Life with THREE

What the kids are wearing these days

Being proper Seattleites, my children demanded to go to the indoor pool on this beautiful 83 degree day. "How about the sprinkler!" I suggested. "I'll fill up the pool!" That was good for maybe half an hour. "Mommy it's too hooooottttt." After that it was, "Can we go to the YYYYYYYYYY?" 

Damn the Y. But also GOD BLESS THE Y. Best ridiculous monthly bill I've ever signed up for. Now if Emma could just suck it up and stop crying in childcare we'd be golden. 

While Phillip took the big kids to the Y, Emma and I stopped at the nearby Fred Meyer. OSTENSIBLY I was looking for flip flops for the big kids, but I ended up buying, ah, summer wardrobes. I keep being delighted with all the clothes I already HAVE for Emma, and wondering why my big kids have nothing summery to wear and/or shoes that fit and/or jeans without holes and/or skirts that aren't scandalously short. I really did mean to buy JUST FLIP FLOPS, but I left the store with something like forty-seven shirts and thirty-nine pairs of capri pants for Molly. Oh, and a few shirts and shorts for Jack. We just finished modeling everything for Daddy and I'm pleased AND horrified that everything fit perfectly. I kept thinking, "Oh, that'll be too big, but better too big than too small! She'll grow into it! It has an adjustable waist, so we're all good!" (WE DID NOT NEED THE ADJUSTABLE WAIST.) 

But you guys, this was the first time I shopped in the Bigger Girl area. Not the infant and toddler section, the 4-6X section, and DUDES. There was exactly one rack of the type of clothes I would dress my kid in. The rest was Mini-Teenager, Mini-Hoochie-Teenager, Branded Sparkly Horrors, and Just Plain Ugly. I have some definite Feelings about age-appropriate clothing, but other than that I don't think I'm too picky. I often let Molly pick her own clothes, I'm learning to get over it if it doesn't match perfectly, and as long as it's clean and fits I will abide the layers upon layers of hot pink tulle. HOWEVER. I was surprised at how many things I would never ever let her wear, on account of Hideosity. Is that a word? It is now. There are always a lot of hideous clothes, but in the Bigger Girl Section at Fred Meyer, the hideous was about 90%.

What was not hideous? The teeny little Carters section where I bought the heaps of t-shirts and capri pants. And one pair of shorts because they were the only Not Booty Shorts That Also Matched The Shirts that I could find. SHEESH. These are just play clothes and all the colors and patterns mixed and matched and they don't SAY things, they aren't BEDAZZLED, they aren't trying to be sixteen. Carters 4Eva! 

I thought I should probably buy Jack some things too, as he's just in need as Molly, he's just not as... well, honestly, he and I are both fine if he wants to wear his googly-eyed shark t-shirt four days in a row. (Not to school. I have a nice assortment of brownnosey polo shirts for school.) But he needed a few pairs of shorts and some new t-shirts and I bought the only three t-shirts in the store that were not 1) camoflage or 2) stamped with skull and bones graphics. NO SKULLS AND BONES. HE IS [ALMOST] SIX. NO NO NO. YUCK. 

Sorry. I have opinions. 

I also don't want things smothered in sports pictures or dirt bikes or motorcycles or cutesy-tough sayings. YUCK! There are certain things Jack likes. For a while I was buying bug or sea creature shirts. Dinosaur shirts. Now I'm on the lookout for superhero shirts that aren't nine hundred dollars. But they still need to be CUTE. These shirts are TERRIBLE. 

And it's not just Fred Meyer, it's anywhere where kid clothes are relatively inexpensive. There are always cute things at the cute stores, but sometimes I just want a stack of five dollar t-shirts he can get dirty at the playground. Is it too much to ask that I not hate whatever is pictured on the front? ANNOYING. 

I feel like I have the rest of my life to disapprove of what my children are wearing. I don't need to start NOW.

Anyway, this is why I buy five dozen plain colored t-shirts from Old Navy before school starts. Of course these are worn out immediately, but at least I don't actively dislike them. 



My neighbor? The parking police? She made a point to smile at me as I drove by yesterday. What do you think THAT means, hmm? 

I'm going to go put my kids to bed, open a Beer of Mexico, and make my husband sit on the deck with me and appreciate the weather. Happy Sunday evening. 

I, on the other hand, remember it well

Sometimes I like to read what everyone else is reading, even if it's months past when everyone else is talking about it. I put a digital copy of What Alice Forgot on hold at the library and the other night when there was absolutely nothing to watch on TV I thought, fine, I'll start reading a book

It wasn't the best book I've ever read and it certainly wasn't the worst, so when I was all done I was confused (again!) by how STRESSED OUT and IRRITATED I was. How AFFECTED I was. "What's your DEAL, Self?" I asked myself. "CHILLAX."

But I thought about it most of the day and I realized: oh. That's why. So you see, due to a head injury, Alice has forgotten the last 10 years of her life. (WAIT! SPOILER! DO NOT KEEP READING IF YOU WANT TO READ THE BOOK! I HAVE WARNED YOU!) Ten years ago she was young, pregnant, blissfully happily married, excited for the future. But the Alice of the Ten Years Into The Future, the REAL Alice, she's a half-psychotic supermom with three kids and a fancy house and a husband who works all the time... and travels... and takes a lot of phone calls... and she sort of emotionally divests herself from him... and then they SEPARATE. ACK.

Hey did you like how I said "emotionally divests"? And I've never even taken a psych class. 

Anyway, this gnaws at me. Clearly I am still processing The Year Of Too Much Business Travel. I am beyond thrilled that Phillip is at a new place doing new stuff, he feels like there's potential, and the environment, the expectations, the "culture" seems so different. He hasn't been there long enough to know and it's not like he'll never get on a plane for work again, but it's a huge [and good, I think] change. But I don't think I have fully switched over from Single Parenting Every Other Week to Daddy Is Home At Five Every Day. 

I feel terrible, because it's not like Phillip was DEPLOYED. It's not like his job WAS in Atlanta and he only came home on the weekends. (I know people who have arrangements like this and do it for years.) He got so much better at communicating vague travel plans and I never felt jerked around by his work. And even though he was consistently traveling once a month for a year, the excessive travel, the several weeks per month only started happening in September. That was only three months. When we knew there was an end point. Halfway through we knew it wasn't just the end of crazy travel but an entirely new JOB waiting at the end. When he made sure to be around on the weekends and made it possible for ME to go on a FUN trip by myself for five days. 

It seems like such a short term thing - why does it feel like a big deal still? Why does it feel like something to process at all? 

I think it's the way I coped with it all. In the beginning, when he first started these 4 and 5-day-long business trips, I would silently freak out about them for weeks ahead of time. (If I KNEW about it weeks ahead of time, I suppose!) The anticipation was always harder than the actual event. I think I got used to it, sort of, then we went and had EJ and I got terrified all over again. EJ was only about two months old the first time he left me at home with three. She was a horrible sleeper, the whole thing WAS horrible, I had to plan to spend almost the whole week with my parents when he went away again the next month. (That was better.) 

By September and October of this year, I didn't even bat an eye. It's not like I was HAPPY about it or anything, but I felt resigned. It wasn't Phillip's fault, after all. He didn't seem to be as affected by work travel as I was, but this was still his job, the way I got to stay home with my kids, the way we paid the mortgage. And I was capable. I could do all the school stuff by myself. I could do all the meals and bedtime. I could do a wet bed and a bloody nose and an awake-for-no-reason baby all in one night. I made embarrassingly easy dinners, I put the kids to bed as early as possible, we made plans with friends and family, and I savored that alone time at the end of the day when I was finally done and there was no one else around to take care of except myself. Single parenting wasn't so bad. I could handle it just fine. 

What's weird now, I think, is that even though I don't HAVE to single parent anymore, it's still sort of my first plan of attack. How do I take care of this thing? How do I manage all of these people? I forget to factor Phillip into all of that. 

So when he comes back and decides that he's going to try a new discipline approach with Jack, or suggests I do something differently with Emma, or points out something I forgot or ignored I'm RATHER TOUCHY. I'm like this anyway (don't you try to tell me I'm wrong!) but I feel even more sensitive. Like, "HEY, WE WERE JUST FINE WITHOUT YOU." 

And that's... horrible. Horrible! I don't want that! 

I didn't really know how else to deal with the business travel, and now I see it affecting things afterward. I need to get out of this mindset where I am only and forever in charge, where parenting WITH someone is better for everyone. And I don't have to tell myself it's not important just so I can manage to do it alone. 

Phillip feels differently... I'm not exactly sure how it all lines up, but from what he says, it seems that he feels he was fully present when he was home and it wasn't like he was gone ALL the time and he was still a part of things. And he WAS... but I think when he was here, especially the last few months, I was just preparing for him to leave again. I never got comfortable. I made sure to spend plenty of time alone, without kids AND my husband. I didn't want to be angry and resentful all the time, and it seemed like the only way to do that was to act/feel/think like I was just fine doing this on my own, I didn't need him anyway. 

So I wasn't angry and resentful. Honestly. I was many things, but I was not angry or blaming him. Whatever I did, it worked. It's just that now that it's over, it's proving hard to go back. 

In case you weren't super sure, this website is powered by chocolate chips

I am averaging about a half a bag of chocolate chips per day. I want to totally ignore this fact AND never speak of it again OR refer jokingly to the pudge I continue to add to my middle as "my winter weight! HAR HAR!" At the same time I want to write a lengthy, angst-ridden, self-diagnosis of my inability to stop eating chocolate chips and the utter depression consuming me re: the pudge I continue to add to my middle. However. I've decided to do neither and simply eat more chocolate chips while I think of something else to write about. 

I held a seven-week-old baby at church this morning and OH. Heavy sigh. I never want to be pregnant again and I'm still half-terrified of giving birth again and even if those things weren't true my husband is already well out of his Children Comfort Zone. BUT BUT BUT. I love babies. No, you guys, I love babies. They are the smooshiest most wondrous little things and if I think about it too much it absolutely kills me that my own baby is rapidly becoming un-baby-like. Maybe this is why she isn't even close to walking, maybe she knows!

ALTHOUGH. Pregnancy is, in my opinion, a totally valid reason to keep a chocolate chip habit. 

Honestly, I think I keep eating chocolate chips because they're THERE. I start baking pretty early on for Christmas festivities and this year, as you already know if you follow me on Twitter/Instagram, I went hard core with the cookies. My freezer is packed. But I still have plans for more and that means Cookie Supplies are everywhere. I finally did get a handle on the amount of goodies I was consuming directly out of the freezer, but those chocolate chip bags are the devil. Delicious devils. 

AAAAAAANYWAY. Is there really nothing else to say? Must this blog always be waxing poetic over chocolate?

I suppose one good observation I can make is that I consume (or want to consume) the same amount of chocolate in good times as in bad. Last week? Quite possibly the easiest week of my Mom Of Three Kids Career. Phillip's new job started, but only kinda sorta. He was doing this online training thing Monday through Thursday. It started at six in the morning (lame for him) but meant that he was off around three (awesome for ME.) He did this from home, so he was around during the afternoon witching hours! He picked up Jack for me! He was just HERE! And I have to say, I got used to that pretty quick. So much so that when he finally went into the office on Friday, it was a long afternoon. Even though he came home at FIVE. He NEVER comes home at five! But apparently everyone else left early? So he did too? What I'm saying is I could maybe get used to this new company. The culture appears to be... decidedly different. 

In the meantime I am doing a crazy amount of online shopping (while eating chocolate chips) and fussing about my house (while eating chocolate chips). I am DYING to decorate for my Christmas party, which isn't for two weeks. (By the way, you're invited.) So far I've refrained from giving into that madness, but I'm also annoyed because the decorating I HAVE done is constantly being messed with by CHILDREN. Also, they think my present wrapping supplies are theirs for the taking. No. I will guard that last tape dispenser with my LIFE.

DEAR GOD THIS IS THE MOST BORING BLOG POST EVER. I feel like if you are still here reading this I should hurry to your house and pour you a handful of chocolate chips as thanks. I need a jumpstart for this blog. Or something. I can't keep writing about Jobs and Children and Weight I Could Clearly Not Be Gaining If I Made Any Effort Whatsoever. I'm trying to think of a SERIES. One time, long long ago, I wrote a bunch about how I became the Lackadaisacal Yet Mostly Devoted Churchy Person I am today. One time I wrote about how I go grocery shopping and feed these people I live with. I need to think of something I can be obsessive about for a week or two. The only thing I've thought of so far is: Which Nashville Character Would I Rather Marry: Fake Tim Tebow or Gunnar The Sweet, Sensitive, and Swoon-worthy Singer/Songwriter. SIGH.

Please pray for my tin can

I SHOULD be in bed, since my BIL is coming over in the middle of the night to take me to the airport, but I am too busy being nervous about my airplane ride. I am not a fan. It's going to take me pretty much all day to get to New Orleans and I intend to survive with Dramamine, Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, and some TV Phillip is copying over to my phone. Also snacks. Put me in an airport and I'm suddenly buying all the chocolate and bagels and coffees and overpriced cookies. I think I feel like I DESERVE to snack if I'm going to be trapped inside a tin can for hours. Probably not the best thing to do, as I did the exact opposite of Dieting during the weeks before NOLA. I intended to shed a few pounds so it wouldn't matter if I packed a few beignets on during the trip. Now I might have to wear my pajama pants on the return flight. 

