Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 174

Today I am grateful that my mom made dinner for us and my sister brought over some of her homemade Challah bread to have with it.  I was feeling absolutely terrible for most of the day today, and it was a relief not to have to worry about making dinner.

Thanks again and again, Mom and Christine!  The soup was great and the sandwiches I made with the Challah were delicious!

Have a wonderful night!

A Year of Gratitude: Day 173 (a day late)

Today I am grateful that Baylor's first visit to the elementary school he'll be attending next year went so well. So very well.  He got to meet the principal Mr. K (my 7th and 8th grade science teacher!) and the school social worker, and he seemed to hit it off with both.

He fixated a bit on the room numbers, so much so that Mr. K went off about halfway through to get him a map to help out, but I do think it went well over all.  He really liked the school and is looking forward to going back to visit again soon and to going there next year.


Have a wonderful day!

A Year of Gratitude: Day 172 (two days late)

Today I am grateful for both Mollie and I having slept all the way through the night.  We both came down with a wicked cold yesterday, and after nap time I discovered that hers was being served with a side of croup.  I called her doctor's office right away and got some hints on how to deal with croup in warmer weather (I am golden when it's cold out, but I knew I couldn't count on cold night air to help us).

So last night, armed with knowledge and lots of hope, I slathered her chest with Vicks Vapo Rub, elevated the head of her bed, gave her some ibuprofen, set up her cold-air humidifier, cranked her ceiling fan up to high, and cracked her windows a bit (just in case the night air was cold enough).  And it worked!  Nearly twelve blissful hours after I put her to bed, she woke up calling for me and told me as I walked in, "I'm not coughing, Mommy!"

Awesome!  Just so totally awesome.

As for me, I went the Vicks and ibuprofen route and slept like a rock for over seven hours.

Here's hoping for a repeat again tonight!  (Knock on wood!)

Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 171

Today I am grateful for discovering how much I do love a good pancake.  Lately we've been making pancakes from scratch on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and I've discovered a couple really great recipes that have this once-pancake-hating gal loving the weekend morning treat.

The first recipe I found here, though at our house we call them Blueberry Lemonade Pancakes because that's what will get Baylor to eat them, for whatever reason.  These are much more lemony and have a wonderful richness to them.  Plus, the number of servings this makes is perfect for our little family.

Lemon Blueberry Pancakes

makes about 8 pancakes

1 1/4 cup unbleached flour
1 tablespoon baking powder (I use low sodium baking powder, and it works well.)
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk (We used 1/2%, and they still tasted great.)*
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup fresh blueberries, thawed if frozen
Zest of one lemon (usually equals about 1 tablespoon)

* We also juiced the lemon and used that as part of the milk measurement.  Plus, by adding the juice of the lemon to the milk, it turns them into buttermilk pancakes.  Delicious!


In a medium bowl combine all dry ingredients.

Then slightly beat the egg and add to the flour mixture.  Next add 1 cup of milk (or the juice of the lemon plus milk, equaling one cup total) and butter (make sure it isn't hot butter or you'll cook your egg), and whisk.

Zest one lemon and whisk it in.

Lightly grease your griddle and preheat over medium to medium-low heat.  Using a 1/4 measuring cup, pour batter onto prepared griddle.  Drop blueberries onto pancake and cover with batter to avoid burning your berries.  (We just mix our berries into the batter at the very end before we pour them onto the griddle.)  Flip and repeat.

*Make a double batch, wrap and freeze up to a month!  (Never tried this, but it sounds like a good idea!)

The next recipe was found here.  I was initially drawn in by the pictures, but after making them I can tell you that they are the best pancakes I've ever had.  If you want them to be a little more lemony, just add the zest of a lemon to the batter and add additional lemon juice in place of some of the milk, just like the recipe above.

Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon baking powder  (Used low-sodium again, and it worked well.)
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup light or full-fat ricotta (do not use fat-free)
2 tablespoons and one teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh (or frozen) blueberries

makes 20 to 24 pancakes (depending on size)


Sift together all your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, sugar) with a sifter into a bowl.  Or if you do not want to sift them all together you can use a whisk and whisk the ingredients all together in a bowl.  Melt your butter in a dish (on a griddle or in the microwave).  Add butter and other wet ingredients (eggs, vanilla, milk, ricotta) with a large wooden spoon or a spatula.  Mix the dry and wet together in your mixing bowl.  Now add in your lemon juice, mix in fully.  Then gently fold in the blueberries.  Place your mixed batter by the spoonful onto a hot griddle or pan.  The pancakes are ready to flip when the edges begin to bubble up.  Flip and brown the other side.

