My Little First Grader

On Friday, P celebrated his last day of school with pancakes made by his teachers, and on Sunday we celebrated with his classmates and their families with haystacks and lots of sugar. 


If you had told me at the beginning of the school year that our shy, uncertain, and highly uncoordinated kindergartener would turn into the confident kid he is today, I would have wanted to believe you but I would have also been a little skeptical. 

He got first place in high jump for his class during track and field day. He got a “super scientist” award for his never-ending recitation of facts about the natural world. And he willingly goes up front at Childrens’ Church to lead out during song service. 

This summer he’s going to basketball and soccer camp, and my mother-in-law has big plans for math and reading and writing homework. We might enroll him in piano lessons. Of course he will also play, bother his brother, go to some movies, and go camping, and at the end of the summer he’ll be ready for first grade, and next year I won’t be so surprised at all he’s ready to learn and do. 

The 3-Hour Bedtime Routine

At 5:33 I looked at the clock and sighed. Bedtime was at least an hour away but the boys were already acting up and even an episode of Paw Patrol couldn’t keep them occupied. 

I sat down to eat supper while G occupied them on the couch. Tonight was anything but family dinner night. Everyone ate in shifts. 

At 6:30, we tried to put P to bed but after being told he couldn’t have a long book for story time, he started wailing and would not be pacified. Granted, he ran a mile at school today, so he was extra tired. And when he is extra tired, all hell breaks loose. 

We put the baby to bed and P was still wailing. He finally calmed down when G told him a story. We thought we were in the clear until an hour later he came out of his room itching. We convinced him to try sleeping in our bed. When G moved him an hour later, he woke up, itchy again, so I gave him Benadryl, rubbed lotion on him and switched blankets. He then started crying so hard he almost threw up. The reason? I have no idea. 

I am trying to have more perspective this week. I arrived back to work from a 5-day vacation to the news that a former colleague committed suicide last month. Yesterday a coworker decided to bring her mother home from assisted living so her mother can die at home as she is failing rapidly and hospice care at home is the best choice for their family. 

These are heady things, and I fought tears as I drove home from work today. And then my 6-year old wouldn’t go to sleep and I just about lost it. Because he wouldn’t go to sleep. 

I’m trying to be patient. I’m trying to be more loving. I’m just not very good at it. 

When You Can’t Blame PPD Anymore

Post-no-more-baby blues. Tired Mom syndrome. Tired working Mom sydrome. There is nothing else to call it. It’s depression. 

I don’t know why I’ve been saddled with this mental illness that is only treated with medicine. No amount of food elimination diets, yoga, exercise, prayer, or meditation will make it go away. 

I forgot to take my medicine two days in a row and today I cried while putting beans on my chips. Haystacks should not make me cry. Nothing made me cry except my brain chemistry and the fact that I forgot to take my medicine two days in a row. 

In my last post, I mentioned that I broke up with Facebook. This week I deactivated my account. I feel free. I also have missed out on wedding pictures from a wedding I was not invited to, pictures that make me jealous for illogical reasons, and political rants from both sides. 

My Facebook breakup is real and final. I’m reaching out to the people around me to connect in person and catch up IRL or virtually. But now virtually means texting, emailing, chatting online, and a shared iPhoto album. 

My husband and I are going to Kauai on Sunday without our kids. My sister-in-law is due any day with her first child and I am guilt ridden because my in-laws are staying at our house to watch the boys and a variety of complications make it almost impossible for them to leave when the baby arrives while we are away. 

But I am putting my guilt aside. I am choosing to focus on me, my husband, and do a lot of self care in Hawaii, including drinking coffee and reading the newspaper while my coffee is still hot, reading and listening to lots of books, listening to podcasts, lying on the beach, swimming in the pool, watching sunrises and sunsets, taking lots of naps, maybe learning to snorkel, and eating lots of fish and fresh tropical fruit. 

And I’m going to remember to take my medicine. 

Books & Podcast Recommendations for the Easily Distracted Parent

In the six years since I first became a parent, I’ve discovered that my attention span is exactly the length of two Paw Patrol episodes. But due to a recent surgery, a broken wrist and seven (yes, count them: SEVEN) weeks of suffering through various head colds and the flu, I found a newly redeveloped talent: the ability to sit still and pay attention to printed words. However, I realize that not every parent has the luxury of sitting on their couch for hours on end, so the following recommendations can be enjoyed in snippets, too!

Books:

Act Like It When I received the iBooks email with the phrase “free books” in it, I didn’t know I was going down a rabbit hole of romance novels, but this book is well-written and a good read, which I discovered after two shout-outs, one on Book Riot and one on my favorite podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour. After reading this, I’ve read a lot of BAD romance novels and I’ll tell you, this one is rare: good, an interesting plot with real-life characters. Trust me.

Dumplin’ If you enjoyed Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, you will like this book. It’s YA fiction at its best: it doesn’t insult your intelligence and portrays teenage characters in a realistic way.

Hag-Seed Totally and completely different than the previous two recommendations, this is a highly entertaining book by Margaret Atwood. It’s her reinterpretation of The Tempest and you don’t have to remember the original (or even have read) to enjoy it.

We Live in Water I don’t usually enjoy short story collections, but this one by Jess Walter is so, so good. The first story is probably my favorite – it’s gut-punching, magnificent writing and the PWN is lucky to have such a talented writer.

And if you’re not in the mood for books right now, here are a few podcasts I’ve been enjoying lately:

Podcasts:

Crimetown Go behind the scenes of organized crime in Providence, Rhode Island, with this fascinating look at a larger-than-life mayor and the mob. After each episode, you’ll marvel that this is a true story.

Missing Richard Simmons I didn’t even know Richard Simmons was missing, but that doesn’t matter. Why did he disappear? Why haven’t his closest friends heard from him? And will the mystery be solved by the end of the season? I need answers. NOW.

Just Be

Right now, on my coffee table, there is a wooden spoon, a soft toy football, a Playmobil rope and finger monsters, all waiting to either be played with or put away. 

But I’m snuggled under a blanket, about to settle in for the season finale of Younger and the last thing I want to do is clean. 

Yesterday marked day four of constant family togetherness due to “snow” days, only the first of which actually merited the cancellation of school and work. Turns out I go slightly nuts after so much family togetherness and I was delighted to spend today at work combing through court dockets and researching a very specific area of law. It was good to use that part of my brain. 

The spouse took Future President to a birthday party yesterday afternoon and I stayed home with the baby so he could nap before an early family Christmas party. His naps have been erratic lately and I’m hoping and praying this isn’t the beginning of the end of naps for him. 

So while he napped, I did nothing. It was amazing. I didn’t know how much I needed the silence until I sat down on the couch and heard nothing. 

It turns out I needed those four days with my two kids more than they did. They loved their uninterrupted time with me, and while I enjoyed some of it, I am exhausted after hours of moving between trains and cars and Legos and playing “dog” and breaking up fights. I am cut out for two kids, that’s it. After four days of yelling “stop hitting your brother!” and “share!” and “no, you can’t have more candy,” I am feeling very confident that our family is complete. 

Yes, I am sad. But tonight as I packed up baby shoes and baby toys to give away, I felt a growing sense of relief. 

There will always be babies to hold and babies to babysit. There will always be the memories and photos of my own children as babies. And as I tried to stop the baby from throwing a DUPLO at his brother, I thought, will I miss this when they’re grown? 

Time will tell. 

Folding the 2T Clothes

I scheduled my hysterectomy today. 

Those are not words I ever thought I would say, at least not in my late 30s, and yet here I am, in extreme pain daily, fighting to hold it together at work and at home and taking more OTC pain medicine than is probably healthy. 

In two months I will no longer be able to have children, which has been our decision for a while, but the thought that this decision is being taken away from me permanently makes me ache in a way I never thought possible. 

No more babies. My head knows it’s the right decision but my heart is breaking in two. 

Tonight as I was folding clothes, I added the 2T pajamas to the baby’s stack, realizing that the next time he wears those particular pjs would likely be the last. His little belly hangs out a little and the arms are too short. They belong in the giveaway pile already but the finality of the 2T pajamas going to another baby, a baby that isn’t mine, is too much to bear right now. 

A Place at the Table

A few weeks ago on a random Sunday, for no reason at all, instead of making food for the kids, serving it at the island and then eating while standing while the kids sat in bar stools, I decided to make supper and actually eat it together at our dining room table. 

Somehow it had never dawned on me to eat at the dining room table when it was just the four of us. Since moving into our home over a year ago, we’ve only eaten at the dining room table a handful of times and only with guests. 

Granted, the baby’s chair is attached to a bar stool and the kids are usually hungry before we are, so most of the time it makes sense to feed them, and then when they’re finished, G and I eat while they play. 

But now I wonder how we let the good old-fashioned family meal disappear from our lives after having kids. Five years in, there was certainly something magical about all four of us sitting at the table at the same time, eating the same food without any distractions. We actually talked and laughed and even though there was cottage cheese on the tablecloth and the floor by the time dinner was over, I didn’t really mind. 

When I stand at the kitchen counter eating, I don’t enjoy my food and usually it gets cold because I’m distracted by other things like the dishes or a spilled drink or the baby hitting his brother with a serving utensil. But when I’m at the table, the kitchen is too far away to do chores while I eat. 

I know this isn’t revolutionary for most people, but sitting down together for a meal was such a refreshing few moments for my family. 

So we did it again the next week. Hey, look at us, bringing the Sunday family dinner back in style.