an impromptu graduation


For six months, I have barely seen the hair on my child’s head. My kisses to his forehead have been blocked. Snuggles to his cheek have been interrupted by cold, hard plastic. And, I have been head butted… a lot.

But, last week, we said goodbye to all of that. Goodbye to the melon. Goodbye to the DOC band. Six months gone and done. Everett is helmet free. Hallelujah!


We pushed through the thousand-degree days in August… and September, and our trip to the beach where that helmet couldn’t get wet. We battled many sleepless nights in the beginning. We bit the bullet and paid for a second helmet completely out of pocket. We celebrated Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and birthdays in the helmet. For six months, that little boy wore a helmet 23 hours a day.

But, it’s all over, and what a beautiful head he has.

The first day free of head gear, I kissed his sweet head at least a thousand times. I rubbed my face against his. I covered him in kisses, and I ran my fingers through his soft, silky hair over and over. How I’ve missed these last six months.

It’s taken about a week for Everett to adapt without his extra protection. The slightest bump of the head sent him wailing into meltdown mode, and that first day, there were lots of tears. Dramatic, much? Now, when Austin decides to smack him over the head with a toy or he face plants into the floor, you usually hear me gasping as opposed to him screaming. I think he’s back to being fearless.

What a journey it has been, and I’m thankful to bring this chapter to a close. Here’s to no more helmet head butts and smothering my sweet boy in uninterrupted smooches.

the Christmas tree


In 2008, we celebrated our first Christmas as a wedded couple. Less than three weeks prior to that, we closed on our first home. Despite towers of cardboard boxes and a completely disheveled home, we still put up our first Christmas tree.

It was beautiful. It was adorned with delicate glass balls gleaming in purples, reds, blues, silvers and golds. Gifts of Christohper Radko and Wedgewood ornaments were our extra special contribution to the tree. And, perfectly wrapped presents created a wreath beneath it. We snuggled under a warm blanket together, sipped our hot chocolate and admired our first tree in peace.

Three years later, we had a freshly mobile one-year-old. Austin’s interest in the tree was short-lived, but long enough that the Christmas tree received its first remodel. Our precious CR and Wedgewood ornaments were elevated to the penthouse of the tree, safe from curious hands. Amazingly, only one gift huddled beneath the tree required a re-wrap that year.

In 2012, the remodel turned more into a renovation. Not a single glass ornament made it on the tree that year. Bless Costco and their extra large tubs of plastic ornaments. I truly believe they were tested by toddlers. Unbreakable. I tried whole-heartedly to have gifts underneath the tree that year, but, in the end, I re-wrapped every single gift at least once. Ironically, when Christmas morning came, we had to coax Austin to open all of his gifts. Rule #1 of kids: Nothing is nearly as much fun with your parents’ permission.

Another year. Another change. Our Christmas tree went up the day after Thanksgiving. No glass ornaments again. They are safely stored for a less destructive age. The tree went up perfectly, and it looked as though we would have a similar tree to last year’s… until today.

I walked into the living room to find Austin nestled next to the tree. He had removed one of the cushions from the chairs, and there in front of him, he had lined up a number of ornaments from the lower extremities of the tree. He smiled at me, and proudly showed off his collection. A few moments later, I spot Everett bounding after a giant, glittery ornament much like a puppy. In fact, when he finally captured it, he celebrated by attempting to eat it, despite it being the size of his own head.


So, this year, I have two options. I can remove the bottom half of the ornaments, or I can let it be. This is the year my tree becomes our family tree, and I’m just going to let it be.

What a transformation we have seen over the years. As we change, so does our tree. The Christmas tree tells our story. It’s messy, imperfect and a little rough in spots. But, it’s always colorful. It’s always bright, and it is well loved. Ornaments will come and go, but the precious moments we share as a family beneath this little tree will carry on.

That first Christmas seems ages ago. No longer is there the same peace and quiet surrounding the Christmas tree. There is something better. There are snuggles, sweet giggles and wonderment from two precious boys that far outweigh the quiet. It’s a different kind of peace.

I love our tree. I love its story, and I love that it is ours.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours this Christmas season.

the shower dance


I’m not a morning person. I never have been. I never will… at least, voluntarily. My children have forced me into a morning person’s life. I still eyeball the clock each and every morning. Groan at 7 a.m. Roll over at 6 a.m., and mutter a couple indecipherable words at 5 a.m. or earlier.

