The Most Heartbreaking Comedy

Amazon Prime is currently streaming a hilarious and very NSFW comedy called Catastrophe. It’s hilarious and very raunchy. It’s also very touching.

Episode 4, though, made me cry and cry and cry. Sharon gets the news that based on genetic testing, there is a 1 in 25 chance that her baby has Down Syndrome. I was transported back to last year, when I had genetic testing, when all my husband and I could do was cry and ask ourselves hard questions.

And then we got good news, again and again, and could breathe again. Watching this episode, I re-lived all of those ups and downs all over again. But I couldn’t look away. It was a thoughtful, funny and spot-on examination of this extremely fraught time in a pregnant woman’s life. Bravo, Catastrophe. I can’t wait for Season 2.

The Four of Us

When my husband and I were first married, I didn’t know if I wanted kids. He always did and his wish was for two sons. 

One day, soon after I turned 30, I woke up and had baby fever. It was bad. I remember crying in the middle of Starbucks because I wanted a baby so badly but the timing wasn’t right. (I laugh at this now. When is the timing ever right?!?) 

When I was pregnant with our first, we went to our 20 week ultrasound, convinced we were having a girl. I already had her name picked out, Eleanor Grace. The ultrasound tech told us it was a boy. I started crying. My husband was overjoyed. 

I got pregnant again and we had some testing done that revealed the gender at 13 weeks: another boy. I called my husband at work to tell him. He sighed a huge sigh of relief. Two boys. His dream come true. 

I love my husband very much. I thought I knew how much until I saw him with his sons. Now that love has multiplied. He is adored. He has more patience with them than I do. He gets down on the floor to play without being asked. He tells stories and prays every night with them. He actually watches Cars and Cars 2 over and over and over again with Future President and together they can recite the dialogue. 

A tremendous lawyer by day and an awesome dad all the time, I am blessed to call him my husband.  


A Lighting Predicament

I’ve never paid much attention to lighting fixtures, switches, outlets and other mundane things around the house like the color of kitchen cabinets and dining room floors. And yet here I am, suddenly called to make decisions about the type of flush mount ceiling lights, kitchen pendants, the dining room chandelier, and the color of walls.

(#firstworldproblems is the alternative title to this post!)

When I walk into a room, I either like it or don’t, but I can’t really tell you why. There’s not an ounce of interior design skill buried inside me. So I’m scouring Pinterest and lighting sites to figure out what I like and what I don’t. I don’t like a lot of the options out there, and when I find something I really, really like, it’s usually not within our budget limitations. If I had time, I would look at home design magazines and then find budget-friendly options based on pretty pictures. I don’t really have time to do that, so my default has been, “I like the model home. Just do that.” The model home in our new neighborhood is gorgeous. I love everything about it except the carpet…and the flush mount ceiling lights.

I once read that the default flush mount ceiling lights look like boobs, and ever since then, I can’t look at one without thinking it. The flush mount ceiling lights in the model home are pretty…but they are pretty boobs. I think I’ve found some good alternatives though. Maybe I’m not completely hopeless in picking out lights.

This Too Shall Pass

In every baby stage I remind myself that this is just a phase and it won’t last forever: the transition to no swaddle, the transition to a crib from a bassinet, these are all hard and in the middle of the sleepless nights, it seems that it will never stop, the endless hours holding the fussy baby. 

And then it’s over. For a while. 

The teething, cranky baby was up off and on between 11 and 2 last night. I ended up sleeping on the single bed in his room with him next to me, because sleep training be dammed, I just need some sleep and I just need Future President to not wake up, too. 

I am teaching right now, which means my work load doubles as does my commute because class ends at 5:30. I enjoy the teaching but trying to juggle the demands of my regular work and my family is impossible. I feel like a bulldozer has run over me then backed up and did it again. 

I recently read one article about how hard it is for full time working moms to lose weight after having a baby and another article about maternal and infant health and how much harder it is for full time working moms to breastfeed as long as is recommended. I’m here to tell you both of those are true: if I am able to eat food while it’s still warm, I’m happy. 

When I walk in the door, the baby is overtired and hungry. I don’t even have time to change out of my work clothes before I have to feed him (mommy guilt requires that at least try to maintain a small milk supply). His bedtime nursing takes about 20 minutes, after which is time to start Future President’s bedtime. Twenty minutes later I might get to eat if my husband had time to make something. If not, we forage the cupboard and eat handfuls of chips while watching a single episode of TV before my eyes are too heavy.

Tonight as I type this I am still in my work clothes, my belly is full of microwaved veggie sliders and strawberry and arugula salad, and both boys are in bed, quiet before 9pm. There are many blessings in my life, I just wish I wasn’t too tired to appreciate them. 

An Ode to the Digital Chore Chart

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 9.48.19 AM

It started with a potty chart: complete a row of stickers, get a prize. This was a huge motivator for Future President when we were potty training and when he was done with that, we moved on to a chore chart, complete with the same set of rows and stickers.

Then one day I thought: there must be a digital version of a chore chart. I’m not crafty at all and if I can avoid hunting down a blank piece of paper, a ruler and a pen to make the chart, my life is that much easier. I’m also admittedly lazy.

Enter Chore Monster. Download the app and voila, the easiest chore chart to set up and use. And it’s true, your kids will be begging to do chores because of this app! I’m not kidding.

On the parents’ side, you set up the chores and how much each chore is worth. Then you set up the rewards section and it’s up to the child if they want to redeem points for a reward worth lesser points right away or store up the points for a bigger reward. I made each of Future President’s daily chores worth 5 points and when he earns 150 points, he gets to choose a reward. You can upload a picture of the reward or link to it on Amazon so the child can see what he’s working towards. I didn’t bother to post any smaller rewards because I knew at this age he would choose the redeem his points as soon as possible.

It took him about a month to earn his first reward. His daily chores are: put away toys, put clothes in hamper, dress yourself, brush your teeth and help empty the dishwasher. He also has a weekly “chore” of getting a haircut. I’m contemplating adding additional weekly chores like emptying the small trash cans around the house and vacuuming the kitchen and breakfast nook. I like that you can customize each chore with a picture so he knows which chore he needs to do based on the picture I took of him instead of needing to read.

I think there are three main reasons this app works as a motivator to do chores: 1) Future President is obsessed with our iPhones and iPads and any time he gets to use one, he’s happy, whether it’s taking pictures, watching a show, or playing with his chore chart; 2) after you complete each reward, you get to spin for a new monster, but more often than not, you lose and are given a broken bottle, a jar of farts, a single brick, etc. He thinks this is hilarious; and 3) it’s personalized, so he’s sees pictures of himself doing chores and pictures of the rewards he’s working towards.

I promise I wasn’t compensated or asked to review this product. I just really, really love it and I hope it helps you if you’re looking for a way to motivate your kids to help around the house or modify their behavior (I’m close to adding “share toys with brother”!).

8 Months Later

8 months old! Junior turned 8 months on Monday, which means I haven’t slept through the night in at least as long. But oh the joy he brings to our house. I thought we laughed a lot with one kid, but two kids = two times the laughter in our house.

At 8 months old, Junior eats anything and everything he’s given, even some super disgusting combination of apple raisin quinoa, barley and oats (trust me, I tried it). I haven’t tried giving him finger foods for a few weeks because he was gagging and choking on the puffs; it might be time to try again since he can now sit up unassisted. He’s still not the biggest fan of rolling over and almost never rolls from back to stomach. I’m hoping this improves soon, but just in case we’re taking him to a pediatric physical therapist for an evaluation. I’m hoping it’s just me being paranoid.

I forgot that at this stage EVERYTHING goes in a baby’s mouth: toys, bibs, paper, Aquaphor bottle, baby powder – if he can reach it, it goes into his mouth. He also drops everything, all the time. Eating out isn’t very fun when everything on the table ends up on the floor. I remember thinking that I would never enjoy eating out again when Future President was this age. And then he was old enough to watch TV on the iPhone! So there’s hope for this one, too!

Junior is getting four more teeth, all on top. He doesn’t drool as much as his older brother did at this age but he wakes up at night more often. He goes to bed around 7 and usually wakes up between midnight and 1 and then again around 4:30 to eat. I know I could wean him from both of these feedings but I am so tired at night I actually get more sleep when I feed him than if I let him cry because I can’t sleep through the noise.

Future President is Junior’s favorite person. It’s amazing to me how well they get along. Future President makes it his mission to make Junior smile and has recently started including Junior in his imaginative play. Just this week Future President created Mater’s Junkyard around the train Junior was playing with and they both played with the cars and other toys in the mound of “junk”. It was adorable.

In other Future President news: he finally has shown an interest in coloring! I thought this day would never come. He knows how to write his name and will spend up to 20 minutes sitting still while coloring and drawing. He also says the most outlandish and hilarious things: “Secretary means baby in Spanish” is my latest favorite. This morning he told me that when he grows up he’s going to stay home all day with his kids and yesterday said that when they’re older, he and his brother will live together. It kind of breaks my heart at how sweet he is.

What a View

There are many days I arrive home and vow that I am never driving in traffic again, so we’re moving closer to work or I’m finding a different job. Of course, I’m not serious. At least not very serious. 

And now, after hard work and saving and saving and strict austerity measures and cheap rent, thanks to my very generous parents, we are buying a house, a house far away from work but very close to the boys’ future school. 

I will still hate driving, I know. There’s no denying that the commute is terrible for my body (chronic pain in my back and neck) and soul (please never ride with me. I’m not a nice person when I’m driving.) But once I’m in the semi-rural suburbs where we’ve decided to live for the long haul, I’m glad I’m here. It’s peaceful. I drive by cows and horses and alpacas. There are vast empty green fields (but an alarming lack of good restaurants).  When we go for walks, it’s not uncommon to see one or two people we know walking or driving by. And my husband is very happy here, happy to be back in the place he grew up, happy to tell stories about a time when this town was even smaller and the open spaces even broader. My kids will play in dirt and split open their knees and get soaked in rainstorms in some of the same fields and roads as their dad and there is something so wonderful about that. 

And here’s my future view: