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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The Roles are Reversing

I’m not sure I thought I would (anytime soon) profess that Brogan was my easy child. But over the last couple of weeks, Brogan has begun to show maturity. He is controlling his emotions more and we can actually reason with him. There are less tantrums, there is less stress, less screaming and more enjoyable time together. I’m feeling a tiny sense of relief that the path I thought he was on 6 months ago may not be his destiny.  Now, I’m not professing that he is an angel – not at all. But relative to his 3-year-old self and relative to his 2-year-old brother, he is now much, much more manageable. He is still Brogan, so he’s 90 miles an hour most times or “relentless” as my father-in-law says. But I can deal with high-energy and high-maintenance. A while back, my sister-in-law drew the perfect analogy for him. We were talking about one of the good things about his strong personality is that he’ll definitely be a leader. And then in jest she said, “We’re not sure yet if we’re dealing with a Lincoln or a Hitler, but he’ll be a leader!” Well, thank the Lord, but the Hitler route does not appear to be where we’re heading. Let’s hope this trend continues.

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Now Beckett. The little guy has picked up some of Brogan’s habits and has been flexing his independence lately. He’s been running off, being defiant, and flat out acting like a wild animal. He’s been throwing major temper tantrums… and gave me quite a doozy this weekend with my mother-in-law while we were in Kroger. He didn’t want in the cart; he didn’t want in the little car attached to the cart. He didn’t want to be held, or walk. So he threw himself on the floor and threw an absolute fit. I tried the tactic of walking away and paying him no attention. But he just screamed louder. So I picked him up and carried his kicking and screaming butt outside where he sat in timeout until he calmed down. I was very thankful I was not solo during this outing. And while none of this is abnormal for a 2-year-old, this is my sweet Beckett we’re talking about. That mild-mannered child who took it easy on mom while she did her best to wrangle his older brother. That sweet child, I fear, is moving to the dark side. I’m hoping we learned some lessons with Brogan that have left us better equipped to handle a disobedient toddler, and perhaps this phase gets nipped pretty quickly. We can only hope.

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I’m beginning to realize that age has a lot to do with the behavior issues. I think a child’s personality can either amplify or lessen the standard age-appropriate willfulness/tantrums/talking back/disobedience/etc. But regardless, some of this stuff is inevitable. Let’s just hope Beckett only gets a case of the terrible twos… and not the terrifying threes like ole Bob had. And let’s hope that four is a year of continuing maturity for Brogan and that things can be “easy” for a little while. At least until it gets really crazy come December.

And speaking of Bob, this phase has not gone away. He continues to refer to himself by that name… he continues to write his name as that name. We’re not making a big deal about it (for fear that oppressing it will make it worse), but I still call him Brogan (to which he corrects me occasionally). I’m concerned that when he goes into Pre-K in a few weeks, it will be “Bob” that he wants to write on all his papers. Not sure what to do here… except chuckle, I suppose, because this kid sure likes to keep things interesting.

And speaking of keeping it interesting, Brogan has been wooing the ladies again. In particular, a 4-year-old girl this past weekend. The little girl had come over to Blake’s parents’ house with her grandparents and had been swimming and playing with Brogan for a couple hours. When it was time for her to leave, Brogan was a little sad and deflated, because obviously, he wasn’t ready for her to go. So as she begins to walk away, he says confidently, and I quote, “there’s only one thing left to do…” and with that the proceeded to walk over to her, give her a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. Proud of himself, he walked away with a grin. The little girl said, “Yuk.” Her grandmother said, “That’s my girl.” And they left. I was sitting there with my sister-in-law when the whole thing went down, and we were pretty much dumbfounded by what we heard. Like, seriously?!? Where does he get this from!  It seemed fresh from a soap opera script, but the little guy doesn’t watch soaps. So maybe some kids are just born with all the right things to say and a natural charm. But after every episode like this, I get more and more worried about his teenage years. Oh what am I in store for…

Oh the joys, oh the joys. I say that half sarcastic and half for real. Parenting really is a joy. Especially when you can loosen up and appreciate your kids for who they really are – the good, the bad and the ugly. I think sometimes kids just need to be accepted and loved and somehow all that bad stuff that we’re worried will keep them from being productive members of society one day will just go away.  My kids aren’t perfect and I’m not the perfect parent, but I really am enjoying this ride they’ve got me on. Oh the joys!

