Saturday, February 28, 2009

An Interview with Ashley, 6 years old

1. What is something mom always says to you? I love you
2. What makes mom happy? Um, hugs
3. What makes mom sad? If we hit
4. How does your mom make you laugh? Jokes, tickles
5. What was your mom like as a child? like Rainbow Brite (?)
6. How old is your mom? 8
7. How tall is your mom? a little bit tall and a little bit short
8. What is her favorite thing to do? I don't know
9. What does your mom do when you're not here? I don't know
10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? movies
11. What is your mom really good at? making dinner
12. What is your mom not very good at? fixing barbies
13. What does your mom do for a job? help mommies have babies
14. What is your mom's favorite food? meat
15. What makes you proud of your mom? that you are our mom
16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? princess
17. What do you and your mom do together? play
18. How are you and your mom the same? the skin is the same
19. How are you and your mom different? our hair
20. How do you know your mom loves you? cause i live with you
21. What does your mom like most about your dad? getting married
22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go? to the market

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Sidelines

It's like the old saying that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. There are a lot of things that you can't make a child do.

You can make them sit still, but you can't make them be quiet. You can make them go to school, but you can't make them learn. You can sign them up for sports, but you can't make them try. You can spend months looking for a toy you are sure they will absolutely adore, but you can't make them ever play with it once it's home. Free will starts early.

Parenthood is a learning process, for me as much as them. Even if you decide they are ready for something, that means virtually nothing if they aren't really ready. You can push them only so far as they want to be pushed. And when a child reaches the point where they will go no further, there is little you can do to make it happen.

We've had several struggles of this variety. Most notably with Ashley. She is a very strong willed kid, but unsure of herself at the same time. If she doesn't think she will be able to do something, chances are that she won't try. It can be tremendously frustrating as a parent to watch, but we've learned how to deal with it. Mostly, we just have to encourage her and wait for her to try. Truth is that once she believes in herself, she's usually very good at whatever it is that she is trying for the first time.

The best example of this point is with her bike. She was terrified of having the training wheels taken off because she was sure she would fall. And she would. That's part of learning. We tried taking them off a few times, and she wouldn't even touch the bike to try. So, we'd put them back on and wait a bit longer. When she finally woke up one morning and decided it was time, she was awesome. She could ride up and down the street without falling. She could even start herself off from standing on that first day. She was great, but she had to believe that she could be. And we couldn't do that for her.

One of the hardest things about being a parent is wanting to help your kids with the things that you can't help with. Watching from the sidelines, cheering them on, waiting for them to find that inner self confidence. I've chosen not to be the mom that hovers and pushes. I've chosen to be the mom that steps back, hopes and waits. I have to tell you, watching her blossom into an increasingly confident child has been amazing.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Who Wants a Clean House?

I love the show Clean House. I've seen just about every episode. It is one of the few guilty pleasures I have, and I only get to watch it a few times a week. Tom can't stand the show, mostly because the host annoys him and he can't understand how people can live in super cluttered houses.

I like it for several reasons. First, the obviously voyeuristic nature of it is entertaining. It's interesting to see who gets put on shows like that, who turns them in and how they deal with the world seeing their huge mess. I know myself that even if my house was completely trashed, I would clean it non-stop if I knew someone was coming over with a camera. Gasp! It has to be so unbelievably embarrassing for the people who end up on the show - I mean, they can't honestly believe that it is normal to live like that, right?

I like it because it gives me lots of interior design and organization ideas. They are pretty creative with the organizing, especially with closets and small spaces. With the girls sharing a room, I need to be too. My kitchen is much smaller than it really should be, and I find myself reorganizing it too. The office is my sore spot, since it has to multipurpose and seems to be perpetually cluttered. I love decorating the house, and have a strange obsession with painting. I love to paint. It's kind-of therapeutic to me I think. I like the idea that I can transform something almost instantly, and I'm good at it. Just don't look in my stairwell - I got a little overambitious one day and started painting before I realized I had no way to reach to the top of the 2-story walls. Still have to figure out a way to finish that project.

I think the reason I like the show the most is that it helps prevent me from letting the house get out of control. I would be mortified if it ever looked like that when someone came over. It provides me motivation to keep things put away, in the place where they are actually supposed to be. I like that it makes me feel like my house is reasonably clean and clutter-free. And it cracks me up when the girls sing the Clean House theme song as they are picking up their toys. Nah, nah, nah, nah, yeah. :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Laundry

I love doing laundry, which is probably a good thing considering how much of it my family can generate. I consider myself a stain removal expert - and there is a very short list of things that I can't get out of clothes. So far the only things that I absolutely cannot get out (unless the stain has been run through the dryer of course) are gel ink and dry-erase marker. Pretty much anything else, I know what to do.

I have an arsenal of stain removers. Of course, I have the stain sticks and sprays. But those don't work for everything. There are specialty stain removers for blood, milk and mustard. I have used vinegar, rubbing alcohol, peroxide, salt, dishsoap, nail polish remover, bleach and hairspray. Depending on the stain, I know what I need to use. Some things need to be soaked, others need to be washed immediately. Some things can sit and wait to be washed, others are like ticking time bombs - take too long and the clothes are ruined forever.

I did not get good at laundry until I had 3 kids. Before that, I could let it go for a few days, wait until all the baskets were full or someone ran out of underwear. Once you get up in the number of people though, the necessity of daily laundry becomes evident. I have to do laundry continuously. On average, I probably do 3 or 4 loads a day. Yes, a day.

I tried an experiment a few weeks ago. I waited a week. Took 6 glorious days off from the laundry, trying not to cringe at the ever-growing piles. I was not going to give in and throw a load in the washer. Finally, a day shy of my weeklong goal, I had to do it. I couldn't take it anymore. The dirty clothes were swallowing up the house. The pile of clothes was easily 5 ft by 5 ft, 3 ft high And I am not overstating. It took me 4 DAYS to do all that laundry, and as a result I learned that the experiment was a miserable failure. If it took me 4 days to do 6 days of laundry, what is the point of waiting? I'm back to every day now.

The laundry varies seasonally too. Welcome to Colorado. Winter and Summer are the worst. Spring and Fall, not as bad. In Winter, things get wet, snowy, dirty and cold. In summer, they mostly just get wet. And muddy. My kids are drawn to mud like a moth to a flame. They play hard and can easily go through 5 or more changes of clothes a day in the summer. So, while you would think that there should be fewer dirty clothes in the summer, because they are smaller, the exact opposite is true.

