A funny mother’s day

Last year’s Mother’s Day was a little silly. In some ways, these holidays in which we  pause and share some extra love to a parent can be a little bit of a set-up. Maybe it is just me, but I imagine a day of laying in bed late (like 9AM-10AM late) followed by everyone getting along, no messes, no fuss, and lots of indulgences. And while much of this could in theory happen you cannot take the Mother out of Mother’s day. And there is the set-up. I love my kiddos and husband with every ounce of my being but no day will ever go by without a little fiasco on the spectrum of silly, family drama. When you have a 2 year old and a 3 year old, it is inevitable and the more you can embrace it, the more likely you will laugh when it unravels. Ironically, this year’s Mother’s Day came pretty close to perfection and awesome-sauce. David made my favorite Dutch pancakes with homemade whipped cream, we enjoyed a stroll through Cambridge to a little coffee shop for a latte, ate too much for second breakfast including chicken and waffles at Tupelo, and then headed home for nap time for the boys and pottery for me. Tantrums were at a minimum and family time was a delightful maximum. But last year’s Mother’s Day was definitely more “eventful.”

Brunch is my favorite. Breakfast at an in-between hour full of delicious decadences like ricotta cream pancakes and honey lattes and I am ready to go! Last year, Henry was two and Owen just turned one. I thought I was in the “sweet spot” of motherhood. No more breast-feeding and two independent kiddos to dine out with. Today, I can look back and say that was a good time but this current situation is even sweeter. But anyway, back to last year:

Owen was a gaggy kiddo. Seriously, every single meal Owen would eat some random thing and begin to epically choke. He would purse his lips out, make a growl, and look as though a second more he would pass out. Typically, I would panic, grab him, flip him upside down, and bang on his back. There was a 50% chance that he would dislodge the the item (be it a morsel of chicken or a crumb of bread or a spoon of applesauce) and continue enjoying his dinner as though nothing had just occurred. The other 50% of the time he would vomit his dinner up and then continue to enjoy his dinner as though nothing had occurred. Either situation left me sweating and exhausted from the roller coaster of panic to disgust to confusion over what I should clean first. We never made it through a single meal for months on end without this kid having a good ole choke.

So why did we think brunch on Mother’s Day would be any different? Well, I held out hope that the stars would align and Mother’s Day would be special and therefore if he only ate truly soft items or stuck to purely liquid foods we would make it through brunch at the cottage in Wellesley without an issue. We sat at the table amidst a crowded dining area filled with loads and loads of moms and children of all ages. We ordered and chatted and mostly maintained a state of calm with the kids and a handful of little table toys. Owen was to eat some scrambled eggs and I was ready to sip my latte and have some crab cake Benedict. The meal went on like this for maybe 30 or 40 minutes and I remember sighing and thinking: Wow, this is amazing.

And then it happened. Owen’s breath caught in his throat, he was choking on barely a finger-nail sized piece of mushy scrambled egg! HOW COULD THIS BE HAPPENING?!?!? I tried not to panic. This was routine and like a well-practiced, first-responder I hoisted him out of his chair, tipped his head toward the floor and administered a solid thud thud to his back. The egg flopped out and placing him back in his seat, it seemed like the crisis was averted. Taking the napkin to the egg bit on the floor, I sat back up in my chair just in time for it. Owen’s choke was the 50% in which he lost his breakfast contents. He spued the contents of his baby breakfast which somehow multiplied on the way out all over himself and the plate in front of him. I WAS THAT MOM!  How could I have come to a fancy-ish brunch with a sick kid? Except everyone at my table KNEW he wasn’t sick, this was standard non-sick behavior. I did the only thing I could think of. I sacrificed every clothe napkin on the table to cover his spillage and then stripped him naked to his diaper. I took his clothes and asked David to throw them in the garbage in the bathroom. As though a Navy Seal on a covert Op, David snuck off to complete his assignment. No use saving that little shirt and pant if our dignity was also gone! The waiter came back to the table and you could see he was pausing. You could almost read his mind saying, “Something happened here.” The baby was naked but everyone else was dressed in button-downs or sun-dresses, everyone was nervously laughing and in unison we asked for the check!

We walked out into the sunny parking lot like we had just sprung from jail and raced to the car as though anyone from the restaurant would follow us. Buckling the kids into the car, we turned on the ignition and looked at each other the only way parents do when you are simultaneously thinking: this is nuts, WTF, and I love this family.

Oh Sleeves!

Does this happen in your house? The weather gets a touch warmer, the sun shines a bit brighter, and the general consensus becomes….It’s Spring! You cannot ever say this too loudly in New England of course, because surely if Mother Nature sees the rejoicing, she will inevitably throw one last April snow storm your way. But, this is not about the slow slide into Spring.

In our house, we have a problem. A serious one. Well not so serious, but hilariously annoying. Henry and Owen have plum forgotten how to deal with short sleeves. After over 150 days of cold temperatures and a commitment to cozy long sleeves, jackets, sweaters, gloves, hats, long john’s, and heavy socks, this weekend I pulled out a short sleeved shirt and their world melted. Really though! It all started like a normal morning. We cuddled in bed as a family and laughed and talked about our day. We ate some breakfast slowly and I drank a cup of coffee. Then we headed upstairs to shift into our attire for the day. They slipped on their pants, one leg at a time and chatted about their interests and ideas. No issue when it came to the socks either. Then it was time for the shirt. This item had drastically changed in their 24 hour cycle. With predictions in the mid-60s, it was time to try a short sleeve. Naively, I thought nothing of this moment. It was just part of the normalcy of my own Spring transition. A time of year, that is exciting and much anticipated.

But, for the boys is was HARD and devastating! What the heck are short-sleeves? Why are my arms suddenly exposed? What do I do in the breeze? They fussed quite a bit as I tried to wrestle them into one. THEN once on, they were not impressed. Bottom lips all the way out, it was clear they were not happy with this new development. Each tried harder than the other to pull the little sleeves down their arms. Unfortunately, this only made the shoulder become exposed as it popped out the neck opening! Then came the arm slapping as though that would generate some sort of warmth or coverage. Finally they pulled their arms inside and down their shirts to stick alongside their torsos. And there we were, my armless boys unwilling to give Spring a try and I a tired and sweaty parent not sure how to get them outside to run and enjoy the shift in weather. They won the battle. Donning long sleeve shirts and demanding jackets and gloves too, we headed out. Slowly they shed the gloves, then the jackets. They did not budge on the shirts though. By Sunday, we got Henry into the short sleeves as long as they were batman. Now we wait the little one out. The temperatures will eventually convince them, no?

Don’t bring home a panda bear

“Don’t bring home a panda bear, mommy,”  Henry shared last night when we were talking about how much I was going to miss him, and Owen, and his daddy when I went to China in 24 hours. “Why not Henry? Wouldn’t a cute panda bear be so fun to have in our home?” “Actually, no. He would scratch our walls,” and off he went to build another Lincoln log cabin, his latest favorite. Watching him design and execute on his imagination, I thought about how much I am going to miss these silly conversations. They are unpredictable, reflective, nonsensical, wise, and all things heart-warming. And simultaneously Owen’s language is just exploding! His little conversations include things like, “Mommy I need you,” as he takes my hand and hugs it to his chest. Or “Mommy poo poo in there,” as he laughs and points to his diaper and runs away from me laughing and laughing. Those moments are making me weepy today. I know once we land in Beijing, I will be assaulted with sounds, smells, and experiences and immersed in a new space, but until then I am trying to have all my feelings and squeeze in all hugs and kisses. Do you think I can pack David in my luggage? I worry that if I am having a travel angst, it will be hard to remain a calm, cool, and collected chaperone and David is always so good at reminding me that it will all buff out in the end. Am I excited to go? TOTALLY! But today is a day for not only packing that suitcase I have delayed packing, but also for putting aside my to-do list and any social media scrolling and to be fully immersed in the babies and David before I have to bid them adieu in the morning. Cheers to all the feels.

Ni Hao

This time next week the plane door will close and I, along with 18 students and 2 chaperones, will push from a gate, taxi to a run-way, and take-off toward China. The adventure and cultural exchange will take us to Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai for 12 days! From walking the Great Wall, to touring the forbidden city, to visiting a panda sanctuary, the itinerary is the stuff of dreams. Each day there are promises of delicious cuisine and beautiful sights. It is very exciting and happening very soon.

I have been asked dozens of times how I feel about the trip ahead: Are you worried about leaving David and the boys? Are you nervous about traveling so far? What will you do on the long flight?

Yes. Yes. And I have no idea.

David is a fantastic dad so I have no worries that he and the boys will be fine. I do think though that David will get a more focused look into what I do on the weeknights and weekends to keep our house clean and functional. As a type A personality, I tidy every night, meal plan, do laundry, and grocery shop. Obviously David is capable of taking these over but I worry about coming home to a stack of pizza boxes and disarray. But I don’t really believe that that will happen. David will figure out his rhythm and balance over those 12 days and the boys will have so much fun bonding with their dad!

I am nervous about feeling “disconnected” from the family. Having a twelve hour time change means narrow windows of opportunities to check-in and the firewall of China may make updating family and sharing photos a little difficult. The hardest part will probably be the evening when I head to a sole hotel room and finally take a “break” from the immersive experience and then wish that my boy squad could be with me sharing in these adventures.

I have never been on a plane for longer than 7 hours and this might be the Achilles heel of my travel! What do you do for a flight that long? Obviously there will be movies and books to read. I am thinking of taking a few yoga breaks in the aisle to reduce my chances of blood clots! I will pack snacks of course and maybe a magazine or two from the airport newsstand. And then maybe a glass of wine to help me sleep? I am most afraid about sleeping. I am a terrible airplane sleeper and once we land it is go go go time!! I hope that my body/mind will get to an exhausted point where I sleep enough to make it through our first day of activities. Everything is crossed. If you have tips or tricks for me, please share. I am open to all ideas!

T-minus 7 days to China!

Toddlers, Babies & Parents say funny things

Much of the day of mommyhood is processing and responding to funny, sweet, and weird phrases, conversations and requests from Henry and Owen. So many of these parenting gems have been lost to the abyss of noise that is forever constant from sunrise to sunset, but every now and then, I have enough mental clarity to recall from my working memories those little sillies and jot them down for posterity. And then add to this an assortment of the many socially acceptable behaviors we try to encourage and discourage the boys from doing in an attempt to socialize them to the cultural norms they are a part of.

From the parents:

No, you can’t lick your brother

Don’t touch your butthole or you will get pink eye

Eating a cake pop off the floor of Starbucks is yucky

Did you pee pee on the couch? Where should we go to the bathroom?

Buster doesn’t want you to ride on him

From the babies & toddlers:

Let’s play pretend tiger. What is that? It is when I roar at you and then you scream and then say wait you are just pretend.

Baby in thereas Owen points to my boob

I have an idea, how about I eat my dinner and then we go to CVS for a new toy?

Can we play hide the ball? I will hide it first….okay ready Owen runs over to the hidden spot and points to where the ball is. No, Owen stop it, be more fun.

Ce Ce Ja Ja? Puppy Ja Ja? Santa Pajamas or Puppy Pajamas what Owen wants to wear all day everyday.

Can we just do dinner and a show? Trying to have dinner small talk and Henry would prefer to do otherwise. Ha Ha nice try kid!

Hands mommy Hands! Any time we ride in the car, Owen gets his shoes off and slides his socks onto his hands. His proudest moment.

Great feat of strength

Tonight the GOAT, Tom Brady, takes to the field for yet another run for a Super Bowl win. While the game may be exciting, the commercials are known to create a Twitter trend too. A few years ago, I think it was Budweiser, had a series called “unsung heroes.” This thirty seconds praised random people for silly and what might at first seem like insignificant talents. However they were true feats of strength like the bathroom user who replaces the toilet paper roll or the individual brave enough to take that last bite of the appetizer before the waiter removes the plate.

On Thursday, I had my greatest moment! While I might have been in labor for 17 hours with Henry only to push out his chunky 9lb 12oz body and then headed back for another baby born naturally almost on route 9 because he was so fast and intense, Thursday trumps both of these moments in stick-to-it-ness and mind control! My co-worker is baking beautiful artisan breads and on Thursday morning while I sat in the faculty room for my prep, this kind coworker gifted me half a loaf. The feat of strength then commenced!

I sat beside that loaf of bread a mere twelve inches from my nose for two hours!!! I made multiple attempts to unwrap it from its cellophane but just before I peeled a layer, I stopped myself. Let’s all just agree that there might not be a better smell than bread. No matter what the grocery store smells like as soon as you hit the bakery aisle don’t you smile? Is that just me? Clearly a fresh loaf is my trigger. But at 3:25 on the fateful day, I walked to the car with the loaf intact proud that I resisted its temptations and prepared to share my sacrificed loaf with the family!