Changes

As you can see, there’s a new look around here. I’m still playing with it, so there may be more tweaks to come. What prompted this change? The stroller, the green Bugaboo that carried my babies for 7 years and had the place of honor in my blog header, is no longer with us. Yesterday we cleaned it out and chucked it out.

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We hadn’t used it in months. Clearly the cat got a lot of enjoyment out of it during that time, as evidenced by the two-inch thick layer of cat hair on the seat. With Declan walking more often, it got to be unwieldy bringing such a big stroller everywhere. We’re not yet stroller-free–we’ve just switched to the lighter, smaller, MacLaren Triumph. But honestly, that will probably only last another year, if that. So the kids said goodbye to their trusty ride, I held back tears, and we gained a whole heck of a lot of closet space.

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In memorium, here are some adorable shots of my babes in the trusty green monster.

From serving as Brady’s first bed to bringing entire birthday parties to the park to hauling two kids at once, this sucker served us well and will be missed. It lived a wonderful, long stroller life. Brady is now in second grade and Declan starts preschool this week. The baby part of our lives is behind us and we’ve got to enjoy the kid part that is unfolding before us.

 

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The Weaning

Declan is now 20 months old. I’m really not sure how that happened, because I could swear he was just a tiny baby. Suddenly he’s running around asking me “How you doing, Mommy?” and telling me “I need Brady’s angry bird (or Power Ranger or Ninja Turtle or cracker or basically whatever Brady happens to be holding).” I was doing ok with it, enjoying the big boy he’s becoming, and then the weaning happened.

Last week, one night as he was nursing before bed, Declan claimed that the boobie was “empty.” I’m quite sure it wasn’t actually empty, but there’s probably not much in there. He also likes to tell me things are “empty” when he really means “I don’t want this anymore.” For a few nights after this he happily nursed before bed. But then Monday and Tuesday he just wasn’t having it. He was chatting with me about the books we read, complaining about the empty boobie, and trying to crawl around my bed instead.

So Tuesday night I said, “let’s just snuggle.” And we did. Then I put him in bed and he went to sleep. Just like that. Wednesday after we were done reading, I said “let’s snuggle.” He said he wanted boobie, but I reminded him that they were empty and so we snuggled and he went to bed. Last night he asked once, but I didn’t even have to say no, he snuggled me instead and fell asleep. Tonight the husband put him to sleep with little protest. I think that makes it official. He is off the boob and is a weaned boy.

This is hard for me to accept. I loved nursing my babies. I nursed Brady a bit longer than this – he was just over 23 months when we stopped in pretty much the same way. But this time it’s really over. Barring an act of God, there will be no more babies. I won’t nurse anyone else. My identity as a breastfeeding mom is essentially done. While it will always be a part of me and I will still work toward normalizing breastfeeding and support those around me who need it, it’s weird to think that I won’t actively participate anymore.

I’m so grateful for the experience. It’s been one of the best of my life. I will always be able to think back to those nights of nursing my tiny babes. But it’s scary to have to shift identities again and make that move from mom-of-baby to mom-of-toddler, especially planning not to add anymore babies. Right now I’ve got that in-between feeling. I’m sad to let my little baby go, and that part of me with it, but I’m excited to watch him grow and change and to hopefully grow and change a bit myself.

Project Optimism: Being in the Right Place

This weekend the husband and I took a drive to Pittsburgh to meet my gorgeous little niece. She is divine. She is all soft, feathery hair, and balled-up fists, and tiny ears, and the tiniest bit of warm weight sleeping on your chest. She is amazing.

I fully expected to spend an hour with her and start yearning for a little girl of my own. I’ll admit I was a little jealous when I found out my sister was having a girl and despite my husband’s resolute stance on having no more children, I sometimes find myself thinking “what if?” But rather than dreaming of having just one more tiny person to hold in my arms, I found myself so grateful to be where I am right now, with absolutely no desire to change that.

When we arrived my sister and her husband had had the baby home for two nights and were in the throes of that haven’t-slept and what-did-I-do-to-my-life stupor that I find most new parents experience. I distinctly remember, when Brady was just about a week old, sitting on the couch next my mother and sobbing “What have I done to my life?” I think that pretty much sums up how it feels to be a new mom. I know there are people who adore newborns and don’t feel scared shitless at having an entire human life suddenly thrust into their authority alone, on no sleep, with raging hormones, feeling like you’ve been run over by a truck, and wondering if your internal organs are going to bust out of your episiotomy incision if you sneeze too hard. I’m sure there are people who didn’t feel like that, right?

Wait, this is supposed to be optimistic. I got off track. Despite the fact that I had PTSD-like flashbacks to bringing my own first baby home, I still felt wonderful spending time with the new family of three. See, I’ve been there, and I know that they’ll get the hang of it. I know that one day they will sleep again and they will feel good and that little girl will look at up them and smile and it will be pure magic. This time might be rough, but there are good times ahead and it will get better and better and better. Maybe one day they will forget just enough to want to do it again, and maybe not. 

I also realized that I am so very much in the right place in my life and especially in my family. It is just perfect for me to have a 5-year-old and a 1-and-a-half-year-old and to have two boys. I’m just in the right spot to mediate disputes over action figures and deal with who is inviting who to their sixth birthday party and pick a fit-throwing toddler up off the lobby floor on my way home. I am perfectly content to listen to Brady read me a book about the ocean while Declan tries out new words on the cat. That unsettled feeling is gone and in it’s place I find a sense of calm and knowing. I’m so excited for my sister and her husband to experience everything that parenting has to offer and to pass the torch of newborndom and babyhood off to someone else. I’m good. 

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You should join in on the happiness. Here’s how:

  1. Write about something that makes you feel optimistic. Whatever it is, write from your heart.
  2. Post on MONDAYS. Include “Project Optimism” in your title.
  3. Grab a badge by going to your dashboard and clicking the “IMAGE” widget. Adjust pic size 200h x 200w. The image URL: (http://mommiesarejustbiglittlegirls.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/project-optimism.jpg)
  4. Link over here and invite friends to join in.
  5. Encourage the person who linked up before you. Kindness is contagious!

My Special Valentine

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The husband and I have never been very into Valentine’s Day. In high school I was the angsty chick dressed all in black scowling at anyone who had a rose in their hand on February 14th. Once I found the husband and fell all in love I felt disingenuous suddenly sporting red and spouting sonnets. So we’ve always kept it low key. We’ll give cards and a few times we exchanged gifts. Our big tradition was pancakes at the diner. 

But once Brady became old enough to care about holidays we felt that we should celebrate in some way. We get little things for the boys and we make sure to exchange cards and say ‘Happy Valentine’s” to each other. Honestly though, my little ones are the best Valentines. The husband and I find other days to celebrate our relationship.

Last night I got the perfect Valentine from Brady. I always lay with him and snuggle after I put Declan to bed and he tells me about his day or whatever else he wants to talk about. He calls it “that time at night when I get to talk to you.” Last night as we lay there, he was being a wiggle worm and I asked him why. He said, “It’s because I want to be ON you.” So he snuggled up onto my chest and I held him like I used to when he was small. There was no talking, just cuddling. I listened to him breathe and felt his heart beating onto mine as I did when he was a baby and he would nap on me. Sometimes I really miss my baby Brady and last night I had him back for a few brief moments. And it was perfect. 

After about ten minutes he started to talk about how Michael in class could beat a thousand bey blades and I knew it was time to make my exit so he could get some sleep. But I slept like a baby myself after having snuggled my boy in bed. It was the best Valentine I could have gotten. 

Project Optimism: Life, Love, and My New Niece

I had to wait until tonight to post this, but it’s a doozy. Today, after waiting 40 weeks and 4 days, my lovely niece Little Miss H, or Buster, joined the rest of us out here in the world. I have to say that this was probably one of the longest and most anxiety-ridden days of my life. Being so far away and relying on snippets of information via text every few hours and quick conversations with my mom in the waiting room, was hard. Even after I had a photo and knew they were both fine, I didn’t really exhale until I spoke to her on the phone and knew that they were both really ok.

By all accounts my sister was an absolute rockstar! I knew she would be. She’s one of the most amazing people I know. Things may not have gone as expected and were definitely harder than anticipated, but she powered through it all and gave birth to a 9lb 8oz, 22in long ball of beautiful! 

Now the magic begins. I get a whole new person in my life to love and get to know and help grow. My heart gets to expand once more to welcome another child into my family, minus the sleepless nights. (Sweet!) I finally get to buy all those lacy-butt tights and sweet little dresses and sparkles and ribbons and, well, you get the idea. My boys have a little cousin. Declan is already in love. He spent ten minutes tonight with my phone in his hands, looking at her pictures, saying “baby” with a huge smile on his face. 

But best of all, my sister, my best friend, gets to be a mom. She and her husband get to be a family all their own and they get to feel that love. They’re going to get to figure out how to do things their way and learn more about themselves than they thought there was to know. My sister and I get to go through this amazing, wonderful, difficult, heart-wrenching, exhausting, soul-changing thing called motherhood together. I know the beginning isn’t easy, I think I remember that, but it’s just the beginning and it only gets better and better.

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You should join in on the happiness. Here’s how:

  1. Write about something that makes you feel optimistic. Whatever it is, write from your heart.
  2. Post on MONDAYS. Include “Project Optimism” in your title.
  3. Grab a badge by going to your dashboard and clicking the “IMAGE” widget. Adjust pic size 200h x 200w. The image URL: (http://mommiesarejustbiglittlegirls.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/project-optimism.jpg)
  4. Link over here and invite friends to join in.
  5. Encourage the person who linked up before you. Kindness is contagious!

Project Optimism: It’s Worth It

I was writing to my sister this morning in an attempt to cheer her up and remind her that the misery of late pregnancy will eventually be replaced by the joy of holding your child in your arms. I sent her an email with photos of me holding my babies after they were born to help her keep her eye on the prize and soldier on through this last little bit.

I clearly remember that awful feeling toward the end, when you have no idea when your life is going to change completely. It’s so scary to think that your current life is going to end and then so exciting to think of beginning this new one. You want so badly to just see and touch this person who has been living inside of you for months. You need to know what this next phase of life will be like and you have zero control over when that might happen. It’s maddening. 

So I sent my sister this email with photos of my brand-new babies and my eyes welled up with tears thinking about how I felt when they came into the world. 

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Brand-new Brady

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brand-new Declan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know it seems so sappy, but it really is amazing to welcome a new person into the world. Newborn days are not all love and sunshine, I can certainly attest to that. But that too, is worth it. I look at my two sweet, amazing, energetic little boys and despite feeling bogged down with parenthood a lot of the time, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. They make life better. Just thinking about them makes me happy and watching them become a real part of the world is unparalleled. Despite the times when I think I just can’t make it another minute, times like this weekend when there were early morning drives and hours-long bar mitzvahs to attend, followed by screaming-baby nights, ear infections and trips to the flu-filled urgent care, I still feel that the joyful parts outweigh the crappy parts.

So that’s my optimism for this Monday. It’s all worth it to see these two guys each day, for the hugs and the kisses and the learning new words and the learning to read and the snuggles in bed at night. It’s worth it. 

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You should join in on the happiness. Here’s how:

  1. Write about something that makes you feel optimistic. Whatever it is, write from your heart.
  2. Post on MONDAYS. Include “Project Optimism” in your title.
  3. Grab a badge by going to your dashboard and clicking the “IMAGE” widget. Adjust pic size 200h x 200w. The image URL: (http://mommiesarejustbiglittlegirls.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/project-optimism.jpg)
  4. Link over here and invite friends to join in.
  5. Encourage the person who linked up before you. Kindness is contagious!

 

Waiting for Buster

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I can’t sleep. I can’t concentrate. I jump every time the phone rings. I’m desperately waiting to get the call. That would be the one where my sister says “I’m in labor.”

I am one of two children, both of us girls, almost three and a half years apart. While we have certainly had our fair share of fights, as any good siblings should, we are also the best of best friends. I now have a better appreciation for how my dear sister felt as I was in the final weeks of my pregnancies. My sister is due in 6 days with her first baby, a girl, my niece, whom we have already nicknamed Buster.

See, early on in her pregnancy my husband had a dream that the baby was a girl and that my sister and brother-in-law named her Buster. So Buster she is, whether they like it or not. My husband is convinced that he will forever be known as “my weird uncle who calls me Buster” and I think he loves it.

Back to the waiting game. Waiting for my sister’s baby is nearly as difficult as waiting for my own babies was. The not-knowing, the lack of control, the excitement and anticipation. I can’t wait for my sister to experience labor and delivery and the thrill of the moment you first see and hold your very own baby. I can’t wait for her to feel that rush you get when you realize that you actually created a real human being. I’m excited to meet my first niece, the first baby in my family other than my own, and to be her aunt and love her to pieces.

I had bet on Groundhog’s Day back in the beginning so I’m hoping she makes her appearance tomorrow. Come on baby! Get out here! We’re all waiting for you!

Hug Them Tighter

Today seems to be one of those “hug your kids a little tighter” days. This horrible, horrible story is stuck on my mind and the minds of all of my friends today, making us both appreciate that our kids are here with us and healthy, but also worry about each second they are out of our sight.

My heart breaks for this mother, both because she has lost two precious babies, and because she had to be the one to discover them. I’m not even sure why I chose to write about it. There is nothing I can do to change it. There is no real cautionary tale. I sort of want to say something about all of the media pointing out the job of the father, their luxury building, the fact that they live on the Upper West Side. Who cares? Does that matter at all. Should they suffer more adversity because they seem to have more money? But honestly, that isn’t really the point either.

I guess I just wanted to remind myself and everyone else to cherish their time with their little ones as much as possible. When the whining seems endless, when you have washed hands that have been playing in the toilet, when your frustration with homework has reached a peak, when you feel like you can’t cook one more meal or wash one more dish or pick up one more toy, when they just won’t go to sleep, use this to bring you back to that place of appreciation and love, at least for today.

Pumpkin Perspective

One of my most cherished childhood memories is of going to the pumpkin patch with my family; my father driving, the radio tuned to Myron Cope giving the Steelers game, the air crisp, and the sky bright blue. All I remember is picking out a pumpkin from the huge field, sitting on a hay bale with my sister as we were pulled around the farm by a tractor, drinking cider, and being so, so content and happy.

Of course this is a memory that I wanted to recreate with my own family. So we headed to the pumpkin patch yesterday. The air was a bit warmer than expected, but the sky was sunny and blue. Then there was traffic, lots of traffic, and whining and crying from the backseat to go with it. Then there was herding people to the hay ride, worrying that we’d run out of cash for pumpkins and candy apples and cider and donuts and pony rides, dealing with more whining over candy apples and cider and pony rides, and chasing a toddler through a field of pumpkins.

At the end of the day as we drove home, with the sky still blue and the sun slanting through the trees, I was just exhausted and wishing for sleep and there was still dinner to make and baths to give. I took tons of photos to remind me of the gorgeous day and how delighted my kids were by all of the fall fun. I’m hoping they only remember the sound of football games on the radio, picking pumpkins from the field, hay rides, and being happy with their family. And hopefully, one day when we can’t go to the pumpkin patch as a family any more, so will I.