Mommy Mondays- Initiation


Feeling a bit better.

Because I am a writer by trade and by brain, I have chosen Monday as the day that I will take a short break from reviewing subscription boxes and talking parties and stuff to write a bit about life as a mom, toddlerhood, family stuff, life stuff, basically anything I feel like doing a little babbling about. If you just want box reviews, feel free to keep scrolling, they are down there!

*In addition, this post contains mentions of toddler bodily functions and the related wrath.

In our lives as parents, my husband and I have been extremely lucky on so many fronts, and I do not take that for granted. We have a healthy, sweet boy who will be two in April. And while I would never trade his general healthiness for any amount of sleep, we were lucky on that front, too. He has been a great sleeper most of his life, sleeping through the night beginning around eight weeks old, and, besides the occasional week here and there where a cold or upset tummy would wake him up, he has generally logged 11 straight hours a night. I have watched friends who struggled with colicky kids or kids who just aren’t good sleepers, and I felt genuinely bad for them, while in the same breath feeling so thankful for my solid eight hours every single night.  What I didn’t realize is that I am now completely spoiled.

Enter the holiday hell of 2013. We left our home in Colorado to spend six days with my husband’s parents in the Bay area on Christmas afternoon. We got to their house after D’s bedtime on Christmas night, and he fell fast asleep in his travel crib right away, leaving us to sit upstairs having a glass of wine and settling in. We went to bed a couple of hours later.

We woke up around 1am California time to our son making unfamiliar noises. We both jumped up, and Mike scooped him out of his crib. Our baby had vomited. Not something he does often, but hey, we’d been on a plane and he’d had juice for the first time ever (a small, watered-down bribe on the flight). It was surely just a one-time thing.

Over the next few days, he would throw up about a gazillion times. Oh, and he would also poop his pants approximately a million times in various explosive manners. He would cover both of us in things we never expected to be covered in, including one incident that involved me getting in the shower partially clothed at midnight, a veritable double baptism that I consider to have fully initiated me into real parenthood. Throughout and because of all of these violent excretions, D woke up no less than five times a night. Every single night. We were away from our home, all three of us exhausted and sharing a bedroom that was now semi-rancid, sleeping on a futon, no diaper pail or changing table in sight. I do not remember being that tired when our son was a newborn; I couldn’t possibly have been. I shed many tears on that trip for various reasons, but mostly because I was broken by worry, running on absolute empty, and not even slightly in control.

Following a flight where we took turns holding our ticking time bomb of a toddler while he slept peacefully, we arrived home incident-free.  We entered our house, greeted our dogs, perused a few holiday cards, and then watched and listened as our sweet, blue-eyed son filled his diaper and the leg of his pajamas and then walked directly to his changing table to request some new clothing and possibly a once-over with a power washer. We laughed at his perfect timing and felt so much relief at avoiding an airplane horror, and then we suffered again all night as he woke up every single hour.

His stomach bug ran its course, and he had one healthy morning and afternoon explosion-free. But that night he again woke up several times, this time with a steadier digestive system, but plagued with high fevers. The next day, the pediatrician told us to wait it out. That was five days ago, and our first night of more than five hours’ sleep was last night. He slept well, woke up at five ready to play, and seemed totally fine.

Then today, before I even knew what was happening, he was running a temperature of 103. I called the doctor, and she said to keep waiting it out.

I guess I’m not sure why I’m revealing all of this. Maybe it is to explain why I have been a little MIA for the past two weeks. Maybe it is to seek a little sympathy from the other moms out there (because seriously, holy hell). Maybe it is just to get it out of my system and try to sort out what to be insanely worried about versus what’s totally normal for a toddler with a virus. All I know is that there have been times throughout the last two years, including during my late pregnancy, when I have become acutely aware of why so many people (used to?) have children in their 20s instead of their late 30s, and this is one of those times. I’m tired and worried. I’m completely worn out, annoyed with the doctors who don’t seem to realize that my particular child is the most important center of the universe, and sore from constantly lugging around the sickly 26-pounder who normally insists on walking. But mostly, I am something I didn’t realize I was and apparently have been this entire time, and that is a real mom. Shit got real, (literally) but, even unemployed,  slightly chubbier than my fighting weight, and covered in baby vomit shrapnel, I’m still the luckiest person in the world. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to slam this glass of wi–Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Mommy Mondays: Black Felt-Tip Pen

paper source

Photo courtesy of

Because I am a writer by trade and by brain, I have chosen Monday as the day that I will take a short break from reviewing subscription boxes and talking parties and stuff to write a bit about life as a mom, toddlerhood, family stuff, life stuff, basically anything I feel like doing a little babbling about. If you just want box reviews, feel free to keep scrolling, they are down there!

