About a month before Eli’s birthday, I sat down and tried to plan his party. Unlike previous years, we were going to be in my hometown for his birthday, so we decided just to have his party there. We briefly considered also doing a party for his preschool friends, but ultimately decided that since we’re moving him to a new preschool soon anyway, that we’d do that next year instead. I narrowed the themes down to an ocean theme and a dinosaur theme and asked Eli. Without hesitation, he said dinosaur. And when we started talking about it he became very insistent that the cake had to be an orange dinosaur. It was adorable, but definitely a challenge.
I am not a crafty person. At all. So I ordered most of the decorations on Amazon and got matching plates. I also picked up a set of inflatable dinosaurs that I knew E would get a kick out of.
The food was easy to plan, especially with a little help of pinterest. We had burgers, hot dogs (for the carnivores), veggies and fruit (for the herbivores) and baked beans (for the omnivores). And of course dinosaur bones and claws for appetizers.
Because the party had kids of an assortment of ages, I was trying to be somewhat creative in keeping people interested. Again, the internet to the rescue. The night before I made a paste out of baking soda, water, and food coloring and shaped it into an egg shape around some small plastic dinosaurs, then left them out to dry out (interestingly, they were really green the night before, by morning they were purple. I’m sure there’s a reason, but I don’t know it). The day of the party, we hid them for the kids to find. Once they found them all, we took a spray bottle of white vinegar and sprayed them. The eggs bubbled and dissolved, leaving behind the dinosaurs.
At one point, we had kids ranging in age from 13 to 2 enraptured and Eli was squealing, “THEY’RE HATCHING! THEY’RE HATCHING!” It was so, so fun. And they got to keep the dinosaurs afterwards.
We also did a piñata this year. I didn’t realize it when I bought it, but it was a pull string piñata, which was a good thing because we let all the kids beat the hell out of it and it would. not. break. Eventually the pull strings worked and candy and toys fell for all. Eli grabbed one lollipop and screamed excitedly about it while the older kids hoarded as much as they could. It was hilarious. Eli was standing before a huge pile of candy and toys, holding up one single dum dum sucker, infinitely more excited than the other kids with full bags of junk. Three is really a great age.
After the piñata, we did cake and ice cream. The cake was a labor of love. I did a practice cake the week before following the instructions here, and the head would not stay on, even with copious toothpick usage. So for the real deal I used a cupcake for the head and it worked fabulously. And the spikes were fondant covered oreos. I was starting to doubt that it was worth the time until Eli saw the cake and his excitement made it totally worth it. It was delicious, too.
Eli has been excited about the candles for weeks and weeks, and his reaction to the cake/singing was priceless.
All in all, this was my favorite of his birthday parties to date. It was only possible thanks to a ton of help from my mom, fabulous barbecuing by my step-dad and great company from the rest of my family. Eli had a great time and felt so special, which was my only goal. I really couldn’t have asked for anything more.
And now onto Will’s birthday planning. These kids are growing up too fast.
Yesterday we lost our cat, Karma.
I shouldn’t say lost, I know where she is. I was there when she left. I saw the vet stroke her head as he injected the pink medication that stopped her heart. I kissed her head as she took her last breath. It was the right decision for her. She was suffering and now she is not, but still my heart aches for her.
Karma was the first animal that was really mine. I had just graduated from college and was living on my own for the first time. My boyfriend (now husband) had just moved to New Orleans and then evacuated for a hurricane and was home when I decided it was time. I needed a companion to make my tiny one bedroom apartment feel less empty.
I had my heart set on an orange cat, so when my boyfriend called me over and said, “she’s not orange, but…” I had low expectations. But there in that cage was the tiniest kitten I had ever seen. She had the pointiest tale and the sweetest eyes. And that was my cat. My girl. My Karma. She was 1.25 pounds of sass.
She moved with me to New Orleans. She traveled to Nashville with us when we evacuated for a hurricane. She came back to California with us. She sat on my lap in the wee hours of the morning while I was up feeding both my babies. This past week, while Will was recovering from pneumonia, despite being sick herself, she slept on the couch with Will and me every night, quietly purring and watching us.
