wardrobe change

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Once upon a time, Halloween was easy. Austin’s costume was at my whim. A onesie for his first. A cow for his second, and a Clark Kent/Superman outfit for number three. Hit up a couple houses. Easy.

This year, Austin is a farmer, fireman and airplane. And, much to his dismay, I vetoed his request to add a “scary” monster to the list. Three is too young for that business.

With Everett, we’ve had to coordinate with the DOC band, aka the helmet. We ran into a hiccup with the original Halloween plan when we were informed Everett would need a new band. We had planned to match his watermelon head with a watermelon onesie. Scratch that. New plan. He went as a Chick-fil-a cow to coordinate with his stark white helmet.

Five costumes for two kids.

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We are certainly not the only ones captured in this trend. We have friends that basically have a costume to cover the days of October. And, so many more that have at least two per child.

Growing up, I remember having a single costume each year. Pick one. That’s it. Of course, my mom made our costumes. There was no turning back once the sewing machine was humming. Me, on the other hand, greatly enjoy piecing together costumes with items we already have in the house, which leaves things open to multiple half-baked ideas. I fear one day my children will receive trash bags as costumes with the encouragement to be clouds or something.

Really, it’s my own fault they have so many. I gave Austin full reign, and, frankly, my kids look adorable in all of their costumes (no bias there). Plus, then, we only have to go to a few houses, turn around, change costumes, and hit the same houses again. Brilliant. No one will ever know…

Halloween at its best. Candy for all.

three

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Last night, as I crawled into bed, I took a brief inventory of the collateral damage surrounding my bed.

I noted a significant spot of dried spit up in the middle of my side. Animal cracker crumbs trailed from end to another. And, a large pile of clothes – clean or dirty, I don’t even know – heaped across the end of the bed. You know what I did? I brushed the crumbs slightly closer to the hubs’ side, snuggled underneath those clothes and atop the spot, and went to sleep. Ew. Ew. Ew.

I just didn’t care. There was no energy to change sheets or decipher whether those clothes were, in fact, headed to the closet or the laundry basket nor did I desire to vacuum the carpet where I suspect the cracker crumbs continue. Not even an ounce of energy to care.

Last night, I waved the flag of defeat. The children have won, and I am sleeping in spit up. I think this would be considered a low.

Recently, I feel our days more resemble snippets from war documentaries than Sesame Street episodes. Austin rebels and cries, and there have been few outings that have not ended with me carrying him out like a football. And, then I nag and shout and talk like a broken record to a brick wall 99 percent of the day. It’s just a phase. It’s just a phase.

I fear the three’s might just be the end of me.

But, today, he surprised me. I took him grocery shopping with me. Something I have vowed never ever to do unless we are going to starve to death without that trip right that second. And, even then, it’s a coin toss.

Things were going semi-smoothly. I had only told him to sit down in the basket 59 times and not to touch anything 112 times. Out of nowhere, a big grin creeps across his face, and he says, “You’re fun, Momma. I love being with you.”

What?? I actually thought I had mistakenly heard him, and asked him again what he had said. He repeated, smiling and staring up at me with his big brown eyes. I just couldn’t understand. I scold. I nag. I shout. I’m constantly distracted by cleaning or laundry or errands. And, here is this child, thrilled to just be with me… or, thrilled to torment me. And, I’m fun.

He made my day. He made my week. As mothers, we are exhausted and feel unappreciated. We put everyone and everything before us. We often take the brunt of the chores, and it’s hard when Dad is always the “fun” one.

But, take heart, mommas. We are fun. We are amazing. We are loved beyond measure. And, our children recognize it long before we do.

Maybe three isn’t so bad.

But, let’s not take our chances. If I tell him he’s four, will that take care of things?

picture imperfect

ImageIt’s fall in Texas. The mornings are cool and afternoons toasty. Only a handful of trees have received notice of the season change. And, the only true indicators of fall are incited ourselves.

Here in Texas, where the weather boycotts cold fronts, we celebrate the spirit of fall. We do pumpkin lattes in 80 degrees, oversized wreaths exploding with leaves and scarecrows, and we do pumpkins. Lots and lots of pumpkins. Did you know there are at least 10 pumpkin patches all within a 10-mile drive from my house? I love it.

This fall, a number of obstacles have kept us from a trip to the pumpkin patch. But, I decided to throw sanity and priorities aside – who needs to grocery shop? -, so we could have our day at the patch. I’m a sucker for perfect pumpkin pictures.

I recruited my mom to help wrangle the boys. We took them to this great farm called Big Orange Pumpkin Farm in Celina, Texas. It’s a beautiful farm with pumpkins, animals and tractors. A little boy’s dream. I couldn’t wait to let loose the camera.

After dragging the boys across the farm for picture after picture, and halfway blinding them with the flash, I gave up. If one wasn’t crying, the other was trying to make a break for it. And, Austin didn’t even care about the pumpkins. What was the point? So much for those fall photos. Begrudgingly, I handed Austin the cup of animal feed that I had been leveraging for cooperative, smiling pictures. As he ran off with his prize, I continued to scroll through my photo fails when I heard it.

Giggles. Sweet giggles were erupting from my Austin. He laughed and smiled as the goats gulped feed from his tiny hands. At first, all I could think was how badly we would need some hand sanitizer after this. But, then I watched. I really watched. There was pure joy and wonderment pouring from him. We stayed there for a while, soaking in the moment. Austin pet the goats, inspected each one and begged for just enough food to feed the rest of the animals. He even found a posse of goats and dubbed himself their leader, chattering away at them with explicit instructions not to eat the rocks they appeared to be licking.

This is what this trip was about. Not about the pictures to remember this day, but about making the moment itself and making that memorable. Pictures sure do tell a sweet story, but it’s even sweeter living it.

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dear husband

I’m bad at sympathy. I’m awful waiting hand and foot. And, for most things, I kind of adhere to the “Suck it up” motto. I would have been a 1950s wife fail.

So, five days post-op from sinus and throat surgery, this is what I handed the hubs.

Edited Urgent Memo

Call it a nudge to get back to reality. Tough love, maybe? Or, maybe, a last ditch effort to salvage my sanity.

I know he feels bad, and I do feel sorry for him. But, he can get his own medicine and pudding at this point. I already have to do those things for the two in diapers in the house. And, I can’t even fathom the thought of waking up with him in the middle of the night for medicine in between parties with the other two.

Can I blame my lack of sensitivity and sympathy on exhaustion?

I wish I were better at this. I wish I had the energy to race up the stairs at his every need. I wish I had the patience… and stomach… to hear about all his ails. I wish I had another set of hands to tend to his medicine, snacks, blankets and movies as soon as he wanted. And, I wish I had the time to keep him company while he feels crummy. Cue Best Wife Ever award.

I’m lousy at these things for any longer than the first few days, and the two littles suck any extra time I might have to become decent at such. But, don’t think he is being abandoned.

He is loved. He knows he is. There are pudding, popsicles, ice cream, soup and applesauce to feed an army. I have changed more bloody gauze than I thought my poor, weak stomach could handle. And, I battled with the pharmacy and drove one and a half hours yesterday to ensure he did not run out of this pain medicine in the middle of the night.

So, even though I can’t bear to change any more gauze or hear about his clots or mix up another cup of meds, I will always take care of him. He’s in good hands – extremely sarcastic hands, but it’ll do.

a marketing miracle

I bought Austin a new toy today. It was met with the same enthusiasm as if I had handed him an ice cream cone dipped in chocolate and covered with sprinkles. You know what it was? A broom.

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I would personally like to thank the person who first began marketing cleaning supplies as toys. Child labor? Perhaps. Brilliant? Absolutely.

“Look, kids! Cleaning is fun!”

Whoever you are, pure genius.

