Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Winning the Heart of My Three-Year-Old

Recent Jamie quotes:


Upon waking first thing in the morning, after what must have been an awesome dream: “Mommy!  Cows outside!”


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Singing: “Who let the farts out?! Thbbbt! Thbbbt! Thbbt!”


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Jamie: “Mommy, when I go to bed, I don’t even close my eyes.”

Me: “You don’t?  How is that even possible?”

Jamie: “I have the instructions in my head.”


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We spend a lot of time walking to & from school.  It’s tired work.


Jamie, pleading: “Peeeease, Mommy, can we go to the store to get a chainsaw?”

Me, incredulous: “No.”

Jamie, whining: “But I NEED a chainsaw to cut wood with daddy!”

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I am extraordinarily lucky.  I have the opportunity to own a business with my brother and make my own working hours – I have to work, but if I work hard, I don’t have to work that much. 


When Charles and Jamie were small, I eased them into daycare.  Neither went full-time until they were at least a year old, and I wanted to do the same with Freddie, but with one major difference: I decided to pull Jamie back to part-time as well.  Jamie and Freddie now attend daycare three days per week, and even though it’s really difficult (I sometimes have more work to do than I can complete while they’re in daycare), it’s been a positive change for Jamie to have more time with me and Freddie.


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Charles is such a social kid – he truly wanted to be in daycare full-time when he was small.  Jamie, on the other hand, really likes quiet time with me, reading and playing.  He does fine in daycare, even loves some of it, but spending two (more – he’s with me on the weekends, too, of course) days at home or running errands seems to really keep him happy.  He acts out less and acts up more.  Though he still throws the usual three-year-old tantrums, they are fewer and further between.


There are so many sacrifices in parenting.  Jamie’s well-being is worth the sacrifice of my working hours.  I’m not saying that I’ll be able to do this forever, but for now, it’s really nice.


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Monday, January 12, 2015

Sleep Files # “I’m Losing My Mind”

I realized this morning that since Freddie was born in July, Tony has gone on three multi-night out-of-town trips.  Whether the stated purpose of these trips is fishing, work, or “hanging out with the guys,” the real reason for leaving is to get some sleep.  Because around here, sleep is in short supply.


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Middle of the night


Freddie started out a better sleeper than the his brothers and, for a month or so there, he slept 6 hours straight every night.  Even when he was waking often, I could usually get him right back to sleep after a change and a feeding. 


No longer.


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The best place to sleep is on me.


Freddie wakes every two or three hours, gets changed, eats, and then fusses himself awake when I set him in the crib or pops his eyes open, ready to play, as soon as he burps.  Watching a six-month-old happily roll around in his crib, playing with his toes at 2 am is the pits.  I can’t go to bed because he screams when I leave the room.


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We all need a nap.

It’s probably teeth.  Which is a short way of saying, “there’s shit-all I can do about it.”


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Let them eat avocado.


Thankfully, Freddie is the third child.  This, too, shall pass.  I hope.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Baby Love

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Look who’s six months old!

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Things he hates: eczema (I hate it, too).  Things he loves: his brothers, his exersaucer, baths.

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Things he’s not so sure about: dogs.

Freddie’s eczema continued to trouble us this past month – between bleach baths (yes, crazy, but it works!) and steroid cream, it’s mostly under control now.  When he’s not itchy or in pain, he’s a happy baby.  When he is, well, he spends a lot of time in the Ergo, nestled up next to me.

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He rolls and rolls and rolls around the room.

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He prefers to have someone paying attention to him all the time; luckily, his brothers are often happy to oblige.

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No one can make him laugh like Charles can.  I’m beginning to see a bit why “middle child syndrome” is a thing – Charles thinks Freddie is adorable, but Jamie is just his annoying kid brother, even if they do play together really well.  Jamie likes Freddie okay, but doesn’t see what the big deal is.  Don’t tell me the cure is to have a fourth child because IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

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I’m super happy with my family the way it is.  These boys of mine are perfect.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Keeping Busy When I’m Busy

I was so busy this past month that I really scaled back my life to the essentials only; I didn’t blog, I didn’t call friends, I used Amazon to purchase most of my Christmas gifts, Tony and I didn’t go out except to work functions, we didn’t do big Christmas events.  Instead, I spent every non-work moment with my family, either doing things for them (housework and cooking, etc.) or with them (teaching the boys Go Fish, building LEGOs, reading stories, etc.).


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It would have been extremely easy for me to turn on the television and cue up several episodes of Wild Kratts or RescueBots (I did that once, when I was in desperate need of a nap, but only once), but it was far more enjoyable to find activities for us all to do together. 


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I’m not sure what changed, but Jamie and Charles, when they’re not pummeling the snot out of each other, play really well together now.  I often hear them say to one another, “Pretend that I’m…” as they play.  My kitchen is super clean because they played LEGOs downstairs for long stretches of time each afternoon.


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When we’re constantly going somewhere, doing some activity, I think we forget about all the cool toys the boys have.  We devoted whole afternoons to trains, cars, costumes, and books because Freddie took naps and I went back-and-forth to the office.


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Simplify: a motto I’ve heard so often.  I thought my life was simple before, but when I excised the extras, I was left with the simplicity of family.  We’ll likely remember this Christmas as one of our busiest, but I’ll also remember it as one during which I really grew as a mom.  Sometimes I say, “I wasn’t meant to be a stay-at-home mom,” but the reality is that I just didn’t want to be one.  After two weeks of concentrated time with my kids (since I couldn’t just drop them at daycare), I find that I am capable of staying home.  I’m not going to, but I could.  At any rate, it makes it easier to stare down the impending doom of tax season and the long Saturdays we’ll spend together.  My kids don’t need complicated activities and schedules.  They simply need me.  I can give them that.



Monday, January 5, 2015


The big list of recent stressors:


1. Sleepless nights.  It’s not the dairy.  I’ve reinstated cheese, ice cream, and yogurt in my life and Freddie is not exhibiting any gastrointestinal distress.  But he still ISN’T SLEEPING.  He wakes, gets changed, eats, falls asleep on my shoulder, is gently laid in his crib, and opens his beautiful blue eyes right up, fussing and fighting.  It takes an hour or two to get him back to sleep every time he wakes in the night, which is often.  He naps like a dream, though.  Too bad I don’t have time for naps, because…


2. We moved our business.  For the past four months, we have been renovating (ha!  I say “we,” but I really mean that we have been paying contractors and relying on the attentions of our parents to manage those contractors – I’m a 33-year-old woman and without the help of my parents these past few months, I would not have a business to run.  Grown up, but I still need my mommy and daddy) an old building here in Mount Vernon and we moved the entire business over the past week.  You know, during…


3. Christmas.  The most wonderful time of the year, right?  Or the most stressful because all three of my children were out of school/daycare, I had extra family in town long-term (not stressful because I love them and they all have suitably low expectations, but still more bodies in a small space) and I was the default meal-preparer, and I completely put off Christmas shopping because of busy-ness and the business.  Conversations were dominated by the business move, children were shunted back and forth to workspaces that became increasingly uninhabitable as the office and the warehouse were boxed up and put on trucks and you know the thing with moving, right?  It all looks profoundly worse before it looks better.  It still looks worse.  I cannot find my stapler.


Okay, so it’s not a big list.  But put it all together and it made for a hell of an end to 2014.  As a family, we didn’t do anything extra this holiday season.  No Lights of Christmas, no driving around to look at local light displays, no cookie baking, no Christmas-themed movies… bare minimum up in here.  Fortunately, no one felt the lack.  We filled in the spaces with love, of course.  And presents.  And grandparents (thank God for grandparents).


It is tough not to carry the stress forward into what should be a less-stressful new year.  After all, the business is now only making one rent payment, we are all moved, we have a full complement of employees, and Freddie and Jamie are in daycare together three days a week (gasp!), allowing me just enough time to focus on my job.  Things are calming down; I need to do so, too.


So, here’s my short list of resolutions for 2015:


1.  Be more thorough.  I just thought of this today, but it’s a good one.  I tend to do a job just enough to get by because I have so many jobs.  Maybe if I break things down into easier-to-accomplish tasks and quit bitching about them, I’ll get more done.  I’ll reorganize one shelf of the “pantry” (a set of shelves in my garage) at a time and instead of just shoving things on shelves when I come home with a load of groceries, I’ll organize them right away.  I’ll put appliances away immediately after using them (bread machine, I’m looking at you).  I’ll wipe down the counter and table after each meal.  I’ll hang jackets up or yell at my kids to do it so they don’t pile up on the stair railing.


2.  Lose these last 20 pounds of baby weight.  Slowly but surely.


3.  Continue to lavish attention on my children.  You would think that this wouldn’t be tough, but I am easily distracted by the abundance of tasks that awaits me every day.


What are your resolutions?


Merry New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Me: “I could do with an unlimited supply of Lindt truffles, if you’re ever handing out wishes.”

Tony: “If you waste a wish on that, I swear to God…”


Charles: “Daddy, I don’t like this soup.”

Tony: “Charles, you had two bites five minutes ago and pronounced it ‘delicious.’”

Charles: “Oh, yeah.  I forgot.” Proceeds to eat soup.


Me: “Seriously, though, what should we get your parents for Christmas?”

Tony: …


Charles: “I love you, Jamie.”

Jamie: “I love you, Charles.”

Charles: “I love you, Bamie.”

Jamie: “I love you, Larles.”

Charles: “Ha ha! You love me!”


Charles (angrily): “Mom, I don’t want the house cleaner to come!  When I get old, I’m going to have a dirty house and no house cleaner!”


Jamie (singing):  “Feliz Navi-poop! Feliz Navi-poop!”

Friday, December 12, 2014


It’s 3:30 AM and little man is sitting on my lap.  He’s not screaming.  I consider that an accomplishment.


Here’s the short version: Freddie is not yet ready for me to add dairy back into my diet.


The long version:

Charles used to scream like this, all night long.  Nothing was okay.  I could not make it right.  Eventually, he’d wear himself out and go to sleep for a couple of hours, then wake up screaming again.  We thought it was colic.  We thought some of it was normal.  I sometimes thought that God was punishing me for some unknown infraction.


The truth was that his baby tummy didn’t produce the enzymes to digest the dairy protein in my milk.  When I finally figured it out, after a Google rabbit hole of “What is wrong with my baby?” and cut out dairy from my diet, he got better.  He didn’t sleep much more, but he did stop screaming.  When he was about 6 months old, I started eating dairy again and he handled it fine.


I cut out dairy immediately upon birth of both Jamie and Freddie.


Freddie has only screamed like Charles did a couple of times in his short life, when he was in pain.  Tonight.  Oh, tonight.  My ears hurt.  But right now he’s content to just sit here while I type, so I’ll keep going.  Anything is better than the screaming.


Tony and I attended his office Christmas party this evening and, since Freddie is 5 months old, I thought I’d work some dairy back into my diet.  Seriously, it’s been AGES since I’ve had cheese and I miss it so much.  Forget about the ice cream, not having cheese means no lasagna, no enchiladas, no macaroni and cheese, no quesadillas… the list is long and delicious.  Just take a look at every meal on Pinterest, the devil’s website.  They all have cheese, and I can’t eat any of them.  It’s a tough way to live, especially when you’re trying to come up with new dinner ideas every night. 


TANGENT ALERT: What is up with no one else EVER having an idea for what to make for dinner?  Do your menfolk do this?  I ask for dinner suggestions for the week before I go grocery shopping, and it’s like they’ve never had dinner before in their lives.  Charles can only ever think of “chicken with skin” (rotisserie chicken, not something I’m willing to eat every week) and I get blank looks from Tony and Jamie.  I get into these cooking ruts, especially since most of what I crave right now has cheese or milk (cheeseburgers, nachos, omelets… OH MY GOD, stop it, Amelia!), and I’d like some help coming up with meals we can all enjoy, but I’m coming to realize that my boys don’t actually care.  They just want food.  They might even be content to eat the same thing in a row for a whole week (so long as it’s not quinoa).  Food as only fuel and not a daily enjoyment?  I can’t imagine living that way.


So here’s how tonight’s disaster went down:


Me: “Oh my God, I love cheese so much!”

Tony: Smiles indulgently at his addled wife who actually said that rather loudly at his office Christmas party.

Freddie, much later: “Waaaaaaa!” Repeat, ad infinitum.


Sacrifice, man.  I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately – namely, that I do a lot of it.  And it is the nature of sacrifice that you get nothing (or very little) in return.  I will sacrifice, for at least another month, cheese and the varied diet provided by dairy.  In return, I will get sleep.  It would seem a small price to pay for something so comforting, so vital, no?  And yet, I grow bitter, because NO ONE ELSE has to sacrifice a damned thing.  We mothers, we sacrifice our bodies, our careers, and our lifestyles for these small people.  Sometimes I look at them and I think, will it all be worth it?  And then I look at my life and wonder, would my mother say it was worth it, given what I’ve become?  I sure hope so.


3:30 AM is kind of a depressing time, y’all.  Commence praying for sleep.