2016, I’ll miss seeing your smiling face around here!

Hello 2017!  The holiday season is over and here we are on the first night of a brand new year.

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Good byes can be hard!

It’s a fresh slate.  It’s the brink of opportunity for more happiness, more experiences & more fun.  But I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to say farewell to 2016.

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We kicked off the 2016 year with a little boy who turned ONE!

January 2016 – my baby is ONE!

There were balloons and cake and a sweet little baby who was barely a baby.  In the past twelve months, our not-so-baby Mitchell gained courage to walk and took off on a journey of fun & exploration.  He’s had highs & lows.  Trips to the park, trips around the block, and a trip to the Cleveland Clinic.   Twenty sixteen shed more light on his syncope and we’ve moved forward with confidence and a bright diagnosis knowing that he will simply outgrow these darn episodes.  He’s moved from the freshman room to the sophomore room at school, and he’s moved from a crawler to an energetic boy who loves Elmo, chocolate & lots of affection (but only of course when he’s not busy playing).  He adds laughter to our lives every single day!

Love!

In 2016, Makenzie Ruth turned FOUR and reminded us just how fast time flies (honestly, wasn’t she just born?).   The year brought her second dance recital, her first exposure to soccer and her continued love of all things related to the summertime!

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June 2016 – Dance recital song was Bushel & a Peck!

She fell in love with gymnastics during the Olympics and she fell in love with the thought of reading & writing during her days as a Senior at her school.   She’s sweet and lovable and someday wants to grow up and be a teacher.  Makenzie is an awesome big sister and 2017 might just be the year that she gets on the big yellow school bus and heads to kindergarten (insert sobs here).

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July 2016 – Being silly in Lake George

Twenty sixteen brought about fun & happiness, and frustration & challenges.  Twelve months with two toddlers included fevers, and urgent care trips and the unanswerable question of how do we balance it all?   Two careers and too little time.  There were late nights and early mornings.  There were wet beds and scary dreams.  There were many, many coffee cups and an occasional glass of wine.  Denny and I fought against never-ending laundry, cranky mealtimes and the expense of two in daycare.  But we also teamed up to ensure a really great vacation to Lake George, outings to every kid place in town, and a ride on the Polar Express.   There were cuddles and giggles and plenty of dance parties.  For me, 2016 brought me to a place of clarity after twelve months of postpartum emotions (more about that someday in another blog post).

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As an extended family, we said good-bye to my wonderful grandfather.  We said Hello to a beautiful foster baby girl.  And we said Thank You, God! when my sweet teenage cousin was given a new chance of life from a heart transplant.  All those involved were humbled by the beauty and wonderment of this journey called Life.

Another passing year made us aware of the struggles and heartaches in the world near and far, but it made us even more aware of the need to embrace the good that will always ultimately outweigh it.

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The good!

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A wise person once told me that if you went into a room with all strangers and everyone dropped their problems into a buckets, you would realize just how much you want your own problems back.  This thought has stuck with me ever since and I hope that we can all keep this in mind as we move forward and try to make 2017 our best year yet.   Imagine how much better our world would be if we could each be more compassionate and more understanding of those around us?

So I wish you and your families health & happiness & fun in 2017!  Cheers to the good and cheers to the bad for making us appreciate the good ever more.  Cheers to the memories of 2016 and the possibilities of 2017!

With Love,

Erin

Eight is Great!

Wasn’t is just yesterday that we were worried about the seating chart and the intro songs?  Wasn’t it just yesterday that we traveled to Athens, Ohio to get married?  Wasn’t it just yesterday that we met at the end of the aisle, said I Do and sealed it with a kiss?  Wasn’t it just yesterday that we started our life together as husband and wife and waited for our Someday to begin?

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A rocking party if I say so myself!

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Wasn’t it just yesterday that we honeymooned in Aruba?

And then it did…

Our Someday began and it’s been good and it’s been fun.  It’s been challenging and it’s been emotional and it’s been memorable.  It’s been a Sold sign, a Masters thesis, a flooded basement.  It’s been a few trips to the Caribbean, and a few trips to the ER.  It’s been a lot of neighbor parties, and a lot of paint colors.

It’s been an I’m Pregnant!   It’s been a broken heart.  It’s been another I’m Pregnant, and a lot of pink to follow.

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Party of three!