Vacuum cleaners, kitchens, brooms, dust pans, mops. Every kind of domestic item in pinks and blues, all the perfect size for your toddler. Why does anyone pay for a housekeeper anymore? Put your feet up and let the kids “play.” They can even provide us with a half-baked cupcake from the EZ bake oven. Score.

I love when Austin wants to help, even if it means a bigger disaster than when we started… which it always does. He never lets me vacuum alone. He always wants to sweep. And, if I would let him, he would be covered in suds washing dishes.

But, I wonder, when does it stop? When does “helping” and cleaning become a drudgery on their lives? What changes that makes us realize cleaning is a chore?

Perhaps, it is when we learn to rationalize. And, cleaning just doesn’t seem rational.

Who actually wants to sweep up a mess that will only reappear five minutes later? Or, make the bed that we will crawl straight back into? Or, wash the same plate for the millionth time? Yeah… Playing tag or making mud pies sounds a bit better. Our children must think we are nuts for spending so much time keeping things tidy, or at least, semi-sanitary.

This means toddlerhood is a critical point in the cleaning circle of life. Take advantage, moms. Let’s load these kids with the best vacuum cleaners, dusters and mops while it’s still fun and games. We don’t have long until they catch on.

Long live marketing.

a little cheese with a lot of whine

I’ve had a difficult time writing this week. Not for a lack of things to write about, but, really how to put these thoughts into words without leaving behind a garble of whininess. There is no guarantee this entire post won’t be littered with such. In fact, it will be. Because writing it down always make me feel a smidge better. Reader be warned. Bring on the whine.

I’m having a pity party this week. I’m tired and overwhelmed. And, if I have to endure one more mega meltdown from my toddler this week, especially in public, well, I might just join him. Cue dual temper tantrums in Target, Aisle 5.

It’s been a dizzy couple of weeks between discussing Everett’s need for a new helmet, a diagnosis of his sensory aversion, and various other family stresses. And, this week has just been the cherry on top.

We started the weekend traveling with a snotty, feverish sick baby. Not much of a break there. Zero sleep as well.

Enter Monday, and I decided it would be a brilliant idea to take my miserable baby and defiant toddler to have the oil changed on my car. Good thinking, Mom.

They estimated it would take an hour and 15 minutes to have the oil and maintenance done. Not as fast as I would like, but we could make it work. It was overdue, and it had to be done. The first hour and a half were stressful, but everyone had managed to stay content-ish throughout. When an hour and 40 minutes passed, Austin’s time was up. He lost it – over nothing. He threw a fit right there in the middle of the dealership. He screamed and cried and tried to hit me repeatedly. And, I had nowhere to go. It was raining outside. There was no reprieve inside. And, the dealership had basically kidnapped my car.

While hauling the stroller, holding back tears, carrying Austin and restraining him from smacking me in the face, I located the nearest technician begging him for a status on my car. He swore it was almost done. Just a few more things. “Hurry,” I sputtered. “Hurry.”

After two hours and 15 minutes of waiting, the car was ready and parked in the rain. Awesome. The manager apologized profusely and took a significant chunk off our bill, hoping it would ease some of the “distress.” I sincerely hope the rest of the customers who had to witness Austin’s performance received a comparable discount. It was an ugly, ugly sight.

On the way home, Austin fell asleep in the car just before arriving home. I didn’t have the strength to deal with his wake-up, so I just drove. And, drove. And, drove. Eventually, Everett fell asleep, too. For one hour, we continued to drive in the pouring rain, while I tried to refuel my patience and energy. It didn’t last long. Everett was the first to wake. By the time, I opened the car doors at home, both boys were screaming in unison. Happy Monday.

Tuesday was a poor report from the occupational therapist. Everett is farther behind on tolerating food than she previously thought. He is still young, but he’s going to have quite the uphill battle.