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We’re having a girl!

So I’m a couple of days late on the blog update… but it’s official – we’re having a girl! I’m going to steal the words from one of my aunts… I love when God’s plans fit with our desires. Amen! It is such a blessing that we’ll get to experience raising boys and a girl, and I truly feel as though our family will be complete come December. And I am especially excited for my husband because I know how much he wanted a daughter. I can’t wait to see him get to live that dream of having daddy’s little girl – it is going to be awesome!

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The money shot!!

We went into the ultrasound with a girls name picked out… we didn’t have a boys name, but it wasn’t for lack of trying, we really just couldn’t decide. But our girls name was set… we are naming her Berkley Elaine. Berkley was a name that my mother-in-law came across and we felt it fit well with Brogan and Beckett… unique, started with a B, two syllables, different end-sound, English/Irish origin, you know, all the things one thinks about when they are obsessively thinking about baby names on a daily basis. Elaine comes from Blake’s maternal grandmother who passed away.  She was really special to many people, especially Blake, and I am sad that I never got to meet her. Our babysitter who recently passed away was also named Elaine, so for me, it’s an ode to her memory as well. Needless to say, I love her name. Love it. I can’t wait to see it embroidered on everything…. oh wait, it already is…

Monogrammed Dresses

It took my family less than 12 hours to already go shopping and begin the monogramming. Yes, I am that kind of girl and will have (just about) everything embroidered. Berkley will probably rebel and be a total tomboy after all of the dresses and bows, but that’s okay. For the first couple of years she doesn’t get a choice and so I get to play dress-up.

Brogan is very happy that he’s having a sister. He really wouldn’t even acknowledge the fact that this could have been a boy. As he told me, he already has a brother and does not need another one. Well okay. Glad he got what he wanted too. Brogan has decided he’s going to call her Berkley Blue… who cares that it’s not her real name, that’s what he likes. Blake mentioned it when we were throwing around middle names and it stuck for him. And who are we to argue with Bob? It’ll be fine – she can be Brogan’s Berkley Blue. I took Brogan shopping with me at Target and he got to pick out her first dress and a baby doll. He was so proud to be a part of it, and it just warmed this mommy’s heart!

Excited Big Brother

Beckett, bless his heart, doesn’t really get what’s going on. I keep trying to tell him there’s a baby coming, but it doesn’t seem to stick. Perhaps he thinks if ignores it, he will remain the baby forever.

It’s exciting times for this family! The good thing is that I have cured my curiosity by finding out we’re having a daughter… bad news is waiting until December to get to meet her is going to feel like forever! And at the rate of 16 new outfits within 24 hours – and we’ve got 6 more months of anticipation – means that daddy may be building on to her closet. All good problems to have though… feeling so, so blessed.

 

 

 

 

The Truth about the Gender Question

Boy or Girl

One of the questions most asked of those who are expecting a child is “do you want a boy or a girl?” It’s an interesting question. You get to make a public declaration of your desire and then you get a 50/50 chance of either getting what you want… or not. And then when you already have two boys, the question morphs a little to “you want a girl this time, don’t you?” Now there is the PC answer (happy, healthy, etc.), and then sometimes there’s the real one. And by the way, who doesn’t want a happy and healthy child? As if having a preference on the sex indicates you’ve bypassed the ultimate desire of wellbeing… but I digress. I know no one means harm in the question, and by no means do I find it offensive, but it can be a little awkward. Because the truth is that yes, I want a girl. And I know there is a 50/50 chance I’ll be eating my words. But if I was writing up the “perfect” life for myself, this third child would be a girl. I mean, don’t most people want to get to experience what it’s like to raise both a boy and a girl? But the funny thing about writing out your “perfect” story – sometimes you get it wrong. Two and half years ago when I was pregnant with Beckett (and before I knew he was a he) I would have answered girl too. But if things had gone according to my plan, I wouldn’t have this precious little boy, or perhaps this opportunity to have a third child. So it’s a good thing, that despite all of my “planning”, it’s not my plan guiding my life. So I answer girl this time too, but there is an asterisk. I want a girl, but I know that a girl may not be in God’s plans for me. I may be meant to be the mom of three boys, and I am okay with that. In fact, I’m more than oaky with that – I will embrace that reality and never look back. But who knows, a girl could be in the plan too.

We find out what we’re having next Saturday, by the way.

Blake and I decided we had to know as early as possible with this pregnancy. There are countless opinions about discovering the gender – find out or wait until delivery… how early to find out… how to spread the news, etc. This will be our third time to find out via ultrasound. For me, being able to refer to the baby as a he or she, and with a name, has helped me to bond with the pregnancy (so we won’t be holding out on the name till the end either). This time there is a little more anxiety because we know it is our last time. I am truly just anxious to know what our reality is so that I can focus on being excited about it… versus getting wrapped up in my plan if that’s not what’s meant to be. We’re not planning anything fancy for the reveal – we’ll find out in the ultrasound room (with our boys), and after calling our parents it’ll be Facebook/blog official within an hour I’m sure. We aren’t real good at keeping these things a secret.

6 days to go… but who’s counting.

Hi, My Name is Bob

We’ve been going through a little phase lately… our oldest has renamed himself Bob. You know, as in “the builder”. Upon introducing himself to anyone new, he insists that his name is Bob. Some people believe him. Until we interject – “his name is not Bob, it’s Brogan.” To which he pipes back, “No it’s not! My name is Bob!” Well okay then.

This past weekend we were working a booth for our gym at a benefit festival, and he introduced himself to the MC as Bob as well. Which turned out to be funny when Brogan asked if he could sing a song using his microphone. It’s hard to turn down this sort of request from a charming 4-year-old, so as I sat at our booth I hear the announcer over the loudspeaker say, “We’ve got Bob here, and he’s going to sing a little song for you all today.” I couldn’t help but laugh.

And then this last weekend for Father’s Day, I asked Brogan to sign the card to Blake. I handed him the card and the pen and he started writing… B… “good job buddy!” I said… O… I stopped him, “bud – I think you forgot the R”. “No I didn’t” he replied. And he continued writing…. B. And he looked at me and smiled. I busted out laughing and asked him how he knew how to spell Bob – his response, “I just knew, mom!” Blake got the same kick out of it when he opened his card.

Bob's Father's Day Card

I guess this is a way for him to assert his independence – to have some control over some aspect of his life. I suppose it doesn’t do any harm and the more we try to correct him the more he’ll dig his feet in and then who knows how long “Bob” will be around.

But I’ve decided that when Brogan does something awful, I’m just going to blame it on Bob. Because certainly that sweet baby that I gave birth to and named Brogan could not possibly get into half the trouble that my child gets in. No way. So just the other day “Bob” took things to a new level. Where his shenanigans and destruction impacted someone outside of this house and where Blake and I will literally be paying for it.

So we had a guy come to our house to purchase some broken lawn equipment. The guy backed up his truck in our driveway and was loading up the lawn mowers when my hammer wielding “Bob” came out to “do some work”. In the blink of an eye, I hear the hammer hit metal, and look up in horror as I see a gash about 10-inches long on the side of this man’s truck. This man’s nice truck. This truck that he obviously took pride in and took care of. That truck. And about 30 seconds later, this nice man noticed the same scratch and was just sick about it. Even though I knew the answer, I asked Brogan… I mean Bob, “did you do that?” He hung his head down in shame, “Yes.” Let me tell you, if you’ve never been here it’s a pretty awkward place to be. The guy was a nice guy and you could tell that he didn’t know how to handle the situation. But I told him that we’d take care of it, and wrote him a note to that effect. Well the next day I get a call from him and he already had three estimates… and when you factored in the rental car that would be required, it was looking like we would be out $1,000. Luckily I called our insurance company and discovered that incidents like this fall under the liability portion of our policy for which there is not a deductible. However we did lose our 15% discount for no claims, but I figure with 3 kids, some sort of claim is inevitable. Our insurance company even had a specific code for “innocent acts by a minor” (and although it could be argued exactly how innocent this was), apparently this sort of thing happens.

So Bob, thanks for keeping things interesting. We love you in spite of (and also because of) all the excitement you add to our lives.

Hi My Name is Bob

 

We’re Expecting… Again!

As if there wasn’t enough craziness going on in our lives right now, it’s about to get crazier! Yes, we decided to have another baby, and I’m happy to report that I’m 12 weeks along today. Baby #3 is due right before Christmas, and we couldn’t be more excited.

Those of you who have read some of my kid-related posts may think I’ve lost my mind. Well, perhaps. But I’ve always wanted to have a big family, so I have chosen to be blissfully ignorant where all the impending logistical challenges are concerned.  Yes, I will have 3 kids 4 years and under. Yes, I will continue to work full time. Yes, grocery shopping will be an even bigger pain in the butt than it is now. Yes, I’ll sleep less, have a messier house and spend a fortune for another couple years of diapers. But despite all the really good reasons not to, we decided that a big family is worth the sacrifice. And if we were going to do it, we decided the sooner the better. We were afraid that if things got “easier” (more sleeping, less diapers, etc.), that we may not want to go back to the life with a newborn/infant. But luckily, things are not yet easy, and so while we’re still in the trenches, we figure we might as well go back to battle.

We made the decision to have another baby before Blake planned his career change, but I have to say that it is going to make things a lot, lot easier. He’ll be home more and not too far away, which will be a significant improvement over his work situation the last two times. It also works out that he got a new truck a few months ago. A big truck. A truck that can easily fit 3 car seats in the back. Hello daddy chauffeur. I, on the other hand, will have to get a new vehicle. And eventually, we’ll need to get a bigger house. But you know what? That’s all okay by me.

I experienced two early miscarriages while trying to have this baby, and so as I enter my 2nd trimester we are counting our blessings. Those experiences have given me a newfound appreciation for the fact that it’s not always easy to conceive. It’s a perspective that I didn’t have after my first two easy pregnancies. But as I sit here today, I am more thankful and humbled than ever before that I am growing another little life.

So if you’ve wondered why I haven’t posted as much here lately, this would be the reason. It’s partly because I’ve been exhausted and just want to go to sleep after the boys go to bed… and partly because this is such a big thing going on that I felt a little unauthentic writing about my life and not including it. But after the miscarriages, I really felt like I should adhere to the “12-week rule”. But now that we’ve passed that milestone, let the pregnancy posts commence!

Well, here we go! A new chapter in our lives that promises to be an adventure. We’re excited and thankful and probably a little naive. But we’re on the way to being a family of 5, and I couldn’t be more happy about it!

Baby 3

 

Baby3

 

And I have to give credit for the photo idea to my husband… one of the many reasons why I love him.

Dealing with a loss

It’s the unfortunate scenario that eventually every parent has to go through… telling their child that someone they loved has died. Today our family experienced a tragic loss – we lost the boys’ caregiver, Elaine, in a car accident.

Elaine has been part of our lives for the last four years. She’s been watching Brogan since he was 8 weeks old.  Monday through Friday, 8 or 9 hours a days, she has loved our boys like they were her own. She was loving, yet stern; they behaved better for her, they ate better for her. She could change their diapers easier too. She is what they have known for their whole lives, and in the blink of an eye she is gone.

It’s funny how life can change in an instant. How one decision you make has the opportunity to change the trajectory of a life. Who would have thought that a month ago, when I made the boys 2 and 4 year check ups for this afternoon, that while the boys were with us at the doctors, Elaine would venture off at 4pm to grab a bite to eat for her son. It’s hard not to think of the what-ifs… if the boys had been at her house, would she have taken them with her, or waited to go until I picked them up? I don’t usually get them until 4:45. I have to trust in God’s plan and know that things happened as they were meant to be, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that both of those scenarios keep replaying in my mind. I held my boys a little tighter and a lot longer tonight.

When I got the call from her son a few hours ago, it was hard to take in. It was a call from her phone, but when it wasn’t her voice on the other end, I instantly froze fearing something was wrong. I could have never imagined things were this wrong. That in the rain, a 19 year old kid t-boned her side of the car, less than a mile from her house, on a road I travel every single day. But that was the news I received, and my heart instantly broke for the loss of such a sweet soul… and for the impending heart break of my oldest.

I waited until Blake got home for us to tell Brogan the news. We were honest. We told him that Elaine went to heaven to be with Jesus, and that she’d be in his heart forever. He knew what it meant. He knew she had died. I knew that he’d understand, but I don’t think that I anticipated just how much he would get it. He wanted to know how, so we told him. He sobbed for the loss of his “meenamy,” as he called her. He wanted to make her a card, so we transcribed the sweet words from his heart as he told us how much he loved her and was going to miss her. It was absolutely heart breaking.

Elaine was like a grandmother to us. I am grateful for the four years that she devoted herself to my family and for her  help in raising our boys. She will be very missed and not soon forgotten.

Elaine