Monthly Archives: August 2015

Heard around the house.

Nora: “Mom? Do you ever laugh?”

Me: “Ummm…yes.”

Nora: “When?”

She must’ve caught me on a bad day.

                         —————-

Nora: (singing a song to remember the days of the week) “Sunday, Monday…”

Frances: (cuts in) “Tuesday…Threes-day, Fours-day!”

So not right. But I love how she’s trying to apply what she knows. Ha! She’s a comedic genius already. And not even three years old!

                         —————-

The girls are super used to me being silly and speaking utter nonsense. That’s why I wanted to highlight the below conversation between Frances and me, since–without missing a beat–she replied to me in the same silly manner in which she was asked about the contents of her diaper.

Me: “Frances, you have any poopers in there?”

Frances: “No. Just peepers.”

                         —————-

Me: “I only got four munchkins. So, Nora, that’s two for you and two for Frances.”

Nora: (slyly) “Or, mama. It could be three for me and one for Frances.”

Me: “Yes, it could be. But it’s not.”

Nora: (giggles)

My budding mathematician.

                         —————-

Nora: “Mama. Know what I wanna be for Halloween?”

Me: “No. What?”

Nora: “A princess.”

Frances: “Know what I be, mama?”

Me: “What, Franny?”

Frances: “Goo-goo ga-ga head.”

Nora and Me: (hysterical laughter)

Always with the goo-goo ga-ga head, that one.

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Anxiety Episode #13: While watching an up-close and intimate fireworks display, one of us becomes injured by a wayward spark.

All of of my anxiety posts to date have concerned events about which I’m fearful, but haven’t actually ever happened. The one I’m about to write about did. Last night. And it was terrifying.

For years and years my dad has been in charge of putting on a fireworks show for scuba divers and their families on the 4th of July. The show locale is on top of some limestone cliffs overlooking the Susquehanna River adjacent to the diving quarry where my dad has worked part-time off and on since the late 1980s.

The quarry and the land surrounding it was recently sold, so the owners of the dive shop there held one last picnic last night to celebrate. And, there was one last fireworks show to send things off with a literal bang.

My dad had always purchased the fireworks down in South Carolina, over the border from where his parents used to live. Each summer we took a vacation not only to visit the grandparents, but to pick up a stash of fireworks for the yearly tradition. We all had fun visiting the megastore and watching TV videos that displayed the look and sound of each firework sold. We also relished browsing the names of the fireworks, many of which were very redneck and/or super patriotic. Off the top of my head I recall: Blonde Joke, Here Come Da Judge, Uncle Sam’s Revenge, and Red, White and Boom.

Anyway, every year, as we hiked up to the cliffs with our lawn chairs and blankets, we discussed the possibility of one of the fireworks making its way into the crowd of onlookers instead of the sky, where it’s meant to explode. Although the risk and threat was always very real, we kind of laughed it off as an impossibility. The shows had always been very safe. Well, I think there may have been a year where there was a near miss, but everyone came out unscathed.

Last night, however, two of my family members suffered serious injuries as a result of a firework that had in its mind to fire directly into the crowd instead of up in the sky. Let me say they are both OK. It could have been much worse.

My oldest gal was laying on a blanket with my sister and her kids. The firework in question came up in between my sister and Nora. At the time I couldn’t tell what had happened. Instinctively, I turned away from the flash. I was standing behind everyone holding the baby in a carrier. Liam—who was holding our middle girl—later told me he jumped out of the chair he was sitting in, and ran down the hill shielding both him and her.

The next thing I remember, after the popping and flashing subsided, was hearing Nora screaming hysterically and seeing five or six people rush up to her, all the while yelling, “Take off her clothes! Take off her clothes!” Like I said, terrifying.

