When Skies are Gray

{ image via }

In my last post I mentioned almost casually that my mother-in-law has cancer again, and then basically asked everyone to leave me alone about it. I wasn't ready to talk about it then {not even close}, but I'm going to try to talk about it now.

Maybe the words that I find today will feel inadequate again, and maybe that will make me feel like I'm dishonoring a woman I love and admire so much. But maybe if I keep waiting until my words are perfect, I'll end up never saying anything.


I find myself here again, trying to find words to share with you all after being absent from this blog for so long. I feel the need to sum up everything that has happened since I last posted, to do justice to the length of time and its significance, but that seems too big a task for me to accomplish in the moments that I can scrape together. I'm afraid that writing has fallen into the cracks between cleaning macaroni and cheese off the floor, toddler story time and assembly-line-style diaper changes. It's not that I haven't wanted to come here and share my life, I have. I love how many of you have reached out to tell me that whenever I'm ready to come back, you'll be out there. I so appreciate it. Thank you.

I've started this post many times, several on the computer and infinity in my head. (This one is actually being typed on my phone, just to mix it up). Words, appropriate and worthy words, have always escaped me. It's just that, when your mother-in-law has cancer, when doctors say that her chances of surviving the next five years are 20 percent, sometimes there are no words.

You want to say things like: I'm in denial that anything is actually happening, but there's an undercurrent of stress in my life that causes me to lash out at everyone close to me. When I take a shower I fantasize about someone giving me a really good reason to yell at them because I don't have an outlet for my anger.

Or: My heart is breaking and I ugly cry whenever I think about the possibility that my children, who have the most beautiful relationship with their grandmother, may never remember her or how much or how well she loved them.

Or just: Every time someone makes a joke about cancer, I want to punch them in the face.

But none of those options encompasses your grief, how your heart is simultaneously trying to hold on to hope and guard itself against enormous pain. You keep telling yourself this isn't about you! but also you get irrationally irritated at people who call "How's your mother-in-law doing?" across a crowded hallway at church, even though you know they're just trying to be supportive, because you have no idea how to respond.

"She's my hero" is what you would say, if you were being completely honest. "She's the strongest woman I've ever met."

You cry on the phone when your mother asks you, "when it comes down to it, would you rather have the best mother-in-law for a few years, or an okay one for the rest of your life?" and your children huddle around you to give you soft little hugs and pats on the arm even though they don't know why you're sad.

You find yourself crying at Cheerios commercials for fifteen minutes at a time, sobs that leave you exhausted and with a headache.

All of that has been a large part of my life lately. Even now that I've finally written it all out, my brain is screaming at me, "erase! Erase! Erase!" because these words aren't good enough. I love my mother-in-law like I love my own mother, and what could I possibly come up with that would do justice to what any of us in her family is feeling? It will have to do, though.


Cancer hasn't been all of my life for the past three months, of course. With my kiddos, I haven't been allowed to dwell on anything for too long. Block towers need to be built and Goodnight Moon needs be read five times in a row, thank goodness. Christian keeps making me laugh day after day, and The Walking Dead just started again on Sunday, in case you hadn't heard. And thinking about our baby boy coming in December has saved my spirits from falling. He gives me something to look forward to, a reason to be grateful that time is still moving.



D o i n g : Nesting like nuts crazy. My hormones are begging me to redecorate every single room in the house, clean constantly, and clear out half of our possessions, but it's a battle between what I want to do, and what's actually possible with three tiny kiddos running around. Besides some slow {incredibly, frustratingly slow} progress on the living room and the big kids' room, I refreshed our downstairs bathroom over the weekend. It's now my favorite room in the house, which isn't helping me not hide in there when the kids are being particularly whiny. ;)

L o v i n g : Feeling our baby boy kick around inside me. Buying him new white onesies. Eating fresh local peaches {they are HEAVEN}. Pinning my heart out, because I like to collect all the beautiful images from around the Internet, even if I'm never going to do anything with them. Seeing pictures of everyone's babies & baby bumps on Instagram {keep 'em coming, friends!}. Lucy's cuddliness, Maggie's precociousness, and Max's easy happiness.

R e a d i n g : The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, right on schedule. It's not the first time I've started the Guide. My first attempt was a couple years ago, but I couldn't get into it. This book should be right up my alley, science fiction young-adult-level reading with dry humor, but I find myself rolling my eyes at it at least once a day. I blame the movie. In high school I had a friend who dragged me to the movie and was over-the-moon into it because she had loved the books for years, and I just didn't get a-n-y of it. Since then I've kind of had this attitude of, "really, Hitchhiker's Guide? Really?" condescension, which I'm seriously trying to get over. I don't want to be that person.

W a t c h i n g : Season One of Alias with Christian. It seems only right, after the other J.J. Abrams shows we've watched and loved. {Also considering my major long-standing crush on Jennifer Garner. She's my fave.} On real TV, I'm watching So You Think You Can Dance, Project Runway, and all the HGTV I can squeeze in.

T h i n k i n g   a b o u t : My mother-in-law, who's currently in the hospital recovering from some extensive surgery. She has cancer, again. {You can read more about her diagnosis and treatment on her blog, here. Or, for more frequent updates, there's her Facebook page.} This may be news that deserves its own blog post, but it's something that's hard for me to talk about with people who aren't family or close family friends, so while I couldn't not mention it, I'm throwing it in with this other stuff in the hopes that not everyone will comment on it. My mother-in-law is an incredibly strong, hero of a woman, and we have the highest hopes for her future.

L o o k i n g   f o r w a r d   t o : An Ikea trip coming up sometime soon. Our closest store is three hours away, but I can't stay away for more than six months or so. And yes, I have another to-buy list complete with product names and quantities ready to go. ;) Also, we're planning on getting a bigger car at the end of the month, and even though I feel like a total nerd saying it, I'm SO excited to get a minivan. {No more kids kicking each other on long car trips! Hooray!} There's also our beach trip coming up in September; bless these long North Carolina summers.

M a k i n g   m e   h a p p y : Encouraging comments from everyone after announcing our pregnancy; really, people have been so amazingly kind and positive, it's been surprising and just the best. THANK YOU, you wonderful readers you.

