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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Loving my babies

In light of the tragedy this morning, I am closing the day with my children held a little closer to my heart.  Our bedtime hugs were a little tighter, and our kiss a bit more meaningful.  I held on to their gaze for an extra second each time they looked to me today and I allowed the blessing of their presence to be recognized.  Each moment has only one chance in history, and it deserves to be intentional.

Gavin, my chunker, it has been so incredible to observe your personality unfold, little by little.  You are such a joy.  When you smile, your whole face smiles and your body stiffens when you’re really excited.  Your mouth opens wide, bragging your shiny pink gums.  You’re discovering your voice and using it with pride.  Your squeals attract everyone in earshot and are a delight.  You’ve mastered rolling over so you flip flop back and forth constantly.  The other day we were at Grammy and Papa’s house and you rolled halfway across the living room to get to the Christmas tree.  You enjoyed yourself under it, batting at the low branches and ornaments.  Sleep is not your strong point, but I guess part of this is my fault.  I am still figuring out where I stand on sleep training so you’ve been with Mommy and Daddy at night.  I’m tired 99% of the time, but do adore watching your sweet, sleeping body at night.  The pouty lips that adorn your face melts me, almost as much as your coos of affection. You are such a chunky little guy, I’ve seriously never seen legs like yours!  I can’t believe how different you are from your sister, who is your biggest fan.

Miss Molli… where to even begin?  You’re a crazy little spitfire, loving life right now.  It’s Christmas time so we’ve been setting your foundation for holiday celebrating.  You’re very into Ella, your Elf on the Shelf, the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” your “guys” (fisher price little people), coloring, Christmas decorations (especially lights), snacks and blankets.  Your favorite color is orange, favorite food is probably granola bars, and you love copying people (for better or for worse).  You still adore bath time and now you get very excite when Gavin gets to join you.  You’ve been introduced to the big girl bed, but still enjoy your crib.  Lately you constantly say “let’s talk about a story” and force us to tell stories all day long.  It’s not my favorite activity, but it has provided opportunities to tell about why we celebrate Christmas, and since you NEVER forget anything, it’s been awesome to hear your rendition of Jesus’ birth story.  Carson is your best friend and I think you are in denial that he is moving soon (I might be too). The alphabet is coming along, although you typically end up spouting off any letters or numbers you can remember.  You usually know to say the letters of your name, but you said your letters out loud as I wrote it once, “M, O, L, L, llittle L, polka-dot.” You have more personality than I’ve ever seen in a child.  There truly is never a dull moment when you’re around.  Two year old you has been stretching my patience as well as my emotional and physical endurance.  The brunt of potty training is under our belt, thank goodness.  I’m positive this list could go on and on.

I am blessed to have you both and I promise that I will do my best to love, protect and guide you through life.  I can’t control what happens in this world, and that terrifies me.  As your mommy, I want to keep you safe in my arms and never let anything happen to you.  I also want you to live and have fantastic experiences.  I hope the balance finds us. 

I am deeply sorry for the families involved in the shooting in Connecticut this morning.  My heart aches as I try to fathom such loss and incredible grief.  While my grief does not change anything for these people, it ignites a passion inside of me to absorb the memories with my precious babies and hold them securely.  I know better than to take them for granted, but days like this fill my eyes with tears for those hurting and for the fullness I have.  Eighteen families sent their kindergarteners, their babies, off to school this morning and do not have them tuck in tonight. My heart breaks…

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A better perspective

After a particularly tough morning in the Sansotta house Molli gave me a reality check.  We’ve been going through a rough patch with Gavin’s sleeping and Molli’s eating (rather, the lack of both).  Unfortunately, I still haven’t developed any magical abilities to know what my kids want or need at any given moment and I fail regularly at this parenting thing. 

On this day, all eyes were open at 5:45, which made for a rough start around here.  Gavin didn’t care because his eyes are open and his lungs are getting exercised about 12 times a night lately.  Molli certainly didn’t care because as far as she’s concerned, if she’s out of her crib, it’s go-time. I’m the only one who cared because I’m the only one who has to maintain a positive attitude and take care of everything and everyone.  And to be perfectly honest, the amount of decent sleep I get directly correlates to my attitude and perspective on life.  Today’s perspective started out poorly.

Poor indeed.

The poorness was reflected in Molli taking one bite of a strawberry and zero bites of her pancake at breakfast, followed by zero bites of her macaroni, peppers or carrots at lunchtime.  Naps were fights and my tude was no better than Molli’s. We both put up a good fight about lunch, which woke Gavin up and I deemed it Molli’s naptime too.  As we were walking to her room she simply told me, “I need Mommy.”  (Insert bad-mommy guilt here.) I felt terrible for being impatient with her so we left Gavin crying for sleep in the pack-n-play and I snuggled with her on the bed in her room for a minute.  She looked at me and spoke wisdom to my heart as she folded her hands and suggested, “Lets do this.”

My child, my two-year-old little girl, reminded me that we needed to pray; that God cares.  What a simple, yet profound suggestion.  So we did.  I thanked God for my kids and asked him to help them feel better, and for patience then told Molli it was her turn.  She said, “Dear my God, Thank you for Molli’s mommy, thank you Molli’s daddy and my baby Gavin, my chunker.  We will have a good day and good naps. Please. Amen.”  (I had to immediately write it down, it’s her first real prayer!)

My heart melted and my poor attitude dissolved in the sweetness of the moment. I am proud of her for remembering to ask God for help and am happy to report that both children are peacefully sleeping in their respective sleeping quarters.  While I love the noise of a lively house, the calm is so appreciated and I am basking in it today.  Gavin’s slow, steady breaths are more than enough to fill my ears and I’m thankful for the moment to sit down and reflect on things more important than clean sheets and uneaten macaroni still on the table.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

"That mom"

There are two instances in which a woman can be labeled “that mom” Type one describes a mom who has it all together.  Her house is immaculate, she’s doesn’t understand the idea of a post-partum muffin top, she always looks photo-ready, her children are happy and polite and she has a healthy glow of tanned skin, despite it being nearly November and flippin freezing.  Then there’s the other kind of “that mom,” type two.  This is the frazzled mom who feels confident in her clothes if her favorite hoodie, the one that’s long enough to cover her butt in yoga pants, is clean enough to wear, her hair is in a ponytail and makeup hasn’t even crossed her mind for days or weeks.  Her children run circles around her and scream and cry at the most inopportune times and sometimes she loses her cool.  We’ve all seen “that mom.”

Most people can likely admit that they’ve been annoyed by either type of “that mom” at some point for one reason or another.  I’d guess that most other moms would be annoyed with the kind who have everything together, and most other people’s annoyance is toward the tired mom with the whacko kids.  The only thing worse than being trapped in close proximity to the type two mom and her kids, is BEING the type two mom. Trust me, I know.

I had the brilliant (note the sarcasm) idea of agreeing to treat Molli to McDonalds today.  I had her in her high chair at home and was getting ready to give her one of her usual lunches when she asked, very politely, for chicken nuggets.  I acknowledged that I appreciated her saying please and told her that sure, we can go to McDonalds.  Super mom that I am, (er, occasionally pretend to be) I started the car, packed the diaper bag, dressed the kids and found a hoodie that covers my butt in my yoga pants. (That should have been my first hint, I’m a type two temporarily pretending to be a type one.)

Anyway, off we went.  My sweet angel held my hand in the parking lot, said thank you when I fell prey to her polite request for chocolate milk, and turned into a beast when I set her food in front of her.  I should have known things were going downhill when Gavin immediately woke up angry and Molli avoided the high chair with a request to go potty (I can’t say no to potty in public, it’s too risky). I’ll spare you the details, but just know that it involved a lot of flopping around in the booth, demanding words, bossiness, and very little eating.  I was appalled at the sudden change in her attitude.  As though we were not offensive enough, Gavin chimed in with his opinion of being restrained in the car seat with increasing volume until he was on my lap. After about ten minutes of back and forth arguments regarding a blasted chicken nugget, I packed up the happy meal and announced that we are going home, and shot obligatory apologetic glances at a handful of people who were not doing a good job of staring inconspicuously.

I filled my arms with all our junk, a crying baby and a whining toddler and high tailed it toward the door.  A kind lady stopped me as I was leaving and offered me some words of encouragement.  I couldn’t hear all of them over the noise of my offspring, but they were essentially praises for my discipline, perseverance and obvious love for my children on an “off day.” My guess was that she too, was once a type two mom and took pitty on my situation.  My hunch was confirmed when she opened the door for me, offered to help me to the car and told me “keep it up, we’ve all been there.” 

I tightened both kids in their car seats and within forty-five seconds of driving, Gavin was sleeping and Molli was deliriously staring out the window. My sweet angels had returned.  Here’s hoping they stay a while.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's potty time!

Potty training:
I’ve heard stories from both ends of the potty training ease spectrum.  Some people get all worked up and it turns out their kid is potty trained in like 5 minutes and they never have to worry about diapers or accidents ever, ever, ever again.  Others battle potty training for like 12 years and the kid is still in diapers at night.  Or something like that. Basically, it seems like there are extreme success stories and failed attempts.  I figured Molli would fall somewhere in the middle, and I was right. 
The End. 

No, it’s not the end, otherwise this would be a very pointless blog post.  I was right though, she is falling somewhere in the middle.  Here’s our potty training experience so far…
I got Molli an Elmo potty for Easter because if anyone can motivate Molli to change her whole world, it’s the little red furry guy.  It was kind of comical at first because I didn’t realize there were different settings on the potty.  Pressing Elmo’s hand, like a high five, prompts him to encourage Molli’s bodily functions in English, Spanish and French.  If you want to learn to say “It’s potty time, with Elmo!” “Congratulations!” “Great job” “You did it!” etc in these languages, this is a great product for you!  Myles saved the day and our Elmo potty is now only English speaking.  However, the jovial encouraging phrases became much less exciting when Molli would sit on the potty with her leg against Elmo’s hand and he’d repeat the same phrase over and over, loudly.  YOU DID IT! YOU DID IT! YOU DID IT! *See footnote*

Anyway, when I got this for her, I knew she wasn’t quite ready for potty training, but thought it would be a good idea anyway.  We kept it in the bathroom and she liked knowing it was there, even it was just collecting dust.  Eventually she started going on the big potty before bath time and it was exciting!  We praised her but kept it at that for quite a while. 

