Save Me From My Four-Year-Old

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

You guys. 
Let's talk about four-year-olds.
I don't know what the F happened in the past year, but I seriously feel like some hot-headed, bossy, smart-mouthed teenager has taken over my sweet little boy.
Honestly, each and every morning I'm scared. I'm so freaking scared of what will transpire over the next 12+ hours because it is seriously like walking on eggshells around this kid. I never know if he's going to come down the stairs jolly as the freaking morning sun with a "Hi Mommy! I slept so good didn't I?" or if he'll slide his body down one stair at a time huffing and puffing and complaining about how loud it is and that he needs a God-damn pancake.
What the hell happened? 
I can honestly say that I was looking forward to year number four. More independence, new experiences, new milestones, some bonding with this little human....
Then BAM. The four-year-old 'tude straight up knocked me off my feet.
You'd think that I would revert back to some kind of survival methods I had learned while I was teaching threes and fours. I try, I seriously do, but then I realized a very important thing which is why I still had a little thing called sanity back then..
Oh. My. God.
Please, tell me why everything these days is about as enjoyable as poking my eyeballs out? Either I'm not doing things correctly, I "never let him do anything", or I make his life absolutely difficult.
I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've had his little finger shaking at me in my direction with some kind of absurd command coming out of his mouth. The first time it happened, I lost it. Yep, I completely lost my shit. The 800th time it happened, I looked to the left, I looked to the right, and behind me and asked him, "I'm sorry, are you talking to me?" and just shrugged and walked away.
He hated that. I was smiling inside.
I don't know how to navigate year number four at all. Please show me a no-nonsense blog or book about parents who are scared shitless of their four-year-old kid so I can make sense of this very difficult phase of our lives. 
I write this as I hear the sounds of a little boy in dinosaur pajamas snoring on the couch. I love him. I do. But I can't let my guard down. I never know what will happen next...
Ahh, tomorrow is a new day.
Pray for me. 

RVA Reset

Thursday, November 9, 2017

I've had a lot of change and adjustment since the beginning of the summer, but one thing that's remained the same is the absolute need for my own time to escape and reset. My kids aren't any different than anyone else's- they're active and require a lot of my attention. No surprise there. But I always feel when a major burnout is upon me, and each time I'm able to get away (whether it be 3 hours or 3 days) I always feel better after.
This past weekend, I made a quick 24-hour trip to Richmond, VA to surprise my best friend who helps organize a fun foodie experience all over town called Fire, Flour and Fork. I feel terrible that she's been involved with it for four years and I've never actually gone. When I found out that she and her boyfriend would be there all weekend, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to surprise her and finally experience it. 
I had a hotel booked for the night, Lucca was having a special "boys weekend" with my husband, Leo was with my mom, so I was all set. Other than not feeling 100% (thanks to snotty kids and cold season) I was ready to hop in my car and headed south for some much needed time away.
Every time I drive into RVA, I get this total nostalgic feeling. Richmond is where I spent four years at VCU, scheduled my life around dance rehearsals and basketball games, met my greatest friends and my husband. Some of the best memories though are always in the Fall. Boots and scarves and coffee and running to 8am classes (okay, that's not the best memory but it always makes me think of it). House party-hopping in the Fan. Walking up and down Cary Street. I miss it. I miss it all.

So when I was back this weekend visiting my friend, it was interesting on so many levels. It's a strange feeling when the place around you has changed very little and you've changed a hell of a lot. We ate a four-course meal at Comfort on Saturday with a guest chef flown in from South Carolina. I have always LOVED Comfort, but I can assure you that I could barely afford to eat there as a college student. Being able to enjoy and experience that as an actual adult was amazing.

The downside to being an actual adult was that I just couldn't hang with the rest of 'em at an after-party at a sweet new spot called Brenner Pass. Restaurant people are always down for a party and can rally well into the night- I on the other hand, cannot. One glass of wine and I was back in my quiet hotel room with a king sized bed to myself. I tried. I really tried. But when I realized I was yawning way more than I was actually talking, it was time to go.