She was not a nice cat. I don’t want to sugarcoat this or remember her as anything other than what she was because that’s not fair. She was picky and grouchy and would bite the ever living crap out of you if she didn’t like what was happening. She even had resting bitch face on her last day. She liked to be pet (petted? I don’t really care) on her own terms, in very specific locations, for very short durations. She preferred to be held the weirdest fashion, pannus splayed out for all to see. She was enormous with the tiniest head and paws, and no diet would ever seem to help. She was unapologetically lazy. Also my spirit animal.
She adored my husband. She was supposed to be my cat, but he was her person. He could do no wrong for Karma. On the night before we put her down, we snuggled her for hours before we went to bed. Whenever my husband dared to stop petting her, she would immediately cease purring (even if I was still petting her) and turn her head toward him, as if to say, uh, no. You are not finished. He held her all the way to the vet yesterday and in the waiting room while we waited to be seen.
When she became sick last week, Eli took a major interest in Karma. It was pretty much the first time she was ever present and stationary enough for him to touch her. Today he asked where she was and it was one of the toughest parenting moments I’ve had to date. I know he doesn’t understand, but we tried to keep it simple, not correlate sickness or old age with death, and remind him that we loved her very much.
Because we did. She was grouchy and could bite harder than any creature on earth, but she was my cat. It probably seems silly to essentially eulogize my cat, but the heartache I’m feeling right now is tremendous. She had a good life. She was loved. It may not mean much now, but I really hope it meant the world to her.
Turns out this blog works for things other than monthly letters to my kids?
I’m somewhat kidding, but also, we are still slowly emerging after our latest move. Last move. For a long time. It was going to be that way anyway, but after how entirely hilariously terrible this move went, I can promise that we won’t be moving again anytime soon.
The plan was to hire a moving company to both pack and move us since my husband’s work gave us a generous moving allowance. We did have to rent a moving van to pick up a washer and dryer my in-laws were giving us, but that would be covered as well. The packers were scheduled to come on a Friday, the moving van was to be picked up and loaded on a Saturday and then the movers were coming on a Sunday. We knew Sunday night would be crazy, but the movers assured us they would have us unloaded in our new house by early afternoon, 4 at the latest.
So, the packers came. It was chaos. They were fine, they did their jobs, but containing two boys, one of who was newly mobile, in a tiny living room, while all their possessions were being packed was a nightmare. I had to be on site for the packing, so it wasn’t like I could take them to a park or anything. It took a solid 4 hours and they still hadn’t managed to get everything, but they declared themselves done and that was it.
Friday night, Will spiked a 101 degree fever at 2am. At 2:15am I got a text from my husband, who was still at work, that his car wouldn’t start. I probably should’ve seen the writing on the wall, but no. My husband got a new battery from AAA and got home around 4am.
The next day he picked up a moving van and we went to pick out a refrigerator. I’ll spare you the details, but the most important part was that I had the sales lady measure the fridge to be sure it would fit in the spot and with 1/2 inch clearance, it did. We got a great deal, it was awesome. My husband got it loaded into the moving van and headed to pick up a dryer we had purchased. While his parents were giving us a set, our landlord told us that we had to have an electric dryer, so we found on one Craig’s List. At this point, my husband was ready to head to his parents house and…the moving van wouldn’t start.
Again, probably should’ve seen where things were going, but alas. The moving van company came out and fixed the van and things were back on track, just a little later than planned.
It took my poor husband literally all day to do all the van loading and driving (in the rain) and he arrived home after the kids’ bedtimes and fell into bed, exhausted. The next day we signed the lease on our fabulous new house at 9am and then unloaded the moving van and came across problem number 3 of 8584983093. The fridge, which he and I got out of the moving van (that didn’t have a ramp, because obvs), wouldn’t fit through any of our kitchen doors. We were going to remove the fridge doors, when, on a whim, I remeasured it. And the fridge was a half an inch wider than was quoted to us. Even if we found a way to get it into our kitchen, it wasn’t going to fit in the spot it was meant to go in. So.
