The (really) Great Pumpkin Farm

It turns out that life with 2 kids is definitely not a fairy tale…

Denny and I are incredibly grateful for 2 healthy kids, but I would be lying if I said that it isn’t hard work every single day.  Some days we just lack the energy and motivation to pack the bags, make the picnic lunches, find the matching shoes, wrestle the kids into the car seats… the list goes on and on.  And on those days we just scrap the plans, toss the kids some Tim Bits, and settle in at home.

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But Saturday was different.  I’m not sure why, but Saturday we hit our stride.  Saturday we got it together and we headed to the awesome Great Pumpkin Farm in Clarence, NY.  (No fairy godmother assistance required)  And I’m so glad that we did!

 The cutest little pumpkins in the patch!

The cutest little pumpkins in the patch!

It was one of those rare meltdown-free days.  Makenzie loved all of it… the singing chickens, the magic show, the rides, the jumping pillows, and of course, all of the pumpkins.  She had endless energy, and she even had a pumpkin themed shirt.  Score, two bonus points for this mom!

Mitchell loved it all too.  He was mellow while we watched the entertainers.  He was sleeping when we explored the kiddie coaster and swings.  And he was perfectly adorable when we finally ventured over to the pumpkins.  Way to go, little buddy!

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By midnight the spell was over.   The mellow, happy, Normall Rockwell-esque kids returned to our crazy muchkins who fight naps and wake up at all hours of the night.  My clean mom attire turned back into spit-up covered sweats.  And our carriage was really just a family-sized SUV all along.  But we were left with lots of great memories and of course, a pumpkin or two.

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I don’t have a glass slipper to prove any of this, but I do have a few pictures…

 

 

Baby’s 1st autumn!  Checking out these big orange things

 

Cheese!

 

I actually made it in a picture.

 

She’s such a big girl on the swings!

 

Pumpkin farm express

 

Testing out the new pumpkin farm jumping pillows. Two thumbs up from this girl!

 

All tired out.

 

Petting the bunny, Abby Cadabara! This little furry guy was her favorite part of the magic show.

 

<3 these two.

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And they lived (mostly) happily ever after…

thanks to bribes, wine & a good sense of humor.

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xoxo

The 52 best gifts

It’s a beautiful Friday afternoon and guess where my kids are… right here, in our own home, hanging with me, the luckiest mama on the planet!

Shortly before maternity leave ended, it started… that awful feeling deep in my gut about my role in life.  I was starting to question everything.  Was I a bad mom to work?  Would it hurt my family to stay home?  Would I be happy at home?  Would I be happy at work?

So I did the most logical thing.  I cried and stressed out about it.  Clearly the right thing to do.  After a few weeks and some encouragement from a dear friend (thank you Emily), I asked the question… is it possible, might I be able, is it even an option… to not come back to work full time?  And quicker than I asked it, I had my answer.  Yes!  Wow.  Who knew?

Yes, I can work four days!  Yes, I can still keep the career I love yet still keep some special Mommy time with the kids I adore!  Yes, it is possible to make it work.  AMAZING!!   There’s no doubt that this adjustment means some extra time on the laptop at nights, and some occasional extra stressing that comes with reduced time in the office, but being with Makenzie and Mitchell greatly outweighs all of the downsides.

Now I spend my Fridays with my favorite little M&M’s.  These days are undoubtedly the 52 best gifts I’ve ever received in my life.  I’m incredibly grateful for a workplace that gives this option, a supportive boss who authorized it to happen, a team of great people around me who understand why it is allowed, and a husband who works hard so we don’t have to stress about the financial implications.

Our babies turn from newborns to kindergarteners in about 250 Fridays, and now I am thrilled to know that I won’t be missing these.  Instead I’m filling our Fridays with dance parties, waffle breakfasts, play dates, trips to the splash pad and visits to story time.  I could not imagine it any other way.  I’m appreciative, grateful & incredibly lucky to have this extra time with my little love and my littlest love.  Here’s to my favorite day of the week!

xoxo

Erin

Such a good big sis (although she did ask me if she could push the stroller into a mud puddle).

 

Hanging out in the splash pad on a beautiful sunny Friday!

 

More splash pad fun.

 

Enjoy the ride. Life is short but sweet for certain.

Just because

In the midst of the two-kids, two-careers, too-little-sleep chaos I do not want to forget the little goodness that happens every single day.   John Lennon said it best, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

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Here are a few little snippets of life

::  Blue eyes  ::

So handsome.

 

::  “Freezies” with the awesome neighbor kids.  ::

Have I mentioned how cool our neighbor kids are… many of them are in high school yet they still take time to hang out with our kiddos.  They make Kenzie feel like she is the bees knees.

Kenz in all her glory with Will, Rachel & Emma!

::  Bumble bee rides at the playground with friends  ::

These two are such buddies. 🙂

::  Sunnies during bubba time  ::

Because you would too if you were this cool.

His future’s so bright he needs shades.

::  And last but not least, Friday Story time!  ::

Check out this cute duo!

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On that note, sweet dreams!

Xoxo

Dear Makenzie, a story about a little dancer

Dear Makenzie Ruth,

Tonight I want to tell you a story about a little dancer. You know her well…

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The story began late last summer.  It was before this little dancer turned two.  The story began when a Mommy & Daddy signed up their little girl for Saturday morning Mommy & Me dance class.  The Mommy took the little girl to buy her first pair of tiny size 6.5 tap shoes in anticipation of the start of class. For weeks before class started the energetic little girl ran around the house making tons of noise with her new little white shoes and yelling, “Tap, tap, tap tap, tap!”

Then came this little girl’s very first tap class. It was a big day because it also happened to be the day she turned two!   The little dancer was shy at first and stayed close to her Mommy, but eventually she came out of her shell. This little dancer with pigtails and a pink leotard was finding her place in tap class.

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October 4, 2014 – A big day! This little dancer turned two, went to her very first tap class, and found out that her soon-to-be arriving sibling would be a Boy!

The week and months flew by. Fall turned to winter. The little dancer turned into a big sister. Her family of three turned into a family of four. The once shy little girl turned into a confident toddler tapper.

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The little tapper meeting her little brother.

Each week became more exciting than the last.  The Mommy and little girl would do their taps steps and then they would dance to the Wake up & Wiggle song, the Clap your hands song, the Teddy Bear song and many others. The little girl loved learning new steps with her wonderful teacher, Miss Liza.

By the time spring arrived the Mommy and the little girl were working on their recital dance and getting ready for the trip to the big stage. Then it was finally recital day! The pink and sparkly costume was laid out, the bobby pins were packed and the grandparents were starting to arrive in town. The Mommy was so nervous that she barely slept the night before. She was hoping that the big stage and the full audience wouldn’t scare her two-year-old dancer.

The morning was a blur and suddenly the little girl and the Mommy were waiting in the wings of the stage holding hands and waiting for the music to start.  The song Momma I’m a Big Girl Now started and the duo skipped onto stage.  The little girl and her friends in class had practiced many times but when the Mommy watched her little girl she felt something she couldn’t put into words.  Her heart was overflowing with emotion watching her little girl proudly do each dance step.  The Mommy could barely hold back the tears. In what felt like just a few seconds the song ended and the little girl was posing with her arms up.  The sweet little girl did great!!!!

Dance time!

And then came the coolest part. Miss Liza walked onto the stage and stopped the dance recital. The little girl and her five other friends in class were the youngest tappers in the studio so Miss Liza wanted to personally introduce each of them to the audience. It was such an awesome moment. As she introduced each little girl, the dads come up and gave them flowers. When it was the little girl’s turn she excitedly jumped up and down to greet her daddy.

The little girl was beyond excited to have her Daddy come on stage and give her flowers!

During the finale the little girl went on stage with all the big girls! They danced to A Dream is a Wish from Cinderella.

After the recital the little was greeted by all of her family and friends who came to watch her very first dance recital.

Proud Daddy & his little girl.

The little dancer with some of her favorite big girls – Molly & Abbi.

‘Liva’ & Rachel with the little dancer.

Cousin Ryan & Auntie Mimi even came from Ohio to be a part of the day.

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So full of energy!

As a special gift the little girl’s Aunt Melissa gave her a ballet painting that once hung in Aunt Melissa’s room when she was a little girl.

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The little dancer was so tired that she fell asleep on the way home while still wearing her taps shoes.  Perhaps she was dreaming of her next recital.

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Makenzie, the little girl who made her Mommy, Daddy, Little Brother, family & friends so proud last Saturday was you!   We are very lucky to see you grow right in front of us.  Whether you continue to tap, whether you play sports or whether you find happiness in just reading a book, I want you to do it with all your heart!

Thank you for letting me be a part of our first year of tap.   Next year you will go into the dance studio all by yourself but I’ll keep with me the fun memories of our year in Mommy & Me class.
I Love you so much, xoxo

Tonight I looked down…

I can’t exactly say that the past four months and 7 days have been easy.  Raising two kids is tough.  It’s a crazy, wonderful thing that we have two healthy kids.  And they are an awesome blessing, but it doesn’t make it easy.  Every single day is hard.  And honestly, I’m just not good at it yet.  I’m navigating through the foggy land of lingering hormones and uncertain expectations and working mom demands and mom of two status, and in trying to be a lot of things to a lot of people I often feel like I’m failing at all of them.

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But tonight I looked down.  Rather then thinking ahead about packing the diaper bag, or thinking back to how I should have handled a situation at work, I simply looked down.  And I was surprised at the beautiful view…

I looked down when I was on a walk with Makenzie and I saw so much.  I saw a sweet daughter’s messy, end-of-day-hair blowing in the breeze.   I saw her pink wagon filled with treasures of golf balls and dirt.  I saw a spunky toddler quickly growing into a little girl trying to navigate her way through the neighborhood and life.  And I saw five little fingers wrapped around mine because the sound of the train whistle frightened her just enough that she needed to feel an extra sense of security.  I saw pure happiness.

 

Later on tonight I looked down again…

Once again I was taken aback by the view.  I saw the soft skin of a four-month-old fresh out of the bath.  I saw perfect little eyelids covering the bright blue eyes of my son.  I saw the subtle breathing movements of a tired boy.  I saw a snugly baby finding a nightly sense of security in a fleecy swaddle.  I saw what will likely be my final baby drifting off to sleep.  I saw love in its purest form resting comfortably in my arms.

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Today was a good day.  One of the best.  I finally opened up my eyes enough to see the beautiful view I have on this part of the journey.  I know there will come a point when the scenery will change and I’m definitely not ready for that.  I guess I better hold on tight and keep my eyes open.

 

Much love,

Get excited for Mother’s Day!

Hey Mamas,

The day has come.  Mother’s Day!  For all you sleep-deprived, creators of tiny monsters, get excited! Tomorrow is the day of sleeping in, sipping champagne and being appreciated for the other 364 days of the year when you’re wiping butts, molding minds and juggling life.  Nothing but pampering & relaxing for 24 hours, right?  Well, not exactly but it is a day to appreciate your crazy, lovable and amazing kids, and to appreciate the lessons that come along with them.  For me I realize that the more I know, the more I don’t know.

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Take a look four years ago. Denny and I were feeling pretty ready for kids. So we headed out during Mother’s Day on a celebratory done-with-grad-school / could-be-the-last-vacation-before-baby trip to the Caribbean. Ahh, we were relaxed and excited. Why wouldn’t we be? We knew kids were on the horizon and we also thought we knew it all. Our kids would never have fried foods.  Our kids would always sleep in their own beds.  They would never have meltdowns, and we would never walk around in public covered in bodily fluids.  Nope, not us.  We were gonna be awesome.

may 2011 vacation

Living the dream… little did we know that we were about to get smacked with a wave of reality.

Then came three years ago.  Mother’s Day 2012.  We did it!  We actually made a human being, which was shocking considering the fact that I can barely make a casserole.  Baby McGee was yet to spend a day outside the womb, but we still felt pretty confident that we would be ahh-mazing parents. In fact, we even took advantage of Mother’s Day weekend to find out if we would be having a little boy or girl.  I thought I was quite the mom of the year throwing a party while pregnant.  Yep, you should have seen how tired I thought I was.

may 2012 it's a girl 1

One of my favorite days in life.  I bet Kenz was in my belly at that exact moment reading up on how to excel at being a colic-y baby.

 Enter two years ago.  And enter real tiredness. Our sweet girl had arrived 7 months prior and that year I finally got it. I understood what it meant to be humbled by a sweet and cuddly 8 lb, 3 oz baby with colic.  Mayday, mayday!  Our confidence was plunging rapidly toward the ground.

may 2013

We took this busy little lady to a fancy brunch for Mother’s Day. We scarfed down food while bouncing her on our lap, and then got the heck out of dodge while we finished chewing. Clearly it was very relaxing.

Then there was last year.  We were finally hitting our stride with this parenting thing.  One kid didn’t seem so scary anymore.  We successfully handled outings, vacations and dinners in restaurant.  We were unstoppable… and then I took a test the Friday before Mother’s Day.  A pregnancy test… and it was positive.  Wow, we were going to have another baby!!  Wow, we were going to have another baby??? What were we thinking?!?  We were hoping for a new addition, but suddenly our confidence crashed and burned.  Two.  Two kids?!?  Were we sure we could handle this?  Our Mother’s Day was a mix of joy and how-in-the-hell-can-we-handle-this nervousness.

may 2014 big sis

Big sis to be!

And now, our family is complete. We’ve had our crash and burn moments, but we’ve also had our life as a family of four is awesome moments.  Our kids have constantly reminded us that as much as we look like we are the ones in charge, we’re not.  But they also remind us that life is best when you slow down. They remind us that life is better as a family of four than it ever was as a family of two or three.  And they remind us that even if we don’t always know what we’re doing, most issues can be solved with a big hug and fruit snacks.

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This year Happy Mother’s Day has more meaning than ever. But it’s really about the two little ones who made me a mommy and the tremendous support around us who make it possible to get through each day.

Happy Mother’s Day to my awesome mom who showed me that life isn’t complete without lots of fun and some occasional confetti.


Happy Mother’s Day to my mother-in-law who always reminds me that there is no return policy on Denny.  She raised a great son who turned out to be an even better husband and Dad .

mamaw with kids
Happy Mother’s Day to my amazing and courageous sister who is raising two adorable little boys and running a full marathon in one week!  Can we say SuperMama??


Happy Mother’s Day to my sis-in-law Meg who is about to be Dr. and can rock out to Taylor Swift.

meg connor

And Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who stay up late wake up early scaring away monsters under the bed and rocking away sweet babies who aren’t tired.  Happy Mother’s Day to the new mamas and the veteran mamas.  Happy Mother’s Day to the moms trying to let go while yearning to hold on.  Happy Mother’s Day to all the women near, far and in our hearts who raised us to know what it is to be great Moms.

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And now, bring on the champagne!

Getting so big

These sweet kiddos of ours are growing up!  There’s no doubt that having a toddler and an infant comes with its share of struggles but there’s also no doubt that it goes quickly.  So, so quickly.

 

In the blink of an eye Mitchell is 3 months old and Makenzie is 2 1/2 years old.  Here is what they have been up to lately.

  ::  Mitchell Dennis – Three Months Old  ::

That smile.

Our little Mitch Man isn’t so little anymore.  He’s quickly growing into 6 month outfits.  He is very ticklish and giggles non-stop when you kiss his face, belly and leggies.  He loves sitting in his Bumbo chair to check out the world.

This month he started sleeping in his crib and he sometimes sleeps through the night (yes!).  He is slowly losing his thick head of newborn hair and we’re guessing it will come back in a light blond hair like Kenz.  The babes are going to go nuts if he re-emerges this summer as a blondie!

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Now that I’m back to work, Littlest M is spending 4 days a week with Big Sis at the wonderful Miss Becky’s house, and he is doing great there.  I miss him like crazy but seeing his big grin at the end of the day makes it all better.

Daddy’s happy camper       🙂

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 ::  Makenzie Ruth – 2 1/2 years old  ::

On April 4th our girl was officially 2 1/2 years old.  A week later we headed to the doctor’s office and she rocked her check-up.  Dr. Pepe is very pleased with her confidence and vocabulary.   And Kenz was very excited to sit on the table and wear the fishy cape aka gown.

Makenzie is a very busy little lady.  She loves to dance, sing, read and play outside.  Her favorite song is Shake it Off and she is not afraid to run around the house dancing to it.  In just a few weeks she has her first dance recital!

Ready for dance class.

 

Picture day… Pretty in Pink!

Some of her other favorite things are:

Color – purple

Food – Pizza and fruit snacks

Drink – Apple juice

Toy – Mommy’s iPhone (of course)

Movie – Frozen

Chore – Emptying the dishwasher

Indoor activities – Play-doh and coloring

Outdoor activities – Riding her trike and her Power Wheels VW Bug

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We love these kiddos to the moon and back and we’re doing our best each day to savor these moments of having a houseful of babies.  We can’t wait for summer to take our Little M and Littlest M into the sunshine!

Stay tuned, it’s going to be another fun season of life.

The monsters under my working mom bed

Tomorrow.  Ugh.  Tomorrow is the day I leave my babies to go back to work.  Maternity leave is over.  Really?  How did that happen?  My baby boy was just coming home from the hospital and now I’m leaving him to go to work.  My heart is aching and I’m terrified for the adjustment.  The what ifs are daunting… What if we can’t get out the door on time?  What if I can’t handle it all?  What if I miss the kid’s bedtime?  What if I miss a deadline?  What if the kids miss me?  What if they don’t?  What if I disappoint my co-workers and my boss?  What if I disappoint Denny?  What if I disappoint the kids?

These ‘what ifs’ have been haunting me and causing me anxiety for weeks, but the reality is that they are nothing more than monsters under my working mom bed.  Just like a kiddo I’m creating a world of fears that in reality don’t exist.  Right now the monsters seem big, hairy and scary but there is much reality that can make my mom monster fears go away.

The reality is that I’m going back to a job I love.  The reality is that I have great co-workers, a super awesome boss and a job that makes me feel like I’m making a difference in the world.  The reality is that I have a pretty flexible schedule.  The reality is that I have an incredibly supportive husband who does drop-offs and pick-ups, who makes dinner, and who does laundry.  The reality is that we have the most wonderful childcare provider that we could imagine, and Makenzie and Mitchell get to be together all day.  The reality is that by the end of the day tomorrow I’ll probably feel good about returning to the adult world.

So tonight I’ll keep my flashlight next to my bed and do the best I can to scare away the monsters.  I’m sure they won’t go away but hopefully they won’t keep me up too late.  And tomorrow I’ll squeeze (literally) into my work pants, I’ll use some waterproof mascara, I’ll fill my desk with pictures of the kiddos, and I’ll head back to the workplace I love.  It may not be my most productive day but I’ll make it through and hopefully prove to myself that we can do it.

So go away monsters!  I’ve got real fears to deal with like how I will ever fit into my work pants…

…to be continued.

monsters under the bed

 

Life Lately

Life has been good lately.  Much like every other family in the world we’ve been dealing with some challenges, but our kids keep life really happy for us.  So tonight I’ll focus on them… their smiles, their carefree outlook on life and their endless love.  They make this world a fun place.

 

Kenz selfie

Kenz is one funny little girl!  Just this week she learned to lock herself in the bathroom… apparently it’s way more fun that sitting on the potty.  She also realized that Denny’s real name is Denny and she started to call him that instead of Daddy.  Yikes, she might make me gray before I’m 35.  But she’s also so sweet!  She loves giving hugs and constantly says, “Love you mommy,” “Miss you Daddy.”   It’s pure melt-your-heart material!

This smile!

Speaking of melt your heart, Mitchell is such a little blue-eyed sweetie.  He is more alert everyday and loves to watch his big sister.  He is full of big grins and giggles!  We can’t get enough of him.

 

Sibling love aka we bribed Kenzie with an ice cream sandwich to hug her brother.

 

Mak & Mitch are quite the team.  They don’t even have the slightest clue yet how important they will be to each other in life.  It is going to be fun to watch them learn the awesomeness of a sibling!

This is the final full week of my maternity leave so here’s to a fun, relaxing 7 days with my favorite little loves.

Xoxo

Erin

Trading in my Rookie status

I think I’m ready to trade in my Rookie Mom status.  I’m no pro but I’m nine weeks into my second maternity leave and I’ve learned a few things along the way…

When it comes to kids, 99% of tears can be solved by one of the following: a binky, a bottle, a swaddle, a clean diaper or an episode of weird Disney collector on YouTube.

Cat food is non-toxic and therefore is not harmful when digested by children (thank you Poison control center).

The world doesn’t judge you if your baby cries in public.  In fact, most people don’t even notice.

Kids look to their parents to determine their mood.  You’re cranky, they’re cranky.  You’re happy, they’re happy.  You’re calm, they’re calm.

Diapers leak, bottles leak and boobs leak… don’t leave home without a spare onesie, burp cloth or scarf.

And when it comes to moms, 99% of tears can be solved by one of the following: a glass of wine, a nap, a few minutes of HGTV or a hug from a little set of arms.

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Armed with these lessons, an overflowing diaper bag and a little bit of momfidence, my babies and I have been taking full advantage of my time off work to live it up!

Here’s what we’ve been doing over the past two months:

::  Making it out the door.  Some days this is a victory in itself.  ::

“Smile kids! We are all wearing pants, we are not covered in poop and we are out of the house before 11 am.”

 

::  Enjoying play dates  ::

It has been SO wonderful to spend time with many of my fellow mom friends who I often only see on Facebook.  We’ve been hosting and attending lots of play dates and it turns out that play dates are just as much fun for the moms as they are for the kids.

Kenz and one of her favorite buddies.

 

::  Bouncing around town  ::

So far we’ve been to the science museum, Rollie Pollies, Explore & More, story time at the library and this cool bounce house place.  Mitchell sleeps through most of our outings but Makenzie is having a blast.

This girl has no fear

 

Being worldly and checking out the Dutch windmills at Explore and More. Following this we continued our European education by enjoying some French fries from McDonald’s. Oui Oui!

 

::  Going for walks  ::

Now that Elsa broke the Frozen spell on Lancaster we’ve been enjoying a few trips around the neighborhood.  We can’t get enough of the fresh air and the extra hour of daylight.

Kenz carrying her baby like Mommy.

 

::  Roadtrippin  ::

Call us crazy but we decided we needed a trip to Ohio to see some of our favorite people.  Luckily we have two good little travelers.

Tired dolly

 

Kenz and her future boyfriend Keene.

 

Breakfast with Nana and Papa

::  Soaking in the smiles  ::

Usually we plan a day or two each week to just hang out in the house and have fun.  It’s a good place to be when you get to see grins like this all day.

Littlest M showing off his grins.

I’m still years away from Mom Pro status but each day I learn a few more lessons about how to be a mom of two kiddos.  My next lesson is going to be how I’ll leave my little M’s to head back to work. I work with awesome people and we have a good support system so we will just have to take it one day at a time (and plan on lots of take out).  Until then we’ll soak up our days together and enjoy a few more weeks of road trips, play dates and time in the slow lane.

xxoo

Erin