. They both fought over all the same toys.The fighting and the whining and the tattling had just become a never-ending white noise machine at this point. I heard Jacob yell at Ryan to stop kicking him for the one hundredth time and I snapped. I waltzed up to Ryan, smacked him in the back of the head and yelled, "RYAN STOP HITTING! JACOB STOP YELLING! I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!"

Ryan's face drained of all color before he turned bright red and started spewing tears. Jacob looked at me in terror.

Holy Shit.

I wasn't in shock from the fact that I had just smacked my own son. I've lashed out and spanked my kids before and immediately regretting reacting so viscerally. This wasn't an "omg, I feel so horrible for hurting my own kid" kind of shock. This was something else. Replaying in my mind what had just happened, I was struck with a realization: I had become one of them. I was a yelling, smacking, angry machine. In that moment, the three of us were one and the same.

I had smacked Ryan for kicking Jacob. I had yelled at Jacob for yelling at Ryan. My emotional response to my kids was exactly the same emotional response that I was trying to temper and discourage. They had hit a nerve of mine and I reacted physically. How is this any better than when Jacob yells at Ryan for grabbing a toy out of Jacob's hand?

I've been repeatedly (100 times a day, 7 days a week) trying to teach my kids to express their feelings with their words. Not physically. Not by yelling. Or name calling. Or storming off. But to explain their feelings to each other. To express their feelings to me so that we can work through things. Ryan grabbed your toy? Ok, let's explain to him why grabbing isn't nice and tell him that he can have a turn in five minutes.

But thinking back on all the yelling I have been doing lately, it suddenly struck me how much I behave just like them on a regular basis. Ouch. Hypocrite.

Again, I wanted to melt into the floor. I wanted to try to run away from my colossal failure. I almost felt sick to my stomach. How are my children going to survive their formative years? How am I going to survive their formative years? How can I teach something that I myself do not live?

The answer came shooting back at me, "You just have to change. You just have to keep trying." I'm only human. I can't be perfect. I'm not a perfect parent. All I can do is get up and keep trying. Hopefully I can show them love every day. And hopefully, they will realize that no matter how much I mess up, I'm really, really trying. And hopefully that will be enough.

But then I realized that the comparisons go both ways. If I can forgive myself for reacting inappropriately because I'm only human, then I can forgive the same behavior in them for the same reason. I get so frustrated when I have to remind them over and over again about the same things. Everyday I have to remind Jacob to put his shoes in the shoe cabinet, to put his dirty clothes in the hamper, to not yell at Ryan. Everyday I have to remind Ryan not to hit Jacob. Why can't they remember these simple things? It drives me batty! But isn't remembering not to yell at my kids just as simple? And yet, here I am failing (again).

We are only human. The lot of us. We are just a bunch of flawed characters. Why can't we remember the simple things? Why do we hurt the people who love us? Why do we always fall into the same bad habits despite our frequent promises to do better? Is trying enough? Is it ever too late to pick ourselves up and give it one more go? No. It's not. As long as someone is still there to forgive us and love us in spite of our flaws.

Gah. Why is parenting so hard?!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Cut Short

You know why having a blog is so great? Because it allows you to just talk when you need to talk. Even if you don't have a present audience or a great listening ear on hand. And you don't have to worry about bothering people or boring people or whining someone to death. People can come to the blog when/if they want and leave when/if they want.

I don't have a ton of real life friends who are working moms. So I feel like I don't have a real life audience for my thoughts and worries and good news related to both working and parenting. The people I've met through this blog are so special. You all give me that community that I can't seem to find in real life. So, blogs are awesome. And thank you so much.

When I was planing my maternity leave, I was told that I had 12 weeks of FMLA time (unpaid). On top of that, my employer also allowed me to have 6-8 weeks of disability leave (unpaid). So I planned to take four months off. This was the plan up until two days ago, when the HR department sent me a letter telling me that if I did not return to work next month, I wouldn't get any medical benefits. Yeah...this would have been nice to know three months ago! So instead of having five more weeks at home, I now have just one more week. This was almost soul-crushing news.

I have one week. AHHH. My baby is only three months old! I'm so not ready to leave him. I'm so not ready to put my very last maternity leave behind me. This is especially true considering that this maternity leave has been particularly difficult: Jon had one entire month of non-stop colic (pure torture), Ryan has been a particularly difficult two year old, the weather has mostly been too blah to take the kids outside, and I've been way too exhausted to plan fun activities. Now I have just one more week to soak it all in and mentally and psychologically prepare for going back to work?!

Luckily, there are a couple upsides to going back to work. My boss is extremely understanding and flexible. She offered to let me bring the baby in (yeah right- HA HA HA HA). She's offered to let me work from home (again, yeah right- HA HA HA HA).

The biggest upside to going back to work is that I have a brand new position. The day Jon was born, I was officially given a permanent position with my employer. I was given a list of clients and responsibilities that would have me in court often. I had never done the particular work before but I was really excited to learn it. However, since Jon was born, there have been some changes. My boss has offered to have me handle all the civil litigation 100% of the time.

I tried so hard not to squeal with joy when my boss called me this week to pass on the news. Civil litigation is all I ever want to do for the rest of my life. Brief writing, court appearances, discovery, settlement conferences, and trials. To be able to do this for a government agency...well, this is basically my dream job. Also, with my new role comes a bigger, new (to me) office. It also comes with an increase in pay. And I'll be jumping right into trial preparation as I have a trial the first week of March. My first day of work is going to feel like Christmas :)

But after the dust settles and work starts to feel like real life and not just a temporary adventure away from the house, I'm going to be really sad about leaving my last and final baby every morning. The sadness is just too much to think about.


One week is just not enough.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

From The Desk Of Mom

Turns out the exhaustion you feel after chasing three boys around all day is pretty much the same as that life-zapping exhaustion that you feel during pregnancy. By the end of each day, I'm so drained that once I sit or lay down, I'm down for the count. I can't even muster up the energy to walk five feet to my chocolate stash. (You know it's real if it comes between me and chocolate!)

But, man am I happy.

Things are very chaotic right now but I'm far enough into this whole "three kids" thing that chaos feels strangely normal. I'm used to schlepping three kids around town. Packing, herding, buckling, unbuckling, and unpacking three kids no longer phases me. Bathing three kids at the same time? Down to a science. Even bedtimes are manageable. And it's not that there is less to do. It's just that my husband and I are able to go into auto pilot. We're used to the increased work load of kid stuff. We're conditioned.

Also baby cuddles and smiles make it a little easier



Mom, enough pictures already!


Right now, the biggest challenge to raising the three boys is the fact that there is no designated play space in our tiny house. We all share one room which serves as a dining room/family room/TV room/computer room/office/entryway. This is also why we don't have any baby stuff. We don't have any baby bouncy seats. No baby activity mats. No changing table. No pile of baby toys. No Bumbo. No play pen. If you walked into our house, you might completely miss the fact that we have a baby at all. Surprisingly, I don't feel like we're missing out. I can see the shocking headlines now: "Child Actually Survives Babyhood Without Baby Stuff!"

Ryan, serving as a baby activity mat


The small bedroom that the two big boys share is also full with a bunkbed, a dresser, toy storage, and my clothing closet (any ideas on where to put a third kid would be very welcome). As a result, the kids only play in our main room. But we are constantly making the boys pick stuff up and put it away. They don't have the space they need to create and run and be active. I HATE that. I feel like I'm cramping their creativity and their free play. But there is just no other option right now, so we're making do the best we can. (We just sold our old couch and I love the extra space that comes with not having a couch. So much so that we're actually considering not replacing it. But that will mean we only have two seats in our entire house that aren't dining chairs and that may put a cramp into tv-cuddling, by far my favorite activity.)

One part of making do, is taking the kids places to let them run out their endless energy. We go to McDonald's. A lot. Because they have an indoor play place (*cough* french fries *cough*). They should probably start charging me rent.

I also try to take them outdoors as much as possible. Monday, Jacob didn't have any school because of MLK day. Since it was a gorgeous PNW day, I coaxed the kids out of their PJs to go hiking. This was harder than I expected (aren't kids supposed to love being outside?). In the end, I bribed them with a promise of McDonald's (just embrace the fast food). I packed the kids into the car and we set off on an adventure to scout out a new (to us) nature preserve.


The nature preserve is now one of my favorite places! Because I had the two younger kids in the Mountain Buggy, we were kind of limited to the main trails. But it was still awesome. Next time I'll bring the Babybjorn so that we can hike all the way to the water. And despite the fact that I had to resort to bribery to get the kids outside, once I set them loose, they were in heaven. Jacob had a friend over and they hiked ahead while Ryan and Jon and I made our leisurely stroll through nature and mud. And I got to put my Hunter boots to good use!


And we're off!