P l u s : Two recent favorites on happiness. 1 & 2.


One Two Three Four...

Hey, friends. I wanted to share some news with you.

I'm pregnant!! {Um, again!} We're expecting baby number four {who is a BOY, we found out earlier today} in early December.

I thought about making some kind of awesome tear-inducing announcement video {see: example}, but I'm 18 weeks along and haven't been able to find the time yet. {As you can see in the awkward self-portrait above, I can't even find the time to ask someone else to take my picture, or at least clean my bathroom mirror. I DID spend 45 minutes on Pinterest today, so rest assured my priorities are all in line.}

If you've done the math, you've realized that our baby boy will be born before Max and Maggie's third birthday, so yes, four under three is what we're looking at here. Honestly, it was a lot to take in at first, and I had a hard time emotionally for a little while. I feel so ungrateful saying it, especially when I know there are those out there who are struggling with infertility and would give anything to be pregnant. We just didn't expect this baby to come so soon.

I think I first began to feel really excited when Candis posted this photo on Instagram. It reminded me why I love growing this {not so} little family of mine so much, why it's worth it, and how great we are together. {Thank you, Candis. Reading that caption still brings tears to my eyes, every time.} When we had our first ultrasound and heard the baby's heartbeat, all my doubts flew out the window and now I cannot wait.

We are beyond excited. Having babies is kind of addicting, I've found. ;)


Lucy's Number One

I promised to post some {now ridiculously outdated} pictures that I snapped at Lucy's first birthday party, and here they are! If you aren't already excited to see them, you should be; she's just about the cutest thing I've ever seen, and the look on her face while we sang Happy Birthday is priceless.

{I forget why she was holding a tennis ball.}

Her reaction to this cupcake went from "What IS this??" to "CUPCAKE!!" in just a few seconds.

And, of course, the finger in the nose. Because that's what one-year-olds do.


What We've Been Up To...

Maybe you noticed? But I haven't hit ye olde orange publish button in almost three months. I think this is where I say "whoops." {Not "sorry," though - I'm unapologetic this year, remember?} It's hard to explain why I suddenly dropped off the map, blog-wise. Some insecurity, I think, along with my complete inability to do anything consistently probably contributed. And once I went away, it became harder and harder to come back. I needed a break, though - time to sort everything out in my head and be at peace with myself. I know this is all very vague and weird; that's actually how it felt as it was happening, so I'm afraid I don't have better words to explain. Again, whoops.

BUT now that I'm back, I thought I'd give a little rundown of what we've been up to.

4/12 - Christian and I celebrated our fifth anniversary. And by "celebrated," I mean that we ended up in the Urgent Care because Christian was feeling terrible; it turns out he had strep. It kind of sucks that the first time I left Lucy with the in-laws {and cried the whole way home, by the way} so my husband and I could have a evening alone, I ended up watching TV by myself while Christian took a nap upstairs.

4/28 - I turned the big 2-7 and had the worst birthday ever. {Sorry to be such a downer, but there it is.} The fact is that Sundays are just hard; wrestling three kids through church feels like a workout and often leaves me with a headache. And since it was Sunday, that meant no breaking the sabbath for us - no going out for birthday dinner, or birthday doughnut runs.

5/12 - Christian let me sleep in for Mother's Day and made me breakfast; he also gave me the sweetest card of all time. The guy has a way with words when he wants to, I'm telling you. We got to talk to his brother Daniel, who's currently serving a two-year mission in Uruguay, that evening. Overall it was a good day; Mother's Day hasn't always been my favorite, but I sure do love my little family.

5/20 - Our baby Lucy turned one whole years old. {More pictures of her party to come; they're too adorable not to share.} She's growing up into the sweetest little girl, taking tentative steps and talking in her soft voice every chance she gets. I miss her tiny baby self and nursing her to sleep, but she's still got a chubby belly and I love the big girl she's turning into.

6/8 - As has become tradition in Christian's family, we all {all 20 of us, including my then eight-and-a-half-months-pregnant sister-in-law} walked the Komen Race for the Cure together. My amazing mother-in-law has been cancer-free for three years, and we couldn't be more proud of her.

6/16 - I meant to get up with the kids on Father's Day, I really did. But it was only after Christian got out of bed that I woke up. I followed him and sent him back upstairs right away, but he couldn't fall back asleep. {Father's Day fail.} I did make him breakfast, let him take a long nap, and helped the kids give him a card and presents. {On the other hand, I forgot to call my own dad until 10:30 pm. Facepalms all around.}

6/21 - Our darling niece Tabitha was born. We haven't met her in person yet, but if pictures and videos are anything to go on, she is the most adorably squishy thing. I can't wait to smell her head and kiss some of those neck rolls.

I hope there are still a few people out there who care that I'm back. :) Either way, I plan on posting more often from now on.

P.S. These pictures were taken one morning when I asked my kiddos during breakfast, "What should we do today?" and Maggie promptly responded, "Paint... outside?" It was such a good idea, so I obliged. We had fun painting for a while, and then when they got bored, I turned on the hose to wash them off and that turned into an activity of its own. Max especially loved the mud puddle that all the water created at the edge of the driveway.


The Pigeon Wants...

Currently we're having the siding replaced on our house. We got our tax return and realized that for the first time, we needed to act like adults and use that money responsibly instead of getting to splurge on something fun. I'm a little bit excited about the getting-our-house-painted part, but I'm also completely over-thinking the picking-out-paint-colors process. {Warm gray? Taupey gray? Greige?? How does one make such an important decision?}

AND I've been packing up my kids and taking them to my mother-in-law's every day so they can nap in peace. Even though my mother-in-law is wonderful and feeds me cake at every opportunity, it's a huge ordeal, but I prefer it to my kids not napping at all. I mean, can you imagine?

It's causing me to have control issues a little bit. This morning after breakfast I suddenly decided "HAIRCUTS FOR EVERYONE!" and put Lucy in her highchair with a towel around her neck. {Don't worry, she wasn't putting up with my nonsense and the scissors never even touched her hair.} Then Maggie got all her hair shaved off. {Just kidding, kind of.} Max was only spared because our clippers weren't charged.

