5/30/2016

10 [Completely Normal] Parenthood Revelations

After welcoming our third daughter into the world and grappling with how to survive with three girls under the age of three, I looked in the mirror and realized I may have lost my mind.

Nope.

Feeling crazy is part of parenthood, and feeling crazy isn't the only side effect...
Real Life Parenting
1. You seriously contemplate placing toothpicks in your eyelids to hold them open. I mean, come on. They can't hurt worse than the permanent burning sensation from sleep deprivation, right?

2. You find yourself swaying to and fro while fueling up your minivan at the gas pump. Without your baby. It's a reflex, okay?

3. You find yourself in a fiery political debate on Facebook at 2 a.m. because your third cousin-once-removed just posted jibberish about Donald Trump. So why not engage in a comment-war during your baby's feeding session while the rest of the world is sleeping? It's not like you like her anyway (your cousin, that is; of course you like your baby.).

4. You think about Google-searching, "Where to purchase caffeine IV." Okay, maybe you actually do search for it after pulling your 238th all-nighter. Totally normal.

5. You learn how to do everything one-handed. And I mean everything. From taking out the trash to eating spaghetti to tying your freaking shoes. You might has well consider yourself one-handed for the rest of your life, or at least until your baby doesn't shriek every time you set her down.

6. You have spit up on your shoulder. Poop on your shirt. Remnants of your breakfast cereal in your hair. And you go out in public anyway. Because let's face it -- functioning among the living -- even if it is merely running to the store to get another jumbo pack of Pampers -- is an accomplishment in and of itself. No one says you have to look or smell good in public, right? Just ignore those teens snickering in the corner snap-chatting how ridiculous those crushed Cheerios look on your butt.

7. You create substitutes for swear words. "Holy Bejesus" has a nice ring to it. Especially after you realize you've just spent the past 20-minutes folding a pile of laundry that was NEVER WASHED IN THE FIRST PLACE.

8. Your iPhone storage is always "almost full." You know all the pictures you take every time your baby breathes, sneezes, yawns, sleeps, pouts, blinks or moves? Yeh. Your phone hates you for it. And you're too damn tired to go through and back 'em up, so you keep ignoring that pesky warning until you literally have no storage left to take another photo and you're faced head-on with the daunting task of picture-sorting instead of capturing your baby's first smile (not saying this has ever happened before or anything...).

8. You accept the fact you'll never eat a hot meal again. Ever. And hot coffee? Forget it. You'll learn to love lukewarm coffee. And you'll consider it a good day if you have time to nuke it in the microwave and drink it before it's cold again. (See also: #4)

9. You've memorized the 1 a.m. infomercials. And you legitimately wonder if that PooTrap harness would actually work on your dog. Don't know what a PooTrap is? Google it, and tell me you're not wondering the same.

10.You weigh out the pros and cons of your midnight snack based on noise decibels and starvation: How loud is that bag of chocolate-covered peanut butter pretzels to open, grab and inhale? And is that risk worth the sweet reward? Or perhaps the sweetest (and quietest) reward is sleeping when that precious baby does...which we all know is pretty much impossible. But don't get me started on THAT parenting revelation.
Related content:
Lullaby + Good-Freaking-Night
3 Under 3

5/28/2016

Cookie Salad

Cookie Salad Recipe
This is one of my all-time favorite recipes -- perfect for summer BBQs and picnics!

2 Cups Buttermilk
16 oz. Cool Whip
2 Packages Instant Vanilla Pudding
2 Cans Mandarin Oranges (drained)
10 Shortbread Cookies (crushed)

Mix all ingredients together. Top with additional crushed shortbread cookies if desired. Serve chilled.

5/23/2016

The iPhone Photo Taken by a Stranger

There are a million reasons I should could delete this picture from my iPhone.
My hair looks whack (I barely had time to spray in some dry shampoo). And my thighs? HELLO. Also I'm pretty sure Kendra is in meltdown mode because I took her sippy cup after she kept chucking it onto the sidewalk. And Olivia? Don't mind her. She's just staring down a goose we passed to make sure it's not coming after her package of strawberry fruit snacks.

But I love this picture.

I love it because it's real. It's not posed. And it's an accurate representation of what life looks like for us.

It's not perfect, but it's us. 

And it was taken by a stranger.

It was a typical afternoon pushing 45-pounds of toddlers in a double-stroller with a 7-pound baby snuggled comfortably in my Solly wrap.

Except this day, I squatted in the middle of the bike trail to take a selfie. 

You see, during the week while my husband is at work, I'll occasionally text him a selfie of us [half joking but sometimes kinda serious] with a caption, "Still alive," or, "Send wine." He knows that while this whole three-kids-under-three is a fun gig, it's also exhausting and challenging and demanding. 

This selfie-snapping was different though because as I bent down to take it, there was a woman jogging in the distance. 

When she passed me on the trail, she slowed down. Then she stopped and turned around. 

"Do you want me to take your picture?" she asked as she caught her breath. 

