When are we going to admit we’ve ruined Halloween?

Just a little TIE Fighter, making his way in the world…slash, to his preschool Halloween party.

At its very premise, Halloween for kids is incredible. You get to dress up in a costume and be something else? Check. You get to show off said costume and everyone – everyone – tells you how amazing you look? Check. You get to go around the neighborhood while it’s dark? Check. You get to walk a few blocks in your spectacular costume, hold out a bag, mutter in any tone of voice three magic words and you are suddenly gifted with an inordinate amount of free candy? Check. Check check check check check. Halloween. Is. Magnificent.

At least, it used to be. Continue reading

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Stumbling Through the Woods: A tale of my postpartum depression

Things were not all terrible. Not even a little bit.

I couldn’t find a pair of pajamas for Daphne that fit.

That was all it took.

Chris was changing her diaper, complained a little about the straps on the diaper sticking, so I took a diaper out, screamed as loud as I could, and proceeded to hit the diaper against the dresser over and over and over again until it had quite literally dissolved in my hands and I was covered in absorbent cotton diaper innards. I overturned the entire bin of baby clothes onto the floor until I found a pair of pajamas, all the while screaming word combinations I didn’t even know I knew.

Then I started sobbing. Continue reading

Woe be unto all mothers who enter the Hanna Andersson store

A warning tale if you ever find yourself near a Hanna Andersson store

(An entry into “The Motherbury Tales: Parenting as told in rhyming couplets,” an imaginary book I have started composing while waiting in line questioning my life’s decisions)

Perhaps Hanna Andersson can hire my child as a model and pay her in clothes?

As I go to Hanna Andersson to make a return,
I get nervous. My heart will yearn
For ALL the clothes in the store.
I know myself; this has happened before.
Lord give me strength not to buy
Everything that I spy.

This errand comes as I surmise
Both my children have gone up in size.
And, oh my goodness, it’s a new season…
I seem to be losing all my reason
NOT to buy out all their stock
Of their colorful clothes, and even their socks.
Alas, our budget simply doesn’t allow
For me to go and have a cow.
So as I go and make this return
Maybe this will be the time I learn
To play this errand simple and straight:
Go in, go out, don’t hesitate.

Don’t look at the dresses, don’t peek at the tops –
Once you do you know you can’t stop.
Well…just one quick look, it can’t hurt?
(Since both my kids just had a growth spurt?)
Oh Hanna, you have me once again!
All my money, down the drain!
My kids will look like definite winners
(But it’s beans and franks for all our dinners).

It’s this mom gene I seem to now possess
Where I can’t resist buying that dress
And those pants, and that shirt…
Oh, and fine, just throw in that skirt.
As I stand here, my arms full of clothes
To don my kids’ bodies, heads, and toes.
I recite to myself this infamous line:
“I really won’t let this happen NEXT time.”

My life described in exactly 6 charts

It has been almost 5 (!!!) months since I walked over half a mile while in labor to the hospital to deliver my littlest humanchild Daphne.

I have learned a few things in this period of time, such as:

  • There is a rogue fifth person in our house, and I say that only because that would explain the amount of laundry I do*.
  • Two children is, in fact, much harder than one.

Okay, so maybe learning things isn’t exactly in my wheelhouse right now.

A question I seem to come across and yet have no answer for is what my life looks like these days. For being as exhausted as I am, surely I must have an answer to this simple quandary, yet I am continuously at a loss for what to tell people when asked what I do at home. I realized recently instead of trying to produce words out of my face (you know, also known as speaking coherently) perhaps I could instead show everyone what I’ve been up to lately.

And so, I present to you fine folks these 6 graphs describing my life at any given moment these days. Please enjoy.


On choices:


On past lives lived:


On being forced to confront your own limitations:


On time management:


On discipline:

 


On making conversation:

 

 


*E.T., if you’re reading this, just come out, dude. I’m not going to turn you in, I promise**!
**Unless your clothes are dry-clean only. In that case the gloves are off.

Toddlers are actually velociraptors. Here’s why.

Toddlers : macarons :: Velociraptors : Muldoons

Have you ever seen Jurassic Park? I want to be crystal clear here: not the latest Jurassic-this-is-my-excuse-to-stare-at-Chris Pratt-for-two-hours-electric-boogaloo Park. I’m talking OG JP. The indisputable best JP. The 1993 groundbreaking dinosaur adventure extravaganza that forever made learning about dinosaurs cool JP. That JP.

Have you seen it?

Of course you have.

Now, think back while I ask you a simple question: who are the scariest beasts in that film?

If you answered anything other than “velociraptors” you’re wrong. No no, it’s okay, I’m not judging you, I’m just gently informing you…you’re wrong. Sure, the T. rex has the famous Jell-O-on-the-spoon-jiggling scene. And yeah yeah yeah, the T. rex is fierce and big and scary and causes all sorts of shenanigans. But at whom did Muldoon marvel and utter the now-infamous, “Clever girl?” Who was it that figured out the kitchen could be a festivus of potential death for humans? See where I’m going with this? It’s the raptors.

THE RAPTORS.

Recently it occurred to me that perhaps I had been approaching thinking about velociraptors all wrong. Perhaps the reason they are so terrifying is that they are not just fierce, but they resemble something I know well. There’s something eerily familiar about them.

And then it hit me.

I live with one.

Every day.

Ding! Like a lightbulb over my head.

Toddlers are actually velociraptors.

I shall make my case. And Muldoon, feel free to call me a “clever girl” any time.

They can escape from anything

On Easter my 2.5-year-old learned how to undo the childproof doorknob covers on his door and escape from his room*. While I do admire his willingness to take the “escape from the cave” lesson of Easter to heart, this was actually a terrifying development. Connor can also open deadbolts, undo the little sliding bar locky thingy (technical term) on bathroom doors, and open heavy doors that give grown adults hernias. He can operate revolving doors. He knows what the handicap-accessible door opening button mechanisms do and can find them with astounding swiftness.

Now, if Jurassic Park gave me one lesson in dinosaur evolution** it was that velociraptors also can figure out how to escape. From anything. Cages? Forget cages. Those raptors laugh at your cages just like my toddler laughs at your “childproof” doorknob covers.

The sound. Oh my god, the sound.

You probably don’t remember with astounding accuracy what the velociraptors actually sound like in Jurassic Park but in case you’re wondering, they sound like this.

That screeching, growling, constant hum that eventually turns into a high-pitched roar? Velociraptors and my son would probably have one heck of a conversation when put together in a room. There is no telling who would cause more eardrum damage.

They can find the single deadliest object in any room in a matter of seconds

Punk rock Sit ‘n Spin? Foiled on his way to certain destruction? The world may never know.

Granted, velociraptors don’t really need to find the deadliest objects in rooms as they are the deadliest objects in the room, but I still feel their ability to trap humans in precarious situations is notable. One time I answered a phone call and by the time I had answered “hello” I turned back around and found Connor holding a pair of full-sized adult scissors in one hand and a box cutter (not extended) in the other.

Where did he find these objects, you might ask? Well, friend, where else would a toddler logically think to look for something in a matter of 15 seconds? He had scaled onto the counter, climbed over the stove, traversed over the sink, and grabbed them off the top of the refrigerator.

As one does.

On the one hand, I was terrified, yet on the other hand, I was thoroughly impressed with not only his agility but his fortitude and problem-solving skills, which is exactly the description I give to the raptors.

They exceed all speed expectations

According to the annals of Jurassic Park raptors can reach a top speed of approximately 3,000 mph. It turns out toddlers are almost as swift, despite their short legs and general tendency to fall down simply because they have been standing up for too long.

If you don’t believe me regarding toddler top speed I would like to invite you to the grocery store with me at some point and challenge you to keep up with my son while I’m unloading groceries at the checkout line. One time I swear I heard a sonic boom erupt as I was unloading all my organic kale and zucchini*** onto the conveyer belt.

They are simply impressive

Sure, velociraptors are terrifying – almost as terrifying as spirited toddlers. And sure, they “keep you on your toes,” which in velociraptor terms means, “they very well might try to kill you” and in parenting terms conveniently also means the same thing.

But on the other hand, sometimes it’s impressive what toddlers and velociraptors can accomplish when they put their minds to it. Toddlers and velociraptors don’t just think outside the box, they first escape from the box, use the box to scale the bookcase, and then attempt to eat all the cat food you so cleverly hid “way up high so the toddler can’t eat it.****” In my calmer moments I love seeing what my toddler notices on our walks around the neighborhood. (In my not-so-calm moments I don’t particularly love seeing what kind of velociraptor noises he can make in front of Wrigley Field right at game time because he doesn’t want to turn back home to go get lunch*****.)

Toddlers are stubborn, loud, destructive, creative, hilarious, beautiful creatures. Calling them velociraptors is a complement of the highest regard. Now the trick I think is to eventually turn my son’s raptor energies into a force for good in the world. Does anyone have any ideas on how to do that?

 

*Yes, we have childproof doorknob covers on the inside of his door so we can prevent his imminent escape during designated “please for the love of all that is holy and good in this world sleep, please” times. Or as people in normal houses might call them, “nap and bedtimes.”

**Read as: all my lessons

***Wine. It was wine.

****We all know that’s not a hypothetical scenario, right?

*****You get the hang of it. Not hypothetical. 

Please play the velociraptor sound video while looking at this picture for full effect.

Just pack the d*mn bag already: a lesson in how not to go into labor

Yes, I fell for the hospital-provided professional newborn pictures. Hook, line, and hormone-induced sinker.

About three weeks ago I had a new baby. (Hooray! Go me!)

Baby Daphne arrived 10 days before her due date, healthy, happy (sleepy, rather, which equates to happy for her parents), and weighing in at exactly to the ounce the same birth weight as her big brother. Apparently my uterus has a very strict weight and size capacity for humans growing in it, and, as it turns out, I appreciate its fastidiousness in adhering to the rules.

Since Wee Connor was born in Charlotte and Baby Daphne in Chicago I knew there would be a few differences in the birth experiences. And while I won’t go into gory details of the actual birth, the basics are that I had a planned c-section with Baby Daphne since Connor was an emergency c-section after 26 hours of back labor. (For the record, that is not what we call in the business a “fun time.”) Continue reading

You’ll be receiving Christmas cards in February this year.

Dear Everyone On My Christmas/Holiday Card List,

shame gif.gifI’m sorry. I really am. I’m sitting here eating Valentine’s Day candy and there is just nothing I can do other than apologize.

But the fact of the matter remains: you will be receiving your Christmas cards from us this year in February.

I am fully aware how ridiculous this is.

I am fully aware that nobody does this.

I am also more than fully aware that many people have more on their plates than I do who still manage to get their cards out in a reasonable timeframe.

I can assure you with every fiber of my being: I am aware.

But, again, it doesn’t change the fact that you will be receiving a lovely holiday card with the words “Merry Christmas” on it and our lovely faces plastered all over over the front with a nice little family update printed on the back. In February.

“But why?” You say. “Couldn’t you just not send them instead?”

Well, sure. Yes. Technically, that is an option. But they’re here. They’re printed. They’re gorgeous. I spent time on them. And, more to the point: I spent money on them.

So you’re getting your Christmas cards in February.

How did this happen? Well, I can actually explain that, too.

When I got the Christmas cards I was so excited, I finished the return labels, sealed them up, and had them ready to go. Only then I realized I didn’t have stamps.

Then, thinking  I had plenty of time I procrastinated getting stamps. This was the fatal error. Obviously I should have just gone to the post office one day while Connor was at school and gotten the damn stamps. Probably like the day the cards arrived. Again, I am aware.

All of a sudden Christmas started coming really fast. Like, really, really fast. I was ill-prepared and found myself scrambling between OB appointments and shopping and decorating and family coming in that, well, it just kept getting pushed off.

During this time we also rearranged our house a bit for Baby Daphne’s impending arrival. Because Wee Connor started crawling out of his crib (remember this, as it becomes important later!) we put him in a big-boy bed (which I believe used to be just known as a “bed”, but modern vernacular now dictates it be called a “big-boy bed”, apparently). Then due to the layout of our house, we moved our bedroom into the front living room (in a somewhat common Chicago layout, our condo has a front living room and a back living room) that is also next to the nursery and put Connor into our bedroom.

We also made a large-scale “KonMari clean out our crap” effort during this time in order to make room for this rearranging nonsense. It’s still a work in progress but it truly is freeing. I emptied out two closets’ worth of stuff we had been dragging from house to house to house. But this all took a lot of our holiday time while we had family babysitters available and in town. This was made more exhausting by the fact that I was starting to go from, “Eh, I’m pregnant, I guess” to, “Oh, no, 6 months pregnant is actually legitimately pregnant now.”

No worries, I kept telling myself, I’ll just send the cards out around New Year’s. That’s still in the limits.

Then we found out that our dog Brinkley’s cancer was back much sooner than expected, and it was spreading everywhere. We gave him one last treatment as a palliative measure hoping his last few months would be good, instead of having him slowly decline. However, we knew at most he would only have a few more months and this cast a shadow on my entire existence.

And then Connor stopped sleeping.

A quick elaboration before I go on. This “stopped sleeping” thing was not a cutesy, “Oh, he’s going through a regression, he’ll be back to normal soon,” kind of thing. It was a, “he literally comes out to come get us 15 times in 2 hours in the middle of the night” kind of thing. It was a, “he will not sleep until one of us is lying down with him, and toddlers do not care if they sleep perpendicular to the direction of the bed” thing. It was a, “how can such a tiny human being take up so much space in a bed?!” thing. And remember that whole bit I told you before about how he was now in a big-boy bed? Well, turns out that kids who can climb out of their cribs before they’re ready to understand how to stay in their rooms have trouble staying in their rooms. Chris and I started taking turns cramming our gigantic adult bodies into Connor’s twin bed with him just to get a few hours’ rest each night. It was, quite literally, worse than having a newborn. Also, he wouldn’t take naps.

There was no joy in Mudville.

It was mid-January at this point. The cards still weren’t sent. Chris and I were, to be frank, unraveling.

We hired a “sleep consultant” because it’s 2017, we live in a large city in America where sleep consultants are widely available, and there was no way we could possibly handle another minute of Connor not sleeping, let alone have him be so unable to sleep when the new baby came in April. She put us on a strict sleeping regimen to help Connor learn how to fall asleep on his own and for him to learn to stay in his room until he was allowed to come out again. This took about 10-12 days total.

Then our world fully came down around us.

img_3581

I love you, Brinkley Dog. And I always will.

We started realizing Brinkley’s palliative treatment had little effect on him. We could tell our time with him wouldn’t be the two months we had hoped for, but more a matter of weeks. His body started shutting down. The cancer ate his insides more and more. He could no longer control his bodily functions well, and he was in such pain he started getting periodically aggressive with us.

We gave him steak dinners. We took him to the park for some tennis ball chasing. We didn’t get angry if he got into the trash, or went to the bathroom inside. Sending out the cards dropped off my priority to-do list completely.

And then it was time. We had to let him go.

I still can’t talk about it without sobbing uncontrollably. Truth be told, I still can’t even really talk about it at all.

I was semi-nonfunctional for probably about 2 weeks after.

Slowly, I started getting back to semi-functional.

And now, all of a sudden, it’s the middle of February.

And my Christmas cards still are sitting on top of my built-in in my kitchen, waiting to be sent.

Which is why, my dearest friends and family, you will be receiving Christmas cards from us in February.

I hope you giggle at the absurdity of it. I have. It’s really the only way to overcome the complete and utter embarrassment of sending Christmas cards in February. And while, yes, I could just not send them, as any normal person probably would do at this point, I want to let everyone who is getting these cards know I love them and have thought about them through the year. I also hope they understand that sometimes if they need to send Christmas cards in February–figuratively or literally–I will never judge them, but rather embrace their struggles they’ve had, both big and small, alongside their successes and end-of-year summaries on the back of the cards with their smiling faces, just as I know you will do with us.

And so that, friends, is why you’re getting our Christmas cards in February.