2 Years-Old November 8, 2015

Dear Henry,

The day before your birthday this photo came up on my Timehop:


I remember it so well. We were waiting and waiting for your arrival. We didn’t know much about you, we didn’t even know if you were a boy or a girl. We just knew that we couldn’t wait for you to join our family. Your sister sat with me and we rolled Thomas the Tank Engine and Rosie over my belly. The caption I put on the photo was “Trying to lure this kid out with the promise of toys.” I laugh now on your second birthday. (Well, Friday November, 6 was your second birthday.) I laugh because it was like I was predicting our future with the turn of those little wheels across my body.

So much of what you love has wheels. “Cars!” “Choo choos!” are your favorite phrases and your favorite toys. “Wwweeeew!” is what you mean for planes. You love them too, and the “Planes” movie that I may have completely memorized soon. The look of concentration you get when you push trains across your new train tracks is awesome. You ride your push toys with gusto and try so hard to reach the pedals on your new trike. Then you sneak over to your sister’s big bike because you have big dreams for a little guy. Daddy and I always wonder if wheels will be a way of life for you.


You wouldn’t put down the new car you got for your birthday during Stroller Strides. Also, you don’t want to wear any other shoes but the light-up Thomas shoes.

Wheels aren’t all you love. You love running fast, yelling loud and smiling big. You love when your sister sends you into giggle fits, when you pet Ginger and when Daddy walks in the door after work. Henry, you also love your mama. Son, we love you too. I didn’t know my heart could be so full until you joined our family. Thank you for being you.

Happy Birthday. I love you, my sweet, sweet boy.


Two years later. Thomas and Rosie are well loved. My belly is much smaller and you are so much bigger.




Only Moms Find This Funny- November 3, 2015

Last week at our friends’ house our daughter decided to drag out their daughter’s startlingly large toy that you can’t miss if you visit their home. It’s a Minnie Mouse bigger than the children that has become a source of jokes for the adults. The jokes got real when Minnie had a rip in her signature white bloomers in a highly undignified, un-Disneylike place. The husband said to the wife, “Did you ever sew up her crotch rip?” She assured us Minnie was repaired. That’s when she and I let the comical lines…well, rip.

“Minnie got ripped a new one when she delivered that litter of mice.”

“3rd degree perineal tear.”

“Stiz baths for like, 2 weeks.”

“She had to send Mickey to the specialty pharmacy for perineal ice packs.”

No child understood these jokes. No husband thought they were as funny as we did. After stitched up lady parts or a belly that’s been stapled together, different things become funny. Mama humor at its finest.




5 years-old November 2, 2015

Dear Charlotte,

Tonight I went into your room after you fell asleep like I’ve done for five years. I giggle at your funny position sprawled across the bed and tuck you back in. I smell your head and kiss your cheek. It’s so different now. I maneuver your lanky limbs and untangle your long, long hair instead of giving you a pacifier and adjusting your swaddle. You smell like “Frozen” shampoo and crayons instead of a baby. You’re not a baby.

You’re five years-old today. Five years. Half a decade. I shake my head as I type it. It’s a parent cliche to say “Where has the time gone?!” But, sweet girl “Where has the time gone?!”

I’ll tell you where it has gone. It’s gone to 1,825 days of watching you, teaching you and believing in you. It’s been 260 weeks of Daddy and I marveling at how much you’ve learned, worrying over your mistakes and praying for your strength. We spent 60 months devoting ourselves to your life because you make ours so amazing.

Daddy and I were so proud of you on Sunday when friends came to celebrate you and Henry’s birthdays. You made sure to introduce anyone who didn’t know each other. You showed your friends around and thanked your relatives for gifts. You make us laugh with your imaginative stories and inquisitive nature. You are expressive and creative. You love to write letters and spell out words. You want to know Spanish words and basic math. You amazed us on your soccer team this fall. You learned to play with your team and run hard. You sang the loudest among the kids in the preschool choir at church last week. The choir teachers said they were glad you came because you always sing loud. I love and admire your fearlessness. I’ve been singing the song you sang, “God made me so I can do these things! That is why I sing!”

You make me feel like I can do anything when you say, “You’re the best Mommy in the world!” I feel like God made me to be your mother. It is the honor of my life to be a mama to you and Henry. Thank you for these last five years. I wish you at least 95 more.