She had seen my rather pathetic attempts at a selfie just moments earlier. 

"Sure!"  I gave her my iPhone, and she snapped a photo. 

And just like that, she was gone, pounding the pavement in her sneakers until the only reminder I had of her was this candid photo of me with my three daughters.
As I pushed the stroller toward home and refereed a toddler debate about what animals Old MacDonald saw first on his farm, I smiled.

I smiled because this is my life. 

These moments along the bike trail may not be glamorous. They may not be pretty or posed or even planned out.

But to me, these unfiltered, real moments are the ones that matter most.

5/18/2016

Lullaby + Good-freaking-Night

I love my children. I really do.

But boy do I look forward to 7:00 each night.

It never fails.

Each night I stare at the clock hanging on our living room wall and -- as if it's ticking and tocking in slow motion -- the hour-hand finally stops at the number seven.

I look at our wine rack and take a mental inventory of what bottle I'll be popping open after the dramatic feat of getting our three kids to bed is [finally] achieved.

Because lemme tell ya, it's certainly cause for celebration. And let's be real. Mommas need bottles every now and then, too.

Especially after a nighttime routine like ours.

It goes a little somethin' like this:

Corral the girls -- all three of them -- and coerce them upstairs.

The 1-year old turns around and starts sliding downstairs on her butt to get Simba, her stuffed cat. She can't go to bed without that thing.

I follow her while cradling our newborn and barely save myself from tripping over a yellow mega block.

I scour the living room. The dining room. Simba is nowhere to be found.

Our 1-year old is crying. Panicking. If she could, she'd start plastering missing posters for that thing all over our house. WHERE. IS. SIMBA.

Alas, I find the beloved, filthy stuffed cat draped over our dog's water dish. Only his paw is wet. Lovely.

We head back upstairs where Dad-of-the-Year tends to our 2-year old who is emptying all the drawers in the bathroom. He juggles the hodge-podge of hair product and barrettes and dental floss pics strewn across the bathroom floor while I set our newborn down and attempt to change 1-year old into her pajamas.

I say "attempt," because she is running around her bedroom with no pants on like a mad woman.

Once I capture her and confine her within the bars of her crib, she starts a somersault routine as if to continue her protest of wearing pajama pants.

I slide one leg in, and finally another. Her pants are on, and I give up on the rest. It's still a victory even though she'll be wearing a t-shirt to bed that still has a macaroni noodle stuck on its sleeve from lunch.

We pick our battles, people, and the pajama shirt ain't one of 'em tonight.

Meanwhile, Dad finishes picking up the debri from our 2-year old's bathroom destruction and starts brushing her teeth.

She'd rather play with bath toys, though, so she reaches over the tub to make a grab. That's when the teeth-brushing ends abruptly:

"Why is there NO WATER in Thomas [the Train squirt toy]? I WANT WATER!" she demands.

I release our 1-year old from her prison cell (er, crib).

She bolts into the bathroom and hums the "toothbrush song" for her big sister who could've been done 5-minutes ago had she not thrown a fit about the water-less tub toys.
Toddler Bedtime Routine, Parenthood
Thirty seconds pass by and our 1-year old decides she'd rather unravel a roll of toilet paper and shove wads of it into her sister's mouth.

"No!" we stop her mid-shove, just in time for her big sis to start CRYING because God forbid we stop singing the toothbrush song. No one can brush their teeth in our house unless they're singing or humming the toothbrush song. NO ONE.

We get back to singing the toothbrush song that both of us suddenly regret creating in the first place, and we try holding our 1-year old in place.

I somehow manage to squeeze a toothbrush far enough into her mouth to scrub off the Oreo crumbs packed between her molars.

Whew.
Toddler Bedtime Routine
All clean; now it's time to read a book. Read one more book. And a third book, puh-leassssse?

And as if that last bedtime book actually means, "Go crazy," our 1-year old starts a new gymnastics routine in her crib while her big sister giggles and throws stuffed animals at her.

A moment of silence commences for bedtime prayer.

Then it's light's out. Hallelujah! The end is in sight.

Wait. Not so fast.

The 2-year old suddenly has to go potty. She has to go potty NOW.

I take her to the bathroom where she wants to have a heart-to-heart on the potty about Santa and when he's coming to visit. Six more months, sweetie. Six more months.

Now she's thirsty.

"May I please get a drink of water PLEASE?" she's famished.

Sip-sip-slurp. She's done.

With no more excuses to stay up, there's a light at the end of the night.

We've won this battle, and I'll soon be sip-sip-slurping my own celebratory drink of choice. That is, after we sing 12 versions of a bedtime lullaby and tend to the newborn who is suddenly screaming from hunger.

And by the time the newborn is fed and changed and ready for bed, I'm too tired to uncork that bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in the first place.

Oh well, there's always tomorrow night...maybe. ;)

5/09/2016

These Are The Days

Someday I have a feeling I'll miss the diapers, the books and toys scattered across the living room floor. The fighting over the yellow mega block. The spilled food and week-old sippy cups and bottles found spoiling with curdled milk underneath the couch...

Someday, I'll miss the crackers and cookie crumbs on the floor of the minivan. The hours spent watching Barney and Daniel Tiger while snuggled up together on the couch. The dancing and jumping as we sing along with Thomas the Train's Trackside Tunes for the 324985th time.

I'll look back and miss the night-time requests for reading books. And more books. And just another book.

I'll miss the days where my singing can sooth nerves and my kisses can cure any boo-boo.

I'll miss cutting the crusts off PB&J's and eating off plastic Elmo plates during pretend picnics on the dining room floor.

Someday I'll miss pulling out pacifiers from my purse. And the leg-grabbing, hiding-behind-mom, climbing-on-mom moments in public and in our home.

One day I'll miss the begging and pleading to stay up five minutes after bedtime. Just five more minutes. And maybe another five after that.

I'll miss holding their little hands during evening prayers, and the middle-of-the-night calls for "Mommmmmmy," and a hug after a bad dream.

Someday, after the chaos has settled and sleep is restored and floors are cleaned and dishes are stacked away and laundry is folded or neatly hung in closets moments after it's dry...I think I'll miss it.

I'll miss all of it.

And so today, I choose to treasure it.

I choose to embrace the messy house, the dirty dishes piled high in the sink, the toys and clothes scattered all the way up the staircase.

I choose to appreciate the little arms tugging at my legs, the impromptu hugs and the "Mommy, I love you's..." 

I choose to smile at the fingerprints on the windows, the bubbles spilled and water splashed over the edge of the bathtub.

I choose to enjoy the face-wiping, the hand-washing, the hair-doing...

I choose to soak in every moment.

To value this season -- as messy and crazy and wild and exhausting and challenging as it is.

Because while some days seem to slug by so slowly, I know I'll look back and feel like they actually flew by.

So I choose to love this.

To love them.
And to remember...these, indeed, are the very best days. 

5/08/2016

An Open Letter to Moms In Waiting This Mother's Day

An Open Letter to Moms In Waiting This Mother's Day
I want you to know it’s okay to be angry.

It’s okay to be sad.

And it’s okay to wonder when it’ll be your turn for the handmade macaroni necklaces and breakfasts in bed and bouquets of pretty flowers from a precious child who calls you Mom.

Remember, your waiting will end one day.

And I’m telling you, sweet momma-in-waiting…

The road to motherhood—however bumpy it has been for you—will be well worth the wait...

Read more here.

5/04/2016

To the Woman Who Hates Being Pregnant

There are lots of pregnant women who embrace their 9-month journey into motherhood with grace.

[Like my sister, for example.]

But there are others who take to social media to complain and moan about the inconveniences of the miracle they get to experience.

And sometimes, I don't think they truly comprehend the weight of their words.

So, on the heels of National Infertility Awareness Week, I've written a letter to them:
Ohhh, Momma!

I know you're tired.

I know your ankles are swollen, and those stairs get you out of breath every time.

I can't imagine how difficult it must be to carry around an extra 20...30...40 pounds every hour of the day.

I bet your back is breaking.

But please...

Before you complain about how that growing belly of yours cramps your style, please remember what a gift it is.

Before you moan about those swollen ankles, or that extra-large bra size [that seems to grow by the week]...please remember there's a little miracle inside of you behind all of this.

The heartburn, the nausea and appointment-running days are only temporary. And that child you've felt jabbing underneath your ribs in the wee hours of the night and morning for months will be here before you know it.

Before you complain about diet changes, blood work, and the middle-of-the-night pee breaks that make sleep an unfamiliar past-time, please remember how lucky you are to have this life growing inside of you.

Before you take to Facebook or social media and talk about how much you hate being pregnant...please remember there are thousands of women who would give ANYTHING to be in your shoes -- even if one foot is a size bigger than the other.

Hear me out...

I'm not asking you to pretend to enjoy every second of your pregnancy.

I'm not asking you to feel guilty for being pregnant when 1 in 8 couples experience infertility.

I am asking you, however, to be considerate. To recognize that what you're experiencing...is a complete and total gift -- even if it is a bit uncomfortable at times.

I'm asking you to think twice before you blatantly moan and groan about how much being pregnant cramps your style.

I know it's hard.

But becoming a mom is hard, no matter how it happens.

I don't know anyone who says pregnancy and childbirth are a walk in the park.

And I know sometimes it really, really sucks.

But a bit of perspective can change everything.

Sure, it can be easy to complain about the extra weight gain, round ligament pain or new wardrobe of stretchy pants...But remember, before you complain about it, what you're experiencing is something many women desperately want.

Pregnancy is a gift.

Treasure it.

And waddle on proudly with that growing belly.

Related content:
To My Infertile Friend
To the Pregnancy Haters
5 Ways to Support Your Pregnant Friend
Top 10 Uses For Baby Bump
Wishes For My Third Daughter
To My [Adopted] Children Before I Give Birth
Our Journey to Addison