And don't you feel lucky YOU weren't at our house this morning? Five minutes after you walked in the door and I would have been saying "at least it will grow out in a few weeks." {I'm not that good at cutting hair.}

It's a special kind of crazy I've got going on right now. I keep coming up with all of these ideas where I'm like, "Do you know what would be totally awesome?" If we took a trip to Boston! If we got a dog! If I took the kids to the park for a picnic! If we got a dog! If our kids had their own mini backpacks! No really, we should get a dog! I remind myself of the pigeon in The Pigeon Wants a Puppy.

I think Christian hates it. He did enjoy watching this baby bulldog video with me last night, though, so... yeah, I think getting a dog is a real possibility for us.


Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, everyone! I hope you all had a great holiday. Here's how ours went down:

- I went to Target last night under the guise of getting Robitussin and mango sorbet {I've been fighting off a nasty cold/possible sinus infection for the past week}, and came home with bags of Easter basket fillings. {No actual Easter baskets, though - those were all gone.}

- Max and Maggie had fun going through all their plastic eggs this morning, eating the yogurt-covered raisins and fruit snacks inside, and ignoring everything else in the buckets we used instead of baskets. Lucy enjoyed playing with the plastic egg halves and immediately pulling a flower headband off her noggin every time we tried to sneak it on.

- Christian took the twins to church while Lucy and I stayed home. We played fun games like "watch Mama fix her hair" and "go through the bathroom cabinets" and "discover the pregnancy test that first told Mama you existed." {Yes, I still have it.}

- After church, we all went over to Christian's parents house and had dinner with his family. It was a party. Two of his siblings and their families had traveled to be in town, which meant six of his eight siblings and their families were there. I was lucky enough to get the above shot of my in-laws with their six grandchildren.

It was such a wonderful day. And the weather was obligingly warm, which I very much appreciated. Here's hoping the wonderfulness transfers into this upcoming week!


Important Thoughts 29.0 + Our Life in Pictures

29.1: Lucy has recently started talking. A couple weeks ago, out of the blue, she started saying "uh-oh" - the softest, sweetest little "uh-oh" you ever did hear. A little while later she started holding things {remotes, green beans, etc.} up to her ear and saying "eh-wohw," which was surprising because I wouldn't have thought we answered the phone in front of her that much. Her newest official word is "ah dah!" which she says promptly whenever the TV is turned off, whenever we're done reading a book, whenever she's ready to get down after a meal, pretty much any time anything is over, she says "ah dah!" like a champ. And all this is mostly to say, when did she get so big? Where did my newbaby go? I thought that when she started walking, or when she turned one, that would be the moment that she wouldn't seem like my baby-baby anymore. Silly me, for thinking I had a couple more months. {Also, admittedly I am bragging on my Looska a little bit. She's a genius baby and I just wanted everyone to recognize.}

29.2: This morning, after putting Lucy down for a nap, Max and Maggie were so content playing by themselves that I decided to try and clean the kitchen. Usually their brains follow a protocol that states: If Mom is in the living room, then all is well and we are safe and we can be happy and go play wherever we like. BUT if Mom is somewhere else, and especially if she is in the kitchen, then we must all crowd around her and cling to her legs crying or the world will end. But today was different. They left me alone, and I got so much done. Eventually Max did wander in, and he helped me finish loading the dishwasher, and then while I washed a few dishes by hand I let him climb up on a chair so he could play with the running water. And that turned into Max and Maggie playing in the sink with measuring cups {because measuring cups are the coolest, so clanky and water-holdy and good for pouring}, soaking their clothes, and flooding the kitchen floor. It made for a pretty stellar morning.

29.3: I recently started listening to the Bossypants audiobook. It is amazing. If you're the one person in the world who hasn't read/listened to it yet, what are you waiting for? It's like listening to Tina Fey do stand-up, if stand-up comedy was also very moving and sometimes made you cry. Even though I want to listen to it all the time, mostly I save it for when I'm at the gym, which means that while I'm on the elliptical machine I occasionally grin like an idiot. And even though I said before that I love Tina Fey, I'm not sure if I really meant it then. BUT I DO NOW. Tina Fey is an incredible person and I absolutely adore her. {Still not as much as Amy Poehler, though. Christian was recently reading this article and said, slowly turning the computer screen toward me, "What if thiiiiiiis person were to replace Jimmy Fallon?" And a big smile popped onto my face that I couldn't get rid of. Amy Poehler just makes me happy, what can I say?}


Five Years Old

{ lovely image via }

My little blog is five years old today, you guys.

It's totally not a big deal. I didn't even realize that it was coming until yesterday. Last year, on my blog's fourth birthday, I was similarly oblivious and just posted this cookie recipe.

I'm not going to recite any stats for you {mine are kind of pathetic anyway}, or ask you to fill out a survey {I tried to make one, but I didn't know what to ask and I kept tying "survery" for some reason}, or do an awesome giveaway {although I've got one in the works for later this month - stay tuned}.

I will say that I'm grateful to have this place to write and work my thoughts out and record some of the things that happen in my life. It might seem silly, but this blog is important to me. Thank you, my sweet readers, for being a part of it. I'm grateful for you, too.

P.S. My blog has its own Facebook page now, if you'd like to like it. No pressure or anything. ;)


Our Day, In Three Parts

Part I: We took a bath.

I filled up the tub, took off everyone's clothes and diapers, and put everyone in the water. I had just cleaned everyone from top to bottom when Lucy took a dump right in the bathwater. Gross. And since all the kids were looking at it like "What IS that thing?" and "What will happen if I touch it?" I had to rush in pronto and scoop it out with my bare hand. More gross. I then had to confiscate all the washcloths {because at our house, everyone gets their own washcloth, and everyone likes to gnaw on washcloths during bath time}, drain the tub, rinse it out, and then fill it again.

Which is when Max took a dump. EVEN MORE GROSS. More scooping, more confiscating, more draining, more rinsing, but no more filling because EVERYONE OUT OF THE TUB. I wasn't in the mood to tempt fate.

Part II: We went outside.

Going outside was good for us. We played with bubbles {mostly by carrying the containers around in our hands and occasionally sticking the wands in our mouths}, we colored on everything within reach with chalk {and in Lucy's case, nibbled on the ends when I wasn't looking}, we smelled the grape hyacinths that are blooming in our yard. But I think maybe we stayed out too long, because after a while everything started to go wrong.

Max tripped and scraped his arm up so bad I wondered for a minute if I should take him to the doctor {it turns out he was fine even without a band-aid on. I know because I put a band-aid on him and two minutes later he handed it to me, all wadded up, and he hasn't had any issues}, Maggie had a weird run-in with a bee that I still don't entirely understand {I wasn't watching her when it happened, but it really scared her, and for the rest of the day she kept coming up to me and saying "Maggie? Bee? Huhchu?" and needing hugs}, Lucy got frustrated with me fishing everything out of her mouth, and Max even wandered into the road at one point.

Part III: That damn bee.

Maggie woke up again at 9:45, scream-crying for me and when I picked her up and asked her if she had a bad dream, she hiccuped and whispered "bee." I told her the bee was all gone, that she was safe with me, that she was a big brave girl. I gave her a cup of water and her toothbrush. I let Christian hold her. I took her downstairs and let her watch more Yo Gabba Gabba. I tricked myself into thinking that maybe she would fall asleep in our bed. No, no, no, no, and oh no. None of it worked. And she shuddered every time we mentioned the bee.

Finally Christian suggested trying our old 5-10-15 minute routine, and while he was out of the room, Maggie cried and coughed so hard that she threw up. We changed her sheets, we kissed her and put her back in bed. She cried for twenty more minutes, and fell asleep.

This day has been good. This day has been hard, but this day has been good.

P.S. I wrote this post last night, mostly while waiting for Maggie to fall asleep. I finished it when I thought she was asleep for good, but she was not at all. She slept for 40 minutes, woke back up, and then {so Christian tells me} cried on and off until 3:00 am. So yes, we're all exhausted over here this morning.


Falling For...

The weather here was just absolutely gorgeous over the weekend. {Was it for you? I hope so!} On Saturday I wore sandals and our kids played in the front yard until it was time for dinner. It felt so good, such a relief from the oppressive winter cold. The warm air melted some stress that I've been carrying around in my shoulders these past few months, I think. I'm happiest when I'm barefoot outside, and the idea of more warm weather on its way is lifting my spirits all the way up.

I fantasize about spring all winter long. Bunches of bright flowers, warm evenings, short sleeves - I want them all the time. {Possibly I should campaign for us to move to Mexico?} Here are a few items that have been making their way into my dreams of spring:

{ 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10 // 11 }

What about you? What are you dreaming about this spring?

Belatedly linking up here.


Alone Time {Kind Of}

I've been having a hard time figuring out my blogging schedule lately. Part of it is that I have zero minutes to myself during the day. Between three kids and two nap schedules, someone is always awake and eager to bang on the keys of my laptop. Even if I could figure out how to peel their fingers off me and get some work done, I don't know if I like the idea of staring at a computer screen instead of reading another pigeon book, or building another block tower, or even putting someone in time out again. Interacting with my kids at this age is precious {I'm not going to apologize for how mushy that sounds}, and I'm not going to miss one frustrating, peanut butter-covered minute of it.

Since I don't ever get time alone while Christian is at work {no, not even in the bathroom}, I try to trick myself into thinking that I get time alone. While Max and Maggie are asleep, Lucy and I have a few golden afternoon hours that we spend together. It's not the same kind of quiet as solitude, and it's probably not what I would pick if given the choice, but it gets me through the day. I watch old episodes of Parenthood while Lucy rolls around on the floor and amuses herself by picking up books, one after the other, and setting them back down. I fold laundry and Lucy un-folds laundry. I dance and she laughs at me. I eat popcorn and stinky cheese, she eats {carefully selected kernels of} popcorn and gnaws on apple slices.

And now, here are some more pictures of Lucy sitting in her highchair, because that's always the moment when I think of grabbing my camera:


Following Up

{ image via }

So we had Max's post-op appointment at the ENT last Tuesday, to make sure his new ear tubes were doing well and that his hearing had improved {you can read more about our journey to help Max hear better here and here}. And... well, and it was possibly the worst experience of my life. {And possibly I'm being a little bit over-dramatic.}

I think it all came down to a big huge mistake that I made, which was trying to take all three kids with me to the appointment. I should have just gone by myself and said, "Don't worry, doc, I would know if anything was wrong with his ears." But I didn't. I felt like probably Max should be there, and I was in a mood to prove that I could be super-mom and keep three kids happy during {what I was sure would be} a very short outing.

Here's how everything went down: we arrived at the ENT and it was raining. I had to take Maggie and Lucy out of the car and buckle them into the double stroller in the rain, then take out Max and have him hold my hand as we walked through the parking lot in the rain. {Usually when I take all three kids out of the house, I put the twins in the stroller and I wear Lucy, but since this was Max's appointment, I figured he would need to be out of the stroller more than once, and I didn't want to make Maggie jealous if she couldn't get out of the stroller too. I was trying to think three steps ahead, as always.}

We checked in, I had to fill out a ridiculous Patient Update form, and then we went to the playroom to wait. We waited a long time. A long long time. A time so long that Maggie was already getting irritated with other children who dared to touch "her" toys and "her" books, Lucy had decided that there was nothing interesting enough to keep her awake and she'd like her second nap now, please, and Max was just everywhere {but mostly touching Maggie and her toys and her books}.

Finally a nurse called us back to an exam room. I think she had fun watching me try to hold Max's hand and push the stroller through the hallway and then pick Max up because he was fussing and carry him in one arm and push the stroller with the other. She must have had fun, because she certainly didn't offer to help me. In the exam room, we waited for another long time. Long enough for my kids to finish eating the snacks that I had brought for them and for Max to fall off the exam chair and hit his head on the floor when I wasn't looking. Long enough for me to hear our doctor in the next room yakking it up with people who clearly didn't need his services anymore.

Seeing the doctor took about two minutes {he literally came in, shook my hand, looked in both of Max's ears, said, "Well, they're both open. Do you have any questions?" and left}, but it was only the first part of our appointment. The second part was to visit the audiologist and have another hearing test. So we walked with a different nurse down the hallway {this one did offer to help me, bless her} to a different waiting area; she stuck our folder in a plastic bin hanging on the wall and left.

While we waited, we played a fun game where Max sat in one of the waiting area chairs and played on my phone, and Lucy and Maggie {in the stroller} and I {pushing them} would say, "Okay, bye bye, Max!" and walk away from him, and then turn around and say, "Oh there you are!" and walk past him in the other direction saying, "Okay, bye bye, Max!"

It was a completely boring game, but it kept my kids happy for ten minutes until a lady came out of an office and said, "Oh, didn't they tell you? We only have one audiologist here today and she's backed up. There are at least two people ahead of you." It was then that I said, "I don't know how long we can wait" and planned to pack my kids up in the car and go home lalready. But I still really wanted someone to tell me that my son could for sure hear perfectly, so I let the lady talk me into waiting in the playroom. She said it would be twenty more minutes at the most, which seemed doable.

Well, it was not twenty more minutes. It was thirty-five. Thirty-five minutes of trying to keep my kids happy in a room full of toys they were bored with and other kids who kept taking their Munos and Foofas. But we stayed. We stayed until the audiologist came to collect us, and the poor lady seemed even more tired and frustrated and just done than I was, which made me feel a little bit better. Better enough that I talked myself into the possibility of Maggie and Lucy staying happy while I took Max into the testing room by myself.

Maggie and Lucy did not stay happy while I took Max into the testing room. I tried to ignore the sounds of my two screaming girls and keep Max's attention on the puzzle I had in my hands while the test was going on. After a few minutes, however, the audiologist came back in and admitted that she couldn't get a completely accurate result because your kids are too darn loud. {That's not exactly how she put it, but that's what she meant. She then referred to Lucy as a boy, which made me not like her anymore.}

So then we left. I didn't get the reassurance that I wanted: "Yes, definitely he can hear all the way better now." Instead I got a "probably he can mostly hear better," a tension headache, and a nine-month-old who fell asleep as soon as I turned the car on. I'm thinking of going back with just Max and asking for another hearing test; I'm the kind of person who second-guesses everything until I get an answer that's for sure for sure, and I'd like this whole big event in my kid's life to end happily.

If you're still reading this post, thank you. I hope you don't mind that I spent eleven paragraphs complaining about a single afternoon; it really wasn't the hardest thing that's ever happened to me {obviously}, but it was an incredibly frustrating hour and a half.


The Hands

This is a post about nursing my nine-month-old.

When I was pregnant with Lucy, I tried to set some kind of reasonable goal to help me get through the beginning part of nursing. I assumed that beginning stretch would be hard, since I never it made it through that part with my twins. I could never decide, though - should I tell myself to just make it through the first three months? The first six weeks? I always just knew in the back of my mind I wanted to make it at least a year; giving in before then wasn't an option I gave myself.

Breastfeeding was hard in the beginning, but easier than I had expected. It was less like learning and more like re-learning something I had done years ago and forgotten. Since I didn't nurse my twins, every milestone Lucy and I have hit, every aspect of breastfeeding with her is new for me. And I have to say, I love it. I might be ready to stop nursing her when she graduates from high school. {I'm kidding. Maybe I'm kidding.}

There are, of course, a few elements of breastfeeding that I do not love. I've gotten a few bites {very tentative, but still painful}, I've chafed against the restrictions placed on my freedom, I've leaked and I've been engorged and I've stained my clothes with lanolin.

BUT for us, for my sweet-smelling squishy baby and I, the good easily outweighs the bad. It's been more beautiful than I can describe.

In the early days, I loved holding her naked body against my skin and feeling her against me. I loved laying on my side and nursing her for long periods of time, both of us half-asleep. I loved the satisfaction of knowing that all of her chubby rolls came from me, that I built her body with mine.

Now I love to ask her, deliberately emphasizing the key word so she pays attention, "Lucy, do you want to nurse?" and having her bury her face in my chest, trying to eat me through my shirt. I love nursing her at night and holding her asleep on my shoulder for a few minutes, just savoring her soft weight. I love to make her laugh while she's nursing, so that she smiles at me with the corners of her mouth. I love the butterfly kisses.

A few weeks ago my mother-in-law said, while I was nursing Lucy and Lucy was tugging on a few stray strands of my hair, that the hands was one part of breastfeeding that she loved the most. The tiny fat baby hands that poked themselves into her mouth, sneaked under the fabric of her shirt, reached up to her face and laid themselves on her cheeks, and yes, tugged on her hair.

And I think, I think that it's my favorite as well. The hands. I'm going to miss them when this is over.


A Few You Might Have Missed

If you were wondering, at the end of last week, whether I would learn my lesson about procrastinating posts until the last minute, clearly the answer is no, I learned nothing. Here I am again, late on Sunday night, and I'm short one post. Since the Oscars are on, and since I've been nursing a headache since I woke up this morning, I don't see myself coming up with something new for you {my wonderful, sweet readers}. SO, here are some posts from the past that I am a little bit proud of, in case you haven't read them before:

Goodness. I keep meaning to post more often, and I keep getting sidetracked by other activities. Mainly things like feeding babies, feeding myself, and squeezing in my bi-weekly shower. There are even days when I think to myself, "I'm going to tweet today," and I can't even get that done. True story.

I Never Want to Hear...
Being a mother of twins has opened me up to a world of strained conversation with well-intentioned strangers and, often, the same questions over and over and over. There are some things I never get tired of hearing; for example, whenever someone introduces themselves and says that they also have twins, I always reply, "I've heard that it gets easier." I love the encouragement that unfailingly follows. However, not being a great conversationalist, and not being someone who particularly enjoys small talk, I do get frustrated from time to time.

As we rocked, I tried to remember the last time she had allowed herself to sleep on me. I wondered when she might again. And the word that kept coming to my mind was "goodbye." So before I put her back in bed, where she slept peacefully the rest of the night, I talked to her in my mind.

Days Like This
It must be said: yesterday was a terrible day. A horrible, no good, very bad day. No one was sick or injured or teething {I think}, but nonetheless it was a day filled with whining and frustration and crying {hey, everyone, tears all around! On me!}. Also, it was a day filled with Max's shoes not fitting onto his huge feet when we were trying to get ready to go to Target, even though I could have sworn they were the right size.

Needing Time & Being Grateful
I started working on our messy kitchen, and I enjoyed having that quiet time to clean so much. I wondered if, at that moment, there was any chore that I wouldn't have volunteered to do as an alternative to watching children. Wash a sinkful of greasy dishes by hand? Clean all the toilets? Scrub out the garbage can? Check, check, and check -- I would have been up for any of those.

A Few Thoughts
Have you ever loved something so much, and been so grateful to have it in your life, that it made your heart hurt just to think about it? It's 5:30 in the morning, and I'm awake. I'm sitting in Lucy's room and staring at her crib. At how the sheet is all bunched up on the side. And I'm grateful. Grateful the sheet isn't perfectly smooth, because it means a real baby lives and sleeps in there.

On Breastfeeding & Closeness
But now I know for myself. I have breastfed a child and I have bottle-fed children and I can tell you because Iknow, I know that how you choose to feed your baby does not determine your relationship with them. I know because I look at Max and Maggie, my wonderful darling one-year-olds, and the love that I feel for them is unrestrained. After what the three of us have been through together, nothing could diminish our relationship.

P.S. I love the image I included at the beginning of this post {obviously}, but couldn't find the original image source. No, not even with Google's reverse image search. If you know the source of this image, I'd appreciate it if you let me know. Thanks!



D o i n g : Slicing blueberries for Lucy's afternoon snack. Max and Maggie spend every Friday at Christian's parents' house, so it's just me and my Lovey for a few more hours. Since my twins were born and it was always two {and then three!} babies all the time, it's a treat to get one-on-one time with them. I get to love on them a little bit more, and that's so fun.

L o v i n g : I took the above pictures of Max and Maggie yesterday. I was trying to get a good shot of both of them, to send in a card that they "helped" make for my mom, but Max didn't want to sit still {when I asked him to say "cheese" he would stand up and and put his arms in the air - why, I don't know}, and Maggie only wanted to be the one taking pictures. Even though I didn't get the exact picture I was looking for, the ones I did get show off their toddler-sized personalities so perfectly. Geez, I love this two little hoodlums.

R e a d i n g : You guys already know that I'm reading and loving The Corrections this month, so how about a glimpse into my online reading? Here are a few blogs that have recently become favorites: Sometimes Sweet, Camp Patton, Dear Friend, the Homebook, You Are My Fave, Motley Mama, and Emmadime.

W a t c h i n g : I turned on Toy Story 3 today after Lucy woke up from her nap. I was sobbing through the opening credits. The home video of Andy playing with his toys was breaking my heart because oh-my-gosh-my-kids-are-going-to-grow-up. Which brings me to...

S t r e s s i n g  a b o u t : Max and Maggie turn two whole years old in less than a month. I think for readers, it's one of those things where if your oldest child around is younger than two, you're like, "Nooo!! Too soon!! Notreadynotreadynotready!!" and if your oldest child is older than two, you're like, "What is her deal? Two is NOT that old." So sorry if you think I'm making an issue out of nothing, but two seems so old to me right now. I keep thinking, where did my babies go? And do I have to call them toddlers now? And please will everyone stop asking me about potty training?

T h i n k i n g  a b o u t : I forgot to mention in my Walking Dead post, but I guess it's a thing that everyone loves Daryl Dixon? Or that women find him attractive? And when I realized that fact, I was like, "whaaaaaaat??" Because to me, Daryl's usefulness and resourcefulness in fighting off zombies barely {so much barely!} outweighs his incredibly obnoxious personality. In other words, not at all attractive. In fact, very unattractive, but also very helpful if you need someone to quietly kill zombies for you. Does anyone else want to chime in? Am I missing something?

L o o k i n g  f o r w a r d  t o : CHIPOTLE TONIGHT!! Eating at Chipotle is something that I think about almost every day, because it is just so good. I try not to allow myself to eat there every day, because that would add up to something like $300 each month {yikes}. However, Fridays are when Christian and I go out to eat, and my suggestion is always Chipotle! With an exclamation point! Before he's even finished asking the question! And even if that's not where we end up tonight, that's okay, because I'm excited about the possibility. {Seriously, I think they put something in those soft tacos of theirs, because this paragraph sounds like it was written by a crazy person.}

M a k i n g  m e  h a p p y : Christian and I have been discussing when we want to start trying for another baby. {Which would be our fourth, if you can believe. That number kind of blows my mind, just how quickly our family has grown already.} A newnewbaby. I know the idea is crazy, especially since Lucy just turned nine months old, but every time I think of growing another baby in my belly, I feel a burst of excitement in my heart.

P.S. I know I'm publishing this post at 8:45 in the evening, but I wrote most of it this afternoon, just to orient you. And yes, in case you were wondering, we did end up going to Chipotle.

P.P.S. Idea for this post came from here.


This Is My First Post This Week Because...

... of The Walking Dead. I'm not kidding.

Christian and I started watching the first season earlier this week {and we just started Season 2 yesterday, so NO SPOILERS in the comments, please!}, and I think it's safe to say that both of us are obsessed. After we watched the pilot on Tuesday night, we went to bed and I had nightmares. I woke up the next morning and told Christian that I was fine if he kept watching it, as long as I never had to see it again. By the time he got home from work on Wednesday, however, I was ready for another episode.

As afraid of the dark and nightmare-prone as I am, I can't stop watching. I get freaked out almost every night, but I'm hoping that will go away after a while. When I nurse Lucy to sleep at night, I rock her and think things like, "What if a zombie came in here right now? How would I defend us?" {answer: beat it in the head with the tank of Lucy's humidifier} and "If I got bitten and infected, what would I do then? Spend as much time as possible with my kids, or leave and donate my body to science?" {there is no good answer to this question}.

I know I need to be better about budgeting my time, but it's hard with TV this good. Are you a Walking Dead fan? {Be advised, if you don't watch it yet but you're interested: Christian and I both agree it's grosser than Breaking Bad.}

P.S. Here's a video of Andrew Lincoln {who plays Rick Grimes} on Jimmy Fallon if you want to hear his British accent. And here's a clip of him being adorable in Love Actually.


A Happy List for Your Sunday

{ image via }

I thought about starting out this post by saying "today was one of those days." But actually, today was fine. Not great {Max has had a fever for the past few days, Maggie started having one today, Lucy has gummy eyes and I think I bruised one of her eyelids trying to put drops in and I feel terrible, and all three of them have noses that are running like snot faucets}, but Christian and I have been spared whatever our kids have, at least for now, and I only ever felt frustrated right before nap time, which was extraordinarily convenient.

It was this evening that really did me in.

As I was changing Max's diaper right before I put on his Buzz Lightyear jams, I noticed something not quite right, and I think Max has a double inguinal hernia. Which is just really incredibly frustrating timing, because he JUST had surgery earlier this week. He JUST did, and now I think we're looking at another surgery as soon as we can get it scheduled. And even after I got over my initial "why us??" feelings and gave myself a "you can do this" pep-talk, I've felt emotionally drained. Max in surgery again? Each of my twins having surgery twice before they turn two? WHY? {Okay, so maybe I'm not entirely over my "why us" feelings yet. Give me a few more hours.}

The thing is, I know our family is very blessed, and in order to help me remember that fact, I thought I'd write down a happy list. Right now, in the middle of the night, because I'm certainly not going to fall asleep any time soon. Here are ten things that should be are making me happy:

  1. A husband who give me bear hugs because he knows how to help me feel better when I'm stressed.
  2. Maggie has started letting me fix her hair on a daily basis. She wants an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba and a packet of fruit snacks in return, but that's okay by me.
  3. Mail from friends.
  4. A new can of Febreeze air freshener in my bathroom.
  5. The Corrections {the book I set a goal to read in February} is so good. Jonathon Franzen is brilliant.
  6. This method of soft-boiling eggs is perfect, and I tried some on toast with avocado; it's amazing.
  7. Lucy is learning to give kisses. Sometimes, if I ask her about ten times in a row and point to my mouth and purse my lips, she'll lean forward and let her mouth touch mine. I think it's the sweetest.
  8. Max has a favorite book, and it's Where the Wild Things Are.
  9. These shoes. Christian gave me a pair for Christmas and I love them. {They're so comfortable!}
  10. Somehow I got three votes for the Best Family & Kids Blog over on Apartment Therapy's The Homies. It makes me happy because we all know I'm not going to win {I'm not even close to being close to the people who are saying they're not even close}, but a few special people thought it was worth their time to put me up there, anyway. Thanks, friends.
What's making you happy right now?


So Far

{ image via }

Max is doing great after his surgery, you guys. Thank you for thinking of us, thank you for asking about him, thank you again for your kindness. It's fills up my heart to know that we have so many friends out there. I love you all!!

If you're interested, here's how everything went down:

I woke up at 5:15 on Tuesday morning and got ready. I had packed our bag the night before {diapers, slippers, books, crayons, stickers, and Christian's iPad}, so at 6:00 I scooped Max out of bed, put his coat on over his jams, and put him in the car. It was still dark when we arrived at the surgery center, but Max was happy to be awake and didn't seem to notice being hungry. There was a fish tank in the waiting room {did I take that as a sign, again, that we were in the right place? Yes I did, of course I did} and my phone to keep him entertained before we got checked in.

Once paperwork was signed, a nursed called us back and gave me a tiny hospital gown {not as tiny as Maggie's, though, thank goodness} and three Cars stickers. I made a big deal of showing Max how cool the stickers were, got him to say "car" for each one, stuck them on the front of his gown and patted them down, then quickly distracted him with crayons. Because Max is the kind of kid who likes to rip stickers off his clothes and then play with them in his hands until all the sticky is gone, and then he ends up sad and confused. I signed more paperwork while Max dumped all the crayons in his lap.

Soon after we were bored of playing with all the things in my bag and Max was working hard on rearranging the apps on Christian's iPad, they were ready for him. The nurse had said to me earlier, "If you don't mind, when they take him back please just stay standing right there until he can't see you anymore, so he doesn't think you've left. That'll help him feel better." To which my heart said both duh! and sob. But then the second he was through the doors, she was all, "alright, back to the waiting room with you!" And I didn't have the emotional capacity to be annoyed with her because I was concentrated on the fact that I could still see Max every few seconds as the doors kept swinging open, clutching his Foofa and looking forward.

Here's the thing: it doesn't get easier, handing your child over to the doctor and watching them walk away with your baby. Even for a surgery as simple and routine as Max's. I know there are mothers out there who have been through much more with their children because of medical conditions. I know how blessed I am to have three healthy kids. But it doesn't get easier, and it's still scary.

The good thing is that literally ten minutes after I sat down in the waiting room, the doctor came to find me to tell me that he was done. Everything went well, and they found a lot of fluid behind his ears. Soon a nurse came to take me back to Max in the recovery room. Unlike the times that Maggie has woken up from anesthesia, and has been a little upset but mostly groggy and tired and clingy, Max was upset and in pain and MAD. He was red-faced and inconsolable, with Tylenol dripping out of his open mouth. I soon gave up on calming him down and just got him dressed so we could leave.

He started to feel better in the car, and once we got home he was doing well. Throughout the morning he would sometimes start crying and tug on one of his ears, but by the afternoon he was totally back to normal. That boy, he's a tough one.

Every time someone asks me how Max is doing, I hear this subtext {whether they mean for it to be there or not} of "AND CAN HE HEAR NOW??" And I'm hesitant to respond. His doctor said that it could take a while for there to be a noticeable difference, which is why his follow-up visit and hearing test at the ENT aren't scheduled for another couple of weeks.

I don't want to say that I can't tell a difference as much as I was expecting, even though it's the truth, because I feel like that's resigning myself to disappointment. I don't want to say that I think I've definitely noticed some difference, even though that's also the truth, because I don't want to turn out wrong. I'm holding off on making any definite conclusions for now. I'm trying to be patient until we know for sure.


