Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I am...

I am excited.... Today a plan was put this blog in motion in a big way. Exciting things to come!

I am tired.... Working in the insurance industry, post natural disaster lends to longer days into nights. It will get longer before it gets better.

I am nervous... Over something silly. But still... nervous.

I am celebrating.... One of Malone's little friends is hitting milestones in a big way. Exciting times lay ahead for him. Hearing the news from his Mama brought tears to my eyes.

I am purging.... Fall means consignment sale season. Letting go of things is hard, but I am much more happier when they leave.

I am chasing... A new friend. A friend of a friend really in fact. Twice now we've ran into each other in passing, but only had time to wave across the way or shout hello.

I am marveling... Malone's vocabulary and personality are blooming. He is turning into a funny little one.

I am supported... My husband has been a rock star lately at picking up where I am unable. The extra effort has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.

I am missing... My Mama friends and I haven't had a chance to get together lately. The stars haven't aligned for a post bedtime rendezvous since early in the month. I need to see them like I need air to breath. This needs to happen soon.

I am worried.... Hurricane Irene did quite the number on the communities to the west and north. I wonder, will the people ever be okay? Will the landscape ever be what it was? I want to help in a meaningful way. But I'm just not quite sure what that is.

1 am busy... Harvest is almost at its peak. This is the first summer I've attempted to put anything away for the long winter months. I don't have a lot of space, but I'm making the most of what I've got.

I am unmotivated... The house needs a deep cleaning as we transition to fall. I can think of 11 million things I'd rather to first. But I'll make a to do list and start chipping away. If work continues to take up the hours it has this week, I'll consider hiring a cleaning lady/man.

I am juggling... Love, Home, Life, Motherhood, Friendship, Work.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A post for Monday.

Malone has a pretty specific vision of fashion. He likes colorful things and if you ask him, pink is his favorite color.

I don't fight with him about it, most of the time. He is free to express himself so long has there are pants, shoes, and a shirt involved.

He loves live music.

He knows how to be a good audience member. He's smart like that, knowing when to chill.

He is comfortable in his own skin. I am proud of that and will protect those feelings for as long as I can.

We do not live where we live by accident. And we live where we live because we know that here creativity is everywhere, diversity is welcome, and self expression is celebrated.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A day in the life, Irene style.

4:27 am- Little feet come sneaking into my bedroom. The rain is picking up. Malone snuggles in and falls back asleep.

6:03 am- Malone wakes up demanding applesauce. Today is my day to sleep in (Mike gets to sleep in on Saturday). Mike gets up with him.

7:59 am- I smell bacon!

8:03 am- Malone comes in. He's ready for me to be up. Good thing that I'm ready to also be up.

8:30 am- It's raining, but not bad.

9:00 am- Malone asks to go buh byes. This is going to be a long day. I pray Dinosaur Train will distract him for a while. It works for about ten minutes. The rain has picked up.

10:10 am- Malone has my coffee cup and the Splenda. When asked what he's doing he replies "makin my coffee, mama!"

10:15 am- Malone and I have finished cleaning up the great Splenda Blizzard of 2011.

10:30. Time to make cookies.

11:00 am- Cookies are done. It is a bit windy, but not too bad. Malone and I set off to check in on our elderly neighbors, Paul and Judy, with cookies in hand.

11:03 am- We sit on the front porch of Paul and Judy's house watching the wind and the rain. Malone snuggles in to Judy. My heart sings at the mutual affection. They have grandchildren and great grandchildren but do not get to see them often.

11:30 am- Time to go home for some lunch. The storm is now in CT and headed our way. Grilled cheese and soup sounds like the perfect hurricane lunch.

12:00 pm- The wind has picked up, the rain is a bit harder, but there is nothing really exciting going on.

12:15 pm- We've played cars and trains. We've played kitchen. We've done art. Behold, thy cardboard box.

1:00 pm- Malone is getting cranky. It's time for a nap.

1:20 pm- Malone has made it really clear that there will be no napping today. He happily snuggles next to me and we read several books.

1:45 pm- Quiet time is over. We order Rio on demand. News reports state that there is major flooding happening. I see facebook updates with downed tree limbs.

2:00 pm- I take advantage of movie time by sorting through hand me downs. It turns out that I have more than I need of pajamas and causal pants. Malone comes in to help. My piles get mixed together but I don't mind. He tells me that "we're doing it together mama, teamwork!". We've been talking about teamwork and helping a lot lately, but this is the first time he's used the phrase on his own.

2:10 pm- Dinosaur costume found!

2:20 pm- Dinosaur escape attempt. I don't like you being cooped up all day any more than you do buddy....

2:23 pm- Daddy and Malone get involved in the movie some more. I resume going through hand me downs.

3:30 pm- The rain has slowed. The sun is trying to peak out. The worst is passed. We are lucky, but a lot of our neighboring towns are flooding. Daddy and Malone decide to go for a walk to check out the neighborhood.

4:30 pm- They are back. I've used the last hour to finish sorting clothes, catch up on the news, and clean my office.

5:00 pm- Malone is hungry. He goes to the fridge and tries to open it. "I can't do it, so I've gotta use my muscles!". Dinner is served. We keep it classy with left over pizza and peanut butter and jelly. Malone is clearly tired.

5:08 pm-We've always heard about this happening, but it never has for us. Malone has fallen asleep while eating dinner. He's out cold. I brainstorm how to clean him up without waking him up.

5:11 pm- I have successfully gotten Malone semi cleaned up and in bed without him waking up. Irene left lots of nasty gifts as she made her way up the coast today, but she gave me the gift of a free and easy toddler bedtime. I wonder what to do with myself for the next five hours before I go to bed.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Eye of the storm....

Hurricane Irene is projected to still be a hurricane and not a tropical storm when it reaches Massachusetts. Its eye is projected to fall somewhere between Wocester and Boston. We live an hour and a half west of Boston and 45 minutes west of Wocester.Link
My friend Tara wrote an excellent list yesterday that included tips such as hitting up the ATM for cash, making sure you have enough drinking water, and filling up your bath tub with water.

In addition to her list here are also the things we're doing today to get ready.

1. Baking cookies. Everything, including hurricanes, is better with cookies.

2. Laundry. All of it will get done today. Typically, I only wash Malone's daycare linens on the weekend as Monday is "laundry" day.

3. Making extra coffee and storing it in the fridge. You know, because no power = no coffee maker. Not a great combo when Malone is up at the crack of dawn most days. I will hit up Trader Joes for their shelf stable milk as Malone likes to take those in his lunch anyway.

4. Resisting the temptation to go out and buy 100 cans of xyz food. We don't typically eat a lot of canned food. Instead, I plan on getting fruit and veggies, cereal, bread, cheese, hummus, crackers, and some lunch meat from the deli. The lunch meat, hummus, and cheese can hang out in the cooler if things get bad. And if not, those are all things we'll eat anyway.

5. Writing down important phone numbers on pen and paper. I don't have many numbers memorized anymore. We both have iphones and if worse comes to worse, I can use my work cell phone to make a few calls.

6. Backing up pictures and videos onto our photo sharing site.

7. We live on the 2nd floor, so we don't have to worry about flooding (I hope). However, our washer and dryer are in the basement. I'll make sure to get their model number and serial number in case I need them for insurance purposes.

8. Speaking of which, if you haven't done it already take photographs the content items in your house. An overall picture of each rooms and a close up of high value or sentimental items will help in case you have an emergency. Store them away from your home (upload them to the Internet or store at a family or friend's house). Hopefully someday you won't have to thank me.

9. Charging cell phones and our laptops.

10.Brainstorming ideas to keep Malone from going stir crazy. He's the kind of kid that HAS to get out and about everyday. He likes to go, see, and do. Usually, we don't do art projects at home outside of coloring because he gets art 5 days a week at daycare. I'm going to pick up some finger paints, poster board, and shaving cream. Our water table will also come inside from outside. If I need to, I'll fill it with grains (we've got rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and unpopped natural popcorn. He'll dig using the water table like a sensory box. I've also got a few really sweet Christmas presents that I thrifted last weekend at a garage sale. I'm not opposed to pulling a few of those out now. New to him toys are always exciting (I've got a wooden parking garage, wooden firehouse, and two really cool wooden cars).

