Henry Adam: Four Years Old

Happiest day to my little guy for making the FOURTH trip around the sun!!!  Looking back over the year in photos, it blows my mind how blessed we are to have you in our lives. You came into this world, slowly, methodically, and chubby and you have turned into the most curious little tinkering boy. Every morning you turn the knob to our bedroom door and, carrying your little Maggie dog, you ask, “Can I come and cuddle you?” And my heart nearly explodes every. single. time. Your smile and your laugh are contagious and you love to tell jokes to make others burst out laughing alongside you. You are mischievous in all the right ways and the best friend and brother to your Owen. School this year was an utter blast. Everyday at pick-up you would exclaim, “I had such a GOOD day!” and show off the stamps you received from Mrs. C for listening or being a helper or just for being a kickass little kid. There were travels this year to California and Maryland to see the nation’s capitol and lots of visits with family and friends and then there was your epic first trip to Disney World! Your favorite toys are transformers and legos because you love to take apart something and build it back up or configure it differently and you are always excited to try a new food or meet a new friend. I often think about how I want to live my life more like the way you lives your: curious, playful, non-judgmental, in the moment, and with magic in your eyes! Happy Birthday, Henry you our everything to us love ~ Mom and Dad

Another summer list item

Last year getting out with two littles into the city seemed a little much for this mama so I promised David that this year we would make multiple attempts at lunches with daddy. Today’s first venture out proved that the kids are at an easy breezy stage. We dropped Henry off at camp (more successfully than any previous day with minimal tears at transition time) and then Owen and I walked to a nearby T stop and hopped aboard.

Mesmerized by the subway, Owen talked all about the view and people holding the rails so as not to fall over. Once above ground, we spent most of the morning meandering around the Boston garden watching the ducks and enjoying the shade. On a whim we were able to sneak in a coffee break with our friend Lauren! My only wish was that we had more time with her to really catch up and then it was off to lunch with David and a toe-dip in the fountain. We grabbed a train back and Owen fell asleep for Henry pick-up. And because we only get 18 summers of our kiddos being our “babies” tonight we are off to swim because I just want to have the best of times with these two minions of mine and their daddy-o!

UPDATE: Henry finally had a fantastic day at camp!! He swam, did the back float, used a barbell floatie, had a hot dog and popsicle and came into the car smiling. HOORAY!!!

P is for Potter!

It might only be about two weeks into my new craft, but I am completely smitten by it all. Less than two miles from my home is this tiny white antique home whose first floor is entirely dedicated to pottery making. I ran by this little quaint home so many times when I was training for my half-marathon this summer and always wondered what exactly went on in the Center of Arts. When researched, it became clear that this little home was the cultural center of our town where kids and teens and adults flexed their creative muscles in classes from watercolors and acting to wheel-throwing. Immediately, I was intrigued! Could I take a class here? Could I make it work within the busy schedule of a full-time working mom? While the idea flirted about in my mind for months, it never felt like it would really work out. Between grading and little ones and wanting to connect with my hubs, when would I hone a hobby? Then on my 33rd birthday tucked into my birthday card, David smiled as I opened the piece of paper that said, “Surprise! For the next 3 months Tuesday nights are YOUR night to get creative, meet new people, and make new things.” It was awesome!

David is the king of hobbies and interests. He always has something cool cooking in his head from bread baking to the guitar to programming arduinos and chess, he is never short on ideas on how to hone his mind and entertain his spirit. I on the other hand have major struggles in this department. When we were dating, we googled “What are people’s hobbies” to help me look through an extensive list of what people get into in case there was something for me to get behind. I chose knitting and while that was fun, I suffered from narcolepsy whenever I settled into an afternoon of knitting and purling. Maybe it was too relaxing? Maybe I was not really ready for hobby and my body was like, “What are we doing something for ourselves…shut systems down!” It only lasted a season. Then my free time was mostly being a teacher. There is so much to bring home when you are a teacher that nights can easily be consumed by lesson planning, curriculum development, and grading. Oh, the dreaded pile of grading! Then came the babies and I was doomed to lose sight of creative exploits that I had yet to even really grasp.

Now that Owen is closing in on that two year birthday and Henry is 3.5, things just feel really different. We are all sleeping, they are eating well, and are so easy these days too. They play and pick up and go and life just feels lighter. My mind is so much clearer as it no longer is consumed with baby-logistics like: When will I breastfeed next? What do I need in my diaper bag? What toys and gear should we have? Where will the boys nap? How do we get home in time for naps? Do we just do a car nap? When will I cook dinner? How will I fold laundry or take a shower? Our routine these days is so simple and easy and I just love so much this stage of life. It literally feels like a light has switched on and I am able to look up out of the trench of early motherhood and look around a bit.

So getting that gift certificate to become a potter was the most exciting thing! On Tuesday nights, I kiss the littles and hold tight to David for a moment longer before putting on some cozy clothes and a pair of clogs (for some reason, I feel like as a potter I should wear clogs), and head to class. What I have learned so far is that I have a deep, deep need to be teacher’s pet. I also have false expectations about how easy it should be. When I made my first misshapen pot and beamed with pride, I turned to the woman beside me and saw her perfect Roman vase and thought, “damn this is hard stuff.” But I find that while I am not a prodigy of pottery, I am loving to learn and learning a lot from being a student, from being vulnerable, and from taking this risk on my own and going way out of my comfort zone. I have never been a maker but have secretly always wanted to make. I am hoping this journey teaches me how to make mugs, plates, and bowls but also how to have fun, learn a craft, believe in myself, learn a new discipline and a new patience, and build a long commitment to being a potter. I have this fantasy too to replace all the mugs in my house with ones I have made. So, if you would like me to make you something drop a line below because I am planning on going through all the clay in the studio and would love to share my misshapen (maybe one day shapely) creations with you too!

Update: My Mysterious Illness

At the beginning of December, I was feeling pretty discouraged by an on-going, persistent roadblock in my health. Waves of dizziness and vertigo hit with unrelenting regularity. It was a little scary to feel so out of control and out of sorts and to not know what the trigger was or when it would hit next. Sometimes in class, I would stagger out of the room and get to the bathroom as quickly as possible to avoid being sick in front of my students or fainting. Deep breathing became my best strategy for calming down in the midst of an episode. And I went to my doctor for a variety of tests that all left me with no conclusions as to the cause. What makes it so unnerving is that it was both predictable and unpredictable, and definitely connected in some way to my emotional state or hormonal state. It would increase intensity at certain points in the month and disappear at others following somewhat of a pattern. So in order to combat this mysterious situation, I turned to some some dietary changes and creating new healthy, mindful habits. Now you know the origin of my resolutions to be healthy and happy from earlier.

Since the autumnal holiday of Thanksgiving, I have really felt and noticed that if I eat crap, I feel like crap. With reducing my dairy intake and switching my morning milk in my coffee to almond milk, plus taking a probiotic, my belly gut feels so much better! I thought the dairy switch would be hard but actually because I feel so much better skipping out on the cow’s milk, it has been easy to side step and embrace the overall better vibes and energy I have gotten in exchange. With this extra energy, I have had the courage and stamina to cook more often and authentically from scratch which has in general made me feel happier in the kitchen and excited because as the kiddos are getting older they are getting SO into helping in the kitchen. More vegetables, fruits, and goodness is making all of us slim down on those extra pounds we were carrying about. So with the extra energy and the slimmed down 5lbs, it has also been easier to get into a consistent workout plan with lots of slow flowing yoga and some strength training. I am feeling stronger and this positive momentum always has me feeling like I can keep it up and going. So things are feeling good right now. I still got a dizzy spell about a week ago but just one and that is SUCH AN IMPROVEMENT that I could cry in gladness over the dramatic change I am feeling from some positive dietary changes and activity choices.

The other piece that is probably helping me feel overall healthy and lighter is letting go. A part of me has wondered if some of my nauseous feelings and lightheadedness were related to my deep-seated desire to have more children which is in direct confrontation with David’s reproductive choices. While I was telling myself I was making progress because I was stifling it down better, I had a sneaking suspicious that perhaps some of these symptoms were psychosomatic. Was I acting pregnant because I wanted to be pregnant? During break, I tried to reflect on this a bit and figure out ways to shift my perspective from “woe is me” to a viewpoint of choice and empowerment. A friend from high school reached out to share a bit about gender sadness she was experiencing and how she connected to some of my previous sharings on the topic. It felt very humbling in the moment to realize that I am not alone and it gave me a feeling of stability within the whirlwind of emotions I have carried about me since David’s procedure. After that conversation, I thought to myself, “hmmmm if some of my longings for another child stem from gender sadness, and if I am not alone in these feelings, perhaps there are other moms out there who have written about gender sadness in missing out on having a boy?” There must be a mom out there with a gaggle of girls who has expressed a tinge of sadness of what it would have been like to have had access to the part of her heart that wants to love a son. I googled and googled and googled and asked David to google for this and we found…..nothing. At first I was like, wow no one is sad about only having daughters and then I thought, what the heck! Why aren’t women sad about missing out on the love of a son? My sons’ love is AMAZING! It is playful, messy, and intense, it is sweet and and gentle. It is boyish and not gendered, it is one of the most beautiful bonds I have ever experienced. My perspective has dramatically shifted. I don’t need a daughter in my life to live fantasies of dress shopping and superficial nonsense that I have been holding desperately too like some deranged Disney villain longing to live our her princess fantasy. And instead I was reminded that sometimes when I need a miracle I look into my sons’ eyes and realize I have already created two.

Maybe its causation or correlations but healing my tummy and healing my heart was a lot of healing this past month, and I definitely am feeling the changes.

My mysterious “illness”

Since Owen stopped nursing, I have had a mysterious illness. It doesn’ happen everyday so sometimes I can forget about it. When it does strike it feels super unsettling. In the middle of class, sometimes while driving, or when sitting on the floor doing legos it can hit me. Then I worry. What exactly is wrong? Is this seemingly odd and small and not always occurring phenomenon something much more serious? In the first few weeks of post-nursing life back in April, I just shrugged it off and said it must be that “nursing sickness” that mommas talk about. A lot of the signs were there. But, now I am 6 months out and still get shaken by it, so maybe it is something else?

What does it look and feel like? Intense dizziness, a feeling like if I don’t sit down I will pass out and faint, waves of nausea that are so bad I run into the bathroom to get sick, heart palpitations at times, the inability to focus, and vertigo that has me brace against a wall or sit down as fast I possibly can out of fear.

When it hits, it lasts for a few days. Then it disappears and I forget I ever felt this way.

You might be thinking, why don’t you see a doctor? Well, I did and I do. In April, she tested a lot of hormone levels thinking it might be connected to my cycle and my body coming back to “usual” after having kids and nursing. Over the summer, she checked my thyroid and blood sugar, kidney and liver functions, all my metabolic numbers. This fall it has been my blood pressure (which is low! but maybe that is normal for me?), more checks on my glucose for diabetes or hypoglycemia another round of thyroid blood work. I have been checked for lyme disease and lupus and even rheumatoid  arthritis (although I don’t feel achy in my joints?). There were more tests of my lady hormones and everything came back “normal.” Which is great! I am glad that these things are good and healthy but saddened that we still don’t know what it could be. The best way to describe it is when you have had TOO much to drink and lay down and the whole room spins out of control but this time around I am not drinking. Now I am waiting to see a Neurologist in December to check for these tiny crystals in my inner ear that might be floating around causing this acute vertigo and/or I am sure they will check for other things.

There is also a chance it might be connected to my diet (as in I may have food allergies which is not uncommon in my family). So I am starting something as a test between now and the new year to see if things change since I have a long wait for my next medical visit. Maybe this is all hocus pocus at this point but at least it feels empowering to be trying something that if nothing else will be benign and might give me some relief from these feelings that make me feel like I am simultaneously pregnant and drunk (and don’t worry I have peed on so many pregnancy sticks + the vasectomy that it would be a true act of God to be that). This is the point of the story where you may choose to stop reading if you would rather not roll your eyes at all the “crazy” pseudo-medicine/science I am going to try!

  1. In the morning I have started to dry-brush before hopping into my shower. What is dry brushing? It is exactly what it sounds like, you take a brush to your dry skin! You start at your feet or hands and slowly make your way up towards your heart. I have actually really enjoyed this process so far. Some mornings when I am particularly bleary-eyed, I struggle to remember this step to my “new routine” so leaving the brush out on the counter has helped jog my tired mind. It is a nice little way to check in on the body and slow down before the morning rush. Supposedly, it can help your lymphatic system, clean your pores, boost your energy, and, if nothing else, it helps to exfoliate.
  2. To support the gut which might be the cause of all these weird troubles, I am taking a probiotic. This might be the easiest step to include because I just take it along with my vitamin.
  3. I am going to slow down on the high impact exercises and take some time to revisit a more slow-flow form of yoga. Feeling literally out of sorts doesn’t seem to jive with high intensity work that might leave me even more light-headed than I usually am. So instead, I am going to slow things down but increase the consistently on some yoga and some pilates to help me focus, breathe, and stretch.
  4. And then the diet….So sad to say goodbye to sugar before the holidays but I think to see what is going on I need to start embracing a more limited sugar and limit my gratuitous carb diet. My doctor is flirting with the idea of food allergies and sensitivities so I imagine that needing to eliminate foods will be soon my reality anyway, so I might as well choose to start this work now and see if I notice any changes over time. (And that means limiting my caffeine too…saddest part of all).

Keep your fingers crossed and definitely let me know if you have felt these things too. I am hoping that by the end of December, I will have some good things to report back on.

Summer plans 

We have been busy. The good kind (mostly). It has been hard to find a minute to really talk about it but now that I am stuck at the airport for 12+ hours I can commit some to writing. It is a much better use of my time than the wallowing I want to be doing in a corner! 

A week after school let out, we packed up the boys and hit the road. It was the LONGEST road trip we have ever committed to since having Henry three years ago. To say I was nervous is an understatement. Owen is not a fan of car drives over twenty minutes but he actually did really great! There were some intense moments but we made it to and from Washington D.C. In one piece and had a really great long weekend visiting with grandma and grandpa. The weekend started at the udvar hazay space and air museum and it took us to the natural history museum and Annapolis. It felt so good to travel with the boys, to hug family close, and to see new sights. 


Once we unpacked our suitcases back home, it was time to greet mom-mom and pop-pop for a week long visit for Henry’s birthday. We were able to show them our new home, play all day long with them, and celebrate Henry’s birthday! We ate a ton of ice cream, played in waves at the beach in Gloucester, and explored Boston. The boys were great at being packed up for a day and adventuring with their grandparents. Henry’s birthday was also so special. How is our big guy three years old already?!?! It just boggles my mind. But he is so so sweet and independent and chatty that I just love him this way. For both trips he just kept telling everyone he loved them and my heart sort of exploded from it all. It might not be easy changing up routines with littles but it is worth every precious memory!


Now, for trip three. I am trying to head to a girls’ weekend (my first time leaving my little family in three years). After leaving Boston at noon and traveling to Newark on my way to Madison Wisconsin, I got stuck! The flight was eventually cancelled officially at midnight and I high tailed it to a sleepless night at a nearby hotel. Currently I await the opening of the promise land (Starbucks) at 4:30AM and I hope that I make it to Madison to soak up some time with Kaelin and then that the flights home go a bit more smoothly. The biggest take-away so far from this trip: thank goodness I randomly changed out of my contact lenses and into my glasses before checking my suitcase & thank goodness for that half-marathon training. I had to run through two terminals in between two gates and two shuttle buses trying to find some alternative route out and I was not winded. So there was something good about all that! See you in Madison….hopefully. 

summer family visit

Four months was too long between our family visits!! The last time we were all together in one place was back on the family Disney Cruise vacation in March. Now here we were in August finally reuniting and welcoming a new member into our family fold, Mr Henry! Jessie and the littles arrived first on Wednesday night, followed by my parents, and lastly my brother joined the group. We had a week together to connect, share, love, laugh, and explore. It went by in a blink but while we were together is was a perfect visit. Watching the littles play with Henry was heart warming. They were so interested in him. It was clear that they would be even faster friends once Henry is a little older to play with them more. We played hard in the mornings at home and went out on little outings during the day and relaxed together at home at night. It was a sweet visit and I am truly looking forward to our next one in December for Christmas (although, I am sure there will be many Skype sessions in between).

Hanging out in our pjs at home were some of my favorite times. The littles and Henry played, and played and played and the adults watched, joined in, and connected with one another over coffee. It was mellow but exactly what we all needed.

We spent a beautiful evening at a nearby park when the air was cool and crisp and then planned our next day to be spent out at Belkin Family Farm in Natick where we picked nectarines and apples and explored the property together. It was a great excursion for us and the littles who were so interested in picking fruit and tasting it straight off the branch.