Category Archives: Blessings

A magical Monday.

For some reason—maybe because it’s the day after the hustle and bustle of the weekend, or because two parents for two days is just too much—the girls seem to really delight in each other’s company on Mondays.

Today was no different. The girls woke up happy. They ate a great breakfast and proceeded to play well together all morning. It was amazing.

Instead of bickering, I heard snippets like: “Hey Nora. I have a great idea! Let’s play dollhouse. You can be all the girls and I’ll be all the boys!”

And then later: “Frances. Do you want to go upstairs and have a picnic in the crack?” (We have two beds pushed together in one room, and the girls love to wedge their feet in between them both in order to push them apart.) Playing in the crack is a real treat. Fishing wooden play food out from under the sheets at bedtime, or waking up with a felt mushroom under your shirt is not.

There was no whining. No hitting. No tattling. No screaming. It was so refreshing. We even enjoyed a pre-lunch walk to the beach since it was such a sunny, mild day.

In fact, things were going so well, I let Frances skip her nap. This way, I didn’t have to necessarily be an afternoon playmate for Nora. Instead, I got to read for fun and whip up a yummy and nutritious dinner.

To top off this day of great luck, the girls played for over an hour outside before Liam got home, digging in the dirt and making a ‘nest’ full of bush berries, grass, stones, and shells.

Can I get a celebratory whoop-whoop for all the peace we enjoyed today?

Tomorrow, I’m sure the girls will have tired of one another. Probably they’ll wake up grumpy and the first thing I’ll hear from Nora after breakfast will be: “Mom! I was just coloring and I asked Frances if I could help her and she hit me!”

And Frances will counter: “No I didn’t! And I’m not gonna color ever again. And I’m walking away. Because you are not kind.”

Or something along those lines. But that’s OK. Because today’s harmony will help see us through to another Magical Monday.

 

The kids among their driftwood forest.

 

Gluten-free seed bread!

 

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Happily crafting a nest for the birds.

A love letter to the first house I lived in with my husband, and the one to which all my babies came home to after they were born, on the eve of our departure.

Dear modest two-bedroom rancher on a corner lot with a huge yard and a garage door that seldom closed on its own without some kind of applied brute force:

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Our first house.

Seven years and three months ago we moved in. There were just two of us then. We were pleased to have found you, even if your wooden kitchen cabinets overwhelmed us with their, well, woodiness. And even if your dirty white vinyl siding never quite appealed to us.

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Woody cabinets. Too much, right?

You welcomed us with open rooms—six, to be exact. Seven if you include the half-finished basement that for years I refused to enter except to do laundry, for fear that mold and mildew and cobwebs would compromise my immune system. And, there was that one time when Nora was an infant and we took refuge there during a tornado warning, even though Liam insisted on telling me the whole time I was being ridiculous.

Over the years though, basement, you grew on me. Kind of. I spruced you up with furniture and covered your drab wood-paneled walls with colorful bunting. I set up a doll house and a train table. A handmade teepee hideout. I transformed you into a sort of kid play space. I tried to ignore the darkness and the presence of the occasional mouse nest and the rotting window wood as best I could, so that on cold, wet days my kids could enjoy playing somewhere other than the living room.

Thank you for watching over the girls and for keeping them from concussing their little heads on your hard cement floors, covered only by an old, worn out carpet, maybe an eighth of an inch thick. Thank you also for preventing them from falling down your scary dangerous, steep, wooden stairs, with the hand rail so high, the kids couldn’t even attempt to reach it until they were two. I’ll admit to you now, them falling was one of my worst fears. Maybe you always suspected that though, because, when I wasn’t hovering near the top of the stairs holding my breath as I watched the girls go down, I was forever cautioning them to take their time and not push one another, or else walking in front of them should I need to break their fall. I have to confess. I am glad the boy will be elsewhere when he learns to walk. He is crawling swiftly and steadily climbing already just shy of seven months old. I fear for his physicality and can only imagine how recklessly he would have handled your stairs.

Basement, you saw us through the exchange of countless washers and dryers. The filling and dumping of a rusty old dehumidifier. The storage of loads of photos and baby clothes and camping gear and important documents and random furniture we couldn’t bear to throw out. Lastly, I’ll never forget your sump pump with the gnarly rotting wood covering the hole that led down to the well that will always remind me of the one that Baby Jessica fell into back in the 1980s. Thanks be to God that none of our babies fell down that well like she did all those years ago in Texas.

I will miss your spacious yard and magical trees maybe the most of all. Not raking your fall leaves, mind you, an annual activity I really could have done without. One that could be expected to last over a month, with four or five consecutive weekends spent raking abundant leaves onto a weathered green tarp, and then dragging said tarp to the side of the yard to dump pile after pile after pile of brown crinkly yard waste where the grass met the road. But, I did love gazing out your living room, kitchen and bedroom windows and watching the spring and summer leaves on the branches of your old and wise trees blow about in the breeze. I did sometimes worry that during bad storms one of the branches on your biggest tree—the one closest to the house—might crack and strike our house and impale one of us in our sleep. So, thanks again for keeping that from ever happening.

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Nora among the many fall leaves.


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And years later, doing her own part to help.

House—in the beginning, I loved mowing your lawn. The riding mower was new to me. A challenge to be learned. As a teenager, I was never allowed to mow the grass at our childhood home. My mother had suffered from an unfortunate mowing accident, whereupon running over a piece of rusty metal wire, the sole of her sneaker was pierced by the same flying wire debris, which resulted in a broken bone in her foot. And no Yost child ever partaking in the mowing of the lawn thereafter.

Somewhere in the middle, I detested mowing your lawn. When Liam got busy at work, it meant that one of the two of us had to spend two hours of our only weekend day off together mowing. Precious time we wanted to spend with each other.

Toward the end, I both loved and hated mowing your lawn. Yes, it was a time sucker. But it also provided me precious free time to escape being a mom for just a little bit. For two hours every other weekend, I got to zone out and enjoy the peace and meditation that came from mindlessly weaving linear patterns back and forth across your yard. Perhaps most importantly, mowing your lawn provided me precious opportunities to show my daughters that girls can cut grass just as well as (if not better than!) boys. We would have included the kids more in mowing but for your mower’s loud ass engine as well as its shifty seat which liked to wobble dangerously from time to time.

Remember the year of the bountiful cut flower garden? It had always been a dream of mine to grow a patch of flowers from which I could cut fresh stems to bring inside and display colorful bouquets. The neighbors oohed and aahed over you. We never could quite get you to grow to the fullness of that one summer. Liam insists it’s because he planted the seeds that first time, not me, that the garden flourished. Hmmpf! It’s not my fault the rabbits were particularly hungry in subsequent years.

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Nora and our cut flower garden in all their glory.

We cut our gardening teeth on your soil. In addition to flowers, we grew vegetables and planted blueberry bushes. We composted halfheartedly off and on over the years. We experimented with canning, pickling and preserving foods like cucumbers, asparagus, strawberry jam, and tomatoes—always a scene of frenzied chaos!

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Frances and her basil leaves.


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Nora with one of the caterpillars who so loved our dill.

Another beloved outdoor space of ours—your front porch—was home to many creative and hands-on projects. We made art there with sidewalk chalk, paints and natural materials. We husked corn and ripped kale. We smushed ants—well, at least the four-year-old did. We blew bubbles and whistles and screamed at the top of our lungs at passersby. We swung on the hammock swing and sat on the steps to pass the time and wait for Daddy to get home. We danced in rain puddles and stomped around in snow.

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Sitting on the front steps wearing classic expressions.


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The setting for many photo shoots gone awry.


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Finger painting in the water table.


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Sidewalk chalking.


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Ripping kale leaves for dinner.

For sure, the space that most evolved over the years was the bedroom. In the beginning, there were just two people sharing a giant king-sized bed. If we had to give away all but one piece of furniture in our home, I am sure my husband and I would agree we could not part with the bed. It is that comfortable. Our safe haven.