11. Everyone will shower this afternoon.

12. We're going to pick up our farm share this morning. We usually go on Tuesdays.

13. I've already worked out my backup plan with work. No power or Internet means working from home can't happen. If our sister office has power, I'll go there. If not, I'll let my boss know. If MA is still under a state of emergency Monday, Mike doesn't have to go to work. Which is good, because Malone won't have daycare either.

Bottom line, we've got a lot to do today. But we're ready to weather the storm.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Today, I celebrate!

Sleep has never come easy to Malone. From day one he made it really clear to us that he was going to need a lot of support around his sleep. For the first 4 months of his life, he slept almost exclusively either on our chest or in his swing. From there, we moved on to all other sorts of combination- in our bed, in his swing, in his crib, and so on and so forth.

He never slept through the night. Until we night weaned around 18 months, he woke to nurse. After that, he woke at least once in the night and needed a few minutes of reassurance that we were still right here.

We switched him from the crib to a twin size mattress on the floor during the 22 month sleep regression. I thought that regression was going to be the death of me. We had several nights where Malone woke up and was ready to start his day at 3:00 am. Somehow, we made it through it. And after it was over, Malone's vocabulary and cognitive development exploded with him expanding upon ideas and understanding basic emotions.

However, right after that he hit a growth spurt. This growth spurt manifested with him waking up to eat in the night. We tried to keep it simple with foods we could bring to him in bed. He usually woke to eat a fruit puree (think organic pureed baby food that comes in a Capri Sun style pouch), cheese stick, and a banana. We tried not to let him fully wake up and monitored him very closely while he ate. We didn't want him to wake up because then he'd BE up for the day. And nobody wants that at 3:00 am.

Despite my best efforts to shift him to eating more during the day, the night time wakings to eat lasted about 5 weeks. It was difficult, but manageable. He's now 2 to 3 inches taller and a pound heavier.

During this growth spurt we also hammered out a new bedtime routine. Currently, our routine looks like this: Malone and I watch a few books being read on You Tube (Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is #1 right now), we brush teeth, go potty, and then Mike and I each read two books. After that, I kiss him good night and exit. It will be a long time before Malone is confident enough to fall asleep on his own. But we've shifted from Mama staying with him to Daddy. It gives them a little extra special time at night together and me a chance to get a head start on the evening housekeeping or meet friends for a late dinner.

This morning marked day 5 of Malone sleeping through the night. He slept from about 8:30 to 6:30 (give or take 15 minutes). This is a big deal in our house. It means that I too, (after 2 years, 1 month, and 24 days) have slept through the night 5 days in a row!

I knock on wood and pray that it's here to stay. I forgot what it feels like to sleep 8 hours with no interruption. But, I like it.

It's been a long road for us with a fair share of bumps. There were certainly periods of frustration and resentment. Especially since a fair share of his little friends have been sleeping through the night for several months to a year. But I do not regret the way we've parented Malone in the night. The best thing we can do for Malone is to meet him where he's at and support his growth and development in a way that is appropriate FOR HIM.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Miscarriage has been on my mind quite a bit lately.

Now, before you start spreading rumors or making assumptions, I am 100% not pregnant and have never known the pain of experiencing the loss of my child through miscarriage.

The memory of my mother's miscarriage has been coming to the surface a lot these days. I am hoping that by writing it down and releasing it out to the world, something will settle and shift.

When I was five(ish) my mother invited me into bed with her to take a nap. As I crawled up into bed with her, the water of the mattress shifted and moved. I tried my best to lay still and fall asleep, but it wasn't long before the wiggles came out. I flopped onto my back, and then back to my tummy. I shifted horizontally and then vertically. I couldn't get comfortable. And because I couldn't get comfortable, she couldn't either.

"Lay still and go to sleep." I can still hear her voice as she said it (and repeated it).

"Tell Jessica to lay still and go to sleep too." Jessica was my imaginary friend and she was AWESOME.

"Mom, Jessica is already sleeping."

"Great, now lay still and go to sleep so you don't wake her up."

This went on and on, with me wiggling all the live long day. Finally, after a while my mom got out of bed and excused herself to the bathroom. She was in there for a long time and in my five year old world it seemed like days.