The next morning we met at Heritage for brunch. Ah, brunching. One of my most favorite activities, yet I only feel that the brunch experience is fully satisfied 1.) If it's in Richmond and 2.) If there is alcohol involved. There's just something about seeing people crowd outside a restaurant on a Sunday morning. You've got the well-dressed church people, the family people, and the hungover bunch who are all looking for the same thing- good food and good atmosphere. I seriously miss those days of deciding on a brunch spot, so I like to take advantage of it when I'm in town.

I wish I could have stayed a few hours longer in Richmond, but I had kids to pick up and life to get back to. Before I got back in my car, I took a walk by myself for a few blocks around the Fan. I just had to take the time to really breathe in that Fall smell, the wet leaves on the ground, stop by all the places I'd lived (or my brother, or my husband) just to take a quick trip down memory lane. This was my time to reset. This weekend was a time to hit the pause button on the craziness that is being a stay at home mom to two young boys, and to just be happy and in the moment (by myself).

I'll be honest- I have no idea what this post is about. I had to write about the great time I had in my favorite city with my favorite person, but also just how important it is for me to have those times where I can get away. I get so sucked into mom-mode- playdates, preschool, bedtimes, middle of the night encounters with monsters (or beavers... more on that later), that I really just need some time to remember all the things I actually love doing when I don't have a kid (or two) hanging on me.

I drove back home that day excited to be with my family again but also felt a sense of sadness as I left the city. There's so many memories for me there- a lot of which helped make me, "me", if that even makes sense. I texted my bestie on my way out thanking her for a great time and also to let her know that I was sad to leave... she wrote back, "It is sad bc Richmond is cool AF and a symbol of our free years!"

So true. Richmond, you are cool AF and you make me feel semi-cool AF and you refresh my soul. I'll keep visiting you when I need an escape.

Motherhood is Madness

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Motherhood is madness. It just is.

I've absolutely come to accept the fact that life is loud and messy and nothing makes sense. There's never ever an easy way to do things. There's never a point A to point B. Instead, there's a million stops along the way and once you'e made it to point B you've already forgotten why you were trying to get there in the first place.

This has been difficult for me because I'm a scheduler, a list-maker, a go-by-the-rules kinda person. I try to remain in control of many things in my life, but when you have kids, that pretty much flies out of the window. I was definitely one of those "I'll never allow my kid to ________" people pre-kids, and now I just laugh at the fact that I really thought that'd be true. Kids are kids, they don't care and will do what they want. Learn this early on and it'll be smooth sailing for you. Read as many books and blogs as you want- but the key piece of information here is:


And you know why? Because they live in the moment. They live for what's happening right that second, right in front of them. And sometimes, we need to do that too. (Unless of course it involves something dangerous. Come on, I haven't completely lost it).

I have to say, that although I still micromanage some things in our day-to-day, I'm a much happier person when I just let shit go. Who do I think is watching? There's nobody keeping score in parenting. It's survival, people. If it means less crying, whining and tantrums, I'm all over it these days. Sure, I still keep my little humans in-line and under control, but through the madness you discover ways in which you can still be the boss lady while also just letting things slide.

So yes, if kid #2 continues to throw food on the floor from the high chair but would rather eat it OFF the floor like a dog, go for it. He's gotta eat right? If I have to bribe #1 with whatever sweets we have in our house just to eat 5 green beans? Great. If they want to dance on the kitchen chairs just to give me ten extra minutes of cooking time for dinner, perfect. There's no rulebook here. And such is the beauty of motherhood.. (and parenting in general).

There's a method to this madness- and the key is to get over yourself and let shit go.
Also, a nap and some wine here and there helps...

