Friday, September 27, 2013


I was working on this huge "Down Memory Lane" post . . . and well, I ran out of steam and THEN I didn't want to post anything else until I finished it because well, I thought that would be incentive to finish it but yea . . .



We had family photos done the other evening and despite my fear that I would look like Jabba the Hut in all of them they came out wonderful!  I'm very excited :)  Our first "real" family photos.  It was only mildly painful for Matt.

Other than that we've been tromping along in kid land.  You know, schoolnapsdinnahsleepietime rinse, rinse repeat.  Toby is finally over the worst of his several weeks of teething angst.  No teeth in sight but they are impending.  Ethan is having a wonderful time at school and I feel more connected through a snazzy webcam and also posted pictures on their school's FB page.  You know, sometimes it is good to live in the land of technology.

I'm behind on writing and knitting, but almost caught up with laundry.  The kitchen has stayed a 7/10 clean for about 4 days now so I think I need a medal.  We finally had to turn on the heat but I still rebel during the day and open as many windows as I can.  I love when it is cool but not damp.  Heaven.

Oh yea, and I attended a MOPS meeting.  A mom thing . . . at a church.  Surprised?  Yea well, lightening didn't strike and I met a lot of really wonderful women there.  Not to mention that "my" group had two very good friends in it.  Connections!  Whaaaa . . . social life?  Working on it!

I'm sad to miss a friend's birthday shindig tonight but with the kiddos and timing it just won't work.  Another one of those, "When Toby is weaned" moments.  Then I think . . . GAH DON'T WEAN!!! 

We met another mom and her two small boyish creatures at a park today and the gaggle of boys got a lot of squirrel chasing, acorn collecting and hide the wood chip in various parts of clothing time in.  Toby walked and talked the whole time.  He is so very independent.  It is a bit daunting.  This morning Toby said, "light."  This afternoon he repeated, "bear" after a little girl commented on his zipper pull.  Yesterday he said, "cat."  Man, it is happening!

Anyway, just life is happening.  This weekend we attend a birthday party and then on Sunday we are going to the SHEEP AND WOOL FESTIVAL HOLLLAH!  Aherm.  Yes, There is the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival this weekend in Tunbridge.  I've never been out that way so it should be an adventure.  I'm beyond excited and a lil' nervous because I'll be around a lot of yarn.  Like, a LOT.  So, fun pictures!

Friday, September 20, 2013


You've heard them all before if you are a mom.  The whole, "why worry about cleaning when you have a baby/toddler to take care of!"  "That is SO much more important!"  "It is the most important job you will ever have!  Laundry can wait!"  "Don't put so much pressure on yourself!"  "When your children are all grown up you won't remember the dishes you didn't do you will remember the time you spent with your children!"

And yet, there is still a very real expectation that your house be clean.  That the laundry be done and all the toilets scrubbed.  Only a very select few treasured friends and family members will turn a blind eye to your piles of "whatever" strewn about.  Even your spouse will let irritation bleed through at times.  Family members will make comments to other family members and little birds will peep what they say in your ear.  Pesky, lil birdies.

Now, I didn't have my boys super close together.  They are 2 1/2 years apart so I can't claim that their closeness in age has kept me from keeping my house spotless.  Heck, I know moms who have kids that are 18 months apart that have spic n' span houses.  I also know moms that work full time with two kids and have super clean houses.  Goodness knows how they pull it off.

Here:  This is what it is like in my house:
Now add people wearing shoes in my house, the occasional dog (who sheds horrendously) and 3 cats.  It is a losing battle people.  I started counting how many times I sweep my floor.  It averages around 4 times a day.  On my "off days" I only sweep twice . . . on my OMGHAIR days I sweep more. 

It is hard to take pride in something that is so easily undone.  I absolutely frickin' LOVE to go to bed with a clean kitchen.  It is like waking up to Christmas in the morning.  But lately the sounds of me cleaning my kitchen are threatening to wake up the kids.  Our house has some amazingly (bad) acoustics.  Also, have you ever tried to wash a pot in a sink while NOT making noise.  You make MORE noise.  More noise than one person should ever make . . . and you cringe the whole time. 
One trick that definitely helps is having people over to my house.  I invite my neighbor over because I love her company and she is an awesome woman, but I also invite her over because she makes me tidy up.  She is allergic to cats so everything gets an extra sweep and vacuum. 

Another trick is music.  I can clean my kitchen in less than 30 minutes if I have some good rockin' tunes.  I'm not by nature a music person but my sister reminded me about the power of music and damn she was right.  If only Pandora didn't have car ads.  They make me stabby.

Why am I writing all of this?  Because tonight on one of the MommyBlogThingies I read it asked what we miss the most about our pre-children days. 

And barring the standard SLEEEPOMGSLEEEP, for me it was "Finishing something from start to finish."  Hands frickin' down

If I could just get ONE thing accomplished from start to finish I swear I would faint from joy.  I understand that with time this will change.  The boys will get older.  Chores will happen (oh yea baby.)  But the problem is right now.  My identity is all sorts of tied up in my house and what it looks like and how many nights I cook dinner.  Please know that all of this pressure comes directly from ME and no one else (lest you get hackles up about Hubby.)  So, NOW more than any time I would love to finish unpacking, to organize . . . something(!) and keep my house ready for guests at all times.  Life happens, I get it, I totally do.  But I will take driving 30 min to a play date in a clean house any day over inviting someone over and worrying that their kid will open the door to the Room of Doom or did one of the cats leave hair on the downstairs couch.  I know that my life will continue to change, and one day when my kids are older and I'm working again, this pressure will lessen. 

But I'm trapped in a mess of my own making . . . I also created (willingly) two more mess makers.  I know that despite the "words" that people say, if they came over to my house they would be thinking "Good grief, does this girl ever put things away?  Why is there a random kid's sock on the floor?  Is that a sippy cup under the table?  Why is there a pile of laundry in the shower in the bathroom?"  They might not say it . . . but they will wonder. 

I have all sorts of tricks up my sleeve to stay organized.  Paper To-Do lists, magnetized To-Do lists,  computer To-Do lists, chart To-Do lists.  I guess I just have to remind myself that life, itself, is messy.  My house isn't spic n' span because I don't spend all day cleaning.  I take my boys to fun events or I might lay in the floor with Toby for two hours playing and watching Pocoyo and using Baxter Rufus as a pillow.  I guess, in a subconscious way, my mind is PRIORITIZING my children over cleaning.  Which is all fine and good.  But then I need an extra 10 hours in the day please!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Impending Independence

Toby is now officially 14 months old.  As each day passes  . . . a single life changing event looms ever closer.


I had the luxury of allowing Ethan to self-wean without pressure and continue to have that same luxury with Toby.  Ethan was one week shy of 18 months when he officially self weaned.  Admittedly he had been tapering off for a while but I wasn't ready.  Oh, you read that correctly.

If you are a breastfeeding momma, maybe you already know.  If not, then you are rolling your eyes and mouthing the words as I say trite things like, "It is the one thing I can do that no one else can!"  Ah, but here is the catch.  It is true.  Every chin quivering, teary eyed thing that a mom who doesn't partake in the "wean race" says is TRUE.  I should be fair though, there are many reasons to force wean.  And I mean no judgment.  But this blog is about my life so there ya go.

Ethan Wee chowing down
I am fearful of my reaction to be honest.  While Ethan was, and still is, a very affectionate child, Toby is not.  Not at all.  Ethan will cuddle until the proverbial cows came home but Toby's cuddle button can only be accessed once he has a fever of 102+.  Toby might hang out with me on the couch but he won't cuddle. 

When I nurse Toby he curls around my body and tucks one arm in tight against my chest, his other hand finds my shirt or bra strap and fiddles with it or he pets my side.  He suckles lightly for a few minutes before he gets let down and then I feel his soft breath puff against my breast as gulps my breast milk.  Soft noises echo up to me.  There is a closeness there that I don't get from any other interaction with him.  When he is tired and wants to nurse he holds his wee arms out for ME.  Because only I can provide that for him.  It is self-defining in a very stark way.  In a "I've lost my pre-mom identity but THIS makes me special" way.  With Ethan I knew very well that we would try for another baby.  But Toby is it. 

I had such a hard beginning with breastfeeding Toby.  Major latch issues led to horror show nipples and many shed tears.  But, like a lot of challenges in life, I'm too stubborn to give up when I should.  I persevered and now look at us.  I knew going into it with Toby that it would get easier.  But when they are nursing 8 times or more a day each session can feel like an eternity . . . a torture session that lasts an eternity.  So why do we still do it?  Because now it is EASY and it is a joy.  One of life's true rewards for enduring pain (beyond that of childbirth) is experiencing breastfeeding an older baby.  

But, even with all that "at the edge of a cliff" scary emotions and co-dependency issues (oh I know, I'm not naive) there is a freedom looming as well.  Unlike my life with Ethan at that age, I am now in a place where I have friends and there are real amenities (like, from a real city, ya'll.)  The nearest good restaurant isn't an hour away, it is right down the street.  I have friends that actually INVITE me to things and mostly I try to go to them. 

Right now I am only available after 7pm.  Because that is Toby's bed time, and he nurses before he goes to bed.  In fact, he still nurses 4-6 times a day.  Despite his independence, he still NEEDS me for this.  In fact, in the time I've sat down to write this I've nursed him twice.  Once to go to bed and one more time when he woke up an hour and a half later.  In essence, nursing him is my fall back response to him being upset.  While Matt has had to develop soothing skills for both boys, I got the easy card.  I just nurse them.  It was hard for me to soothe Ethan at first after he weaned.  Luckily, he has never been one to seek out soothing objects other than his parent's affection.  So fairly quickly my rocking, back rubbing and singing did the trick. 

Toby definitely seeks outside comforting influences.  He is a binky baby and has his "lovey."  A stuffed alpaca pelt bunny that he just can't sleep without (note to self: buy a back up!)  He wants you to put him in his crib and walk away.  He cries when I sing and writhes when I try to rock him.  I admit that without the ability to nurse him I wonder how I will soothe him?

My questions will be answered in time.  Worrying does nothing but waste energy but my mind will continue to worry about weaning, my identity and my ability to soothe. 

But this time, when my role and identity as a "nursing momma" disappears I will already have the groundwork for aspects of my identity that will see me through the rest of my life.  Friendships and activities that are for me only.  Jen.  Not just "Ethan & Toby's Momma."  Knitting with the ladies (and not being late,) actually going to a writing workshop (since I joined and have never been able to attend the 6:30 meetings,) meeting a girlfriend for dinner, or having a DATE NIGHT for that matter! 

See Jen?  So much good.  Even with the death of a huge part of my life, a part that I will treasure forever, there is a phoenix rising from those ashes.  But for now, I still have time with my precious Toby.  Still . . . time.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Since Ethan has started school (barring day 1 in which Mommy took him) Daddy has been picking him up from and dropping him off at school.

Until today.  I knew I needed to "check in" with the teachers.  This past school year (read: Jan - June for us new Vermonsters) I spoke with them every morning he attended.  Now, I'm very in the dark.  After explaining to Matt that I might start convulsing on the floor from lack of information he did actually approach one of the teachers last week.  Now, spurred by Matt's request for information to be passed along to the "after care teacher" the teachers write notes on each kid to be handed to parents so that we are not all left in the cold, frigid dark of not knowing intimate details of our kids' days at school.  Holy control freak Jen and also run on sentence!

I sat down with one of his teachers this morning and had a chat.

She used the words "maturity" and "listening" and "trying new food."  Be still my heart.  My kid?  Rock on Ethan!

I, myself, have noticed a change in him this past summer.  A . . . shifting . . . of his perception.  He still throws temper tantrums and whines and cries about dust bunnies and how he misses dinosaurs and such BUT he will listen to me when I try to reason with him.  Gone are the days of instant time outs.  Which, by the way, still work wonders.  Why the kid listens to me, I have no clue.  But if I say go upstairs to cool off . . . he does.  He comes back downstairs after he has reset and it works.  Gone are the days of complete nonsensical screaming/screeching/wailing.  I can knock on his "door" and get through to him.  This is monumental.  I know that being a toddler is tough business.  Some days I imagine he must get tired of everyone telling him what to learn, what to eat and hound him about rights and wrongs.  He has such an effervescent personality that when he shuts down it is beyond frustrating. He still has his overtired moments, but let's be honest, don't we all?

It is like a light at the end of the tunnel.  Everything this past year has been so challenging with the move and "life."  The road was seriously bumpy, washed out in some sections and never lit properly but we survived.  We are coming up on one year in Vermont and I have some awesome fall events lined up for the coming weeks.  I've made friends and Ethan has made friends.  He is HAPPY and that means the absolute world to me.  Even though he still prefers that Daddy does the night time routine, I have my place with my Ethan Wee.  Who has, apparently, shown great strides in maturity since last school year (June people . . . 3 months.)  Kids, they grow up in leaps and bounds.  Don't blink folks.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Warp Speed

My little baby boy has just engaged warp speed.

Running and spinning in circles and standing on his head.  I saw him jump the other day.  Straight up and then landed perfectly.  WHAAAAAAA?!  He loves to be swung around and being flipped over and over . . .  a lil' thrill seeker for sure.

He is talking constantly.  More and more recognizable words and more mimicking.  Blowing kisses and saying Dadd-EEEE so clearly it breaks your heart.

I think the difference in my mommy perception of these events is that the first time around I was so excited for Ethan's milestones.  They were all his "firsts."  I cheered them on and watched in awe as he became a little person.  Toby is my "last."  While these are still his "firsts" they are also starkly my "lasts."  I love just having two boys.  It is perfect.  But it doesn't make it less sad to watch him grow so quickly.

Maybe some of Toby's rush is to catch up to Ethan.  Maybe having that big brudder to emulate will mean he will always want to be warp speed.  Or maybe Toby will forge his own path.  Who knows.  But I know with Ethan he did things in his own time with no sibling to "catch up to" so maybe he was a bit more leisurely in some aspects.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't want Toby to potty train in "warp speed!" 

It is daunting to think of Toby as being over one year old.  It means he is that much closer to the 2's and 3's that have been so challenging for (and with) Ethan.  A crash course in the social dance, it can't be easy on them.

Also, I think, as a parent we sometimes feel like we are always playing a game of "catch up."  I think it is human nature to get comfortable with whatever "routine" or semi-consistent act, whether behavioral or physical, that is taking place in your home.  I learned very quickly with Ethan not to get too comfortable with "what he liked" because it is his JOB to grow, learn and experience more.  It is his JOB to change his mind as he stocks up on experiences.  Yet, somehow, with two kids, you crave consistency even MORE and so when they switch it up you are doubly off guard.  Or maybe it is just me.  I never claimed to not be somewhat of a control freak.

Regardless, I am happy/sad/joyous/scared that Toby is hitting warp speed.  It is amazing to watch.  I had forgotten the awe.  I'm so glad that I have a partner that I can share it with, that gets the heart clenches and involuntary tears just like I do as we watch our littlest grow up.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

AppleBabyCat . . . DOG!

Heh.  So, my brain is fried.  I started this post on Monday.  But as you can see it is Thursday.  This tricky fatigue is not my friend.  Also, Toby cutting 4 canines at once and not sleeping through the night . . . not my friend.  Toby needs to stop being such an over achiever with teething . . . I mean GAWD!

Anyway, this past Saturday we popped over to Chapin's Orchard.  A hop, skip and 15 minutes away and it was awesome.  Thankfully it wasn't like our Strawberry Fest adventure and both kids were all smiles and cooperation.  Plus I think apple picking is so different than strawberry picking.  You can literally stand at one tree and get like a bazillion apples off them.  It is rad.  Also, I bought apple pie and had it for dinner.  And also, it was worth it. 


I mean . . . that face!  He was stoked!
Seriously, this was the most normal smile I got out of him . . .
Oh no, don't go for the apples you can reach, kid. 
Got one!
Eh, it looks kind of small . . .
But OMIGOSH mom it is yummy!
Lil' Brudder approves of deez appolez as well!
What'r we gonna do 'bout all these appolez ma?!
Some trees.
So many yummy Gala apples.
Hay Ride back to the barn!
I mean . . . the face says it all.

In short, this was the perfect place to bring two small creature-children to pick and enjoy apples.  Chapin's gets two thumbs up in the mommy approval department.  We are thinking of cheating on Chapin's and visiting Adam's Orchard this upcoming weekend.  Stay tuned for the drama.


Now . . . for the DOGS.  We ventured back to the awesome Shelburne Museum for their Dog Days event on Sunday.  We met Auntie La there with Ammi and their wee Maltese, Jiminy Cricket.  Or, as we call him - Nim.  He was dressed appropriately in a "Security" shirt.  Heck, I know I felt safer with him there!

The event was, in a word, AWESOME.  At least I was filled with awe.  I suspect Toby was as well.  Ethan didn't seem too impressed beyond the impression he got that we could actually pick out a dog and bring one home.  Ahem.  Yea.

We stayed twice as long as I thought they had the patience for . . . at one point we were actually at the car but hey, who am I to deny a 3 year old continuous carousel rides?!  Besides, Toby finally gave in and slept in his stroller (whew!)

I can't wait to go back next year without a stroller.  It will also be nice to have at least one child who might have some interest in the things that I wanted to see (heh, I know . . . right?)  Like the agility training, the police dog demo, the DockDogs jumping dogs . . . oh the list goes on.  But the carousel was fun too!  Also, we hopped on the boat which is something we didn't do last time.  The stroller hindered most of our exploration but maybe next time if I'm not solo I can strap the TobyWee on my back and go "adventuring" with EthanWee. 

It was a bit windy!
We had good security though!
Many, many (many) carousel rides!
Police dog demonstration (I was dutifully impressed.)
Chocolate ice cream of course!!
DockDogs representing with some flying pups!
One day we will actually go in the train . . .
Onto the boat!  (Ethan has clearly lost his ability to smile like a normal child . . .)
Practicing his levitation techniques on the bow of the Ticonderoga!
My favorite goofball!
Poor Toby got left at the bottom of the stairs . . .
I had a major dog crush on this gorgeous Irish Wolfhound bitch.  She was spectacular.
Ethan found another kid and ran off down a grassy knoll.  Watch out for the boat!!!!!
Windblown TobyWee
Don't worry, Toby got some "out of the stroller" time!
Brudders playing with rocks!  The End.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

School Days

Ethan's first day back at preschool was today.  He was beyond excited.  Most especially because we had the open house last week and he DID. NOT. WANT. TO. LEAVE.

It was a hard adjustment when school was over for the summer.  He was quite convinced that everyone else was still there and he was the only one missing all of the fun in the world.  By the time I had him convinced that he wasn't missing the most epic of daily parties at his closed preschool, he started summer camp.  He LOVED summer camp.  They let the kids run like wild monkeys, fed them snacks that we don't buy and he must have played on at least 6 different play grounds in the 2 months he attended.  He is a very lucky boy!  But I think he forgot what his "school" even looked like after so much time at camp.  The Open House was like a doorway into those cherished memories and he was very upset when we left.

So this morning when I woke him up, he was bright eyed and bushy tailed and didn't even give me any guff.  He was ready to GO!  When I dropped him off he just disappeared.  I was busy speaking with his teachers, signing him in and assembling his cubby and he just melted into the gaggle of kids.  Attaboy.  This year is a bit different as well.  Owing to many things, Matt made the final decision to have Ethan attend 4 days a week with extended hours so he could pick up/drop off and save us a boatload in gas.  Not to mention that Toby's naps have been falling right around when I was scheduled to pick up Ethan. 

At first I had reservations about Ethan attending so many days for so long.  However, the first day went swimmingly.  He came home in a wonderful mood and completely energized.  I felt strange not knowing things that I would ask during the "general mom check in."  Things like how long he had napped, how much did he eat at lunch and how was his behavior?  Matt didn't know any of these things.  But Ethan wasn't starving when he came home (although he ate great at dinner time,) and he wasn't so tired he was a mess.  He was . . . well, he was wonderful.  Looks like it wasn't too long for Ethan.  We will see by Thursday if the honeymoon period starts to tarnish but I'm betting he will love ALL his time at school.  Plus, he can catch bugs there.  Today's bug count was 2 grasshoppers.

(Storytime:)  When we arrived in Vermont mid-December I had a very tough time finding a preschool that would enroll Ethan since he hadn't turned 3 by September 1st.  I didn't want to arrange for daycare for just one year if I could get him into preschool where he would be learning.  After much frustration over age requirements, distance to travel and time actually spent at the preschool (how is 2 hours worth it?!) I was referred to The Balancing Act Enrichment Center by a wonderful woman at Costco (of all places.)  So glad she did.  They might not follow the Regio Emilia approach to teaching or have academic awards (yet,) but they have all the right stuff for my boy.  Weekly gymnastics lessons paired with gym time every day give him the physical outlet that he so desperately needs.  They have different rooms set up in the preschool like the Discovery Room (where they have fish and birds and a big sandbox, etc., etc., (all awesomeness) and the Imagine Room which is a dress-up pretend DREAM.  Ethan does learn there as well.  He can sing his ABC song and is working very hard on writing his name.  But really, at 3 years old, the most important aspect to ME are the social and physical needs that are met.  They taught the kids through an ingenious reward system the importance of being safe, polite and respectful.  They are super clean, serve REAL food that is home cooked and try very hard to serve organic and fresh foods when they can.  I feel very blessed that they are only 15 minutes away as well!

First day of school - no jitters here!!
He is a ham, but I love him to bits and pieces.
 When Ethan arrived home from preschool, he had this poem:

The Kissing Hand

It's my first day of Preschool
And I'm thinking of you.
I made these precious handprints
So you will thank of me, too.

It's my first day of school
And "The Kissing Hand" is what we read.
It's about a raccoon
Who did just as his parents said.

Like the raccoon's first day at school
I was scared and a little shy.
But because of what you said
I was brave and I got by.

All through the year
I'll make more things for you.
So as I change and as I learn
You can witness my growth too!

Ethan's hand print with his kiss in the middle!
There were instructions for parents as well.  We were to trace and cut out the outline of our hand and give the center a kiss with lip balm.  Matt was reluctant but I felt it was important to have TWO hands for Ethan!!

Mommy hand/kiss and Daddy hand/kiss.

I'm pretty sure that Ethan won't need to reference back to our kissing hands, but you never know.  He may seem all grown up going off to school but he is still my Ethan Wee (age 3.) 

And in case you were wondering, Toby had a tough nap striking day.  However, he still knows how to bring the cute.  Now, I'm not saying he needs a haircut (NEVARRRRRRR) but his hair does get in his eyes so I found a cute solution . . . . 

Next stop . . . WhoVille.