Wednesday, the hubs had surgery first thing in the a.m. to correct his sleep apnea. Basically, it’s a miserably uncomfortable surgery and recovery that included a tonsillectomy,¬†uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, endoscopic sinus surgery, nasal septal reconstruction and turbinate reduction. Yeah… he feels as awful as it sounds. But, they hooked him up with some excellent cocktails. See you in a month, honey.

And, this morning, after an all-nighter full of “quality” time with the kiddos, both boys had well checks. Shots all around. A referral for Everett for Synagis vaccines. And, let’s top it off with an ear infection for him, too.

I am done. I don’t want to know what Friday, Saturday and Sunday hold. Can I just pull the covers over my head, enjoy a glass of wine and call it a week? Or, maybe call it for the next two weeks because I’m not a fan of what next week’s schedule is stacking up to be either.

How does this whole “call in sick” thing work for moms?

Pity party, party of one. Would you like some cheese with that whine?

up all night

Tonight I find myself talking to the baby monitor.

“Please go to sleep. Please go to sleep. Please go to sleep.”

But, he doesn’t listen. Tonight, the baby tosses and turns, fusses and cries. He is already setting the tone for the night.

“Don’t get too comfortable, Mom.” There will be little sleep in the following hours. Tonight, Everett and I will be partying with the crickets. And, tonight, I embrace that.

I am tired. I am exhausted. These last couple weeks have been draining. But, tonight, my baby is sick. It’s probably just a cold, but he’s snotty, miserable and running a fever. He needs me, and I will be there.

I’m a bear without sleep. I love sleep, and I need it – just ask the hubs. Fluffy, soft blankets pile atop our bed. Five feathery pillows fill my side. There are few things better than snuggling beneath the covers for some uninterrupted Z’s.

Usually, I dread these nights when the kids won’t sleep. I feel it’s an intrusion on my precious quiet time. I’m all about sharing, but I don’t want to share my nights. Save that for daylight hours.

But, when our kids are sick and our kids need us, we forget about ourselves. We are given the strength to run on minimal minutes of sleep. We are given just enough patience not to lose our sanity. We are given the gift of unconditional love. And, we are given caffeine. Lots and lots of caffeine.

So, tonight, I doubt I will sleep, and tomorrow, I will probably be a bear. But, I am a Mommy. I will hold my baby tight rocking him for hours on end, and I will sing him lullaby after lullaby until he can find rest. We care, and we love, and we do the best we can. Sleep, sweet baby, sleep.

sing along

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The first time I heard Austin sing “Jesus loves me,” my heart melted. Such a precious, innocent voice singing such sweet words. My heart was full. What a proud day for me as a mom.

The first time I heard that same sweet voice sing a little Jay Z, I nearly slammed into the back of a truck. What did you just say?

Little ears. How they manage to hear everything and nothing at the same time.

Since Austin was an infant, I tried hard to keep only family friendly songs in the car when we rode together – Christian music, nursery rhymes, lullabies. But, occasionally, when I begin to feel twitchy from the 46th repeat of Six Little Ducks, I switch it to my pre-children music.

It’s a rare occasion. Most times, I opt for silence after I’ve hit my wall. But, some days, I’m weak, and I yearn for the days when I didn’t have to censor my song choices or turn the volume to a less deafening level. One of my favorite things to do when I steal away on a kid-less errand is blare my music and sing off-key at the top of my lungs. Yes, fellow drivers. I am the girl rocking out to her music in the car. Yes, I see you looking at me. And, no, I don’t care at all. Okay… Maybe I care a little.

Some days it’s tough to sweep that part of me under the rug and just be Mom. Mom who knows every single word to every single nursery rhyme. Mom who will play the duck song over and over because it makes Austin giggle. Mom who hasn’t updated her iPod with something other than kid tunes in the last two years.

But, then again, who else in this world will beg me to sing to him over and over again other than my kids? So, maybe I can handle a few more nursery rhymes… and a few less unsavory lyrics from my toddler.

Lesson learned. Jay Z does not equal kid-friendly music nor does the rest of my playlist. Bring on the ducks. I’ve got 99 problems, and this song is certainly one.