One of my most vivid and meaningful memories of our time spent under your roof involves that bed. One evening, in late fall of 2011, Liam and I had just finished rearranging the bedroom furniture. I was five or six months pregnant with Nora at the time, and we were making space to accommodate some new things for the baby. We pushed the bed under one of the windows in the bedroom, and then stopped to enjoy a moment of rest on the bare, plush mattress whose sheets were being cleaned in the laundry. We snuggled up side-by-side in the dark, with the window cracked open, so we could enjoy the cool breeze. We lay quietly for a time, appreciating the stillness. Then, rather abruptly, I started to cry. I confessed that I had been worried about what having a new baby might do to change the relationship I had with Liam. I felt that although I was excited about the new baby, I was somehow mourning in that moment, the loss of the two of us. We would soon be three. Our lives would change forever. We agreed that although we decidedly would change, we would strive to always make time to be two again.

Many years later, our lives have changed. Sometimes beyond recognition. Sometimes not. We no longer binge watch TV shows on the couch. Or stay up late just hanging out. Or cuddle up without some clinger wedging herself in between us. But, we still make time for date night. Well, at least once every few months. And we still make each other laugh out loud. If one were to walk into the bedroom now, one would see how we have wedged a twin bed up against our beloved king—an accommodation we made just two months ago to include everyone in the family bed. I admit it’s a tad bit ridiculous. But it works for us. I still lie under that window and feel the breeze from time to time and remember that moment years ago, and thank God for how lucky and blessed we all are to have each other.

The twin pushed against the king family bed.

Over the years we have ensconced ourselves safely inside your bedroom walls. Sleeping, dreaming, bonding, nursing, cuddling. Waking. Waking. Always waking. Your walls have heard our nighttime whisper curses being flung about here and there through teething spells, stomach bugs and that infant developmental bullshit where babies just decide to be up for no good reason at all but to piss their parents the fuck off. You have heard us say time and again, “Why the hell don’t we have cribs for our fucking children?!” And yet, we have remained steadfast in our desire to sleep next to our babies. We have grown our family of just two to a very full FIVE. We believe our children are becoming affectionate, confident, independent and empathetic beings as a result of sharing this sleeping space with us (if not also attached). But one day they will be gone, and these memories will remain.

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The three little bears snuggled up in their bed.


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That time when we moved two twin beds into the second bedroom that was once a playroom, and then a Nora-Daddy bedroom, hopeful that the girls would sleep together in there, but then just became a playroom again, only with two unused beds in there.

I think, perhaps, the room I liked least in your space was the bathroom. Mostly because I abhorred cleaning it. Remember those three or four times when I lost or left house keys somewhere out and about, and had to break in through the only open window in the house—the bathroom window. I always made quite a scene when that happened. Thanks for being open, though. We woulda been screwed if you hadn’t been.

We loved building fires in your fireplace and making blanket forts in just about every room. We used your walls to adorn photographs of our loved ones and artwork made by little hands. We spread cushions on the floor and bounced around on them. We had picnics with fake food and picnics with real food on that same floor. We said prayers together at meal times and prayers at bedtime. We watched way too much PBS Kids (especially in recent days, what with all the packing that’s been going on) and built towers of wooden blocks again and again and again.

Remember that magical Christmas Eve when Liam made seafood fra diavolo for dinner, and he and I talked about how blessed we were to have had such special grandparents in our lives? And then he proposed. Do you remember how I said yes? And how we laughed and laughed afterwards? He still makes that same meal now every Christmas Eve. It’s become a tradition that began at a table in your dining room, and will continue on for years to come.

Remember also the time my water broke at 2:00 a.m. and we rushed off to the hospital? Sorry about that mucous plug that dropped on your floor. I had no idea it was coming. Really. It scared the shit out of me, too. I was fortunate to begin to labor with the other two babies under your roof as well, but in a much calmer state than the first time around. Each time we brought home a child from the hospital, we enjoyed peaceful days of sitting on the couch getting to know her or him. Then, there were the sleepless nights. Not so soon forgotten.

You gave our children their first sense of feeling part of a community, a neighborhood. There is Mr. Larry and Mrs. Betty right next door. They ADORE the kids. They’ve told us time and again how they have loved watching the kids grow up in the backyard from the sunroom behind their house. They recall fondly the way Nora waddled about when she first learned to walk, and how she chased around after the wiffle golf balls Liam would hit about when working on his swing.