We cut this recipe in half and still have leftovers, but we love it all the same.  It's delicious!

Give these recipes a try!  And I'd love to hear if you liked them!

Have a wonderful night!

A Year of Gratitude: Day 170 (a day late)

Today I am grateful that the kids' swim lesson went so well yesterday.  The lesson prior to this one had Mollie bawling her eyes out, but I was hopeful that a switch to a female instructor might yield a positive change.

I don't know if it was Miss Bethany or the awesome model I made of the Goldfish Swim School the kids attend (so they could play with it and get comfortable with the idea of swim class) ...

... but it went really well.  I tried not to look at them while they were having class, in hopes that I wouldn't distract them, but when I did look they were smiling!  It was really wonderful.

Here's hoping it continues!

Have a wonderful night!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 169

Today I am grateful for one Ms. Christine Maxey.  Twenty nine years ago today, she made me a big sister and changed my life forever ... for the better, of course.  She's an amazing person, awesome dresser, whip smart, an amazing aunt, and a whole bunch of other good things.  But one of my favorite things about Christine is her sense of humor; it is very similar to mine, so over the years we've had some amazing laughs.  We both have a tendency to quote our favorite movies and TV shows, and sometimes we'll be the only ones in the room who'll get it but we'll be laughing until we cry anyway.  I love that I have that with you, Christine, and, beyond that, I'm so lucky, so grateful to have you as my sister.

So this one's for you, sis!  Indulge in some kosher yog and a little charcuterie and have a very happy, very fly 29th birthday!

I love you so much!

The rest of you (and Christine, of course) have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 168

Today I am grateful that Christine and I got to go on our semi annual sister date this evening!  (For those not in the know, we go to the summer and winter/holiday movie previews at our local movie theatre where they screen a ton of trailers from the movies coming out in the next big viewing season.)   Christine and I love a good movie trailer, so this is a real treat for us.  We get slurpees, discuss the movies on tap, predict what genre each one will be, and sit back and enjoy.

Some of the ones we liked this time ...

And one we didn't get to see ...

Thanks for going with me, little sister!  As always, I had a blast!

Have a wonderful night!

A Year of Gratitude: Day 167

Today I am grateful that my mom came with us for the kids' swim lesson.  Up until today, both kids had been doing well, and there was only one minor bout of crying at the very end of the last session.  Today, though, Mollie was upset from the get-go.  She was tentative but okay when I dropped her off with Ian, but a few minutes into it she went to the bathroom and when I met her in there she started crying.  Unfortunately, she didn't stop for the duration of the lesson, save for a few moments here and there toward the end where she was comforted/distracted by holding some Disney princess pool toys in her hands.

So why am I so grateful my mom was there?

She stayed at the window watching the kids and silently reassuring Mollie that everything was okay while I went to the front desk to try to switch instructors; I'm hoping that a female instructor will be a better fit for Mollie.  We'll see in a few days; I was able to make the switch and we get our first trial with the new instructor on Friday.

Fingers crossed!

So thank you, Mom, for coming with us and holding things together for me while I did my best to make things better.

Have a wonderful night!

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 166

Today I am grateful for this article.  It said so many of the things I've been feeling over the past couple years, and it was wonderful to read it so elegantly put.

I'm also grateful for how sweet and cooperative the kids were tonight as I put them down for bed myself.  I do it often so this wasn't a big traumatic deal, but it rarely goes as smoothly as it did tonight.  So I'm grateful for the happy, calm feeling of tonight's bedtime.

Have a wonderful night yourself!

Shamrock Treats 2013

I am a huge fan of the shamrock shakes McDonald's sells from late February to mid March; they are thick and wonderfully minty, one of the best shakes around.  I do know, though, that they aren't good for you, so I try to limit myself as best I can.

One day after Baylor's playgroup, and after the lunch at Mr. Burger that followed, I took the kids through the drive thru and got some springtime treats!  Mollie, ever the devotee of all things pink, went for a strawberry shake.  (And barely drank any of it ... she's such a savory-loving girl.)

