Monday, October 6, 2014

My Sybil.

We've made the switch from "6 months old" to "almost 7." That's a big one to me. A step further to one. A shift away from infancy and an army crawl to toddlerhood.

How it's happening so fast is beyond me. I feel like everything has been fairly seamless, automatic, as she's gone from sleeping to not sleeping to sleeping again to sitting to eating to crawling. A shining little personality has bloomed seemingly overnight, even if still kept under wraps in front of the outside world.

This morning as she hid her eyes to shield them from the fresh light, I started to laugh at her tiny self pretending to be asleep. And then she giggled, then me, then her, over and over again until I just had to scoop her body up next to mine. I cuddled her close and she lay her head on my chest, then popped it up, ready to explore the day.

When exactly she began to understand the world, to get that spoons are for mouths and floors are for exploring, is beyond me. And while I sometimes wish I could go back to lying on the couch with eight pounds of love passed out on my chest, every day makes me feel like this is the stage, this is my favorite. Because they are. It's how this whole growing up thing doesn't just make me want to break down. Because the truth is, as pure and sweet as those newborn days are, they just keep getting better.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Baby's Guide To The Galaxy: The Morning Wake Up

My friends, my following, my homies.

Since starting school I've become privy to the fact that some youngins' (clearly not self-respecting enough to be called toddlers) do not know the proper way to wake up in the morning. 

These children seem to think that the morning is their oyster. That you can take your time, flutter your eyes, read books, and generally bask in a pool of laziness as the sun shines through your crib slats and your parents lounge the morning away. It's utterly absurd, I know

So I thought I'd do a little guest post to teach them how it's done. 

Let's start with the basics: no parent deserves to wake up peacefully. They need to know exactly who's in charge. If you let them take their time and do their thing then nothing will EVER get done and they'll just keep pushing it later and later until no one gets up until 8:00 am. And that, my friends, is blasphemy. 

Begin with wakeup time. I like to start around 6:30 (okay, okay mom geeez... 7:00! (or 7:30.) But that's just recently and until the time change. Just you wait mi madre, just you wait.) My family has decided to block my windows with dark covers to try to fool me into sleep. And I'm embarrassed to say that it occasionally works. OCCASIONALLY okay? But I'm working on that. Everyone has their weaknesses. 

So you wake up at 6:30. You have every opportunity to read a book or get mesmerized by those dang boats hanging above you while boats should be in water and how exactly does this work?!, but fight it. In fact, throw your books to the ground. Push ALL your books from the bookshelf if you have the luxury. Basically just make a mess. It's invigorating and gets the muscles going. 

Next are the lungs. Breathe in deeply, hold it for five, four, three, two, one, then- "MAAAAAA-MA!" in as loud and shrieky of a voice as you can muster. Some people apparently like "nice voices" so be sure to follow that up with a quick, quiet, "mama, please." Wait 60 seconds and repeat. 

Now you're sure to have gotten their attention. If your brain is so advanced that you understand how to string two words together, then by all means begin with mama again, but it's really not necessary. The next thing to announce is your first demand. Mine always happens to be oatmeal since it's warm goo sent from angels above. But you know, you might like pancakes or toast or something that less sophisticated children eat. So be it. Again you take a deep breath in and release that bad boy with an "OOOOOAAAAMEAL!", "oatmeal please." This let's them know that you mean business, and that oatmeal had better be on the table STAT.

They should arrive shortly to retrieve you from your confines, but have no patience when they take you to the kitchen and your breakfast is not ready. None. They knew better. Tell them repeatedly, over and over and over, exactly what you want. If you're feeling so generous, once they begin making said food maybe request a little filler like cereal or a waffle to tide you over. And when I say request, I mean demand. Repeatedly. Throw your body on the floor if need be. Run to your room to show them your distress. Take great measures to show them just how much you need that cereal in your hands. And not just a bowl of cereal... no. YOU are in charge and deserve the whole bag. Don't settle for less my little friend. 

Then comes the grand moment when your food is ready. I like to help prepare mine on a plate with brown sugar, peanut butter, cinnamon, and raisins. There's some mixing and blending and all sorts of delicious work at hand. It's good to occasionally give in when they ask you to sit at the table when you really want to eat on the carpet, but if you see that look in their eye then don't push it. Just give a little "chill out yo, I got this," carry your plate to the table and take your first bite. But for some reason, some STRANGE reason, it may not be the perfection you imagined. And my advice to you when this happens, young tot, is to cry. And scream. And possibly throw your spoon after waving all the food off of it. Maybe even do a little more sobbing throughout the house as you run to your room maniacally. It gets the point across that tomorrow this better be done right. This is tiring though, so eventually just eat the stuff. Because then, then comes the redemption. 