For her second birthday I got her some big girl, princess panties.  She loved them but wasn’t ready for them right away.  

We started by keeping her in a diaper and taking her to use her Elmo potty regularly.  We may or may not bribe her with an M&M each time she goes.  After a week or so of this, she decided to go #2 in her potty and she took full advantage of my excitement, setting the stakes for what a poopie is worth- two M&Ms and a marshmallow.  She may end up with diabetes, but at least she will be in panties! 

During this whole process she spent a lot of time pantless, naked, or nearly nude.  

Once she was going pretty much exclusively in her potty we transitioned to big girl panties full time during waking hours and while at home, then I got brave and took her in public this way.  (Now THAT is motivation to make errands quick!)  These days she is always in panties and has had three small accidents (at home) and two borderline accidents. (One real and one borderline happened yesterday, oops.) 

I think she’s right on target for where she needs to be and I’m SO proud of her!  Being a mom has brought the weirdo out in me.  When else would flushing poops enlist a celebration?  I can’t imagine any other time of my life involving this many M&Ms, reminders not to go potty in panties, or daily bragging of these things when her daddy gets home. 

I can’t say she’s totally potty trained because I still put a diaper or pull up on her when she takes a nap or goes to bed, but we are getting there.  WAY TO GO!

*Upon researching what the other phrases are, I discovered that many other parents share my complaint of this potty being very loud and somewhat obnoxious if the “high five” feature is abused.  The company is nice, but even nicer is that I learned that there’s an off switch. Hallelujah!

Friday, October 5, 2012


I don’t know what complete parenting failure looks like, but I do know what it feels like.  We’ve had quite a day.  It started off so fantastic, I felt like super mom.  I got up early and managed to run, shower, get ready and eat breakfast before either kid woke up for the day.  It was so nice to have those things under my belt before our day as a family started.  “Me time” is hard to come by these days.  And by that, I mean, it doesn’t exist. 

We started our day together with a play date.  Molli’s best little friend came over to play, but instead of playing, she put on a beautiful performance full of drama and emotional meltdowns.  She’s generally not so emotional, but the combination of having a cold, sharing toys and being in “that stage” was the perfect setup for a whole bunch of correction, discipline and learning opportunities, if you will. 

She couldn’t handle him playing with any of her toys, especially the little people she calls her “guys.”  Molli’s guys are, without a doubt, her favorite toy and everybody’s eardrums are at risk if objectionable hands come near them.  Everything was “mine” and she made it very clear that Carson was not allowed to play with her cash register, fake ice cream, certain dinosaurs, or absolutely most definitely not her guys.  At one point I was seriously concerned for Carson’s face as I saw the intensity of her anger skyrocket up her body and out her ears.  She turned red, her eyes and mouth widened and her hands came up as though she was witnessing something deplorable and she tensed up, shaking with anger.  Eventually Carson had enough and put his shoes on, ready to leave.  I can’t say I blame him.  My blubbering daughter was not being kind or listening. 

That pretty much set the tone for the day and I can’t say I handled her attitude gracefully.  I did my best being patient with her, understanding that she doesn’t feel well but I’m pretty sure my parenting left something to be desired today.  It was one thing after another and I became the stereotypical nagging mom.  I generally do my best to structure my sentences in a positive manner; rather than saying NOT to do something, I’ll try to tell her what I DO want her to do. Unfortunately, I’m sure that many of my words were not gentle and probably exhibited the amount of patience I had left.  Rubbing salt on the wound, she did not seem to even be phased by my discipline.

Eating away at my patience even more, Gavin has been needy and a rotten sleeper.  I don’t know exactly was his deal has been but today was filled with a fair amount of crying.  As sweet as he is, crying is one sound that can grate away at anyone’s very soul.  It’s so hard to hear and no be able to fix. On top of the crying were Molli’s incessant demands, on repeat.  If you know my daughter, you understand that she has only one volume and she’s a big talker.  Noise, noise, noise! I prayed for patience with both kids all day and I just barely made it through without having a meltdown of my own.   Sigh

If my life ran on a grading scale, today I would receive a failing grade for making meals, cleaning the house, doing laundry, looking nice, creative engagement, effective discipline and being a welcoming wife to my husband.

I cannot be the only weary mom, I know that, but I’m ending the day feeling worn out and unsuccessful.

I know my kids love me and want me around, no matter how badly I failed. Tomorrow is a new day, so lets hope it goes much better!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bye bye "night-night"

A couple weeks ago, Molli woke up uncharacteristically early and I wasn’t digging it.  So I got her out of her crib, used the dark grey skies to my advantage and told her it’s kind of still night time and brought her to bed with me.  I knew she wouldn’t sleep in there, but I figured if I could exist horizontally for 30 more minutes, I might be a better person.  She brought her favorite snuggly toy giraffe and her beloved pacifier, which she has a serious addiction to. (I realize it should have been a thing of the past long ago, don’t judge). It’s an unusual thing for her “night -night” to be out of the crib as, as her nick-name for it indicates, it’s only for bed times.

She’s been working on her two year molars for many months now and she still tends to gnaw on things way in the back of her mouth.  Well, her poor pacifier fell victim to this gnawing one too many times and she chewed a hole right through it.  I thought this might be my perfect opportunity to trash the thing and let her be in charge of it.  I talked up the hole and how it’s almost garbage.  Since that morning, every few days I’ve been chopping away at the hole, making it bigger and decreasing the ability to suck on it.  I don’t know why, but she still loves it. It’s actually quite hysterical the way it looks now, it’s a wreck. 

I’ve pointed out the hole since it started and always remind her that SHE chewed it so it’s not me ruining it (as far as she knows).  We talk about how it’s “almost garbage” and she will verbally acknowledge this on a regular basis, although it makes her angry if she’s told that it’s garbage now. Sometime recently she decided that it is me ruining it and she’s pretty quick to say that I’ve been cutting it.  I don’t have any idea how she knows this because I’m very sneaky, but I guess I better get used to being the bad guy… I am MOM, after all. 

She spent the night with Grammy and Papa on Friday night and of course, I packed her “night night” in her little purple back pack, but the back pack accidentally was left in Grammy and Papa’s garage.  Uh-oh.  We had to do nap time with no pacifier.  There were tears, there was a bit of a fight, but ultimately, she understood that it’s not here and she had to go without it.  Eventually I gave her Gavin’s cow stuffed animal and told her that Gavin heard that she was so sad and he wanted her to snuggle with his cow and be happy for her nap.  She accepted the cow, brought him under her blanket and tucked back into bed with tear filled eyes.  I turned on some Jack Johnson very quietly and left the room.  She slept.  I’m not going to lie, I’m a little surprised she napped at all, much less, well! 

So tonight we put her to bed and reminded her that her pacifier is in her back pack at Grammy and Papa’s house and she’s going to have to sleep without it.  I expected more tears and a fight, but she went to bed amazingly and we haven’t heard a peep out of her since then.  I’m thrilled! This might be just what we needed to break her addiction.

The girl doesn’t forget a thing (seriously, it’s amazing) so we need to be pretty consistent with what happens next.  She knows where it is but I’m thinking that if we make it something for Grammy’s house only and make more drastic chops at the hole, it will be garbage soon.  

Kids should come with some sort of book outlining perfect solutions to all of these random parenting things.  And not just general solutions but ones that work for my baby specifically.  With Molli, we seem to have been outside of the "norm" in many areas. I've had to wonder if the people who wrote the books were given some special species of children, or what.

Anyway, I guess the moral of the story is: I should be grateful that Gavin refuses the pacifier so we wont have to deal with this down the road.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

2 years and 2.5 months

I have thoroughly enjoyed each stage of infancy through toddlerhood that we’ve experienced so far.  Sure the sleeplessness, temper tantrums and increased levels of overall messiness are not always fun, but the immense love I have for my children covers the sour parts with ease.  I am so grateful to have these two in my life.

Molli, you’re working on potty training which has been pretty exciting!  We are not throwing ourselves into it and expecting success after a weekend, or anything like that.  We’re just taking it one day at a time and eating a lot of M&Ms. You are doing great with it!  Earlier today I was thinking about the sweetness of your excitement over something so little.  You love to use the potty and fully expect a celebration each and every time you go.  I love how you throw yourself completely into whatever you are doing.  You are definitely an all or nothing kid, and it’s been very sweet to see you take ownership of something and be proud of yourself. 

You turned two last week and had an Elmo birthday party.  I never thought I’d do a character party, but you really love him.  You never even watched TV (except for Planet Earth, which your dad and I deemed acceptable viewing material) until you were a whole year old.  When we were packing to move to Alaska I, admittedly, turned on Elmo’s World and let you be distracted by that while I packed and cleaned.  You were hooked from then on!  You called him “IE” for the longest time, which was so random but funny. 

Anyway, I can’t believe you’re already two years old.  You’re my little master-mind, problem solving, copy cat.  You never forget anything. You’re talking in full sentences and have a vocabulary that amazes me daily.  A couple weeks ago you watched your dad eat a pepper and asked him if he liked spicy foods then informed him that you don’t.  How does an almost two year old even know about spicy foods?  You seem to understand the concept of two without having even been taught- you’ll acknowledge when there are two of something and point it out regularly.  You’re my special girl and an amazing big sister!

Gavin, my baby boy.  You are two and a half months old and the sweetest little guy.  I spend a lot of time with you on my lap, facing me and we just smile at each other.  I say hi to you and you give me a big open mouthed, gummy grin.  I love it!  You’re a little bit serious sometimes, but with me you’re pretty cheeky.  When I stare at you, I find myself watching your mouth most of the time, waiting for the first subtle hints of an upcoming smile, then relishing the sweetness that comes with your smiley love.  When I take my eyes off your poochy little lips, I look at your bright eyes, chunky cheeks and double chin.  They are all good.  I’m sorry for the cellulite that covers your legs and butt cheeks, but I love it too.  We call you chunker and you’ve definitely earned your nickname!  You are a momma’s boy and I really can’t complain.  I adore cuddling with you really can’t get enough of it.

Surely my kids are not perfect, but they are perfect for me.  I’m sure glad to have them.  I hope I never forget or take for granted these special days.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

gdiapers have won my diapering heart.

If you ask me what one of the biggest differences between Molli as a baby and Gavin has been, I would say, diapering.  Not because of the obvious anatomical differences (although that too) but I used regular old fill up the earth with poop disposable diapers with Molli, but I’m cloth diapering Gavin.  This might gross you out because cloth diapers seem to produce visuals of manhandling poop, but it’s really not like that.  Let me brag for a minute on the diapers we use.

We have been using gdiapers since Gavin was just under two weeks old.  They are a cute, fairly trim version of cloth diaper that can also be used with a flushable insert instead of a cloth insert.  I’ll walk you through how it goes for us. 

First, the pieces:  
Little gpants are the cute colored part of the diaper that doesn’t get icky, if all goes as intended.

Snap in pouch.  This very important part holds the insert. The elastic on the edges forms a seal keeping any ickyness contained.

Cloth insert: Pretty much what you expect.  It’s the part that absorbs the potty.  The microfleece layer on top keeps moisture from sitting against the baby’s skin. This part can be replaced with a grefill- a flushable insert.  (Although I’m cheap and don’t use those). 

* not pictured * flushable liner.  This part comes into play when the poop gets more intense and isn’t water-soluble (the joy of breastmilk poop!).  Place the liner over the insert and dispose of in the toilet.  Its job is to catch the poo and make cleaning a bit easier. 

Now put it all together.  Snap in the pouch... 

 ...and stuff with a liner.

One unique aspect of gdiapers is that they close in back, unlike most (any?) other brands.  This is especially handy when kids get a little bigger and can undiaper themselves.  Puts the temptation out of sight!

Here is my "gstation"

My method is pretty simple.

I have two diapers going at a time on any given day.  One on the baby, one ready to go. Since the snap in pouches are a breathable material, they get a little damp so I rotate between two diapers, allowing time for one to air out while the other is in use. 

I have a cube filled with all our stuff- little gpants, stuffed pouches and a stack of inserts.  It’s all pretty self-explanatory.  I snap in a pre-stuffed pouch and put on a diaper. 

 I toss the dirty insert into the wet bag/trash can.  Sometimes the pouch gets poop on it, in which case I change that out too. 


(zippered wet bag option)

(trash can with wet bag option...I prefer this because I can just open the trash can with my foot instead of dealing with a zipper)

Washing is easy.  I typically wash the gpant (with Velcro tabs closed) and snap in pouches with regular laundry and the inserts get washed with the wetbag.  I turn the wetbag inside out and throw it all in together, adding a prewash and rinse  to the cycle.  I hang dry the wetbag and pouches but put the inserts in the dryer.  The gpants technically can be dried but they will keep their color and last longer if air-dried. 

 Would you believe that Gavin is 2.5 months old and we haven't had a single blowout!  I can't even tell you how many times we had to change Molli's clothes as a little baby due to explosive poops (talk about gross!).  No blowouts + earth friendly + pocket friendly = YES PLEASE!

(I will say though, that there is no such thing as a perfect diaper in which no leaks will ever occur.  We are currently between sizes and do get some leackage from time to time.  Just #1 though, not #2.)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Big Dirt

My love for Alaska is in full swing after soaking up a hefty dose of genuine Alaskan beauty for several hours today.  The kids and I met up with a wonderful group of ladies (gmums- a group of cloth diapering mommies who use gdiapers) in Seward.  It took about 2 and a half hours to get to Seward and the entire time, there and back, I had to continually reminding myself to stay focused on driving rather than looking at all the gorgeous nature surrounding me.  The trees were vibrant with fall colors and the fireweed bragged it’s name. There was just enough wind to set some of the leaves free and plenty of sun to sparkle off the water. 

Molli and Gavin slept (and snored) for part of the drive and out of nowhere, Molli piped up and observed, “Big dirt!”  It took me a second to figure out what she was talking about, but I realized that she was thrilled to see all the mountains surrounding us. She repeated several times that she sees water and tall mountains, concluding that she “likes them.”

The SeaLife Center was really fun.  We got to see lots of different (gross looking) fish and some sea lions.  Molli was really intrigued by the aquariums where she could stand face to face with the bigger fish.  She would lift her hand to the glass and tell me that she wants to touch them.  There is one part of the observatory where you can touch star fish and urchins (or some other icky sea wiggly thingies).  She was standing there, looking into the water and I prompted her to touch them with her finger.  She did and expected to touch a plate of glass.  When her hand went in the cold water instead of flattening on glass as she presumed, she freaked out!  She screamed and yanked her hand back with her fingers stiff and separated.  Her whole body was tense as she stared at her dripping hand.  I about died laughing. 

After the center, we all met up at a very nice park and let the kids burn off some energy.  It was sweet to see the kids playing together uninhibitedly, as kids do, and I was happy to have conversations with some very kind moms. 