No one was happy about my impromptu photo session. Seriously, kids just don't appreciate important things like perfect lighting or amazing photo backdrops.


Ryan is erupting into full-blown tantrum


Make it st-AH-p!



MOM, WHY DID YOU MAKE ME DO THAT?!


So I took a photo with just the baby. He's the cute one anyway.


Gor-geous


I told Ryan not to look at me. That's how I finally got a smile.


Brown eyes? Maybe?


Such a beautiful day!


As I mentioned in my last post, my husband had his vasectomy last week. I'm oddly at peace with that. In my dream world, I'd have five kids. But I would also never have to be pregnant or have another c-section. So, I think I'm ok with where things are right now. Also, I don't really have any time or energy to sit and reflect and feel weepy over the fact that there will be no more babies (waah!). I'm just going to work really hard on enjoying the babies that I do have. That right there is a full time job anyway.

Speaking of enjoying the babies I DO have....every once in a while we have a magical, golden day. That's a day where the fighting is minimal, the boys are playing nicely, and they are mostly obedient. These days are jackpots. Today was one such day. After I picked Jacob up from his early release school day, the boys played with blocks, Jacob practiced his reading (he is an awesome reader!), and the older boys huddled around Jon as we all laughed and talked to him.

A baby tower


After dinner Jacob did his homework then I got all three kids into the bath without any resistance! They played nicely in the bath and only spilled a little bit of water on the floor. When I took Jon out to get dressed, I heard Jacob and Ryan giggling from the next room as they continued to play with their bath toys. I cuddled Jon to sleep, slipped him into his bassinet, and then laid down with the big boys for a little bit. Ryan asked to hold my hand, as he usually does. He grabbed my hand and cuddled it close to his body as Jacob told me a story about a kid in his class. In that moment, I felt so happy. Deeply, insanely, heart-throbbingly happy.

Through all the tears and the frustrations and the timeouts and the tantrums and the defiance and the backtalk that I face each day, things are perfect. Having three kids is exponentially harder than having just two. But the rewards are also exponential. And why am I so bleeping positive and sappy right now? Maybe I'm too exhausted to be in my right mind. Maybe I'm still basking in the Seahawks NFC Championship win. Maybe I sniffed too much finger paint today. Or maybe it's just impossible to be negative when all your kids are in bed at the same time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Snips & Snaps

My husband is getting a vasectomy on Friday. I feel like it's kind of soon. Our baby is only 2.5 months old. But it's going to happen, whether I'm ready or not.

I'm very happy with our three boys. When Jon was born I had a sense of completion that I didn't get after Ryan was born (when Ryan was born I felt like there was still someone missing from our family). I don't ever want to be pregnant ever again. I don't ever want to have another c-section. EVER. And I totally agreed with the vasectomy when my husband scheduled it- which was shortly after my return home from a five day stay at the hospital following Jon's birth.

BUT.

I don't know. I still feel a little pull of hesitation. Sometimes I think four would be kind of awesome. It's hard to accept the fact that when Jon grows up, there will be no more babies in the house. A part of me is going to shrivel up and die when I have to give away all the baby stuff. And I'm nearly dying of curiosity as to whether our fourth would be a girl or boy.

BUT, THEN AGAIN.

Just when I think I might want another, I have one of those days were everything is really hard, I'm so tired that I weep without provocation, I'm so overwhelmed I almost can't breath, and I feel like I just want to run away. (A little nap, when possible, usually ALWAYS turns those days around) And then I think of all the fun things we will get to do with the kids when they are older and we do not have a baby in the house. I look forward to spending more time with just my husband and really focusing on us. And when I see all the FB posts of the families for which I used to babysit, I realize that having adult children looks like a lot of fun too. So maybe the "no more babies" thing isn't the end of the world.

And I feel a strong calling to be a foster parent, especially for older children. So I still have that.

BUT, BUT, BUT

Babies! Squishy thighs. Long eyelashes. Coos. First smiles. How does someone even BEGIN to put all this in the past?! I just can't. I don't want to think about it. My heart hurts.

So, I'm just going to focus on how awesome my kids are now (you know, when they aren't being not awesome). On to the "snaps" portion of this post.

