Category Archives: Mamahood

Dear Addison: Three Years + Three Months

Dear Addison,
We ran to the Halloween store to pick up a lace fan you needed for a Spirit Week outfit last week. The fan has since been ever-so-delicately Scotch-taped together because I made the mistake of giving it you in the car, but I digress. It was approaching lunch time, so we went to Chick-fil-A for their nuggets and air conditioned play area.

After polishing off your meal, you skipped off to play while I stayed at our table with Asher, watching you through the glass wall. You scaled the apparatus quickly, waving to me from the very top, a proud smile beaming on your face.

After a few minutes I went into the play area for the last leg of play time. I didn’t spot you for a bit, and then one of the other kids said, “She’s crying.” And after some probing (5-year-olds aren’t the most expansive conversationalists), I realized he was talking about you, “the girl in the green shirt.” And then I heard you crying at the top of the jungle gym.

I tried to speak to you, but all the voices in the tiny space bounced off of all the surfaces, jumbled together, making it nearly impossible to hear you. But I knew the cry. You were scared. You wanted me to appear at your side, let you curl onto my body and scramble safely back down together.

For lots of reasons—the narrow opening between the platform steps, Asher being left alone, my inflexibility and poor lung capacity—I wasn’t prepared to climb up to you.

Another mom sweetly tried to coax her older son to help you down, but in the middle of that debate, someone said, “She’s coming down. That girl is helping her.” Sure enough, I caught a flash of your green shirt, and then your tummy as Caroline, your new friend and my new hero, tugged on your top to keep you moving ahead. You were doing it. Caroline was making sure.

After much effort, there you were at the last descent, only dangling legs and two sets of dirty little girl feet with chipping toenail polish. You didn’t want to drop that last inch. You couldn’t see the step, and you couldn’t feel it, no matter how hard you stretched your tiny toes toward the floor. I told you it was RIGHT THERE. I promise, if you let go, you’ll land on your feet. And you did it. You squirmed, millimeter by millimeter, until those soles touched the ground.

Of course, as I stood fighting back tears at my embarrassment of not being your rescuer, of all the things I was certain everyone must think about me, of what you must think about me, you didn’t waste a second worrying. You were off, tagging along right behind Caroline, on to the next adventure.

**********

So that’s what a lot of the past year has been like for us. To me, it has felt like either I was fighting my own battles and mentally distracted, or I was pregnant and physically exhausted and disconnected from you. I have felt both drawn to you as your rapid changes and maturing reminds me what a blip we have together, and also stuck in my own head, unable to fully match your unquenchable energy.

But oh, what heroes we have in our corner. Our village has been friends who have raised kind, thoughtful little boys who are some of your most favorite people; grandparents who will move heaven, earth, schedules and overflowing chocolate milk to spend time with you; an uncle who adores you and a daddy who embodies selfless, unconditional love.

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It’s been a roller coaster. Not necessarily a fun one, or a thrilling adventure. Just plain scary and overwhelming and unstable. A big part of me looks back at the past year and worries about the time I wasted, wondering if you will remember that person, that version of me. I hope that you don’t. All of my effort and energy spent getting back to a healthier, more whole me is motivated by being a mom and a woman that you can be proud of, a person that you’d want to emulate, a presence that you’ll always want in your life.

Reflecting back now, I realize how much change was thrown at you in such a short period of time. Pre-school, potty training, a sibling. We all certainly know I haven’t managed my chaos with any semblance of sanity, so your quirks must be expected.

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But you were a pretty interesting version of you for the past 18 months, too. Probably not one that we’d ever choose, if able. You hit toddlerhood hard around 20 months and never looked back. I kept waiting for the taper, and it never came. Tantrums—intense, lengthy and frequent—colored our days, every day for awhile. I believe we’re out of those woods. For the most part, since Asher arrived, you haven’t maintained that level of impossibility. There are certain moments, and certain days, but the pervasive displeasure has waned, thank God.

Sure, there were lots of things your Daddy and I could have done better or differently to ease some of the issues, but I really think that your third year was the perfect storm of personality, developmental changes, growing independence and frustration with my decreased participation when I was pregnant. And you know what? We still made it. A bit worse for wear, but here we are. Still moving, still laughing, still snuggling.

IMG_7683Your tastes change with the days, so it’s nearly impossible to name a favorite food outside of cake, the only food group with any staying power. I’m always worried you’re not drinking enough water.