At this point, my husband headed back to be there with the movers while they loaded the moving van. I went and bought a mini fridge to help us bridge the gap between then and when we could pick out a new fridge (spoiler alert: that mini fridge didn’t work. I mean. I returned the first one and bought a different one…that didn’t fit in my car. I think we really weren’t meant to have cold food.)
So the movers loaded. And loaded and loaded our stuff. My husband furiously packed all the stuff the packers had missed and helped the movers. At 4pm, they closed the moving van and told my husband that they needed to talk. Apparently, they didn’t realize how much stuff we had (even though they came out and looked at all our stuff) and how far they’d have to walk (even though the head mover guy did the walk himself) and oops, they were going to have to increase the maximum price they quoted us.
My husband argued with them for a while and eventually agreed to pay more just to get things going again. He threatened to blast them on the internet and magically he got a call 5 minutes later saying they’d honor the original price. We assumed this was the end of our woes.
At 6pm, they finished loading the van, locked it up and told us that because they were already in “overtime” they couldn’t start unloading the van. They would drive their truck back to their warehouse and try again the next day.
Ha. Ha ha. I mean.
So that night, we moved into our new house. I slept on my sister’s air mattress with Will, Eli slept in Will’s pack n play (he was so pissed. “This is WILLIAM’S bed.”) and my husband slept on the hardwood floor wrapped up in a comforter. We both had to work the next day and I had to leave early to meet the movers so they could unpack before it was the end of their (ridiculously short) work day.
In the end, all our stuff got here, none of it was broken and we have enough room for all of it. I am still amused (arguably more so, time seems to have softened the rage) that we’ve moved 8 times in 11 years and the only time we’ve used professional movers was by far the worst move to date. And that includes the one where I backed my (then future) mother-in-law’s car into a yellow pole.
But, it was also the best move.
We have a back yard.
Everyone has a bedroom.
I have a kitchen that fits all my stuff.
It’s just this perfect house. It’s our home.
We’ve reached the mobile baby attempts nose dives off the chair age. It took 3 of us to get the picture this time and thankfully he was in good spirits at the time so we didn’t have to try too many times. Safety awareness is clearly not a 9 month skill.
Today you are 9 months old! Three-quarters of the way to a year! It’s just mind boggling how quickly this year has gone.
Your grand accomplishment this month is independent mobility! Note that I did not say crawling because I don’t think we can really call this crawling. You get up on your hands and knees and then you inch worm wherever you want to go. You have gotten pretty efficient and can get all over the house that way, but it looks like you’re going to bang your face on the floor a thousand times and also it makes my stomach hurt watching you, but you are so pleased with yourself.
You’ve also become quite an adventurous eater this month. You love scrambled eggs, puffs, and tiny pieces of fruit and veggies. You are picky about purees and only want big flavors like mango and blueberries and other such things. We seem to have a good idea of what is upsetting your stomach these days, so things have generally been better in terms of gastroenterology.
You are quite a chatterbox with your babbling too. You have ma ma, da da, na na, and a few others, in addition to various clicks and coos. You also have a fake laugh that you use to get attention and it’s pretty adorable.
After a lot of deliberation and a lot of sleepless nights, we decided to sleep train you this month. I cannot begin to tell you how hard it was for me to listen to you cry. I taught you, for almost 9 months, that if you cried I would respond and then I didn’t and ugh, it was awful. But you caught on quickly and you only cry for a few seconds at most at bedtime and a few minutes at naps. I am very hopeful that you’ll learn to love sleep and will go to it without crying soon, but mostly I’m just glad that both of us are getting a lot more good quality sleep.
Your likes this month include: mom, dad, Eli, grandparents, Aunt Claire, Addie, puffs, eggs, your little Corduroy, trains (which are your brothers), “crawling”, pulling to stand, eating and being snuggled.
Your dislikes this month include: carrots, being put in bed awake, being tired, having your brother’s toys taken away from you, when mom walks away, when dad won’t pick you up.
After a few rough months, your bright personality has re-emerged. You are quick to smile, you adore your dad and you laugh and giggle for other people. You still prefer for your dad or me to hold you, but you’re getting better. I think I didn’t realize how tough the various illnesses and stomach issues had been until we got past them. You are so happy these days and it has been a delight to be around you.