For as long as I can remember, my dad has always sent hundreds of Christmas cards. Every single year. This year, he and my stepmom combined will send 700.  You read that right. Seven zero zero.  These aren’t the kind of cards we are all now used to. The pre-printed ones that are made by companies far away with the main effort on the part of the sender being uploading some digital photos and a cute note. And possibly, if you didn’t opt for the address automation, then you might spend an evening drinking wine and writing a hundred or so addresses with your husband after the baby is asleep. Almost like a date night. I am so familiar with this process because that is how I have done my cards for the past few years. I still do a little writing, but I do it in the online form, and everyone receives the same message of hope and cheer right next to a photo of Mike and I snorkeling in Thailand or clutching a squirming newborn. But that is not how my dad does it.

He starts his “card project”, as he often refers to it, in late October, though I am pretty sure he is thinking about it in August. Or July. Or always. In the past, he has taken his own family photo or enlisted a friend to do so, a front yard attempt at getting everyone to smile and have a good attitude at the same time. Or if there happened to be a big family gathering that year, like a wedding or something where everyone was in the same room, then that is a jackpot to him. Photoshoot done. However, like most mixed families, we are in a couple of states, and unlike most families, we siblings are not close, and so it is rare to find the entire gang together. So my dad adopted the policy of letting us each submit a picture of our respective families. He then takes those photos to a camera shop, where they charge him way too much to meld all of the photos together into a single collage with mini captions under each shot. This is something that I could do for him on my Mac in about eight minutes for free, but he likes to do it his way. He then uses some sort of adhesive to attach the photo to the inside panel of a traditional Christmas card. On the back he also does some adhering, this time with his selected bible verse of the year.

What he does next is baffling.  He writes individual messages inside each one. A message to each family with personal anecdotes and congratulations on that year’s happy happenings. Meaningful condolences to those who have lost loved ones. Genuine concerns about health and wellness.

He does this seven hundred times.  In pen. Black felt-tip pen.

When we were younger, it was part of our job to help him. We would all be required to pen a few hundred addresses and stick a bunch of stamps while he toiled away on his personal messages, and those days have become some of my fondest Christmas memories. The holiday music playing, quiet, quality time with my dad, who during the week was a dedicated career man, and a feeling of warmth and happiness that can only come from knowing that you are about to send a big pile of love out into the world, care of the United States Postal Service.

My sisters and I joked over the years about how my dad sends a card to the entire population of my hometown, in addition to hitting all fifty states at least twice each.  When I was 20, dutifully helping my dad fill in envelopes, I wrote what was probably my hundredth address in my nicest penmanship only to look down in shock at what I’d done. “Dad! Why are you sending a card to my gynecologist?!?” I held up the card accusingly, ready to tear it into pieces.

My dad, used to the the drama that comes with having three daughters, looked up calmly to read the address. “Oh,” he said, “His wife used to work for me”

Not missing a beat, my older sister deadpanned, “He probably won’t recognize your face anyway”

Throughout the year, my dad is the meticulous keeper of an address book, now online, but just as important. I finally helped him input all of his addresses into his computer and taught him how to update it a couple years ago. It prints out the address labels each year so that he can stick them on instead of writing them out, a marvel of modern technology that still thrills him.

I have explained to him several times that I could automate his process. I could add his bible verse and collage of photos to a card of his choice online. I could help him with captions and a nice note that would be appropriate for everyone. But he refuses. The last time I offered, he told me it would be great, but then he would just have to write a note to everyone explaining why he had sent them this newfangled type of card, so it would basically be the same amount of work. And what about his elderly friends who were alone, he wondered. Sometimes his note was the only one they would receive.  He needed to write it in pen. Black felt-tip pen.

And so, my dad, who at 76 is considered elderly himself, is currently, as we speak, most certainly holed up in “the craft room” with his stacks of cards and treasured pens and his stamps and photos and bible verses, armed with his system that no one else might ever be able to understand. That is where he sits for hours on end, for days at a time, writing sweet notes to everyone who has ever had the great luck to become his friend.

I sent about 200 cards this year, the generic, computer-generated kind with a photo of our son staring out at each recipient from the front and a heartfelt note to our friends and family on the back. It gives me abject pleasure to do this each year, and sitting down and writing out addresses, though my weapon of choice is a red, Ultra-Fine Point Sharpie, is by far my favorite part of the holidays. My other favorite part is receiving cards in return. It’s a great way to see photos and updates from everyone we care about, even those that time and distance keep us from really getting to catch up with anymore. It’s a window into the lives of friends from our past and present and a connection that I hold near and dear. Though the new cards are amazing, and there are so many cool things you can do with computers these days, my favorite card to receive is still my dad’s. Though I am not a religious person, his card with its stuck-on photo and bible verse is the one that makes me tear up because I know how much work and thought and love he put into mine and 699 others. That card is the one that gets hung front and center, because it is the one that is a piece of home, written in black felt-tip pen.

Mommy Mondays- Make Me Over, Someone!


Photo courtesy of Birds N Bees Tees

Because I am a writer by trade and by brain, I have chosen Monday as the day that I will take a short break from reviewing subscription boxes and talking parties and stuff to write a bit about life as a mom, toddlerhood, family stuff, life stuff, basically anything I feel like doing a little babbling about. If you just want box reviews, feel free to keep scrolling, they are down there! 

While I have never been as trendy and fashionable as my best friend, I have always had decent taste in clothing and shoes. I have had my share of cute haircuts and great makeup days, and have even been called a fashionista, but lately, I am in a giant rut. While part of it is being unemployed, I also have this feeling that I am losing touch. I had been trying out wearing just the tiniest bit of makeup, thinking I looked natural and fresh. Then my dad took a photo of me and about eight of my girlfriends on Thanksgiving. What appeared on Facebook mere hours later (my 76-year old father is a Facebook addict) was shocking. While most of my friends are sporty and not full-makeup girls, by comparison, I looked washed out and chubby and old.

I guess that is the other part of it. I have 30 pounds to lose, and I am struggling right now.  At 6’1″, 30 pounds is this weird amount because it doesn’t make me obese, and I still wear regular sizes. Instead, it is just enough to make me feel constantly crappy about myself without ever feeling like it is an emergency to fix it. And it is all about food. I am active, work out regularly, and for the most part am fairly fit. Fat-fit.  I keep committing myself, only to get sidetracked and worn out and fall into patterns of eating crap that I have no business touching. I know I’m not alone.

I guess part of me was just waiting until I lost 30 pounds to start really taking care of my appearance again. I leave the house most days be-ponytailed with yoga pants and running shoes to cover my big butt and big feet, respectively. I avoid my hairdryer, bite my nails occasionally and mistreat my skin. I am too old for that. 40 is not far away, and I need to get it together. So here is what I looked like right before I got pregnant, just over two years ago:


And then, here is a photo I took of myself this morning.  Granted, I have a cold and and I am still in my pajamas, but I’ll be honest, the finished product does not look much different than this lately.


Frumpy-Mom-City! I need to get out of my rut, and while losing weight is a solid 60% of that battle, I need to figure the rest of me out, too. Without waiting for the weight loss to magically make me a supermodel. (that is what happens, right?)  I made a cut and color appointment for this week, have sworn off yoga pants and running shoes unless I am actually working out, and am getting back to a little more makeup in my life. And guess what, my blowdryer and I now have a daily appointment. Eat right, move more, and do the things to yourself that that make you feel good about yourself when you look in the mirror. My husband and son deserve to have the confident, happy me around, but honestly, so do I. For Christmas this year, I give myself the gift of de-frumping, de-chubbing, and becoming the cute mommy I am supposed to be. How would YOU make over this frumpy mommy? I’m in your hands.

Mommy Mondays: Holiday Ho-Hum

Because I am a writer by trade and by brain, I have chosen Monday as the day that I will take a short break from reviewing subscription boxes and talking parties and stuff to write a bit about life as a mom, toddlerhood, family stuff, life stuff, basically anything I feel like doing a little babbling about. If you just want box reviews, feel free to keep scrolling, they are down there! 


The iconic Joni Mitchell

It’s funny how poor timing can make even your favorite things feel off. With Thanksgiving so late in November this year, everyone is getting ready for Christmas early, not just the retailers. Friends are posting Christmas tree photos on Facebook, people are already sending cards, and the stores, of course, are completely decked out for Christmas while the few Thanksgiving and harvest decorations have been cast aside into clearance bins. Even the radio station that plays all holiday music and nothing but holiday music from Thanksgiving until Christmas every year has started early. That particular radio station, in fact, was what clued me in to my less than stellar mood. My husband, knowing my propensity to get giddy over holiday music, stealthily switched the station and turned it on this weekend. But instead of being excited about it, I felt suddenly accosted. I asked him to switch it back.