We thought we nailed the potty training in a few weeks’ time. We were wrong. Like all the other developments in your life, you called the shots and regressed for a few months before deciding that you were good and ready to commit to a life without pull-ups. And once that’s what you wanted, it was smooth sailing, to the point where you now try to lock me out of the stall in public bathrooms because, back off mom, I can handle this.

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The term threenager exists for good reason. You are three going on 23. You’ll pick up on sarcastic phrases and voice inflection and use them right back at us in the appropriate context. Some examples: “Have you lost your mind?”
“I didn’t see that coming.”

It’s a little tricky to discipline you for adopting our way of speaking, but don’t worry—we still do. I am a little glad that you get it, though. We are going to banter like it’s our job when you are a real teenager.

I am at a complete loss as to how to manage your unruly hair. Your Daddy and I can’t bear to cut off the curls, so we let it fly and tangle and frizz for now. You’re quite opposed to any styling or combing, so usually it’s a hair clip or a loose ponytail and you’re off. You don’t want anything that may make you “like a boy.”

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You love princesses, pink and parties; your BeeMa, PawPaw and Kunkle; girls’ night with a movie and popcorn; any night with a move and popcorn, actually; running, roaring (at friends and strangers) and racing your Daddy; Max and Everett to the moon.

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When you wake up in the morning, you put on an entire outfit, complete with shoes, before coming out of your room. It’s always a dress, and always the most sparkly shoes. So now I lay out your clothes the night before, and by the time I’m awake, you’re already dressed for the day. That’s one small way I’m learning to work with your personality rather than fighting it. Because let’s be real: you’re already so much stronger and braver than I am, Addison Brooke.

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When I worry about my failings, the full depth and magnitude of all the “what if I’d done this” labyrinth, your very presence assures me that I have not failed in the ways that matter. I have not given up. I have not given in. I have not un-loved you for one second. My heels are dug deep in the soil of this season, holding steadfast to the most basic, most calming truth that we are in this together, in this forever.

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Like most things right now, I wish I had more time. Time to keep telling you how spectacular I think you are. A beautiful, infuriating, hazel-eyed whirlwind of raspy giggles, sweaty curls and bruised knees. Running around the playground in shoes that are supposed to be for church. Walking into the mall with a “Sophia the First” purse on your shoulder. Furrowing your eyebrows at me from the the back seat. Wanting everyone at the park to play with you and not understanding when they won’t chase you. Calling me a princess when I put on a dress. Holding your palms up to mine to examine all the ways our outlines are so similar and how much space you have left to grow into this world of womanhood.

addie blue dress

You are fire and strength and power. You are sensitive and silly. You are strong-willed and independent, girly and mischievous. You are a little girl that I am so extremely proud of. You make our lives louder and crazier. You make our family bonded in the battles of raising a tiny dictator. You make our minds alive with thoughts of the greatness you will achieve when you harness all that brilliance. You make our love well-worn and sturdier. And you make my heart so very full.

From My Whole Heart,
Mama

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To mothers. To me.

Mothers,

We know, but I want to remind
reassure
reiterate
to myself, mostly,

because, yes, we chose this journey towards and along tiny hands, tiny hearts,
huge personalities.

But we mustn’t love every second of it
to love our children every second.
We mustn’t pretend to cherish certain days
to know we cherish this life.

This living ain’t easy,
and we don’t have to act like every moment is magic.

But let’s agree that every moment is a privilege.

Our choice to embrace this role was
a promise
that we would accept the awful,
and appreciate all the mess in between the magic.
A promise to look beyond
while doing all we can to not miss
right now.

I will be remembering my promise today.
Through gritted teeth,
I will thank God for this privilege of motherhood.

And I will be wiping a lot of butts,
wading through a lot of tantrums and
taking lots and lots of deep breaths.

We can do both.
That’s exactly what makes us these magical mothers.

brenda nat addie asher

Dear Asher: Two Months

Dear Asher,
Last week you turned two months old! You get cuter and chunkier with each week!

You’re still so content most of the time, and I sometimes can’t believe how calm and happy you are. You are a smile factory when someone is talking to you, cooing and trying your best to talk right back. The squeaks and squeals are too much to handle.

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You still hate the swing and the car seat, the two devices that saved my sanity with your sister, so logistically you’re a little more of a challenge during the day. Our options are limited to holding you or propping you up on the Boppy to chat until you can sit up on your own. Don’t worry—that’s a task you’re already working on and seem pretty determined to master soon.