Jacob has really amazed me this week (aside from the little bump in the road on Sunday when he had a major tantrum and screamed that he hated me a dozen times while kicking his door). I still tend to think of him as a little boy (he was my first baby!). But he's a big creative, intelligent kid now. He brought home a mid-year report card on Monday with incredible marks. The scale for the three subjects (reading, writing, and math) only goes up to 3 but he managed to get 3's in reading and math and a 4 in writing. Developmentally and socially he earned top marks as well. As proud as I am, I can't take any credit. I never tried to teach him to read early and we are not the kind of parents that push our young kids to be scholars. I really like the motto "play is a kid's work."I mean, Jacob thought a cow "roared" up until he was four. He didn't even go to preschool. So, I don't know how he turned out like this. I'm not even sure he's really my kid. (Now Ryan, I KNOW he's my kid. He licks all the chocolate off his donuts and leaves the rest.)

Here's a tower Jacob built Monday before school just seconds before Ryan plowed into it. He used every single non-breakable cup in the entire house. He's my future engineer (Ryan is my future human wrecking ball).


After school today, Jacob saw a pile of cardboard in our recycling bin. His brain immediately went to work and he told me he was going to build an alligator. I looked at the pile and saw a bunch of garbage. But he looked at the same thing and saw an alligator. He did this ALL by himself. I love how the teeth add a nice little touch :)


The pictures don't really do it justice.


The other morning, I woke up and found Jacob and Ryan eating breakfast at the kitchen table. Jacob had taken the pancakes I made and froze over the weekend and prepared one plate for himself and another for Ryan (even cutting the pancakes into little pieces). He also made TEA for the both of them. My kids are obsessed with tea, which I always find to be hilariously odd.

Today, Ryan and I took a little walk to the park with Jon. I brought some old bread and we fed the birds at the beach. I love his two year old brain. So complex and full of unprocessed emotions that just want to break free. And yet the simple little activities bring so much joy. Seeing pure and simple joy on his face for ten minutes makes up for an afternoon of tantrums and nap refusals.

He just wants to throw and run and punch and kick. He doesn't mean to hurt people or break things. Everything is just a fun game. He expresses himself physically, even if he doesn't really know what the message is that he is trying to convey.

Throwing rocks

When we came home from the beach today, I started cooking while Ryan thought up some new uses for my breast pump. He picked it up and asked me if it was for shooting bad guys. So he tried is out as a gun. Then he tried it out as a whistle. 


It eventually became a periscope. Then he lost interest, grabbed a whisk in each hand, and began to smack the couch (aka: the bad guys).


Jon is having so many great days lately. He has such a hard time falling and staying asleep during the day, which can make him fussy. But other than that, he's been so great and so happy and so much fun. It's such a relief to have my sweet baby back. It's such a relief to be able to enjoy his babyhood once again.

His eyelashes kill me!


I love to watch him sleep. And I don't even mind that he only sleeps in my bed, in my arms, at night. Lately I sleep in only one position: with Jon cradled in one arm as we lay face to face and tummy to tummy. I'd KILL for the opportunity to sleep on my stomach again. But he's only going to my baby for a short time.

Bed hog. But he's my bed hog.


We ended tonight with bath time. I love bath time. My three favorite mini people smooshed together in a small space, giggling, splashing, and making a gigantic mess all over my bathroom floor. But I love them. And I love when they are laughing together.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

My Snack Is Your Snack

My favorite part about maternity leave is the frequent middle-of-the-day trips to the gym. I'm gonna come right out and admit that my efforts to make it to the gym 4 times each week are not so valiant. The truth is, my gym has childcare. Relatively CHEAP childcare. My gym also has showers. So the best (read: only) way to enjoy a child-free shower is to go to the gym. And...while I AM at the gym, heck, I might as well work out too, right? I'm trying to fathom the fact that there are people out there who go to the gym for the sole purpose of working out, without any ulterior motive.

Why childless showers are so coveted: Today when I tried to take a bath at home after my run around the neighborhood, Ryan insisted on being in the room with me and bringing me bath toys. Also as I soaked, he kept filling up a spray bottle with water and dumping it over my head. It was a nice gesture....


Sometimes, you'll find me lazing about on the benches in the adult-only locker room. By the way, adult-only locker rooms are basically the best thing ever invented. I'm not being a perv, I promise (and kudos to the brave souls who find the freedom and courage to walk around completely buck-naked. Since having my third c-section during which it seemed as if every single person in the entire hospital saw me naked, I've upgraded from changing in the bathroom stalls to discreetly changing in the corner of the room while facing the wall). I'm just soaking in the fact that I'm in a room WITHOUT MY CHILDREN while also being innocent of engaging in child neglect (best of both worlds!). Being able to get dressed without someone screaming or crying hysterically, is a totally under-rated luxury.

Ryan does not like going to childcare. He's pretty shy, which is surprising to me because he's generally very aggressive and physical. I feel bad dropping him off because every single time I do, he walks straight into the childcare room, plops down in the very center of the carpet, and just stares at me with a blank face until I leave. I've always wondered if he stays like that the entire time. That's how I always imagine him as I'm doing my workout and it makes me laugh and want to cry at the exact same time.

To reward Ryan for putting up with the horrors of a giant room full of nothing but toys and other children to play with, I let him pick out a snack at the vending machine after I'm done. He picks a snack, I pick a snack, and then we sit down at a table and hang out while I feed Jonathan.

Without fail, Ryan always asks me for bubble gum each time. And, just like every other time before, I tell him no. Then he settles on popcorn chips. He gets the salted flavor and I pick the sour cream and onion flavor. As the snacks free fall towards the vending machine opening, Ryan always reminds me that he HATES the snack that I picked out. "That's ok," I tell him. "They are for me. You have the salty kind."

So we sit down to enjoy our snacks and after he pops one chip into his mouth, Ryan always says, "Mommy, let's share our snacks!"

"Ok. I'll trade you one of mine for one of yours."

We trade.

"Mommy, let's put our bags in the middle."

"Ok." He grabs my bag and places it in the middle. His bag is still clutched close to his chest. His grubby little hands periodically disappear into my bag of chips.

"Can I have another one of your chips Ryan, since we're sharing so nicely."

"Hmphhh. FINE." He sighs loudly and reluctantly and very slowly hands me a tiny sliver of broken chip as if there is a famine and he is giving away his last slice of bread.

"I like sharing." He says cheerfully as he pulls another chip out of my bag.

Before I know it, Ryan is holding two empty bags of chips. And I'm totally starving.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

After A Brief Interlude, Life Goes On

I assumed that having a third child would be a challenge to our marriage. But so far, and to my complete amazement, our third child has had exactly the opposite effect. Jonathan's addition to our family has brought a LOT of chaos. But instead of our marriage drowning in that chaos, the chaos has actually caused us to pull closer together (uniting against a common enemy?).

I try to pinpoint exactly what it is that has changed, but I really can't put my finger on it. I feel so supported by my husband. I feel like we communicate so much better than we did just a couple months ago. And I feel like we appreciate each other so much more. Sometimes, it's nothing more than just a feeling in the air (maybe it's all in my head?).

Because there is so much chaos surrounding dealing with the kids, it's obviously more than any one parent can handle. So we BOTH step up to deal with kid stuff. We both tackle bed time and meal time and all the other "times." We are outnumbered now. It's all hands on deck! Also, because we both have jobs outside the home, we both expect that dealing with kids and household chores will be split evenly. I've come to learn that in a marriage (or dealing with any person, in general), expectations are huge. If you can understand what someone's expectations are (no matter how reasonable or unreasonable) you can understand where they are coming from and figure out how to meet them halfway. Obviously, things are NOT always split evenly. But we both understand that, overall, it tends to even out.

This weekend, my husband and I had the rare luxury of spending a night away from all three of the kids. We don't buy each other Christmas gifts. But this year, we decided that as our "gift," we would book a hotel room at our favorite local resort, Alderbrook. It's an amazing lodge style resort. It's gorgeous and fancy and luxurious, but all the while very laid back and non-pretentious (EXACTLY our style). We booked the room for Saturday night, dropped all the kids off with my parents, and fled to our little paradise. It was AMAZING.

I forget sometimes how much I really like this guy


While sipping on sparkling wine (never opened for NYE), we relaxed in bed and watched the end of a football game. Then we went downstairs and had a yummy dinner at the bar (we decided the restaurant menu was too fancy for us). The we soaked in the hot tub and played in the pool and alternated between the two like a bunch of playful kids. With lots of alcohol to drink and nowhere to go, we had so much fun goofing off and being carefree. And I got a coveted six hours of uninterrupted sleep before I pumped and then enjoyed another three hours of uninterrupted sleep.

I never wanted to leave the bed


We haven't had that much fun since we were dating seven years ago! As amazing as the night was, it was one night too short. We plan to go back next year (at the latest) and hopefully stay for a longer period of time.

I SO need one of these at home. This is probably a step down from yoga pants though, not a step up.


