Monday, October 29, 2007

The Club

The tooth fairy has visited! After three long and very loose weeks, Logan’s first tooth has fallen out. One of her classmates informed her that she is now a member of the “tooth club.” She asked me when they meet and what that really means. I ended up going down the road of some long and winding discussion of milestones and being at certain points in your life when I really should have just said, “Thursdays.” I feel like time is all of a sudden flying for her. Changes are happening everyday and she is growing up in her looks, her experiences and her understanding of the world around her. I am thrilled and excited and love the person that she’s growing into more and more each day. But I miss her a little bit too, her thumb-sucking, her silly questions, her baby face. I miss before-her-tooth-club-membership Logan….. but I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Go Take a Hot Shower!

Is there anything better than an uninterrupted hot shower?

I was just getting dressed (and yes, it is 2 PM and I have already done the morning routine, dropped off and picked up two kids from two schools, been to Costco, recycled my grocery bags, returned and exchanged items at two separate stores, made and cleaned up lunch and managed a playdoh accident.) Anyway, as I dressed I felt this overwhelming sense of gratitude for the long, uninterrupted, both-legs shaved, hot shower I had just experienced. I think it’s like meditation for me; it’s certainly just as rare as meditation!

Seriously though, think about it. Eyes closed now and imagine the rush of a shower with great water pressure above you. The temperature is perfect; just before ‘blazing’ for me. The running water is the only sound you hear and you start to zone out and relax. Miraculously, there are no little people around for the moment. Thoughts come clearly and actually are completed before being replaced by new ones. Ideas even arrive, unexpectedly; rewards for this peaceful time alone. You smell the soap, even venture to use the expensive exfoliator that you rarely ever think about. You’re graced with the 1-3 minutes of conditioner time and as if it can’t get any better, you’re able to completely rinse off before, oh so sadly, turning the dial to “OFF.”

I had a funny conversation with another mom this week about the sad state of affairs when it comes to us moms being able to close the bathroom door during the day. That last sad bit of privacy is sacrificed during these glorious early childhood days. I regretfully admitted that I am so accustomed to leaving the door open that I sometimes do it even when I don’t have to! I miss shutting that door and need to grant myself the privilege more often! But for as much as I want that door closed, I’d leave it open forever to be granted the shower I had today every once in awhile – there’s nothing like it.

Thanks kids!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I’ve been thinking a lot about the girls and their relationship lately. It is so real right now; they can go from 0 to 60 in a second, from best friends to the worst enemies. This is all usually over Barbie’s purse or whether or not they think it’s appropriate that they both request the same things from Santa. (Unfortunately for Santa, that’s just the way it will be this year!) I see both extreme adoration and intense competition between them, both of which seem to be in operation at healthy levels for now. They protect each other and worry about each other and then easily shove each other out of the way at soccer, right after cheering the other on. I’m sure that’s what sisters do.

Unfortunate circumstances in my own life have left me unable to use my own relationship with my sister as an example to my girls, so I am winging it. I try to encourage all the good stuff, ignore the harmless and do away with the bad. I am hopelessly attempting to teach the meaning of “ignore.” I reward their good deeds and my heart flips when they tell me they did something nice for each other. I’m no dummy, most of that is in hopes of a reward from me, but they are still “getting it” a little, day by day.

After school drop off, Riley goes through a period of sadness when Logan gets out of the car. It’s always a mad rush: she unbuckles, Riley begs for a kiss and hug, Logan says she doesn’t have time, I tell her to do it anyway. Then I ask for my kiss, tell her I love her, Finn starts yelling “Bye!” at the top of his lungs and she’s off. The whole way through the parking lot Riley and Finn are continuing their goodbyes. Today, Riley asked a last minute question of Logan that got lost in the shuffle. She was so dejected. I tried to explain that Logan was in such a rush that she had to go and that it would be the same with her someday and Finn would be left waiting. And then they’ll all go and I’ll say, “Where did they all go?”

Now I’m feeling sad.

But, as usual, I was saved from my impending funk by three-year old conversation. Riley told me she planned to marry Briggs, the seven year old son my wonderful friend, Tiffany.

“You do?” I asked, thinking that it was so funny to even hear her say this.

“I do!” She announced. “So Logan better not be!”

Sisters ‘til the end!

Monday, October 22, 2007


I read an article the other day where a woman was describing the kind of love that she grew up with in her family. In it, she talks candidly about how deep, easy and true their love was for each other. They cherished the time they had together and were vital components of each other’s lives. The author specifically talks about one vacation, where after a long day her entire family ends up on the beach with a bonfire. The kids are in their early twenties at this point and they are telling stories and laughing so hard that they’re crying. Smack in the middle of the laughter-through-tears, the mom raises her glass and says, “Here’s to us! We love each other and we know it!”

I was immediately affected by this story. All I could think is “This is all that I want!” I mean, if we could raise our kids to feel that kind of love, warmth and security and to always want to come home as young adults, I can’t tell you how happy I would be. If we could give our children the gift of knowing a healthy, fun-loving and supportive marriage; a true partnership, they could travel so much further in their own relationships. The moments we spend laughing as a family are so treasured and are far too few. As my kids grow and I see their personalities develop, I want to know them more and more. I can’t imagine anything more satisfying for that mom on the beach… or for me.

The article wasn’t about family life as much as it was about losing a loved one. Six months after the scene on the beach, the son was killed in a plane crash while serving in the military. The family suffered through the details and traditions and then, as hard as it was, pulled themselves back together and moved on in his name. They say that they were able to do that because of the love in which they rooted their family. The love really is enough to get us through anything, big or little or unfathomable.

For whatever reason, it’s been a stressful week but these thoughts about love have helped me end it on a good note. As my days with my kids fill with the joys of early childhood and a good dose of parental frustration – enough to leave me a lump on the couch by 8:30 pm - I will focus on the love, the laughs, and the sweetness of these fleeting moments. I will teach my kids to sink deep into the love from their daddy and me and have that same kind of love for each other. I will make their home a place to be themselves, be happy, feel safe and be loved. And the love will carry us all… through everything.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Out in the middle of.... somewhere special!

I can’t tell you how many people thought we were nuts packing up and moving even farther from the city and the rat race. A friend asked me today if I really like it out here and I couldn’t help but answer with a resounding “Yes!” The fact is that I wholeheartedly do.

When we contracted to build our new house, I must admit that I wasn’t 100% sure of our decision. I knew and supported all of our reasons for the change, but my heart was far from in it. Thankfully, the seven months we waited for completion of the house were just what I needed to start laying roots here in Oswego and really start to love it. From the beginning, Mike and I were hooked on coming out at least once a week to look at the empty lot, drive around the town and investigate. Our excitement grew tenfold when they dug the hole for our foundation – now we really had something to sink our teeth into! All of a sudden we were on our way out to look twice a week, sometimes packing the kids into the car at their normal bedtime because we couldn’t wait another day to check the progress. By the time our closing date came around, we really liked the house and neighborhood and were falling in love with the surrounding area as well.

It didn’t take long after moving in to start to feel like home here. Mike and I have both commented on how there is just a good feeling in our house; how it feels like it is totally meant to be. I’m thinking that’s a good sign considering we don’t have a speck of paint on the walls yet. I remember one early day sitting on the front porch after a long walk and catching the sunset for the first time. I was literally moved to tears while realizing how blessed I was to be able to see this sunset every day that I live here. I’ve seen a lot of sunsets, especially during the five years that Mike and I lived in Florida, but the sky just seems bigger here. And more colorful. And totally breathtaking.

I drove to the dentist on Saturday and made a wrong turn. I found myself cruising down a road that seemed to be getting smaller and smaller. It was filled with homes that could have been in any regular neighborhood, except they all had fields full of grazing horses. This is pretty much my idea of heaven. (I know, low expectations!) But really for me, there’s nothing better than rolling hills of cornfields and trees interspersed with horse farms. Once again, this wonderful little place called Oswego moved me to tears.

I just love it here and am so thankful that we were given the forethought to consider making our life here. I love the people, the schools, the progression and the landscape of this beautiful town. I am so blessed to be one of its residents and so grateful that our children have this wonderful place in which to root and grow. All I’ve got to figure out now is what type of fertilizer to use!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

"Mommy I gotta tell you sumpin'"

Riley is such a cool little person. She is tough, almost never lets a tear show unless she is emotionally hurt. Once she was riding her scooter up and down a neighbor’s driveway with lots of big kids. I cringed each time she went down, but hesitated to stop her. At one point, she wiped out and slid, face-down, the remainder of the driveway. She stood up, a fresh strawberry the size of Chicago on her cheek. Her shoulder matched. All we ever saw was the slightest quiver of her lip, but she was right back on her scooter immediately.

The fact that she is so tough is in such perfect balance with how sweet she is. She operates from such a sound and matter-of-fact place that she can be really calming to be around. She does not have big reactions, so there is never any doubt that you know when she is truly happy, sad, excited, or meaning what she says. Although I wonder about how much she thinks about things (this is a problem I have!) I don’t worry about how she feels about things. She tells it like it is.

I got to thinking about her personality this week because of this one little thing that she does that I can’t really figure out. Anytime during the day or night, in the car or at a concert or smack in the middle of a play date, Riley says, “Mommy I gotta tell you sumpin’.” It’s really a question that she has for me or daddy, not that it matters. It never changes – never varies. “What was your favorite thing at Disney?”

This started five months ago in May just after we took our first trip to Disney. I had worried so that Riley wouldn’t be able to remember any of it since she was only three and a half. But I think the fact that it comes up multiple times a day will certainly help those memories endure!

“Hmmm. I think lunch at Cinderella’s castle” is my usual answer, although I vary it to save my own sanity from answering the same question over and over. This morning I said, “I think Woody’s Round Up, how ‘bout you?” She immediately called me out for changing my stock answer but accepted it when I said that she changes hers from time to time, too. Today, hers was “buying the sprayer things.”

A dear friend recently said that I was so patient since I am willing to answer this question multiple times a day without going crazy. Believe me; I have my moments all the time. But I suppose this question helps her somehow keep that grounded state she carries so well. Maybe she hears, “I’m right here for you Riley” or “It’s okay, close your baby blues and drift off, I’ll keep watch” or “I love you my sweet baby girl and I always will.”

Whatever she hears, I’ll keep saying it until she asks for the last time. I suppose that day is coming soon… she is growing fast. I guess it will be up to me then….

“Riley, I gotta tell you sumpin’. I love you sweet baby girl and I always will.”

Monday, October 8, 2007

Rock On Sisters!

This weekend we traveled to Iowa City to stay with our wonderful friends who live there. Together we went to see a Ralph's World concert and the girls could not have had a better time. Between the three rockin' moms that went, we had a gaggle of five girls by our sides. When Ralph hit the stage, they were all up and dancing and kept going for the whole show. For me, it was one of those moments in parenthood that are so far and few between. You know, the kind where you're almost completely overwhelmed with joy watching your kids experience something amazing and so utterly grateful that you have been able to provide them with that experience. Man do I want more of these moments!

It wasn't that it was something over-the-top or really expensive, it was just a concert. But it was a ROCK concert and felt like one, too. I thought Riley would jump out of her skin when she realized how close we were to the stage. Then Ralph announced that all the kids could dance in the mash pit, so us moms tagged along. Even though I was kneeling along side the stage and not head-banging, it still felt like the real deal. It didn't matter that the subjects of Ralph's songs range from happy lemons to hootenannies, it was just plain fun.

For the last two songs, we were all invited on stage and Logan, Riley and I gladly joined the band along with tons of other eager participants. The music was blaring right along with their precious smiles, their eyes were wide and you could just tell they were soaking it all in. (I was too, it's not everyday I get this opportunity!) I twirled them around and around to the music and couldn't help but think how fast time is flying, how good I have it and how moments like these really make your life.

So thanks, Ralph, for your rockin' songs about puppy dogs, green gorillas and mommies needing coffee. Thanks for singing right to our kids and making them feel like they were the only ones out there. Thanks for your jokes and the occasional adult humor you pepper throughout the show. Thanks for some pretty awesome memories from the mash pit!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Gotta Light?

I should have taken it as a sign as to how my week would end when Finn mastered both the knowledge and usage of the words "no" and "mine" this week. But even with those accomplishments under his belt, Finn still blew me out of the water Thursday. There is no way to adequately introduce this latest Finnism, I just need to put it out there.

He ate a light bulb.

Yes, you are reading those words. Aren't they ridiculous?

I was folding laundry RIGHT NEXT TO HIM and looked down to see a perplexed look on his chubby face. As he chewed, he looked at me as if to say, "Why did you give me such yucky food?" His lips were dripping a bright ruby red. I looked at his hand and in it he held the base of a Halloween flash light, and still screwed into it, was the base of a light bulb, a jagged edge of glass and the inside wire. A moment ago, the bulb was flashing and the switch still sat in the "on" position. Beat. Beat. Beat.

In an instant, I scooped him up and rushed him to the sink. With one hand, I tried to pry his little jaw open and get the remaining glass out. He bit me several times while screaming and slithering and doing his best to get away. I grabbed the phone with the other hand to call the doctor. Mike walked in the middle of this display and could not believe his ears when I told him what happened. Logan and Riley sat intently watching Arthur through this entire event, I don't think they looked over once. Actually, I don't even know if they are aware of what he did!

Needless to say, Katie the receptionist and Karen the nurse had never fielded this type of situation before; both of them coined it their "first." I am so happy that we could supply this "first" for them. After some discussion, they decided that he need not be checked out, that since it was JUST a flashlight bulb, he'd probably be fine. What a relief!?!

I'm sure that my mother-of-the-year award is justifiably delayed. This surely will remain one of my least proud parental moments. I can't imagine what this means for Finn and his future. Or maybe what it means for mine! He scares me.... he really scares me!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Goodbye Old Friend

Wonders really never cease. It blows my mind to even be able to write this, but after nearly six years of constant companionship, my oldest daughter has given up her thumb. We've been gently suggesting it since the age of three, but as our suggestions began, so did the continuity of her sucking. So we backed off, only to try on and off over the next three years. Last week, Logan's teacher asked if we were working on it. I said "Yes! For three years!" She mentioned how bad it has been for kids over the years with the teasing that goes along with habits like this and that she hated to see it happen to Logan. I don't know if we sensed that Logan was also ready or what, but we ordered some miracle paint-on deterrent online. On Friday, I announced that Saturday night we'd have a goodbye party for Logan's thumb and our applications would begin Sunday morning. Well, Logan surprised us by asking for it first thing on Saturday and she has never turned back. I have not seen her thumb near her mouth since applying that first stroke of surprising serum.

I am so happy for her and I know how proud of herself she is. This is a huge accomplishment! She probably had her thumb in her mouth 80% of the day and all night long. I can't even believe that she has been able to sleep through the night! Anyway, as happy as I am about how easily she managed this hurdle, it's a little bittersweet for sure. I remember the excitement her daddy and I felt over having a thumb-sucker (I can't tell you how much trouble I had keeping track of pacifiers in those early months), the relief we felt as she held, in her own hand, the key to self-soothe and sleep well and the gratitude we experienced that her wonderful pal helped her to recover from "owies" and hurt feelings faster than our too-adult-style words ever could. I have noticed a few more middle of the night visits and definitely more drama than usual; she has got to be feeling this drastic change. I have no doubt her thumb will be missed by us all.

So adios little thumb. I'll miss all your talents, but I am sure that you have much more to offer Logan with your new found freedom. I envision a future very bright for you both full of crayons, driving, kite flying, sports of all sorts, sewing, painting and cartwheels. We are eternally grateful for all that you have given to Logan and us these past six years, but most notably for the confidence you helped instill in her by loosening your hold. If there's just one more request I could bestow on you - no future hitchhiking please!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Silver Lining

To my amazing three,

Life is funny – so funny that it occurred to me today that a day – almost any day in my chaotic life as your stay at home mom, might be worth jotting down. I told your Daddy today that I will be getting some kind of crown or saint ship after this whopper. Really though, it’s just another day in the life!

I awake to the sound of crying at 2:30 am, whimpering really, but it quickly grows into the real deal. Daddy and I find Riley in her bed, covered in vomit and diarrhea. The head cold that I have been nursing for a few days makes me groggy enough to need time to process before springing into action. Within seconds, I emerge from my stupor and have Riley in the tub, and Daddy has the thankless job of stripping the bedding and cleaning it – not fun. Between the two of us, we have Riley and her room back together in about 20 minutes – not bad. Once we make it back to bed, my head cold has turned into a sinus headache and there’s no turning back. After trying to sleep for more than an hour, I finally reach for the Sudafed, knowing that it will add clouds to my early morning hours, but I opt for sleep nonetheless. I drift off around 4 am, and wake to the sound of Finn crying, persistently, at 5:20. No one needs to know what I really am thinking at this moment. All I can tell you is that I pray, try positive thinking and beg the law of attraction into action all at once and to no avail. He is up.

Let me give you a little background information on Mr. Finn. He has had his own version of the flu for 10 days. He has woken up at 5 or 5:30 for three days in a row. He has extreme separation anxiety, even if I only leave the room, and climbs everything in sight. Today he actually hung from the “chandelier” above the kitchen table. He has taken to snickering at me when I say ‘no’ or pretty much anything else. His favorite word is “Mommy” but in a tone that sounds as if he is disgusted with my behavior. All this and he is insanely loveable and cute – but I still would rather we both be asleep at 5 AM! Before Daddy leaves he says, “You’re handling this remarkably well!” I don’t really have an answer.

And then there’s Miss Logan Little in her own first phase of defiance. She has been challenging me big time and for the first time over these last weeks. I have been working hard to show her where the line is crossed and what happens when it is, and I am totally spent. She has already turned the corner, but my resistance couldn’t be lower going into this sleep-deprived, bodily-fluid-filled day. UGH!

So here it is. Finn up and dressed demanding food and milk by 5:45 AM. Riley up and amidst the stomach flu is dressed in her Hawaiian luau dress from her 3rd birthday party and ready to go for the day by 6:30. She is begging me for water, then milk, then food. I slowly give in, I remember how that feels. That’s never really the case, right? Usually you can handle the food when you feel hungry, right? Not right. After several instances of diarrhea for Riley, Logan rises and is unusually cooperative (not a morning gal) and we seem to be better; almost on track. Finn eats breakfast #2 with Logan as Riley eats some dry cereal.

I see Riley beginning to fade, but she tells me she’s okay. We stumble into the car, get settled, check for all our needed items and head out for our .9 mile drive to school. Within one minute, I can see Riley turn green. “Are you going to throw up?” I ask. She shakes her head “yes” and covers her mouth with both hands, truly believing that she has a chance at holding it in! And it comes and comes and comes. Princess Drama in the seat next to Riley is losing it. Between her few consoling comments there is a lot of “Oh Man!” and “It’s so stinky!” and “It’s everywhere!” and “Will you PLEASE open some windows?” Poor Riley is feeling awful and full of you know what and Finn is laughing like he always does when he thinks that there’s something going on that he should be part of. I take a deep breath while thinking, “What the hell am I supposed to do? Logan is late – I can’t take Riley through the carpool line or into school like this.” I rush home, strip her down, wipe her off, replace her dress and throw a towel over the car seat. The law of attraction is once again summoned the whole way to school as I command someone I know be in the parking lot that can walk Logan into school. As we pull in, I see the last kid taken into school. Then we luck out! Our new neighbor is right there – next to my car – and she readily accepts the task of walking Logan in for me – whew!!!!

Back at home, Riley feels great and wants to ride her scooter in the driveway while I try and clean out the throw up without unbuckling Finn. This is very unpleasant, not because of the vomit, but because of the ear piercing taradactyl screams of the 16-month old forced to watch his sister on her scooter from the confines of his car seat. Neighbors are looking. I am thankful that I have a cold this week for the obvious reasons. Wish my ears were plugged, too.

After watering every inch of our new sod throughout the morning, washing all the bedding and soiled clothes from the night before and even vacuuming and washing the kitchen floor, it’s time to get Logan. (At this point, I must add that 2.5 hours for kindergarten is definitely not enough.) We have no groceries in the house – I was supposed to go this morning. Riley and Finn have asked me literally one hundred times for bananas and I promise to go right after we get Logan if Riley is feeling good. By the way, there is nothing better than the way Finn says “banana” – there is no way I can even do it justice to try and explain it. We’re off again and get Logan. She is the cutest thing I have ever laid eyes on standing in line sucking her thumb and yanking her dress up to touch her belly button. She still looks like a baby. Her face lights up like the sun when she sees us in the car – the same way my heart does when I see her there. As we race through carpool, Logan’s teacher mentions that a child vomited right in class today and we both declare that she is a sitting duck – so much for positive thinking!

I am tired and my eyes are burning. I totally forget about the grocery store and the bananas and therefore am asked 150 more times before dinner for a banana. I decide to let Finn out for some fresh air after lunch while the girls watch TV. It is a beautiful day and he is so cute – curls flying, dark blue eyes shining. By the time we make it outside I am unwinding and really enjoying myself. (Imagine the sound of screeching brakes right now…..) Riley is calling my name. I turn to find her outside, mid-driveway, standing with her legs apart having yet another intestinal incident. It seems endless and it sadly dawns on me to wonder which of my new neighbors are watching this domestic display. Once again, it takes my instincts a second or two to respond and once again, Finn is strapped into some device as I tackle the leftovers. Poor Riley, she’s a limp rag, but still in good spirits. Logan emerges from the garage in disbelief. I can’t help but laugh.

Finally I get Finn down to nap and decide it’s my time to shower. I am supposed to go to a landscaping class at the park district tonight in an effort to make time for myself, but my sinus headache is really bad and I hate the thought of leaving the kids in such dire straights all to Daddy when he is so tired, too. Man the shower feels great. It is burning hot, just the way I like it and the tension in my head starts to subside. I hear footsteps and look. It’s Riley again, hands over mouth. I can’t think of any other solution than to invite her into the shower. Actually, it was probably my best idea of the day – easiest clean up for sure. I wash her up for the umpteenth time and we all settle down to play a board game. I have no idea when the last time I actually dried my hair was. It’s okay. We have fun playing the game and I can really concentrate on the girls while Finn sleeps. Damn doorbell. Damn, but much loved, dog barks. A solicitor disguised as the landscaper that planted a tree for us yesterday is at the door and informs me that he can build us a patio on the side for a song. I thank him and tell him we don’t know what we are going to do out there yet. He reminds me to water my tree. Finn is screaming. Head is throbbing. I quickly cancel my landscaping class and go get Finn.

Halleluiah! Daddy comes home at 4:30 and I rush to the grocery store. Finn, in the midst of this separation anxiety stuff, screams almost the whole time I’m gone. Daddy is forced to find something for dinner before I get back, but no one really eats. It’s 6:30 and I bathe Finn. Riley runs in and vomits twice. This is not fair. Finn proudly demonstrates his knowledge of how to use a nail brush in the bathtub, his tiny foot raised high above the water, his chubby little hands working the brush around his toes. “Piggies!” he says in his garbled little baby voice. I call to Daddy to bring the camera up – I think the last picture I took of Finn in the tub was six months ago. Daddy so willingly complies and the batteries are dead. Oh well, at least I’ve committed the image to paper!

Finn is down, Riley settled and falling fast, Logan is almost through her nightly procrastination routine. I am barely hanging on and realize I have eaten a cheese stick and some potato chips today. I hear Daddy tell Logan we have to go because, “Mommy and Daddy haven’t eaten dinner yet!” She finally gives in and we come down, finish a quick house project, preheat the oven (thank God for Home Run Inn pizzas) and I walk the dog. It is a gorgeous night and there are million stars. I love that about being out in the “country”. There are a thousand crickets chirping. The marching band at the local high school is in full swing and its sounds are being carried to me on the wind. A neighbor is outside, in the dark, with his 2 and 3 year olds. I am glad our kids are sleeping.

We eat pizza, field phone calls and talk about the necessities; we’re both too tired for anything else. At ten (it’s amazing I even made it that long) I hand Daddy the clicker and head up. I check on the girls. Riley wakes up a bit and I fix her covers. She seems warm. I nudge Logan over from the edge, straighten her blanket and give her a kiss. I wouldn’t dare go in Finn’s room. I walk in our bedroom and there is the most incredible breeze coming in the windows. It almost knocks me over. I love sleeping in chilly rooms with tons of blankets. I’m smiling as I go through my bedtime routine and as I realize I need to write all this craziness down, I think, “What a perfect day.”

I am so blessed.