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It’s already been a busy summer for you, and this month we celebrated Father’s Day and Independence Day. Plus, you had your first trip to the zoo! Clearly, you were thrilled.

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And your first trip to the children’s museum, but you didn’t have the best view.

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With the whole family infatuated with Addison, I wondered how adding you to the mix would change things. Let me just tell you, little man: you could not be more adored by every single person who has met you, and even some who haven’t had the chance yet. Battles ensue over your snuggles and smiles, just as they should. No one can deny the draw to the chub.

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Even your sister is slowly becoming an ally with “baby Asher,” though I am in no rush to be on the business end of her evil genius combined with your brute strength.

I took Addison to the playground the other day, just the two of us, and we were the only ones there. On the way home, I told her how much fun it was going to be once you were older: she would always have a friend to play with at the playground. I am eagerly looking forward to those days, with the pair of you screaming and chasing and tagging and making the sweetest (and some sour) memories, just like I did with my brother.

But not yet, okay? I am not ready for those squishy thighs to straighten out, or that wobbly head to stay upright just yet. I am having too much fun with baby Asher. I am caught off guard by how much I enjoy being needed this way again, how hearing my voice or feeling my arms can comfort you when no one else’s can. When my shoulder is what that nuzzling nose is searching for and my sounds are what those gray-blue eyes are reacting to. Running and jumping and playing with you is going to be amazing, I know.

Today, though, I want exactly this moment for just a little longer.

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From My Whole Heart,
Mama

Showered Up: The Sequel

This weekend my more-talented-than-she-realizes mom and some dear friends threw me the loveliest, dinosauriest baby shower. I wasn’t sure of the etiquette surrounding second baby showers; this is my first second baby. But they generously offered, and I tried to make myself scarce during the planning and prep, leaving my bedroom 10 minutes before go time.

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I was nervous about how I’d fare in that kind of social setting given my bouts of anxiety over the past year, so I agreed to/jumped at the idea of having it at my house. Everything was so thoughtful and the morning ended up feeling completely laid back, even though I was wearing eyeliner. There were about 20 family members and close friends. We ate delicious quiche, banana bread, croissants (with chicken salad for those not currently vehemently opposed to poultry) and cupcakes. Carbs are a girl’s best friend.

My hostesses accommodated my persnickety wishes about games—not many, as little interaction as possible—and presents—they left it up to me to open them in front of everyone or not. By the time a natural gift-opening break appeared, I was feeling swell, so I made all the aunts and grandmas happy by cooing over little boy onesies and baby socks. Which wasn’t hard because omg so tiny and cute and blue and new and we really didn’t have any boy clothes and this one has a monster on the butt and I think I might cry it’s so adorable.

I was a straight up pro out there.

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Remarkably, even the ongoing, very public “she’s so much bigger this time/no, she is so much smaller this time” debate didn’t faze me. Because it’s clearly acceptable to argue over the state of someone’s physical appearance in front of said person when they are at their most physically and hormonally vulnerable. Now I’m wondering if a party goer secretly spiked the beverage jug with some liquid valium. And to that guest I say, THANK YOU, KIND LADY.

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The shower also marked a much anticipated lull in pre-arranged activity up until Falcor’s arrival. It was sitting on the calendar with glorious, unspoiled, quadratic white space behind it. Granted, we’ve already filled in like half of those once open dates with potential commitments, but the idea of them filled me with joy and made the shower all that more exciting.

I can’t thank my mom enough for rolling with my nonsensical, multiple personality texts and conversations regarding décor, games and guest lists. She knows me and made this day as stress-free as humanly possible, mainly because she took all of that stress on herself, striking a miraculous balance between my antisocial, pretentious ways and the normal, generalized expectations of the rest of society. Not an easy task, and I adore her for the effort she put into achieving it.

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So much belly touching for a modest introvert.

And my pals who each have several babies to care for, homes to manage and crazy schedules of their own who graciously gave time they didn’t have and brain power they didn’t need to spare to make this a really beautiful day.

Up next: one nursery, one name and a whole lotta napping.

Recap of my baby shower for Addison here. I guess I like those earrings. Feel free to play along with the “she’s huge! she’s tiny!” game. It’s my favorite. 

It’s going to be okay.

“Mama, it’s going to be okay.”

I looked at him, blank faced, my scattered, frazzled mind slow on the uptake. His gaze didn’t falter.

It’s going to be okay,” he said again, softer but with more conviction.

I offered a smile that I’m sure we both knew to be insincere, unable to reply as the tears began to sting the backs of my eyes. I stopped my cart in the middle of the parking lot to make a desperate grab for my sunglasses before this kind man and anyone else around me witnessed the ensuing breakdown. I made it to the car with heavy, hot tears moistening my cheeks. I lifted a screaming child into her car seat and strapped her safely inside as she slapped at me over and over again with two helicopter arms and hands sticky with ice cream. I tugged at the straps out of habit, ensuring that she was secure. Held tight.

After loading the few things I was able to purchase from my mile long list in the back of the car, I slammed the door, drowning out the cries. I trudged to the nearest cart return, one aisle over, thankful for the respite despite the black heat radiating from the concrete and the uncomfortable waddle any walking requires these days.

I began to drive away, but the tears were relentless. So I stopped at a space at the edge of the parking lot, my unhappy, hysterical girl already asleep behind me, and I gave in. For a short five minutes, I let myself wallow and cry and eat my toddler’s teddy grahams.

As the weeks of this pregnancy fly by, the days are so endlessly long. But this is what we do as mamas. We keep our children safe when they are hell-bent on ripping our eyes out. We keep our children protected when they have no clue of the danger we have prevented. We take five minutes and give them the other 1,345 each day.

So whatever season you may be in,
Rolling out of bed to feed that newborn,
Restraining flailing two-year-old arms on the floor of the grocery store,
Loading the last box before he pulls out of the driveway for college,
Pleading for that one blue line on the test to turn to two,

I just want YOU to know,
Mama, it’s going to be okay.

Dear Addison: Before You’re a Big Sister

Dear Addison,

Before anything else, I should mention how much I love you. Not like I love ice cream or doughnuts right now or even coffee. I’m talking about that Mama’s love that aches in its insistence, blinds in its radiance, distracts in its omnipresence and overwhelms in its depth. How much my heart tugs in my chest when you let out a deep, raspy giggle, how a small but constant weight lifts off my shoulders when I see you after being away for any amount of time, how my hopes and dreams for myself and for you are so intertwined that I often can’t tell them apart.

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It has been a rough season for you and me, little girl. At times, I question whether I was the best choice to be your Mama. Maybe I’m not wise enough for your independence. Maybe I’m not patient enough to reach you in your strong willed stances. Maybe I’m not nurturing enough to comfort you when you feel hurt or confused or misunderstood. Maybe it shouldn’t have been me.

It positively doesn’t matter, though, because I would not choose to be anyone else’s Mama. Not on the very best days,
when we laugh about beating up monsters and let the breeze whip our hair around swinging peacefully at the park,
or on the very worst days, when tears and tempers flow freely from both sides of this union.

You are mine, and I am yours. For the yesterdays full of chubby cheeks and napping on my shoulder, for the todays mixed of delight and destruction, and for all the tomorrows that may be ahead. I knew from the very first millisecond of your life that I was inextricably bound to you, that this new person had in every way rewired my soul to its own.

So before life changes in a monumental and irreversible way, I wanted to let you know that even though some things will never be the same—
how much sleep Mama gets, how many clean clothes you have at one time, the number of days we get to spend just the two of us–
the way I feel about you is not one of those things. That is constant. That is eternal.

Some of my favorite moments with you are the quietest, so rare in this endless marathon of energy and noise that is toddlerhood. I love doing puzzles with you. It’s one of the few activities you will concentrate on for a half hour, determined to finish the whole thing at one time and so proud when you tap that last piece into place. When I give you a piece, you study it, try it one way, furrow your eyebrows, turn it around, and try it again until it fits. I was so surprised to learn that you actually do have that kind of patience and persistence. It’s mesmerizing.

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I hear “I can do it myselp” or “all by myselp” 219 times a day. You can go right ahead and thank your “me can do it” daddy for that little trait.

You love to have braids in your ever lightening curly hair, either one Elsa braid or two Anna braids. You are specific, and it’s unacceptable to give you a ponytail when you want braids or leave your hair in one braid when you want two. I’ve learned to take my marching orders seriously.

We still have Flapjack Fridays. You’ve started asking to help, so now you carry your stool into the kitchen and will help pour the pancake mix, milk and blueberries in the bowl. I once let you crack the egg. Yeah, just once for that. You’ll mix it a little and then scoot away to wait for them to cook. Though you’re extremely strong willed, you are very task-oriented and like completing a job you’ve been given.

pancake hands

You are so social, goodness gracious. If there are any other kids at the park, you can’t get to them fast enough. You’d be up for anything if I told you your friends would be there. You also like to call the shots with all those friends and have recently been referring to people, even little kids you met five minutes prior, as “baby.” Not like a little newborn baby but in a saucy, probably offensive way.

“Come on, baby!”
”Let’s go, baby!”

This is usually my cue to take a very important call on the other side of the playground.

addie sidewalk

You like dancing, singing, jumping, sprinting and twirling, all prefaced with an unending loop of “Watch this. Watch this. Watch this. Watch this.” I promise we are watching. Sometimes.

At this particular moment, your favorite movie is “The Little Rascals.” You have a massive crush on Darla and don’t like “Panky.”

You’d live in a tutu and heels if allowed. Trying to put jeans on you is declaring all out war.

I paint your toenails and have, more than once, contemplated bringing you with me to get a pedicure. Maybe when you’re three, professional salon treatments will feel more appropriate.

You’re a lot pickier than you used to be when it comes to food, but luckily there are still a handful of healthy eats you like: fish, peas sometimes, avocado, chicken usually, bananas, eggs, peanut butter, blueberries like a fiend. And because you’re two and I guess signed some sort of contract, you must have regular servings of mac ‘n cheese and Cheerios.

I think you’re going to make an excellent big sister. While at the park with BeeMa the other day, she was telling someone you were about to have a baby brother. You mistakenly thought another little girl was talking about your brother when she said, “It’s icky.” She was referring to the slide, but you were not having any of that and told her, “My brother is NOT icky.” For all the worrying I do about how this transition will affect you, that story is singed onto my mind so that I remember not to shortchange my fiery, passionate girl. You are capable of nurturing, of defending, of bonding with this baby more than I could probably imagine.

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Your brother and I will have a new, special relationship, of course, but I am so intrigued at the thought of your relationship with him. To see it spark, to see it grow and evolve, and to see it become one of the most meaningful parts of your life and your identity. I am a completely different person than I might have been because I am a sister, and I believe the same will be true for you, in the very best, beautiful way.

I know I always place the blame on you, but thank you for loving me despite my impatience, my tantrums, my mood swings and my refusal to share dessert with you. I am here for you after the toughest days, but you also come back to me for bedtime stories, for pretend “hot coppee” from your kitchen in the mornings and for kisses and hugs on knees and elbows and foreheads.

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I’ll always be yours, Addison Brooke. When you’re a “terrible two,” when you’re a terrible first time driver, when you date a terrible boy that I despise, when that terrible boy breaks your heart and I break his terrible face, when you choose a terrible major or choose to become a terrible University of Florida Gator, when your own toddler is being downright terrible,

and when you suddenly have a terrible little baby taking up space in your house, your car, your schedule and your Mama’s arms,

remember that I am still yours. And you are mine.

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Mama

Aaaaah freak out

Like I mentioned, Clayton was out of town last week, so I tried to spice up our regular routine.

Tuesday I picked up Addison from pre-school early to catch my brother’s baseball game. He coaches a high school team, and the game was relatively close. My parents came with me, so during the game I had plenty of recruits to help locate, corral and entertain Addison.

IMG_7722The weather was great, the kiddo was behaving and our team was winning.

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Then we tried to leave. Addison bolted in the opposite direction. I wasn’t concerned at all because I assumed she’d come back, plus I thought the back fences of the baseball fields blocked the park from the main road leading into it. I even told my mom not to worry. Look at me being so chill and relaxed, totally owning this parenting thing right now. But Addison didn’t stop. My mom and I stiffened a bit and started moving toward Addison’s direction. She was pretty far away by this point. The closer we got to the back fences, the wider the gap appeared between the baseball fences and the fence to the park. This meant she absolutely had access to the gates, which opened to the road. At rush hour. With cars going 50 mph.

Once I fully realized she could literally be on the street within a minute or two, and there was nothing I could do to stop her – I was way too far away, even if I ran, which I can’t in my current spherical shape – I freaked. We were yelling her name, and she started to slow down as she reached the fences but still didn’t stop. I was jogging at this point and in addition to desperately wanting to get to Addison, I was worrying about hurting the baby, too.

It was one of the scariest motherhood moments I’ve experienced.

She eventually did stop behind a transformer by the fence. Thank God that was there and she felt like she could hide behind it because she was probably so afraid of being in trouble she would have kept right on going. My mom reached her first, but I was just a few steps behind and my terror/rage combo shoved her right out of the way so I could deal with the runaway. It wasn’t pretty. We were in public, so there was a limit to the mad rush of emotion I could display. Probably a good thing.