You are suddenly achieving all these milestones and I am so not ready. I’m not ready for you to stand and walk. I’m not ready for you to speak and have opinions. This is my very favorite baby age and I just want to stop time right now and enjoy you. I want to soak up every second. I want to see your sweet little two-tooth smile all day, every day. I know that you will be a fun toddler and a fun kid, but oh, I just adore you right now, just as you are. And it is just going so fast.
Month 9 was one of the best yet and we are just so excited to see the person you are becoming. Happy 9 months, Will. We love you and can’t wait to see what next month brings.
While I have not continued to post the monthly pictures of Eli, we have continued to take them. In 3 years we forgot once and even that night, as you’ll see below, we remembered before the end of the night. It may seem silly and probably unnecessary, but it’s so fun to see how much Eli has grown and changed. We had no intentions to do this this long, but now that we’ve made it to 3, it seems crazy to stop. Poor kid is going to have to take monthly pictures from his dorm room in college.
I can’t believe how big my sweet boy is.
Today you are three years old. You told me that when I picked you up today, like you finally realized that the three thing we’ve been telling you about referred to your age. “Mama, I am THREE! YEARS! OLD!” Yes you are, sweet boy. And I cannot even believe it.
A year ago, I thought you were so big. You were putting two and sometimes three words together, communicating. You were running and learning to jump, starting to climb stairs and play at the park. And now, now that you are three, I realize that you were not big. You were so little. Just the in past few weeks, you have transformed. You were never very chubby, but your soft little legs have become long and lanky, covered in bruises and scrapes from falls and tumbles outside. Your face is less round and your features more distinct.
You are a boy. There is no baby left. No creases in your wrists or chubbiness in your cheeks. Just this boy where my baby once was.
Your speech is incredible. You basically say whatever you are thinking. Monologues, paragraphs, directions. You have thoughts that are far more complex than anything I imagined you would have at this age. You have recently learned to name the way you are feeling and your newest feeling is fatigue. You will be falling apart, exhausted and throwing a big fit about something (usually something really stupid) and you’ll stop, look at me and go, “mama, I’m TIRED.” It takes every ounce of my self control to not reply with “duh.”
You are a spectacularly musical kid. You make up songs just like your father and your Nana, to describe anything you’re doing. The other day you sang a song about wanting to look at your brother’s poop. I really, really wish I was kidding (you looked at it and then gagged repeatedly). You hum Slippery Fish all day long and sing along with a few select songs at our weekly music class. Your music teacher (Ms. Lynn) is persistently impressed at your musical abilities and can’t wait for you to turn 4 because she desperately wants to give you cello lessons (she’s a professional cellist).
You continue to be a very sensitive kid, but as you grow, you are starting to come out of your shell. You are no longer terrified of the hair dryer or public bathrooms, but you still really don’t like the vacuum, Dyson hand dryers (they are really loud, to your credit) and inflating and deflating the blow up air mattress.
At 2 years and 3 months, you became a big brother. The transition was…not ideal. At first you didn’t want me to touch your brother and once you got over that, you just struggled to understand that I couldn’t always drop everything and be with you, which was a really difficult lesson for both of us. But now that Will is bigger and crawling, you are starting to like him. You make him laugh, you like to feed him puffs (until he gags on one and then you are ALL DONE) and you take baths together each night. While you are still undecided on Will, he absolutely adores you. He practically loses his tiny mind every time you talk to him or laugh with him. I sincerely hope that your friendship will continue to blossom as you both grow.
This year, you reminded me once again, that you are on your own timeline. You decided much, much earlier than I would’ve liked, that it was time to potty train. By 2 years and 5 months, you were a pro. You’ve had a few regressions, but it was far easier to do than I imagined, which is so often the case. Two weeks ago you dropped your pre-bedtime milk like it was no thing. I wish you’d give up the pacifiers, but I don’t see that happening.
Your likes at age 3 include: Mama, Daddy, Bubby Will, Grandma T, Peepaw (x2), Aunt Claire, Addie, Uncle Scott, Meemaw, Papa T, Nana, Quinnie and Mia, the cats, ice cream, dinosaurs, Dinosaur Train, real trains, Daniel Tiger (you are specifically obsessed with the episodes about tasting vegetables and about “something scary”), Disneyland, pizza, ravioli, french toast, sausage, chocolate milk, your blankets, your school friends (Marissa and Jacques), the iPad.
Your dislikes at age 3 include: Vegetables, taking naps, leaving your toys to pee, leaving your toys or activities period, when I don’t let you do it first (your words for doing it by yourself), washing your hands (sometimes).
Two weeks ago we moved into a house. It was the first time that you’ve ever lived in a house and it was a great frustration to me that we couldn’t give you this sooner. And oh you have blossomed here already. You get home in the evening and immediately ask to go outside. In our tiny apartment you just wanted to watch TV, but with that huge yard, you just want to play, to be a kid and it is so great. It’s exactly what I’ve been longing for.
I cannot believe that I have already had you in my life for 3 years. You made me a mother and my life is forever changed, improved, because you’re in it. I cannot imagine who I would be without you, or really how I could be anything. I was talking to your Aunt Emily the other night, who keeps insisting that she doesn’t want kids. And if she doesn’t that’s fine, but I think the issue is that she hears about the diapers and puke and sleepless nights, but what she doesn’t know is how incredible it is to be a mother. What it is like to love someone so completely that you would give up absolutely everything in a heartbeat. It’s hard to talk about this kind of thing because there just aren’t words.
My greatest wish for you is that you know how very much you are loved. We would walk to the ends of the earth for you and we are endlessly grateful that you are ours, that we are yours.
Happy birthday my sweet boy. No matter what lies ahead, know that we love you and we can’t wait to see what the next year, month, day and moment bring.
In the past, I have jumped on many a bandwagon. Some of them were bandwagons for things I felt strongly about. Some of them were things I got caught up in the moment on. I’ve raised money for various causes, I’ve told my friends of injustices and shared stories to encourage others to join the bandwagon. I have never been on the other side of it.
I’m still not fully on the other side, but I’m getting a small glimpse of what it’s like to be there.
My husband is involved in an ugly situation with a recent patient. He is not at all the major player in this situation and had virtually no contact with the family, but the shitstorm that’s brewing has definitely impacted his job. I will not and cannot divulge any details about the case, but you may have already seen some things as it has made some noise on Facebook. And since we’re here in this crazy position, I’m asking you to pause for a moment before jumping on any news story, no matter how sensational it may seem.
When I jumped on bandwagons in the past, I always felt like I had all the details. I always felt like I knew the truth, like I understood all the facts. And I am realizing something that I should’ve realized long ago. When someone tells a story, especially one in which there are 2 players, the truth is subjective.
In this particular case, the story that is being woven on Facebook is very different from what my husband experienced. I assume the truth lies somewhere in the middle, not because either of them are lying, but because perception and bias are powerful (it’s not as simple as reading an x-Ray in this case). Because each interprets things differently, because facts sometimes get blurred by emotions.
It’s easy for those emotions to get the best of the people on the bandwagon. It’s easy for followers to forget in a moment of passion or rage or frustration that there is another player. That the other player is a person too. That they have a family. That they have a history and a story of their own. That when you bad mouth someone publicly that it might do more than just raise “awareness” for your cause, it might ruin someone else’s life. It might destroy their livelihood. It might harm innocent people who need that person.
In the case of medicine, it’s particularly tricky because you will only ever get one side of the story. Patients are free to offer the details as they see them, but doctors are bound by confidentiality laws. Even if the stories about them are entirely untrue, they cannot, and will not, respond. Unfortunately that silence is often interpreted as accepting guilt or confirming the accusations when that’s not the case.
I do not mean to imply that all sensational stories are lies or that we shouldn’t support people who are going through tough times. But I think we’d all be better for taking a second before hitting the like or share button and considering those on the other side of the bandwagon.
Consider whether they may have had good intentions. Consider whether their side of the story might read a little differently. Consider whether what you’re doing, or encouraging others to do, might impact others who are blameless (which in this case does not refer to me, but to other patients). It’s easy to feel the pull of the bandwagon and get caught up in the heat of the moment, but remember that there are two sides and that stopping for a moment and letting cooler heads prevail won’t stop change if it truly needs to happen but it might save you a lot of backpedaling later.
