Roo

Rory Emerson has been with us for seven months now.

image

It has been an eventful seven months, to say the least, and some days I feel like I still do not know my littlest little very well yet. Aside from some occassional early morning cuddles, the majority of our time together is spent handling his older, louder and more demanding brothers. This sweet boy is generally just a long for the ride.

image

But in his short time as the caboose of our crazy family train, this peanut has taught me that under no circumstances will things ever go according to plan, he has forced me to go a little easier on myself and he has reminded me that all a baby really needs is love. Those are some pretty big lessons in one itty bitty package.

image

With the addition of Roo-bear, I am so grossly outnumbered during the day that I cannot even pretend to have any sort of plan and so I cannot be annoyed when it all falls apart.

I have stopped wringing my hands when I have to cancel a play date or outing at the last minute. Life is unpredictable and so are babies. I have stopped feeling guilty when we have to order pizza because dinner is inedible….or non-existent… because I kept 3 human beings mostly alive for an entire 8 hours. Dinner is like the bonus round. I don’t worry at all about when Rory will sleep or eat because I know he will have to eventually and he will do it somewhere and somehow so why waste precious brain power on organizing the inevitable?

There are days though that I even manage to give him a bath. Those days are like unlocking secret levels or something. I am on fire.

image

Rory does things at his own pace…which is very, very slowly. At 7 months old, he will roll over if the mood strikes and he grabs at things he finds interesting. He smiles constantly, coos regularly, and laughs infrequently. He stares at everyone with those big eyes like a very wise and very tiny owl.

image

He enjoys food and has yet to try one he didn’t gobble down. He gives wet, sloppy kisses that I am not sure are intentional but I choose to accept them as so.

He is still as little as can be. He does not like loud noises. He struggles with nursing. He does not mind being handed to just about anyone…but he recogizes his Mama and Papa and I like to think he likes us best. He loves company and if you walk out of his line of sight before he is ready, he will let out the saddest cry you have ever heard.

He loves his brothers so much and lights up when he sees them. He is never lonely. Even if Mama isn’t available, there is always someone willing to cuddle our beloved baby.

image

image

I do worry a bit about my little turtle, it is hard not to as I watch babies younger than him surpass him in weight and development…but mostly, I don’t. He is a happy, loveable, easygoing kid.

He already is who he is and we are just getting to know who that is. That’s all.

image

I can say one thing for certain… I am really glad he surprised us.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Rain Had Stopped

image

I admit I am a bit slow when it comes to technology. In high school, I was the last to join instant messenger or get a MySpace page. In college, it took a class requirement to force me onto Facebook. We currently don’t even have a working computer in the house and I literally just got a smartphone a couple of years ago. And I am still resisting the call of Apple.

If you are trying to get in touch with me, my antiquated ways can be frustrating. I leave my phone on windowsills for hours and forget to bring it on outings. I am slow to respond to text messages and have never even set up my voicemail box. More than once, my husband has walked in the door with a look of annoyance, “Where is your phone?”

But, in spite of this, social media is still a part of my life. I use it to keep up with long-distance friends and update those that want to know on how our boys are doing. I catalogue funny things Liam has said and take pictures of Dexter enjoying our latest smoothie recipes. I have also used it to create some real life support networks that I am endlessly grateful for. Life as an at-home parent can be isolating. Some times, having the lifeline of social media is the only thing that has kept me from pulling my hair out.

On days that the boys and I are home alone with no real plans, I find myself glancing through my feeds more frequently. I usually use my phone for very specific purposes- as a GPS and camera, most often- but on aimless days, I will find myself mindlessly scrolling through other people’s news and pictures, clicking links, reading articles, watching video clips. It is not really purposeful, I just have more time to fill. And I have noticed something about my mood on those days too. On those days, I often feel anxious and impatient and distracted and upset.

Our lives have gone through some pretty major changes the last few months and so when a day comes to and end and it had been a rough one on me emotionally, it is easy to attribute it to “adjusting.” Liam is a tough kid and Dexter can be a needy one and so sometimes I would just pin it on one of them. But I still could not figure out why the days that should have felt the most relaxing- days that the boys played well together and I had been productive and not rushed or overscheduled- would sometimes still leave me feeling emotionally depleted.