The first thing I yearn for each morning is not a cup of caffeine. It’s a shower. Showers are my coffee – a shot of sanity before our days of chaos. But, personal hygiene itself can be a mystical creature when two little ones hijack your schedule.

I’ve been spoiled. Every morning, the hubs manages breakfast for the boys. While he spoons out oatmeal, slices strawberries and is hit with the first tantrums of the day, I shower. Not a long, pre-children wash, but a quick spurt of uninterrupted hygienic bliss.

Occasionally, I am on my own when business calls. Today was that day. Sometimes, I opt out of fresh and clean, and settle for “try not to see anybody” grungy. But, today, I had somewhere to be, which means bathing was a priority. You are all welcome, by the way.

We started our morning at 5 a.m. Hungry baby. Fed baby. Screaming baby. Up for the day. Followed shortly by screaming toddler. Whiny toddler. Up for the day. We did our breakfast routine with minimal upsets – other than I selected the “wrong” spoon for Austin’s oatmeal – and, then, it was time. I had to get ready.

I placed Austin on the bed with free reign of the iPad and easily within my view. Five seconds later, he was completely immersed in Thomas the Train. Win. Then, on the floor, I created a maze of toys and expertly placed shoes for Everett, just to keep his attention. Start the timer.

In the five minutes I took to shower, I hopped out once to dislodge Everett from underneath our bed – a favorite place of his to roll, listened to Everett cry the entire time despite him actually sitting their gnawing on a toy in between wails, talked Austin through five meltdowns because the internet was freezing up his show, and convinced Austin to drop my eye liner before he used our cabinets as a coloring book… again.

I give you the shower dance. Lather, Rinse, Repeat for two more days. Bless the hubs and our normal routine.

Perhaps, I should rethink my social agenda this week. Or, I guess I can always blame the smell on the boys. Stinky toddler feet? Yeah. I think we’re covered.

a cookie monster

oreos for E

No vegetables for Everett. No fruit. No meat. No mushy pasta. Nothing ordinary for this child. He will eat Oreos. And, that works for me.

For five months, we have failed repeatedly in the solids department. He has gagged and spit, cried and screamed, and the past several weeks spent with the occupational therapist for his sensory aversion have not been any better – Until a week ago.

During Everett’s last OT session, she introduced him to the infamous Oreo. He was indifferent. Just another nuisance he didn’t want near his mouth. She sent me away with an extended shopping list beyond Twizzlers and Jerky. This one included Oreos and various other cookies, crackers, puddings and yogurt. I purchased the entire snack aisle at Target.

I pushed my cart, head down, to checkout with my two kiddos sitting atop the mountain of junk. Austin grinned ear to ear as he tried to break into the Oreos and Nilla wafers. Children across the store eyed my boys with envy, and their mothers glared at the ever growing pile. The mother’s walk of shame.

Even with so many new options, we still weren’t seeing progress. After a rough dinner of solid failures with Everett and begging Austin to eat, sit down, and stop throwing his food, I decided to break out the Oreos… for me. I pulled out the bag, and Everett almost hyperventilated. Okayyy… This is different. I handed him a cookie, and he devoured it. Release the confetti.

No sooner had he adopted Oreos as a staple in his diet than a good friend of mine informed me of a new study indicating Oreos are as addictive as cocaine. Fantastic. Better stock up or my child is going to have Oreo withdrawals. Of course, this link seems to think Oreos are not quite as detrimental.

Either way, we have an eater, and it’s cookies, not cocaine.

Since then, he has expanded his palate to include Ritz crackers, Teddy Grahams and Gerber banana cookies. There’s a lot of sugar in this house. Every day, as I prepare Everett’s samplers of cookies, crackers and yogurt, I cringe, and I have to beat down the guilt of what I’m feeding my 10-month-old. I can’t even begin to tell you about the dirty looks I’ve received from offering my baby an Oreo in public. And, to be honest, before kids or even with Austin, I might have been that judgmental mom because, obviously, having no kids or any number of kids automatically makes me an expert on everyone elses’ children. Ha. Lesson learned.

Today, I am a happy momma. Eating something is better than nothing, and eating anything is progress. Even if it’s milk and cookies.

Our next step, purees, and not the traditional route. Our new list includes ranch dressing and gravy. Just in time for Thanksgiving.

Who wants me in charge of snacks for the next play date? 😉

the rolling pin

rolling pin

Everett is a roller. He doesn’t crawl. He doesn’t scoot. He rolls face first across the floor over and over again, sweeping up our hardwoods with every tumble. He covers an impressive amount of ground in a short period of time. The kid is fast.

I really don’t think he will ever crawl. He successfully raises himself on hand and knees, but refuses to actually take that first movement forward… or, backward. Instead, he flops to his belly and rolls and rolls. Or, he straightens his legs out in a yoga-inspired form, attempting to free stand. It doesn’t work out well.

The first time we shot video of his nimbleness, family and friends gasped at the sight. Here was our infant spiraling face first against the hard ground. Ouch. But, he was giggling.

I blame the helmet for his extreme confidence in rolling. Who else has a kid that repeatedly crashes his head into the hard floor with no regrets at all? Does not faze him. It’s the helmet. Take it off, and he is wailing within five seconds. We have a big problem when he graduates from that helmet.

He has roughly two months, give or take, before graduation day. It’s time to work on coordination, son. Better get crawling, or, walking.

We should probably just buy him a bike helmet.

wardrobe change


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.



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.

seeing double

E riding horse

When Everett received his helmet, we were given a list of strict instructions. One of which was that he needed to wear it 23 hours a day. The one-hour reprieve was reserved for bath time and cleaning the helmet. Basically, one hour to scrub the stench out.

On occasion, kids need a second helmet. The explanation from one of the technicians was parents tend to get “sloppy” about having their child wear it 23 hours a day, leaving extra time for their head to grow outside the perimeters of the helmet.

Insurance covered Everett’s helmet the first time – hallelujah! – and we didn’t want to take our chances a second time. So, we were a smidge obsessive compulsive about him wearing it.

Despite no sleep the first two and a half weeks in it, he still wore it. With the fussiness and discomfort, he wore it. When we spent a week at the beach, we made that hour off work as best we could, and he wore it. Even though that helmet made his head smell like a high school locker room, he wore it.

Most days, Everett doesn’t even have it off for the full hour. We were going all in, and we wanted it to work.

And, it has. His head looks phenomenal compared to what it was eight weeks ago. It definitely looks less alien and more Gerber baby. The initial plan was for him to wear it for four plus months. At his appointment on Monday, we were told he has three weeks.

Before you release the confetti and balloons in celebration, she didn’t mean his treatment was over in three weeks. He will have outgrown his helmet in three weeks. We found this out the same day I received Everett’s adorable watermelon costume for Halloween in the mail. We may have to rethink that one.

On a rare occasion, kids need a second helmet because their heads grow faster than expected, even when there is extreme diligence in wearing it. Not completely surprising since both my boys are in the lower percentiles for weight and height, but take the top percentiles for their head size. Big heads… Wonder who they get that from…

Insurance is not quite so kind this time around, as we basically maxed out our allowance in the helmet previously. Now, we are left with a decision to make, Round two or call it quits. And, we also have to question whether a second helmet will make a substantial difference in the treatable time he has left. I could really use a crystal ball right about now.

Little boy, I’m afraid you may have spent your entire college tuition this first year of life 😉

waiting for a mouthful


Despite teething symptoms at four months old, Austin received his first tooth a month before he turned one. Just when I thought my child would be joining the dentures club, a little white tooth appeared. Everett wants to be just like big brother.

At Everett’s four-month well check, his pediatrician confirmed that he was indeed teething. Now, almost five months later, there are still no teeth. Not a single one. But, the signs are all there.

10 Signs your Kid is Teething

1. You begin referring to Sophie the Giraffe as your best friend.

2. Everything must go in his mouth – including your face.

3. Random people go out of their way to inform you that your baby is “obviously” teething.

4. Bibs are no longer just for spit up or mealtime, forcing us to either double our supply or double our laundry.

5. Sneak-attacking your hand is no longer a game. It is a mission.

6. You fear that sucking on his own fingers might actually result in a real bodily injury.

7. He reminds you he is teething every hour throughout the night.

8. You find yourself jamming your own fingers in his mouth multiple times a day, praying you’ll feel a tooth.

9. When you pull an item out of the diaper bag, 50 teething rings tumble out.

10. You carry Infant Tylenol with you… in a holster… attached to your pajamas.