I was on the outside of the circle of people trying to care for her during the chaos and confusion, and—frustratingly—I couldn’t get to her. I remember feeling so relieved, though, when someone finally pulled her shirt over her head and I could see her perfect, uninjured little face through her tears. Liam finally picked her up, got her pants off, and, with the help of cell phone flash lights and head lamps, found the source of her pain—three burn marks on her outer thigh, one of which seemed pretty bad.

Someone decided we should call an ambulance and did. He or she later called to cancel it. Gratefully, a medic was part of the crowd of spectators and ran back to his car to get his burn kit. A few strangers let us use their nearby RV so Nora could be treated in a more comfortable, well lit area. It was there that I found out my sister had gotten burned too. Slightly worse than Nora. According to her, she jumped on top of Nora when the flash came and the firework went off in between them. The medic was able to treat her too, saving us all from a late-night trip to the ER.

Nora calmed down after the initial scare and was exceedingly brave. She sat naked on Liam’s lap in that RV eating chips and drinking juice that was offered to her, all the while cracking jokes with Mike the medic. She was amazing. She is amazing.

On the drive home, I was a mother hen chock full of adrenaline and cortisol, driving significantly below the speed limit in an attempt to keep my little chicks safe from further threat of danger.

Later, when we all got home and into bed, I kept agonizingly reliving the mini-explosion over and over again in my head. I kept seeing the bright flashes, hearing the pops and the screams, watching frantic hands undress my baby and then seeing her face, her injuries.

My heart broke all over again this morning when I found Nora’s clothing in the car. Her pants and shirt had burn holes in them and smelled of sulphur and fire. Ugh. Into the trash.

For now, though, Nora seems little bothered by her injuries (except for when it’s time to change the bandages). The adults close to her—my dad and brother especially, the show igniters 😉—were much more affected.

I’m busy trying not to dwell on the what-could-have-beens, and feeling grateful that Nora and my sister are OK. I’m trying to follow Nora’s brave lead and act as though what happened was no worse than a scrape on the knee from falling off a bike. I think she will have a bad scar, but hoping she won’t have much more of a memory of this time than that.

Unlike her mother, she seems pretty unfazed. Other than the fact she has vowed to never, ever, EVER, EVER again go see a fireworks show. Ever again. Ever. Like, ever, mama.

Like I said, amazing.

On the eve of returning to work after four-and-a-half months.

Ugh. I have to set my alarm clock tonight for the first time since March 29th. I have been busy making preparations for the big day back to work tomorrow. Made lunches through Tuesday and have been readying bags of supplies for the kids and me for over an hour. Again, ugh. Bottles, milk, pump and pump parts, computer, blankets, diapers, wipes, swim suits, extra change of clothes, etc. I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

I have mixed emotions about leaving the kids tomorrow. I’m teary, weary, both looking forward to a break from them and hating to leave them at the same time. The baby still won’t take a bottle, so I’m anxious about that too. The good news is the kiddos will be with family all this week and I’m able to take my lunch time to go visit if need be. Next week the students start back and I won’t have the time or flexibility to do the same.

I wish I could write more, but I’m too emotional and exhausted. As much as I’ve wished for some ‘me’ time away from the kids, our summer together has been so intense—due largely to the fact we’ve been on our own for much of it—I know I’m really going to feel their absence tomorrow. My little clinger-on-ers.

Here’s to hoping we wake up on time and transition peacefully to where we all need to go.

Double ugh.

Priorities people!

Everyone has guilty pleasures. Lately mine have been reading novels start-to-finish never mind whatever else needs to be done, including minding the children. And, listening to Serial spinoff podcasts. For those of you not-in-the-know, Serial was a podcast that debuted this past fall detailing the murder of a high school girl in Baltimore in 1999, and the subsequent arrest and imprisonment of her ex-boyfriend. 

I binge-listened to the episodes this winter, when I was still pregnant with Rowan. The plot was gripping and the storytelling hugely engaging. I couldn’t get enough, and like the TV show Lost—the only other media I have binge-consumed—I was sad to see it end.

This summer, one of my Charlotte, NC cousins alerted me to the fact that there are all kinds of spinoff podcasts for the Serial-ly obsessed. And so, I’ve been listening to a couple of those, too. 

Which is why tonight (right now actually!), after I’ve miraculously gotten three children settled and to bed before eight—usually there is at least one stage-five clinger still awake at nine—I am going to indulge in a bath and listen to one (or two!) of this past week’s recent episodes.

So, while you may be catching up on the Bachelor/ette, perusing the latest issue of a celebrity gossip magazine, drinking your second glass of wine alongside a homemade chocolate brownie with peanut butter chips—or whatever your guilty pleasure(s) may be—rest assured knowing that l’m going to be tuning in to the ever-ongoing-saga of a poor dead girl and the evidence and speculation surrounding her murder, as told by three practicing attorneys and one fire chief named Bob.

Oh, and if you haven’t yet checked out Serial, get on it! You don’t know what you’re missing!

Farewell to Candace…but not really. Because we just can’t bear to say goodbye. And because she’ll be back again to visit in a week, and then again monthly, we hope.

Two years ago, around this very time, I was looking for a caregiver for the girls. I was due back to work after being home with Frances for a few months. Our sitter from the year before had gotten into small-scale farming, and wanted to be able to volunteer in her boys’ classrooms. And our sitter from the year before that—when I returned to work after having Nora—had moved away to Virginia.

I had found these two women—Nora’s first sitters—on Craigslist (sketchy, I know, but it worked out great). So, in an attempt to score yet another great, third sitter, I tried Craigslist again. However, after scanning many, many ads, I found only potential caregivers who used incorrect grammar and couldn’t be bothered to capitalize the appropriate letters in their ads. Surely these people would be getting nowhere near my children.

Next, I decided to reach out to our newly established neighborhood E-mail network. Through this, we found Candace, the woman who watched the girls for the past two years.

I can remember meeting her for the first time. She walked to our house with her daughter, Tella, and we chatted for awhile. It didn’t take long for me to approve. She mentioned early on in our conversation that she too, co-slept with her daughter (at that time the same age as Nora—two) and was still doing extended breastfeeding.

After hearing just those two tidbits of information, it took everything in me to not be like—You’re hired! When can you start? 

I kept myself in check, called all her references, and then said, “You’re hired! When can you start?!”

She spent two years with our kiddos, watching Frances from four months until this past March, and Nora from age two to four, a significant time for both girls developmentally. 

She was a fount of knowledge for me on topics such as tandem nursing, baby led weaning, the Fertility Awareness Method, and much more—namely, how to maintain one’s sanity while raising children.

Beyond all this, we shared similar notions about kiddie nutrition, limited exposure to technology, and the importance of spending time outside. She brought craftiness, music, and dancing into our home and was known to scrub out the microwave on occasion, just because. 

Also, Frances sometimes forgets that Candace is in fact, not her mom, and that I am instead.

It was such a comfort to have her looking after the girls and minding our  house while we were at work. Not to mention the convenience of having someone come to us. The kids could often just stay in their jammies and the breastmilk remain in the freezer.

This past spring, Candace’s husband got accepted into pharmacy school in Erie. They moved two weeks ago. Nora seems to be handling things OK for the moment, though she’s gotten a little wild in the afternoons now that her favorite playmate is gone. Frances is somewhat confused. She doesn’t understand that when we walk past Candace’s house (really, the house of her in-laws), Candace no longer lives there, and lives instead somewhere else we can’t see or visit. 

It’s been hardest on me, I think, losing a neighborhood friend and advisor, a trustworthy childcare provider and—perhaps most importantly—someone to whom I can bitch and moan when I need to, or rescue me by taking the girls for a few hours at a time.

Even though the time has come to move on, I know we will remain friends (more like family) forever. And hopefully still have monthly visitation, due to in-laws living right down the street from us.

So who will watch the kids now? Interestingly enough, we have come full circle in the childcare evolution. The woman who watched Nora when Nora was Rowan’s age, recently moved back to the area, and has agreed to watch all three kiddos. We are beyond relieved, and so, so grateful to once again have someone we know and love and trust be with the kids when we can’t be. Pretty wonderful how things are working out. And before they did I only had to read and dismiss a handful of really terrible Craigslist ads, with such stellar one-liners as:

we wont watch too much tv, but i will work on reading, righting, and maths with the kids.

Now we just have to get the baby taking a bottle sometime in the next week and two days. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? 

#shouldaintroduceditsooner

To be a stay-at-home mom, or not to be a stay-at-home mom. That is the question.

It’s almost that time of year. Back to school. I’ve ridden the roller coaster that is maternity leave for four long months. In less than two weeks’ time I must show up to work. On time. At 8:00. In the morning.

How I’m going to manage this as well as packing up the kids when I’ve been: 

1) Sleeping in until 7:28 every morning (Liam graciously gets up with the kids and lets me sleep in until the last possible minute—he leaves at 7:30);

on top of 

2) Nursing not one, but TWO children throughout the night (I’ve been meaning to wean the older. Really, I have. But I just get so lazy. And, instead of pumping to help reduce my supply—which is SO inconvenient—I just keep nursing and nursing and nursing);

I just can’t fathom.

But it will get done. Somehow, it will get done.

It’s funny. I used to think I wanted to be a SAHM (stay-at-home mom). I thought I’d be great at it. With my love of all things craftsy and my education background, I thought I could homeschool the hell out of my kids and enjoy every moment of it. I mean, who better to be with them than me, right?

But each time one of the kids was born, I was floored at how challenging it all felt. Wasn’t motherhood supposed to come easy to me? To fit so well? What was with all the impatience? The anger and rage I sometimes felt? And the noise?!? When the hell was I going to get some quiet? A break? Hmmm…perhaps I am not the best person for the job.

I know, I know. I’m too hard on myself. It’s one of my not-best qualities. I am mindful of the fact that the spring birthdays of the kiddos coincided with the busiest time of year for Liam and his job. I’ve often told him I think I could be a great SAHM, but only until 5:30 or 6:00 in the evening, the time most partners get home from work. After that, all bets are off.

To be with kids all day, every day, (or at least five out of seven days) and be responsible for all meals, entertaining and enriching, baths, tooth brushing and bedtime, never mind nursing, without any break or down time, is pretty rough. Even for a patient and unanxious person—unlike me—I imagine. I’ve had my fair share of breakdowns. I give mad props to people who have several kids and do this year round, as well as to single parents. I feel ya.

That’s not to say that there haven’t been moments tender and hilarious too. I’ve enjoyed being around this spring and summer for my kids. Going to the park, the pool, and the library. Taking walks and bike rides around the neighborhood. Staying in pajamas all day. Having breakfast for dinner (more times than I’d like to admit). Painting rocks. Painting on paper. Playing house. Watching make-believe dance recitals and Frozen concerts. 

I like to think that I’d enjoy being a SAHM once all the kids are in school full time. Ha!

Where the routine might look like: get up with the kids in the morning, prepare breakfast, and then see them off to school. Then, a short while later, sit at a table ALONE while drinking coffee, maybe go for a walk and do yoga, or a crossword puzzle. Knit. You know, all the things I dream of fitting into my life someday

Like writing for a few hours, uninterrupted. Getting a great dinner started. Cutting fresh flowers from the garden. Preserving tomatoes or pickles. Then, after all that, welcoming the kids home from school with a fresh baked, nutritious snack. Helping them with their schoolwork. This is the kind of SAHM routine I could get behind.

Alas, the decision has been made for us. It makes financial sense for me to work. So, from 8:00-4:00 each day I’ll work a job for which I’ll get paid. And from 4:00 until 8:00 the next morning, I’ll work as a stay-at-home mom, a job for which I will not make money, but provides its share of riches and blessings all the same.