take it for a spin

I want a pretty laundry room. Pinterest told me I should… and could. Colorful walls, a delicate chandelier, granite counter, coordinating baskets and custom artwork. Pinterest has brainwashed me to believe I should be shoveling mounds of clothing in and out of machines in a state of luxury.

And, frankly, I like that idea. I mean, I am averaging 1,000 loads of laundry each year. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to liven up a daily drudgery. So, when Philip presented the idea of removing the bulky stands beneath our machines and replacing the tops with a beautiful countertop, I was intrigued.

My laundry room could look like this…

laundry room 1

Or, this…

laundry room2

Or, even this…

laundry room3

I could do laundry in pretty. {Oh, how my wish list has changed.}

But, then, I snapped back to reality. I realized that without the stands, little hands could reach all those irresistible buttons and easily crawl into open machines. This could only end in disaster. Horrifying thoughts of Austin shoving little brother into the washing machine flashed through my mind. Oh, no. No. No. No. This would not work. Knowing our boys, this would absolutely happen.

As time has passed, the thought of ditching the stands occasionally creeps back into my head. Usually, it’s when I’m waist deep in stinky little boy clothing. But, as of last week, that thought is squelched for good.

A few mornings ago, Austin “slept in.” And, when I say “slept in,” I mean he came into our bed at 6 a.m. and continued to sleep soundly with his arm in my face until 8 a.m. He even slept through Everett’s wailing grand entry into the mix slightly before 7 a.m. This is considered sleeping in at our house.

Anyway, because extra sleep rarely never happens here, this threw off our entire schedule of getting out the door on time for Mother’s Day Out. So, we scrambled and hurried, and I did my best to make sure everyone was presentable.

Austin was moving extra slow that morning, so I helped him along. I spent two minutes getting him ready. TWO minutes. When I finished, I scurried off to find Everett who had quickly and quietly left the scene. This is where I found him…


TWO MINUTES! Two minutes, and my one-year-old has sprinted across the house and climbed halfway into the washing machine. I mean, really? Are you kidding me?

He was a shove away from being sent through a wash cycle by Austin. Sheesh. Never getting rid of the stands. In fact, we may need to investigate double stands. Do they make those? Of course, knowing our children, they’ll probably still scale it like a rock climber.

On belay.

splat went that


We spent Saturday morning at the arboretum with the kids and Philip’s parents, who were in from out of town. The day was beautiful. The sun was shining, a slight breeze kept the heat at bay, and the colors of the flowers were vibrant. We followed the trails in and out of perfectly manicured landscapes and fantasized about our own yards looking the same.

Not far ahead on our route, two older couples had stalled in the walkway. They appeared to be studying something in their path as one of the women lectured. It was a caterpillar – black, fuzzy, and long. Apparently, it was notable in its nature. The woman had dubbed herself guardian of this fragile creature and marked her post. She was determined to see this caterpillar safely across the trail.

Cue Austin. Austin and I brought up the rear of our own little group. I worked on corralling him along the path as he skipped, zig zagged, and took every opportunity to hang over the barrier separating us from the creek. We reached the convoy surrounding the caterpillar, and Austin quickly maneuvered around them and decided to make a swift side step back in.

“Watch out for the…” SPLAT.

Silence filled the air, followed by horrified expressions and subtle giggles. Austin glances at the little group as if to say, “You’re welcome,” and, then, marches along his way. The sweet innocence of a child.

I looked down at the splat, smiled sheepishly, avoided eye contact, and unsuccessfully attempted to stifle my laughter. Oops.

I half expect to see a “Caterpillar X-ing” and, perhaps, a few “Save the Caterpillars” signs next time we visit the arboretum in honor of the one stuck to the bottom of my child’s shoe.

But, the truth is, I’m kind of impressed with how effortlessly he smashed a bug almost as long as his own foot. It looks like this Momma will never have to squish an insect ever again. Win.


a letter from your sleep deprived mother


My darling Everett,

I have an urgent matter to discuss that is causing a few expedited grey hairs. Let me begin by telling you that I love you so much and enjoy watching you blossom into toddlerhood. Walking, climbing and exploring the world around you… It’s beautiful to see. As a newfound toddler, I respect that you are beginning to have an opinion about your choices. Good for you. I am thrilled to let you choose between a banana or strawberries, or, whether you would like to throw a ball or roll a car. But, what I cannot accept is the new sleep schedule that you have chosen.

Five a.m. is not an acceptable wake up for the day. Ever.

It never has been. It never will be. There is not enough caffeine on the face of the planet to make me pleasant at 5 a.m. And, to be honest, you are not especially cheerful at that hour either. Yet, you insist upon this early rise despite the effects it has on you later in the day. Are you aware that it’s not normal to completely lose your mind because there are Cheerios on your tray? Or, to begin sobbing uncontrollably when someone looks at you? Yes. Well, there is a direct correlation there. You need more sleep. And, so do your parents.

And, while we are on the subject… What’s up with your naps? Where did they go? Don’t you realize you were my dream napper? And, now all you do is scream like a possessed demon child when I lay you in your crib for naps. Have you been talking to your brother? Whatever he tells you, he is lying. Naps are wonderful… especially two to three hour ones. But, hey, we can compromise. I could be happy with an hour… or, even less… Just give me something, dear. Screaming in your crib doesn’t really work for either of us.

I’m not sure Mommy will survive if both of my children give up on napping before the age of two. It seems like cruel and unusual punishment. So, take one for the team, Everett. Just go to sleep.

Please. Go. To. Sleep.

With love,

Your Momma’s sanity

hands off the ice cream

Ever since my three-year-old learned what ice cream was, I became a victim. Austin learned early on how to bat his eyes just the right way, flash that mischevious grin, and to use “Please, Momma” in only the most angelic way possible. I was putty in his hands.

My ice cream became his.

By the time Everett entered the mix, both boys had commandeered it all. Not cool, boys. Not cool.

So, for anyone who has been victimized by a preschooler robbing you of all your dessert, I’m about to change your life. Ready?

Take this…


And, this…


Insert the pint of ice cream into the Dickey’s cup, and it magically disappears. There still must be subtlety in eating said ice cream in front of the children, but, at least, when they catch you in the act, you don’t have to chunk it across the room, show them your empty hands and pretend you were never eating something in the first place. So very wasteful.

My first test run with the Dickey’s cup quickly caught Austin’s radar. No sooner had I taken my first bite than Austin poked his head from around a corner and demanded to know what I was eating.

“Broccoli,” I told him. “Lots of broccoli.”

He stared at me skeptically for a few seconds as I held my breath. Then, he sighed and carried on his way, not willing to take the chance that I might not be bluffing.

Momma wins. And, then, the next night, I served broccoli with dinner and made the kids eat it. Ouch. Sorry, guys.

Hands off the ice cream.

it’s all about the turkey


Frozen turkeys have been haunting my dreams for the last few nights. We are rounding the corner to Thanksgiving, and this is our year. We are hosting. All I keep telling myself is “Don’t screw up the turkey.”

Recipes have been bookmarked, pinned, printed and scattered. I have grocery lists littered around the house. In the last two days, I have already made three grocery runs, elbowing through the aisles for that last can of green beans. Nothing says I’m Thankful like a mob of disgruntled holiday cooks.

This isn’t our first Thanksgiving dinner prep. But, it feels different this time.

My first year out of college, I wrote for a newspaper. And, because newspapers never sleep, I worked on Thanksgiving Day. Welcome to the real world. I had three options: Roll over to IHOP for a quick turkey feast, pretend Thanksgiving didn’t exist, or we could do it ourselves. The hubs and I hosted our first “Friendsgiving” in my little apartment.

We cooked everything and invited a few of my work friends to join us for an early Thanksgiving lunch, complete with Mr. Gobbler himself. We nailed it. At least, I think we did. Expectations are far lower for 20-somethings with no prior plans. That was kid stuff.

This year, we are all grown up and hosting dinner for parents, grandparents, friends and several siblings. This might qualify as the big league in our stage of life. While everyone tells us not to stress, we know there will be expectations. I have visions of us taking an ice pick to the turkey Thursday morning, or Austin attacking the pies in the darkness of Thanksgiving Eve, or forgetting the green beans in the green bean casserole. I envision catastrophe.

Most likely, some of these things will happen. Let’s face it. Austin is far too sneaky and quick to not devour at least one pie under the radar. And, honestly, I really am okay with all these unforeseen hiccups. Who wants a perfect Thanksgiving anyway?

The beautiful thing about our family and friends is they don’t care about perfection. Sure, we may will be teased mercilessly if we ruin the turkey, but that’s just part of the circle of holiday hosting. One thing I’m sure of is there will be laughter, and we will have fun, despite the glaring glitches.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for family, and I am thankful for friends. I am thankful for all of life’s wonderful imperfections.

…. And, I am thankful for IHOP who is open on Thanksgiving Day… Just in case.

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.



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?

i am yours, and you are mine


On this day three years ago, Austin entered our lives in the darkness of early morning. This is the day I became a mother. This is the day I appreciated my own mother more than I ever had in my life. This is the day I learned the true definition of unconditional love.

Before we had children, I never held babies. Really. Never. I can name a single occasion that I held a baby without coercion from a friend or family member. They were such fragile, foreign creatures, and, frankly, I didn’t know what to do with them. Even while six months pregnant with our first, I reluctantly held a friend’s newborn. Needless to say, I was hoping this natural mothering instinct would kick in fast.

Every night, the hubs and I would lie in bed, watching Austin have a party in my tummy. We would talk to him. We would sing to him. We would pray for him. But, it still didn’t feel real.

Then, at 34 weeks pregnant, I started having contractions. Real contractions. I was given a steroid shot to speed up his lung development, and, immediately placed on bed rest in hopes that he would cook a little longer. That’s about the point I realized my time was up. I’m about to be a mom.

Much to the doctor’s surprise, that little boy held out for another four weeks, and, at 38 weeks pregnant, our precious Austin entered this world with a little bit of oxygen and only minor complications. As I cradled him for the very first time, my fears of inadequacy and instincts drifted away. I memorized every inch of his face in a split second, and I stared in awe at this amazing gift from God.

I was a mother, a mom, a mommy. I am his mommy for now and always.

Often we debate whether a woman becomes a mother during pregnancy or at birth or even after. There is no correct answer. Everyone comes to it in their own time. For me, there is no question. While I understood the concept of becoming a mother while pregnant, my complete heart and soul were not there until I looked into Austin’s big, beautiful eyes for the first time. There is no doubt I loved my child before he was born, but I believe becoming a mother is more than a label.

The day I became a mom, I knew it. I felt it. It became a part of me. My heart was fuller than I knew possible. He was mine to love, to kiss, to teach, to guide, to share. I knew I would do anything for my child.

On this day three years ago, I never could have imagined what the next few years would hold. Most days are incredibly hard. But, even on the hardest of days, that sweet giggle or impromptu “I love you” from the mouth of your child renews our spirit and gives us strength. The strength to love them unconditionally.

What an incredible gift to be called mom.

You, my sweet Austin, fill my life with laughter and pure love. You teach me. You open my eyes to see. You bring joy and light to a world full of darkness. I am blessed to be your mother. I am yours, and you are mine. Always.