I am normally a total holiday nerd, donning a Santa hat, sending out 200 cards, and begging to put up the tree as soon after Thanksgiving as my poor husband can stand. I love the decor and the cooking and the smells, and I love the shopping and the giving and the parties. And I love the general feeling of happiness and cheer about the snow and the cold, because, after all, who does not dream of a white Christmas? But I wasn’t ready this year. I don’t know if it is the fact that every part of our lives still feels as if it is hanging in the balance or that I feel so useless as I am figuring out my career transition without anything completely definitive to grasp on to. Or maybe it isn’t me, and everyone else with their damn holiday cheer and red and green decorations up BEFORE Halloween are the crazy ones.  Although, to be honest, it is usually me.

I sat wondering what was wrong with me for awhile this morning. D is sick again, so I was sitting in the car in the parking lot of the pediatrician (where they told me he does not have bronchitis again, but I KNOW he does because I KNOW my boy, and if the timing is as it has been the last few times, it will get really bad right on Thanksgiving) D was snoozing in his car seat, and we were a few minutes early, so I sat drinking coffee, staring at my sweet, sleepy boy, and wondering what the hell my problem was. And what occurred to me was that I didn’t go through that stage this year where Fall arrives and I spend a few days crazily missing my mom like I have every other year. My mom was the champion of holiday love and traditions and her joy for Thanksgiving and Christmas was completely contagious. Each year as October closes, I always end up spending a few days in introspective moping, missing her, lamenting her short life, feeling cheated, and then eventually getting on with it and whipping my bad self into holiday shape. Cookies need baking, presents need wrapping, and the cards need to be meticulously written. But I guess with a toddler and our whole lives in tumultuous uproar, I somehow forgot to mope this year, and then it snuck up on me. I never got it out of my system. I heard Joni Mitchell sing River too early and I wasn’t ready, and before I knew it I was in tears driving down the road. I smelled the pine and cinnamon too soon, and it made me sad instead of giddy. I thought about going to cut down our tree and just felt like getting it over with instead of loading the car with snacks and mittens and happy dogs and enough holiday CDs to get us up the mountain pass and back without ever repeating a song.

Maybe now that I realize what was going on in my stimulus-riddled brain, I can try to find my normal holiday spirit and get on with it and find my happy place. I can let myself be a little sad and then whip myself into shape. I can remember the lady who was the the best at holidays and try to emulate her instead of whining about how my son will never experience Grandma done exactly right. There are fifteen people headed my way on Thursday, and I am expected, as always, to reprise my role as the queen of happy holidays and all things traditional. That gives me three days to get my shit together.

Thursday Thoughts Link-Up


So, I am linking up with Jen at Ramblings of a Suburban Mom for the very first time. I have been following her blog for a few months as I was starting my own, and it is a lot of fun to read, both for her box reviews and for everyday feel-good fun. She is also a Target bargain genius. So, here goes, my first Thursday Thoughts.

Speaking of big changes, I am also in a huge transition, having all but decided that I will try my hand at being a stay-at-home mom for a couple years. After getting laid off, the job market has been terrible for writers and I miss my boy. I am waiting to find out about one possible job the first week in December. If that does not pan out, then we are taking D out of school (we’ve kept him in thus far because they have an 18 month waiting list), and my life is going to totally change. I never thought of myself as a stay-at-home mom, but I am excited and, ok, kinda scared because I think it is way harder than going to the office. What the heck am I going to DO to entertain him all day? I’d better get crafty. But seriously, I got this.

I had dinner and drinks with my BFF last night to celebrate her birthday and promotion. I got her a Birchbox subscription for her birthday and she was also excited to get a gift bag of leftover subscription box schwag that I gave her just because. She is just one of the greatest people in the world, and we always have such a good time and awesome conversations. Wish we could spend more time together.

So, after I wrote about D’s first traumatic headwound on Mommy Mondays this week, he got ANOTHER one at school on Tuesday. Cut his lip up pretty good falling over a big tractor on the playground. Holy crap! I can’t take this. He looks like he was in a fight:

danny head

Mama, quit interrupting my terrorizing to take pictures!

And as soon as he came home with his second cut, he was at it again trying to climb up on top of a big box of diapers; I caught him just as he was about to fall, and he LAUGHED.  Seriously, how did I end up with a future X-Games competitor as a child? I blame his dad.