Then there’s Tim and Deb across the street. I’ll never forget the first Halloween after we moved in. Liam had been working late in Harrisburg. I saw Tim and Deb huddled up in winter weather gear passing out candy to the neighborhood youngsters. They had coozies of beer in one hand, and Twizzlers in another. I left my bowl of candy when I saw them, went in to grab my winter hat with the ear flaps, and trudged across the street carrying my own beer in a coozy to join them. Because why the hell not?

Miss Isabel is next to them, and beyond that house, Mrs. Dorothy and Mr. Charlie, along with Snickers, the dog. Over the years, we loved watching out for Miss Isabel taking walks, and driving her car on errands, long after she was supposed to have given up driving on orders from her doctors. We loved spotting Mrs. Dorothy at church, in addition to looking out for her daily walks with Snickers. We enjoyed stopping to chat with everyone. Especially Miss Val, and her pooch sidekick Potsie. Miss Val always had all the news of the neighborhood and always greeted the kids with genuine concern for their wellbeing.

Our girls made their first little friends in your neighborhood too. In the beginning, there was Tella. And then her little sister, Emme. More recently, we’ve befriended Avery and Katie. A gaggle of girls.

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The girls: Frances, Nora, and best buddy Tella.


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The neighborhood gaggle o’ gals.

We so enjoyed walking the streets of your neighborhood and getting to know our neighbors. We always made our loop around the ‘new’ neighborhood (which one friend recently dubbed the ‘rich’ neighborhood—ha!) and then figure-eighted back around to your neighborhood, our neighborhood—the old neighborhood. We rode trikes, bikes, friends’ scooters, strollers. We carried babies in wraps, slings, backpacks, Bjorns, and Ergos. We ran, walked, marched, sang, skipped, hopped, jumped, and held hands. We sometimes threw ourselves down on your streets because things were not going our way and cried. We spied pumpkins, Christmas decorations, pets, cars and trucks, sewage drains, stop signs and the occasional running water. We collected pinecones, acorns, leaves, bugs and rocks. We happily exchanged books at the Free Little Library in front of Deborah’s house.

Strollin’ with the babies.


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Cranky Franky on the trike.

And so house, in just five days’ time, a moving truck will pull into your driveway, and we will pack up our belongings and move north to Connecticut. I don’t know who will live in you next, but I hope it is a young family who will find you charming in precisely all the ways we did. And will be willing to overlook and put up with all that’s wrong with you—like the summertime ants, the deathtrap basement stairs, the damn portable dishwasher that hooks up to the sink, and the broken front screen door which my nephew Desmond ripped off its hinge, and which we never made time to fix. Oh, and the cable that fell down in the back alleyway during a storm years ago. I’ve called Comcast to come and fix it about five times over the years. I’m sorry to say that to this day they’ve never responded. Maybe your future tenants will have better luck.

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This little guy learned to crawl in your rooms and ate his first meals of broccoli and squash here. He will learn to walk under a new and different roof. And his first taste of ice cream will be elsewhere too.

We are looking forward to moving on to someplace new. But we are sad to be leaving behind the home—your home—in which we have had so many happy memories, and a neighborhood in which we’ve made so many wonderful friends. We will not soon forget you. Know that we will be back to visit. In drive-bys and walkthroughs, I am certain our paths will cross again.

In the meantime, don’t be lonely. This winter will be sure to bring back the mice. And then, the summertime ants will be just around the corner.

With deep love, gratitude and affection,

The Powers Family

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? 

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How my four-year-old will wake up tomorrow morning with a radiant smile and hug me, just like every morning, is beyond me, a complete miraculous mystery. Why? Because I have been a horrible mother today. The worst.

To say this afternoon-into-evening was rough is a total understatement. It was AWFUL. One for the books.

The day began well enough (apart from the headache that started brewing soon after I woke up). I managed to get a brisk walk in before Liam left for work. We got the oldest off to school and then the two youngers and I enjoyed a relaxing trip through the local market.

After that, we headed back home where I decided to pack a picnic lunch so I could take all three kids for a quick visit to my elementary school after we picked up Nora from her school. There aren’t too many days left in the school year, and I wanted my students from this past year to be able to meet and see the new baby.

That all went fine too. And everyone fell asleep on the ride home. Score! I was hopeful then I might be able to nap too, or at least close my eyes to relieve the worsening headache pain I was experiencing.

When I pulled into the driveway, though, things began to go awry. The baby woke up once the car stopped and started screaming. I took him and his seat from the car and moved him to a shady part in the driveway, where he continued to scream. 

I grabbed Frances next and carried her into bed, no problem. I came back outside, briefly picked up and air-rocked the baby’s car seat, hoping to calm him down. It didn’t work.

So, I put him back down, grabbed the sleeping Nora and carried her inside. Of course, she woke up. She doesn’t really nap much anymore, so this wasn’t too surprising. I was still holding out hope, though, that she might. After guzzling down some water she asked for, she got into bed next to her younger sister and appeared to be attempting to fall asleep.

I hustled back out to the driveway to close and lock up the car, and to collect the screaming child, hoping none of the neighbors called CYA on me for being neglectful. 

I came back inside, plopped on the couch with the baby and a huge glass of water. I proceeded to try and nurse him to sleep when Nora came out of the bedroom and into the living room to announce she was skipping nap. I ordered her kindly back to the bedroom to at least try to take a rest. 

Twice more she emerged, once wearing a baby doll around her waist, attached to a Mardi Gras type beaded necklace around her neck, complete with a blanket-as-a-skirt around her lower body. The second time she was wearing no less than three headbands in her hair and twice as many barrettes. Her nap was so not happening.

I moved with the baby to the empty bedroom to lie down. He had fallen asleep. I told Nora I didn’t care what she did or played, but that she must leave me to rest so that I could try and get rid of my headache (I suffer occasionally from migraines and this one felt like it could turn into one if I didn’t try to get rid of it).

Now, yesterday, Nora skipped nap and played by herself for over two hours. She did some make-believe with her dollhouse. She drew some pictures. She played blocks. And, she dressed and undressed her baby dolls. Most days she does keep herself occupied pretty well and does not appear to be tired at all.

Today, however, she just didn’t know what to do with herself. So, she bothered me. She kept climbing up into bed, threatening to wake the baby with her insistent hugging and squeezing and kissing of his body, and in the process, completely pissing me off.

“Nora!” I whisper-screamed. “Either get under the covers and rest your head on the pillow, or get out of here and play something quietly.”

She left for a spell to do something in another room, only to return over and over again. My heart just about broke when she came in for the last time and said, “I’m tired of playing by myself mommy.”

She woke the baby when she said this, so then all three of us were grouchy. Ummm…make that four. Frances woke up soon after, and that kid is always a whiny mess after a nap. 

From 4:30 until 5:30, I attempted to cook dinner. I was interrupted nearly 437 times. Most of these interruptions had to deal with the girls screaming at each other over something ridiculous. Frances told Nora she was not allowed to sing. Nora pushed Frances. Frances threw chalk all over Nora’s drawing. All of this stuff was alleged, since I witnessed none of it. 

Essentially, since Nora hadn’t napped, she decided she was going to bug the shit out of her younger sister and push all of her buttons. And, younger sister decided she was just going to holler ‘No, Nora, no!’ over and over again at the top of her lungs. Meanwhile, I was going absolutely crazy having to listen to it all while trying to cook a meal and move the baby from swing to mat to shoulder to keep him from adding to the ruckus.

After I made a complete disatrous mess of the kitchen, we four sat down to eat together, the baby sprawled, belly down, across my lap (Liam’s been working late all week, making it home between 7:30 and 8, so I knew he wouldn’t be joining us for dinner). 

The girls took one look at their plates and decided they weren’t going to eat the meal I prepared.

“Me no like it,” Frances whined.

At that point, I could’ve cared less. I gave them both a bowlful of fruit while I enjoyed the baked tilapia and sundried tomato pasta salad with asparagus and spinach.

Nora continued to misbehave at and away from the table before I blurted out that she was being completely unhelpful and made me feel like I wanted to leave.

Well, those lovely words caused her to burst into tears and ask, “You mean, like move to another house?”

“No.” I reassured her, feeling full of shame and guilt. “I’m your mommy and I would never leave you, no matter how angry or frustrated I got. I only feel like leaving.”

“Mommy. You shouldn’t say that. I thought you were going to leave and that hurt my feelings. I would be sad and miss you.”

I apologized and told her she was right, that I shouldn’t have said it. That people sometimes say hurtful things when they get upset.

And then I put her and her sister into the bathtub because I was at my wit’s end. I tried to sneak in a quick nursing rest break in bed with the baby, but five minutes into the tubby, the girls were at it again. 

After a few lengthy screaming sessions, I yanked them both out, did teeth and pjs, and attempted to get Nora to sleep. At the early hour of 7:00. 

Somehow, laying next to me, with the baby crawling all over my chest, and her sister acting a silly fool, speaking gibberish and climbing all about the bed, Nora fell asleep. Hard. She was out in under ten minutes. Gifriend sure needed that nap today. Her mama should have had one too.

After that, I kept things together just long enough until I burst into tears the moment Liam walked in the door. 

“I’m just out of coping skills!” I told him. “It’s all too much! I hate that I keep yelling at the kids, Nora in particular, when all she wants is just a little attention from me.”

We tried to problem solve ways to make life easier. Like maybe not feeling the need to cook baked tilapia and sundried tomato pasta salad with asparagus and spinach. Maybe we should hire a nanny. Or win the lottery. Or have Liam just quit his job.

Today at school a lot of my colleague-friends asked how we are all doing. “How’s life with three?” they said.

I said, “It’s really freaking hard. I wish I could say it’s all beautiful and amazing. There are those moments, for sure, when things are completely wonderful. But mostly, it’s just hard.”

I know that lack of sleep, lack of ‘me time’, lack of husband from dinner through bath and bed, plus headache, and three needy kids is a recipe for madness, but I feel like I should be better at this somehow. Like I’m totally failing as a mom right now.

I don’t want my kids to remember their early childhood with a stern, bitchy, asshole dictator for a mother. I want them to recall times of peace, joy, and fun. I remember my mom being patient and kind nearly always, although she assures me this was not the case. I’m grateful my kids seem to easily forget the bad days and bad moments. 

Which is why I’ll be thanking God tomorrow for second chances and do-overs, and for the love from a little girl, who will have forgotten just how awful her mother was the day before. 

Can you believe this springlike weather we’re having? And other causes for celebration.

After taking a brief break from writing to allow for copious amounts of vomiting, mixed with a twenty-four-hour headache, no appetite, bouts of dehydration, major Braxton-Hicks contractions, Tuesday morning heartburn, painful stomach cramping, chills, body aches, loads of sleep/catnapping/couch-sitting, extreme exhaustion/breathlessness, and general lousiness of physical and emotional condition, I am back!

Today’s post is dedicated to all the blessings I am happy to count right now after suffering miserably for the past forty-eight hours.

1. I’m feeling mostly human again, despite being utterly exhausted, and, well, you know, apart from the whole alien growing inside my belly thing.

2. When I stepped outside into the late afternoon/early evening weather today, it felt like springtime to my frozen soul! I unzipped my jacket and even let the windows in the car creep down just a bit. This feels nearly like flip flop weather, I thought to myself. It must be almost fifty degrees! I checked my weather app and saw it was, in fact, just 31 degrees, but “feels like” 23. Hmmm…goes to show what a little perspective can do. At least it wasn’t minus anything!

3. I have a fresh new haircut and newly painted toes. Yay for pampering!

4. The midwife at my appointment this evening assured me that the baby she felt, seemingly threatening to drop out of my body any day now, was not an enormous one, and in fact, might shape up to be a 7.5-pounder, at the rate he’s growing. While I recognize this laying on of hands by a midwife is not an exact science, this mama, who’s already pushed out a 9-pounder and an almost-9-pounder was relieved to hear the prediction!