A few weeks ago, before my kids got sick (twice!) I was presented a unique opportunity. The lovely people at P&G Fabirc Care set up an interview opportunity with Rosie Pope as they were unveiling a new campaign. If you’re not familiar with Ms. Pope, she was previously on the show Pregnant in Heels and is known for her maternity line and household safety background. And the latter is why P&G called her up, and exactly why I wanted to pick her brain.
The original intent of this interview was to promote a new campaign for National Poison Prevention Week (which was March 15th-21st) called the Up, Up and Away storage technique. Even though that week is long past, I think that the advice extends beyond poison prevention into everyday life. Keeping the home safe from accidents is something we all need to do, all year round and hopefully Rosie’s suggestions can help us all do better and keep our kids safer.
Tell me about the Up, Up and Away storage technique and why it’s so important.
This Poison Prevention Week I’ve teamed up with Tide and Gain to bring you tips on how to keep your home safe both in and out of the laundry room. The campaign is about acknowledging that these things [household cleaners] are dangerous and that we have to get them up, up and away and out of the reach of children, in order to prevent these avoidable accidents.
Avoiding accidents in the home is a huge priority for me, but I’m constantly finding new hazards as my kids grow. What are the biggest hazards you worry about and how do you manage them?
My biggest fear is my children ingesting something that’s dangerous, whether that’s household cleaning supplies, detergents, medicines or small objects. If it’s not food, then it’s not safe. So you need to treat everything with caution and keep everything out of reach of children. Because I have four children, there seems to be always something potentially risky around that I need to be careful about storing properly.
Is there a place for educating kids about poison hazards and if so, when would you start that education?
As soon as they’re born they can learn from your reactions to touching things. As they get older and learn to communicate with words, you can add more explanation. Show that’s its coming from a place of love and not because you are mad at them. They need to know that the consequences can be serious and painful.
What emergency procedures do you have in place in case of a household accident/poisoning
Call poison control and make sure they’re around the house. Also, each night once they go to bed I go through and make sure there are no little toys on the floor. Check smoke detectors every three months. You can also educate your kids to help you with safety. I tell my six year old to let me know if something is going on with my younger kids.
Are there any poison hazards you’ve completely removed from your home? Why?
Yes, we’ve removed pesticides. That type of poison I do not keep in the house any longer. If for some reason it is needed, then it is a one-time-use sort of situation. We will use it and get rid of it immediately.
We do lots of trips to our kids’ grandparent’s homes, and they are not terribly baby friendly. How do you manage these hazards when you’re visiting family/friends homes?
It’s not easy. I suggest parents bring the smaller things with them on trips, such as socket covers. The first thing I do when we get to a hotel room or rental home is do a sweep through and take the things away that can break or that could potentially cause injury. Hotel rooms are pretty quick. When you visit grandparents’ or other people’s homes, it’s important to have a conversation with them about little things that would help to keep the kids safe. Then you have to understand that it’s not your house and there is always the possibility that kids will get into places they shouldn’t. That is where education is key. You should have a conversation with your child and make sure they are diligent.
While Poison Prevention Week has passed, the lessons and warnings about poison prevention are important all year. Keeping cleaning supplies, especially ones like laundry and dish washing pods up, up and away in places that are not accessible to children is crucial. And as Rosie said, teaching children early to watch for hazards and being prepared at home and away can go a long way to keeping our kids safe and reducing the number of avoidable accidents and poisoning in the home.
(I was not paid to write this post. All opinions are mine and Rosie Pope’s. I don’t know if they paid her, but I definitely didn’t. P&G did send me a package with laundry pods in it, but Eli’s skin is insanely sensitive so I actually donated those to a local women’s shelter. Basically, nothing to worry about self-interest wise.)
I really can’t deal with the fact that we’re 2/3rds through a year already, nor how grown this baby is. We had an appointment with the GI today and while he is getting older, he’s not getting much bigger. He’s 16.3 pounds and 26 inches. He’s only 3 pounds more than he was at 2 months- good thing he ate so much at the start!