This afternoon, Liam was playing quietly in the playroom while the babies napped. The house was clean, dinner was planned and I had nothing to do. I saw clouds forming in the distance and opened a window so I could listen to the storm. I put on some music. These are my favorite sort of afternoons. I made a cup of coffee and sat down with my phone for just a few minutes before Rory woke up.

In that 10 minutes, while I sipped my coffee and raindrops started to fall outside my window, I read about a friend in the hospital, I learned that an acquaintance of an aquaintance had lost their child to a horrible disease, I glanced through an article about the appalling work conditions manicurists face, and I saw that there had been a shooting in my city. There were good things too, of course, cute cats and stuff, and when Rory began to cry, I sat my phone down and went about my day as I have done a thousand times before… but I couldn’t shake this lingering feeling of dread.

Liam asked to play in the rain. I helped everyone into their boots and out into the spring shower. We stomped in puddles and found worms and played in the mud. I worked in my tiny garden while the boys giggled and I thought that I should really be enjoying this, but I was feeling vaguely irritated instead.

Liam threw a rock in his brother’s direction and I snapped at him. I accidentally ripped up a flower, mistaking it for a weed. My mind kept wandering- I wondered if I should donate to the acquaintance’s acquaintance Gofundme page. My heart felt bruised for this woman I had never met because I am a mother too and she has just faced my greatest fear. I started trying to figure out if I could get all of my kids into the car to make it over to visit my hospitalized friend and if I had time to whip up a batch of cookies beforehand. Even as I mentally rushed my kids through a bath and into the car before visiting hours were over, I realized that no sick person wants the lady with 3 rambunctious boys crashing into the hospital room…but I felt so helpless and wanted to do something. I worried about the shooting and our safety. I felt bad for getting my nails done that one time in high school. I wondered if I should get that rash Dexter has checked out in case it is something serious. Then I remembered the childless mother again and felt guilty for not cherishing this moment with my children.

I looked up to find the little cherubs had turned on the hose and were taking turns spraying each other in the face with ice cold water because the rain had stopped.

The rain had stopped and I didn’t even notice.

Warm, quiet, rainy afternoons are my favorite and I had missed it. I had worried it away.

I think being connected is a wonderful thing. I want to know about people who are hurting so that I can help. I feel priveledged to watch a friend who lives across the country blossom into motherhood, or graduate from college, or get a new puppy when I would otherwise miss out. I am grateful to be informed about what is going on in my community and in the world. And I really like funny cat videos.

But the rain had stopped and I didn’t even notice….because I was lost in other people’s worries.

I always find the irony in articles about the evils of social media being passed around on social media highly amusing. But it isn’t really social media’s fault if I cannot distinguish another person’s newsfeed from my own, is it? That is on me.

I have always been an empathetic person, and I believe it is an asset, but taking on another person’s tragedy simply because I have been made aware of it does nothing to lessen their burden. As someone who has lived through tragedies of my own, I should know this.

Maybe it is just me. Maybe I am the only one that struggles with this…but today I made a promise to myself.

If I have words of wisdom, I will share them. If I can pray for you, or make you a meal or send you some money… I will do it without a moment’s hesitation. If you need me, I will be there.

But never again will I miss out on playing in the rain.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

This Kid

Can we talk about this kid for a minute?

image

This wild and wonderful, sweet and stubborn, loud, creative, expressive, exasperating, bony, tornado of a kid.

When I held the tiny space monkey this little human used to be in my arms, I never in a million years could have imagined him as the boy he has become.
image

We speculated a lot (there wasn’t much else to do as he slept 22 hours of the day away)…but we were mostly wrong.

Oh, so very wrong.

image

He is so many good things.

I have filled these pages and hopefully his head with all of the good things I know he is.

image

Tender-hearted. Resourceful. Friendly. Brilliant. Affectionate. Enthusiastic. Capable. Optimistic. Energetic. Gifted. Logical. Generous. Hopeful. Entertaining. Dedicated. Weird.

And so much more.

image

I love him so much that sometimes when I look at him my chest literally aches.

I can also find him….overwhelming.
image

Is it okay to admit this? Does it make me a terrible person to admit that sometimes I find it really hard to be around my kid? How much am I looking at in therapy bills for posting this online?

But it is true.

Four years ago, I cried at the thought of spending a single day separated from my boy…and now I sometimes find the tears falling when I am not sure I can handle another day not separated from him.

image

He is impossibly adorable. He is so adorable that, even at 5 years old when most children have outgrown their universally cute stage, he is stopped regularly just to be told how adorable he is…or to be randomly asked to model for a magazine. He entertains everyone, everywhere, all the time. “I want to take him home with me!” I am told almost daily.

image

And I totally get why…but there are days where I bite my lip in fear that I might ask for an address.

His requirement for input is insatiable. I throw every resource I can spare into filling his need for constant contact but it is never enough and some times, by the end of the day, my introverted spirit is so drained that I simply cannot imagine getting up and doing it all again tomorrow.

image

…but 6:30 a.m. comes whether I am ready or not. As soon as the sun rises, so does this boy of mine. His loft bed creaks as he climbs down the stairs, always waking his brother in the process. He run-skips into the room, rubbing sleep from his eyes, and throws himself- elbows first- into our bed. He slings his long legs over ours, scratching his sides (which perpetually itch for unknown reasons) and declares:

“Good morning, Mama! I’m hungry. Is it screen time yet?”

It does not matter that 99.9% of the time, we respond the exact same way. His brain remembers that one time when exhaustion outweighed common sense and we allowed him to start his morning with shows and cereal to catch just a few extra minutes of sleep. And so, we have to remind him that breakfast is eaten at the table before screen time; a rule that had to be put into place when our 30 lb child was skipping meals in favor of electronic entertainment.

And so the first battle of the day begins.

image

Most of the time, his intention is never to cause harm. He just had his own ideas about how the day was going to go….which usually includes doing something fun while wearing a costume and eating junk food. I mean, it sounds pretty good to me too so I can’t really blame him, but if maybe you need to run errands or do the dishes instead of the fun thing he had dreamed up, or if his costume is dirty or not weather appropriate, or if you perhaps insist he eats something other than ice cream, you have ruined his expectations of the day and things are going to get really hard, really fast. Sometimes, I just lose my sense of humor about all the fighting.

image

He also has some personal space issues… as in the concept of personal space does not exist for him. I love him so much that I want to kiss his face off, but sometimes I think if he touches me again (and by “touches me” I mean climbs LITERALLY on my head, uses my arm as a chin up bar, sits on my face, jumps onto my shoulders, or hangs on my pockets) I might possibly duct tape him to a wall.

Note: I would never actually duct tape my child to a wall. It would never hold him anyway. He is crafty like a fox.
image

He has an extremely short attention span and an extremely short list of activities he feels are worth his time. This makes keeping him entertained throughout the day difficult…and while I would love to allow him the privilege of a boredom to get his creative juices flowing, a bored Liam is a destructive Liam and sometimes it is just less expensive to try and keep him occupied every minute of the day.

Handling my 2 children under the age of 2 sometimes feels like a vacation in comparison to my beloved eldest child. I never notice how much time I spend managing his impusivity, protecting the house and his brothers from his destructive behaviors, and trying to keep him occupied, until he isn’t there and I manage to do so very much and everyone seems so peaceful.

image

image

image

image

But the thing is….he is worth it.

Every single day I have with Liam is a day I was never promised and I never, ever forget that. When he is making me crazy… I always have a moment when it occurs to me that my life could look very different right now had his time in the NICU ended like many other babies do…and that any one of those mothers would welcome this hyper-active little spider monkey with open arms if their child had the chance to become one. I do not take this miracle of mine for granted.

That little miracle is just providing some unique challenges for me right now. I don’t really know if it is a fleeting phase or the beginning of a rocky road ahead, but I am doing my best to take it one day at a time, navigate these choppy waters, and stay connected to my boy.

image

It means things look a bit different than I expected. He watches a little more television than he used to. I try to find ways to give us both the space we need, which may seem to some like I am pushing him away. I have had to set some firm boundaries about about how he can touch others, and when it is appropriate to ask for attention, among other things.

I sometimes feel like a horrible pwrson but I am not doing it to be mean. I am not even doing it because I want to. I am doing it because it is necessary. I am doing it because I have 2 other children who deserve some mama-time too. I am doing it for my own sanity. I am doing it because I am the one who has to watch, with my heart in pieces at my feet, as my son is alienated on the playground because the other kids don’t want to play with a child who doesn’t understand normal social boundaries.

I am doing it because I love him.
image
Yep.
He is nothing like I thought he would be.
I am nothing like I thought I would be .

And I love him more than I ever thought I could.

