Terror & Songs

“I fear Squirrels the most,” my brother Bryan said one random evening over dinner. We all cracked up laughing. Not because his fear isn’t legitimate since squirrels are pretty terrifying. They just sort of freeze-up when you see them and then shift side-to-side as they contemplate their escape and you engage with them in this awkward dance as neither of you knows which direction to shift your weight into and you fear that the beast will choose to leap onto you face! But that exact sentence has been repeated in our family countless times because of its beautiful construction and the way it brought us all together in agreement that squirrels might be the creature to fear the most.

Prior to the articulation of our familial collective phobia of squirrels (known as “Sciurophobia”), there was and remains another creature of equal trepidation: The Music Snob. Now this person is not insufferable, entirely. In fact, the music snob is a much important species in the ecosystem of humanity.  Except, the music snob is super intimidating. You know you are in the presence of a music snob based on four telltale signs:

  1. The snob wears an over-ear-set of headphones of probably some sleek vintage looking variety.
  2. The snob hates pop music <period>.
  3. The snob complains about what is found on radio stations.
  4. The snob ask you about some band they just saw live that is so obscure sounding, you can merely nod your head for fear of embarrassment

Mostly, this person intimidates me because my musical preferences are so pedestrian. Tops 40s are my jam and I rarely download a single song but enjoy whatever the radio personality puts on. Live shows don’t compel me to purchase tickets and I don’t think I even own a set of earbuds. There does exist a desire to be more musically inclined but no follow-up is ever consistently achieved. When people share their favorite songs during ice-breaker activities, my face heats up in a panic. “What was a song on the radio that I heard this morning?” as my mind floods with anxiety before my turn to share out.

But there are three songs that no matter what else is going on in the world, when the introduction chords or baseline drops, I pause. These three songs compel me to listen to them in their entirety because I sort of love them and they make me think about the three most important relationships in my life. They aren’t maybe the coolest and they likely would not impress a music snob, but they are literally music to my ears and in the past 24 hours I have heard each of them on the radio and gotten a little smile from coincidence. So take that hypothetical  music snob judging me! haha

 

For David:

When the rain is pouring down
And my heart is hurting
You will always be around
This I know for certain
You and me together
Through the days and nights
I don’t worry ’cause
Everything’s going to be alright
People keep talking they can say what they like
But all I know is everything’s going to be alright
No one, no one, no one
Can get in the way of what I’m feeling
No one, no one, no one
Can get in the way of what I feel for you, you, you
Can get in the way of what I feel
-Alicia Keyes
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For Henry:
I told you to be patient
I told you to be fine
I told you to be balanced
I told you to be kind
Now all your love is wasted?
Then who the hell was I?
Now I’m breaking at the britches
And at the end of all your lines
Who will love you?
Who will fight?
Who will fall far behind?
Come on skinny love
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
-Skinny Love
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For Owen:
For all the things my hands have held
The best by far is you
If I could fly
Then I would know
What life looks like from up above and down below
I’d keep you safe
I’d keep you dry
Don’t be afraid Cecilia
I’m the satellite
And you’re the sky
And you’re the sky
-Cecelia and the Satellite
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When is Christmas?

At least 3 times a day, Henry and Owen ask if today is Christmas. We have tried giving them the numerical time frame between today and December 25 but the number is too big and abstract. We have tried to share that first comes the celebration of Halloween and then Thanksgiving and then Christmas so you have two holidays before TODAY is Christmas. But both of those other holidays are not as exciting as Christmas so they are easily skipped over. We tried using the temperature and trees as way to tell time with your senses: the trees need to be naked and there will be snow on the ground at Christmas time. But again that excitement factor for Christmas to just be here trumps all logic, reason, or cues.

So instead of tempering their excitement for the winter holiday, I am just going to fully embrace it. They are only this little for a short blink so if they want to gear up now for Christmas let it be!

We have started a list of all their “to-dos” for embracing the winter wonderland: make snow forts, build a snowman, eat snow, hold icicles, go for a sleigh ride, see Christmas lights, visit Santa, see a reindeer, eat cookies, bake cookies, eat cookies (they really want to eat their holiday joy!), wear hats and gloves, make a snow angel, make a snow ball, wear cozy footie pajamas, stay up late with mommy and daddy, open presents, and start a list of presents for Santa.

Their list though they refuse to write down. Instead, they get an idea for something that they would love to open on Christmas morning like: Batman Lego mini-figures or any number of little toys they saw in the Lakeshore Learning magazine that came to our house and they immediately run to the chimney. They grab ahold of the fireplace hearth gate and say, “Hello Santa, could I have a Batman Lego mini-figure for Christmas, please? ::they pause::  “Thank you.” And off they scamper back to the playroom and share that they think Santa will say yes. It is the cutest little thing and it is getting me really really excited for the season they are longing for so much.

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Bedtime routines

Bedtime: (n.) sometimes a verb too..

  • The perfect time to ask meaning of life questions, to take multiple trips to the bathroom, to request food & a couple of different kinds of drinks in varying cup distribution methods, to require additional nightlights, to request a full musical of songs, and to give heart-melting amounts of cuddles.

But silliness aside, we are pretty lucky with the routine-ness of our bedtime routine with the little dudes.  Each night around 7ish, it sort of depends on a weeknight versus a weekend night and what sort of fun shenanigans we are up to as a family, we clean up the playroom together and march ourselves upstairs. The boys either take a bath or slip into their pajamas and nowadays they get themselves potty-ed and dressed which is pretty stupendous. We chit chat about our day and share our favorite moments and then there are some stories piled next to the chair and a snuggle and a trip into the imaginative world of Paddington or Curious George or another fantastic heroine/hero before we head to Owen’s room for the first slumberland express drop-off. Three songs are on this little man’s daily list: ABCs, I Love You, and How Much is that Doggie (because he is crazy for all things dog related). Then it is time for a little tuck in to bed. Owen nestles under his crotchet blanket, requests that he is surrounded by this three stuffies, and then gets one last lullaby before it is kisses and lights out. Next door, his big brother follows a similar routine. Laying in his big kid bed, David and I sandwich him with hugs and sing three songs of his choosing. Sometimes he picks the exact same ones as Owen, and sometimes he chooses something new or something we have to create on the spot like “The Mr. Potato Head Song.” And then he too gets his final lullaby, kisses, and squeeze and lights out.

But what happens after this is far cuter in mine eyes. At some point in the evening, probably right after we leave Owen’s room, he has one final element to his bedtime routine. He gets up and tosses out every blanket and stuffy he had just two minutes before needed placed in its “perfect spot.” Then with nothing but a naked bedsheet he settles in, tucking his arms in under his body, and facing down in to the mattress. It looks a little bleak and the position is a little scary, but he seems to find comfort in this very simple final sleep routine element. Henry too emerges himself from the covers and flips upside down on his bed with only his precious “Maggie dog” alongside of him. Neither child wants a blanket or the “correct orientation” and I love to sneak in and steal one final peek at the boys before going to bed myself, just to confirm they each flipped and flopped into their preferred position.  It is so cute the ways in which they settle themselves for the long night’s rest until they open their eyes at promptly 5AM to start their new morning…

Summer Bucket List

The 12 weeks of summer vacation were so sweet. With both boys excited for little adventures and outings, we started the summer by making a bucket list of activities and places we wanted to seek out and embrace. Afraid of getting into a routine of just slow mornings and lounging, I tried to tackle one item a week so there would be a good balance between “get out and be busy days” and “sip coffee and settle in days.” With only 24 hours left of my summer being a “stay-at-home-mom” with my kiddos, I am feeling nostalgic for the warm, long summer days we shared. It hurts so much to return to the rigid school day schedule after savoring this time together as family, but this summer there are no regrets or “I wish we hads.” We carpe diemed the Sh*t out of our summer together and I am happy to look over the memories we captured as our trio explored together. If only I could get paid to just have time home with my family, that would be the life! I know that once school starts on Monday, it will feel fresh, and good, and exciting to be back on campus, but tonight I want to halt time and stay in this summer sunset longer.

What was on the bucket list?

Wingearshaek Beach

Beach Days… yes, multiple!

Lunch with David

Davis Farmland

Eat oysters

Get a pottery wheel

California

Newport, RI

Hopkinton State Park

Ashland state park

Kayaking

SUPing

Salem

Gloucester

Beach Picnic

Summer Concert

Aquarium

Running in a Fountain

Eating outside

Roger Williams Zoo

Strawberry Picking

Riding bikes (my only picture of them on wheels)

Lobster rolls

Visit to Long Island

Have a kickass birthday party for Henry

Duck boat ride

Savor our family

Which items didn’t get crossed off this year?

Castle Island, SoWa, Provincetown, Mass MoCA, Portland Day Trip

Not bad! We almost did it all, but I am glad we stuck to picking from our list. The boys loved hearing about the different places we could visit and would fall in love with one location and then want to go back and visit over and over again. This might be a fun little tradition to embrace and to maximize our time together and our explorations of this beautiful region of the country we get to call home.

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!!!

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?