The Heavy Stuff

You may remember that almost three weeks ago I published this post, which was completely normal and ordinary {and maybe a little boring, as is often the case with Instagram dumps} except that I mentioned that we were going through "some heavy stuff" and I wasn't ready to talk about it yet. I thought I would be ready to talk about it later in the week, and I wasn't, and I apologize for not mentioning it again until now. But I'm ready to talk about it now.

In this post I talked about how Max might need speech therapy. After a couple months and a few evaluations, we've decided that yes, we are pursuing that option for him. While he seems more interested {much more!} in communicating now that he did then, his speech and comprehension are still very limited.

Part of the process involved with getting him qualified for speech therapy was doing a hearing test, to make sure that his slow speech development wasn't connected to any kind of hearing loss. And at first I didn't pay much attention to the possibility. But then in the days leading up to Max's hearing test, I started to feel a terrible sense of dread in my heart. It's like nothing I've ever felt before, this ongoing heaviness that weighed on me and stressed me out {and caused me to be extremely grumpy with everyone around me, as I'm sure Christian will attest}. I became suspicious, and then almost positive that his hearing wasn't perfect. The way he was often so focused on whatever he was playing with, the way he had trouble pronouncing the few words he knew {saying "gah!" for "car"}, and the way he sometimes just mouthed sounds instead of vocalizing them added to my conviction. I was worried about what hearing loss would mean for him, in his life.

When we did have his hearing tested, the results weren't surprising. He isn't deaf {of course; that's something we would have noticed before now}, but he did exhibit minor to moderate hearing loss. The audiologist explained that she also couldn't detect his eardrum vibrating at all. She suspected a problem with the middle ear, and not permanent hearing loss. While he can hear loud sounds, most vocal sounds are indistinct, so it sounds like he's underwater. While that was all good news, I left the audiologist that morning feeling frustrated. I had braced myself for a difficult diagnosis, and instead had been told that the results were inconclusive, that we should have his ears checked {she kept saying that she wasn't a doctor, so she couldn't say for sure, but that he probably had fluid in his ears from his most recent cold, three weeks earlier, and recommended scheduling a visit with our pediatrician, who might then pass us along to an ENT}, and that we could have his hearing tested again in four weeks.

I wanted this hearing problem of Max's to be fixed as soon as possible. I wanted to communicate with my son, and I wanted to do it yesterday. Instead it just felt like I was stuck in a web of red tape.

I ranted about the audiologist a little to my friends and family, and then made an appointment with an ENT for as soon as possible. I didn't want to go to the pediatrician and have someone tell me AGAIN that they weren't sure for sure what was going on. We were able to get in to see the ENT sooner than I had anticipated, for which I was grateful. When we went, the waiting room had a big tank of fish, which felt like a sign that we were in a place that could help us {for no other reason than Max loves fish, and I was feeling very emotional}.

The doctor came in quickly, examined Max quickly, and quickly explained that Max had fluid behind his eardrum, and we could either give him antibiotics and hope it went away, or put tubes in his ears. Since Max had been on antibiotics recently, I said yes, please, let's put tubes in his ears. The doctor agreed with me that the fluid has almost certainly been there for longer than three weeks, and has probably been there long enough to inhibit his speech development {a year or more}. He was confident that tubes would drain the fluid and restore Max's hearing completely.

And that's where we are now. Max is scheduled for surgery to put tubes in his ears on Tuesday. The main emotion I'm feeling is excitement for him; I can't wait for my boy to be able to hear perfectly. {Although part of me is just remembering the two times Maggie has had surgery, and how hard it was to hand her over to the doctor.}

I had a dream last night that took place a couple months from now. Max was sitting on the couch just a few feet away from me. When I spoke softly to him, he heard me. When I asked him "where's Max?" he patted his chest and repeated, "Max." It was everything I'm hoping for us in the coming months; that Max will hear, that his speech and comprehension will skyrocket with the help of therapy, that the world of sound will bring him incredible joy and understanding.


Goal Three

You guys remember my New Year's goals? {How could you forget? I bring them up at least once a week, I think.} My third goal was to re-do our living room and kitchen, and I've been meaning to talk a little bit more about my plans.

About our house: I love this house we're living in. It's such a blessing to our family. I wanted to buy it the moment I saw the listing when I was casually browsing for houses, four months before we started seriously house shopping. I knew it was the perfect home for us when I first set foot in the living room. It was as though could feel the emotions {the love} that we would experience in that room echoing back and resonating in my heart. {Sappy? Maybe. But I'm unapologetic about that this year. Deal with the sappiness, guys.}

I love this house, but also I love what this house could become. I am constantly making plans for how I could improve our home, even though I know that we don't have the time, energy or money to make most of those plans a reality. Add a garage! Increase the counter space! Move this wall! Tear down the shed! Replace all major appliances!

You may think I'm kidding, but no. I have shouted all of those orders at imaginary work crews. I am the kind of person who likes to dream big in her head before facing practicalities. HOWEVER, I have trimmed my ideal down to a few goals that I think are actually accomplishable. After all, I just want to re-do the living room and kitchen this year, not our entire property inside and out.

I took the opportunity on Thursday to snap a few pictures of our living room {in its natural state; don't mind how everything is a disaster}, since it's the room I want to tackle during the first half of the year. I've made a few notes on what I'd like to change as a kind of to-do list for myself.

It's a little overwhelming at times, how much I want to change. I'm trying to take it one step at a time. First, we need to take down that popcorn ceiling {gross}.

Have you done any house updates lately? I'd love to hear about your projects.


A Picture An Hour

8 am

9 am

10 am

11 am

12 pm

1 pm

2 pm


4 pm

5 pm

6 pm



Here is our day, in a nutshell. Lots of playing, reading, snacking, napping, and of course, getting so excited when Daddy comes home. I'll admit, these pictures make us look a lot less frustrated {me} and whiny {them, for the most part} than we are in reality. The sun looks brighter, our mess looks charming instead of chaotic, and no one is watching TV. Sadly, I also don't have pictures of the kisses my children give me, or when Lucy is hungry and tries to burrow through my shirt, or Christian laughing at Downton Abbey. Needless to say, this is only one side of the life we're living together.

Idea for this post taken from this lovely series.