It’s been baby showers and dirty diapers. First cries, first smiles and first steps.  It’s been breast pumps and postpartum emotions.  It’s been so fun that we did it again.  A little boy, and a little baseball mitt…

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Late nights, lots of coffee.  It’s been ear aches, blowouts, diaper rash, two screaming babies and too little sleep.  It’s been juggling careers, and friends and bills.  It’s been hard at times, so damn hard.  And then just when meltdown seemed imminent, it’s been soft & sweet & real.  It’s been cuddly naps with cuddly newborns.  It’s been dance parties and baby hugs and family trips to the zoo.  It’s been a glance in the midst of chaos.  It’s been an occasional date night.  It’s been Disney and the Polar Express and Lake George. It’s been all I thought it would be and more.

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It’s been tough, but more important than that it’s been pretty awesome.  It’s been us, and our two little sidekicks.  It’s been us, growing older and growing wiser.  And it’s been a walk through life that has long surpassed that walk down the aisle.

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It’s been eight years and it’s been a pretty great start to our Someday.  I can’t wait to see what the rest of the ride entails.

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Happy Anniversary Denny!  There’s none else I’d rather hang out with during this crazy ride called marriage.

xoxo

Dear brand new Mom, a little note for you to read in the wee hours of the night…

Dear brand new Mom,

Today I ran into you and I saw in your eyes something so real and something so raw. I saw how fulfilled you were with love and gratitude for this brand new amazing life that you created.  Your baby is just so beautiful!  But right along with that I saw your feelings of doubt, of exhaustion and of complete overwhelm.  Today I wanted to reach out and hug you and tell you to go and take a long nap.  Today I want you to know that I know exactly how you’re feeling.

And guess what? It’s okay.

Three years ago today I was you. I was home with a baby who was only single digit days old.  She ate nonstop.  She cried nonstop and she rarely, if ever, slept.  The adrenaline of meeting her had subsided and in its place were all kinds of feelings I never expected.  I was in pain and I was sore on every inch of my now deflated body.  I was more tired than I ever imagined.  I was somewhat sad that my once-controlled life seemed to have vanished completely.  I was feeling so damn lonely.  And I was beyond embarrassed that I felt any of this.  I couldn’t stop thinking that I spent my whole life wanting this… how dare I feel this way when I was so incredibly lucky to be a mom.

New mom, I want you to know that this entourage of feelings will be gone in a blink, and in its place will be a baby who you get to know better than yourself.  In its place will come giggles and full nights of sleep.  In its place will come confidence, slowly but surely, about how to raise this sweet baby of yours.  And in its place will come healing, control (somewhat) and believe it or not, a sense of sadness that those brand new baby days have come and gone.

But for now, just take it one hour at a time.  Just breath in and breath out.  Just forget about your bathroom that needs cleaned, and forget about that meal you were going to cook.  Just forget about those Pinterest perfect baby announcements and forget about those thank you notes.  Just forget about breastfeeding for one or two feedings and get some sleep (I promise your baby will not grow warts if he or she has formula).

New mom, you are on a brand new journey and the world wants you to know that it’s okay to feel the way you feel.  We all know that you feel that way not because you are a bad mom, but you feel this way for quite the opposite reason.  You feel this way because You are an incredible mom…. You are a beautiful mom… You are a grateful mom…  New mom, the world is lucky to have you and so is your sweet new baby.

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.

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,

Struggling

When I started this blog one of my goals was to be real about things.  So here goes:

I’m struggling today.  I’m struggling big time.  Being a Mom is so darn hard.  There is nothing horrible happening in my life right now.  In fact I feel bad even writing this post because from an outsider my life is about as good as it gets – two healthy babies, a great husband, 12 weeks of stay-at-home-momming it – yet despite this I’m struggling today.

Last night was a long night.  Mitchell can’t get to the pantry because of the baby gates so I spent about 5 hours being his personal line chef.  He spent the whole night crying because he was hungry to then crying because he was full.  In between he would shower both of us in a spit-up bath to try to find the happy medium.  It took him the whole night to find it.  Poor little guy.  By the time I got to bed it was time to wake up and I’m yet to brush my hair or wash my face.  Our plans for the day got scrapped and instead I chugged the largest cup of coffee I could find and we shifted to survival mode.

So now I’m using the always amazing nap time break as a chance to eat chocolate and get real on the blog because I have a feeling I’m not the only mom who has struggled like this.  I have a feeling I’m not the only Mom who has felt overwhelmed, exhausted and just downright ready for a break.  And I have a feeling I’m not the only mom who feels bad feeling even feeling this way because we’re so darn lucky to even be Moms.

So when these two little ones wake up I’m hitting the Reset button on the day.  I’m going to brush my hair (thank God!), throw out the frustration, push past the tiredness, turn on Pandora (because who can resist being in a good mood when 80’s music is blasting?) and make sure that my babies have a better mom for the second half of the day than they did during the first half of the day.

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I don’t know what to tell you to avoid these struggles, but I think the days like this make the other times even better.  But if you’re struggling today hang in there.  Drink a coffee, find some chocolate, turn on some tunes, or just lock yourself in the bathroom for five minutes and breathe.  You are not alone (literally because I’m guessing your kiddos are banging on the bathroom door by now).  But truly, you are not alone in feeling this way.  Being a mom is just about the hardest job on the planet and it may not come with a manual but we all have a reset button… you might just have to look for it buried beneath your layers of burp cloths.

XOXO

Erin

 

Welcome to Doubtville!

::  Greetings from Doubtville, USA!  ::

Population: Every parent in America… err, the entire world.

I write this as my daughter naps on the floor next to her Minnie Mouse bed.  The same Minnie Mouse bed that she loved just a mere two weeks ago but now despises.  I write this after a 30-minute battle which involved tears and running out of her room multiple times before she finally fell asleep after I laid down next to her (also on the floor).

Here we are again… smack dab in the middle of Doubtville.  Denny and I visit here often so we should be familiar with all the uncertainty that comes when we enter city limits, but every single visit reminds us of how humbling it is to be a parent.

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In life we regularly face challenges.  It starts at birth and lasts until our very last breath.  Whether it’s how to tie our shoes, how to solve algebraic equations, how and when to buy a house, or how to be an adult, the questions don’t stop.  But with kids, it seems more challenging because the stakes are a lot higher.

In reality I know that Makenzie won’t go to college sleeping on the floor next to her Minnie Mouse bed, but right now I am questioning every little thing that has happened that led us from the Goes to bed like Champion every night Route to the Abandoned Highway of Terrible Bed and Nap times.  Was is the lack of schedule from the snow storm, the traveling due to the holidays, the removal of the crib from her room, the new knowledge of how to open the door, a combination of all of the above, or perhaps, none of the above.

We don’t know how we got here, so now we are trying desperately how to find the fastest road out of Doubtville.  Do we travel east past the Cry it out Canyon, stay south on the Sleep next to her skyway, or just continue down the path of Bad Parent Boulevard and hope it gets us back on the Sleep Superhighway?  There’s just not a clear pathway.

Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.

I’m sure we’ll be back on track in no time, but until then I’ll settle for a roadside restaurant as long as it serves hot coffee.  I think the only answer is that we stay the course, we try to be patient and we do it all with love and patience.  After all, our goal as parents is to be the best and most supportive tour guides we can be, even if we don’t have a clue what the journey will entail.

Safe travels to you.  Perhaps we’ll see you around the Doubtville Cafe.  The coffee is good, but the company is amazing!

Game Seven

Game Seven… two words that make any sports fan, or perhaps I should say, anyone with a pulse, feel the excitement of what is about to happen.  Game seven is the ultimate Go Big or Go Home.  Game seven means putting it all out there.  Game Seven means a once in a lifetime chance to make a dream come true.  Game Seven… it’s pretty cool.

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It’s pretty cool if you are a Major League Baseball player about to make a childhood dream come true.  If you are that Major League baseball player, it’s okay to put massive pressure on yourself.  If you are that Major League baseball player, it’s okay to put every single ounce of your being out there.  If you are that Major League baseball player it’s okay to compare yourself to others.  If you are that Major League baseball player it’s okay to wallow over defeat, and celebrate if victory comes your way.

But if you are not that Major League baseball player… if you are just a Mom (and believe me I am not minimizing Moms by saying “Just a”)… then it’s time we quit playing like it’s game seven.

Somehow between the picturesque Pinterest wreaths, the #noFilter Instagram shots we see of the happy families relishing their third trip of the year to DisneyWorld, and the photos we all post on Facebook of the perfect parties, the hand-sewn costumes, the amazing table set-up and the brand new 5-bedroom houses in the burbs, the game of Mommy-ing has started to feel like a lot of Game Sevens.

I know that I’m just as guilty as everyone else of posting the highlight reel of our life, but I think it’s causing us all to strike out.  Just today I had a conversation with another Mom about how hard it is to stay afloat as a working mom, let alone have time to select and carve pumpkins, make treat bags for daycare and intricately design fall foliage craft projects for the grandparents.  C’mon now!  I’m betting that the only Moms who can accomplish this HAVE to be taking some type of performance-enhancing drugs (can we please get some random drug testing on that perky blond Mom from Kindercare?)

I bet that more often than not many of us just get by.  All while feeling like we’re never enough… never enough of a Mom, never enough of an employee, never enough of a wife, and never enough of a You.  And if you feel that way, it is okay!  In fact I think it’s pretty darn normal.

Mommy-ing is not an easy career.  Some days we get lucky and hit a home run, but most days it’s hard work.  There’s no glamour, no relief pitchers, and no amount of Icy Hot to make up for the challenges and learning that accompanies raising little leaguers.

So for tonight… get your game face on!  Cheer for the Giants or the Royals.  Get swept of in the excitement and the drama that accompanies the rare Game Seven of the Fall Classic.

But tomorrow… stop looking at the score board, stop comparing yourself to the other team, and start reminding yourself why you wanted to be drafted into the Mom Leagues to begin with.  Mommy-ing is not about a once-in-a-lifetime win, mommy-ing is about all the experiences you and your kiddos get along the way.  So practice hard, learn from the losses and celebrate the little wins.  I’m still a rookie myself, but I’m betting that your little sluggers could care less about the Moms a few benches over, they’re just glad to be a part of YOUR team.

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Now Play Ball!

 

 

Dear twenty something girl at Target…

Dear twenty something girl at Target…

Hi, it’s me.  I was that thirty-something Mom trying to wrangle up my feisty nineteen-month old today while you were shopping.  Her screams of “No, noooo” obviously interrupted your bathing suit browsing because you sent that half pity/half annoying so glad my future kid will never act like that look my way.  I recognized that look right away because not long ago that I used to give that same exact look to Moms with sassy tots.  As for your theory of My kid will never act like that… just keep telling yourself that.  If not for that theory, our population would be at risk.

I don’t know your name or for that matter anything about you, but in some ways I know everything about you.  It turns out that I used to be you.  I’m guessing you rolled out of bed at around 11 am today after a Friday happy hour with your girlfriends that lasted until 9 pm. By the looks of it you skipped your shower (that’s what headbands and ponytails are for, right?), and picked up a Starbucks en route to run some errands.

I’m guessing that after your Target trip, you picked up some Wendy’s and hung out on your futon enjoying some DVR then you took a nap.  You might have spent a few hours obsessing over when Mr. Perfect will pop the question or what your college roommates are planning to pack for your upcoming girls weekend.  And you were probably just getting into the shower to go out for the night while we were finishing up tubby time just a few blocks away in Mommyland.

Just so you know, when I saw you this morning I was surprisingly nostalgic for a brief moment.  I wouldn’t trade my life for a single second but I saw you and I had flashbacks to what life was like before responsibilities…  no independent “I want to walk” baby, no 10-lb diaper bag, no mortgage, no need to even consider buying a one piece bathing suit (because those are clearly only for Moms).

And in case you didn’t catch the look I sent back your way (in fact I’m sure you didn’t), my look was saying this…

Hey twenty-something, I hope you’re enjoying your carefree life right now.  Get pedis, sleep in, drink an extra cocktail, stay out late, pay off bills, take road trips and really enjoy every minute you can get with your girlfriends because someday (sooner than you realize) your priorities will shift.  Your life will be even become even better than it is now but your days full of relaxing, watching TV and taking naps will disappear.  Relish every single second while you can because once it’s gone it won’t return.  But on a good note, it turns out that the best, most grounded and most appreciative 30-something Moms are created from the experiences of the uninhibited, fun and free 20-something…  Enjoying it now means that you won’t miss it one bit when you give it up for your kids.  Trust me, it’s completely worth it.  

Thank you 20-something girl!  You reminded me how grateful I am that a fun past has led me to an even better future.  Cheers to you, your fun 20’s and your even better 30’s!

Sincerely,

Erin  (aka the 30-something Mom who went to Target to find lamps but walked away with something even better — a walk down memory lane and a deep appreciation for my current, crazy non-bikini-wearing life)

 

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