Baylor, though, joined me in a little shamrock shake treat and enjoyed it quite a bit.

I only had one other shamrock shake this season, but the one I had with the kids was that much sweeter because I got to enjoy it with them.

Disney On Ice!

At the beginning of March we took the kids to see Disney On Ice, our first real outing with just our little family of four.  It was a special day, one the kids were both excited and nervous for; neither kiddo is overly comfortable with people in costumes and the thought of seeing them on ice wasn't initially appealing.  (We almost had to scratch our plans and have one adult stay back with Baylor ... he was that opposed to it.)

But, after much coaxing, we finally got him to agree to go, and on a chilly, sunny Saturday we drove downtown for the event.  The kids dressed in their finest/Disney-est outfits and seemed cool with it all.

Bryson had gotten the tickets from work, so we were actually really close to the ice.  Here's our view!

Unfortunately, our seats were kind of split up a bit; the kids and I were grouped together closely, but Bryson's seat was about ten inches or so away from Baylor's.  They were still great seats, though, and we got lucky and didn't have anyone tall in front of us to contend with.

Getting a normal smile from Baylor that day proved to be difficult.

Seriously.  But aren't they cute?!

Baylor and Bryson went to the concession stand to get Mollie some popcorn.  She was thrilled.

It was all smiles before the show started!

It began with the classic Disney characters, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and the like, and Donald even came in on a Zamboni.

And still things were good!

And then all of a sudden they weren't.  I don't remember exactly what triggered it, but Baylor freaked out and asked, actually begged, to leave.  We finally got him to stay by letting him sit on Bryson's lap and constantly reassuring him that it was going to be okay.

Mollie did really well for the most part, but there were a few spots where I could feel her trembling with fright.  (Namely a little vignette with Monstro, from Pinocchio ... seriously, Disney On Ice people?!)

Actually, most of the scenes they chose were pretty scary (the Beast and Gaston fighting to the death, the aforementioned Monstro, the sharks from Finding Nemo, etc.) and I would definitely want to see the lineup before we took the kids to see one of these shows again.

And, of course, the merchandising was everywhere.  Bryson and I had talked ahead of time and agreed to let the kids choose something, whatever they'd like, for up to $20 each.  Our kids are awesome, and also didn't know about the $20 limit, and chose two things that totaled up to less than $20.  Score!

Mollie got a Jessie hat, complete with braided yarn ponytail!

And Baylor, who was overwhelmed by the experience, chose Lenny from Toy Story.

Neither kid would cooperate for a good photo, though, so when Bryson tried out their new toys, I had to snap a picture.  Thanks, honey!

We had planned on having lunch at one of Baylor's favorite downtown restaurants, Bobarino's, but while calling to get a reservation we found out they weren't open until 2:00 that day.  Having already planned on this and prepped Baylor for it, we made the reservation and hoped that the show would last long enough so we wouldn't have to kill a ton of time.  Of course, it didn't, and we ended up with a decent amount of time in between.  Thinking as quickly as I could, I suggested we make our way over to our favorite cupcake shop Rita Girl's and get a few treats for later on.  As I suspected, no one objected, so we made what turned out to be a decently long walk over and bought some amazing cupcakes.  On the way back to the BOB, Bryson and Mollie dropped the dessert back at the car and Baylor, who I had to carry/piggy-back-ride all the way back, and I went to see if Bobarino's was open yet.

Thank goodness it was!  Just look at how tired the little man was.

Mollie, on the other hand, was absolutely full of energy.

Baylor got so tired at one point as we waited for our food that he laid his head down in my lap.

Bryson and "Jessie" worked on coloring a bit.

And Baylor propped himself up and looked rather miserable.

He perked up a smidge once we got some food in him, but he was still very tired.  He even napped once we got home!

By dinner time he was much more like his normal self.

All in all, it was a pretty good experience.  It's important to try new things, and I was glad the kids got to go. Hopefully next time they'll enjoy it a little more.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 165

Today I am actually grateful for my sleep disorder.  It allowed me to fall asleep in spite of being horribly nauseous from a bout of Meniere's (I did a terrible job managing my sodium intake yesterday) and stay asleep through most of it.  These are the few times being able to fall asleep quickly and at-will is a real asset.

Gotta try to find a silver lining, right?

Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 164

Today I am grateful for our little Ikea table and chairs.  We visited with my in-laws tonight, and it's so nice to be able to have the cousins all eat together at a table their size.  They do a great job of it, too, especially considering some of their ages.

Have a wonderful night!

A Year of Gratitude: Day 163 (a day late)

Today I am grateful for how sweet the kids were at bedtime tonight.  I knew they were really tired and I would have totally understood if they had melted down a bit, but instead they were sweet and quiet and understanding when we told them we wouldn't have time to read tonight.

Amazing kiddos, I tell ya.

Have a wonderful night!

A Year of Gratitude: Day 162 (two days late again)

Today I am grateful I didn't snap during lunchtime with the kids.  Actually, it was Mollie that was pushing me closer and closer to the edge; she and I have been locked in a daily mealtime struggle over how quickly she consumes her food (and how much talking and wandering around is interspersed during that time).  I want to be all "zen" about it and not care how much time she's taking, but we don't live in a vacuum and the day must progress.

Anyhow, back to the gratefulness.

So Mollie and I were downstairs, her alternately eating and getting down to hug me (she knows I can't say no to a good hug) and me continually saying, "Mollie, eat your lunch.  Mollie, take a bite.", and Baylor was upstairs, Bryson having put him down to rest ten or so minutes before.  All of a sudden, and just when I thought I couldn't take it anymore, I heard over the monitor, "Uh oh, Mommy!  Uh oh!" and the sound of feet running out into the hallway upstairs.

I'll spare you the details and simply say that Baylor loves to read so much that he has been known to ignore things, even bodily functions.  Thankfully, the mess was very, very minimal.  I quickly ran downstairs to implore Mollie to eat and grab another pair of underwear for Baylor.

Then I went to help him wipe and all the wet wipes were gone, necessitating another trip downstairs.  At this point, Mollie had "finished" and made her way upstairs to check out what her big brother was doing.  It's amazing how much more ... just more, things get when both kids are in that tiny bathroom and I was feeling all the chaos surrounding me.

And then I thought to myself, "Motherhood really shows you just how much more you can take.  Just when you feel your breaking point approaching, motherhood and life conspire and throw you something else, and you take it on and do it because ... well, because you have to."

After all the epiphany, hands were washed, kids were properly hugged and kissed, and both kids settled into their beds for their nap/rest time.

And here I am, still breathing, still chugging along.  And for that I am grateful.

Have a wonderful day.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 161 (two days late)

(This was started yesterday, but I never got a chance to finish it.  So here it is ...)

Today I am so very grateful we live on top of a hill.  Our poor city is quickly flooding because of heavy rains, and as I hear of people's basements flooding, rivers creeping up backyards, cars submerged, and roads washed out, I feel very lucky and very grateful that we are not currently being affected by it.  I look out our window and though things look wet, nothing is under any water.

In Michigan there are so many times we want our weather people to be wrong and this is most certainly one of them.

Have a wonderful, safe day!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

That's What They Said: Science and Annoyance

(As he's trying to do a Kindergarten activity book ...)
Baylor:  Mom, I don't know this one.  (Which two are like a turtle: lizard, snake, bird?)
Me:  Well, is a bird like a turtle?
Baylor:  Hm.  Well, a pelican is.
Me:  Yeah?
Baylor:  Yeah, a turtle goes underwater, right?
Me:  Yeah.
Baylor:  And it goes on land too, right?
Me:  Yeah.
Baylor:  So it's like a pelican.  So the bird is right?
Me:  (smiling)  Well, that's a great observation, and a turtle is kind of like a pelican, but that isn't a pelican.  It's a songbird.
Baylor:  Oh.

(As he's washing his hands ...)
Baylor:  Mom, the My First Science Encyclopedia is weird.  It doesn't show what foods we eat.
Me:  Well, it can't show everything, honey.
Baylor:  I have an encyclopedia!  It's awesome.
Me:  (smiling)  Yeah?
Baylor:  (grinning)  Yeah, but you have to pay attention to the headings.
Me:  Oh yeah?
Baylor:  Yeah.  There's "life science/life science", "exploration/exploration", ...
Me:  Very cool, buddy.
Baylor:  And under science there is "life science" and "kill science".
Me:  Oh really?  What is that?
Baylor:  Life science is about life, and kill science is about ... hunting.  (smiles)  Yeah, hunting.

Baylor:  Mommy, can I play with my Legos now?  (The 504-piece Flo's V-8 Cafe set.)
Me:  Of course.  But could you put the couch cushions back on the couch first?
Baylor:  Uhhh.  Why do we have to do so many things each day?!

Second School Picture ... *sigh*

He's so handsome, just so handsome.  This picture, though, just isn't.  So glad I bought the CD so I can make a million copies!

Seriously, I've never seen his smile so forced in his entire life.

I love this little boy, fake smile or real one.  He's the best son a mom could ask for!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 160

Today I am grateful for having gotten dinner made pretty early on so I could have fun with the kids this afternoon.  So often I find myself scrambling to get dinner ready at a decent time, but tonight we had a post-dinner walk scheduled and I had to get it done.  And I did.

And on top of that, I made a double batch of taco meat to freeze for a later date!  Every time I am able to freeze something that we'll be able to enjoy later - and with a lot less hassle - I feel like I'm actually on top of things and doing something good for my little family.

So it was a dinner win-win today!

Have a wonderful night!

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 159

Today I am grateful that my family and friends are safe and sound.  I try really hard not to focus on current events for these posts, but today's seemed to be my breaking point.  I am so happy and lucky that those I love are okay, and my thoughts go out to those affected by the tragedy at the Boston Marathon.

I really don't understand what is going on with our country right now.  (Or our world, for that matter.)  I don't understand why anyone would want to do something like this, unless they had some sort of mental illness and weren't capable of rational or moral thought.  I don't know what would compel anyone to hurt their fellow man.  So on days like today I am confused and angry that we can't act like kind, loving people and just get along, for crying out loud.  Agree to disagree, leave each other alone if you can't take it, but don't hurt anyone above all else; those lives are not yours to take, those bodies not yours to injure.

Deep breath, Nicole.

Okay, I'm done with my rant.

So now, I go to bed with a heart full of love for my fellow man, full of gratitude that my loved ones are safe, and full of hope that this tragedy is the last of its kind.

Hey, a girl can hope, right?

Have a wonderful night, everyone.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 158

Today I am grateful that I have been able to look around the house tonight at the absolute mess and appreciate that I did get a lot done today.  (Six loads of laundry, dinner, running for a half an hour, taking the kids to open swim by myself ... that's decent, right?)  Yes, the mess is outrageous and will have to be dealt with as soon as possible tomorrow, but I did get stuff done.

I also learned that if I want to avoid having to run our bedding through the dryer two or three times, it is best to do one or two extra spin cycles in the washing machine before transferring.  Who knew?!

Alright, time for bed.  The mess can wait.  The mess can wait.

Have a wonderful night!

A Year of Gratitude: Day 157 (a day late)

Today I am grateful for the calendar grids I have printed out.  I'm hoping that I can use them to keep track of things around here, namely what we've eaten and which loads of laundry I've done on which days.  (You wouldn't believe how time flies in between washings!)

Anyhow, they make me feel like I might be on the right track and that's always a good feeling.

Have a wonderful day!

A Year of Gratitude: Day 156 (two days late)

Today I am grateful, as I scan the coupons and weekly ads, that we no longer have to worry about buying diapers.  Yes, Baylor still needs overnight diapers, but we are definitely out of the days of purchasing boxes and boxes of diapers and it feels great!

Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 155

Today I am grateful that we are actively taking steps toward removing a giant oak tree from our backyard.  One of its massive limbs is over our garage and has been making us nervous since we first moved in six years ago.  And hey, fewer leaves in the fall can't be bad, right?

Baylor was concerned that we were doing a bad thing by chopping down a tree so we might have to go plant a new one somewhere else, but I think that's a small price to pay for some piece of mind.

Have a wonderful night!

A Year of Gratitude: Day 154 (a day late)

Today I am grateful that I was able to run the half hour my doctor recommended I do on the treadmill to help reduce my stress levels.  It felt good, and I was able to calm myself down a little easier today.  It wasn't perfect, and I still have a long way to go, but it's a baby step in the right direction.

Have a wonderful night!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 153

Today I am grateful for the chance to do things better tomorrow.  Tonight didn't end overly well with the kids - I got stressed out and there were power struggles galore - and knowing that tomorrow has the chance to be better offers at least a little relief.

Have a wonderful night!

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 152

Tonight while we were at my parents' house we played what Baylor called "people hunt", but was actually more like "spies looking for a suspect".  Basically, one person was the suspect and had to leave clues for the spies to use to try and find him/her.  We played three rounds of it, and I think everyone had a lot of fun, particularly Baylor.

So today I am grateful for all the fun we had playing "spies" and all the wonderful laughs and smiles we had along the way.  Catching crooks has never been so fun!

Have a wonderful night!

A Year of Gratitude: Day 151 (a day late)

Today I am grateful that Baylor woke up so easily this morning, his first back to the preschool routine after spring break.  He was actually awake when I went up to get him (very unusual for him) and he was happy to get up and get going.  (He was, however, very concerned that he had neglected to make a Valentine's Day card for Santa and wanted to go right down to the kitchen to make one.  It got him moving, so I let him.)

On top of that, we got to school on time, and I didn't have to hound the kids too much about getting ready.  Score!

Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 150

Today I am grateful for apples.  I know that probably sounds really weird, but they are my favorite fruit and I eat about two a day.  (So does my dad, coincidentally, so I'm going to point to genetics on this one.)

Anyhow, I love apples, particularly the one I eat right before bed.  It's the perfect bedtime snack!

Have a wonderful night!

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 149

Today I am grateful that I was able to get the kitchen island cleared off a bit while I was waiting for my bread to finish in the bread machine.  It will be so nice when I wake up in the morning to a clean counter.  Not a bad way to start the day, if I do say so myself.

So grateful for everything, big and small.

Have a wonderful night!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 148

Today I am grateful that, after working really hard on a dinner that didn't turned out like I had planned, Mollie turned to me as she was eating and said, "Mommy, I like this!"

Thank you, sweetie!

Have a wonderful night!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 147

Today I am grateful for all the sweet little hugs and kisses and I-love-yous the kids gave me.  I got to snuggle with them, hold them, and spend time with my little lovies.  That alone makes me the luckiest mom in the world.

The toughest day in the world can melt away with those hugs.

Have a wonderful night!


To say that this morning was frustrating is putting it mildly.  Spring break has proved to be a difficult change for us; our schedule is thrown out of whack, productivity is bottoming out, and I feel like I'm at a breaking point.

This morning's issue was that we have about ten library books due today (we have nineteen total at our house ... it's amazing how out of control that got), and I wanted to make sure they don't end up overdue.  In the most relaxed and perky way possible, I tried to get the kids to help me make a schedule for our morning so we could maximize our time out.  First we were going to go to the library and exchange the books, then we were going to go get haircuts for the kids, then to the bank to pick up the beginning of the grocery money for the month, and finally to the grocery store to pick up a few essentials.  It is easily doable, though it sounds like a lot when you list it out like that.

Our first roadblock was breakfast; Mollie decided to drag it out as long as possible, taking about an hour and a half to eat a bowl of yogurt and half a piece of cinnamon toast.  Baylor, surprisingly, moved through breakfast pretty well, but with Mollie stuck up at the counter nursing hers for as long as possible, he stalled out on the rest of his "getting ready" to do list.  He went to the bathroom, got his socks on, but then fell short of taking off his pj pants and actually getting dressed.

At one point I basically told them that if they didn't get ready, I would just start taking away all the fun stuff I had planned on our outing (e.g., checking out more books, the hair cut entirely, riding Sandy at Meijer) to make up for the lost time.  I felt terrible saying that, though; and all the while I could hear my inner dialogue, chock full of dos and don'ts, shoulds and shouldn'ts, and everything in between that I have read in books, on the Internet, and in magazines, arguing about whether it was best to just make it a happy day or to tow the line and not let them get away with anything (can't cave to whining and such, after all).  The one main thought, though, was, "This is not the mom I want to be."

Regardless, in no time they were both in the living room tearing apart the couch concocting some elaborate spy story/caveman scenario.  Meanwhile, I was in the kitchen, near tears, mind racing, and having chest pains.  All I could think was "What the hell am I supposed to do?!  Do I nurture their curiosity and just let them play?  I need to let them go with the flow, right?  But what about the day we had planned out?  They have no respect for me whatsoever ... and my heart is breaking.  I'm a bad mother, aren't I?  I can't even get us out the damn door."  It spiraled on from there.  Fun, huh?

Eventually Baylor, who has newly become vigilant about what time it is and "are we running late", suddenly asked when we were going to go.  The little muscle inside me holding back the tears broke with his words, and I started crying.  I wanted to yell so badly and cry as hard as I felt I needed to, but I could tell me crying was starting to freak Baylor out as it was so I tried my best to rein it in.  I explained to them in the shakiest of voices that, in order to get everything done we had talked about, they needed to do what I told them to do when I told them to do it.  I had already made up my mind that we would just stay in for the day and say "screw it" to the need-to-dos, but Baylor, so sweetly trying to make me feel better, suggested that we just go out to the library and Snip Its and leave the grocery store for tomorrow.  Though I informed him of the fact that we have a visitor (his PLAY therapist) coming tomorrow morning and would likely not be able to go to Meijer then, I was proud of him for staying calm in the anxiety-riddled situation and went along with it.

As I got them ready, I could still feel the heaviness in my chest weighing down on me, all my emotions bottled up with no place to go but in.  It is weird, but it seemed like I could actually feel the damage stress is doing to my heart and it scared me ... a lot.  I don't want to leave my kids early because I can't handle and reduce stress like I need to.  Even now as I type this, I can feel the twinge of pain in my chest and it scares the crap out of me.  I wish I knew what else to say about this, but I guess this is what I needed to motivate me to take charge of the stress in my life.  We'll see where this goes.

(As always, I am not searching for pity or attention or anything.  Just wanted to share in case someone else is feeling the same and felt alone.)

That's What They Said: The Baylor and Bryson Edition

Baylor:  Mommy, when you buy the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport ... (whispering) ... make sure you use a gift card.

(Sorry, honey, I couldn't resist!)
Me:  (pointing at a dish towel) Ugh, that stinks!
Bryson:  Yeah.
Me:  Ugh, smell it!
Bryson:  The coffee?
Me:  No!  The towel.  The towel stinks.
Bryson:  (sniffs it)  It smells like cleaner.
Me:  Ugh, it smells like a wet dog to me.
Bryson:  Oh, I can see that.

Bryson:  Baylor, what are the planets named after?
Baylor:  I don't know.
Bryson:  I think you do, buddy.  Think about it ... what are the planets named after?
Baylor:  I'll give you a hint.
Bryson:  (smiling)  Okay, give me a hint.
Baylor:  Born on the 25th.
Me:  (joking)  Aunt Christine?
Baylor:  (smiling)  No.
Bryson:  Jesus?
Baylor:  Yeah!
Bryson:  Oh, buddy, the planets aren't named after Jesus.
Baylor:  Yeah.
Me:  Bryson, are you sure?  (pause) I'm going upstairs to get the book.
(We sat for a while and went through all the planets, we talked all about who the planets were named after.  Then Bryson went upstairs for a bit, and Baylor and I talked.  I was still wondering, though.)
Me:  Baylor, why did you think the planets were named after Jesus?
Baylor:  Because they were.
Me:  But who were they really named after?
Baylor:  (looking at me like I was nuts)  Jesus.
Me:  (after thinking for a minute)  Wait, Baylor, do you think Jesus is God?
Baylor:  Yeah!
Me:  Ahhhh.
(Then we had a brief theological discussion that ended quite short of a full explanation when he got sidetracked on his favorite page: the space shuttle.)

Baylor:  Mommy, have you ever heard of the Ferarri GINA F430 Roadster?
Me:  No, I don't think I have.
Baylor:  Oh, well, it's a pretty cool car.  Want to buy it?
Me:  How much is it?
Baylor:  (after thinking for a moment)  It's free!
Me:  Really?!  Oh, well then sure, I'd love to buy it.
Baylor:  Don't pay any money!
Me:  I won't.
Baylor:  Actually, it costs $15 million.
Me:  Whoa, that's a lot of money.
Baylor:  (thinking he's going up in price) Actually, it costs $1.15 million.
Me:  Wow, that's still a lot of money.
Baylor:  Actually, it costs $1.15 zillion!
Me:  Yikes!  I don't have that much money.
Baylor:  That's okay.  When you buy it, just use your credit card.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 146 Bonus!

Today I am also grateful that the kids had an awesome first swim lesson at our local Goldfish Swim School!  They were comfortable enough that they barely even looked for me after I left them with the instructor.  I have pictures I plan to post later on, but I just wanted to celebrate the early victory here.

And here's hoping the good vibes for swim lessons last and last!

Have a wonderful night!

A Year of Gratitude: Day 146

Today I am grateful that we got to spend a lot of time with some very good friends of ours.  I have known my friend since elementary school and her husband since they first started dating not long after high school.  Both of them were in our wedding, and I was in theirs.  I held their first daughter the day she was born and have snuggled the other two as soon as I could (extenuating circumstances prevented hospital visits).  They have likewise been there for important moments our children's lives.  They are the kind of old friends that you can spend months apart from and still pick right back up where you left off.

Tonight we "partied" with them until way past the kids bedtime (because when you have kids, everything feels a bit like "partying"), and on our drive home I thought back to those days before the kids.  Our friends lived closer, not the half-hour away they live now, and we often got together on weekend nights to play board games together until the wee hours of the morning.  Even after their first was born, we'd still hang out until well past midnight and have loads of fun together.  While the locations have changed and the guest list has grown, we still have a blast together, and our kids get along well enough for them to scamper off and leave us to chat a bit, a real treat for the grownups.

Hopefully we'll see them again sooner rather than later.  Until then, I'll enjoy the new memories we've made and the old ones that still linger like the dear friends that share them.

Have a wonderful night!

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 145

Today was a rough day, particularly so this morning.  The house is in a bit of disarray from the weekend, and that always tends to put me in a funk.  I felt the urge to get some stuff done before we went to my parents' house at 11:30, but the kids were begging me to play with them and I felt guilty not heeding their requests.  Plus, our day started off with Baylor calling me into his room at 7:05 because he had picked a hole clear into the gel of his diaper and it was starting to go everywhere, so his sheets and blanket and sleepy-time pals had to be washed before we left.  And I wanted to get bread made.  And I wanted to wash my clothes so I would have something to work out in tomorrow morning.  And ... and ... and ...

At 9:30 I looked at the clock and sighed, thinking to myself, "Two hours?!  How can there still be two hours until we are supposed to be over there?  Ugh, I wish it was time to leave already!"  And right then, as I was putting away dishes and internally complaining, I thought to myself, "Nicole, how can you wish away even two hours of your life?  You are alive only this once ... you shouldn't wish time away from that!"

So today I am grateful that, while mired in a really cruddy moment, I was able to appreciate even just the fact that I am alive.  It might be basic, but I felt it deep down and tried so hard to carry that with me as I made my way through my foul mood.

Just a little while later Mollie had a potty accident while I was upstairs trying to get their clothes and sleepy-time pals gathered up.  I sprinted downstairs to help her, not realizing where the bulk of the mess actually was.  So ten or fifteen minutes or so later, when I discovered her starting to push Sally's stroller through the puddle, I yelled at her to stop and back up and get to the living room.  "Please, Mollie," I said to her, "don't come near here until I tell you it's okay.  I have to clean this up."  Her pajama pants that the accident had occurred in were really long and dragged a lot of the mess down the hallway, so it took more time than I had originally expected to clean up the mess.  It also took more rags than I was expecting, and at one point I had to stop and get more.  When I returned, she was starting to push Sally through the mess again, and I barked at her even louder, "Amalia!  Get into the living room now!  What did I tell you?!"  Angry at myself for yelling at her and upset that the morning was going so poorly, I got back to mopping it all up as fast as I could.  Quickly, though, I noticed that Mollie was balled up on the living room floor crying.

I had made my girl cry.

Putting down the cloths, I made my way to the living room and scooped her up.  She was sobbing, and in no time I joined her.  I apologized up and down for yelling at her and tried so hard to let her know that it wasn't her fault, that it was all just an accident and that Mommy was having a rough morning.  It took a little while, but eventually I got us calmed down a bit, and eventually everything was okay.  All day, though, I thought about what I had said and how angry I'd been and felt so upset that I had said what I said in the way that I said it, in that voice I hate hearing coming out of me ... and always in the worst moments.  I tried to make it up to her by being extra loving and extra affectionate, but it didn't feel like enough.  How could it? I had made her cry.

But at the end of the day, as I was walking over to turn off her light, I looked back at her and she said, "I love you, Mommy," and smiled her sweetest, happiest smile.

So tonight I am grateful that, in spite of my atrocious behavior and foul mood of the morning, my baby girl will still love me.


Have a wonderful night!