Finally, I heard the toilet flush and she came back into the bedroom with tears in her eyes.

"Mommy was pregnant with a baby. There was something wrong and it wasn't able to live inside of me. The baby died and came out while I was in the bathroom going potty."

"Oooooh! A baby, can I see it?!?" I remember rushing down the hall towards the bathroom, running past my bedroom and the toy room. I arrived to the toilet and expecting to see a little baby. When I got there, it was an empty toilet with water in the bowl.

"Where is the baby?" I remember asking.

"I flushed it down the toilet." I remember her saying matter of factly. "Come on, Mommy really needs to nap." And so we did.

I don't know all of the thoughts that were running through my mom's head that day. And since she has passed away, I can't ask her. We never spoke about it again.

She had literally just kicked my dad out and was on her way to divorcing him. Was she relieved in some way?

How hard it must have been for her to juggle that moment of motherhood. We were the only two in the house. I feel a little guilty for being a typical wiggly five year old that day. If only the kid me would have had the insight that the adult me has. I would have laid still and let my mom have her moment.

I appreciate her honesty. She didn't sugarcoat what was happening to her body. That was the thing about my mom, she was always real.

I don't know how long she mourned the loss of that pregnancy. I know she didn't tell my dad. He didn't know about it until a few years ago when I told him. He was shocked. He didn't believe me or the facts of my vivid memory of that day. My Nana confirmed it.

To the best of my knowledge, there wasn't any other time in her life she was pregnant. When I got a little older she and I would play the "what if" game. We decided that if she ever had another baby it would be a girl we'd name Katelyn Paige.

My childhood was surrounded with cousins my own age who were like sisters but not the same. I was very busy with gymnastics, softball, and doing normal kid stuff. I never felt that I missed having a sibling until I got older.

There are times that I miss having a sibling so much. I feel like a a whole piece of me is missing in some way. I especially miss the adult sibling relationship I do not have. I wish there was someway I could make it better. But there isn't. There is no resolution to this, which might be the most upsetting of all.

There is just acceptance.

My Tribe.

In the earliest days of motherhood I found my tribe- a group of women also in their earliest days of motherhood.

We are nursers.

We were formula feeders.

We cloth diaper.

We use disposable diapers.

We cosleep.

We can't stand kiddos in bed with us.

We say no to screen time.

We put tv on so we can pee or shower in peace.

We are stay at home moms.

We work part time.

We work full time.

We are potty training.

We believe the child will let us know when he/she is ready.

When someone is down and out, we RALLY to make sure they are supported and have the tools needed for success.

We are different.

We are the same.

We have walked through this journey called parenting side by side for two years.

We have celebrated the birth of 2nd children, an older child going off to preschool, moves to far away lands, moves to close away lands. We have mourned the loss of a job, a pet, and a parent.

We are quick to ask for child care help when needed. We are even quicker to respond when asked.

We share different views. The diversity of opinion on methods of child raising is respected, held close, and supported.

Our children do not know life without each other in it. They have been together since they were weeks old. In the beginning we drank coffee and worried. Now, we drink coffee and they play together.

Neither one of these babies belongs to the mama who is loving on him.

I could have never dreamed these friendships. I am so blessed. But even more importantly, my kiddo is so blessed.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The million dollar question..... what's for dinner?

After returning to work full time after having Malone, I discovered that cooking ahead several meals for the week on Sunday afternoon was the ideal way to go.

Reasons why I cook ahead:

1. It takes the guess work out of the "what's for dinner?" question. I know what I've got because it's already been planned and prepared in advance. I don't plan that we'll have xzy on abc day but instead make 3-4 side dishes and 3-4 main dishes (meat or casseroles). We mix and match during the week for lunch and dinner.

2. It saves time. During the week I can usually have dinner on the table in five minute or less. Clean up after dinner is also a breeze, since the pots and pans don't have to be washed! A little up front work goes a LONG way. When I'm in the kitchen cooking on Sunday, I can multitask. I typically have several things going at once. If the oven is already going to be on to roast chicken legs, there is no reason why it can't cook a meatloaf too! I try to get the foods that are the most time intensive on first and then spend the time that they are cooking chopping veggies or prepping for dishes that take less time. Less time getting dinner on the table also means that we are done with dinner earlier in our evening- which is great because we have more time to hang out with Malone.

3. It saves money. I have a refrigerator stocked with food that is easily reheated. There is no temptation not to "cook" and to go out instead. Also, it is better for our budget because I can use common ingredients across multiple recipes instead of having to buy new each time.

Here are the following things I have planned for this week. An * denotes that it will be cooked the day of. I have linked or noted the recipe where there was one. Sometimes I make one up on the fly (in that case, there really isn't a recipe).

Side Dishes:

Pasta Salad With Veggies And Feta
Sweet Corn Salad With Black Beans And Tomatoes (Branny Boils Over)
Mayo Free Potato Salad (Branny Boils Over)
Garlic Roasted Summer Squash

Herb Roasted Chicken Drum Sticks (1/2 are Rosemary, 1/2 are Herbs De Provence)
*Cheeseburgers (Grass Fed)
*Crockpot Pulled BBQ Chicken
Turkey Meatloaf ( For this one I used oatmeal in place of bread crumbs. Also, I like to bake these in muffin tins instead of just making a loaf.

This will be a regular feature on my blog. I hope it inspires you with new menu ideas.

If anyone has a witty title for this feature, let me know!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Feels so wrong, feels so good.

This morning, I walked my husband and toddler down to the car, kissed them, and waved goodbye as they left for daycare and work.

I am working a later shift at work today and don't have to be in until 11:00 am. I should have came back inside to do domestic goddess things like mop the kitchen floor, start laundry, and vacuum.

But instead, I too hopped in the car.

I took myself out on a breakfast date. There is a place nearby that is our favorite. It has painted white exposed brick walls and the coffee is self serve. The food is classier than your normal diner food, but the servers are friendly and helpful.

Mike and I have been going to this place since it opened. After Malone was born, we brought him along with us too. It's "our" place.

I sat down at a table with a book in hand. It felt wrong to be there with out them. I felt like I was cheating on them. I missed them more than I expected I would today- especially when a family with a 2 year old came in. I wished my little someone and my big someone were there to share a pancake with me.

But then I observed that this 2 year old was adorable but demanding, just like my two year old.

I watched her parents star in the 3 ring circus that is going out to breakfast with a tot. I'm sure you know the rings- entertain the child, feed the child, feed yourself (aka shot gun a cup of coffee and shove food down your throat as fast as you can while coloring/reading/playing with child).

Instead, I got 45 minutes of breakfast/coffee in peace shared with a excellent book.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Every night from approximately 7:30 pm EST to 8:30 pm EST (If I'm lucky). I am held hostage by a terrorist.

A sweet faced, gentle spirited, outgoing, funny, sleep terrorist.

Sometimes there are weapons of mass destruction involved.

Often he speaks a language of which I do not understand.

He makes impossible demands that I cannot meet.

I am inclined to give into his demands. After an hour of books, songs, cuddling and otherwise pleading for my freedom I will do almost anything to make my escape into that magical hour where my kiddo is a sleep and I can finally answer email, do the dishes, shower, read a book that doesn't rhyme, or GASP pee in piece!

Then I remember that I do not negotiate with terrorists.

So, the stand off begins.

It's an epic war. A classic battle of will power.

He does gymnastics, dances, sings, and performs every cute trick he knows.

I pretend not to be looking. I work hard not to smile and marvel at how charming he really is.

I take mental snapshots for later.

I center myself and begin to ignore him.

More gymnastics.

I wish he came with a power down switch.

Eventually, he grows bored.

He tells me "mama leave".

YES! Progress! These means I'M WINNING!

So I leave. Only I am wise, I shut the door behind me and start the timer.

He begins to freak out, lest he be separated from me at bedtime for more than 2.57 seconds.

He shrieks, he howls, he screams.

My heart tugs to go to him, to rescue him. But I wait.

He howls more.

I pray the neighbors don't think I'm actually neglecting him and call CPS on me.

I come back to him.

He runs towards he bed, lays down, and asks to cuddle.

His breathing grows heavy, his lips open just slightly.

I sneak out, thankful that the littlest piece of my heart is finally asleep. I pray that the sleep terrorist doesn't wake up, lest we have to start all over again.