No Sick Days for Mama

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

I've been fighting a cold since Saturday and woke up today feeling pretty crappy. It's the end of September, it's still 89 degrees in Virginia, and I really think my body is just so confused as to what is happening outside. Come on Mother Nature, make up your damn mind. 
I felt this coming- the instant my voice started to sound like a husky man is when I knew it could only go downhill from there. But, I'm a pretty firm believer in the "it's just a cold and there's nothing you can do about it" (as opposed to my husband who has a complete arsenal of medicine for every single cold symptom) so I'm toughing it out. Bring. On. The. Tea.
It's hard to tough it out with kids when you feel like shit. It's hard to wake up in the morning, know that you have a good 12+ hours ahead of you before you have some kind of help. It's hard because they don't understand, and quite frankly they could care less how you feel. And look, I have a head like a balloon, I'm sneezy and snotty, but that's the brunt of it. When you really, really are ill, that's a whole other story. 
Because we're an on-the-go kind of family, days like today just remind me to just lay low and take it slow. Most days I lose my damn mind if we are in the house for more than a few hours at a time- so we're always going somewhere. But today, even though I want to throw every single talking/singing/beeping toy against the wall, we will chill and hang and veg out in front of a TV. That's okay. Without rushing to be somewhere or plans to follow through with, we'll be in our pajamas for a little longer, eat way too many snacks, and see what the day brings.

For the most part, the boys have been pretty tame (with the exception of Leo knocking down bar stools and climbing on top of the kitchen table twice). I've caught him being sweet and funny and coming up with things to play with on his own. Lucca also begged to play in his room upstairs with Leo so while I'm finishing up this post I'm watching them play (nicely) together from the monitor.

I know it won't last long, but for now I'll enjoy the peacefulness that strangely has ascended over my household this morning even though my head feels like a hot air balloon.

*editing note: It WAS short lived. They are already downstairs a whole 11 minutes later with their 3rd snack of the day. 


Goodbye, Summer.

Monday, September 4, 2017

It's Labor Day, summer is officially over, and though I'm excited for all things Fall (I'm 100% basic) I have to admit that I'm a bit sad that this summer has come and gone. It's honestly been the best one (with kids) so far because 100% of my time has been dedicated to our family--and that has been the most fulfilling and rewarding thing I've ever experienced.

We've traveled near and far. We've had thousands of pool days. Lucca learned how to swim under water. Leo learned to walk. And run. And talk.

I've snuggled close with my babes. We've made impromptu road trips to visit family in the middle of the week. We've had the best playdates with friends and neighbors. We've had lazy days with nothing to do and nowhere to go. We've walked for miles on cool mornings. We've spent rainy days at the library wandering the aisles, building with blocks and checking out books. We've gone to get ice cream in the middle of the day.

This. All of this. I needed this so much in my life. I knew I was missing it. I knew I was unhappy before in my previous working situation but I didn't realize how unhappy I was until now. This is what life is supposed to be like. Not missing moments- no matter how big or small. Not wishing for better days with your kids and family...

I already feel like time is passing so quickly- when Fall is looming that means birthdays are around the corner, holidays, then another new year. At least now I can hold on to these moments just a bit longer- even though they are still fleeting. I can hold on to them for just a second longer and be thankful for every single bit of it.

Goodbye summer. You were great to us.

A Cape Cod Summer

Friday, July 28, 2017

Back in the day when my brothers and sister and cousins were little, we would travel up to Cape Cod and have these amazing, magical, vacations. The pre-electronic vacations where all there was to do was spend time outside and play board games in the evening. There are only a few things that stand out in my mind from those family trips- burying family members in the sand, the horsheshoe crabs, the creepy tides at Skatet Beach, and whale watching. These were such great memories as a kid and I've always wanted to share those same experiences with my own children.

After lots of back and forth talking and planning, we finally put the plans into motion and visited Cape Cod once again--after almost 25 (OH MY GOD) years. The cousins have had babies making the second round of cousins and we thought it'd be fun to start the tradition again. I'll be honest with you- was I excited about all those fun things we did as kids that were permantely ingrained in my memory bank? Yes. Was I excited about the hellaciously long drive up there to experience those fun things? HELL NO.

We've traveled a lot with Lucca and now with the two boys so I feel like I've become pretty good as far as packing and preparing for car rides. HOWEVER, this trip was without my husband (who usually drives 99% of any trip we go on) and we were caravanning two SUV's with five children and 3 adults total. Honestly, I wasn't sure I was going to make it.