Also there was an election today? The President is speechifying as I type. Now that it's over, mostly, I'm glad I was out with friends tonight, getting my toes done and eating French fries. I love them more than I love cable news. 

It's a bit crazypants in Mighty Maggie Land right now and I'm feeling guilty about leaving. Then I think, "Oh, it will be so nice to get AWAY." Then I creep into Emma's room and consider picking her up and snuggling in the rocking chair for a while... I miss my baby ALREADY. I am that mom, you guys. I AM THAT MOM. 

I creeped into Jack and Molly's room too. They were both snoring. I missed them already too, until dinnertime when they both lied to me about scarfing all the leftover Goldfish on Emma's high chair tray. Their dinners: uneaten. The giant mess of crackers on Emma's tray: GONE.

"Did you eat all the crackers?"

Two heads shake no. 

"Who ate all the crackers?"

Two sets of shoulders shrug. 

What, do they think I'm an idiot? Seriously? And I wasn't even MAD about them eating the goldfish crackers! My actual thought went something like, "What industrious and opportunist little children I have! Well done, sneakypantses! But you BETTER eat those noodles!" But you know, one little ridiculous lie turns Mommy into RAGING WACKO LADY who takes away all your behavior chart cards, the iPad, the Halloween candy, and all the Fun for the REST OF TIME. 

Yeah, maybe I need this carb-heavy getaway. 


A general taking account of things

I have absolutely no self control around candy. None. I am deadly super serious. The low carb thing generally works for me and I can go around ignoring bread and pasta and rice for days, but stick a rectangle of Hershey chocolate in front of me and it instantly disappears. I've written about this before. I have no stopping point with chocolate. 

Which is why I just had to bag up the leftover Halloween candy and throw it on this little decorative ledge in our kitchen that I can't reach without a chair, and maybe some tongs since I threw it pretty far back. I'm not foolish to think that will keep me from eating the rest of the chocolate, but it MIGHT keep me from eating the rest in under two hours. 

I've already had six pieces for breakfast. I AM SERIOUS, YOU GUYS. IT IS A SICKNESS.

Jack is missing his second day of school. He seems totally fine this morning, but yesterday he threw up twice and moped around all day and slept through the afternoon and wanted to go home in the middle of trick or treating. That is legitimate unwellness. So I emailed his teacher last night and let her know he wouldn't be in today. Right now I'd be barking at everyone to get in the car, we're gonna be late! But we're still in our pajamas (some of us are changing into our costumes), inspecting our candy, arguing over which TV show to watch next. It's kind of nice, actually. 

It's November, which, you'll agree, is a smidge insane. I have a thirteen-month-old today, for one thing. It's All Saints Day, my favorite of the Catholics-have-to-go-to-church days. It's the day I intended to start NaNoWriMo, but HAHAHAHAHA that is so not going to happen. It's the month of the Blathering. It's when I send my Christmas party invitations. It's rain and gloom and pinecones and pine needles all over my porch and deck and wearing sweatshirts to bed and oh God we won't see sun again until July 5. I meant to have these five pounds lost by November so I could gain them back over the holidays without heaps of guilt, but please note the six pieces of candy I ate for breakfast. 

My mom and dad are visiting us today, mainly because I asked my mom to alter a dress I want to bring to New Orleans and I forgot it at her house. Plus my phone charger. I forget everything. I am that person, even when I make a giant effort to NOT be that person. I'm hoping to do a little shopping later - Molly needs a winter coat, I have a pile of stuff to return. Otherwise it sounds nice to stay in my pajamas and dirty hair. 

I have cleaned a toilet this morning. I am not all candy and slothfulness.

I've been thinking a lot about the Blathering, a lot about our Christmas party, a bit about Actual Christmas and how to make it Not Exhausting. I feel like this is a month to just power through, what with all of the travel and holidays and new jobness. And December might be more of the same, though I'm throwing in a party and a trip to St. Louis. I've started saying, "Well, maybe we can get together in JANUARY..." 

Which isn't to say I don't love November and December. It's chocolate season.

EJ is sleeping better, more, and more predictably than she ever has in her life. Molly is... well, I think we're seeing more and more of Actual Molly, rather than Molly As An Appendage Of Jackson. Which is kind of amazing and awesome and exciting. And Jack, gosh, I mean, if he's not making me crazy he's Becoming A Big Kid and that's its own intimidating and bittersweet and wonderful and shocking thing. He holds my hand when we walk back tot he car when school is out and every time I wonder: is this the day he stops holding my hand? 

He's only five. That can't happen yet. 

November: we're nine hours in and things are looking up. 

You can tell Phillip's been away

I'm really angry at my kids tonight. That probably means I shouldn't be writing here. OH WELL!

When I was little, just a look from my parents could make me cry. I don't really know what I was like when I was Jack and Molly's age, but what I do remember from the times I was in trouble is a Hyper Awareness of my parents' moods - if they were upset with us, which one of us they were upset with, and what I could do to make it better. 

It is really weird to me - and BEYOND frustrating - that Jack and Molly seem wholly unaffected by my anger. 

Oh, they'll stop and look at me, they'll calm down, Molly's chin might even wobble. But even if I've just shrieked my fool head off, which I HAVE been known to do, the minute I turn my back it's playtime again. They might not be doing anything to get them in trouble, but they're giggling or diving right back into a game and being silly and I'm all, "WTF CHILDREN. I JUST YELLED AT YOU. ACT LIKE IT!"

So I wonder, you know? Do they just not KNOW how to behave when they're "cruising for a bruising"? Is that something I have to teach them? I try. I tell them what appropriate behaviors are when they're in trouble and need to get back into my good graces. Cleaning up quickly and quietly, not laughing and dancing around and making an even bigger mess. Because sometimes I can tell Molly to do something ten times, in the most direct language I can think of, straight to her face, in any tone of voice, and she will either continue stand there looking blank, or do something ELSE. I'll be furious about a huge paper and markers mess that they're taking forever to pick up, and Jack will ask me for a snack while there's still garbage all over the floor. Maybe they really don't GET IT. 

I've also wondered if I'm just not mad ENOUGH. This seems crazy to me, because I get plenty mad. I have lost my voice from shrieking at them, hand to God. I'm not proud of it, but I swear, sometimes I don't know how else to get across the very basic fact that I AM MAD! And it STILL doesn't seem to matter. It's like they're just waiting for me to get it out of my system. 

I am oh so slowly starting to think: what's the point? This isn't working. It just makes me angrier and more tired and voiceless. What works (when I am on top of things, when I'm not exhausted, when I'm in control) is an instant and matter-of-fact anvil coming down on whatever/whoever the issue is. Immediate card taken away, immediate removal, immediate loss of whichever treat or privilege is in contention. And I don't have to get mad about it. I just have to be quick enough and solid enough and that's it. Done. Boom. No iPad for you. No dessert. No story before bed. No Netflix. THE END. 

But I'm just like... SERIOUSLY? Do you not SEE that you're in trouble? Did you REALLY just ask me for that? Did you REALLY just talk back to me AGAIN? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? 

What is wrong with ME?

I can't figure it out. 

Is it baffling because I'm tired and lazy and I would much rather discipline with an Angry Stare than a behavior chart and thinking up things to take away and verbally shutting Jack down every time he opens his mouth (WHICH IS A LOT)? Or because I was the sort of kid instantly cowed by my dad's angry voice? Am I not scary enough? I can't BE more scary! OMG I AM SO TIRED.

My kids are SUPER GOOD at school- polite, kind, cheerful, obedient. They're both rule followers. They both respect adults and are very aware of the kids who don't. I am not at all worried about their behavior anywhere besides my own home. I'm not even WORRIED about it, I'm just TIRED. I feel utterly ineffective and STYMIED. If someone got in MY face the way I occasionally get in JACK'S face I'd be a sobbing mess in the corner. 

Jack? Toooootally different kind of kid. I am not equipped for this kind. 

This is the sort of blog post that I publish and think, "Well, everyone who reads THAT is going to think [UNFLATTERING DESCRIPTION OF MY PARENTING SKILLS]" but... I don't know. I don't really care tonight. I just feel like writing out the frustration, no matter how it sounds. I know we're fine and I know things will be fine and I'm a good mom and my kids are decent little humans, but MAN, there are days when I CANNOT figure it out. 

And you appear in all your splendor

What a FANTABULOUS and AMAZILICIOUS weekend! I almost feel... not tired! 

There have been several times in my marriage where I didn't feel like I was spending much time with Phillip. I remember feeling this way when we were both working full time, but it seems totally foreign to me now, since what were we doing after work except hanging out with each other? It's not like we had children or particularly demanding jobs to distract us, right? RETROACTIVE EYE ROLL.

Then we had Jack and Molly (does anyone remember when we had one baby instead of two? Not me!) and we were awfully busy and awfully worn out. Happy, but tired. Like all couples in charge of small children, maybe we didn't get a lot of time to ourselves. 

The grad school years were especially lean on quality time. Phillip was often in class or studying away from home on Saturdays, he often had to write papers and do homework on weeknights. And he started traveling for work during those years, so yeah. Remember when he was traveling for work the week we had to pack up and move out of our rental house AND I was pregnant? I DO!

And then 2012 brought a week-long trip every month, on average, and I started to think that maybe THIS was worse than all the other times. Hadn't I railed against ANY business travel EVER? And now it was occuring on a dismally regular basis? But 2012 is the year of Realizing I Cannot Do It All and one of the things I couldn't do was Get Mad. It wasn't Phillip's fault anyway. It was just the nature of things and it was best to just plan a lot of friends and family time during those weeks and Power Through. 

But now, you guys. NOW there is an exponential increase in business travel. He went twice in September, he's already finished one week of travel in October and he potentially travels next week and the week after that - three weeks in October. In fact, we sat down tonight and put all the work travel on the calendar and while everything is constantly changing, right now he is traveling every week until Thanksgiving. And that doesn't include his trip to Montana this weekend with friends (which he is doing with my complete and total blessing) or my trips - The Blathering in November and Urbana in December. 

This week he's home and it almost feels weird. Really. I had to make a meal plan for the week; I'm going to have to COOK. I will have help in the evenings. Someone else will put the kids to bed. I won't have to wake up for every single thing in the middle of the night. I won't feel nervous turning out all the lights. It's weird when your normal life starts to sound novel. 

So this weekend we took huge fantastic advantage. He came home super late Thursday night. Friday the kids didn't have school so we visited my parents, by which I mean I went shopping with my sister all day while my mom was in charge of feeding and corraling the shorties. And on Saturday we met up with Phillip's parents for dim sum and when THEY took our kids home with them, WE went home and sat in front of the television. For hours. I am not even the slightest bit ashamed. We watched a terrible movie about the financial crisis (Margin Call) and almost everything on our TiFaux. Then we dressed up, went downtown, ate fattening appetizers for dinner, and walked over to the Paramount to see Wicked WHICH WAS SO SUPER DUPER I wish I could buy you all tickets. We stayed up late, slept in, made ourselves giant breakfasts, and argued through Meet The Press. We did some laundry, cleaned out the closets, dropped everything at Goodwill, went to the grocery store - all without kids and it sounds boring I know, but when was the last time we had time to talk about how we will basically cancel each other out when it's time to vote? Or time to sit on the couch and watch trashy television? Or put on glittery shoes and go out by ourselves and stay out, way past our bedtimes? 

He's home all week until Friday night, when he'll leave for Montana. He comes home Monday evening and goes back to the airport Tuesday morning for another work trip. He'll get back Thursday night. I think that will be the longest/hardest stretch. I have a plan and we'll be fine, but part of how I stay fine is getting used to doing it all by myself. And then it's really weird to sort of allow him back into life at home. 

Isn't that horrible? But that's how I do it. I don't know. 

This DOES have an end point. This particular project is over by Thanksgiving. After that there's business travel, but not at this frequency and intensity. And I don't think I'm writing this to complain about the travel or to elicit sympathy (although I am always happy to take sympathy!) or anything like that - I think I just actually want to write down how it's WEIRD. It is WEIRD when this integral part of your life, a key piece of day to day living, a NECESSARY INGREDIENT just... isn't there! Or has to disappear for days at a time. You start to tell yourself you DON'T need that piece. That you're fine without it! Because, well, you have to be fine without it. He doesn't want to worry about you while he's away and you don't want him to worry and you just do what you have to do and feel relieved when he comes home. But then he comes home and it's weird! GOOD weird, but... still weird. Because you (me) mentally place yourself in I Can Do This On My Own land and then you suddenly don't have to be there anymore...

I always knew I couldn't marry anyone in the military because of deployments. Dads were constantly deployed when I was in high school and living on the military base. Even then, having no idea what it's like being married and having a family, I knew I didn't want that. And now that I've been doing what I've been doing, it sounds even worse. There's the solo parenting for months on end, sometimes without any family nearby, then there's the reentry into Normal, which can't possibly feel Normal after months of solo parenting. How do those families make it? 

I'm writing this as Phillip is putting the kids to bed. A whole half hour later than I would do it if he weren't here. I have time to write when Phillip is home! But we're so tired and I think we're just going to fall back into our Too Tired To Move modes, then he'll leave again on Friday, then it all starts over. 

So it was pretty awesome Saturday night, wearing fancy shoes and makeup, sitting in a theater in the best seats Phillip could get, knowing every line of every song, glancing at my husband who would glance back and smile because he knows his wife loves fancy shoes and theaters and huge song and dance numbers and being out at night. There are hot pink roses in a vase on my dining room table. There are emergency chocolates in Phillip's coat pocket. I think we'll be okay. 

It's past my bedtime and I've had a large glass of wine

Because I know you're dying to know how all this Nap Drama is playing out, here you go: I kept her up today. No morning nap for YOU, Delinquent Baby! I took her to Target after the preschool drop off, then we came home and she watched me clean up the kitchen and fold clothes and we also watched that new show Partners that I REALLY want to like but just CAN'T yet... She was getting cranky right around when it was time to pick up Molly. She fell asleep in the car on the way there, was wide awake on the way home, but happily dove into her crib and slept for nearly two hours. 

So I'm calling that a win right there. I am not quite sure how to do life without a morning nap yet - like, that's when I run, it's often the time where I, you know, RECOVER from the craziness that is a kindergarten/preschool morning. But I would a million times prefer an afternoon nap to a morning one, so we'll just keep moving in that direction and I guess everything will figure itself out. I used to be quite the devotee of the 1pm daily date with the 30 Day Shred, and when I was doing that I looked a heck of a lot better in my pants than I do now. Maybe it can happen again.


It'll work itself out, right? Right. And then when it gets crazy I will just sit back and think about how I will have two children in school next year and a baby who (God willing) will have fully transitioned to the afternoon nap and what a glorious year that will be. Eyes on the prize!

One more day and Phillip comes home. And the kids don't have school on Friday so we're headed to my mom and dad's and probably their pumpkin patch, since they live out where there are things like Farms and Country. I have friends who've taken their kids to do all that Fall stuff already, the pumpkins and the apple orchards and YAY NATURE but dude, I am not up for that sort of thing. Not right now. Maybe next year, during the Glorious Year, but right now I will happily take advantage of my parents. 

And Saturday? Have I told you what we're doing Saturday? Phillip bought me tickets to Wicked for my birthday and the show is Saturday night. EEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! I have already seen Wicked, in London, with The Original Elphaba (EEEEEEEEEEEE!!!) but I'm sure this touring production in Seattle, that known musical theater hot spot, will be awesome. Seriously. I know the entire score backwards and forwards, so if anyone forgets a line I'll just bound up on the stage and take over. 

Anyway, on Saturday we are pawning the children off - ALL of them! - to the other set of grandparents and we thought it'd be fun to get a hotel room downtown that night for after the show. Except! There are no hotel rooms! None! I was able to find ONE room: the Hyatt at $385. !!!! I am thinking we will be FORCED not to spend money and Phillip and I positively HATE being forced not to spend money. How annoying.

However! Things to look forward to! Always good. Also: a month from tonight I will be eating dinner at a fancy restaurant in New Orleans with 59 ladies of the internet and HOLY CATS, once again, I cannot believe we are pulling this off. FIFTY-NINE.

Wow, I just totally cheered myself up via blog post. GO ME!  

The power of positive thinking

I am really very disturbed at how many of you had babies who gave up the afternoon nap instead of the morning nap. I didn't think this was a possibility. I had never heard of this. Such a predicament never entered my mind. 

AND YET. There was no afternoon nap today. Again. OH DEAR GOD. 

I haven't quite come to the point where I've decided that this IS what's happening, that she IS transitioning to one nap and she's doing that by dropping the sacred afternoon nap. But once I do - IF I do - I will probably attempt to push her morning nap later and later. Where I bump into trouble is the fact that I pick up Molly at 12:30 three times a week. So. Afternoons are just gonna blow, huh? 

Emma's also not EATING. It's been about two weeks now. She'll have three or four or five bites of something, then refuse the rest. Her disdain doesn't seem to be directed at any particular food, just food in general. Unless I give her chocolate chips. Which I never do. But she never turns down chocolate chips. Not that I give her chocolate chips. I'm just saying. 

So can someone list out all the possible reasons why a baby, who seems otherwise perfectly normal, suddenly refuses to eat? I'd like that list so I can properly fret. My "eh, it's probably teeth, I don't know, she'll get over it" outlook is feeling unnaturally and uncomfortably calm, completely out of character. 

Speaking of that sort of character, I saw the brain doctor on Friday. I sat in Friday rush hour freeway traffic until I absolutely could not stand it, then I crossed over to Aurora and sat in THAT traffic, then I found my way to the doctor's office downtown by a little method I call Driving Towards The Building That I Think Is His. I actually drove straight there, I was 15 minutes late, I'd already called to warn them - and then my appointment was all of ten minutes long and could have been handled completely over the telephone. But I suppose they don't get to bill telephone calls? 

ANYWAY, we (he) made some modifications to the Treatment Plan and, like always, we'll try that for a few weeks and see how it goes. I also vowed never to schedule another appointment at 4:30 on a Friday. I am also staying away from fancy dark chocolate, I am making extra sure that the barista heard me when I said "decaf" (and ignoring the Looks of Judgment), and when I start to despair about the business travel, I start thinking about the frequent flyer miles. 

Our ten year anniversary is next summer and Phillip is all about zoning out on some Mexican beach, sans children obvs, for as long as possible. And I... I sort of want to do a FAMILY trip. Is that weird?! The original plan was to take everyone to Hawaii and hang out with my old college roomie and her husband and new baby. The kids LOVED Hawaii when we went for her wedding. We had such a fun time TOGETHER. I still want to do it! And Phillip just looks at me and goes, "THAT does not sound RELAXING." As if I have ever wanted to do something relaxing in my entire life. 

But yes, frequent flyer miles. Hawaii! These weeks of solo parenting will one day be capped off with white sandy beaches and mai tais. I AM THINKING POSITIVE HERE, PEOPLE. 


Naps: the Holy Grail

By 12 months-ish, both my big kids had dropped or nearly dropped their morning nap. In fact, I think there is no whinier four months of blog posts on this website than the four months Jack was transitioning to one nap. (10-14 months, by the way. I don't remember a lot of milestone dates but those are forever ingrained.) Oh, Me With Only One Kid! You're so cute!

Emma? Not so much. Like absolutely everything else, she's acting totally different than her siblings. Her morning nap has always been her best one, and she's still totally happy to dive into bed two hours after she wakes up, just like a good baby. But if we don't have to pick anyone up and I just let her sleep? She'll sleep over two hours. In the morning. Not every time, but often. And then the last two days? No afternoon nap. Someone please tell me that I don't have the version of baby who drops her AFTERNOON nap. 

So poor EJ is a GIANT WRECK by 5:00 and I struggle to keep her up until 6:00. There was one day where I knew her morning nap had been so late/long than I didn't even try to put her down again until after we picked up Jack at 3. But then her bedtime is so late and I don't want to deal with that. So when she hadn't gone to sleep by 2:15ish yesterday and today, I just got her up. It's her own fault! 

I'm not sure if we're transitioning quite yet, nor do I have ANY idea what that transition will look like, but I am, of course, nervous in advance. Right now, with the kindergarten and preschool schedule, Emma has two short-ish windows for naps. One in the morning, one in the afternoon. If she drops the morning nap, I CAN'T just put her down for her afternoon nap earlier, because we pick up Molly at 12:30 three days a week. Or I could, but I'd have to wake her up from her only nap that day.

I am not sure what to do. Which is silly, because there isn't anything to do right NOW, and when it's clear that she's beginning to drop a nap, I'll just do whatever needs to be done that day. Just like all the other school days we've done so far. I've actually been a little surprised at how things have just sort of worked out the last several weeks. Yes, there are definitely days that definitely aren't ideal, BUT we get through them and everyone's fine. I don't feel like I'm giving Emma a complex or anything. And more often than not, she takes her naps within the correct nap confines and all is well. No one is more amazed than me. (Probably no one is amazed. So just me, then.)

As usual, it's the schedule that gets me down, but now that I have a one-year-old I'm remembering how AWESOME the one-to-two-year-old range is. They are just so CUTE. Still babies, but more communicative babies. Usually more mobile too, though EJ is still uninterested in forward movement. Actually we've caught her doing a bit of almost-scooting (for which we tell her, "GOOD JOB, EMMA!" and clap and then SHE claps, so now it's scoot scoot CLAP FOR HERSELF scoot CLAP FOR HERSELF scoot scoot MORE CLAPPING.) 

She's wearing 18 month clothes and I'm honestly not sure how long those are going to fit. I think she is just the cutest thing. I think I thought my other babies were the cutest things too, but now they're tall and scrawny and fight all the time so it's been a while since I've gobbled their cheeks. Grumble grumble.