I must have nailed the discipline and stern so-help-me-God tone because Addison was upset for about six seconds. Then we walked past the playground and she begged to go play. Not feeling particularly playground-y, I muttered some sort of response, potentially laden with expletives, and that’s when she lost it. By “it,” I mean motor control of her lower extremities, as toddlers are wont to do in public, forcing me to basically drag her the quarter mile back to the car on the concrete. Felt like skipping through a meadow holding a feather.

My dad drove home, even though we were in my car, so that I could cool off. I was actually sore the next day from all that activity, either because that scene was so intense or because I haven’t worked out in seven months.

Let’s see, that was Tuesday, so Addison should be free to get out of time out in about four and a half more years.

Potty Party

Even though I wanted Addison potty trained months and months ago, she wasn’t cooperative with our early efforts. Knowing her personality, determinedly independent plus strong-willed, I decided to wait until she seemed ready and not stress about it. And then I got pregnant. The window of riding it out became smaller: I firmly did not want two kids in diapers.

We planned a “naked weekend,” which sounds highly more scandalous than it is. I didn’t do a ton of research, so my plan was simply to keep her out of a diaper for three days. She didn’t necessarily have to be totally pantsless, but if she was wearing clothes at the house, she only had underwear underneath.

Great plan in theory. In reality, we were all fantastically stir crazy by Saturday afternoon. And the little stinker waited until the two times we left the house to go in a pull-up. (As committed as we were, cleaning up an accident in the car was not even considered, I don’t care how far back those pull-ups set us.) She seriously waited for hours and then went within minutes of having the pull-up on. Strong-willed, much?

She ended up having two accidents in the house and one at the park – we had to get out! – that weekend. She hated it. After those, it was game on for her. It took about two weeks for her to be nearly perfect peeing on the potty. Soon after she got the hang of using the toddler potty, she wanted to use the “big potty,” so I bought her a princess seat for the top of the regular toilet. Because princesses make everything better. Can I tell you the quote on the potty seat? “Glamour begins with confidence.” I am so close to taking a Sharpie to that thing and changing it to “Book smarts are the ultimate goal.” or “You can’t wash your hands or read too much.” This princess culture is too much for me sometimes.

The “system” we’re using somehow morphed into a complicated algorithm of rules and rewards. I printed charts and hung them outside the bathroom with a sticker book.

potty chart stickers

At the beginning, Addison would get to put a sticker on the chart and get a treat every time she used the potty. Because I was desperate to have this milestone behind us, I also offered a small prize when she finished a row and a great big awesome prize when she finished a whole sheet. It was way too much, and of course she remembered everything I’d promised and made us hoist her up for a sticker and drug us to the treat jar after every pit stop.

potty chart2potty prizes

Also ridiculous were the treats. We had tons of leftover candy from Christmas stockings, so instead of one M&M or one jellybean, homegirl got a full size York Peppermint Patty or a fun size candy bar. There was no messing around. And she learned so quickly that she was having five of those things before lunch.

The small prizes mostly came from the Dollar Store or repurposed Christmas presents from other people. Lots of stickers, some little books, temporary tattoos, that sort of thing. The favorites have been a set of “Frozen” rings and “Frozen” headbands.

IMG_7438Once she finished the first chart, Clayton and I took her to Target and offered her three different presents to choose from. We came home with…surprise, surprise:

elsa doll

Since then, the rules have changed a few times and she’s been surprisingly flexible about it. First, I casually stopped giving her the small prizes. Then, if she didn’t mention it, I bypassed the stickers because it became such a chore to lift her up that much. Now, the stickers and treats are reserved for non-pee scenarios only. This helps buy us a lot of time in between full charts. Otherwise we’d have gone through about four sheets already.

In a month or so, she is about 95% potty trained. She still wears pull-ups, but I think we’ll get rid of those during the day soon. I have been quite impressed with how well and, I don’t even want to say, easy the whole process has been. I mean, there have certainly been messes that I’d like to block from memory and potty training out in public is a whole other nightmare, but overall it seems like we waited until Addison was good and ready. And if she’s like her mama, she’d do just about anything for a constant stream of chocolate throughout the day.

Finally, there’s one item on our Before Baby checklist that’s actually complete!

That one time I was pregnant for the second time

The dreaded pregnancy post. As usual, feel free to move along if food aversions and placenta placement aren’t your bag, baby.

This will be my only prego recap this time around—the second child neglect is already starting—so I will try to cover everything.

When I found out I was pregnant, it couldn’t have been better news. I know the old cliché of having a baby to improve a crappy situation usually ends up with a bigger mess than before, but for our little family unit, it’s exactly what we needed. We could be distracted from other people’s messes and had a teeny tiny acorn-sized reminder of hope and possibility. It was a good day.

Addison was the first person I told. After I picked her up from preschool on a Thursday, I asked her if she wanted to know my secret. She said no, but I spilled the beans anyway. She did a fabulous job of not telling anyone by accident for several months. When we were ready to start spreading the news to close friends and family, she was our accomplice. I would ask her, “Addison, what’s mommy’s secret?” And she would whisper, “There’s a baby in mommy’s tummy.”

And then we all died from the adorableness. Except me. I belched because I was disgustingly bloated.

Trimester Uno

The first trimester…well, it’s over. So that’s reason to celebrate. Much like last time, it wasn’t earth shattering but it was zero fun. I had to take progesterone, which comes with familiar side effects like nausea, bloating, headaches, hot flashes and aching boobs. Need I list the symptoms of first trimester pregnancy? I don’t know if my nausea and excessive bloating were from the itty bitty babe or the meds, but they raged until trimester two. I had Clayton bring me home hospital scrubs from work and lived in them for about two weeks when the idea of a waistband grazing my stomach was too much to handle.

boo and mik IG

Hence the oversized t-shirt as a Halloween costume.

I ate way too many Chick-fil-A fried chicken sandwiches with extra pickles and Chick-fil-A sauce. Like, way too many. Almost nothing sounded appetizing, so I tried not to worry about the junk I was eating and told myself it was better to eat something than nothing for three months. As my doctor pointed out, “There’s protein in there somewhere.” Amen, sister.

Trimester Dos

Once the drugs and the first twelve weeks were behind me, I sailed into the sweet spot. I hadn’t really planned out the timing, but this pregnancy has been impeccable for the ol’ schedule. Most importantly, I will avoid being pregnant during the hottest months of the year. Holla! (Are we still saying holla? I don’t know. I’m old.) And as it turns out, the weeks I felt my best coincided with the chaos of the holidays. They were a normal level of exhausting rather than a send-me-into-a-month-long-hibernation level of exhausting.

In November and December we traveled for Thanksgiving, shook our groove thangs at Clayton’s work party until the wee hours, saw The Black Keys and hosted a Friendsmas dinner, all while smiling and not dry heaving.

After PDQ mistakenly gave me a grilled chicken sandwich instead of turkey, I haven’t been able to eat chicken. Something about biting into that thing expecting one taste and getting blindsided by different poultry was more than I could take.

This was also the trimester I realized no one cares that you are pregnant the second time around, especially your other offspring. People will ask you the obligatory questions, but since there’s an actual named little person running around, conversation and activities revolve around the kid that we can see. The bump better hang on tight because little changes in day to day life. Gone are the days of foot massages and back rubs. Toddlers still gotta eat, take baths, have their teeth brushed, get to preschool and not impale themselves on household objects.

Oh, and we found out the little peanut is a BOY. Much giggling and baby clothes swapping occurred.

baby boy ornament

Trimester OMG This is Really Happening

I am legitimately fuhreaking out that I will be full term in six weeks. I can’t even type that. We have, shall we say, slacked in the preparation for baby department. The nursery is still an office/guest bedroom, only now there are bins of unsorted clothes and baby toys stacked in the closet. My nesting translated more into maternity clothes shopping sprees and sorting through seven years of utility bills rather than more productive tasks like choosing paint colors and buying a crib. Oopsies.

closet before and after

Some progress is progress, right?

Luckily, I still feel pretty good—albeit very, very round–and can wrangle some energy when I need to. There was the tiniest of worries this week that had a very distant possibility of bed rest, and well, that just would have been laughable considering the state of our to-do list. I’m not too concerned because at least this time I know we have a few weeks after his arrival before the nugget will actually be sleeping in his own room. (I do, however, have concerns about a certain father attempting to operate power tools to finish some elaborate projects while sleep deprived.) Basically, I’m just trying to stay as zen as possible until I can drink wine again.

IMG_7163They give you 35 minutes to kill and a mirror on the door. You do the math.

Similar to my first rodeo, I haven’t had too many cravings and instead experience more food aversions. My cravings are more moment-specific. One day all I can focus on is downing a huge salad and the next day lettuce sounds like an abomination. Doughnuts are back, and much like before, I’ll cut you for a Boston cream.

socks and granola

What else, what else…my wedding rings still fit, I don’t have that dark line on my stomach (yet), I found the world’s most comfortable pajama pants that aren’t even technically maternity and I don’t have gestational diabetes. Holla! (Whatever, I’m rolling with it.)

This kid moves ALL THE TIME. With Addison, my placenta was in the front, so I couldn’t feel her very much. This little break dancer parties all day, every day. I never thought I’d be into it, but I sort of love it.

Ambivalence tends to be the name of the game. I am not the girl who loves being pregnant. It’s strange and achy and everything abnormal is normal; I have no idea whose body this is. On the other hand, I realize how very fortunate I am to have such smooth, healthy pregnancies and am thankful the most serious complication has been picking a name. Which we still have not done.

Nameless or not, I absolutely cannot wait to meet my baby boy.

How to Freak Out Your Valentine with Love

As much as I’d like to be too cool for school and totes nonchalant about Valentine’s Day, I’m not. Not even a little. I like holidays. I like excuses to veer from the norm, eat excessive amounts of junk and buy things that would otherwise be deemed unnecessary, e.g. polka dot ribbon. I am not the girl who expects a dozen roses (roses = no thank you) and a $200 steak dinner, but I do want a little pomp and circumstance. I love love, and it’s fun to think of new ways to celebrate it.

This year was Addison’s first year in preschool, so she I got to make valentines for her class. Hippie alert: I didn’t want to use candy. With Addie potty training–and rather successfully might I add–her life has been all manner of hand sanitizer and chocolate treats. The girl pees five times before 11 a.m.; she is her mother’s daughter.

I hopped over to the Dollar Store under vast amounts of pressure from my frugal hubs to keep things within reason. (“They are only two years old!”) I present to you sixteen adorable, “healthy” valentines that I didn’t even hijack from Pinterest.

school vday supplies

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school valentine

school valentines bunchI did forget/ultimately decide to forego her teachers and still feel bad about that. (Their Christmas gifts were on point, don’t worry.) They may have a sweet Presidents’ Day gift heading their way if I can come up with an equally adorable Abe Lincoln craft.

I guess my mom blogger status is now official. Womp womp.

Valentine’s morning began with heart-shaped perfection. Doughnuts and pregnancy take the place of pizza and beer for nine months over here, and someone better hide those bad boys until after my glucose test on Monday. There was already one, uh, missing before I took this picture.

doughnuts2We have ambitious, likely-to-end-our-marriage plans for the new nursery, so we went on a research mission to Home Depot. Clayton still has some semblance of trust in our toddler’s capacity to listen to direction and obey commands from a distance, so he didn’t secure her in a cart. Do I need to spell out how enjoyable that trip was between the rows of loose lumber, wood cutting devices and swinging model door displays?

To reward both of us for not throwing tantrums at the tile displays, we stopped at a park to let that energy out. Ladies and gentlemen, my Valentine:

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C A slideThey are the cutest.

I had to kick Clayton out for a couple of hours of Super Secret Vday Prepping, so he took A to my parents’ house. While he was gone, my little valentine elves, my brother and dad, got to redecorating the backyard.

Idiotically, I assumed my eagle eye hubs might not notice an open side garage door (with the extension cord trailing out of it) or a big gaping hole where our futon once sat. He did. And he was noticeably freaked out by the whole situation. In retrospect, watching “Gone Girl” the night before trying to pull off an undercover house heist while he was gone wasn’t the best idea for instilling confidence in one’s wife.

Once I let him in on the plan, it eased his little fretting mind. Mostly. He didn’t fully relax until the futon was back in its place on Sunday night.

After Clayton whipped up a delicious steak and shrimp combo, we took ourselves to the movies. In pajamas. With hot chocolate, popcorn and, duh, another doughnut.

movie night2I don’t want to brag is not something you’ll be hearing from me. I absolutely do want to brag about this one. It was the perfect mix of romantic and special—definitely out of the norm–but still comfortable. I was wearing a hoodie for goodness sake. Everything worked out with the technology, which was a major victory by itself. No one spilled hot chocolate on the rented projector, Maya didn’t start a yard fire with the candles and no one’s toes went numb in the chilly temps.

I hope you had someone or something that made you feel loved and celebrated this weekend. Baked goods totally count.