5. And last, but certainly, not least, is the fact that when I came home this evening, I saw no evidence of mice despite random food items being left strewn about the house for days. Liam did a phenomenal job of holding down the fort with the girls the past two days, while I lay about moaning and sighing, but let’s face it, we were all in basic survival mode. Half-eaten bowls of cereal, random fruit peels, half-empty glasses of milk and juice, and lots of crumbs of I-don’t-even-know-what are littered about the various counters and tabletops in our home. Now that I am back to feeling like Supermom again, I will be ready to tackle the mess anew tomorrow. Or the next day. Or even surely, the day after that.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post: a continuation of the love story that began a few days ago, yet was so rudely interrupted by violent illness.

The first time I met my husband.

This morning I happened to be admiring a baby shower gift that belongs to Nora. It is a photo mat on which many friends and relatives signed their names and wrote special words of blessing. One note caught my eye; it was written by one of my closest friends, Kerry. It said: Always remember, if it weren’t for me, you would have never been born.

After I chuckled to myself, I got to wondering: would Liam and I still have met, crossed paths, had it not been for Kerry? Or Bridget, even, another close friend whose brothers’ 80’s party played a monumental part in our eventually getting together?

The first time I met my husband I was nineteen years old, a sophomore in college. He was seventeen, a junior in high school. He flew out to South Bend, Indiana, to visit his cousin, Kerry, who also happened to be my roommate, and to take in a Fighting Irish football game.

Memories from this time for both of us are pretty hazy. In fact, the only thing that sticks out for me, is how impressed I was that Liam managed to remove (ahem, steal) an ornament from a decorative car hood that was mounted on the wall of the local dive bar which we used to frequent, as they allowed seriously bad fake IDs as proof of legal drinking age. As a fellow spontaneous kleptomaniac of random trinkets, that I assured myself nobody would ever miss, I was enormously pleased by this grab. However, I had a serious boyfriend at the time, and was not looking for a new love interest.

The only thing Liam remembers from this trip is being impressed by our dorm room. Kerry and I had our beds lofted (our dads helped construct them so), so a couch and our desks could fit underneath, maximizing our space potential. Apparently, he’d never seen this done before, and thought it was pretty darn cool. Also, he remembers having to spend the night in our guy friends’ dorm room since our school did not allow for the spending of overnight guests of the opposite sex. A little awkward, perhaps?

He would come back to visit Kerry one more time during our last year at Notre Dame. But that’s a story for tomorrow…

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Photographic proof that we’ve known one another almost 20 years. How is this possible? I am in the front next to the woman wearing the hat. Liam is the one with sideburns in the red and blue jacket.

Our children: Mini versions of us…or not?

As we wait these last weeks for our boy to arrive, I find I become consumed with excitement, thinking about how he will fit into our family. How his personality and behaviors may be similar to or different from the girls. What he’ll look like and whom he’ll resemble.

When Nora was born many remarked that she was the spitting image of me when I was a baby. One friend later said, “Look! A blond you!” Now that she’s a bit older I still see the resemblance, but I notice more of Liam in her physical appearance too. She’s got the same chubby, round cheeks he had as a boy, and a very slight dimple in her chin right where his is. She’s a pretty good mix of us both, I think. She definitely has her mother’s personality, though.

Frances, on the other hand. Well, we’ve never much seen a shared likeness with her, at least physically (she’s got Liam’s peaceful and easygoing spirit). Liam and I both have dark hair and eyes. Franny’s blond with bright blue eyes. In fact, people say she looks more like Liam’s brother. These kinds of statements are always sure to bring on awkward pauses and comments, which we of course just love.

My sister sent me the picture below via text yesterday with a note: This could be Nora and Frances. The picture is one that was taken of the two of us, at roughly the same ages as the girls, probably circa 1981. Seems Liam’s sibling isn’t the only one who shares a likeness with our youngest. If you put some blue eyes on my baby sister, she’d look like our girl too!

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Whether they resemble us or not, they’re sure beautiful, our girls. Even if there’s something totally gone wrong with their thin, straw-like and brittle hair. They walk around with bed-head most of the day despite numerous attempts to comb out knots and nests in which small creatures very well could be living. But I’ll save that post for another day.

Can’t wait to meet the boy and see whom he favors. Me? His father? His grandparents? The mailman? That joke just never gets old.