We picked up the kids Sunday early afternoon and it has been back to reality, full force edition, since then. My days with the kids seem so long and laborious but at the same time, they also seem to fly by. Two of my boys have some kind of illness and I have been cleaning up a lot of poop (ugh) and giving a lot of baths and doing a lot of laundry. I never imagined I'd have to clean poop off of a wall ever, much less numerous times. Also, the two oldest are constantly fighting. It's not a rare occasion that all three of my kids are crying at the same time (Jacob- an injury inflicted by Ryan. Ryan - a tantrum caused by no nap or by something Jacob did. Jonathan- because Ryan keeps waking him up from naps). When this happens, it's really hard not to join in the crying (sometimes I do).

I had to snap this picture so that my husband would believe me when I told him how crabby all the kids were being.


Ryan is not always Jacob's favorite person. Did I mention they share a room? And soon the two of them will also share a room with Jonathan....so much torture!


Ryan's new favorite phrase is "I HATE somebody." Which is usually stated after an indignant "Harumph" with both arms folded in front of his chest. He also is known to say "I HATE this time" or "I HATE now" when we force him to do something he doesn't like (which is pretty much anything).

But he does like being sous chef. And he makes a pretty cute one at that! His favorite thing in the world is when I give him a piece of pizza dough or cookie dough to play with. He usually ends up playing baseball with it. So don't eat anything Ryan "cooks.


When things get really hard, I've discovered that it helps to just tackle one thing at a time. If my house is a mess and all the kids are hungry and crying at the same time, everything can be so overwhelming. So, I just look at one issue first. The baby needs a new diaper. Next...Ryan needs a new diaper. Next... the kids need breakfast. When I do this, I'm always amazed at how quickly I can get things under control.

Today, I was so busy that I didn't even get a chance to eat lunch or dinner or drink more than 20 oz of water (I aim for 100 oz/day) until all three were in bed. Even though Ryan is 2.5, I forget how much he still needs constant attention. Lately, he is almost impossible to put down for a nap. I have to lay in bed with him and the lighting has to be just right and the covers have to be placed just-so, and I have to hold his hand and he has to have his sippy cup. Even then, he might just lay in bed for ten minutes, pop open his eyes, and say "I'm awake now!" UGH. But without a nap, he is the world's crabbiest tyrant! And the days he doesn't nap, he makes me carry him when we go pick up Jake from school. I do this  A LOT.

So freaking heavy....


In Jonathan news...he has turned into a completely different baby. On Sunday I stopped giving him his acid reflux medicine (I ran out and had an issue with the pharmacist over the refill). On the same day, I started supplementing his feedings with formula throughout the day. And he seems to have changed overnight! He's so much happier and when he's fussy it's for an actual reason, like hunger or being tired. And.... he has the longest eyelashes in the entire whole world:


Now that he's happy, having a baby in the house is AMAZING once again. They smell so good. They give the best cuddles. And they are so cute that it hurts.

Tomorrow I have a real, life work conference with my boss and a coworker about our upcoming trial. Remember that trial I had in August that ended in a hung jury? Well, we're doing the whole thing again in March. And I won't be hugely pregnant! And maybe I can use this as an excuse to buy a second suit! I'm legitimately excited (I love trials). More importantly, I'm excited to have a grown up conversation with someone about something other than baby poop!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Eat Yer Darn Veggies

Every Sunday I painstakingly pick out the freshest and most ripe vegetables in the produce aisle. And by painstakingly, I mean googling things like "how to tell when an avocado is ripe" and "is it bad when all the peel is already off the onion." Avocados are vegetables right? Well, they're green, that's good enough for me.

For someone who lives in the cracker and candy aisle, produce is a whole 'nother world. A very strange one at that......Shallots: from here on forward, thee shall be known as "baby onions." Why do you need a fancy name? Ginger doesn't just come from a spice bottle? It actually comes from a root (that happens to resemble an ogre's fingers)? Green onions are a many splendor-ed thing: you can even use the white part! Squash is for more than decoration? You can actually EAT those weird looking things? Is it wrong that thumping melons makes me feel dirty? And there is actually a thing called a key lime. Contrary to popular belief, the well-known pie does not contain both keys and limes.

Despite my trepidation and skepticism, I always try to buy vegetables. I usually come home from the grocery store with three bags of assorted fruits and vegetables...and at least one bag of chocolate. You know what happens? By the end of the week, I'm all out of chocolate and the fruits and veggies are all rotting in my refrigerator. Even though I TRY to be a good herbivore and go out of my way to fill my home with vegetables, I just can't get anyone (including me) to eat them.

I think the big problem is that I don't know how to prepare them. I mean I can't just cut up a bunch of onions and green peppers and dump them on a plate. Well, I could but....ew! And for the love of me, I just can't figure out how to roast asparagus or green beans without them being all soft and soggy (am I cooking them too long, too short, too much oil?). I seriously don't know what I'm doing wrong. Veggies as an ingredient IN a main dish, I can do that. But I just can't figure out how to prepare them by themselves. Dudes....I'm 30 years old. I'm like a LEGIT adult now. How come I can't figure out how to eat vegetables?!

WHY IS BEING A GROWN UP SO HARD?!

So apparently, we are all supposed to be eating 2.5 cups of vegetables a day. I read this on the internet so it must be true. But I also read that chocolate is NOT a vegetable...so maybe not everything on the internet is true. But 2.5 cups? How? How the hell do people do that? For my family (four non-babies), we would collectively have to eat over 100 cups of vegetables EACH WEEK. That's INSANE. I don't think that many vegetables will even fit in my car? (I'm excellent at making excuses). Do I have to buy a second refrigerator just to hold all those freaking vegetables? Am I going to have to start growing sh*t in my backyard?

Well, I'm taking this as a mini challenge. No, I'm not going to make my kids scarf down 2.5 cups of baby carrots and broccoli every day. But I'm going to make it a point to introduce more vegetables into their meals. Except for maybe breakfast. I'm not sure they even make a vegetable that goes with Cinnamon Toast Crunch....or pancakes.

I'm starting slowly by making minor swaps and vegetable additions where possible. My daily peanut butter and jelly breakfast toast (ok, so maybe I'm NOT a legit adult) is now going to be a ranch and avocado toast (this is surprisingly yummy!). And I'm going to serve some kind of vegetable side at each dinner. Someone told me that steak fries don't count (sad face). This just cut my total number of favorite vegetable recipes in half.

So today at the grocery store, I bought broccoli (so much broccoli!), green beans, mushrooms, peas, and carrots. Now I just have to figure out what the hell to do with all this stuff. While I was able to convince my two year old to eat cucumber spears tonight by telling him they were swords, I'm pretty sure he will eventually catch on to my games....but then again, he's the kid who tried to pick his nose with a pencil and then got the pencil stuck in his nostril, so maybe not.

(P.S. Your favorite vegetable recipes would be very much appreciated!)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Hello 2015!

The New Year is here! Bring it on!

We decided to spend this New Year's Eve at home and, for the first time ever, celebrate with the kids. I can't believe we've never celebrated with the kids before. We usually do something low-key and local with our friends while the boys hang out with their grandparents (and fall asleep way before the ball drops, despite their best intentions). And the times we HAVE stayed home with the kids, well, there was probably only one of them and he was probably only one or two years old (read: TLTP or "too lame to party"). 

Spending the night at home, watching TV, eating junk, and wearing yoga pants pretty much sums up the way I spent every other night of the year. Why not be consistent? In all honesty... a night in is my favorite way to spend any evening. I've been lame and anti social my whole life. There's no reason to change now. 

Jon agrees that staying home is the bomb.
The Lip:


Since Christmas zoomed by, I had looked forward to NYE as one more opportunity to stretch out the holiday fun as a family. We started off the night by designing our own pizzas. I rolled the dough into two small pizzas for the big boys to top with sauce, cheese, and topping. Days of survival at home with the kids have taught me that the best way to avoid fights and whining is to engage the boys in an activity. Doesn't matter what the activity is (I've had the boys compete to pick Cheerios off the floor!). As long as their hands and brains are busy concentrating on something other than making fart noises or punching each other in the groin, there is (almost) peace in the home.

Pizza time!


Both kids get an A for effort with their pizzas. But really, Ryan's was a total disaster. He spread his sauce all over the place and made a mountain of shredded cheese somewhere in the middle. He haphazardly threw in a couple olives and pepperonis for good measure. Imagine a Picasso pizza. Luckily, none of this dissuaded him from devouring almost the entire thing. Jake, on the other hand, was meticulous about his pizza and nearly drowned it in a carefully planned pattern of black olives. 

After pizza, the boys enjoyed rootbeer floats. These were a huge hit with both boys. But the fun wore off the next morning when everyone peed their beds. No big deal. Just add another mountain of laundry to my collection.....(we do so much laundry around here, you'd think I was clothing a football team!).

Happy New What? We don't care! We get to wear funny hats and make noise!


The picture above is so fantastic because it captures my kids so well right now. Jacob is so enthusiastic about everything (and is missing his two front teeth!), Ryan is always covered in something messy and is most likely turning any object into either a weapon or baseball bat, and Jonathan has basically no clue what the f*** is ever happening and would very much appreciate to be air lifted out of this family. I guess that pretty much describes the picture below as well. 


After rootbeer floats, I forced the kids to do a mini-photo shoot (they hate me so much). Then we prepared for the grand finale. There is no way in hell I'd intentionally let my kids stay up anywhere NEAR midnight. Even with a full night sleep, when the two of them are in the same room, they develop the disposition of Godzilla on a kale smoothie diet. So we planned their countdown for 9pm.

Our big finale was a King Julien (worst cartoon EVER) NYE countdown on Netflix made just for kids. Our childless friends, on their way to a bar, stopped by for a little bit (perhaps out of pity?) just in time for the kids' countdown. I'm pretty sure the combination of children high on rootbeer and dancing, singing lemurs on the television convinced our friends that the door to our home is really a portal to some unknown dimension (and confirmed that their pity is not misplaced).

In addition to the countdown, we celebrated with confetti poppers and a DIY balloon drop. I may not have mentioned this before, but I'm like one of the top five best Balloon Drop Constructors in the Pacific Northwest. Hand me an old tablecloth, duct tape, and some string and I'll deliver you a MASTERPIECE....Or at least a balloon drop worthy of a six year old's 9pm NYE living room celebration.

Ta-Da!


I wish I had a picture of the balloons actually dropping from the ceiling and the kids screaming in delight. Oh wait. Jacob screamed in delight. Ryan just screamed and clung to my chest. 

After cleaning up multiple pee-soaked bedsheets the next morning, we rang in the new year with naked Nerf gun fights:


And enjoyed a family outing to our local gym. I ran four miles and, the best part, enjoyed a shower BY MYSELF. I guess I technically shared the shower with ten other women who happened to be in the locker room but there was not a single child or baby in sight and it was the most FANTASTIC thing that has happened to me all year (ha ha- it's the first day of the year, get it?!). 

I don't make resolutions, but I can't help but reflect on Things during this time of year. Things like "how do I want my kids to remember me?" and "how can I improve my parenting" and "what can I do to make our days more like the way I imagine/hope they will be?" I can't help but dwell on the fact that my two biggest shortcomings lately are (1) lack of patience (i.e. lots of yelling), and (2) lack of engaging. With my sleep deprivation and frustrations over Jonathan's fussiness, I imagine our house isn't a very fun place for a kid to be right now. And I can't sit around waiting for Jonathan to turn a corner. I need to change my approach RIGHT NOW. Because parenting is really hard, I've accepted the fact that there is no permanent solution. The only thing I can do is make the conscious decision to be better, fail, repent, and try again the next day. And you know what? I'm totally OK with that.

Tonight when I tucked the kids into bed, I was tempted to do what I usually do: struggle with them all the way through the bedtime routine, get them in bed, and rush out the door like a bat out of hell. But then I thought again about how I want my kids to remember me. One thing I always remember about my childhood was how my parents would tuck each one of us in individually, after reading us a story, sing us our prayers, and kiss us goodnight. Ugh. My kids, on the other hand, will probably only remember their bedtime routine as a verbal wrestling match with the loser (me) fleeing frantically from the ring.  

Tonight, instead of running for the hills at the first chance of freedom, I laid down on the bottom bunk next to my two year old and said, "Ok guys, is everyone safe in their bed? Because this is not a real bed. Welcome to your new space shuttle! Tonight we have a mission to fly to Jupiter. Jacob, I need you to be the pilot!" We embarked on our mission, captured some special space treasures, and evaded a ship full of aliens, before returning safely to earth, all through storytelling. We each added to the plot and contributed some lame (but giggle-inducing) potty humor. It was so much fun to engage with the kids this way and think like a kid again.

I know for a fact that I won't have the patience or energy to tell these kinds of adventure stories with the kids every night. But I do foresee many more space quests in our future. And I'm going to try really hard to take advantage of more of these opportunities to interact with my kids.

My boys (Ryan's face is so freaking creepy)


Happy New Year everyone. This is your friendly reminder to enjoy the crap out of life. Because it's really, really short. And it will all be over way too soon.