We don't have a distinction between good clothes and play clothes. I figure that clothes are meant to be worn, and if the girls want to wear their fancy dresses to dig in the sandbox, fine. Of course, there are a few exceptions, but not as many as you might think. If they want to change over and over again, I let them. If it's dirty, put it in the pile. If it's clean (which is rare!), please fold it and put it away.

The kids are well aware of my obsession. They know they have to take something off if it gets stained. They don't even flinch if I tell them to take something off before they eat spaghetti. Ashley is so aware of it that she told a friend's mom that she needed to change her shirt while she was at a playdate after she spilled chocolate on it.

I love to do laundry. I love the challenge of a good stain. I love the satisfaction of conquering mystery spots. But I hate putting the clothes away - that is my downfall. And I hate folding socks. I need to be better about it, I know.

I love to do laundry so much that I totally have OCD about it. There is no way that anyone else could understand the method to my madness. That they could know which stain remover is necessary. What can go in the dryer and what must never touch the inside of it. What loads need fabric softener, stain boosters, fabric softeners, and which ones don't. How much detergent needs to go with each load. How I want particular things to be folded. Which shirts belong to Ashley and which belong to Ally - don't want to mix them up! Tom learned long ago not to touch it. He knows better. :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why am I always last?

At least one of the kids has been sick with something every day for the last 7 weeks or so. They have taken turns having fevers, colds, stomach viruses, runny noses, throwing up, having diarrhea and pink eye. It's been interesting.

Ally was first with an almost 3 week long marathon stomach virus, which she obligingly shared with her big brother, Aidan. He had it for 2 weeks, and missed 8 1/2 days of school. For those first 5 weeks, all I did was clean up after the kids. Poor Ally was so sick one day that she couldn't even lift her head up to barf. Aidan lost 8 pounds, Ally lost 4 - which is a lot when you figure that is about 10% of each of their body weights. Both ended up at the doctor at least once. I kept crossing my fingers that the baby wouldn't get it. With him being as tiny as he is, I knew for sure that he would end up in the hospital. Fortunately we dodged that bullet, at least for now.

Towards the end of Aidan's run with the stomach virus, Ally hurt her nose and chin, necessitating a run to urgent care and a doctor's visit, on separate days of course. Apparently, Ashley decided that it was her turn, and she got a cold. The cold turned into an ear infection, which had to start raging right after the doctor's office had closed on a Friday. Off to urgent care again.

Ashley shared her cold with the baby. He's only been sick once before and has a tremendous tendency towards being dramatic. He whines and moans pretty much as soon as his nose starts running. He'd been running a low fever off and on for a couple days when he woke up with pink eye yesterday. I took him in and he also had an ear infection. The pharmacist is getting to know me well.

Now that all the kids appear to be on the mend, it's my turn. I now have pink eye. I'm always the last one to get sick, so I am hopeful that we will be done for a while. :)

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Tasmanian Devil

If you've ever had one in your house, you know what I am talking about. A whirling, twirling source of never ending destruction. A 3 year old. In my case, a 3 year old girl named Ally.

The logical part of my brain, as well as the experienced mother in me knows that it is a phase. Aidan and Ashley went through it, and they managed to survive it, as did I. How she can take a reasonably clean, reasonably organized 3000 sq ft house and transform it within mere minutes into what resembles the aftermath of a small explosion is beyond me. Left to her own devices, and given less than 10 minutes she can create chaos.

Upstairs, downstairs, in the basement, in the car even. There is not a square inch of the house safe from her. She can destroy a bathroom - usually by giving her dolls and toys baths. Baths which involves any kind of soap, lotion, baby wash or detangler she can find. On the counter, on the floor, and almost always on the mirror. Every so often the mess escapes the bathroom, like the day I found half a bottle of shampoo spilled on the hallway carpet. Did you do this? She shrugs her shoulders, I dunno.

Hair products are another sore spot for me. A necessary evil, my house is littered with elastics, clippies, curly bows and headbands. Every conceivable method of organization has failed miserably at containing this vast collection. Of course, it doesn't help when Ally feels compelled to organize them herself. Due to the incredibly difficult nature of Aidan's hair, we also have quite the variety of hair styling products in the house. Ally found some of his hair wax last week, and decided to do her own hair. Half the container later, and at least 6 hair washes since then, her hair is still greasy.

I've found playdough mashed into the carpet and marker on the wall. Glitter all over the floor - in fact, my kitchen floor is currently covered in a thin layer of super fine glitter. The stuff does not come up! I think my floor will be fabulous for a long time as a result.

I can clean her room six times a day and it will still look like a tornado just came through. There's a reason I call her the Tasmanian Devil.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

And so it begins...

Aidan discovered the phone last night. He's always talked on the phone to family members, of course. But those conversations have been short, to the point, no details, and with someone else prompting all the questions. Those days, I am afraid, are gone.

Last night he was on the phone for over an hour. Talking about school, about scouts, about sports, about movies, about games, about his silly mom, and about anything else he could think of. He was giggling. He took the phone upstairs so that his little sisters wouldn't bother him.

He arranged for his friend to come over this morning. Had to make sure that the moms involved knew where the other lived. He got up this morning and called his friend before I was even awake. Clearly, we need to have a conversation about phone etiquette. Didn't think I'd be needing to have that talk anytime soon - after all, he's never been a big talker on the phone. But things are different now.

Aidan called a girl.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Knock On Wood

There are certain phrases that should never pass the lips of a mother. Those things that should never, ever be spoken out loud because of the virtually instant changes that will take place as a result.

Examples include:

Wow, it's really quiet.
Gee, no one has been sick in a really long time.
The kids are playing so nice together.
I'm so glad it isn't windy today.
The traffic sure isn't as bad as I thought it would be.

My most recent addition to the list of things which should remain unspoken is this: Funny that the baby has never peed on me.

Little boys, well, most of them anyway, figure out how that little firehose works early on. Aidan peed just about every time he was naked, whether it was getting ready for a bath or just having his diaper changed. He peed on me, on other people, and most often on himself.

I figured that the baby would be the same way. For whatever reason, he is not the kind of kid that pees every time his little friend hits the air. In fact, he's never done it, well he *had* never done it up until yesterday.