I left Seward reassured that I can and will make friends here and fit right in; I just need to make more effort.  Moving back to my hometown has brought comforts and complications.  I love the familiarity of this place and the way it just feels like home.  I can see my family growing together and planting roots.  It’s also complicated because although it feels like home, it has changed.  Well, more precisely, I have changed.  I don’t have the same relationships and connections with those I used to know.  It’s a strange position to be in, having a good amount of acquaintances but few/no real friends. The two people I feel most connected with up here are both moving out of state relatively soon.  I’m so sad, but maybe this is the push I need to step out and meet some people.  I think I used up most of my extravertedness when I was too young to appreciate it.  I could use a little of that now! 

Anyway, I had a really nice day and enjoyed the opportunity to see some beautiful “big dirt.”

Friday, September 7, 2012


Summer has lost its charm but autumn isn’t doing much for me this year.  I have a weird relationship with summer.  Let’s review: My early childhood was spent in Arizona where it is hot and I wasn’t old enough to care.  Summer meant pools and visiting grandparents.  The bulk of those memories involve skinny-dipping, very hot sidewalks, Frosted Flakes (they’re great), tricycles and dirt.  Also the tree in front of my grandparents Phoenix house with a trunk painted white.  Not a lot to go from there. 

Later childhood and adolescence was in Alaska, namely, the best state for summer fun.  Unless, of course, you don’t care for nature or mosquitoes.  I like the first enough to balance out the latter.  Anyway, through this point of my life, summer was the bomb.  Early on it was filled with lots of romping through the woods, collecting lupine and fireweed, trampolines, bike rides, mosquito bites and hair sticky with sap.  Then later summer meant campfires at the beach, driving around with friends, getting into a little trouble (often all of these were associated), sleeping in, sunny walks, hikes, camping, and lots of tourists.  When the weather was nice, my friends and I were out and about, when it was rainy, we frequented each other’s houses and coffee shops.  We usually had family vacation, which was always awesome. (except the motor home trip… that one was awesome later, but not at the time.  It was the kind of vacation where Mom and Dad made us keep a journal.)


Early adulthood found me living in Florida and Illinois.  Are you kidding me?  My body protested as the humidity skyrocketed, sweat dripped down my back and my hair frizzed out.  Bless my hair, it doesn’t do well in such conditions.  I don’t mind heat if I am free to stay inside or out by a pool, but remember, we’re talking early adulthood.  This time of life does not include pools and luxury.  Rather, it involved sucking it up and working, pretending to be a real grown up.  Hot, stagnant air and responsibility replaced the fun summer days of earlier years. 


Illinois taught me of the joy that is autumn.  In Alaska, this season sneaks up right as you get into a good summer groove, lasts about two weeks then the leaves fall off and it snows.  It’s not very exciting.  But the Midwest has a good thing going on.  The leaves change, all colors of the autumn spectrum.  From scarlet to sumbeam, the leaves do magical things.  The crunch, the smell, the pumpkin and apple related festivities… ahh, yes, fall in the Midwest is glorious. 

We moved back up to Alaska late in the winter and got to skip the worst of it.  We got to experience the excitement of the improving weather, witness the leaves pop out of tree branches and the colors burst out from the ground (it makes me think of the movie “The Secret Garden” when everything blooms in fast forward). We spent as much time outdoors this summer, wearing as little clothing as the temperature permitted, slipping into shorts and tank tops several times. On those glorious sunny days we, along with about 85% of the area’s population, went to the park.  We soaked it up!

Just as we got into the groove of the sunny season, mother nature laughed at us and threw a kink into things.  The kink being that it is September and fall has arrived in Alaska.  My enthusiasm for the season is curbed by my aversion to what comes next.  Things are yellowing and summer has come to a close.  Jackets and real shoes are rapidly replacing shorts and tank tops.  Each evening when the sun sets a little bit earlier, I’m reminded to enjoy the day because winter is long, and approaching fast. 


Since moving back to my hometown, I’ve rarely missed places I previously lived.  However, we left some very good friends, both in Florida and Illinois, and miss them very much.   These days of crisp air and changing scenery make me miss Illinois and those we left.  The Midwest was made for fall, so it’s only natural that many of my thoughts are of memories best associated with the season.  Illinois friends, I would love to go on a walk, a bike ride or to the park with you.  We’d have coffee and bake something with together. If you read this, know that I miss you and will likely remember and think fondly of you each time this season rolls around.  This year it feels a little bit lonely.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012


I sit here tonight a little bit choked up as I watch my son drift off to sleep.  We are listening to the same lullabies that Molli and I spent countless hours rocking and listening to.  In the same way a certain smell can remind a person of a specific memory, these songs have brought me right back to Molli’s baby days and I can’t help but reminisce and be a little emotional. I have been so enormously blessed through these two children and the immensity of my love for them is inexpressible.  The idea that my memory of them during these precious stages will certainly fade breaks my heart.  It is a fact that they will grow but I do not want to forget all the sweetness that they are right now. 

Gavin:  You are such a sweet boy.  You’re only six and a half weeks old but already I can see how different you are from your sister.  You love to be cuddled and bounced on my exercise ball.  You’re a pretty serious little guy so far, offering smiles only on your own time.  You don’t make a lot of sounds yet, unless you are sleeping.  When you’re asleep you’re like a little puppy, grunting and snorting all the time, especially as you wake up.  You prefer to sleep in the bouncer, so you spend most of the night on the floor next to my side of the bed. The basinet is there too, but generally you’re more content in the bouncer, which is just fine by me. You eat pretty consistently every two hours and your little figure is proof of your frequent feedings!  You’re a chunky little guy!  I have a hard time thinking about you and Molli looking alike because you have this adorable little pudge that she never had. Be prepared for a lot of cheek pinching in your future!

Molli: My goodness what a remarkable little girl you have become.  I think the most notable thing about you at this age is your intelligence.  You are a problem solver and a do-it-yourselfer.  You’re brilliance is most obvious in your vocabulary.  You speak exclusively in sentences now and are working hard at learning how to express yourself verbally.  Sometimes you get frustrated because things don’t work the way you want them to and patience is not your strong point.  You are a very expressive individual, for better or for worse.  For the most part you are kind and thoughtful. Your biggest struggle lately is listening to correction and responding nicely.  You copy most anything you hear or see us say or do (again, for better or for worse). You love your family, but Grammy is your first pick most of the time. You love playing with your dollhouse and the little people that go with it- you call them your “guys.”  Every time you finish a meal, you want the washcloth to go “wash the guys.”  You like to eat turkey dogs, beans macaroni, spaghetti, peas, yogurt, ketchup, chickpeas, French fries, cottage cheese and you do not like meat and you make terrible messes with cornbread and muffins. You adore your baby brother but sometimes have a hard time staying out of his face.  You love to touch his face and have a strange obsession with his eyes.  If he is awake (or grunting) you shout that his eyes are open and immediately go touch him.  You ask to hold him with your hands out like you’re holding water in them.  You’re a fan of Elmo, big time. You are learning your colors, to go on the potty, to count, and to clean up after yourself. 

The lullabies are still playing, but my darling baby has fallen asleep.  Sometimes I just stare at him.  I hope these moments will be etched deeply enough in my memory that I will never forget.  Tonight I will simply enjoy the gift of love and will thank God for trusting me with these two precious treasures.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

oops (x4)

Yesterday I had a moment of panic.  You know that sinking feeling you get upon realization that you’ve locked your keys in the car?  It was like that, only a little worse. Like that because the keys were, in fact, locked in the car.  A little worse because not only were the keys locked in the car, so were my children, and there’s no spare key.  Really awesome scenario, eh? Add to it that little 5 week old Gavin was 25 minutes passed the time he would typically eat.  I had been expecting a “starving baby meltdown” the entire duration I was at the store.  Relieved to have avoided a public vocal reprimand by my son, I put him in the car, planning to rush home and hope to beat the meltdown.  With the key disaster at hand, I was definitely sure it was going to get ugly. 

Thankfully, nothing got ugly and a cab company was prompt to respond and rescue us.  Gavin, uncharacteristically, squirmed around in his carseat and fell asleep, while Molli thought it was hilarious that she and Gavin were in the car and I was looking at them through the windows.  So, naturally, she took off her shoes and dumped her water all over her legs, sprinkling her crushed up snack on top- some of her favorite car activities. 

A few minutes and $25 dollars later, we left the parking lot.  It was definitely one of my more uneventful keys-locked-in-car experiences.  Would you like to hear about some of my other idiotic experiences of this nature?

The following experiences occurred while I was working as a child and adolescent outreach therapist in a town 45 minutes from where I lived at the time.  This job required me to travel all over the fricken place, mostly to schools and client’s homes. 

1.) I was fairly new at work and was feeling pretty good about having four solid sessions with clients at one particular school.  I went to leave, couldn’t find the keys in my coat pocket, backtracked through the school and eventually walked back out to the car (company car #1) with impending dread and realized that, of course, the doors were locked (because I’m responsible), the keys were in my purse and my purse was in the car (because I’m actually not responsible).  <insert sinking feeling here>

I went back inside and realized along with the keys, my phone was also in my purse. I asked to use the school secretary’s phone, called the office to talk with, Rose, my boss (who had the spare set).  She was out so I got her cell number.  Unfortunately, it was long-distance so I had to get the school secretary to help me.  She instructed me to dial “9 and 1” to get an outside line.  She must have taken me for a fool or something because I did as she instructed, then proceeded to dial the cell number, beginning with “1” and before I could even finish dialing, three people ran into the office, full speed and freaking out.  Apparently I dialed 911 and the cops and fire trucks were on their way.  Mortified by my idiot self, I hung up and slunk out of the office, with sirens in the distance.  Don’t worry, I had to face my fault.  “Conveniently,” the cops arrived and were able to unlock my car door.  

2.) It was winter and I had just gotten over a pretty solid seasonal cold.  Apparently I had shared the cold with everyone in the outreach program and I was the only one back at work, besides the intern, Christina, who became a very good friend.  I met with a client at his school, then had 15 minutes before my next appointment.  I had to use the bathroom but was definitely not going to go at my next client’s house, for sanitary reasons.  I stopped at a cycle shop to go, quickly.  I finished up a phone call in the parking lot, got out, and in one graceful motion, slammed the door and immediately placed my face up to the window.  Yep, keys in the ignition of company car #2 still.  Crapola!  At least this time I knew the police were capable to getting locked doors open.  No problem, I figured I’d go to the bathroom, call them and be at my next appointment just a few minutes late… no one at work would even have to know. Ideally that would have been the case. I don’t do “ideal” very well. 

I only had to freeze my butt off for a few minutes before the police did arrived.  I’m not sure if it was just bad luck or if I deserved it, but this officer was not able to pry the door open enough to move the lock.  “No problem,” he said.  He got a slim jim out of his vehicle and shoved it down into the depths of the car door and jiggled it around for a while.  By now, I’m super cold, and also late. He pretended to be my hero for a while, then informed me that his slim jim was stuck and if I could please return it to him if I could get it out, he’d “really appreciate it.”  He left and I was still locked out, now with a ghetto piece of thin metal jammed in and sticking out of the window.  I called Christina, she got the spare and came to rescue me.  She and I tried to pry the darn thing loose, but in the end we contacted the guy who did maintenance things and I had to fill out an incident report.  He wound up taking the entire door apart to set the slim jim free.  I still have it and consider it a gift for future trouble.

3.)  Future trouble came soon, but this time was fairly simple.  (Too bad the slim jim was locked IN my car, with my keys.)  I stopped by Target to buy a journal for my next client and had the classic “oopsies, I locked the keys in the car” moment.  I had the non-emergency number saved in my phone by then.  I used it, and was saved pretty quickly.  That’s how it should work.

*In my defense, the remote start/lock thing has been having issues lately and locked the car itself at no fault of my own during this most recent incident when the kids were in the car.*

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Early Weeks

We are wrapping up what parents can fondly remember as “the early weeks.”  Those weeks that are full of internal chaos initiated and perpetuated by days that turn into nights and nights that turn back into days without any separation besides pajamas. Which, if I’m going to be honest, doesn’t necessarily involve any change for me, considering I remain in pajamas day and night, unless I leave the house.  Then again, I’m not above going out in my most minimally offensive pajamas. I digress.  We are four weeks into life with our son and I think we’re stepping out of “the early weeks” and into real life.  This is not to say that Gavin and I are sleeping through the night (HA!), or that we’ve got everything figured out, but we are getting into the swing of things and I’m learning what it means to be a mommy to two. 

Molli, the poor girl, has been in unusual form for the past few weeks.  The cards are definitely stacked against her.  Between Mommy and Daddy bringing home a new baby for everyone to look at and hold, cousin Jackson visiting for a couple weeks and bumping her aside for some of the spotlight (along with sharing toys, space, food etc.) and being a very nearly two year old, she has every right to be having a rough time.  She spends much of her days engaging in forbidden activities, glancing at me with sideways eyes to make sure I’m watching.  Attention, it seems, is welcome in any capacity.  Unfortunately, she’s received more than her typical share of negative attention. She’s mastered fit throwing, ignoring, toy hoarding, biting, and occasionally throws a bout of starvation on me. She’s definitely becoming more proficient at timeouts. (Granted, it’s that time of life where such behavior is expected, and some of it was certainly provoked.)

Simultaneously, she has been incredible.  She’s a fabulous big sister and really loves her baby Gavin.  She wants to be close to him at any opportunity (more often than not, way too close!) and she likes to be a big helper.  She’ll bring me things I need, watch diaper changes and baths, and offer to “hold him” (which is really more like she sits still with her arms down by her sides as I hold him over her lap).  She is also talking in full sentences most of the time and is practicing using the big girl potty.  She’s not awesome at it, and still wears diapers, but we’re slowly getting there.  I am proud of all of her new accomplishments! 

Gavin is such a sweet little dude.  He hasn’t shown as much personality so far as Molli did at this age, but he’s working on it. He is a snacker and a napper, typically not really into great long feeding sessions and doesn’t care to sleep for long periods of time. And when he does sleep, he’s LOUD.  We thought Molli was noisy, with her squeaks, grunts and whimpers, but this is a whole new level of sleep noise.  This guy growls and grunts, big time, especially when he’s trying to wake up, poop or has gas.  It cracks me up!

We had a bit of a rocky start with nursing.  Almost immediately out of the hospital we both developed thrush.  What a major bummer!  If you’ve had it, you know how awful it can be.  We have been trying medical and homeopathic remedies and finally, after being treated for a solid 3 weeks, we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel.  Like I said, a major bummer.

Gavin is one whole month old today.  Time is flying by.  He’s 1/12 of the way to his first birthday.  It’s been a fabulous month though! In addition to Mommy and Daddy, he’s already had the opportunity to get to know his sister, Grammy and Papa, Uncle Zach, Aunt Rorie, Uncle Brian, Uncle Nate and Aunt Tamara, and his cousin Jackson!  That’s a lot of people, and more to come!  One of the hardest parts about being in Illinois when Molli was born was not getting to have family around to help and to be part of that experience.  While We’re not around everyone, I feel very blessed to have had the help of my parents.

Happy One Month birthday, little man, we survived the early weeks!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Stationery card

Trellis Boy Birth Announcement
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