Pirate Princess Ninja Party

I am a little bit late in documenting Liam’s birthday party this year, but late is better than never, which is what happened last year.

Baby steps, people.

This year Liam had a combined birthday party at a local gymnastics center with several of his friends. It was a Pirate, Princess and Ninja party and it was both super fun and super easy!


Liam was a ninja of course. Grams got him this awesome costume and he was very excited.  Dexter went dressed as a prince and Rory was our little pirate.








Everyone brought a few decorations, we all pitched in for snacks, and we asked our guests to bring a donation for the humane society rather than gifts. The kids had a blast!


Playing in the gym was the very best part!





After playing, everyone sat down for pizza and cupcakes.












After cupcakes, everyone had a little bit longer to play before headed home with lots of Pirate, Princess and Ninja goodies. It was a great party.

Then we all headed home for a dinner and present celebration with our family.






It was a really simply celebration but I think our little ninja had a pretty fantastic day!


Happy Birthday, Liam Eliot!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Home Again, Home Again


I am not a home-body.

My perfect day would never be at home. I get bored and restless, eager to get out, to do something. I want to be in the world. I like watching people, maybe not talking to them so much…but eavesdropping on them, definitely. I am horribly nosey and find people’s stories endlessly fascinating. I like eating food that other people cook. I like being in beautiful spaces that I am not responsible for keeping. I love weather- any weather, all weather! I love cracked side walks and street art and shop windows. I love mountains and lakes and big, green fields. I love the act of going.


I was lucky when Liam came along with his own tiny pair of wandering feet. Even as a little guy, he was happier exploring the world and we would spend the majority of our days together finding adventure. He would tag along to outdoor concerts, festivals, restaurants and events. He would explore new cities, ride buses and stay up late without much fuss.

I didn’t really realize it was unusual, but I was grateful. My mother would often suggest I stay home more but Liam was genuinely miserable at home, just like me! We were a good fit.


For whatever reason, Dexter and Rory did not get wandering gene. Both of my littlest guys seem to thrive on the rhythms of home. And really, that is okay. I believe they deserve to have that need met, even if it sometimes clashes with my own.

I can admit that it has been an adjustment.


For one thing, it took me far too long to figure out that Dexter’s moodiness was directly linked to how busy we were. Once I did tune in, it was hard to miss how his little shoulders would relax and his easy-going grin would return once we had spent some time with the familiar.


Rory is a little trickier. He is content just about anywhere and doesn’t put up much protest no matter what is going on, but, when given the chance, he will sometimes sleep an entire day away in his crib. I often feel like he is re-charging after being stretched too thin. After a 5 hour nap, he will awaken bleary-eyed but cheerful. It is hard work being ridiculously adorable, you know.


So, Liam and I are having to learn to embrace Home just a little bit more. It isn’t always easy.

Often, I feel that Liam is the outside representation of how I am feeling on the inside. His restlessness is physical. He dances around, spins, kicks, jumps off the furniture, pounds his fists, talks non-stop. I have to send him to jump on his trampoline or to run outside. Having nothing to do feels like torture for my busy bee. If we have no plans for the day, he becomes obsessed with escaping into Minecraft or a Netflix marathon. He gets panicked at the thought of being bored.


I can empathize. I often have that same feeling of dread when I come to the end of my to-do list. At first, I feel relief. I sit down with a book or a new show on Netflix. But it isn’t long before I start to wonder about the meaning of it all. Why am I sitting here when I have never been to Europe or learned to knit or gone canoeing? What am I even doing with my life?


But, we are learning. We are trying. We are finding joy in the little things…like Saturday morning cartoons and breakfast casserole.


I am drinking more herbal tea. I am planning home improvement projects that may actually get accomplished. I am remembering to start the dishwasher every night before I go to bed.

We still go on plenty of adventures…but now, sometimes…we don’t, because every member of the family deserves to have a voice. Even the ones that can’t speak for themselves. And sometimes, sitting around the breakfast table with 4 boys is all the adventure one day needs!


Life is good.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized


Dear Liam Eliot,

Today…you are six.

I remember so clearly holding your tiny body in my arms, wondering about five-year-old you, praying I would get to meet him….and now he has come and gone and Six has creeped in to take his place.


Six feels just a little bit scary and strange.

You have been telling kids on the playground you were six for months. You confessed this to me one afternoon, your slender hands wrapped around my wrist as we walked, swinging my arm around in that way I hate but will desperately miss when you stop. You giggled and told me that you tell them your birthday is July 26th- your brother’s birthday- and I am shocked but not at all because this is just so completely you of you; to stretch the truth about your age, as any other child would, but to add that splash of logic just for good measure.


Liam, my love, you make me absolutely crazy. You push my buttons. You frazzle my nerves. You expose my weaknesses. You are stubborn and emotional, just like me. You are a high strung know-it-all, just like your Papa. Sometimes, all those qualities come out in all of us, crashing together and making quite a mess. Some days, I drop into bed at night knowing exactly what you will have to say about it in 20 years on your therapist’s couch, but not even having enough energy to feel like a failure.

You know what though? I think the crazy is just the price I have to pay for your brilliance. And, if so, it is a price I pay gladly because, kid…

You. Are. Brilliant.


Your zest for life is astounding. Your energy is limitless (unless we are walking 10 feet to the parked car…and then you are tired and your legs hurt, of course). You are thoughtful and generous and sassy and silly and wild in the best sort of way. You are unique and confident and quirky and so much fun.


You are gentle with those that are younger than you- sweet and patient in a way that never stops surprising me.




You are talented and smart. You are feisty and tenacious. When you were born you created this entirely new feeling I never even knew how to feel before and so that space in my heart, that mama-space, will always have a vague sort of Liam shape to it.

I don’t mind that at all.



You make me laugh every single day. Sometimes, it is with your quick wit or your sharp tonugie and, sometimes, you walk into the kitchen frustrated, bang your fist on the counter and exclaim, “Just…..what the hell!” and I have to work hard not to bust as I casually ask where you learned this new phrase instead of kissing your serious face to bits for turning a curse word into something so stinking adorable.


I am positive you have been placed in my life to keep me humble, as you remind me daily that I have no idea “just what the hell” I am doing. All the ideas I had about the sort of mother I would be have been pulled and stretched and twisted by you as you’ve grown. Some of them have even been ripped up into little bits and scattered to the wind as you giggled maniacally.

But honestly, that is okay…because those ideas weren’t even that great. Of course, I still have work to do, but I am happy with the sort of mama you are shaping me to be: a mama who is willing to step back, to let go, to stop analyzing every single thing she does in some vain attempt at “getting it right,” an imperfect mama who no longer parents to impress other parents but just does the best she can with out worrying if it looks right, a mama who loves her kid even when he makes her crazy and who is loved by her kid even when she makes him crazy too.

In the end, loving you is all I get to keep. And one day, it is all you will have of me- my completely imperfect, but never, ever failing love. For that reason, I would not trade a single second with you, Liam…not even the really, really hard seconds. Every second I have with you is another second I have to love you. One day, when you are far away from me, that love will just be another part of you, like breathing. You won’t notice or think about it very often, but when you do pause to examine it, I hope it feels like a lung full of fresh air. You are so loved.

If you are ever wondering why it may seem that Mama and Papa don’t exactly know what they are doing…that would be because we don’t. As much as I hope we are getting better at this parenting gig, you are always the first adventurer down each new path and so, you get the worst of all the mistakes, I am afraid. At six, as your baby teeth start to fall out and you start figuring out who you are, you are entering into uncharted territory for us all once again. As we all stumble around in the dark, making wrong turns and slamming into dead-ends, I sort of begin to understand what makes us first-borns so neurotic and jumpy. It is just the nature of the birth-order, my love. (Good thing you are in good company.)

You have never been six and we have never had a six year old but even in this new dark, even with all the mistakes I am going to make lurking somewhere in the future, even with the tears that filled my eyes as I kissed five-year-old Liam good-bye last night, I am so happy to be here with you. I am so excited to get to know six-year- old Liam.

Something tells me, he is going to be pretty freakin’ amazing.


I love you forever and forever,

1 Comment

Filed under family life, holidays, Liam

Three Little Pumpkins


On Sunday, we went to the Pumpkin Patch Farm with Nana. It was just a perfect Autumn day- crisp and bright. The boys had a wonderful time exploring the farm, taking a hay ride and playing with the tractors and other activities.


It was really fun sharing the experience with Nana! It was fun sharing the experience of the pumpkin patch…and it was fun having another person there to witness the three-ring circus any outing with my children becomes these days.











As we climbed back into the car, wind-blown and exhausted, my mom said, “Well, it will get easier as they get older!” This is essentially my life motto right now. Life with one super intense child and two babies is a tad bit messy. But already, things are easier than they were six months ago. Already, I am feeling more and more like myself every day. Compared to last year, this fall is a walk in the pumpkin patch.


They are a total mess, it’s true…but I still love my little pumpkins and they sure do keep things interesting.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Rory’s First Regeneration


When we finally settled on the name “Rory” for Baby Haddock 3.0, Ryan had a request: that his first birthday party be a “Doctor Who” theme.

Finally, a little over a year later and Geek Papa’s dreams became a reality.

Unfortunately, Rory is tiny and also really sensitive to crowds and noise so we could not invite everyone we wanted to. It was hard not being able to share all the geeky fun with friends we knew would appreciate it. However, you can still take a peak!



Decorations were easy. Blue and white balloons, streamers and stars and some carfully placed quotes and print outs (which I sadly forgot to photograph!) Ryan created the Tardis wall art with painter’s tape. Thank you, Pinterest! It was such a fun, inexpensive decoration.



Dexter and Liam looked dashing in their bow-ties.











The menu was fun to plan and based on various foods eaten in the show or a play on the characters. We also had green “Sonic Screwdrivers” and Ginger “Come Along, Punch” to drink.


The sweet birthday boy with his Mamaw and Papa, wearing his birthday shirt Mama made for him and his space leggings. The shirt says, “Actually, I prefer to be called Stormaggedon, Dark Lord of All.



The birthday throne.




The flying shark was a huge hit, although a bit tricky to get together. I was so proud that I came up with it all on my own though. We played “The Christmas Carol” episode in the background to give a few of confused guests a little bit of context.



Rory had lots of help opening presents. Also, in the background, you can see his Gallifreyan birthday sign. 


Everyone made sonic screwdriver pens to take home! We copied this idea from an activity the boys did at Con Nooga this year.







We loved celebrating our sweet boy with friends and family. 






We did not sing Happy Birthday, because it would have scared him, but Rory did love his Tardis Blue Velvet Cupcake. It was his first taste of sugar but he dug right in.



Finally, after we were all done celebrating, everyone went home with a yummy “Hello, Sweetie!” chocolate bar!

This was definitely my favorite party to plan so far. It was a perfect, quiet, homey celebration for our laid-back baby boy.

Now, back into the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey ball of life.

Leave a comment

Filed under family life, parties, Rory

One day, You’ll Be a Year

Dear Rory Emerson,


Happy birthday, Bear!

Normally, this is where I would say, “Where has the year gone?” but in your case… I know exactly where it went. It went to a 10 day NICU stay and a panicked move 2 days after you were discharged.  It went to months in limbo, buying a new house, moving and moving again. It went to countless trips to Nashville, more tears than I care to remember and a whole lot of stress and worry. It went to Gilmore Girl marathons and sinus infections and major life changes. It went to two feisty older brothers always competing for attention. It went to late nights and early mornings, homeschooling, activities, play dates and parties. It was a roller coaster of a year, my love…but you were definitely the very best part of it and now life is good and I can’t help but think you must have brought a little bit of that good with you when you joined us that scary day last October.


So, I won’t ask where the year has gone, I will just say thank you. Thank you for choosing us. Thank you for any star dust you may have brought along. Thank you for your sweet snuggles. Thank you for your beautiful smile. And most of all…thank you for being such an amazing sleeper.


In this first trip around the sun you have already taught me so much. You have taught me to be brave. You have taught me to let go. You have taught me to ask for help. You have also taught me that I have absolutely no idea what I am doing but you have taught me that this is okay.

When you wake up in the morning, you will be starting your second year of life…and you, my friend, have a lot to do! I know that, for whatever reason, you are finding all the things to be a little bit challenging, but it is time to show us what you are made of, Roo. We believe in you.

I love you so much, Littlest Boy.
And always remember- this is very important- never, ever, ever stop sleeping like a rock star.














(Cupcake photo by: Kayleigh)



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


Sometimes, it feels like I have been on some sort of “clean living” journey for my entire life, but it wasn’t until Liam was born that that journey started to be motivated by fear.


I had this perfect little person and I wanted him to stay that way. Suddenly, everything felt like a threat. Not only things that could hurt him, but things that could hurt me and take me away from him. And things that could hurt the planet and make it a hard place for him to live. It all became very important.

For awhile, everything I did became motivated by a fear of something. I made all our cleaning products because toxic chemicals would cause cancer and I cooked from scratch because preservatives and additives would, you know, cause cancer. Disposable diapers have chemicals and so do soaps and lotions and powders and diaper creams. We took vitamins and supplements and fermented cod liver oil but never, ever Tylenol. We went on special diets, shunned sugar.. then gluten…then dairy…gave up, started over, tried again. But in spite of it all, I was still always afraid.


One day, when Liam was not quite three, we had no babies and nap time was still a thing (oh, nap time- how I miss you!), I was scrolling through one of the many natural living groups I was in and stumbled across a post that changed my life. It did not change my life in the way it was probably expected to…but it did all the same.

A total stranger posted that she went to a holistic doctor for a total work up: blood work and testing and everything under the sun. She spoke about how healthy she thought she was. She was active, took all the right supplements, ate all the right foods, drank raw milk, loved all the ferments, grew her own vegetables organically and she always felt great! Then she said how surprised and sad she was to discover that she was not healthy at all. Her blood work showed high levels of bad stuff and low levels of good stuff and now she was going to need to install expensive water and air purifiers in her home, cut more food groups from her diet and add new supplements to her already absurd daily amount. She shared this with the group to remind us to get tested regularly because you “can never really know” how healthy you are just by how you feel.

I will never know this woman, I don’t even remember her name, but I wish I could thank her because, in that one post, she changed my entire life. Suddenly, my eyes were opened to how absurd it is to live in a constant state of fear. Suddenly, I started realizing how very much of the clean living information I was consuming in huge quantities daily was all motivated by fear or meant to cause fear in me so I would be forced to change. What exactly did I think I was going to do? Cheat death? What purpose could it serve at all to achieve “optimal health” by cutting myself off from life entirely? If I feel healthy and I am happy, if I am doing my part to care for the earth and those that I love…should this not be enough for me?


From that moment on, I started letting go of fear. It has been a journey of it’s own, letting some things go and other things in when I know they are not “perfect.”

Honestly, our lives have not changed all that much. We still cloth diaper. I still make all our cleaning products and cook from scratch. It is only my motivation that has shifted. Now, before I start on a new endeavour, I ask myself if it will bring me joy.

Seeing a baby in a cute cloth diaper brings me joy. So does knowing I am not adding thousands of pounds of plastic to landfills.

Tapping drops of sweet smelling lavender oil into bottles of water and vinegar for wiping down the counters brings me joy.

Holding a cold glass jug of creamy milk from the farmer’s market while chatting with the farmer about the cow that made it brings me joy.

Slicing up a cucumber I grew in my garden brings me joy.

Rolling our bright blue recycling bin to the corner on Tuesdays brings me joy.

Watching Dexter’s lips turn purple as he smashes blackberries straight from the vine into his mouth brings me joy.

Do you know what else brings me joy?

Watching my boys dig into a big piece of brightly colored birthday cake at a party with smiles on their faces.

Lighting candles around the house on summer evenings.

Seeing my babies sit side by side in their room, smashing plastic action figures into each other and laughing.

Pizza and movie night.

Sometimes, I still feel the fear start to creep up on me….when Liam asks for more screen time or Dexter wants a box of goldfish in line at the supermarket. Sometimes, I start to feel inadequate again when I realize we are reaching for disposable diapers more often or that I let the kefir grains languish. Sometimes, I feel embarrassed when a run into someone I know when my kids are shoving cookies from the bakery into their mouth while I grocery shop. But I am getting better.



I am also getting braver. It doesn’t feel scary to start something new because now I only begin things that make me feel good. I have recently started replacing all our plastic products. I bought the boys stainless steel plates and mason jar sippy cups. I had tried this once before, when Liam was small, and failed miserably. It felt too big. But this time, when I look at it without the fear attached, it doesn’t look so big at all. And I enjoy dishing out dinner onto shiny silver plates, filling clear glasses with colorful smoothies.




It is a process. I am still learning. But I can tell you this… a life of joy is so much better than a life of fear.

Leave a comment

Filed under crunchy mama, family life