I had just finished mopping the floor, in fact, it wasn't even dry yet. And the last load of laundry was in the washer. Perhaps it was the convergence of these two facts that led to the events of yesterday. There is no way, after all, that I could possibly have a clean floor and be without a pile of laundry at the same time.

AJ was in his little exersaucer and started whining. I went over to pick him up and realized what the problem was. He had pooped. But not a little poop - he was up to his armpits in it. The kind where you immediately decide that a bath is in order and debate whether you should just throw the clothes out. I had Aidan get the bathtub ready in the sink, wiped him down as much as I could and put him in the tub. The girls always want to help give him a bath, and they had both already grabbed chairs.

At this point, I knew I had poo on me somewhere, but I knew I'd take of that after I got him clean. And then he peed. A lot - right on me. Then he laughed. The girls laughed. Figuring out that peeing on mommy is funny, he did it again. Except this time he got it all over the floor too. So much for a clean floor and an empty laundry basket - it just wasn't meant to be. A mother's work is never done.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tax Season

I hate tax season. Really. Obviously, it a necessary evil in the accounting profession. As long as Tom stays in public accounting, there will always be tax season. It comes every year, seemingly earlier and earlier.

From the outside, people can always see how hard it is for him and offer their sympathy. And it is hard for him. He works ridiculous hours, and the stress gets worse every year. This year is particularly bad, primarily because of a shortage of employees. He's up before daylight, home long after the sun has gone to bed. I ask him what he wants for dinner, and the reply is usually, "food". He doesn't care - just provide basic nourishment.

Weekends are no longer weekends during tax season. Saturday is just another weekday - with him at work usually until at least 5 or 6. Most Sundays we are collectively just too tired to do anything.

Tax season is hard on him, certainly, but it's also hard on me. During this time of year, just about everything falls on me. It would not be so bad, except the girls always have hard time without Daddy around. They have a built in sense about when he is supposed to be home, and when he isn't, they miss him. I'm constantly explaning to them that he will be home later. I think the hardest part is that with him getting home so late, we eat dinner later. I refuse to sacrifice family meals for the sake of tax season, and so we try almost every night to eat together. As a result, the kids are up a little later, and getting them up in the morning is a little bit harder.

It will be April soon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Syrup, Desitin, Buckets, Sharpies and Dog Doors

What do these things have in common, you might ask? At first glance, the obvious answer would be that they have nothing in common. In fact, they do have something in common. I have great blackmail pictures of my two oldest that involve each of those items.

The syrup was Aidan. He was probably about 2 at the time - old enough to open the fridge anytime he wanted something anyway. I was out of the room for less than a minute - most likely going to the bathroom - when I heard the door slam shut and giggles. Knowing that couldn't be a good combination, I walked into the kitchen to find Aidan holding the syrup bottle in his hands, upside down. This is the part where time starts moving in super slow-motion. I knew that I couldn't stop him, and he squeezed away, laughing with delight as half the bottle poured onto the floor. Knowing full well that he was in trouble, he squeezed more out anyway. He must have figured that he was already in trouble, so why not? Karma came back though, once he realized that he couldn't get out of the kitchen without crossing the huge puddle. That's when my mom instinct kicked in and I grabbed the camera. Nah, I won't help him cross the puddle, I'll get my camera. Tom's never going to believe this unless I have a picture. Just then, he stepped in it, slipped, and ended up on his back in the slime. Being the mean mommy I am, I couldn't help but laugh at the poor kid - now completely covered in syrup. He got to take a bubble bath and I got to spend the next hour cleaning the floor, but the picture was worth it.

The Desitin was Aidan too. Probably about 18 months old at the time, old enough to climb on all his furniture. He was down for a nap in his bed (the fire truck bed!), when I realized that he'd been in there for longer than normal. I turned up the monitor in our room and heard him laughing. Left him in there, since he seemed content, for a few minutes. Bad idea. When I finally went in to check on him, the entire corner of his room was covered with a thin layer of white goo. I found the empty tube of Desitin under his stuffed animals - every single one of them smeared with it. His bed, the walls, the floor and him, head to toe in the stuff. He had climbed up on top of his dresser to get it down. Yep, got a picture of that one too.

The bucket I am referring to here is a very specific bucket. A bright orange bucket for toy tools from the Home Depot. When she was a year old, for whatever reason, Ashley decided that it would make a lovely hat. She wore it as a hat for weeks, with it usually falling down over her eyes - then she would run into stuff. I finally got a picture of her wearing her hat. Princess pajamas and a bright orange bucket hat.

The Sharpie was Ashley too. I think she was about 18 months old or so at the time. I don't know how or why her and Aidan found a Sharpie, but they did. Kids need exactly 2 seconds to do major damage with a permanent marker, and that's all it took this time. She drew a line right across her face with a black thick Sharpie. It took weeks to fade, but the pictures I will have forever.

The dog door was Aidan. He was about 18 months then, and we had just put in a dog door to the backyard. He'd watch the dogs go in and out of it, and I guess he figured it was a good way to sneak out without Mom knowing. I was in the kitchen making breakfast one morning and heard him crying for me. I walked in our room and found him, stuck in the dog door. Head, feet and hands on one side, butt on the other. I'm still not sure how he managed to do it. He was clearly in need of help since he couldn't get out by himself. But, being the mean mommy I am again, I took a picture before I rescued him. It's funny, because the look on his face in the picture is so obvious - he is MAD that I took a picture before I helped him.

There have been many more crazy things the kids have done, and I've kicked myself for not always remembering to grab the camera. I need to document this stuff so they can't pretend they didn't do it!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Tornado

I put a lot of conditions on moving to Colorado, one of which was that Tom had to promise me that there weren't tornadoes in the area we were headed to. He promised. They happen, he said, but super rarely, and almost never West of the I-25. He lied.

Last May, on the last day of Ashley's preschool, we went to the park by their school for a class picnic. Aidan was in first grade, and at school all day. I had both the girls with me, and was finally starting to show being pregnant. It was a beautiful morning, with no warnings or watches posted.

When we had been at the park only about 20 minutes, the winds seemed to shift. We thought nothing of it at the time. Soon it started to rain - a quick passing thunderstorm, we figured. So, there we were, about 25 parents and about twice that number of kids, huddled under the shade structure waiting the storm out.

Except the storm didn't let up. It started to hail. Then the hail got bigger. And bigger. And bigger, until it was golf ball sized. By this point, kids were scared and crying. The shade structure had a metal roof and it was so loud we couldn't hear anything but hail and crying. The hail was bouncing off the ground and hitting us all in the shins. We huddled closer to the middle. The sky was getting darker and darker, almost a greenish color.

One of the moms had a weather alert program on her cell phone. Luckily, it must have been on vibrate mode because she looked at it. Tornado warning, Longmont. She showed it to the teacher, who peeked her head out from the shade canopy. Only then did she hear the sirens. The hail on the roof was so loud we didn't them.

More kids started crying, unsure of what exactly was going on. We quickly decided that the little shade canopy would provide absolutely no protection, and we ran, in small groups, to the cinder block bathroom. Over 70 people crammed like sardines into this teeny little park bathroom, praying for a miracle.

On that 25 foot run to the bathroom, some of us (myself included), made the mistake of looking up at the sky. Trust me, if you've never seen a funnel cloud above your head, consider yourself lucky. The pricipal called someone's cell phone and told us that we needed to get back to the school. We knew she was right - the bathroom was better than the shade structure, but it wouldn't save us if the cloud touched down.

So we ran, again. Carrying kids that belonged to us, and kids that didn't. We ran to the closest cars we could get to. Jumping over gutters that had become roaring rivers, wincing at the sting from the hail. Our legs would have the bruises to show for it later. We drove the two blocks or so back to school, ran to the kindergarten pod in the middle of the school and hid under tables and desks. For hours.

I found Aidan, hiding with his entire class in the girl's bathroom. They clearly didn't realize that it wasn't a drill. The older kids did, but the first graders were happy there, sitting in a dark bathroom listening to the teacher read stories. He was safe, as safe as any of us were that day.

I tried to call Tom about a million times, but the storms were messing with the reception. No one could get calls through. Even the land lines weren't working right. I finally got a hold of my in-laws and told them to get word to Tom that we were at the school, on lockdown. No one in or out of the building until the watches were canceled.

After a while, the storms eased and they told us that the kids could go back to their regular classrooms. The preschoolers and their parents could go home. I couldn't leave, not with Aidan still at school. I couldn't leave him there without me, so I stayed. A few of us did that - sitting around the tv in the preschool room, waiting for the day to end. Only after a few hours did the adrenaline start to wear off and the gravity of the day start to sink in. What if that funnel cloud had come down? There were so many kids out there with us.

I learned a lot that day, about Colorado and about myself. I learned that you can never, ever trust a weather forecast here. The weather can change in an instant, and you have to be prepared for anything. I also learned that I can and will do anything to protect my children. I was calm when it was all happening. I had to be brave for them, and I was. Only later, when the threat of the storms was over, did I get scared. I can honestly say that I have only been afraid for my life twice - one was the Northridge earthquake, the other was the day of the tornado. The tornado was different though, I had kids. I had to protect them and there was no time for me to worry about myself. There was no time for fear. The only thing that mattered was making sure that they were safe.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mom Superpowers

I have superpowers. Really. Ask the kids, and they'll tell you it's true. Having kids is basically the equivalent of exposure to the radioactive goo in a comic book - instant amazing powers.

I have eyes in the back of my head, so the kids think. This is one of the superpowers that moms can fake and get away with. Aidan actually asked me once if I did, starting looking through my hair in search of the second set. I can see just about everything, and I know what they are doing, even if I'm not watching them directly. He wonders how I do this. I tell him it's magic. Never mind that it is more related to strategically placed reflective objects around the house and a very keen sense of hearing - as far as he is concerned, I have eyes in the back of my head.

The sense of hearing is a true superpower though. I can identify EVERY single sound in my house, which is no small feat considering the sheer number of things that make noise. I can tell instantly where it is coming from, what is being done with it, and I can almost always tell who is playing with it. I know when a box of legos gets dumped, when someone is riding the spring horse in the basement. I can tell immediately when one of the girls is giving a doll a bath in the sink or decides to use *real* food in the play kitchen. I don't remember having this ability before I had kids, but maybe it was just never put to good use on a daily basis.

The sense of smell also gets heightened when you become a mom. Starts in pregnancy. You know, when the smell of certain things can turn your stomach in an instant. I know when someone gets into the chapstick. I can tell when someone snuck a piece of candy. I know if someone is fibbing when they tell me they brushed their teeth. And I can tell the difference beteween a dirty diaper and gas in a split second. People always second guess me on that last one - and I'm always right, there really is a difference.

The sense of touch turns into a superpower too. No need to use thermometers, I know when someone has a fever and can tell within a half degree how high it is. My hands can rub in various lotions, creams, salves and medicines. My lips can fix most boo-boos instantly. My arms can calm a scared, sad, sick or tired child. My lap, almost always occupied, is comforting. It is home. As a mom, I have someone touching me virtually constantly. I am lucky to go to the bathroom without a tag-along or take a shower alone. While I may tire of the overuse of this sense, it is one of my most important.

One sense does suffer a bit during motherhood. The sense of taste. Most meals are eaten quickly, since we are usually in a hurry to get somewhere, or someone needs something. Lunch is often relegated to whatever leftovers the kids didn't eat. Half eaten sandwiches and bites of macaroni and cheese aren't exactly pleasing to the palate, but that is the food of motherhood. In the overall scheme of things, I'll sacrifice taste a bit for the vast increases in my abilities elsewhere.

I told you I have superpowers.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Turtle, Monkey, Elephant & Puppy

I've always had nicknames for each of the kids. Some they earned as babies, others as they grew older. One that will probably get me in trouble as Aidan gets older is his nickname Annie. When he was little, he couldn't pronounce the D in his name right, and called himself Annie all the time. If someone asked his name, he'd say Annie. People always looked at me with a puzzled look when that happened, and I'd quickly make sure to tell them that his name was Aidan. No, I had not given my son a girly name. The name Annie stuck though, and at some point he started to respond to it. That nickname morphed into others. Annie became Anna Banana, then Banunu. Any of them, and he'll respond. Someday he'll probably hate these nicknames, but for now they are endearing.

Some of the nicknames are purely situational. Ashley earned the nickname Stinkerbutt as a baby, because, well, she stunk. She had an odor about her that was quite distinct, one that made an impression on those around her for sure. Fortunately, she outgrew the smell, but she retained the nickname. Now she has a specific face that she makes, called her Stinker Face, usually when she's being naughty.

Ally likes to wrestle. We say she's going to be in the WWE someday. She can take down her big brother, who easily weighs twice what she does. She's a bruiser, and we call her the touch chick. Which turned into chica. And she'll forever be my baby girl.

AJ even has nicknames already. Probably because it is what I called my little brother, he has been called Bubba since the day he was born. Bubba has many variations, of course, including Bubbala and Bubs. He laughs when I call him Bubbala. :)

Recently, for whatever reason, the kids asked me what animals they were. And so, they have new nicknames, new identities. Aidan is my turtle. He had already earned that label as a baby, since he was perfectly content to lay in one place - he took forever to roll over and crawl. He didn't need to go anywhere. He was just fine. He does things at his own speed, but he'll get there. :) Ashley's was easy - she's a monkey. The girl climbs on everything. Ally's was too - she's an elephant. The girl has a wicked good memory, and you dare not make a half hearted promise to her that you will do something (like go to the park, the zoo, etc.) because she will remember it and remind you constantly until you make good on your word. When I had a hard time finding something for AJ, the kids helped. Since he's a total momma's boy, and loves to snuggle, he became the puppy.

And so, for now at least, our home is filled with kids who claim to be a turtle, a monkey, an elephant and a puppy.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Motherhood Hurts

Motherhood hurts. That's one of the little things hidden in the fine print that no one tells you about when you decide to embark on the journey of parenthood. You know, that list of things that only experienced parents know about. The list that they never seem to share with their as-yet child free friends and family members.

You always here about the physical pain - most notably labor. Does labor hurt? Heck ya it does! I am well aware of the necessity involved with the pain of labor. It's there for a reason. Pain with a purpose, so to say. This is the one thing that people always focus on when it comes to kids - they all want to tell you their horrible labor stories, particularly when you are pregnant! What people don't tell you about are the other things that come with having kids. The sore breasts from the second you get pregnant. The indigestion. The sore back and hips. The shock of discovering your sciatic nerve for the first time. And, yes the hemorrhoids. And that's just before the baby is born! Afterwards, you get the sore nipples, the headaches from sleep deprivation. The arm and shoulder always a little sore from carrying around your little bundle of joy.

As kids get older, there are all kinds of dangers lurking ahead for mom. I had a friend actually break her leg because of her kid. He was reaching for hot coffee, and she jumped (or tried to jump) the baby gate. She managed to distract him and get him away from the coffee, but not quite in the way she planned. Don't even get me started on the exposure you will get almost daily to every kind of germ and bacteria imaginable. Kids are gross, and they make you sick.

The physical pain is one thing, but the emotional part of it is so much harder. If you aren't entirely prepared for the physical pain involved with motherhood, the emotional aspect of it will broadside you like an 18 wheel truck.

The first six weeks of their lives, babies mostly just want to eat, sleep and poop. There's not a whole lot of a connection there, at least not in a way that you can feel validated for. They make eye contact, sure, but as a mom you find yourself trying to get a response. A smile. Something. What you don't realize is that while for those 6 weeks you are wanting so desperately to feel that complete bond with the baby, you'll spend the rest of your life letting go a little more every day.

The reality is that every day that your child gets older, they need you a little bit less. And you don't even really realize it as it happens, since the process seems so gradual. And you certainly don't notice it as much with your second, third or fourth child as much as you do with the first. Some of the changes, you welcome. They find their thumb, and suddenly they don't need you to comfort them. They can sit up, and you don't always have to hold them on your lap. They can walk, and you no longer have to carry them. Eventually, this will turn into the first time that they wipe off your kiss, or turn away from a hug. No Mommy, I can go in to school by myself. I don't need you to come. I'm okay, really.

Being a mom is hard. Much, much harder than you ever think it will be. My kids are my life. My everything. But, as they get older the changes happen. They need me a little bit less every day. It's not something that I was prepared for. Nor is it something I enjoy. But it is something that needs to happen, and that I will continue to encourage. After all, my job is not to keep children, it is to raise them.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Michael Phelps

I'll admit that I am a bit of an Olympics junkie. Often to Tom's dismay, I love watching them. I love the competition, the whole kumbaya nature of peace through sports. We watch as much as we can when they are on, including all of the opening and closing ceremonies (yes, we watch the WHOLE thing - all the countries). For the Summer Olympics, we try to catch as many of the sports as we can, including swimming.

This past Olympics was going on when the kids were in swimming lessons, which gave them a little more of an interest in it. Aidan has become quite a good swimmer, and Ally has become a super fan. The girl loves Michael Phelps. Loves him.

I'm sure that there are thousands of girls, maybe even in the millions, around the world who like Michael Phelps. He's young, he's cute, he's insanely athletically gifted, and he's rich as a result of his Olympic successes. What's not to like? (I'll ignore for the moment his, ahem, indiscretions)

Her love of Michael Phelps is most likely a direct result of the almost constant coverage of his quest for 8 medals. It seemed like he was on TV all the time this summer. We dropped whatever we were doing to watch him as he competed live, and watched every single medal race he swam in as it happened. We were caught up in the excitement, Ally more so than the rest of us.

Over those weeks, she developed a Michael Phelps song. There is a Michael Phelps dance. Since then, her love has not waned. When his Corn Flakes box came out, we were at the grocery store. She ran to the display, and hugged the box. Seriously. She wants the 6 foot long poster of him to hang by her bed. She adores the Guitar Hero commercial he is in. She's a superfan. And it's adorable.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Allergies

Growing up, I can honestly say that I don't remember anyone in my classes having food allergies. I'm sure that someone must have at some point, but it must not have ever been severe enough to warrant drastic measures.

I've been lucky that none of my kids have severe food allergies. They all have eczema, and Aidan went through a period of sensitivity to blueberries, oatmeal, carrots and certain salad dressings. He still will break out in a little rash if he eats too many blueberries. But, compared to what some parents go through these days, I am lucky.

It seems like every class the kids are in, someone has an allergy. And not just an allergy, but a serious one. In a few cases, the allergies are life threatening. Being a parent is stressful enough as it is, but I cannot imagine how hard it must be for parents of those kids to let them venture out into the world when common things can kill them.

There is a little boy that has been in Ashley's class since she was 3. He had allergies to several things, but has outgrown most of them as he got older. One that he didn't outgrow has gotten worse, though, and it is a tough one - dairy. You don't realize how many things dairy is in until you need to know. Having had him as a classmate for many years, Ashley is well aware of the fact that he can't have a lot of foods. When we were signing up for things to bring for the Valentine's party at school, Ashley asked what we were bringing. When I told her cheese and crackers, she got all upset. But, Mommy, he can't have that. She wanted to bring him something special, which I have done on many occasions and will do as long as they are classmates. I needed to make Jello for Ally's class anyway, so I told her that we'd make some for him too.

Ashley is a sweet little girl, always worrying about him. Of course, she does have a little crush on him. :) So it's only appropriate that she is bringing him a little red Jello heart for Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Ally is a bleeder. Always has been. Add to that her amazing ability to break her nose, which she gets from me. She broke her nose for the first time when she was probably 2 - she fell outside and it looked like a crime scene. Blood everywhere. The girl can bleed.

Being a mom, I've seen my fair share of nosebleeds. But Ally's are special. ;) Since she bleeds a LOT, and it goes on for a while, it can get a little overwhelming. The first few times it happened, I got a little worried, frantic that it wouldn't stop right away like with the other kids. Called Tom all worried. He never really seemed concerned, but he wasn't here to see it.

TJ was here when she did it once, and he was concerned - and being a paramedic, he's seen a lot of blood! When it gets him on edge, you know it's unusual.

Tom, up until last night, had never been home for an Ally nosebleed. He always managed to be at work during the injuries, the mess and the cleanup. He learned last night that I don't exaggerate the amount of blood that can come out of this child when she hurts her nose. Now he knows.

1 a.m., he hears her crying quietly. Goes into her room and she's not in bed. She's sitting on the floor and there is blood. Half awake, he picks her up and brings her into the bathroom. Tells me I need to get up, I need to get up now. Thinking there must be something really wrong, I'm up. I walk into the bathroom and she's covered in it. All over her nightgown, her face, her hair, down her legs, on the floor. He's freaking out. Something must be wrong. She tells me she fell out of bed - must have hit her face on the little doll bed next to hers.

He starts to wobble. I take Ally and sit her on my lap. I've done this before. Usually it happens downstairs during the day and I just put her in the sink. But, we'll sit on the floor this time. He starts to stumble. I tell him to go lay down. He's never seen this much blood, not even when the kids were born. It's a good thing he's an accountant. :)

As for Ally, it's just another nosebleed. Did she break it again? Maybe, maybe not. The swelling isn't too bad, so maybe she didn't. Who knows. I broke my nose so many times they told my parents I would need a nose job by the time I was 16. My nose is pretty straight, all things considered. Let's hope Ally's stays that way too.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hide and Seek

If you ask my parents, I am the last person on Earth that should ever get to complain about hide and seek. When I was about 4 or 5, I decided that I was going to play a joke on Gary for April Fools Day. At some point early that morning, I snuck into his room. I climbed way up high to the shelf in his closet and somehow managed to get the door closed again. I started whispering his name, louder and louder until he finally woke up. He freaked out, couldn't find me. Went and woke up my parents, telling them that I was in the wall. I let them look for a while. They couldn't find me anywhere. When I sensed they were starting to really worry, I popped out of the closet and screamed "April Fools!"

What goes around comes around, or so my Dad always warned me. He knew someday I would be repaid for the trauma I put them though when I was a kid.

Aidan has gained the reputation for being the most likely to mess with mom. At 2 1/2 he took off in WalMart, running away as fast as he could. Ashley was still in the carrier and in the time it took me to click her into the seat, he was gone. I panicked. Completely. I ran over to the security guard, who happened to be right there since I was at the front of the store and told him my son was missing. To WalMart's credit, they were amazingly fast and responsive. The entire store was on lockdown, courtesy of a Code Adam. The assistant managers scrambled, guarding all the doors and dressing rooms. Employees asked which way he went and started looking for him.

A giggle. His giggle. He was playing. He was only about 20 feet from me, wedged on top of a support bar in the middle of a round clothing rack. Laughing at mom. He peeked out from between the shirts and smiled at me. He had no idea all the trouble he had caused. It's a strange thing to simultaneously want to hug and spank a child.

December 2005, on a weekend morning, we were just hanging out around the house. Later on that day we were supposed to go decorate the float for the preschool's entry into the Parade of Lights. Aidan, unbeknownst to us, decided he was going to play hide and seek. He didn't get the memo that you have to TELL the other people when you want to play that game. At some point, we realized that neither one of us had seen or heard from Aidan in a while. Have you seen him? No. Have you? No.

"Aidan!" No answer. We started looking in his room, the most obvious place. No kid. Looked under the beds, behind the doors, in the closets. Looked in the basement at least twice. Backyard. Frontyard. Garage. Playroom. No kid. Looked everywhere again. No kid. I know during the time we were looking for him, I checked his room at least 3 or 4 times. About an hour later, after we've called the neighbors to see if he is there, we start to panic. We seriously cannot find the child. He couldn't have gone anywhere, we tell ourselves, we didn't hear the door chime. He is in this house. Somewhere.

We are supposed to be leaving for the float now, but there's no sign of him. Finally, I start counting. Still no kid. I do a final scan of the house before we are about to call the police. Check his room one last time. A twitch. His blanket is twitching. I pull it back. There he is. Ahhhhh!!!!!!

He had climbed into his bed, a loft style so it's up off the ground about 4 feet, and made it. He made his bed, with him in it. I should he been tipped off by the fact that his bed was made - that's an aberration and should have been a giveaway right there.

We didn't go decorate the float that day. Aidan was in trouble. And what had been around once many years before came back to bite me in the ass.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Excuse me

One of the most difficult things to teach children can be manners. Babies know instinctively that if they cry, eventually, they will get whatever it is that they need. Toddlers do too. Please and thank you don't come naturally. They have to be learned. I like to think that I have done a good job in this department, that my children are well-mannered. I like to think that without someone nudging them to use the proper words they would do it on their own. For the most part, they do.

Excuse me. Something that children also need to be taught. But mom, I need you now. I need all of your attention now. Whatever I have to say is important. I need a snack now. I need a drink now. Anything else that you are doing isn't as important. Really, it isn't. Kids are impulsive and demanding, and when they want your undivided attention they try to get it in any way necessary.

Any time I am on the phone, there is a matter of utmost urgency that arises. They can ignore me for hours, not needing a thing. Until I am on the phone. Then I need this, I want that. She took my ___. He is being mean. Mommy, I need wiped! Within seconds of getting into a conversation, someone needs me. It's just life.

This conversation-interrupting phenomenon happens in person too. It doesn't have to be on the phone. My realtor was over for lunch one day when Ashley was about 2 1/2. We were trying to talk about the market, when might be a good time to sell, and so forth. Fortunately, she was a mom and understood. Ashley poking me, hopping up and down. Mommy, mommy, mommy. Whatever she needed, she needed it now. I apologized to the Realtor, and took Ashley aside. I told her that she was being rude. If Mommy is talking, she needs to wait for a pause in the conversation, then say *excuse me*.

Confused, she stared at me for a minute. Tilting her head like a confused little puppy dog, she thought about it. "But Mommy, I didn't fart."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

4 a.m.

4 a.m. is the precise time of night when anything can go wrong. If someone is going to get sick, it will be at 4 a.m. If the baby is going to wake up and fuss for hours, it will be at 4 a.m. If someone has a nightmare, it will be at 4 a.m. Few good things happen at that time of night.

It's the time where parents draw straws. I am lucky that Tom almost always gets up in the middle of the night - mostly a by product of the fact that I can sleep like the dead. (Unless he is not home, of course, then I hardly close my eyes at all.) Just about anything that happens at that godforsaken hour can be handled by Dad. But not everything.

Last night I was tagged. Tom's not a big fan of cleaning up after the kids, no matter what is coming out of their bodies, particularly in the middle of the night. He can help them to the bathroom, tell them that there isn't a monster in their room, calm their fears, change diapers and bring them a drink of water - but cleaning up after them isn't in his job description. That's all me.

The downside to being woken up in the middle of the night with a sick kid is that it's almost impossible to go back to sleep afterwards. I can't help but worry. I listen intensely for any movement out of their room. I figure there isn't much point in trying to sleep anyway, since the baby will be up soon and daylight will come in a little while. I'll lay there for a while, staring at the ceiling. Try to catch a few winks before Ally gets up. Before the baby needs to eat again.

I'll sleep when they go to college.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Holiday Boy

Time is a hard concept for kids to understand. They live in the moment, and looking too far in the future is almost impossible. I remember being a kid and thinking that summer vacation took FOREVER to arrive, and that Christmas seemed like it was never going to happen again. I guess this is because time is a relative concept. Kids haven't been around for too many years yet, and so to a four year old, a year is equal to a quarter of their lives. Adults on the other hand have been around for more, and the relative amount of time is less and less with each passing year. Maybe that is why time seems to go faster and faster the older I get.

When Aidan was about 2, he struggled with the concept of time. For him, he could conceptualize time only so much as which holiday was coming next, and how much longer he had to wait for it. When you figure there is a holiday or someone's birthday in most months out of the year, it actually worked as a strategy.

Instead of being sad that Christmas was over, he was on the automatic countdown to New Years. Then came Valentine's, then St. Patrick's Day. Easter would soon follow, then it was time for his birthday! Summer time was a bit harder since the only major holiday is the 4th of July for a while.

He got excited about every holiday, begging me to put up the new decorations almost the instant the old ones came down. He wanted to learn about each holiday - what it means and why we celebrate it. Because of his fascination, he quickly earned the nickname Holiday Boy.

His obsession with the holidays has led to looking for decorations for every holiday under the sun. He LOVES to find decorations, it's a treat when we find something on clearance after a holiday has passed. He loves to put them up, and doesn't even mind taking them down. He begs me to get the boxes out of the basement - please mommy, please!

As he has grown up a little, you would think his obsession with holidays would lessen - that he would care less about the little holidays and focus on the big ones - Christmas and his birthday - you know, the ones where you get *stuff*. Nope. If you ask him, his favorite holiday is Halloween. St. Patrick's day is probably a close second....because he's Irish and determined to catch the leprechaun this year. Last year he took every green thing he could find and made a trail in his attempts to capture the little fellow.

He is so funny about the holidays that he has trained his sisters to be the same way. Tom and I play along with it all, even encouraging him in his quest to catch the leprechaun. That naughty leprechaun, turning the furniture upside down, dying the milk and the toilet water green, sticking shamrocks to the ceiling. He should be caught. :)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Why is it always the face?

At some point, kids learn to put their hands down when falling...at least I hope they do. Mine haven't figured that one out yet. I spent the better half of the morning getting Ally put back together again. This isn't the first time she's injured her face, and I certainly don't expect it to be the last.

This time, it was her versus the metal shopping cart toy - the cart won. Fortunately, the laceration (or as she refers to it, the hole in her face) is far enough under her chin that it should not be noticeable. It will probably scar, but at least you won't be able to see it. They were able to glue it back together, and I want to hug whoever invented that stuff - much more humane than stitches for sure.

As a mom, you get really good at being able to figure out when an injury warrants more attention than just a kiss and a bandaid. It part of the on-the-job training. I can almost always tell immediately, just based on the sound of the thud, whether we have a problem of not. You'd think that you could tell based on the amount of blood involved, but in reality that isn't always an accurate indicator. Some kids are bleeders, and Ally is one of them. She has a habit of breaking her nose, which she gets from me. When she does, her nose bleeds so much that any casual observer would insist that there must be something wrong and she must need to go to the hospital. Nah. She'll be fine. Just put her in the sink and wait it out. Really.

There are three major reasons that kids injure their faces, and the reasons have nothing to do with playing sports, clumsiness or collisions. The reasons are simple.
1. Pictures
2. Doctor's Appointment
3. Family coming to visit
Schedule any of them, and someone is guaranteed to get a black eye, a fat lip or break out in a rash. And it's always the face. Always. Why is that?

Interestingly, we don't have any of the previously mentioned events scheduled - at least not for a few weeks. So then, why today? I guess it just must be my birthday. :)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mommy, I love you more than a Frenchman

Ashley is an interesting kid. Always has been. She sees the world a bit differently than the rest of us, I think. She tends to go through phases where she does or says the same thing over and over, and her most recent phase involves the Frenchman.

For the last few weeks, she keeps telling me, "Mommy, I love you more than a Frenchman". Weird, I know - but certainly not outside the realm of Ashleyland. I didn't think much of it for a while, but she just kept saying it. Finally, I had to ask her what she was talking about. Who, exactly, is the Frenchman?

"It's my imaginary friend", was the answer. Her answer shouldn't have surprised me, considering there is a bit of a family history in this department. She's always been known to talk to inanimate objects, often naming them even. We joke that you could take away all her toys and it wouldn't bother her - she'd go find some rocks, name them and call it good. But for some reason, the answer did surprise me. That, and the stories she keeps telling me about the Frenchman - who by the way is a girl, not a boy. ;)

They play on the swings together - the Frenchman pushes her apparently. The Frenchman (or woman) has a name - Della. This name has been a common one in our house, as Ashley uses it often to name dolls, stuffed animals, rocks, etc. Interestingly, the Frenchman also has a dog, a little fluffy dog I've been told. The dog even has a name, Jella.

Like I said, Ashley is an interesting kid. :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Legoland

Not *the* Legoland....my house. :) Having something to be passionate about is a good thing. For Aidan, at least at this time in his life - that thing is Legos. Not unlike millions of other little boys, he fell in love with them at some point. But he takes it to a whole new level.

His first few sets weren't true Legos, as I recently learned. They are megablocks, which is sooooo different from Legos. They were Spiderman themed and he hardly ever played with them at all. He lost interest quickly, pieces were lost and sets got thrown together into a huge box under his bed. Then something changed. He got a little teeny set - for a car I think. Once he realized that if he kept it nice, kept all the pieces together and didn't lose the little instruction books he could make and remake the car, he was in love. This love quickly morphed into obsession. The kid has lego OCD.

Over the years, he has acquired a small fortune in Legos. But, unlike the incomplete sets from earlier, these are cared for with love. They are stored in a way that any organization fanatic would love. He devised a system so that he keeps each set in large plastic bags. He cuts out the picture from the box, and keeps the instructions. Every bag is kept closed, stored in the designated lego storage drawers under his desk. Nothing else in the child's life is quite so orderly.

I currently have a huge castle assembled in the formal dining room, along with a big set from Indiana Jones. The batmobile sits perched high in his room, hopefully far enough from the reach of his little sisters. He wants to do his inquiry fair project on legos - the more he can learn about them, the better. He watches lego shows on demand on our cable system. Someday, he wants to be a lego master builder.

Cleaning his room a few weeks ago, I found some random pieces under his bed. He could instantly tell me if they were Legos or megablocks (you'd think I would know this by now), and exactly which set they belonged to. The kid has thousands of legos and knows precisely where each goes. It's insane.

The silver dress

Taking a 3 year old shopping is always an interesting experience, even more so if we are looking for clothes, and even more so if I let her pick anything out. 3 year old girls are highly attracted to shiny. If it sparkles, they want it, plain and simple.

We were at the local kids resale store, mostly trolling for pants for the baby, when Ally found her most beloved dress - *the* silver dress. This thing is incredibly tacky. Outdated and well broken in, it is a knee length mock turtleneck crushed velour shiny silver dress. That's a lot of descriptive terms for one item of clothing. As luck would have it, the stars seemed to align for Ally that day, as the dress was on clearance for the bargain price of $3....and they had matching silver glitter shoes in her size. Could life get any better?

Being fully aware of my rule that I have to wash all clothes - new or used - before the kids are allowed to wear them, she started asking me if I would wash it before we even made it to the car in the parking lot. The whole way home, clutching her tiny bag filled with treasure, she asked over and over again - "Mommy, you wash my silver dress?". Obliging her, I found some laundry (not a difficult thing to do in my house), and started a load. With all the patience a 3 year old could muster, she waited. She came and got me the second the washer was done running and begged me to dry it fast, fast. She stood there in the laundry room watching the dryer spin, telling me all the things she was going to do with her fancy dress. First and foremost, she would be a ballerina.

Finally, it was ready. She took off whatever other clothes she had on - for they were mere clothes. And this was *the* silver dress. Still warm from the dryer, she pulled it on - and instant joy. You wouldn't think a piece of fabric could elicit such happiness. She ran to find her new silver shoes and leaped and twirled.

Whenever someone comes over, she asks if they would like to see her silver dress. It's the first thing worn after the laundry is done. She frequently asks me where it is if a few days have passed without wearing it. She gets downright frustrated when it is dirty. It's a unique dress for sure, I've never seen anything quite like it. To me, it's tacky. To her, it's beautiful, and it makes her beautiful.

If only we could stay that way as we grow up - loving what we love with no worries about what other people say or think. Knowing true happiness when we see it, immediately recognizing that something will bring only joy. Having something that can instantly transfer us to a place of fantasy and wonder. Ally has a silver dress. Do I?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Play Voices

I'm sitting here listening to the girls and their play voices. You know, those tiny little, super high-pitched voices spoken only by girls under the age of 8 or so, and only so long as they don't think anyone else is listening. Ashley is particularly funny about her voice - she can't stand the thought of someone watching her when she plays, and often looks around to see if anyone is paying attention to her. The best part about it is that they are usually playing in the playroom/loft above the family room - which is open to the downstairs. So, we *can* hear everything. LOL

That's the thing about girls that is so different than little boys. Yeah, boys have play voices, but they usually involve attempts to make themselves sound like some character - like Darth Vader. Or they just make crashing noises. Girls are different. They have full blown conversations with inanimate objects, and I know that someday they will stop. Someday they will see their toys as just toys - and not friends having tea. Barbie will just be a doll, and the littlest pet shop animals won't need to go on a roadtrip in the RC Jeep anymore. It's hard to imagine a time when they won't play like this anymore, but I know that time will come.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Welcome to debiehive

So here I am with a blog. Guess it was about time, considering how often I am online for everything else anymore.

I know the name for the blog is cheesy, but it's all I could think of - and every other decent modification of my name was taken already.

I realized this morning that my little baby boy AJ is fast becoming a kid - so I had to take some pictures of him. Motherhood is a hard thing to go through sometimes - it can drag on forever and pass in a heartbeat all at the same time. Nights go on and on, but years are fleeting. And the older I get, the faster that process seems to be.

It is hard to think of anything else profound to add today, as I'm stuck in the house cleaning up the mess that is the stomach virus - claimed Aidan as it's second victim in our house a few days ago. Poor thing has been curled up in a ball on the couch all day.

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