So when I started this blog, it was over at Blogger, which is where I used to have a writing blog a long time ago. I had been away from blogging for awhile, and what I found out is that Google kind of ruined Blogger. So I migrated to WordPress this week and am having fun learning it. So much better.

It is super snowy and icy here today, so Mike is working from home. I am finishing some freelance work and some schoolwork, then going to do some chores. What I want to do is snuggle up with a coffee and watch a movie, but duty calls. At least I have some candles going and, while my husband is on constant conference calls, it is nice to have company while we both work away.

I think I have some good boxes coming today, so look for reviews later!

Happy Thursday!  And thanks, Jen, this was fun!

Mommy Mondays- Firm and Gentle

Because I am a writer by trade and by brain, I have chosen Monday as the day that I will take a short break from reviewing subscription boxes and talking parties and stuff to write a bit about life as a mom, toddlerhood, family stuff, life stuff, basically anything I feel like doing a little babbling about. If you just want box reviews, feel free to keep scrolling, they are down there! 

Mike hadn’t walked out the door to head to the airport but three minutes prior when D fell forehead first into the corner of the side table. He was doing what normal toddlers do, just toddling around. And I was sitting right there staring at him as he toddled. He tripped over nothing I could see and then he was down and screaming and hurt. So much blood. So. Much. Blood.
I scooped him up, ran to the the linen closet for a soft cloth, and began applying pressure. He was screaming and fighting the towel, but I pressed it to his little forehead and said every soothing word I knew, trying to summons a mix of Norah Jones and Yanni. I felt calm, but my heart was racing. I pulled the cloth away, and his head spurted and blood poured down his face over his tiny nose and lips, so again, I pressed, firm and gentle at the same time, scared to let go.
Firm and gentle. Do not be aghast at the blood on your sweet, little boy. Be firm. And be gentle. And then let go and look beneath.
I watched the clock to time for two minutes, as I simultaneously scanned the room for my shoes and purse and the diaper bag, wondering how I would drive and maintain pressure on his head at the same time. Ready to go to the ER, calm, cool, collected. Two minutes was up. I pulled back the cloth, and the bleeding had stopped. It was a gash, but it wasn’t serious. It was a Band-Aid gash, not an emergency-room gash. I exhaled for what seemed like the first time. Band-Aid, Neosporin, Tylenol, the brand names moms trust. And then he asked for a pretzel, which I gave to him and let him munch on my lap instead of, as the rules mandate, in his booster chair at the table. He ate three pretzels in quick succession, had a few sippie-sips of water, and then promptly fell asleep in my arms. Which is, of course, when I stopped worrying about the gash and started worrying about a concussion. I consulted my intuition, decided he was probably ok, and laid him in his crib to sleep off his shitty morning, knowing I would be checking on him every ten minutes.
I walked out of the nursery and sat on the couch. I sunk back into the cushion, breathing and thinking and getting my heart rate back to normal, and then I made the mistake of looking down. My shirt was covered in blood. From my shoulder, where I had instinctively snuggled him in, down to my waist, the blood had soaked in in red pools and droplets and brown splatters and smears. And that is when I started to cry. That is when my brain let the fear out.
I am the mother of, as the pediatrician put it, a “very busy” boy who will be two in April. This will not be even remotely close to the last time that he bleeds and injures himself. This will not be the last time that he gives me a scare or needs some love and Band-Aids and pretzels. It will probably not be the last time I ponder, and then possibly have to go through with, a trip to the ER. It will not be the last time I shed secret tears over the vision of blood on his pale skin. I know he will be a cyclist and a skier and an adventurer like his dad. (The first two words he strung together were “daddy’s bike”, although that may just be because my husband insists on leaving his bike in the living room about half the time.)  With those things will come cuts and bruises and surely worse, but hopefully never the worst. And I have to be on board with all of that activity, because, though I have occasional urges to deny this, I do want a child who takes risks and tries new things and has a lifetime full of adventures. He’s going to get broken and bleed and cry, and I know that accepting that, my secret fantasy of putting him in a bubble notwithstanding, is just part of being a parent.
Even though that first bloody gash is probably an inconsequential blip on the radar of parenting, it was enough to jolt me a little bit, to remind me of the risk that is involved in parenting, where your ultimate goal is to send your most precious thing out into a world full of table corners, and let them hack it out for themselves. I was reminded that while it is fine to serve and protect, that backing off is healthy, and that a gash here and there is good for him.  And that parenting, for the rest of our lives, will follow the cadence: firm and gentle and then let go.