Happy Birthday. I love you, my darling, darling girl.



Charlotte 5 collage


The Pumpkin Patch is for Suckers!!!!- October 12, 2015

Every autumn when the air gets crisp, parents like myself yearn to dress up their babies and nestle them between pumpkins for darling photos. We dream of pretty preschoolers clutching their younger siblings who just discovered the magic of a leaf that changed colors. Surely our round, bald babies will flash gummy smiles in their jack-o-lantern onesies that show off those delicious rolls. And the baby pumpkin hats! Oh, those hats! Yes parents, Pinterest has taught us that annual pumpkin patch visits will make for photography gold! Won’t our Facebook cover photos be amazing!? We’re all like, “It’s October! I better grab the DSLR I barely use because if I’m being honest, using my smart phone is way easier.”

I’m here to tell you today, the pumpkin patch is bullshit. It is not the rolling orange paradise we have imagined. Want proof? Here, take a look at these photos of my family.

pumpkin patch

TRUTH TOLD HERE! I photoshopped the kids together in the shot on the right.

They are lies! They are photoshopped lies! These darling pictures are in no way indicative of our pumpkin patch experience. I’m exposing this annual tradition for the fall farce that it is.

We all go into pumpkin patch outings with dreams of gourds magically turning our children into Baby Gap models so this year’s Christmas cards will really pop. I dressed up my sweet babes and we ventured a few miles down the road to our local patch. The kids raced through rows of mums before excitedly picking up small, decorative pumpkins they could hold. It all started off cute enough. I asked them to do a few good pictures and then we could pick pumpkins of our own.

The questions began. “Mama, can I get three pumpkins!?” “Waz dis? Mama, waz dis?” Not unusual. They’re excited. No biggie. Then my 4-year-old spotted the ultimate distraction from our goal for this trip. She saw a chinzy version of her idol. There was a teenage girl dressed as Elsa painting faces. Ugh! Okay. I feigned excitement and took her picture with the artificial ice queen to remind her that PICTURES (and I guess pumpkins, whatever) are the point of this trip.

Then my son noticed how close we were to the road. He screamed,”Cars!” before barreling toward a six lane road under construction. Our pumpkin patch visit quickly became a mommy-daddy game of Block The Toddler. I thought about telling the pumpkin people that I would pay more per pumpkin next year if they fenced in the patch.

We corralled the kids to the photo area with special fall decor. That’s when it turned ugly. Our photo session became a mommy-daddy game of catch and release with our son. It turned in to bribery and verbal threats with our daughter. You know those sentences you never thought you’d say? “If you don’t smile and sit on this hay bale, we will NOT let Elsa paint your face!” He screamed. She whined. In fact, let’s take a look at some outtakes.

fall outtakes

In my head I kept saying, “This is supposed to be fun!” “Relax, enjoy these memories.” “It won’t be like this for long! They’re your babies!” Then I smelled a poopy diaper and my preschooler talked back to me. I thought, “Shut up head. This sucks. Let’s get some pumpkins and get out of here.”

When my daughter, who did NOT deserve a pumpkin at this point, finally found the perfect one among the hundreds I picked it up. That’s when I saw ants swarm up her Mary Jane’s and socks. Yep, she picked the one pumpkin on top of an ant hill. I gasped and took her over to some grass to brush her off. As kids do, she saw the ants and flipped. “Get ‘em off Mooommmmyyyy!” I was unbuckling a Mary Jane when I felt the familiar burn of fire ants on my toes. Yep. My shoes had little holes in them. She did not get bit, but I did. I limped over to my husband who had just finished an extra cardio workout after chasing the boy who now had mud on his face and on his fall sweater vest.

I slung the kicking, screaming toddler over my shoulder and literally carried him fireman’s style over my shoulder to the car while dragging my daughter. My husband, sweaty and angry, paid for our pumpkins. Her wails were indecipherable. They were something about not getting her face painted by the fake Elsa. I reminded her of the talking back and whining. This just sent her into more hysterics. Finally, being the fantastic parent I am, I said, “That wasn’t even the real Elsa!”

When my husband got to the car, the children’s cries continued and we lamented being victims of the “Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2015″ after having paid $30 for three pumpkins. We resolved to put up the artificial tree for Christmas. There was no way we were doing this again in December.

Screw the stupid pumpkin patch. I could have quickly grabbed some from outside the grocery store and taken pictures of the kids on the front stoop with the pumpkins. Parents, do not be fooled by the photos you see on Facebook! I witnessed multiple crying babies and disgruntled middle schoolers begging to just go home. I heard other dads complaining about this year’s price per pumpkin. I saw moms just put the DSLR back in the bag and call it a day.

I will say, later that afternoon we were in the calm after the storm. After everyone had had naps and snacks, my daughter came to me. She said, “Mommy, I’m sorry I wasn’t good when we were taking pictures. I’ll be better next time. I promise.”

Sigh. I do love the smell of fresh cut Christmas trees.


Motherhood Has Made Me Gross and Weird- September 28, 2015

Before I became a mother I found gross things gross. I wasn’t squeamish about too much, but I was repulsed by the repulsive as most normal people are. During birthing class with my first child I couldn’t stand the childbirth videos that showed the mother kissing the baby with afterbirth all over it. I thought, “Ugh! Come on! Let the nurse do her job and clean that up before you put your mouth on it!”

Then I birthed a baby of my own and kissed her fresh and wet without hesitation. I’m quite certain the cord was still attached when my lips met her shiny forehead. I didn’t know it then, but that was the beginning of lowering my grossness threshold. Poop on onesies and smeared boogers naturally became a part of parenthood along with car seats and knowledge of Disney Junior programming. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in showering and good grooming, but yucky stuff has just became less of a big deal. Drop a cracker? 5 second rule. Baby poop on your elbow? Wash it off and move on.

Last week something I did made me realize how bad it has become. My son got his cast off. After nearly four weeks in what we dubbed the “Hulk arm,” a technician used a scary saw to cut off the his green cast. I held him and held my breath as the saw went through the plaster, or whatever material casts are made of these days. I didn’t breathe not only because I wanted to hold still enough that my baby didn’t get cut, but also because I didn’t want to inhale the scent of rancid toddler cast. You can imagine how icky that thing was. Keeping a child under age 2 clean is a task in and of itself, but a toddler in a cast?! The bread bag on his arm in the bathtub only went so far. His cast got moisture and grit in any number of crevices at his wrist and elbow. Poor little guy. I cringed at the open blisters and sores that had made spots on his skin raw. I hated seeing the atrophy at his wrist. In my opinion his arm still looked a little crooked, but I’m not an orthopedic, so I don’t know any more about bones than what a game of “Operation” taught me. (The charley horse is the toughest to remove. No, it’s not the wishbone. Don’t start that argument with me.) The tech threw the cast in the trash.

Wait, he didn’t even ask me if I wanted to keep it. Do people keep casts? I feel like people keep those little baby casts when babies have crooked feet, right? My sister kept her cast when she broke her foot in middle school. Wait. All her friends had signed it, though. Come to think of it, I thought that it was kind of gross that that thing sat in a plastic bag in her closet. Ew. Right. I don’t need the cast. That’s gross. The tech left us to wait as he got a lighter and washable brace for my son’s arm.

That’s when things got strange. The little guy was entertained by my phone as I wandered over to the trash can and peered in. There it was. That tiny green cast. I thought about how his arm would never be that tiny again and how one day I’d forget he was ever that small. Sappy, yes. Not that unusual though. I’m his mother, of course I feel sentimental about odd things, but what I did next was over the top.

I picked the damn thing up out of the trash and held it. Then, making sure no one was looking, I kissed it goodbye. I KISSED IT! I pulled a piece of garbage out of the can and TOUCHED IT WITH MY MOUTH! What was wrong with me?! It’s trash! Granted, the cast was on the top of the trash in relatively innocuous looking wastebasket, but it’s garbage nonetheless. It stinks! I stood in a doctors office with my son, cuddling medical waste.

I came to my senses and put it back in the waste basket before going to checkout at the front desk. I was like, “Heh, heh. So funny. I heard people keep old casts. So gross, right!?” The receptionist replied, “Oh, we have people keep them all the time. It’s not unusual.” Validation. That’s all I needed. Validation for my gross need to keep that thing. I requested the staff retrieve it from the trash for me. They wrapped it up and brought it out. I gratefully tucked it in the stroller and got out of there before they could identify me as the freak I am.

Motherhood has made me so weird and so, so gross.