What Do you DO All Day?

Although, I have been an “at-home” parent for basically as long as I have been a parent, I have never been asked what I do all day.

I like to think this is because I surround myself with awesome people who understand that choosing not to work outside the home is not the same thing as choosing to be a lazy bum, but it may simply be that no one cares what I do all day.

If it is the latter….that is unfortunate, because today, I am going to show you! Some friends and I started sharing photo journals of our day and I figured if I was already going to think about it, I might as well get a blog post out of it!

Some things to note before I begin:

– These photographs are mostly terrible because taking a beautiful photograph of every event in my day would just never happen. It is okay though because basically all the blurriness, graininess and chaos just makes it all more realistic.

– Throughout the day, I wipe a lot of bottoms and noses and I deal with a lot of bodily fluids and nudity. Over and over and over again. I chose to omit those parts of the day. They still happen. All the time.

– If anyone had asked what we were doing this day, I would have told them, “Nothing!” …So this is what “nothing” looks like.

Onward!

6:40 a.m.

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Good morning, World! I literally hate that I am awake right now. And this..

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…is the only thing that is keeping me from crawling right back under the covers and giving you the middle finger.

Say, “Thank you, Mr. Keurig.”

My goal every, single morning is to wake up before the boys. And I fail every, SINGLE morning. Not because I don’t get up (okay, sometimes because I don’t get up), but because the boys smell my plan and always, always get up 5 minutes before my alarm.

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Our newest tactic is a trade off. Ryan takes the boys for an hour and then I take over while he gets ready for the day. So, as I listen to the boys help ease Papa into the day gently from our bedroom (bahahaha!) I get dressed, unload the dishwasher, suck down my life force coffee, and get started on breakfast.

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This morning, I notice the bananas are just a tiny, little bit overripe so I decide to throw together a batch of protein banana muffins for breakfast.

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I take out the recycling and pause to smell the roses. And then my hour of solitude is up.

7:30 a.m.

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I retrieve these little sleepyheads from their father and they are all, “Good morning, Mother! Isn’t it a pleasant day? How did you sleep?”

Ha, ha. Just kidding. They are like…..
“Feed us now or regret it forever.” So, I get started on that.

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The big boys dig into some yogurt for First Breakfast and Rory nurses and/or has his own breakfast. This morning, he had apple oatmeal, which he accepted cheerfully as I shoveled in bites while setting the table, making Papa a protein shake and getting my kombucha poured. (That is why Rory is The Favorite.)

8:00 a.m.
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Oh, look guys! It is 8:07 a.m. The perfect time to sit down together as a family and eat breakfast.

Nope. It is the perfect time for a baby diaper blowout, a toddler meltdown, and for the Big One to declare he has to poop immediately. Okay. That’s cool too. We roll with it and get cleaned up and dressed instead.

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8:30 a.m.

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We are finally all dressed and sitting down to eat. We are all completely thrilled about our freshly baked, homemade, healthy muffins that Mama spent her entire Alone Hour making for us…..sort of.

8:48 a.m.
Papa leaves for work and all 3 boys are fed, dressed, groomed and ready for the day! Mama however is now covered in tantrum snot, poop, and banana muffin batter. So, this happens while I change clothes.
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I have 3 children which makes me completely immune to mommy judging, by the way.

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After my fabulous wardrobe change (yes, that is a maternity top and yes Rory is 10 months old), Liam gets started on his daily task of asking repeatedly when he can have his iPad and/or watch that one episode of Power Rangers over and over. He is very committed to this task. I admire his tenacity.

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In between whining about how unfair life is, he does manage to straighten up his room, which is the one task he actually needs to complete before zombie-time screen time. The boy can multi-task.

9:30 a.m.
I am feeling like I could really use a nap, which must mean we are finally ready to start our day! First we head to the playroom to check out our calender…but since we are learning our address and it is written in huge letters on our whiteboard in every picture I took, I will just show you this adorable little firefighter who was hanging out with us instead.

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I love you all but that doesn’t mean you aren’t crazy stalkers.

After that, we head out on our morning walk. This is Day 3 of this new, beloved tradition…which, of course means, everyone needs to complain about it. A lot.
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We do it anyway and it is lovely. I genuinely recommend starting your day with a quick stroll around your neighborhood even if everyone complains about it. You end up finding really cool bugs and waving to neighbors and breathing deeply. It is refreshing!

10:30 a.m.

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When we get home, it is time for the baby to nurse and take a nap. He goes down easily because he is The Favorite.

It is also time for a lot of this….

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I started the day off counting every meltdown. I lost track after 25. This was not a particularly challenging day or anything. They just scream a lot. Reasons for meltdowns this day included, but were not limited to:

You put me down.
You picked me up.
You got me dressed.
You changed my diaper.
You changed my brother’s diaper.
We went outside.
We came inside.
My brother touched my stuff.
My brother touched me.
My brother talked to me.
My brother is too loud.
My brother exists.
My brother refused to smell my butt.
My friend did not let me take his toy.
I woke up.
I wanted to play the piano so you put me on the piano bench.
You put the dead iPad on the charger.
You would not let me throw apples at other people.
You wouldn’t unlatch my baby brother so I could nurse.
I asked for juice and you gave me some.

There are many moments during our day that find all 3 children crying. While it is totally normal, it can be emotionally draining.

You know that one friend that creates drama wherever they go? The one you love because they are fun and wild, but you need to take in small doses? They cannot see things from other people’s perspectives. They speak their mind loudly. They don’t understand why you don’t feel everything they feel. They genuinely think you want to hear every single detail of every single problem they ever have.

Take that friend, add in a lack of tact or filter, no boundaries, more shrieking, multiple it times 3, have them wipe snot on you daily and subtract any hope of escaping the dramatics and that is what living with my children can be like. Unconditional love and maternal instinct soften the blow, but sometimes, I am just really tired.

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I did not take pictures of every meltdown. That would be impossible and also make me a terrible mother.

Basically, just imagine the above peppered sporadically throughout the day triggered by a variety of issues and maybe scream loudly and repeatedly (words like, “Mine!” or “He is LOOKING AT MY TOYS!!”) in an enclosed space to add realism to the experience.

(Still) 10:30 a.m.
When Rory goes down for a nap, Liam heads off to play and I start morning chores.

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Dexter loves to be my helper. It is adorable. He follows me around as I do laundry, make beds, straighten rooms and do whatever I can in the short time I have before I need to get him down down for his nap. He loves to load the dryer and works so hard on smoothing wrinkles from the covers. I may have to do some tasks three times thanks to his “help” but it is worth it.

We have 3 small children at home and so my housekeeping goals are not lofty. “Liveable” and “not disgusting” basically cover it. My favorite part is how no matter how much time I spend fighting the chaos, nothing ever actually looks clean because there is always someone to throw a bowl of applesauce on the wall, dump out a basket of toys or throw up on the rug right behind me.

This day, we did cloth diaper laundry, made the beds, did a toy sweep, straightened up the play room and vacuumed half the house before time was up. I felt incredibly silly taking pictures of myself vacuuming, by the way.

11:30 a.m.

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At this point in the day, things could go in many different directions. There is a chance that the stars will align and I may get a couple of minutes of near solitude. It isn’t likely but it dangles there like a carrot on a string that my introverted heart longs for. I start to wrestle with myself-
Don’t get you hopes, Michelle! But- but maybe? Just don’t think about it and then you won’t be disappointed. But what would you do if it did happen? I don’t know, maybe lunch alone or read a chapter of my book or- NO! Don’t do that. And stop talking to yourself. It is creepy and weird.

I calmly get Dexter ready for nap. Nursing, diaper, pacifier, curtains closed, singing, rocking, pretending like I really could not care less how long it takes for him to fall asleep. You have to stay cool.

Because they smell plans, remember?

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Boom!! It is apparently my lucky day and the boy is out in under 15 minutes. I may or may not fist pump in victory as I silently creep out the bedroom door.

11:45 a.m.
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Liam’s moment has finally arrived. We sit down to work through some learning apps on his iPad together. We work together until he has complete tasks in literacy, math, science and coding. I enjoy this time with my little tech nerd. He talks a mile a minute, so excited to share what he is learning with me. And then, when we are finished, he runs off to play Minecraft or Spider-Man in the reading corner and I exhale for the first time all day.

12:30 p.m.
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Any of these moments- these in between, quiet moments when all 3 children are either asleep or occupied- feel stolen and precious. I have gotten exceptionally good at savoring them when they occur. In 15 minutes, I can make and eat a decent meal, read at least half a chapter in a book and fold several items of clothing. I can also drink at least two additional cups of coffee. I am going to need it.

Because afternoon is coming.

12:45 p.m.

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One boy always wakes up happy and one boy always wakes up angry. But everybody is hungry and so it is time for lunch.

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1:15 p.m.

After a successful and crises-free meal….

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…the afternoon goes sort of montage on us as the boys play, I attempt to finish up last minute chores and reboot the diaper laundry, Liam finishes school work, Dexter watches Signing Time, Rory needs a snack, Dexter needs a snack, Liam needs to play the piano, everyone needs some Mama time, so on and so forth.

Just imagine some upbeat, catchy 80’s tune playing as you scroll through these pictures…

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3:15 p.m.
Before we head out, I throw dinner together and stick it in the fridge because if cooking dinner requires any effort later, we will be ordering pizza.

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3:30 p.m.

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I need to change both Rory’s clothes and my own (yes, again- my children are gross) and this makes Rory angry.

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A benefit of being the youngest of three is that there is always someone around to come to your rescue (and make Mama’s heart swoon).

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And finally, after potty breaks and nursing breaks, packing the diaper bag, filling the water bottles, applying sunscreen, strapping on sandles, and making 3 trips to and from the house to carry all our crap, we are off!

(Please excuse the pouting child. This was My Brother is Too Loud- a tantrum that plays on repeat any time we drive anywhere.)

3:45 p.m.
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We play at the park across the street from the farmer’s market. The boys are so adorable I forget how hard it was to get them out of the house and it is this amnesia that keeps me leaving the house and not becoming a hermit.

4:30 p.m.

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It is market day! It is a little challenging to shop the market in the summer because it is so hot your face is melting off and the sweet, cool air of the local supermarket starts calling to you like a siren. The heat also makes everything feel more expensive. “Why is a tomato two dollars when I am SOO HOT!!?!”

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BUT then you run into friends and chat, and your kid bites into a delicious freshly picked apple and you get a beautiful bouquet of flowers for the kitchen table. Then you realize you accidentally spent an extra dollar and are one short for milk and your farmer overhears you explaining this to your children and knocks a dollar off the price for you….and then you remember why you shop here.

5:00 p.m.

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After market shopping, we walk to the coffee shop across the street with our friends for a treat. We last just long enough to sit down with our coffee before the toddlers start throwing punches and shrieking fills the air.

Witching hour has begun.

5:30 p.m.

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When we get home, I put dinner in the oven and get ready to feed the baby. The boys…basically lose their minds.

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Blood sugar is low. Exhaustion is setting in. Mama could go the rest of the evening with out having her shoulder yanked through the top of her dress or her hair pulled by children attempting to climb her one more time and be just peachy…but that just isn’t going to happen. The minutes in between the time we know Papa is off work until the time he walks in the front door are NEVERENDING.

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And then suddenly, he appears…like an angel sent from heaven.

I just barely resist the urge to pick up the boys one by one and toss them in his general direction before sprinting the opposite way. Barely.

6:00 p.m.

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Dinner.

6:30 p.m.

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The boys have dessert. Mama has dishes.

6:45 p.m.

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Papa takes care of the Baby Monkey while I bathe the Grubby Monkey. When big brother finishes his ice cream, he joins the bath.

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Joint bath time ends in tears 100% of the time. I actually don’t know why we continue to attempt it. After the third altercation, we call it quits and Dexter (always the antagonist) is pulled from the tub.

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7:15 p.m.
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I get Dexter all ready for bed and hand him off to Papa for stories and bedtime. He has already tucked Rory in. Two down, one to go.

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Liam and I chat while he finishes up his bath. We talk about space aliens, hot lava and testicles- you know, normal stuff.

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7:45 p.m.

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After Liam is ready for bed he has a quick piano lesson and then he and I read a couple of chapters of his chapter book together before Papa sings him to sleep.

8:30 p.m.

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I have one last load of laundry to do before I climb in the shower and get ready for bed.

10:00 p.m.

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Once I have showered and feel somewhat human again, I pull the cloth diapers out of the dryer and put them in a laundry basket where I will intend to fold them every day until they are all dirty once more.

We have a homeschooling field trip planned for the next day so I lay the boys’ clothes out and restock the diaper bag, making sure to include more snacks than it seems humanly possibly for 3 kids to consume in one outing so that my kids can eat them all in the first 20 minutes and then fuss about how hungry they are the rest of the time.

11:00 p.m.

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Time for bed. We made it through the day. There isn’t ever going to be a paycheck to collect. There isn’t really anyone to tell me if I did a good job or not. And tomorrow, we will do it all again.

There will always be more diapers to change, quarrels to navigate, babies to nurse, and shoelaces to tie.

Until one day….there isn’t anymore.

One day, my house will be quiet. One day, I will wake up at a reasonable hour. One day my feet and back won’t ache. One day, I will have lunch breaks and paid time off. One day, this phase- this crazy, silly, loud, frustrating, hilarious, wonderful phase- will be over.

And one day…. I will be so glad that this is what I did all day when I had the chance.

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Kindergarten!

At the end of July, we officially registered Liam for kindergarten.

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It was terrifying.

Liam has always been brilliant. I do not say this in a bragging-mother sort of way, because to be perfectly honest, a child of average intelligence would suit me just fine, thankyouverymuch….it is just the truth.

We have planned on homeschooling Liam since he was a toddler but it has never been a challenge. He has kept up, or surpassed, his peers in every educational area with very little guidance on my part since forever. He was also so little that any formal knowledge he just so happened to pick up was basically a bonus.

And then suddenly, he is five and extremely opinionated and also loud….and he has two siblings under the age of two and I start realizing he won’t be leaving for 6 hours a day and that I will also be responsible for teaching him stuff and I find myself totally freaking out and furiously Googling public school enrollment 3 days AFTER the final deadline. I may have cried. But it is what it is.

So… we are doing this.

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For anyone who is wondering, we consider ourselves eclectic homeschoolers. I often say we are Unschoolers Lite. Last year, we attempted Classical Conversations and while Liam enjoyed the memory work, the formal tutorial setting did not work for him at all. When we moved to Chattanooga, we joined a more eclectic, inclusive co-op, and that worked much better. This year, we will be a part of two co-ops of that nature and Liam is so excited about them. They will be starting soon with a variety of classes that I know he is going to love, including Spanish and P.E.

In addition, we have started our own mini co-op, with an emphasis on nature and community. This one is extra fun because both Dex and Liam are a part of it. We are starting off with a community helpers unit. This week, we will be touring the library! It is such an amazing group of kids and parents. We are excited to learn and grow with them this year.

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Liam’s main focus will be learning how to read and write. He has a basic handle on both but wants to be able to do them independently. He will be working on basic math skills but he is a total math nerd so this is an area we don’t worry too much about. He loves math work books and computer games. He is also going to be working on his piano book with Papa, attending a weekly science program at the library, joining Spiral Scouts, having a weekly swap with some other homeschooling friends for “socialization,” learning coding and playing a couple of sports.

I sure hope he isn’t bored and lonely.

But seriously… I can’t believe my baby is starting his first year of official school!

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Today, was our Kindergarten Kick-off and it was fun!

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We start our mornings with our calendar. Talking about the date, season, day of the week, weather and any special activities we have planned that day. We also talk about how we are feeling and pick a face to describe it. (Liam always chooses happy and silly. Or sometimes angry. This is accurate.)

We have been doing this for a while. It takes maybe 5 minutes in the morning but it is a nice way to start the day. We are going to be working on learning our phone number and address during this time as well.

Today, I decided to add a new part to our morning routine: a morning walk around the neighborhood.

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Rain or shine (today it was rain!), we are going to start our day with a morning stroll. We talked to neighbors, found sticks, and discussed our plans for the day. It was awesome and also got us all moving earlier than normal.

I have also decided that we are going to make it a tradition to spend our first few days of each homeschooling year out and about without swarms of school aged children around. This is one of the great things about homeschooling, isn’t it? I asked Liam what he wanted to do and he chose the children’s museum, but we were then invited to the library by some friends and he quickly decided to join them instead.

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I let him play on the library’s video game system for the first time and he “kicked butt” (his words, not mine…but true). He learned how to navigate the game so fast! We definitely have a gamer on our hands.

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Afterwards, we went to lunch at a fancy cafe.

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While the babies napped in the afternoon, we read a chapter in our newest chapter book and then Liam worked on his coding app. Coding is something Liam really enjoys. He has a couple of games on his iPad and a board game called Robot Turtles. I never stop being amazed at how good he is at it all.

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When Papa got home, Liam and I went out to get some basic school supplies he needs this year.

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And then finally, after supper, he practiced his piano and then we curled up for two more chapters of The Indian in the Cupboard.

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And that was the end of our first day of Kindergarten! That wasn’t so bad, right?

In spite of my nerves, I think it will be a good year. We are only just starting this journey with our little first-born lab rat so we are learning together.

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I miss those baby curls, I have to say…but I love this clean cut Kindergartener with his tiny naked ears. Time is flying, just like they said. 

Happy school year, friends!

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New ‘Do

Liam was bald for the first two and a half years of his life. Completely bald.

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Then suddenly…he sprouted golden curls all over his head. They grew and grew and grew.

And I loved them.

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Liam’s hair slowly became a part of his identity. He never went anywhere without someone making a comment about it. His wild curls were hard to miss.

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Whenever we were asked if or when he was going to cut his hair, we shrugged and said, “It’s his choice. He loves his long hair.”

A couple of times, we took him for a trim and he would make noises about cutting it short, but he would ultimately shake his head. “Just a trim!” he would declare. And I would breathe a sigh of relief.

Until today….

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Liam’s hair was not all sunshine, Shirley Temple ringlets and rainbows. He hated washing it. He hated brushing it. He hated it getting in his food. He hated putting it up. This morning, as we worked through the tangles with much wailing and splitting of ends, I declared it time for a haircut. He protested as he always did and I said he could choose any hairstyle he wanted, as I always do.

“I want it short and spikey like the silver power ranger!”

“Sure buddy,” I said. And off we went.

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I did not really expect him to cut off his hair. But he kept insisting he would. I called his dad just in case.

“Liam might cut all his hair off….but probably not,” I said.

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The hair stylist cut off about 5 inches to start. It was the most drastic haircut he had ever had. I ran my fingers through the short curls and sighed. It was a lot….but I could handle it.

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“Do you like it, buddy?” I asked. He shook his head, took my hand and whispered in my ear.

“I want it to be spikey.”

This….was for real.

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I fought the urge to wrestle my baby out of the chair, sling him over my shoulder and walk out with his locks still firmly attached to his head.

It is his choice. It is his choice. It is his choice.

For so long, I have advocated for this boy’s right to bodily autonomy. But here I was, feeling insanely possessive of that hair I had defended for the past 3 years.

It is his choice. It is his choice. It is his choice.

I genuinely always thought I would be the mama of the free spirited wild child with curly, tangled hair to his waist. And I liked that.

I asked him about 50 times if he was sure. I reminded him that it would look very, very different and it would take a long time to grow back. He was so nonchalant about it all. He kept nodding his head at me, with a half smirk on his face. It was his choice…and he was ready.

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His grin nearly split his face in two when she was finished. His confidence was high. He mentioned that he was glad everyone would know he was a boy now and that he liked how the wind felt on his neck and that he could see so much better.

“I am so happy!!” he said. He has always been afraid of haircuts and I think part of his elation was in facing that fear.

I wish I could say that I was happy too…but I am not. Those original curls will never grow back. His neck looks thin and fragile to me. I don’t recognize my own baby from behind. My eyes keep involunarily leaking. But now he knows that I mean it when I say that his body belongs to him, and now I know I mean it also. It was hard on my heart, but it was his choice and he made it and he is oh, so very happy.

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That is enough for me.

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Lessons for Liam:: Tolerance

Dear Liam,
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It has been awhile, hasn’t it? A lot has changed. You have changed.

You are such a fascinating little person at five and a half years old, Lee. I find you hilarious and gorgeous and completely daunting.

The other day, we went grocery shopping and afterward, because I am not above bribery, we stopped by the dollar store so you could pick out a toy for leaving your poor mother in one piece.

You chose an FBI kit. It had a badge, and a walkie talkie and a gun. We got it home and opened it up and you had a wonderful afternoon playing “spy.” I briefly considered removing the gun, but you tucked it in your belt loop and never pulled it out again so I decided to let it go.

The next day, on a warm, summer morning, while you and I were swimming in a beautiful pool with our friends,  a young man shot and ultimately killed 5 people in our little city.

The FBI kit had been discarded in the way of most cheap toys. I had forgotten all about it, to be honest, until you walked up a few days later and pointed that cheap, plastic orange gun in my face as you told me a silly story and laughed. My heart jumped into my throat and I yanked the gun from your hand.

You were offended, and rightly so. I had allowed you to have the toy and then did not explain myself as I snatched it away. You are five. You went swimming that day and you played with your friends and you were happy because I never said we had to go home. We stayed all day. You had no way of knowing it was because the roads were closed and people had died.

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So, I clumsily attempted to explain to you why I had such a harsh reaction to seeing my little boy holding a gun that day. And I wasn’t very good at it but I think you understood because you never asked for the gun again. And you always ask again.

What you have asked is why the man killed people….and you aren’t the only one, my love.

One afternoon last week, you asked if you could go and see the memorial and I said yes. And then you said this:

I don’t think that man was always bad. I think he must had read bad books or saw bad things. He must have put bad words into his mind and so then he became bad and instead of doing the good things that he wanted to do, he killed people.

I told you that I thought you were probably right and for a moment I saw the face that I have seen plastered across every news channel for weeks, softened and small and questioning….just like yours. You always have a way of making me think, kiddo. 

Liam, I hope that you love people always. I hope you try to understand them always. But here is what I want you to understand: sometimes, you just won’t and that is okay.

You will meet people that make you crazy.
You will meet people that you do not understand.

No matter how open-minded and free-thinking and compassionate you are, you will one day meet a person that you want to hate.
Don’t.

They may be so wrong about something it makes your head spin and all you want to do is cut them down to size, squash them, make them feel small and stupid and weak because that is how they deserve to feel.
Don’t.

Maybe they are hateful and ignorant and they have hurt others with that ignorance and you want to give them a taste of their own medicine.
Don’t.

Do not hate, Liam. Do not hate. Do not put the bad words into your mind. Hate poisons everything it touches. Hate is what turns inquisitive little boys with orange plastic guns into men willing to take other mens’ lives.

Argue. Disagree. Speak out. Stand up for what you believe in. Make your case. Go against the grain. But never, ever hate.

Someone once told me a long time ago that teaching tolerance is not enough; that we have to teach our children to embrace differences. And I think this is a lovely thought. Of course I want to embrace the differences of others and to teach you to do the same. It would be so nice if everyone’s differences were just so easy to accept all the time, if everyone was just a genuinely decent person just trying to get along in the world…but I also see now that sometimes…we just can’t.

Sometimes, I have no desire to embrace the person standing on the other side of an issue close to my heart. Sometimes, I cannot see things from the other point of view.

But I can choose not to hate.
I can tolerate.

So Liam, I want to ask you to embrace those you can and to tolerate those that you cannot embrace. Look them in the eye. Acknowledge their humanity. Recognize their right to exist on this planet. And then….walk away, son.

I love you. No matter what.
– Mama
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Two by Two

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Another year with Dexter the Extraordinary has passed. It has been a silly, loud and entertaining year. He has changed so much!

His vocabulary is finally exploding. I am so ready to be able to talk to my sweet boy. For my own entertainment, here are the words he knows:
Hi
Bye
Mama
Papa
Rory
Brother (Bubu)
Pizza (Pee-da)
Cheese
Nurse (urrr)
No (mo)
Yes (Dup)
Book (Boo)
Boots (Boo)
Mine
Please (Eese + the sign)
Thank you (Ta-tu)
Ball
Train (choo choo)
Dog (woof woof)
Bath (Ba)
Ouch
Yogurt (yoya)
Again (adee)
More (Mo…not to be confused with mo)
Thirsty (ferfer)
Want it (wanna)

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I am so looking forward to another year with this kid. He is a wonder to behold and a joy to know.

A big thumbs up for another year of you, Dexy-K! We love you so much!

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Happy Birthday, Papa

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I have always been one to celebrate. I love holidays and I love birthdays. I enjoy planning surprises and witnessing reactions. I love anything that includes anticipation, savoring the moment, making memories and being with those I love.

We have been on a tight budget and that, coupled with the string of birthdays we face at the end of July, has forced me to get a bit creative when it comes to celebrating Papa on his special day.

As we were going about birthday preparations this year, I realized how differently we celebrate these days. I didn’t spend an extra penny, but I never worried that our Papa wouldn’t feel special. I used to worry about that a lot. Did I do enough? Will they know they mean a lot to me? Are they happy?

It is different now. As the boys excitedly wrote love notes, taped up streamers and asked when Papa was getting home every five minutes, I realized there is no way for the love not to be completely and totally transparent. I also could not help but laugh at the quirky ways parents with small children say, “I love you.”

Here is a peak into our Papa celebration and some of the silly ways we showed him how glad we are he was born. 

Decorations

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You know all those odds and ends from various parties that you generally toss?  I keep them. I stash them in a tupperware container in my closet and then rummage through it to find things that would be useful for various celebrations.  When you invite people over for free cake, no one is going to care that the napkins have birds on them and the plates have stars or  that the streamers are crinkly from being at the end of the roll. Trust me.

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Even if you didn’t save anything, homemade decorations are the best; paper chains and homemade birthday signs hung with clumps of tape smashed against the wall by little fingers. Who can resist that?

The boys LOVED decorating for Papa’s “party.”

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Food

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Anyone who knows me knows I tend to be a stickler for healthy eating at home. But Ryan is allowed to request whatever he wants for his birthday dinner and I make it happen. This is a man that ate kale at every meal for 6 months when I was on a Fresh 20 kick. He has perfected the art of not making a face when I hand him various foods he would never eat in a million years and ask him to try them. He will suck down a spinach smoothie and pretends to eat vegetables to set a good example for the boys.

If he wants beanie weanies and macaroni and cheese on his birthday, that is what he gets.

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I used to run out the night before to get all the ingredients for special occasion meals. I have finally mastered the art of working them into our actual grocery budget in advance and it makes the whole thing, candy bar blondies and all, basically free- or rather no more than we would have spent otherwise.

I showered.

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Any fellow parent will understand the sacrifice and willpower it takes to find time to shower in the middle of the day. Nap time coordination, speed washing, the chill of the bathroom air from leaving the door open so you can hear any screaming or shenanigans- this all takes an incredible amount of effort. Nothing says “Happy Birthday” like not smelling like regurgitated milk and baby tears when your loved one comes home!

Your welcome, Ryan.

Love Notes

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The boys spent an entire eleven minutes sitting in one place coloring pictures for their papa.

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Then they wanted to write him letters to put in the mailbox as well.

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Eleven minutes. In one place. This is basically a miracle. No Target gift card can compare.

Cleaning

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If you are anything like me, your master bedroom becomes the proverbial dumping ground for everyone else’s junk- oh, no? Just us then? Well…around here our room is not only the last to get cleaned, it is also the last to get furniture, as you can see. It is just low on the priority list. As part of our birthday offering, I put all other chores aside and got our bedroom in shape. It probably doesn’t mean as much to Ryan as it does to me, but who doesn’t like climbing into a bed with fresh, clean sheets in a nice, clean room at the end of the day?

Hats

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We wore party hats. Just because it is freaking adorable.

Surprise!

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Yelling surpise takes a celebration up like 10 notches in excitement, you guys.  Seriously….Liam sat by the window for 10 minutes “spying” for Papa. He chose 3 different hiding spots in the time it took Ryan to walk from his car to the front door. He then enjoyed reliving the moment of suprise for the rest of the evening.

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Perhaps it wasn’t an exotic trip, or concert tickets, or even a fancy dinner out, but I loved seeing my boys throw themselves into loving their Papa on his birthday.

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Happy Birthday, Papa!

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July 18, 2015 · 11:15 am