Day 34 – Happy 9th Birthday Miss C!

Nine years ago today, this beautiful soul made me a Mom.

It’s been a wild ride (and if you want to read about how the wild ride started, CLICK HERE), but damn it has been worth it to see our sweet baby girl grow into a kind, confident, and capable child. I’m amazed by her daily. She’s witty and sarcastic and she’s got a laugh that’s downright infectious. She’s got a great big heart and is a friend to everyone she meets. And she’s the best big sister I’ve ever seen, staying ever compassionate and patient when Henry is in full toddler meltdown mode.

I find myself wondering daily how I get to be so blessed to be her Momma.

Happy 9th Birthday Cadence LaRue! I can’t wait to see where your story goes from here.

Day 27 – There’s stubborn, and then there’s Henry

It pains me to admit it, but there are days I feel like I’m pretty close to being bested by my three-year-old. Cadence was always a strong-willed child, but man she has nothing on her brother. Sure we’re in that fun three-year-old stage where he’s starting to assert his independence just like all the other kids his age. The difference with Henry is that he’s got a stubborn streak that runs deep, right down into his bones.

Hate to say, it’s most likely genetic, (so I probably only have myself and my ancestors to blame) but that doesn’t make it any easier handle.

See, with this kid, it’s all about making a point. Some days it doesn’t even matter what I’m telling him to do, unless he can make it seem like it’s his idea, he’ll fight me on it, deny it, protest it. Hell, some days he’ll stage a damn revolt over something as simple as me telling him to go to the bathroom. He could be dancing around the room on the verge of peeing his pants and if I happen to tell him it’s time to go before he has made the decision for himself, he’ll spend the next 20 minutes arguing with me about it. It’s downright exhausting.

Take today for example. After last week’s lukewarm soccer experience sans nap, we’ve been trying to prep Henry for today’s game. He tends to do better when you don’t spring things on him in general, so we’ve been reminding him that he has soccer again this week, and telling him the plan is to make sure he gets a good nap in before the 4:00 pm game so he can have lots of energy to go play with his friends.

We take him upstairs around 1:00 when all signs are pointing to him being tired. But, instead of settling down and going to sleep, H-man spent the next two hours singing, counting to 20, saying his ABC’s, talking to his stuffed animals, and acting out random scenes from Bob’s Burgers and Ghostbusters–anything and everything he could think of to keep himself from actually falling asleep. When we went to get him up and start getting dressed for the game, he was all smiles and jokes (of course he was). We even had some fun kicking the soccer ball around in the living room and again when we got to the gym. But we knew it wasn’t going to last.

Like last week, he only had 20-30 minutes of happy energy in him before things started taking a turn. And by the time we got home and I started cooking dinner, H-man was hellbent on making sure he was in charge and that we all knew how unhappy he was that he lost his iPad privileges because he refused to nap. But the real protest started about the time we sat down at the table to start eating. After five minutes or so of messing around, punctuated by the occasional whiny “I don’t wanna eat that,” we gave Henry a warning–take a bite, or you’re going straight to bed.

Henry sat and stared at us, so Stevie started counting.

“One.”

Henry stared Stevie down and held up one finger.

“Two.”

Henry shot me a glance and held up two fingers.

“Henry, if I get to three, we’re done,” Stevie said, giving an extra moment for Henry to change his mind.

Without even batting an eye, Henry held up three fingers.

And that was it. Stevie took him straight up to bed, while I wrapped up his dinner so we can heat it up for breakfast.

Then, when Stevie came back downstairs, we packed up his toys (well, all but his toy food groups and his talking Anger doll–I figured those two toys might be an interesting conversation starter when we remind him why he punished when he gets up tomorrow).

Someday, when Henry is a teenager or a young adult running around with a pack of friends, I imagine his iron will is going to serve him well. He’s not going to be a pushover. And he’s definitely not going to be one to blindly follow along with the crowd if there is something he disagrees with. That stubbornness is eventually going to be something people really admire in him (I can certainly attest to that), but for now, Stevie and I are just balancing on that thin line between teaching this kid the importance of boundaries without breaking his incredible spirit.

Have we mentioned parenting is exhausting?

Good thing I’m stubborn too.

Day 21 – What’s for dinner?

The first few years of Cadence’s life, meal times were easy. The kid would eat anything. ANYTHING. Well, except for the six short months she loathed bananas to the point where she would start gagging if she even saw one. Other than that, we had no issues getting Cadence to eat (or at least sample) anything we put in front of her. And that lasted right up until she started going to preschool regularly and learned that there was such a thing as being picky and eating only peanut butter sandwiches and assorted snacks.

Henry, on the other hand, would survive on nothing but pancakes and plain pasta (flavored with a little butter and garlic salt) if let him. Meal times have been a battle since he started solids, and I have to admit, for awhile there we just got lazy. With work and life and everything else being crazy and hectic, we picked the 3-4 foods he would actually at and just went with it, figuring it was better for him to get something in his stomach before we put him in bed.

But we decided recently that we’d had enough. We were tired of the constant meal time meltdowns, and by God we weren’t going to let a 3-year-old beat us in what was becoming a sheer battle of wills. So, we started cracking down on snacks, limiting Henry’s milk intake to just a cup or two a day (because he would polish off a gallon by himself if given the opportunity), and putting the kids to bed if they protested the meal we put on the table.

Cadence was pretty easy to fall back in line. It took exactly two dinner time battles when she was a toddler to convince her that our rule of at least trying one bite of everything before you get to say you don’t like it was fair. With Henry, we definitely hit the double digits in the number of times he got sent to bed with his plate still full of dinner and then having to eat the leftovers the next day.

He is our stubborn, stubborn boy.

But like everything with Henry, it just takes a little extra patience. And we’re finally starting to get there. Tonight, he didn’t even protest. He came right to the table when it was time, sat down, and dug in. He at the entire serving of chicken and pasta and broccoli, headed upstairs for a bath, and then polished off two bananas and a cup of strawberry yogurt before bed.

And there was a moment at dinner tonight, listening to Cadence tell us about the sleepover last night at her friend Rowan’s house and Henry quoting lines from Bob’s Burgers (“You’re my family and I love you, but you’re terrible. You’re all terrible.”) and Superbad (“One name? Who are you, Seal?”), I found myself blissfully happy to be sitting at the table with three of my favorite humans on the planet.

What can I say? Life is good.

Day 12 – Little man down

Current status…

This dude had a great swim lesson this morning, but seemed a little overly tired and crabby afterward, so he went down for an early nap.

An hour later, I heard him stir and start crying. Then the dreaded words:

“Mommy! Mommy, help! I sick!”

The smell hit me when I walked in the room–a mix of overripe banana and sour strawberry donuts. There was already a thick puddle on the comforter, more streaming from his nose.

I got him cleaned up, laundry started, clothes changed. Then we settled in to rest and wait it out. Late afternoon, another explosion, but Stevie and I managed to keep it mostly contained.

Since then, he’s been attached to me, lounging on the couch, sipping water, occasionally restless. He slept a bit, waking off and on and moaning, but his sour stomach seems to have settled. He finally woke and asked to go to bed, so we took him up and tucked him into clean, soft sheets and kissed him good night.

Here’s hoping tomorrow is a better day. Sleep tight H-man.

Day 3 – Texting & Parenting

I’ve gotten to a stage in my life where I don’t feel like a liar saying I’m an open book. Ask me anything and I’ll tell you what I think, even if it’s not a popular opinion, even if it’s uncomfortable. I think I’ve just gotten to a point where it’s far too exhausting not to speak my truth or own my opinions. I’d much rather people know what I’m thinking or where I stand than to come across as “hard-to-read” or ambivalent.

On the flip side, I appreciate matter of factness. I sometimes think living nine years in New York had something to do with it. I’ll go to my grave arguing that New Yorkers get a bad rap. They’re stereotyped as being mean, overly aggressive, loud, obnoxious, any number of adjectives that basically translates to people generally believing all New Yorkers go out of their way to be assholes.

(Okay, so maybe I can’t really argue that New Yorkers aren’t loud, but come on, in a city with that many people and that much traffic and that much noise, they’ve simply evolved to have a baseline volume that’s closer to rock concert than bedtime lullaby. We really can’t fault them for that, now can we?)

In my experience, New Yorkers are some of the kindest, most attentive, and most delightfully down-to-earth people I’ve met. That being said, they’re busy people, and they have a low tolerance for bullshit. They’re going to tell you exactly what they think. Direct. To the point. And then move on. Call it aggressive or abrasive if you want, but I’d choose that simple blunt honesty over an intricately choreographed dance to soften the truth any day.

We’ve got such a limited amount of time to spend on this planet–why waste it trying to be something or someone we’re not?

One of my friends texted me this week, not exactly seeking advice, but I could tell she had things weighing on her mind and that always spurs me to speak. She’s at that point in her life where she’s married, progressing well in her career, just bought her first home, and she’s thinking about kids. She understands what a monumental decision it is to bring a new little life into this world. She knows that a baby changes the course of everything.

Her text opened a vein of thoughts, so I took a few moments to type a reply.

**Disclaimer to anyone who ever decides to text me–While I use and greatly appreciate emojis, GIFs, and a well-placed meme, you will never get a short, cursory LOL, TTYL, or OMG-filled response from me. If full sentences and paragraphs via text bother you, it’s best not to engage. You’ve been warned.

Elf on the Shelf 2017 – Day 17

Well, we managed to get the tree up. But we just haven’t found the time to actually get any ornaments on it yet.

What can we say? We’ve been a little preoccupied.

The elves apparently thought we needed a little motivation. Gotta say, I kinda like the toilet paper look. I’d be okay forgoing the ornaments this year.

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