1 Comment

Filed under Liam

Reasons Attachment Parenting Doesn’t Suck

It is the nature of the child to be dependent, and it is the nature of dependence to be outgrown. Begrudging dependency because it is not independence is like begrudging winter because it is not yet spring. Dependency blossoms into independence in its own time.
Peggy O’Mara

attachment parentingSo, I used to think attachment parenting sucked.

There, I said it.

Even after Liam was born and I found myself consistently following attachment parenting principles on instinct, I still intellectually thought it sucked. It created spoiled little monsters and exhausted parents and as soon as I could I was going to stop all this nonsense and get back to the business of not sucking.

Only, of course, I didn’t.

Five years and +2 kids later, I now realize that attachment parent doesn’t suck. The truth is, if it is sucking… you are probably doing it wrong. Sorry. Just sayin’.

I am not a purist by any means. I joke regularly that I am an attachment parent who would totally get my attachment parenting card pulled if the attachment parenting police caught wind of some of the crap I do. We do what works until it isn’t working anymore and then we do something different. I am learning that this is how most people parent…even the whacky AP tribe.

Gosling_AP

So, I have put together a list of the ways that attachment parenting doesn’t suck and this is it. Enjoy!

1) You have permission to be selfish
image

Most people have a view of attachment parents which includes a haggard looking mother who hasn’t showered in 2 weeks because her darling, precious baby cannot be allowed to cry for one single second of his darling, precious life. Or a couple on the brink of divorce because Daddy has been shoved from the family bed and is spending long, celibate nights on the couch, seething. Or a schedule that revolves exclusively around The Children with no time left for the parents to pursue their interests, go on dates, connect with friends or be actual human beings. I know this, because this was my view.

You know what? I am sure these parents exist. Actually, I would argue that we have ALL been those parents at one time or another, regardless of our parenting philosophy. When an entirely new human being suddenly just sort of exists and is helpless and dependent on you for food and shelter and LIFE…there is probably going to be an adjustment period, but it isn’t normal or expected.

Did you know that one of the official principles of attachment parenting, found on the official website of Attachment Parenting International is to “strive for balance in your personal and family life?”

Striving for Balance involves ensuring that everyone’s needs — not just the child’s — are recognized, validated, and met to the greatest extent possible. In an ideal world, every family member’s needs are met all the time, everyone is happy and healthy, and the family is perfectly in balance. In the real world, nobody’s family life is perfectly balanced all the time. It is not unusual for parents to feel out of balance at times. Parents who practice AP continuously look for creative ways to find balance in their personal and family life.  (Read more about this principle here.)

You mean, attachment parenting is NOT about being a martyr? Gasp! Shock and dismay!

Okay, so, really, I mostly just said the thing about being selfish for shock value because it isn’t really selfish at all to carve time out of your life to take care of yourself. I can never give the people I love my best self if I am running on empty. It isn’t going to work. If I want to be emotionally available for my children, I have to make sure I am emotionally healthy. That may mean handing them to someone and walking out the door once a week for a coffee date with a friend or a book. It may mean finding time to be creative or be romantic or be ALONE.  If that is what you need, you should do it and you should not feel guilty for it because in the long run it is better for everyone.

Consistently meeting the needs of other people has taught me to be aware of my needs. I am learning to take care of myself first so that I can be fully present when I care for those I love. I am not always great at this, but I am learning. Attachment parenting not only gives you permission to take care of yourself… it insists on it.

2)You learn a lot of really cool stuff
image

I have never made a choice about my children simply because it is what I am familiar with. That just isn’t how I operate. Instead, I read books. I do research. I ask for advice. I practice what I consider evidence-based parenting, which is how I ended up cobbling together a parenting philosophy that was actually attachment parenting without really realizing it.

I have learned a lot about what is biologically normal for human beings. For instance, I have learned about what physically fosters a secure bond between a caregiver and a child and why that bond is important. I learned how to play again and why play is so important. I have learned about the scientific research that shows why spanking is ineffective and can be harmful. I have learned about the benefits of full-term nursing and all the other ways that breast milk is really, really cool. I have also learned how our milk composition is evidence that we are not biologically “spaced feeders” and why feeding babies on a schedule is not a good idea. By training myself to remain open-minded when being presented with new ideas, I have also learned about things that go beyond attachment parenting practices; everything from car seat safety to genital integrity.

I find all of this information endlessly fascinating . But knowing it also means that when I make a decision, I am confident in it. I don’t feel the need to defend it. I don’t feel defensive about it, I don’t have to justify it or make a joke out of it or put others down to make myself feel better about it. I am always willing to learn new things, but if someone disagrees with me and their viewpoint is based on opinion or anecdotal evidence ( “and I turned out fine”)  rather than thoughtful research and facts then it really makes no difference to me.

Sometimes, I don’t always shoot for “best” or maybe I do and I just fall short. Sometimes, I just have to tell myself that kids are resilient and they will survive me. This is reality, after all. But the fact remains that attachment parenting has opened me up to new ideas and taught me to re-examine the old ones. That is a good thing. We have to move forward if we are going to get anywhere. We have to be willing to grow and to learn cool stuff.

3) You get really good at not caring what other people think
image

I know for a fact that there are times the people around my kid think to themselves, “What that kid needs is a good spanking.” I know this… because there are times when I think my kid needs a good spanking. I mostly think this when my kid’s behavior is embarrassing me and I just wish I had that trump card: I am bigger than you and I can hurt you so stop making me look bad. The truth is though… there are only two people that matter in my relationship with my child and it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out who those two people are.

It doesn’t matter if the little old lady in the supermarket thinks that I am going to spoil Rory because I carry him all the time or if some random stranger in some random internet thread thinks that my kid should be sleeping through the night at 6 months old or weaned the day after his first birthday. And it doesn’t matter if the businessman behind me in line at the grocery store  is giving me the stink eye because Liam is having big feelings after I said no to the candy bar the size of his head. Because…guess what? Not one of them will be around tomorrow. They won’t be around when Rory starts wiggling to get down and my arms are empty. They won’t be around when 4:00 a.m. finds me staring at my boys’ peaceful faces in their beds because I can’t believe they are still asleep. And they won’t be weren’t around when Liam spontaneously gave up his seat to another kid on the fire truck with a smile because he wanted everyone to have a turn.

So, when you practice an alternative parenting style, you have to learn to stop caring what other people think. It can take some practice. You have to remember that you and your child are the only two people that are in this for the long haul. If something is not working for one of you, then adjustments can be made, but the people outside of your relationship are only seeing a single snapshot of a complex, multifaceted, ever-changing, lifelong commitment you have to your kid. Their opinion doesn’t matter.

4) It is fun
image

image

If you strip attachment parenting of the guilt and the condemnation, if you stop striving for perfection and stop caring so much about what other people think…what is left? A whole lot of fun!

I can always easily determine when things have gotten out of balance in our family life because things stop being fun. When we are in sync, life is good.

I have met many interesting, beautiful people within the attachment parenting community. I have discovered fun things like woven wraps and cloth diapering and unschooling! I have joined online communities, jumped head first into play groups and made some amazing friends. I have learned to enjoy my children at each fleeting phase of their lives; to stop worrying so much about how they will turn out and focus more on meeting their needs, addressing their struggles and enjoying who they are right now.

My little clan of men is teaming with life and joy and insanity and when I think back on how much I missed of Liam’s early years, worrying if I was “ruining” him… I want to go back in time and give myself a hug or maybe a slap upside the head. I want to tell that scared girl-turned-mama that following her instincts doesn’t ruin anything! That tiny baby is going to learn to sleep and he is going to wean himself earlier than she ever expected and he is going to stop insisting she hold him every second of every day- in fact, these days, I find myself standing outside his door, asking if maybe he wants to do something because he is has been playing alone for 2 hours and honestly… I am kind of bored.

Liam presents me with new challenges daily, but I can now address them with patience and the understanding that he is not a project to be completed. He is a little boy that is always growing and changing and learning….just like me. If I am still learning how to be a decent human being at 28, I can certainly be patient with these brand new humans in my care. Dexter and Rory have definitely benefited from my learning to enjoy the ride!

5) It is easy
image

Parenting is never really easy, is it? But honestly, attachment parenting, which is based heavily on what is biologically normal and developmentally appropriate, feels easier than other parenting philosophies that strive to overcome what are perceived as problems or weaknesses.

I joke that I breastfeed because I am cheap and I co-sleep because I am lazy…but there really is a grain of truth in this. Scheduled feedings and sleep training just seem really freaking hard to me.

One evening, the boys and I went to a festival and a little girl saw Dexter in his wrap. “Look!” she yelled to her mother, “That lady has her baby wrapped up in her shirt or something. She can hold him and do other things too!”  And oh, it is so true. I can’t imagine parenting infants without a way to carry them hands-free. Babywearing is the best thing that ever happened to me. For real.

All of it. It is just easier.

Keeping my children’s development in mind is easier as well. I don’t have expectations of my 5 year old that he won’t be able to meet so I don’t have to feel frustrated that he isn’t getting it. His brain is immature and that is okay. Maturity comes with age. Values are instilled through consistent responses over time. If I set a good example, he will learn eventually.

Attachment Parenting is often easier because you aren’t working against anything. You are just acting as a guiding hand while nature takes its course.

 6) Your friends are awesome
image

This one time, I confessed to a group of friends that I had caught Dexter licking a toilet brush. Do you know how they responded?  By listing all the gross things they had found in their children’s mouths. It made me feel so much better.

I have learned that what many people perceive as “judgement” within the attachment parenting community is often just confidence. Are there assholes around? Sure! Those people are everywhere. But most of the time, these are just people who feel good about the way they are raising their children. They are confident in their choices and this confidence can make others feel uncomfortable. But, trust me on this,  they are also human. They give great advice and have creative solutions to problems. They admit to feeling helpless and overwhelmed and occasionally wanting to pull out the big, wooden spoon and be done with it… but they also remind you why you have chosen this path in the first place. They are the punchline of countless jokes but still find ways to laugh at themselves. They are told repeatedly by society that all of the “extra” work they do is meaningless, but they still keep doing it. They bring wine at the end of a long day. They send you wraps in the mail. They leave casseroles on your doorstep. They help you brainstorm when your child is struggling. They bring over bags of breast milk for your hungry baby. They show up for you, they love on your babies, they tell you you are doing a great job. You will never feel alone.

7) Your kid is awesome
image

image

image

The thing is… positive parenting is a marathon and not a sprint.  Yes, it absolutely takes longer to address issues when you are choosing not to use fear or manipulation as a means of behavior modification. Sometimes, it is exhausting and embarrassing. You get a lot of side eye.

It is also worth it. Seeing genuine empathy and respect blossom slowly in your little one’s heart is exciting. I’ll admit…it takes a long time. I have gotten impatient. I have doubted myself. I have totally….TOTALLY screwed up. But every once in a while, I will catch a glipse of the person Liam is becoming….and those moments are so rewarding.

As much as I love my boys, they don’t belong to me. They are not mine to keep. They will go on to make their own decisions and their own mistakes. They will live their own lives. I don’t think my job as a parent is to create a new, improved version of myself in my children by making sure they behave in ways I find acceptable, I think it is simply to care for and protect three amazing human beings during the most vulnerable time in their entire lives and do my best to guide them to the place where they will find their own way in the world. But being a part of their story is pretty amazing.

image

The thing is… regardless of how you are choosing to parent, if you are parenting with love, your kid is probably going to turn out just fine. This post is NOT at all about the reasons your parenting sucks… it is just a small peak into the evolution I have experienced in finding my place.

I am still growing and changing and I honestly have no clue if I will feel this way in another 5 years, but at this moment… I am finally feeling secure enough to call myself an attachment parent.

I never saw it coming.
What a twist!

Leave a comment

Filed under babywearing, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, crunchy mama, motherhood

Middle Little

Love is a maze, life is a riddle, and I’m just a little bit caught in the middle.
-Unknown
image

Dexter Keats,

Today, you are 21 months old and I just wanted to take a minute to tell you that you are so very loved.

image

image

image

You are the cheese in my macaroni- the cream in my Oreo- the buzz in my coffee. Some days, it may feel like you are just a tiny little guy squished into this crazy family, but you are so very, very important. I am endlessly grateful that I get to experience your sparkly blue eyes and mischievous, chip-toothed grin every day.
image

You make me so happy.

I love how feisty you are.  Yes, it is exhausting at times, but it is worth it because you are adventurous and determined and absolutely hilarious. I hope I never forget the expression you make as you show off- eyebrows raised, eyes wide, mouth open, chest puffed out in pride.

image

Usually you are proud of yourself for accomplishing something you had been told not to do and so I always have to turn away, hiding my uncontrollable laughter.

You are not talking yet, and I can’t wait to hear all the things you have to say, but, even without words, you certainly make yourself heard.  You grab our hands, pull our shirts, point emphatically, sign and, if all else fails, shriek…loudly.  And you are thrilled when we get it right.

image

Even without words, there are a few things that we know you love:

You love to eat.
You love music.
You love puppies.
You love books.
You love climbing on top of things.
You love nursing.
You love baths.
You love going outside.
You love making people laugh.
You love, love, love your brothers.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

You always want to be a part of the action. You hate being left out and do your very best to always keep up with the big kids.
image

image

image

image

image

image

image

While you don’t say much, you do say Mama. You also call your little brother “Row-Row” which is so adorable it hurts. You say thank you, and bye, and will often wave to everyone, calling out, “Hey!” as we pass. You also sign “please” and “more” and “eat” and “drink” but only when it suits you. You bark when you see a puppy and you yell, “Mo!!!” when you disagree with something….which is often.

image

You give kisses away like it is going out of style and you are a snuggle-bug, which is awesome.  You also bite and hit and pinch, which is way less awesome, but we are working on it. I think that everything you feel…you feel BIG. So, when you are happy, you are the happiest boy in the world, but when you are angry or sad, you have no place to put those huge feelings in your tiny little body.
image

You still fall asleep in our arms and you light up like a Christmas tree when you see us after we have been separated. You climb everything and get into the most ridiculous mischief.

image

image

You love your yellow rain boots and drinking Mama’s coffee.
Your giggle is contagious.
Your dimples KILL me.
image

image

And you are the most amazing Big Little brother in the entire universe.

image

We love you, Dexy-K. Thank you for adding some spice in our lives.

– Mama

Leave a comment

Filed under Dexter

Winter Adventuring

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?
J.B. Priestley

0226150825Snow in the South is basically magic. I know it isn’t widely regarded as such everywhere but I have never lived in a place where it happened frequently enough to become a nuisance. Around here, it just makes everything better. It makes everyone feel happy. We all slow down for a day or two. We go on walks and build snowmen and make hot chocolate. We wake our children up at midnight, bundle them up in mismatched clothing and take them outside to catch snowflakes on their tongues and go sledding by moonlight, just in case it has melted by morning. We mingle in coffee shops or in line at the movies and chat about the last time it snowed and the time before that and the time before that and, of course, about the Blizzard of ’93.

So, yeah… snow is magic.

PicMonkey Collage- Maple

On Wednesday morning, I took the boys to learn about how maple syrup was made. Please do not let the smiles on those faces fool you– we had a terrible time.  It was bitterly cold and as soon as Liam understood the basic process and had gotten his taste of the sweet stuff, he was bored. We lasted an hour before everyone was crying and I was feeling very silly for attempting a farm day with 3 children in freezing weather. So, we left without even riding horses and made it home before the snow. We then spent the afternoon thawing out and watching the world turn white through the window.

0225151808

PicMonkey Collage- Snow night

PicMonkey Collage--snow boys

When Papa came home, the big boys and I bundled up and went for a snow walk.  We found out some friends live just down the street and Liam had a great time sledding down their driveway. Dexter toddled around, looking rather ridiculous in his 27 layers of clothing, but he did not seem to mind…except when he fell and could not get back up.

0225151904aOne evening of snow fun was great. It was such a treat to wake up the next morning to a second day of our Winter Wonderland.

PicMonkey CollageWe decided to go on a snow adventure. It was a lot of fun.

PicMonkey Collage- Highland Park to Southside0226150941a

PicMonkey Collage- Walk0226151016cWe walked about a mile and a half to a nearby restaurant, stopping to climb trees, have snowball fights and watch the firefighters build a fort along the way. We even stopped at the little library so Liam and Dexter could pick out a book.

PicMonkey Collage-booksWe enjoyed a delicious breakfast and warmed up before making the trek back home… to build a snowman!

  0226151132 0226151132b~2 0226151352b

0226151353a~2By that point, the snow was getting a little slushy… so after Liam had thoroughly explored the backyard and built a snow mountain, we headed inside and continued our snow day with yummy snow cream.
PicMonkey Collage- Snow CreamPicMonkey Collage- yum

Finally, Liam rounded out the day by conducting some snow experiments in the bath tub. He lasted about 3 minutes before racing away, shivering but it was a brave attempt!

0226151807

Finally, our snow day was done. The boys took a warm bath and got into the snug pajamas. By the next morning, aside from a few icy snow piles, it was almost as if it never even happened.

But…even if it was a dream…. boy, was it fun.

1 Comment

Filed under family life, seasons

A House is a House for Me

Where we love is home,
Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
Oliver Wendell Holmes

house

We found a home.

The story of how it all came to be is strange and wonderful and so it fits right in with all of our other stories.

We had been wanting to move back to Chattanooga since we discovered Rory would be joining our family… or maybe since the first night we all slept in Nashville– one of the two. Ryan had been looking for a job with little luck, so, in my typical whirlwind fashion, I sat down one evening and sent him the links to at least 50 job openings I found on various websites. The next day he looked at them, probably rolled his eyes at me a little, and then chose one to apply to because that was all he had time for.

It turned out to be perfectly timed and he was offered the position the following week. The job itself and the company Ryan is working for are pretty incredible. He is happy. What makes us even happier is that it brought us home. We are back in Chattanooga.  

Chattanooga and the Haddocks have quite the sordid love affair. But after 2 years apart, we have chosen to reconcile and much like rediscovered lovers, we are feeling mighty twitterpatted with our little city. We are rediscovering all we have loved about it, and choosing to put the things we don’t love as much behind us. We have learned first hand that the grass is never greener… or if it is, it is way too expensive to keep it that way.

Our move down here was intense.  Ryan had to start work long before we were ready to uproot our family. I was pregnant, Liam was heavily involved in homeschooling activities; it was not the right time. We decided Ryan would commute for awhile, stay with family during the week and come home on the weekends. He would find us a place to live, make arrangements and once Liam’s schooling activities had wrapped up, and the baby had come, and our lease was up and we were ready to calmly transition, we would join him in Chattanooga. That well thought out plan lasted exactly a week and a half before Rory made his appearance and we had to go with Plan B– pack a bag and leave. 

Ryan’s parents, with more grace than I ever could have mustered, shared their home with us for 3 months. I am so grateful for them. While I know it was hard on them to have their space overtaken by all the junk, changes in routine and sleepless nights that go along with a family like ours, and they had to witness our very clumsy transition to life with 3 children, they never made us feel like a burden. And having their support for the first 3 months of Rory’s life made a huge difference. We are very, very lucky.

We searched constantly for a place to live.  We bounced back and forth between renting and buying. We felt defeated as we realized that, with our two new additions and need for more space, our family had been priced out of our favorite parts of town. Ryan kept saying he knew we would find something great but I wasn’t so sure. When we finally decided buying was our best option, Ryan wanted to stay well below our pre-approved loan amount to give us more wiggle room in our budget. It made sense but I kept feeling discouraged by what I could find in the price range he gave me…so, one day, I went rebel and put in a search for a higher amount. Immediately, I saw several houses that I loved… and I showed them to Ryan.

After showing him one beautiful red house, totally remodeled inside and out, in a part of town we loved, with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, that seemed perfect for our family, he noticed the price– a price $20k higher than our budget. I got The Look. I admit that I deserved The Look but I pouted anyway. “Well, it could come down!” I said.  He nodded skeptically, ” If it comes down, we will go look at it.” I tagged the picture so I would receive updates on it.

Just a few days later, my phone pinged. The red house had dropped in price…by $20,000. The owner needed to sell. The porch needed some work. The price was reduced to exactly what we needed it to be.  A few minutes later, my phone pinged again. A message from Ryan that said he had seen a house and he thought it was great. It was the same house. He did not even recognize it because when he had seen the price tag before he had dismissed it as a possibility.

Later that week, we set up showings for several houses. The minute we walked into the red house, we knew it was the one.  Even then though, I never expected it to become ours. It is just too beautiful. It is just too perfect in every, single way.

But… it is ours. Thanks to the hard work of a lot of people, generosity we will never be able to express our gratitude for enough, and a healthy dose of miracle, we closed on it on January 7th, just a few days before Ryan and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary.  We could not have asked for a better present.

So, here is a little home tour for you. We have, of course, filled it with our things since this video was taken. We have already cuddled by the electric fire, had pizza and movie night, invited friends over for dinner, taken bubble baths, broken blinds… and we are so excited for all the memories that will continue to be created here over the years…and year… and YEARS… and YEAAAAAARS that we plan to stay.

So, ya’ll come visit, ya hear?

1 Comment

Filed under family life