Thank God for coffee and 5 hour energy drinks. A nine hour trip turned into 12 hours- only due to gas fill-ups and bathroom breaks. The kids were actually amazing the whole time- no complaints, we just kept feeding them snacks and everyone was in and out of sleep. I was quite surprised, to be honest. But that last hour, I pretty much lost all feeling in my right leg as we finally pulled into the driveway.

Aside from the brutal drive, we had SUCH a great week. It reminded me of those old-school summers as we stayed in an old cottage in Chatham with zero A/C, no cable, and plenty of outside time. The kids were climbing trees, digging in the sand, hunting hermit crabs, and getting eaten alive by bugs. We had the best dinners, fun days at the beach, epic naps, and fun exploring the quaint little town of Chatham. Since Leo still wakes up at 5 a.m., we were the lone two awake before the sun even rose, so we would take walks down to the beach and listen to the waves and point out all the "tweet tweets" along the way.

We had such a great week with all the cousins and it will be something that Lucca will be talking about for a very long time. One thing I'll never forget was the absolute joy and excitement he had when he kept discovering hermit crabs with my Mom at Skatet Beach. He found so many he wanted to put them in a bucket to keep "fo-ev-ur".

I always thought before kids that taking trips like that seemed so daunting-- how did people DO that with kids? Are they crazy? Yes, it is. And yes, we are. The planning. The packing. The traveling. But when you get there, it's the best. Memories are made. And isn't that better than playing it safe and staying in your house? And I personally feel that the sooner you get past your front door when they're little, the easier it gets. This is all Leo has known since he was been born- he's been to Pennsylvania, Virginia Beach, New York, and Richmond. We spent a week at Lake Anna when he was only 6 weeks old!

You just have to get out there. Yes, you'll have a ton of crap, it will take a shitload of effort to get there (whether the trip is 2 hours or 12) but you'll never regret going and making some lasting memories with your family.

Here are a few photos from one amazing trip! I can't wait for many more adventures with my little family.


A New Chapter

Sunday, July 16, 2017

It's been a whirlwind of change in these last several months. I've started a new chapter in my life, and it's the best chapter yet. I quit my full-time job, my baby just turned one, I've devoted time to a new business venture, and yet the chaos remains the same.

But good chaos. It's always good chaos. 
I can honestly say, that I finally feel happy again. Not that I wasn't happy to begin with- but my heart just feels full now. I had a goal to be able to walk away from my desk job that required 6+ hours in my basement with my two kids by June-and when I woke up on that Monday morning without having to drag everyone downstairs and put them in front of the TV- it was a glorious moment. 
Lucca had been counting down the days for this to happen, and out of habit he was ready to pack up his breakfast and head to the "dungeon" (the name I had given my workspace for the past three years). When I reminded him that I didn't have to work anymore, that we could actually enjoy our breakfast at the table and snuggle on the couch before our day began, he couldn't contain his excitement. I couldn't contain the tears. I'd been waiting for this for a long, long time.
Quitting my job, especially at the beginning of the summer, was the best decision I've ever made. I've been able to take trips with my family, go on daily adventures, set up slip-and-slides in the backyard...or have a day with no plans at all except a long walk in our neighborhood. We are experiencing summer for what it's worth. Sunburns and bug bites galore. And I've loved every second of it. I know that everyone is benefitting from this- I'm a happier mama because I get to spend more focused time with my family, my kids are happy because I'm more present, my husband is happy because I'm not stressed out and crying to him everyday to come home from work early. A win-win for all.
But that's not to say that with this change doesn't bring new challenges and sacrifices. We've essentially gone from two incomes to one (while I am still able to bring in money with my Rodan + Fields business and work on my own time) so we've had to refocus on some priorities for our family. That means the house projects have slowed down a bit and we've got to count our pennies a little closer than we had before. Is it a risk? Yes. Is it for everyone? No. Was it the answer for our family? Absolutely.

Working outside of the home, working from home, not working at all-they all have their benefits and their not-so-good qualities. What I know is, that I tried to make it work. When I finally thought I got a handle on things with one kid, the second came along and it was back to square one. I felt less connected to my kids, especially with Leo, who I basically just tried to corral in certain sections of our basement so he wouldn't be pulling out cords, climbing on things, or getting in some kind of trouble. I dreaded every single work day. I felt guilty as a mother that my 3 year old watched at least 4-5 hours of TV on any given day. I felt guilty that I hadn't actually sat down and spent the day playing with my new baby. I can't tell you how many sobbing phone calls I gave my husband in the middle of the day, saying "I'm going to quit.. today is the day." I stuck it out for as long as I possibly could, and when the day finally came--it was a huge weight lifted off my chest.

Things will be different, yes. It will always be an adjustment. Not everyday will be rainbows and butterflies and there will for sure be moments that I wish I could have some time to myself. But this is the best thing for me and for my family. I can focus on whats truly important, and that's being the best mom and wife I can possibly be, and filling my heart to the brim with happiness and love and giggles from my tiny humans.

My Facebook Village

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Before I had babies, I always thought I was just destined for motherhood. It was my calling. I always believed I'd be pretty good at it. I would be loving and nurturing. I'd read books all the time with babies snuggled on my lap. I'd do all kinds of fun crafts. I'd take them on special outings and be the fun mom. I'd link up with all these cute, fun moms I'd see going on walks in masses while I was pregnant. They'd be my friends. Our kids would be friends. 

Then I actually did have kids. And when I had my first, it was during a time when we had just moved into a new neighborhood, I'd quit my full time teaching job, and I didn't know a single person around me except for my Moroccan neighbor across the street that patrolled the streets like a neighborhood watch. I'd always go for long walks with Lucca as a baby and our dog, and he'd always stop me to play with him and fill me in on the latest gossip. For awhile I felt like he was my only friend. I had his number in case of emergency. He was a good person. 

For months I forced myself to take Lucca to the library for storytime, going the same days every week to give myself some kind of routine. There was always a playtime after, but I always felt silly sticking around when Lucca couldn't even sit up. I'm not the type of person to strike up conversation over baby talk, so after the 30 minutes I'd pack up and leave to go home. We'd go to the playground on nice days, and once Lucca could sit in a swing I'd occasionally have small talk with parents happily swinging their babes in the middle of the day. It felt good to be out, but I'd always tuck him back into his stroller, and walk the few blocks home back to our little bubble. That's what it felt like, anyway. 

When I was about 8 months pregnant and sitting in our new house waiting for Lucca's arrival, I found out who those stroller-walking moms were, and joined a neighborhood moms group on Facebook. From what I could tell, these chicks were already friends, they'd done playdates on the regular and threw fun parties and moms-night-out events. I didn't do much with them until Lucca was almost 5 months old. I mostly just sat back and read posts like the awkward girl in the back of the room with nothing to say. Occasionally I'd chime in needing baby advice-- the usual, "why isn't my baby sleeping anymore", "what are your suggestions for the best stroller" type of thing. 

Then when it was finally warm enough outside, the stroller walks started up again and I couldn't wait to be a part of it. A time of day where I had to "be somewhere", I could exercise, and meet new people. My usual rigidness of naptime scheduling went out the door on those days. I kept Lucca awake just to be sure I'd make it to the walk on time. I was desperate for adult interaction. Desperate for mom interaction. 

I did this for a long time, never really building any actual friendships but rather just the occasional "oh hey!" when I'd run into those moms at the library or playground or grocery store. It wasn't until Lucca was almost two that I actually hosted playdates, met up with moms at Starbucks, or attended any group events. 

Then finally, I found my village. And Thank God I did. I never thought I'd ever be "that person" to meet friends online, but that's what I did. That's what I had to do. It took me a really long freaking time to find girls I clicked with. And actually had things in common with-- not just the fact that we both had kids. It's difficult making friends this way. You want to be yourself, but show your best self so that you are well received. You want to be honest and not be judged. All my life I made friends BEGINNING with common interests. And now, I had to learn this ass-backwards way of making friends as an adult and find people I really clicked with. Adulting is hard, man.

Thankfully, I have my village of moms now and haven't felt lonely or in a bubble. I could share my second pregnancy experience with other pregnant moms. I could ask for help, I could lend help. I've had to put myself out there and though it took me a really long freaking time, I'm so glad that I did. I look back on those early months with Lucca and now realize just how lonely I was during that time. Funny how that works out, right? How motherhood can make you feel so incredibly lonely if you don't have the right support around you. 

I've found my village, and I'm so incredibly thankful. Thankful to find people who make me feel supported, understand when kids are just assholes, understand when you just need to vent and complain and have a glass of wine at 4 p.m. (or the occasional margarita on "taco night"). Thankful to find people who will help you out in a pinch and be able to return the favor. Five years ago I would have laughed at the thought of making friends online. But being a part of this little group has normalized my feelings of motherhood (happiness, sadness, frustration, guilt, etc..) and has helped me find a great group of women I never would have met otherwise.

If you're a new mama and a bit of an introvert, go ahead. Be that quiet person in the corner of the Facebook group. But do get yourself out there, on your own time, in your own way. Chances are you'll meet people who are a lot like you, and hey, your kids might even like each other too. 

Thanks, Mark Zuckerberg. I'm eternally grateful.

This Is My Place

Sunday, January 15, 2017

It's Sunday morning, around 9 a.m. and already I feel like I've accomplished a lot since rising before the sun came up. The kitchen is clean. The living room is clean. Baby is down for his nap. The boys are on a Home Depot trip. I should be napping myself, probably. These midnight and 3 a.m. wakeups are taking the life out of me.

Yesterday was a fun day. A fun, girly adulting day. I attended a brunch hosted at a friend's house, which basically was an all day event as I didn't return home till 6 p.m. It was wonderful, it was refreshing, I met some new, interesting people, and I wore clothes. Like, real clothes. Pants with a button. And makeup. And jewelry. I'd been freed from the confines of my home for 6 whole hours without ever worrying if the baby was going to swallow something he'd discovered on his new crawling conquest, or trying to keep up with my three-year-old playing superheroes and "chase".

It's funny really, because I did have such a great time, but on the way back (an hour drive from the city back to the 'burbs) I kept thinking how good it was to be going home. I've had these feelings lately, dying to leave, to get a breath of fresh air, to be by myself for a bit or to see friends, but then I reach this limit where I feel like I'm recharged enough and need to get back to where I'm needed. Not that G can't handle anything while I'm gone, but it's just that feeling. "They need me. I need to go home."

And with all the shitty things happening in the world as of late, I worry being far from my family. And by "far" I mean literally leaving for a few hours to run errands. I never really had this type of anxiety before, or maybe I did and it just grew with the added responsibility of having a family to "protect", but I feel safe at home. As much as I'm clawing at the walls to escape my house by the middle of the week, they are my safety net. I find it difficult to "take my time" while I'm away sans-kids, because my mind is always here. I like it here. As crazy and loud and stressful as it can be. This is my place. 

It's important to get out, take a vacation, get some "me" time, some husband-and-wife time--I'm all about that. Trust me. I learned from the very beginning that those times to reboot are crucial to be the best mama I can be. I need to be myself. I need to engage in conversation that isn't always about praising someone, going potty, or constantly asking, "Are you hungry?" all day. I plan things on the weekends so I have something to look forward to. Greg and I have mini getaways to remind ourselves that before there were four of us, it was just the two of us. Every mother needs that. Every parent needs that. It's just that once I get my foot out of the door, I have instant FOMO combined with worry (something could happen to me...or them) and I just want to be back with my crew.

And such is motherhood, am I right? The constant back and forth. And that's okay. This is where I'm meant to be. This is what I was meant to do. Love on these babies, teach them to grow into kind, loving, wonderful human beings. Be here. Be present. And be okay with the fact that sometimes I just need a break, and when I do... everything will be just fine.

And so, as I ramble on.. I will end with this:

"Motherhood brings as much joy as ever, but it still brings boredom, exhaustion, and sorrow too. Nothing else ever will make you as happy or as sad, as proud or as tired, for nothing is quite as hard as helping a person develop his own individuality especially while you struggle to keep your own."      -Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons