Dealing with Our Food Allergies

A few weeks ago we received some test results that indicated Beckett, our almost three year old, has food allergies. This wasn’t the first time he had been tested – the first two times showed a mild allergy to milk and moderate allergy to eggs, and at the recommendation of our doctor, we limited his exposure but went on eating food like normal. But then a few months ago, his eczema started to get out of control. We tried changing detergents, soaps and lotions. We tried creams and oils, and while these things helped a little, the poor guy was just miserable. He wasn’t sleeping well, he was itching like crazy. At one point he asked for some scissors to cut his leg off it itched so bad. Heart. Breaking.

Back to the doctor we went, but this time we requested they test him for a gluten allergy on top of the others, and sure enough, it was positive. Non-celiac gluten intolerance to be exact – in the moderate to high range. And the milk and egg allergies were still there too. Combine that with the fact that Brogan, our almost five year old has a tree nut allergy… oh, and Berkley is also getting eczema, and seems to be reacting to the dairy in my diet – and it’s A LOT. Holy allergies, Batman.

Initially, I was in shock. What would we eat? We decided that in addition to cutting out gluten, we’d be more strict on limiting his diary and egg too. Anything to get his eczema under control.  But all I could think about were the foods that he loved. All the treats I loved to cook. All the things he could’t eat. How hard birthday parties and eating out would be. I was sad for him. Sad to think about telling him no more cheese sticks or goldfish or ice cream or yogurt or cupcakes with buttercream frosting. But on the other hand I was hopeful that maybe, just maybe we had figured out what his eczema trigger was and we could stop it.

The more I thought about it, the better my outlook became. It was a challenge, for sure, but I’ve always liked a challenge. I stopped thinking about what he couldn’t have and focused on what he could – he can eat fruit and veggies and meat… he can eat rice and potatoes and oats. That covers a lot, actually. So then I started thinking about meals. What would be our go-to for breakfast – for snacks – for lunch – for dinner? And then I went into planning mode and was on a mission. I was determined to make home-cooked allergy-free meals that didn’t taste like we (or he) was missing out on anything. And so that’s what I’ve been doing. So far, so good. I’ve tried a lot of new recipes, and many that I’ll continue to make.

I’m happy to report that it’s been working. His eczema is MUCH better. He’s still got a few spots in the notorious problem areas (knees, elbows, armpits) that he won’t stop messing with, but his eczema no longer covers his entire body. He’s no longer waking up three times a night scratching himself (no, now he’s waking up three times a night for no good reason – ha!). So far, all the sacrifice has been worth it.

I know we’re not the only family living a restricted diet, and so I’m hoping that through this I can help others with meal ideas and recipes. Dinner on it’s own is hard to pull off every night – add a bunch of things you can’t eat and it’s much harder.  So I plan to start sharing my successes. That is, if Berkley ever goes to sleep early enough for me to have 30 minutes to myself in the evenings to blog. One day… I hope.

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Back to Work

My first week back to work is behind me. It was a good week. Sunday night was hard as I was faced with the reality that I’d be leaving my sweet baby girl, who had not been away from me for more than just a few hours. I worried about how she’d feel and how well she’d eat (she’s been exclusively breastfed for the past few weeks and had a hard time with a bottle the last time she was given one). I knew I would miss her and the boys and all of our extra quality time. I knew my boys would miss me being home in the mornings and picking them up from school. I’d miss all the craziness and just being with them. But I also knew I’d be leaving them in good hands, and that for our family it’s the right thing to do, and so I decided to be at peace with it. And I was, and come Monday morning, there were no tears, just smiles.

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Working for me is both a necessity and a choice – at this point in our lives, I am needed to help support our family, but even if I wasn’t, I think I would still work. But there is a lot of judgement and guilt wrapped up in that truth. Just the other day I called our pediatrician to setup an appointment for Berkley’s 2 month checkup (and shots). As I was talking to the receptionist about the time that would be best, I began thinking out loud… “I work and so late afternoon would be best…” The lady replied, “You work?” Initially I thought she was inquiring what me working had to do with the time choice so I felt the need to elaborate. “I work and since she’s having shots, I want to make sure I’m home with her afterwards in case she doesn’t feel well.” To which she replied, “No, I just noticed that you have three really little ones.” The judgement in her tone was apparent. It sort of kicked me in the gut. I searched for a quick light-hearted response, but I was offended. I’m sure people think it all the time, but she said it and I heard it and it stung a little bit.

So why is it that I want to work? I’ve asked myself this question many times. I’ve felt selfish and guilty about it. The truth is that I’m not sure I have a really good answer. Nothing when you say it out loud seems a good enough excuse to not spend every possible moment with your children. But, whether it’s a good reason or not, I think it’s because I work best when my plate is really full. I need a lot of balls in the air. I function at my highest potential when things (to outsiders) seem to be busy beyond belief. In college, I earned my best grades when I had 2 jobs and 18 credit hours – straight A’s. At work, when I’ve got the most projects and biggest workload is when I find myself most efficient and productive. At home when I’ve got a to-do list a mile long I become energized and accomplished. And so when I look at my life and my different roles – wife, mother, employee, friend, home-cook/blogger/photographer, having all of those hats just feels right. I feel challenged and fulfilled in trying to be the best I can in each of them – and in that, I feel I am living as my best possible self. I really do. At this point in my life, I feel like being all of these things doesn’t take away from each role, but adds to them. Plainly put, I feel like I am a better mom to my kids because I work. This doesn’t mean that I don’t wish I spent more time with them or that there aren’t days I wish I didn’t have to go to work – I do. But I keep focused on the big picture and what I know about myself… and I know my decision to work is the best one for us.

Part of what makes it possible to be at peace with working is knowing my kids are well cared for in my absence. And they always have been. For years they were lovingly looked after by a lady named Elaine, who was tragically killed in a car accident last summer. Then we had Katie and Sarah who loved my boys and had so much fun with them too. We’re now so fortunate to have Blake’s cousin Jessica for the next few months, and we could not be happier!  We weren’t sure what our plan for childcare would be when I went back to work until just a few weeks ago. I had decided this time around I wasn’t going to stress about it – and instead I prayed. It’s amazing how God always has a plan and sometimes in letting go of the worry and trusting Him, some of the greatest things happen. Jessica seemed to have a had a good week with them all – only a few time-outs, and Berkley took her bottles well. She even ventured out of the house to an indoor playground with all three on Friday – hats off sister!  Oh, and my dishwasher was unloaded each day, which is like the best present you can give a gal – so thank you, thank you, Jess.

So what’s the first week really been like? Well first off, I’m tired. No other way to put it. Berkley was sleeping better, but not great. And even if she was sleeping great, waking up at 4:30am just sucks. I’m happy to report, however, that as I type this on a Saturday morning, I’m feeling refreshed because she slept for 6 hours straight last night! Fingers crossed that this one-day trend continues!

When I arrived at work Monday morning I was surprised by a decorated office complete with streamers, balloons and roses. I work with the greatest group of people who are not only my co-workers but my friends and they always make the hard times easier. I got to eat lunch (with adults) from some of my favorite spots – welcome back Chipotle Friday, oh how I missed you!  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that I also got to pee by myself all week! It’s the little things, people. I’m fortunate enough to have a locking, private office, so pumping was made pretty easy too.

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So yes, it’s been a good week. I’m looking forward to figuring out what our new normal is and then thriving in it. No doubt there will be bumps along the way, but I love my life and my sweet family and trust that things are as they should be. No worry here – just faith.

And Berkley Makes Three

I’m 5 weeks into mom-of-three-kids status – whew. Between Christmas and house guests and the standard newborn fatigue, I’m finally able to share the latest edition to our family – meet Miss Berkley Elaine.

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Berkley is healthy and happy (she just started to smile!). She is already growing so fast –  it seems like overnight she has outgrown her newborn clothes and she’s changing every single day.

It’s amazing how the amount of love you feel as a mother just multiplies when you have another little one. It brings back memories of my boys when they were born, but just as with each of them, there is something new and special about the bond I feel with this sweet girl. I cannot get enough of her – she’s so small and soft and smells so yummy that sometimes all I want to do is hold her and just breath her in – simply put, I adore her.

Of course, with all the joy comes some challenges too. My boys are dealing with a month’s worth of a lot of house guests, a holiday break from school, Christmas and the biggest change of all – a little sister. While the last few weeks have not been without meltdowns and behavioral issues, it has really gone better than I expected.  And while it’s an adjustment, they boys really, really love their sister. And they tell me this often.

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Handling the three kiddos has been interesting. When it’s just me, it’s pure survival mode. Her basic needs come first (eating), and I do the best I can with the rest. I’m nursing and so I feel like 50% of my time is glued to the couch feeding the baby, and so this leaves lots of time for the boys to run a muck… destroying their room…

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painting the back deck…

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…arguing and biting and hitting and kicking each other. Trying to enforce good behavior when I’m immobile is tough, and so I’ve had to use the “I’m calling your dad!!!!” card that I swore I would never use. But it works, and as I stated previously – survival mode.

But when Blake is home our “zone defense” strategy is that Blake deals with the boys, and I take care of Berkley. And this is working great. I find myself very frustrated that the boys don’t listen well, but all the crying and fussiness and sleepless nights with my little princess do not phase me at all. I think it’s because I know this stage won’t last long and so I’m savoring every bit of it. Blake is just the opposite – he has so much patience with the boys and can deal with all the shenanigans, but I’m afraid too much screaming baby may make him crazy. So we divide and conquer and it has been working for us. Thank God.

I’m at the point now where I’m trying to find out what our new normal is. I’m trying to keep myself sane with daily showers and keeping at least one room in my house tidy. So far so good. I’m still cooking most nights, and some how or another, the kids are getting regularly bathed as well. Aside from the daily pickup from preschool, I’m not venturing out much with all three of them by myself. For starters, Berkley screams in the car. Secondly, I’m not that brave… or crazy. One day (soon – hopefully), when I’m certain the boys will hold my hand when I ask them to and I’m fairly confident they won’t run off, we’ll start leaving the house. But until then, homebodies we’ll be – and I’m totally cool with that.

The greatest thing about adding this little one is the overwhelming fulfillment and completeness that I feel. Before I ever got pregnant with her, I knew I was meant to have her. For a while, Blake only wanted two kids.  At one point when I was worried he would never change his mind I actually grieved this child that did not even exist. But I prayed about it and one day Blake did change his mind. And now here we are with this precious gift and I am overflowing with joy that my little family is complete. And it is complete… and we’ve taken permanent measures to ensure that we’re done. And we’re done.

I’m hoping that once she establishes a more normal bedtime routine that I can get back into the blogging mode. I’ve got recipes and crazy adventures in parenting to share but not the free time to do it. I naively thought that I’d be blogging all the time while on maternity leave – not! I barely have time to go to the bathroom. I’ve been working on this post for 3 weeks! Every time I go back to it I have to change the opening sentence LOL. But I’ll get there. It’s my “me time” and my outlet, so if I don’t make it a priority one day soon, I may go batty.

So until then I’ll leave you with some more pictures of my sweet girl. Hope to chat with you all again soon!

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Managing the crazy

Sometimes I feel like being a mom is like running a factory. It takes strategy and efficiency and planning and meticulous execution to keep it all running on time. And by on time, I don’t really mean on time (because that rarely happens anymore), I really just mean running… barely. Oh yes, motherhood, one of my two full time jobs. Just because I’m not home with my kids during the day doesn’t mean I shirk any of the other mom responsibility. Nope. The daily housekeeping, laundry, dishes, meal planning, grocery shopping, hauling in and putting away all the purchased groceries (as I was reminded of this weekend when I brought home a huge haul from Costco and the hubs wasn’t home to help – holy freaking cow), packing lunches, sports, team mom duties, oh my gosh it goes on and on and on. And somehow all that “stuff” has to get squeezed into my nights and weekends. And throw into the mix that I’m 27 weeks pregnant, not sleeping well and beginning to waddle. However, I’m pretty certain that I should relish in the “easiness” (haha) of just 2 kids, because come 12 weeks from now, it’s really going to hit the fan… but back to the now.

So how does one keep the factory running? It’s a good question, and while I don’t think I’m coming anywhere close to Six Sigma certification, the place is running. I’m churning out clean (well most the time), loved, fed, clothed and healthy little boys into the world each day. But to say it is easy would be a lie. It takes hard work. It doesn’t allow for many “I just don’t feel like it days.” It means coming to “work” whether you feel like it or not, through sickness and fatigue and all out exhaustion. Because once you get the machine running, it takes effort every single day to keep it going. Sure, I could decide on any given Tuesday that I just don’t feel like loading and running the dishwasher. Which would be fine on Tuesday. But come Wednesday when there’s no room for the dinner dishes and I’ve got no clean sippy cups, Houston, we’ve got a problem. This means that at some point I’m going to either run the dishwasher twice in one day, hand wash the darn things or live with a continuous sink full of dirty dishes until the weekend. And it’s easy for husbands to forget this ripple effect. I can’t tell you how many times while complaining about the monotony of the nightly dishes that Blake tells me, “it’s okay to not do them every night.” And then I give him one of those wife stares… and he thinks I’m dramatic… and I think he’s delusional (and perhaps were both a little right).

There is no doubt more than one way to skin the proverbial cat when it comes to running a family. And while I don’t claim to be an expert (at all), I am sometimes asked, “how do you do it all?” And so here is my two cents on a practical approach to managing the crazy:

  1. First off, I don’t do it all. No one can. Some of the things I do may be more visible… because I blog about them, but it’s impossible to fit it all in. What I do is prioritize. I’ve thought about what’s important to me and my family and I make an effort to make those things happen. What causes you the most stress if it doesn’t get done? What can’t you live without? For me, eating home-cooked meals (even on practice nights) is really important.  So I plan my week’s meals on the weekend, go grocery shopping once (assuming everything on my list actually makes it in my cart, ha!), write the weekly menu on a board in the kitchen (to keep me honest and help me remember what I need to pull out of the freezer), sometimes make an extra meal on Sundays and go for the 20-minute options that I pre-prepped the night before on practice nights. It’s a lot of effort, but it’s important and so I make it happen.
  2. Figure out what’s not that important to you, and cut yourself some slack when those things don’t get done. Maybe it’s okay that the kids want to pick out their own (unmatching) outfits for school. Or that they leave the house with bed head. Or that the house isn’t picked up each night. Think about it, own it, don’t stress about it, and use the extra time to focus on what is important to you.
  3. Do things now. You’ll never think back and say, what a bummer that I already folded and put away the laundry! But it is highly likely that on a Sunday evening, when you opted to ignore the dryer buzzer (not once, but twice) and the clothes are cold and wrinkly that you think, why didn’t I take care of that earlier! This is a personal challenge of mine that I’ve been working on for the last 6 weeks. Let’s just say I’ve been successful 4 of those weeks, and the feeling of accomplishment was awesome. You’ve got to cut the procrastination, because in the end, it takes less time to handle things in the now than kicking the can down the road all week long and dealing with the side effects of the undone chores.
  4. Decide what days you want to tackle your chores, and then don’t worry about it on the other days.  For me, this means that I just do laundry on the weekends. Yes, there ends up being a lot of it come Saturday, but I’ve found that once you’re in the mode of doing it, it’s easier to keep it going… rather than trying to find the motivation every single day. Sure, sometimes I run a load during the week. But it’s just because I want to get ahead for the weekend, and I don’t feel a sense of obligation to do it. I’m sure the luxury of this choice will eventually be gone, but for now, I’ve made sure that we’re stocked with enough socks/underwear/practice attire for a full week and I just let it chill till the weekend. On weekdays, all I ask of myself is to cook dinner and do the dishes. If I’m feeling spunky, I pick up the house – sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. This is one of those lower priority things that I don’t stress about if it doesn’t get done (and so please don’t stop by unannounced during the week unless you don’t mind wading through the sea of toys and promise to check your judgement at the door!).
  5. I know planning is not everyone’s thing… but having a plan makes the crazy much easier to handle.  Whether it’s a meal plan, a grocery list, or a to-do list, a little forethought goes a long way. For me, planning out what I’m going to make for dinner each night is the only way I’m able to sustain cooking on a nighty basis. Before I wrote it all out, I’d forget to thaw meat from the freezer, I wasn’t efficient with my prep (if I need onions chopped tonight and tomorrow, might as well chop them all tonight!), I would grocery shop multiple times a week – mostly when I was hungry… and would wind up with a much larger grocery bill than necessary. All things that are frustrating and made weeknight cooking a much bigger chore than it needed to be.
  6. It’s really all a mindset.  I’m a firm believer in being intentional with your thoughts. I feel that if you spend all your energy saying you’re overwhelmed and out of control, you sort of make your own bed. It’s hard to not be those things when that’s what you tell yourself. However, if you focus on getting things in order and think I’ve got this, you probably will. Yes, there will be days where you feel overwhelmed, but it doesn’t mean you are overwhelmed. Make those feelings a blip on the radar of a life where you are in control. Yes, my boys get the best of me at times. Multiple times a week, as a mater of fact. But I don’t dwell on being overwhelmed – I make it a temporary feeling. I remind myself that my attitude on the situation is my reality and I choose not to live the life of someone who is a slave to their kids and their home. I take control. I figure one of these days my boys will behave and things will get easier and so I will keep my eye on that prize.

So now that I’ve got a system to help keep things running, I’m about to tip over the apple cart with a third child. I guess that’s just my MO – always chasing a challenge. I’m hopeful that even with the changes coming to our family, I’m able to find my sanity long enough to keep the factory running. Maybe not as smooth as it is now (haha) – simply running will be just fine. And because I know me, I will. Things will change, I will regroup and then get another plan in place. And then my kids will do everything in their power to throw me off my game, but I won’t let ’em! 😉

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I don’t want to be the mommy that yells

But sometimes I am.  I wish I knew how not to be. As I start to write this it is 9:41 pm. The kids have been in bed for over an hour, and in the last few moments the upstairs has finally gone quiet. My little boys, who most days go down easily and I’m only called with one or two “Beckett’s out of bed!” calls from Brogan, really pushed the envelope tonight (to the tune of 11 trips up stairs to put someone back in bed). But the antics were not just at bedtime. It was all afternoon, really. They fought with each other – hit, scratched, bit, screamed, spanked (yes, Brogan actually spanked his brother), and closed fingers in doors.  All. Freaking. Afternoon. And they didn’t listen to me when I told them to stop. At all. Now, I don’t expect perfection out of a 2 and 4 year old, but the blatant disobedience and disrespect is unacceptable. And sometimes, sometimes, they get me to a point and I become that mom I never wanted to be… the one that screams and yells and loses her cool. The one that sets a bad example for how one should react under stress. The mom whose screaming is in vein because they misbehave despite it. But sometimes that’s me. Tonight that was me.

As I sit here in silence trying to calm myself down, it’s easy to think about how I could of handled the dozens of situations that arose tonight better. But maybe not. Would a cool voice of reason really made Brogan stop hopping from seat to seat in the van and actually sit in his car seat?? Would it have made Beckett stop biting his brother’s rear end mid-chomp??  I try the stern voice, but for me the stern voice very easily crosses the line to raging lunatic voice after only a few failed attempts. The problem is that my boys don’t want to behave for good behavior’s sake. There has to be something in it for them. Either something they’ll get if they are good, or something they’ll lose if they are bad. And I use that as ammo at every juncture as I try to get them to fall in line. But sometimes I screw up and throw out a reward or a consequence that I don’t really want to follow through with. But I really, really try to follow through. And so I find myself in a situation where I want them to behave because 1) whatever they are doing is wrong/annoying/dangerous/etc. and 2) if they don’t act right I’ll have to do this thing that I really don’t want to do. So please, son, please, for the love of God, do what I say! And now we have entered the crazy cycle. The one where I’m desperate and irrational, which makes my kids desperate and irrational and it’s a battle of the wills to see who will win. Well if there is one thing I am, it’s competitive, and this mommy gonna win. But it comes at a price. A pretty hefty one sometimes. Yes, the kids eventually did what I said. But tonight it was just not pleasant around here. For Brogan, for Beckett, for me or Berkley (the poor baby in my belly wondering what’s all that crazy going on out there?!?).  The experts who write the parenting books would say should choose your consequences wisely and you should always be consistent. I agree. But the reality is that sometimes it’s like you’re in battle and while occasionally the “perfect” tactic/reward/punishment/bribe comes across your lips, most the time it’s the first damn thing that comes to your mind and it’s not always very good. And consistency is great too. But sometimes “consistently” pulling the car over on the side of the road when the kids start screaming does not work when you’re on the interstate. Sorry, it just doesn’t. And so like most parents, I live in this world where there are all the “right” things you should do (and things you should never do), but then we’re thrust into real life with kids who have not read the memo. They don’t care. And we lose our cool and we scream and we yell because we can’t figure out why in the world doing all the “right” things isn’t working for our kids. It is a beautiful, frustrating thing, this job as a parent.

So what to do… not quite sure. But I am aware. They say knowing you have a problem is the first step to solving it. Check. But I wish I knew what to do differently. But I’ll try. I’ll take more deep breaths. I’ll try not to sweat the small stuff. I’ll try to pick my battles carefully. I’ll try to only give consequences I can live with. I’ll try to not take it personal and think that all of their disobedience is about defying me and that maybe, just maybe, it’s about them trying out their own independence. I’ll try to recall my childhood and remember what it was like to be yelled at – how it could ruin my day and make me feel sad. I’ll try to remember that maybe if I didn’t try to control so much, they would not feel the need to rebel so much and perhaps, perhaps, they might finally just do the right thing.

So this is why I write. I started this post feeling stressed and tense and remorseful. And I’m ending it feeling motivated and hopeful and positive. Perhaps in my reflection I have solved my own problem (maybe)… and given myself some perspective. Regardless, I am a big believer of one’s attitude about a situation being more important than the situation itself. So I’ll just keep drinking my own Kool-Aid. And always keep trying.

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Simply put… it’s chaos

I found myself in a conversation with co-workers today (who don’t yet have kids) trying to explain a day in the life of a parent. A parent with two rowdy, active (and sometimes gross) little boys.  It was not too long ago that I sat in their shoes, outside looking in at the mysterious world of parenthood. I thought I knew what I’d be getting into, but I don’t think it is humanly possible to anticipate the way having children will turn your life upside down. It’s in these moments that the contrast between the kid-free lifestyle and mine is stark. Here are people who meet up with friends whenever they’d like, workout after work, and live lives that revolve solely around them. I used to do that too. And then you have parents, who rush home from work to get kids, play with the kids, prepare a meal, discipline the kids, feed the kids, read them books, bathe the kids, brush their teeth, put them to bed and clean up all the toys (and dishes… and laundry). And then, if we’re lucky, there is an hour or so that can revolve around us. Unless of course, the kids won’t go to sleep or stay in bed, or heaven forbid you can’t get Disney Jr. off your TV, in which case, even less of the evening is yours.

Now let me be clear on a couple of things. This is not to imply that people without kids are not busy, do not have responsibility or do not have stress. I know that they do. That’s not my point. And second, don’t mistake my realist account of an evening with children to sound as if it’s the most awful thing in the world to do. Quite the contrary. There is no amount of free time that can compare to the smiling faces waiting to greet you when you arrive home from work, arms open wide, yelling and grinning ear to ear, “Mooooooommy!!!” Five days a week it is one of the best moments of my day.

But the other side of those blissful instants is that kids are a lot of work. Nothing is simple. My earlier laundry list of nightly activities may imply that it’s like a checklist that you move along, neatly marking through each completed task as if it happened on time, as scheduled. But it rarely, rarely does. Because one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about being a mom is that when you have kids, you are no longer in control. And I’m not talking about behavioral issues here where the kids are making the rules and think they are the boss. No. It’s control that you give up yourself. When we sign up to be parents we start living by rules (that while they are not dictated by our kids) are in their best interests – we adhere to a schedule, eat dinner at a reasonable time, make time for naps, clean up our language, baby-proof the home, turn our once nicely decorated houses into a place with juice-stained carpet that looks like a toy store threw up all over it. Like it or not, kids pretty much run your life. (Note – run, not ruin).

So let me explain what the nightly routine yesterday really looked like. Playing with the boys meant pushing them on the swing longer than I planned, but they were having so much fun I didn’t want to stop. It meant starting dinner late and being interrupted a dozen times because the boys were arguing over yard toys. It meant disciplining Brogan after he took two deck chairs to the very back part of the yard (after I told him not to) – and then listening to him say “they’re too heavy” to bring back – oh and him freely peeing in a random hole because duh, mom, your supposed to pee in holes. It meant feeding them dinner on the porch enjoying the beautiful weather, but being interrupted because a neighbor passing by excited the boys out of their chairs to go have a chat. And then a yellow jacket landed in my mashed potatoes. And then flies were swarming the boys plates. And no one finished their meal. And then it was time to take daddy his dinner to the gym. But that meant changing their clothes (that were absolutely filthy), and changing a diaper – of a two-year-old whose favorite game is to turn over… or kick… or run away… or all three when it’s time for a change. And then we finally got in the car – 30 minutes late. We delivered the food to a hungry dad, hung out for 10 minutes and hopped back into the car. We got home, started baths late. And then bath time was interrupted by Brogan figuring out how to use the blinds above the tub… and then noticing that he could see the rocket he lost on the roof from that window. And then Beckett (of course) needed to see it too. And then the blinds when up, and down, and up, and down. And miraculously, they were (sort of) clean and we finished the bath. And then snacks meant cheese sticks and pretzels (that of course got spilled all over the floor) and waters (that of course got spilled all over the floor). No time for books. Skip ahead to bedtime and they go down pretty easy… and I’m only called up twice with “Mommy, Beckett’s out of bed!” So I finally start to relax and realize I can’t find the damn remote and the TV is stuck on Disney Jr. blaring Sherif Callie. I literally thought I might have a nervous breakdown.  But I didn’t. I composed myself. I realized the remote upstairs would work the cable box in the living room too. But wait. If I go upstairs the boys will see me and they’ve actually been quiet for 5 minutes (although I was sure they were not yet asleep). All I wanted to do is watch Modern Family, but that channel, my friends, was 304 channels away and so for fear that my very last nerve may die if I attempted the 300 plus clicks on the cable box, I turned it off. And then I ranted on Facebook about it. And then I sat in silence until I was certain the boys were asleep and tip-toed up the stairs to steal the bedroom remote and watch my shows. And they were funny.

And so to my friends without kids who are curious what it’s like to be a parent, simply put – it’s chaos. But while it has its challenging moments, it is the most rewarding, most awesome experience ever. I am blessed to have been given these spirited children who prevent me from even thinking about having a dull moment. The chaos doesn’t compare to the way they love unconditionally, the way that need you or want you. Or how you see them learn and grow every day right before your eyes. It is one of the hardest jobs and greatest honors all rolled up into one.

The journey is a little bumpy… and impossible to fully plan for. It is truly chaos – but I really love every single day of my crazy life.

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The Perks of Being Pregnant

I’m going to just go ahead and say it – I like being pregnant. It agrees with me. I don’t get too sick, or too tired, or too moody. If you’re reading this and you’re a miserable pregnant person – I’m sorry. Don’t hate me.

To elaborate further, there are certain things about being pregnant that I love… parts I wish I could take with me post-pregnancy. Here goes…

The ability to rock a fat stomach. Oh yes, when you’re pregnant, the pooch becomes an accessory! You can flaunt it, accentuate it, dress it up and certainly don’t have to worry about covering it up. Since after my last two pregnancies, I spent a lot of time trying to hide the mommy-belly that followed, it has been liberating (to say the least) to wear tight clothes proudly!

The desire to want to clean. all. the. time.  The theoretical me is really organized and keeps a really clean house. The real me sucks at these two things. The pregnant me, however, has found some deep, deep motivation to constantly pick up and put (and keep) my house in order. My husband wishes this part would stay around too. I can’t say I blame him.

The maternity pants. When I was pregnant the first time, I remember clearly being in a Motherhood Maternity dressing room, trying on maternity clothes and being a little depressed at the thought of wearing them. And also depressed at the thought that I would get big enough to fit in them. Wow – what a wake up call. I put it off as long as I could, but when I finally retired the rubber band that was holding the buttons on my normal pants together and surrendered to the maternity pants, I could not believe I had waited so long.  The maternity pants I’m referring to are the over-the-belly variety. Seriously one of the best articles of clothing ever invented. You spend most of your life trying to fit your stomach in pants that are too tight, and then all of the sudden you get some with an elastic stomach and it is just awesome. This will be one of the saddest things to retire after this baby is born… if I retire them. It may be handy to keep a pair for Thanksgiving. Hmmmm.

The boobs. Really, do I need to explain this one any further? Just awesome!

Eating for two. I would consider myself a pretty healthy eater (most of the time). But the quantity of food I consume is just stupid some times. My co-workers accuse me of the hollow-leg syndrome. Seriously, I don’t know where I put it. That’s the non-pregnant me. The pregnant me does the same, but in an unashamed and entitled sort of way. Don’t look at me crazy for eating my entire 2-pound Chipotle bowl – I’m eating for two!

Getting the say in the food selection (and eating whenever I want). There is something about being pregnant that people automatically defer to you for what to eat. “Where do you want to eat?” I ask. “Wherever you want, you’re the pregnant one,” they say. “Do you mind if I reschedule our meeting, it’s right in the middle of my lunch,” I say. “Sure thing! Would hate to keep the pregnant lady hungry!” they reply. Why, oh why, can’t the world appreciate the non-pregnant me’s need for food too?? Even if it’s fleeting, I will spend the next 5 months relishing in this one for sure!

I think there are more… but one of the downsides to pregnancy is “pregnancy brain” (a for-real condition) which has caused me to forget the rest of my list. Oh, and this condition also causes typos. So any typo you see on my blog is directly attributable to this – even the posts prior to this pregnancy because pregnancy brain lasts until your kids are at least in elementary school, so it was probably left over from one of my prior pregnancies. But I digress.

One could say I’m in the naive stage – out of the first trimester funk – not too uncomfortable yet – sleeping most the night. And they are probably right. This, my friends is the blissful part of pregnancy. And sure, I miss sushi and beer. A lot. But since this is the last go-round for this pregnant gal, I am focusing on the perks and trying to appreciate them more than I did before. So bring it on heartburn and stretch marks and swollen ankles! Me and my big-boobed hungry self in the stretchy maternity pants – we’ve got this!

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