Right when you think you're about done your mom will sit down with hers. And let me remind you - mom's food is always better. So demand it. Demand that whole bowl if you have to. It's yours, really. She brought you into this world so thus must keep you nourished. And nothing in the world will make you happier than devouring her bowl of food as she sits eating the remnants of yours. Nothing. If you've followed my previous steps then the groundwork has been laid that you mean business. You've chiseled away at their resolve and there's nothing like worn-down parents for getting what you want. So eat in peace my friend, eat in peace. Your day has now begun.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

a sloppy mess of thirty minute thoughts

Every day I ache to get on here. every day. And when I say ache, I truly must mean the thought passes my mind when Sybil accomplishes one of her firsts or Declan adds to his shelf of Adorable Antics. And then I realize that my sliver of time for me, that hour at night when things are as good as I'm going to get them and children are quietly in bed, when I decide that as much as I want sleep maybe catching up on one show or having a little conversation with my husband is more important, well it's hard to place this blog in that sliver.

What I don't think you hear enough these days is how hard parenting two young children is. It's hard. Really hard. Or maybe I'm just whining. I mean, we do it because what choice is there. You're in the weeds and you're doing all you can to keep your head up. Whether staying at home or working away life is busy and messy and full of guilt for whatever. Maybe, just maybe, if you have extra money to pay for a clean house and good food and some time alone then it might not be quite as hard, but you'd still probably end up feeling guilty for not scrubbing the toilets yourself.

Even in the extreme busyness though, this summer has been lovely. I've been to Tennessee, Baltimore (twice!), Bethany Beach, Michigan, and California. I started a new job. I soaked in family weekends and stayed up late to enjoy the warm summer air. I bathed myself in chlorine as Declan flew down the froggy water slide just one more time and drank a few more morning cups of coffee as aftermath of spending some quality feeds with my girl in the darkness. I flew seven times (not counting transfers), drove two road trips with both kids, and packed for three of us seven times in two weeks. All of this to say, I sucked the marrow right out of summer 2014 and am ready for some fall.

Fall is that time to pack it in. To sit at home on your couch catching up on shows. To hug more, cuddle more, cook more. To organize and restart. It's a much needed sigh after a summer of go, go, go.

And each year at this time I miss home. Baltimore in the fall is idyllic. So crisp, so collegiate. I always ache to go back, but more than that, I ache to be a child. I want to relive those first weeks of school, the soccer practices followed by home made pizza. I want to be sitting on the couch with the tv on, scribbling down some homework as I try to block out the sounds of NPR in the warm kitchen while my mom makes dinner. This wave washes over me every September like clockwork.

And I see that one day I won't be as busy, or at least not with diapers and rocking and nursing. One day I will go back to that life, whether in Austin or Baltimore or somewhere else unknown. And even though it won't be quite the same, I'll be the one working the day away as I knead some dough, I'll get to give my children these same moments of comfort and belonging. I get to be the mom. And then all this busyness has been worth it.

(and now pictures. just because.)

Go soak up this last weekend of summer and then let's welcome fall with open arms and cozy couches. Whaddya say?


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sybil's Birth Story and Slideshow

After nearly five months (what and HOW!), it's time for her story. Going in for a second labor was sweet in a whole new way. I knew what awful felt like (from Declan's), that I'd make it through, and what it would feel like to hold my baby for the first time. But I didn't know what an extra special moment it would be to see my daughter, to hold my Sybi girl. And after weeks of growing dilation, effacement, and discomfort, I was so ready to find out.


The day was full of doctors. My 39 week appointment followed by the pediatrician for hours to get to the root of Declan's super high fever (virus) then going to Tegan's vet for an ear infection then coming home to start counting contractions and head over to the hospital. The hospital was the sixth medical facility of the day, but by far the most special.

It was a sweet labor. I was surrounded by two great friends and my lovely husband. We chatted, played music, and enjoyed some steaming herbal tea. I arrived, to my surprise, at 6 cm. and was in good enough shape to be taking selfies of my bump. Thus I was able to labor naturally for hours, until I got stuck at 8.5 without my water breaking and was ready to have fun again. And though the epidural was not nearly as amazing as my first (it actually kind of blew), it did give me a bit of a break.

Sweet Sybil arrived with three pushes, pushes so easy that I was literally told that I was going to laugh her out. And each precious moment of that night held the knowledge that she was coming, my very own daughter. I would think back to Declan's birth, a morning that truly changed my life and being in such huge ways, and was thankful for his paving the road. This time I understood what was to come, all the joys and troubles and love. It was not leaping into the unknown but rather taking the path scattered with memories. It was so sweet and so different than his arrival. I was a mom welcoming a daughter. I was getting the privilege of living these days yet again. I was imagining decades from now when I might be watching her in this very same spot, about to welcome her little one, and I was just blown away by love. It was truly incredible.

Because of this, and the possibility of sharing this experience with my sweet girl years from now, it was extra special to have a friend of mine, Jenni of J. Noel Photography, present to photograph the birth. The following slideshow that she made shows the night beautifully. I couldn't have wished for better. Thank you Jenni for showing such love and care and support. It was an honor to have you there.



***Best viewed on a computer or laptop browser. Mobile devices won't play music.***


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Life Lately

{a little june iPhone photo dump}

Here I am, tucked in bed at the Bristol Holiday Inn as my babies sleep in this sound machined room and my man has a longer visit with his parents. I'm finally taking a breath from the whirlwind that has become my life, a long enough breath to try and document exactly what has been going on. Because my baby girl is three and a half months old, three and a HALF, and I've missed writing so much for her. I have yet to even tell her she was born in her journal, let alone talk about any of her developments. And this is simply because life is busy. Any available seconds I have I want to spend with her or him or sleeping. It's really that simple.

Let's scroll back to two months ago when she was about six weeks. We were just getting in some bit of a swing of things, but with two kids that swing is creaky. There was never any time for cleaning, barely any for cooking, and energy was split between the two babies in a way that almost never felt like it was enough for either. I was happy, but it was hard. And then a job fell in my lap. A job that I wasn't looking for at all but was truly too great of an opportunity to pass up. It's part-time, with three mornings from home and four afternoons in the office (where Sybil is welcome); it lets Declan go to "school" three times a week, which he absolutely adores but wasn't in our cards before; it allows Sybil to stay home as Peyton and I switch day duties with her; and it gives the extra income to cushion things like a housekeeper and a few meals out and to really give me the feeling that I'm doing the right thing for my family. Plus I love it. I'm the listing manager for our amazing realtor and work with three other fantastic girls around my age in the office. I get a breather from an occasionally tantruming toddler to actually work with rational people. He gets to go to school and learn songs and play on the playground and paint and draw and learn. And sweet Sybil amazingly gets more attention with us working at home sans Declan than staying home with them both.

With this in mind, our days are just full. When I get home I have a clean(er) house so that I can truly focus on my family. And I love that. We have yet to figure out a good dinner plan but rock at tag-teaming tub then all cozying up on Declan's floor to read stories. It's golden and enjoyable because we are savoring the moments of togetherness after some hours apart. There are times that I miss staying home and want to be with my boy every day like before, but it's not like before. There are two souls to take care of and twice the needs to be met. He is older and busier and just needing more and this just happened to coincide with a time when I couldn't give more because it's all I can do to fit in eating enough to make milk for the baby. I had a great run at the stay-at-home mom gig, and hope to again. But though I miss it, there is no absolutely perfect scenario, and I'm just going with what feels right in the moment.

But today finds me, a working gal, on vacation. Trekking through Tennessee to make it to Baltimore to head to the beach to then jump on a plane with my two add-ons to visit a (blogging!) friend in Michigan. I'm hoping to find some more moments like this on the trip, where I can actually feel like we are vacationing rather than just traveling, and I'm sending good vibes to the universe to give me some of those vacationy feelings on a sunny beach. If not, we will continue to fill our days with friends and family and visits even if they are no break from the crazy, and life will be good, just as it always seems to be.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Weekly Photos :: 7, 8, 9

Sweet Sybil. Sweet, sweet Sybil- 

You hold your head up like a champ. Sat in the bumbo with daddy yesterday for the very first time and apparently rocked it. It seemed like one day we looked at you and there you were gazing around on my chest with very little wobble. Life is easier when you aren't a rag doll I'm thinkin'.

Your sleep is what dreams are made of. Down around eight, up at five-thirty for a top-off, and up at eight for good. I accept that all the good karma I've put into the world has come back in spades with you, so I realize that with this extra rest I must go restock again. Good deeds done in the name of sleep. Amen. 

Little offerings of smiles and coos are goin' 'round. Your sweet language just melts my heart and you're realizing more and more each day that communication is in your blood. (As in, you get that from your mama!)

Tummy time, shmummy time. You nail it. (For about 2 minutes...) 

And your brother. He absolutely adores you. Each night he pats his crib saying, "Right dare, right dare," until I place you down. He cuddles up close, giving you kisses and putting stuffed animal offerings on your belly and books for you to read. You've begun to take him in as well, gazing up and sometimes even dropping the paci for a little smile. Thick as thieves, I can already tell. 

And finally, as for pictures, we missed a week. But just ask Declan- that's how we roll. 

So much love, 


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Declan's Birth Story

Today was kind of amazing when it came to thoughts. As different hours ticked by and we sang happy birthday to our boy for the umpteenth time, I'd look at the clock and relive that moment from two years ago. The day that I became a mother. The day that he was born. How fitting to celebrate the two together on Mother's Day. So today, after putting it off for far too long, I am finally going to touch on his birth story.

**The reason I never posted before was the 1,000 photos I had to go through. In doing all I can to make this post happen, I've given up on all editing. They won't be pretty, but they will be real.**


It began midnight May 11, 2012 as the back pain that had been bothering me turned more severe, into contractions that were nothing like I was told. Lying down turned to crawling around on the bed, trying to find any comfortable position. These were closer to one endless painful seize than the ebbs and flows of waves. Relaxing between was impossible, as was counting the time. There was no rhythm, no beauty, no broken water- just nearly endless pain. And despite the obvious signs, it was such an unbelievable feeling to think that it might actually be happening.

{the only pre-epi picture - trying to smile.}
After going to my mom's bed where she soothed me through the pain as Peyton tried to time contractions, calling doctors and packing bags, we decided that it was time to go. We were sure that those three hours of intense home laboring must have taken my three centimeters from that morning closer to seven. Upon arrival, after throwing up twice from the intensity and shaking on the bed with no give in the pain, we were told I was at four. FOUR. And that's when the epidural was ordered. 

Back labor is no joke my friends, no joke. An endless pain. It was all I could do to stay still while the doctor inserted the needle, keeping my mind focused by singing songs about the three bubbles floating in my IV. And I would have kissed that doctor right then and there, Steelers apparel and all. It was that good. The love for the epidural man is real, my friends, as all fathers know too well. 

Within moments I began to see and engage in the world again. The contractions became manageable, then nonexistent. There were cheers (from me) for epidurals and that's when the party truly began. My doctor came in scolding me that I hadn't called her. It was 6:00 am. I was 6 cm dilated.

{big contraction.. but BAM. epidural.}

Then there was the breaking of my water, the knowledge that there really was no going back, our boy was arriving that day. 

An hour later I was at 10. I was ready; it was time. Except not, since waiting an extra hour to push would allow the full four hours before giving the second antibiotic dose that I needed. So wait I did, and at 8:10 I started pushing.

The following hour was a party. It was joking between pushes, hearing those cheerleaders count to ten as I gave it everything I had, then telling more stories. It was laughing as my doctor texted our mutual friend the progress updates between pushes. It was nothing like I had imagined it would be and one of the least dramatic labors of all time. And as I got jealous hearing those age old comments of "There's the head! And the hair!!" a mirror was rolled out so I could join in on all my hard work. It was two steps forward and one step back as he made his way in, rolling the way my contractions never did. Until 9:17, when things shifted- we were here for a purpose and this was it. Our boy was coming. And so I pushed. And he was there. And he was crying and pinking and perfect. 

Just perfect

He came to my chest and I was completely overwhelmed by this little life. It was unreal, utterly unreal, that he was ours. I don't remember how much I kissed him or what my first words to him were, but I do remember realizing that in an instant my life had changed. I was still in the exact same spot with the exact same people, but just like that my belly was empty and my son was here. I was a mother. He made me a mother. It was such an incredibly difficult gift to process at that moment. I had no idea what lay ahead.

Many mothers say they were overcome by a love unlike any other when their child was first placed in their arms. That was not me. I loved him, a lot, but not in an all-consuming, angels-singing way. I didn't know him. And while that might sound harsh, it was magical to watch my love grow with him. He was fascinating. As he opened his eyes more and more each day, learning to coo and grab and roll and crawl and walk and talk and run. As he's grown deeper and more difficult and endlessly more giving to this world. As he showed me that being perfect is not the pinnacle, but it is a state of being that can continue to shift and grow. For just as he was that morning when he first hit my arms, he remains as perfect as can be. He is my boy, my son, my heart. The one who made me mama. And for him I will forever be grateful, and forever be in awe.

Happy birthday sweet love.