Hi! Long time, no write!

Lots has been going on at our house this last month! Today’s post is to update about a big financial move we made. Namely, we took out a home equity loan! Our home value increased to the point where this was possible, and we decided to pursue it to solve a few problems.

The money is intended for a combination of financially responsible items as well as lifestyle improvements that we deemed worth the financial risk of taking money out of our home’s equity.

Financially Responsible

1. Pay off credit card debt (again). And dammit, this time we’re going to keep it down. Seriously. I mean it!

We’ve paid it off and let it creep back so many times that it’s embarrassing. But I think we’re in a better place financially overall now, so maybe (no, definitely!!) this will be the time it sticks. We’re keeping the cards open since they’re a good safety net for emergencies, but seriously… just for emergencies!

Ok… and for cash back points too. We’re going to keep using them regularly, but only for things we can pay off immediately after purchase with money we already have in the bank!

2. Pay for a home appraisal to remove the mortgage insurance from our main mortgage. It is a small fee, but it will pay for itself through the saved money within about a year. We elected to do this to get rid of the mortgage insurance instead of getting a cash-out refinance because of our exceptionally low interest rate on our main mortgage, which we don’t want to lose! Better to pay the higher interest rate only on the equity loan rather than the whole mortgage, and we can get rid of the PMI anyway!

3. Home improvement project – This is a combo item – financial investment and lifestyle improvement.

The plan is to blow out the big window between our kitchen table and our backyard so we can actually access our outdoor space, and then build a deck. We had originally planned a quite elaborate deck, french doors, and plumbing natural gas to the BBQ. But we’ve revised to a more realistically sized deck, a slider, and no natural gas line. It’ll still be wonderful, and it should improve our enjoyment of the house as well as add some value to the home.

4. We paid off my car! Together with paying off the credit card, our monthly bills are significantly lower, theoretically enabling us to more successfully live within our means.

Lifestyle Improvements

These were tricky to pull the trigger on, as they needed to be impactful enough that they would be worth borrowing money from ourselves (plus interest!) to do them. But we feel we created a good list of things that will really make a difference in our lives.

1. Lasik eye surgery for me! No more glasses! I could write a novel about why I am looking forward to tossing my glasses in the trash, but I think you could probably guess my reasons!

2. Purchasing another car. This new car will be Kyle’s “daily driver” so his fancy, gas-guzzling racecar can sit in the garage (sigh… I knew this was coming from the moment I met car-loving Kyle).

I took some convincing, and I still wish Kyle’s gear-head tendencies didn’t require this, but the thought here is that 1) we will save money on gas, and 2) Kyle can stop putting 17k miles a year on his “future collector’s item”, therefore avoiding expensive repairs and declining value, in favor of putting those miles on a very simple car, mechanically speaking, so future maintenance should be straightforward and (hopefully) easy on the wallet.

This, of course, predicts that the racecar will actually increase in value someday due to its rarity. Time will tell, but either way, Kyle loves that car and this plan preserves it.

He already has a deposit down on his new-to-him car, and he will be flying to LA this coming weekend to purchase it and drive it home. It is (I kid you not) our third Ford Focus! We already own two (Kyle’s RS and my Titanium), and now Kyle is purchasing a 2004 Focus SVT. It has only 48k miles on it (only 3.5k miles a year! wow!) and seems to have been well maintained. Plus it fits the requirement of being a “nuts and bolts” car, hopefully inexpensive to maintain.

3. New wardrobe for Kyle. He recently expressed that his closet seemed to be full of things that didn’t fit, referring both to physical fit and style fit. It has been many, many years since Kyle did a huge overhaul, and a lot has changed since the last time. So he’s overdue!

Overall, we’re super excited about the plans, but also hoping that we’ve been thoughtful and careful enough so as not to cause ourselves any issues.

I love being a mom.

I’m toast. Ellen was so sick this week that I had to miss two days of work. I was so sick overnight last night that I missed the entire night of sleep. Lewis threw a 30 minute tantrum over God knows what earlier. There are piles of laundry everywhere – both clean and dirty – and every time I do the dishes there are enough left over to fill a second dishwasher.

Not to mention the cleaning lady couldn’t come this week because of Ellen being home sick, so my house is not just cluttered, it is actually dirty.

I’m so tired and overwhelmed that I don’t really understand how I can feel this happy. But I’m sitting here, rocking my daughter to sleep for her morning nap, and I am. I’m happy. And I love my babies. And my sweet husband. And this life we have together. It’s a mess, but it’s so good.

Accepting Different Progress

This picture of me and Ellen makes me feel very self-conscious. I see a squishy, big belly and huge thighs… and I’m not talking about Ellen’s! No, when my dear husband first sent me this picture he took of me and Ellen, I only saw how fat I am.

But then I looked closer, and I saw a perfectly captured moment where I was showing my perfect daughter how much I loved her while we were enjoying a perfect, sunny morning at the zoo.

I want so much to be able to see that part first.

I’m having a hard time with the last 20ish pounds of baby weight. Let’s just admit that. Not feeling comfortable in my skin is an emotional thing to acknowledge for me. I hate that the extra weight defines how I feel about myself, and I hate how embarrassed I feel.

Yesterday, I went summer clothes shopping, and I had to buy the same size I wore the summer immediately after Lewis was born. At that time, I was freshly postpartum, literally weeks after giving birth. This time, I’m wearing that size at 8 months postpartum, after already having lost 50 pounds!

The labels on the pants/shorts made me feel awful and left me feeling so disappointed in my progress with my body. After Lewis, the weight melted off within the first year! Why isn’t that happening this time???

Well folks, I’ve done some thinking, and I have realized one very important thing. I only had 50 lbs to lose after Lewis. So if I had gained the same amount this time around, I’d be done already!!!

But because I gained back 10 after stopping breastfeeding Lewis, I started out 10 lbs heavier before getting pregnant with Ellen, and gained 10 more than I gained with Lewis. So I had 70 lbs to lose after Ellen.

So really, I should be proud. The first 50 lbs this time around melted off just as easily… but faster! They went away in 6 months this time! Why haven’t I been focusing on that amazing feat instead of on what remains?

Well… because the scale hasn’t budged in 2 whole months (damn Oreos and lack of exercise!). And that sucks. These pesky 20 lbs are clearly going to require some more effort than the first 50. But they’re 20 lbs I have never had before, so I shouldn’t expect them to behave the same way as the 50 lbs of baby weight my body knew how to shed on its own.

I’m a work in progress, physically and mentally, but I am working on both. If I just shift my focus, I can be proud of myself for losing the first 50 lbs after Ellen literally twice as fast as I lost the 50 lbs I gained with Lewis! And I know I can lose the last 20.

Until I do, I am going to try harder to see the joy and love in pictures of myself first, instead of counting my flaws. And I’m not going to be embarrassed to share pictures where I look “fat” anymore, because the shape of my body doesn’t define me, and these pictures are just a snapshot of my progress. Progress just happens to look different this time around.

Now I just have to convince people to take more pictures of me… the kids have a way of becoming targets of all cameras, and I seem to go missing, like I don’t even exist!

Queen of Inertia

Ellen retains her title of “Queen of Inertia”. However, she no longer lives by the motto, “an object at rest tends to stay at rest”. Oh no, her new motto is, “an object in motion tends to stay in motion.”

In the space of a week, Ellen has gone from perfectly content wherever you put her to unsatisfied with any position.

On her belly? Immediately rolls to back. On her back? Immediately rolls to belly. Sitting up? Lunges forward and ends up on her belly. Laying down? Tries to sit up with all her might! And if she is unsuccessful at changing positions, she gets very upset.

This perpetual motion coincides with the sudden sleeping-all-night trend. I definitely do not think that is a coincidence! Girlfriend is wearing herself out during the day!

All the movement, coupled with the complete erasure of night-feeds has her hungry, too. She seems to want to be eating constantly. Her nursing feeds are longer in duration, and she has been eating a ton of solids (at school anyway…). She must be hungry enough to want real food pretty badly, because she’s even accepting more from me. Pretty awesome!

My body has adjusted beautifully to her new feeding schedule. I’ve stuck to my daytime pumping adjustment at work, and the combination of that + no more feeds at night have my milk supply much lower, but perfectly in line with what Ellen needs. I will never cease to be awed by the human body and all of the magical things it can do.

I looked at some stats, and Ellen has only gained about 3/4 of a pound in the last two months. Remember when she was gaining multiple pounds a month? Phew! What a change. She is still a squishy delight – far from a skinny kid – but she no longer qualifies as the fattest baby I’ve ever met. I credit all her “exercise” for the change in stature.

It all makes sense. All of these developments and changes explain each other – the motion, the change in sleep, different appetite, change in body shape. Special creature of mine, growing up!

8 months

Ellen is 8 months old today! Only one month left of her belonging more to my body than to the world. I’m going to do my best to savor this upcoming month a little extra, while she’s still so near to her first “home”.

To celebrate turning 8 months old, Ellen slept the whole night last night. A full night of sleep + a nap yesterday afternoon has got me feeling like the world is a brand new place today. Side note – it is also sunny and 70 degrees for literally the first time since last fall, so that helps, too!

Little Ellen isn’t packing on the pounds rapidly anymore, so we’re still enjoying the same clothes. It’s a bit silly how much that matters to me, but I had a disproportionate amount of guilt for how little we used previous sizes, so even though I’ve mentioned this before, it still feels newsworthy that we’re getting good use out of this batch.

We still don’t have any signs of teeth, which is both a blessing and a curse. If she is as grumpy about teething as Lewis was, I’m not looking forward to it at all. But as I mentioned in my last post, she isn’t loving purees, so some teeth would come in handy!! She is getting much, much better at getting little chunks of food into her mouth on her own, and she does her best without teeth to gum down the little bits of vegetables, cheese, beans, bread, etc., but she frequently gags on the bigger chunks that she isn’t successful at breaking down, and it is the most wretched noise!

Ellen’s latest tricks include high-fives and clapping. Because she’s so good at those tricks, we’re now trying to encourage her to wave. I bet you she gets it within the next week or so. She’s clearly observing us doing it and you can almost see the gears turning as she watches.

She is also a certified professional at rolling from her front to her back. She cannot be convinced to stay on her tummy for even one second, because she is so proud of her ability to roll to her back. If you put her on her tummy, she immediately rolls over and then starts giggling and grinning and kicking with unbridled joy. I’m convinced she could roll back the other way just as easily, but she just doesn’t seem to want to.

I’m only slightly concerned that her newfound interest in staying on her back will delay crawling. On the one hand, I want her to keep progressing and hitting milestones. On the other hand, mobile babies are a handful, so she can go ahead and take her sweet time!

Those are the major highlights for Ellen this month. I suspect this upcoming month will be chock-full of big news, like crawling, standing/cruising, waving, and maybe a first word. Like I said, I’m going to do my best to soak it all up!

Adventures in infants and toddlers

We’ve been adventuring on at our house. For the most part, life is back to “normal”, meaning that all of the extra excitement of celebrations and visitors is over and done with. But “normal” means different things on different days – there is always something to keep you on your toes!

Lewis was literally on his toes last weekend at his first dance class. It is a jazz, ballet and tap combo class. But really, it is just a bunch of kids jumping around. Either way, it is super sweet, and Lewis loved it!

Lewis’ other recent adventure came last night – He woke up screaming (20 mins after I fell asleep, of course!). It was like nothing I’ve ever heard from him before. He was screaming at the very top of his lungs, like he was injured. When he wasn’t screaming, he was yelling, “I’m siiiiiick! I’m siiiiiick!”

It turned out that his leg hurt so badly it had woken him up, and he figured that if he was in pain, he must be sick. I suspect a calf cramp, probably due to running around and riding his bike and mommy and daddy not giving him enough water (oops! mom guilt!) before bed. It took about 20 mins of both me and Kyle comforting him, a dose of tylenol, and me rubbing his back until he fell back asleep, whispering how brave he was over and over, but he did eventually fall asleep and sleep the rest of the night.

As he was drifting off, he said his throat hurt… that’s how powerful his screams were!!!

He was fit as a fiddle this morning, but he remembered “the event”. No calls from daycare so far today about him complaining of leg pain, so I stand by my diagnosis of a leg cramp. Poor dude! And poor mommy and daddy too. He really scared us!

Ellen’s current adventures are mostly in rolling over and solid foods. For some reason, she has stopped accepting solid foods from me. She’ll eat them at daycare, and she makes attempts at feeding herself (but, though she is getting there, she’s still not quite coordinated enough), but anytime I offer her a spoon or a chunk of something, she swats in front of her face wildly with both hands while tucking her chin into her neck. There is nothing I can do to get any food in her!

She still breastfeeds like a champ, but I was thinking we’d be starting to swing more towards solids here in the near future!

Even after going through this game once before with Lewis and learning that there is no one exact way for things to play out, I can’t stop myself from thinking that Ellen should be doing xy&z – in this case, she should be eating more solids by now.

I am working on letting up on myself and trying to take away some of the pressure of the “shoulds”, because Ellen is clearly thriving and completely fine and normal! But even in the moments where I am able to go easier on myself, I do get frustrated. I was having so much fun with Ellen and solids, and it is a big bummer that she won’t let me participate now!

Oh well!

Ellen’s sleep is still hit-or-miss, leading to occasional fatigue-induced meltdowns on my part. But Kyle is being extra supportive, and whatever he can’t help me with, caffeine takes care of. So we’re rockin’ and rollin’ over here!

Lewis turns “free”

Finally, Lewis’ 3 year post!

My first baby is threeeeeee years old. Someone save me! This can’t be real!

Today we hit the doctor for Lewis’ 3 year checkup, and I was relieved to find out that he is perfectly average! He is still taller than he is heavy, but at 31+ lbs and 3ft 2in, he is healthy as can be. Proud mama!

We celebrated him over the weekend, and it was as special as he deserved. Friday included a party at daycare with a clown and cupcakes, which the kids seemed to love. Lewis has been asking before school this week if the clown will be there again – so cute!

Saturday – kiddo’s actual birthday – we had a party for friends and family. We have a lot of friends and family, so it ended up being quite a big party, but our house held the people well, and catered food and self-serve beverages saved the day.

Before bed on Saturday, Lewis said sleepily to Kyle, “it was nice to see all those people for my birthday”. When Kyle told me about that, I wept a little bit, because at three years old, Lewis focused on the people and not on the presents… wow. What a sweet soul he has.

The following morning, I asked him what his favorite part of his birthday was, and he practically shouted, “MY GREEN FROSTING! AND MY RED CAKE!”

Yes, you read that right. Lewis asked my mom’s friend (who baked the cake for us!) to make him a red cake with broccoli frosting, and she delivered. Lewis’ birthday wish came true, and that cake made him so, so happy.

After the last week and all its craziness, I’m glad to go back to our normal lives with fewer visitors and fewer parties. It was so much fun – the happy kind of chaos – but I am exhausted. All the mayhem of birthdays and easter on top of Ellen’s poor sleep habits have got me absolutely beat down into the ground!

A brief report on Lewis in general:

He is super verbal. From normal speech to his own made up language (hi. He must be my kid!), Lewis is constantly talking. He intentionally makes up words all the time, but he also accidentally mispronounces some words/phrases that make me laugh. Below is a list of some of my favorites.

  • “Magic station” for imagination
  • Hello-doctor for helicopter
  • Bang-kick for blanket
  • Woopsie spaghetti-toes for “uh oh spaghetti-o’s”

Physically, Lewis is super active and all over the place. He loves to run from one end of the house to the other (or through Target!), he jumps off of everything (even though he knows he isn’t supposed to!), he flexes his muscles, loves to dance (starts dance class next week!), kicks his soccer ball all over the house, and learned to pedal his big boy bike. Gravity still gets the better of him a lot, so he is usually scraped and bruised somewhere. But that doesn’t stop him! Unless there is blood or a faceplant, he’ll usually pop right back up and announce, “I’M OKAY!”

Lewis is mostly potty trained, although we still have him in diapers at night time, even if he doesn’t usually need them and will wake up to go potty at night sometimes too. He does still have accidents during the day if he isn’t reminded to go when he is doing something super fun – but only pee accidents, never poop!

Lewis’ kind, sweet, gentle nature still prevails, demonstrated by his inclination to share and his love of making Ellen smile. If she starts to cry, he’ll do something outrageous or he’ll sing, and her mood will flip instantly (melt my mama-heart!).

Besides making Ellen smile, his other favorite thing to do seems to be changing his clothes a million times a day. I swear, that kid goes through 4-5 outfits a day. Sometimes just for fun, and sometimes because his clothes are “dirty” or he is “sweaty” or “cold”.

Our biggest challenges with Lewis at the moment are his choice not to listen and his inability to take “no” for an answer, and the ensuing tantrums that come along with us persisting/standing our ground. The screaming and awful tantrums happen several times a day, and it can really wear on Kyle and me, but we are getting better at avoiding the tantrums by warning Lewis when transitions are coming. And Lewis is getting better at calming down quicker.

When we don’t avoid a tantrum, we usually try to get his attention, have him stay still, look at us, and take deep breaths, and then tell us what he is feeling/why he is sad/angry. Oftentimes he’ll flare back up when he still doesn’t get what he wants, but we try to find compromises where we can, and make him understand why the answer is no when we can’t compromise. Sometimes it seems to help him just to be heard.

The tantrum thing will be a years-long work-in-progress, I’m sure. But I’m proud of his ability to express himself, and his willingness to calm down and listen for now.

Overall, the jackpot was won when we got Lewis 3 years ago. I can’t believe how wonderful these years have been, even through all the challenges and sleep deprivation. Can’t wait to see what our little dude does next!

Things I’ve Learned

Today marks the day I’ve been a mommy for 3 years. Three! Whole! Years!

I plan to write a whole post about Lewis, but after this crazy week, I don’t have it in me at the moment. Stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, I’d like to share some things I have learned in my time as a mother. I’ve been compiling the list for a while, and I’m sure as the years continue to pass, it will only get longer.

These little people of ours, we are supposed to be teaching them, but boy do they have a lot to teach us, too!

Without further ado, the list!

  1. At the end of the day, all that matters is that everyone has full bellies and beating hearts. If they do, it was a good day.
  2. Parenting doesn’t get easier, you get more confident – you have gotten through hard things before, so you know you can get through this, too.
  3. They will sleep eventually
  4. Everything seems harder/scarier before you do it, and you’ll usually end up wondering what you were so worried about.
  5. Sometimes your attitude will be worse than your kids’.
  6. Ask for help before you burn out. It’s a lot easier to prevent a burn out than to recover from one.
  7. You know your child better than anybody. Trust your instincts, but be patient with yourself in the beginning – It takes time to get to know your baby.
  8. If you are worrying whether you’re a good mom or not, it probably means you are.
  9. Everyone rides the Struggle Bus, they just buy their tickets using different currencies.
  10. Fair doesn’t always mean equal.
  11. You can do a lot more on a lot less sleep than you think.
  12. You can put the baby down.
  13. Take the infant/children CPR/choking class. You will need it.
  14. Enjoying every moment is impossible. It’s something old grandmas made up because they forgot what it’s really like. (But those beautiful moments? Those will power you through a lot. Cherish those moments!)
  15. No matter what the day held, you will miss your babies when they go to bed.

I have treasured these last three years as a mommy. I have grown and changed and learned through all the challenges and joys – and wow, were there a lot of both!

I feel lucky – Lucky to have gotten the two kids I got, lucky to get to be their mom, and, well… just lucky all around.

Happy birthday, Lewis!

Working mom life

I am smack dab in the middle of the craziest week of the year at our house – the boys’ birthday week. This year, it even has a little bonus Easter on top!

It’s a fun week, but it’s chaotic. Between 3 birthdays (5 parties total, 3 of which I planned/am planning) and Easter, we are also juggling 2 dentist appointments, 2 doctor appointments, 2 PT appointments, spending time with 4 out of town guests, the cleaning lady coming, and work + normal life.

It’s mayhem. I can hardly think past the next thing to see what’s coming next! But I am making it work!

Here is a little taste of how this working mom handled today:

  1. Up with Ellen twice at night + up for the day at 6am
  2. Showered, then got Lewis dressed and ready while I was also getting myself dressed
  3. Fed two kids + myself
  4. Kids to daycare
  5. Work
  6. Call to arrange catering for Saturday bday party during lunch
  7. Begin applying for life insurance during lunch
  8. Call and schedule more physical therapy appointments during lunch
  9. Work
  10. Get call from insurance company and apply for life insurance over the phone while I am working (serious multi tasking!)
  11. Work
  12. Stop at target for urgent purchases
  13. Pick up kids
  14. Cook for entire family while simultaneously loading the dishwasher
  15. Feed both kids and myself (at least Kyle is capable/willing to feed himself! Win!)
  16. Sort and start laundry
  17. Bathe infant
  18. More laundry
  19. Feed infant again and put infant to bed
  20. Empty dishwasher
  21. Get ready for bed and then get back up 5 mins later to comfort screaming infant
  22. More laundry on the way back to bed
  23. Next – sleep maybe?

And that’s real life for me. I have had to maximize every minute lately to get everything done. It’s a beautiful, fun-filled, special time. But I am looking forward to getting through this weekend. After that, at least, there won’t be any parties for a while, which leaves more time to handle all that other stuff that doesn’t go away!



I’m about to get real with y’all for a moment. I want to talk postpartum briefly, because it doesn’t end 6 or 12 weeks after birth. It isn’t over when the wounds heal – it drags out!

I’m 7 months postpartum and my body is still a squishy reminder of Ellen’s first home. I haven’t lost a pound in the last month (thanks Oreos!). But I have lost a lot of hair.

Postpartum hair loss is crazy town, and the real subject of this post. I started losing my luscious pregnancy locks about 5 months after birth, and it is still falling out in handfuls. Please observe my baldspot below.

I have a cute (read: not cute) red mole right where I’ve gone completely bald. I try to comb over it most of the time so it isn’t so obvious, but it’s getting hard!

Our poor drains are all clogged, I have to clean out my hair brush weekly, and our bathroom floor might as well be carpeted. It’s rough, people!

I know it will go back to normal – Some of the hair has already started growing back! But the result in the interim is a halo of baby hairs and some fun little sideburns.

The glamour of motherhood knows no bounds!!

Gone… and fishing

Is Ellen’s ear infection gone? I have my doubts. We have 3 more days of antibiotics, but a week in, I would expect improved sleep and significantly less ear-tugging. If anything, her ear-tugging has gotten worse!

I think I’ll take her into the doc to check that the meds worked. We used to do that with Lewis because his ear infections were so chronic and sometimes wouldn’t clear up with the first round of antibiotics. Maybe Ellen has a resistant strain?

In other news… the kids ate fish tonight! Well, we all did. I made fish tacos with cabbage, pickled onions, salsa crema, and avocado, and they were delicious.

The best part is that Lewis at a whole one plus a side of cheesy refried beans. By his standards, a damn feast! When you can get him to focus, he is a lot of fun to feed, because he isn’t picky and loves new flavors.

Ellen ate tiny bites of fish, beans, and avocado. My little burgeoning eater is really showing a preference towards chewable chunks vs purees, and a serious aversion to anything coming at her on a spoon or fork. But if you put it in her mouth with your fingers, she’ll eat anything!

Based on that, I would predict that Ellen will be an eager eater with her hands when she is coordinated enough. Quite different from her brother, who never has liked to eat with his hands much, because he doesn’t like to be messy!

Proud of my tiny humans and their adventurous palettes! Makes cooking rewarding, on the occasions I actually do it.

Big night!

We had a first at our house last night! I went to the inaugural meeting of a new book club, and that meant I was gone at bedtime and Kyle had to put both kids to bed for the first time ever.

I knew Kyle was up to it, and he knew he was too. But Ellen was a wild card, and we weren’t sure how that was going to go. Historically, she has a pattern of screaming when someone else tries to put her to bed. But Kyle has recently made it onto Ellen’s list of acceptable caretakers, so we thought there might be a chance.

Book club was literally a 3 minute walk from our house, so our backup plan if everything went sideways was that I would walk home, help out, and then go back to book club. That didn’t end up being necessary! Kyle and Ellen rocked bedtime out!

Lewis was a sweet, good boy for daddy, and Ellen took some of a bottle and then let Kyle rock her to sleep without any abnormal amount of protest.

(edit: was it really the first time Kyle was on his own with both kids? He must have done it in the early days before Ellen developed stranger danger… but this felt like the first time, and in any case… it was the first time she didn’t lose her shit)

I haven’t been able to leave for anything that spanned bedtime in over 7 months without feeling absolutely horrible due to Ellen’s meltdowns. It was so painful for me that I haven’t really even tried to leave, with the exception of a few date nights. I felt confined to my house, and as much as I love those nightly snuggles with Ellen, I am ready for a little flexibility now.

So this feeling is freedom. With babies, freedom comes gradually. Especially breastfed babies, I think. They’re physically dependent on mommy, and that often comes with a sort of general attachment as well. This was just one step further along the path to separation and independence.

I remember with Lewis that the biggest, final step was when we stopped breastfeeding and I could leave whenever I wanted without a pump or a care in the world. So we still have a ways to go with Ellen, but Kyle’s proven ability to get her down for the night is huge. I feel physically lighter knowing that I am free to accept social invitations in the evenings now without guilt.

It was pretty special for Kyle, too, to rock his daughter to sleep without her screaming bloody murder. I knew the two of them would bond and become close eventually because I saw how the relationship grew between Lewis and Kyle. Kyle is such a great dad, and he loves his kids so deeply… but baby-hood is so difficult for him. I think mostly because I have had a kind of monopoly on comforting our children when they are young. The breastfeeding thing meant that they naturally ended up in my arms as infants, and breaking that spell takes a long time, all the while, Kyle ends up as a bystander.

As wonderful as my newfound freedom is, and as beautiful as it is to once again get to watch my husband bond with his child, I have some feelings of loss that go along with it too. What is parenthood if not an exercise in wrestling with your emotions?!

It is so hard to be the only one your baby wants, and something I long to put behind me. But it is also so special, and something I secretly want to last forever. Yesterday’s success means that the era of Ellen’s and my exclusive relationship is over, for better or worse (mostly better!).

You want your kids to grow up and become independent, and getting them there is basically the essence of your job as a parent. I’ve always found their growing up to be bittersweet. Every new thing Lewis learns means he needs me less, and that’s a sign of a job well done, but also… ouch!

Those big kid accomplishments make me very emotional, but these baby milestones, where the independence is a physical severance of ties to me as a mother… well those are the hardest of all for me. They’re gloriously, wonderfully freeing… and gloriously, wonderfully painful.

But in the end, I’m so happy. The feelings of loss are muted (but worth acknowledging!) in comparison to the pride and happiness I feel. I’m grateful to have a husband who is patient enough to wait for me to be ready to hand over my babies, and who loves his kids easily as much as I love them. And I’m so proud of Ellen for developing emotionally and forming bonds with other caretakers. Watching her be loved by others is second only to getting to love her myself!

Bad dream

I had a dream last night that Kyle and I had our third child, a girl, weighing in at 19 lbs at birth.

No one made it into the room in time. I just felt the urge to push, blacked out, and then had a 19 lb newborn in my arms. I then walked out into the hallway holding the baby and said, “surprise!”

Not sure what that dream was trying to tell me. But I can say that blacking out while birthing a gigantic baby sounds nice, because the dream-birth wasn’t traumatizing at all, even though the dream-baby was 10 lbs heavier than Ellen was.

Dream-baby was also very cute. We never named her because we hadn’t even discussed names prior to the birth, and I woke up before we could sort it out.

I love babies. Funny dream.

7 months

ELLEN! What happened?! You’re 7 months old!

Let’s see… Ellen still seems to be hovering around 21.5 lbs. She has stalled out, which is A-OK, because I’m loving that she gets to wear this batch of clothes for a while. I didn’t think her weight gain would slow down until after she was mobile, but she is showing no signs of movement, yet here we are!

Our little Queen of Inertia is miles away from crawling – she still doesn’t even really like to roll over much. But her favorite thing in the world is jumping! She also loves to be held up so she can stand. She finds that activity very amusing.

Still no hints of teeth, either. I am not looking forward to the possibility of disrupted sleep due to teething, but I am kind of hoping she gets a few teeth soon because then she can try some more foods. Ellen loves to eat, and I’m having the best time playing and experimenting with her. I can’t wait for the culinary world to be even more accessible to her, because I think she’ll really have fun.

So far, she definitely seems to favor savory foods. Peas, eggs, and carrots top the list, but she also likes meat purees (ewwwww) and other “meals” pureed into goop. Bread with butter is a big hit, and beans are never turned down. As far as sweet items, she accepts bananas (with gusto!), mango, blueberry/oatmeal puree, yogurt, and amoxicillin (ha! thank goodness, makes giving her the meds for her ear infection easy!). I want to try giving her peanut butter soon, but my nerves keep stopping me. The doctor said to try anytime, and that early introduction can actually prevent peanut allergies. But man… it is a little scary!

Ellen’s list of people who aren’t “strangers” keeps growing, slowly but surely. The new daycare teacher has made the cut, and so has Kyle. My mom and Kyle’s mom are almost acceptable – I don’t think it will be long now!

Proud of my darling girl. Love her with every piece of me, even though she exhausts me with the sleep stuff sometimes!

Pulled the trigger

We went ahead and pulled the trigger on Ellen’s prescription for her ear infection. She had a mediocre night again, unable to fall asleep until I gave her tylenol. At that point, she miraculously fell asleep. Pretty clear indicator to me that the pain was keeping her up, even if she didn’t cry. She’s such a toughie!

Last night was only marginally improved, but she had only had one dose, so that’s not surprising. Hopefully tonight, 3 doses in, she will do better.

We’ve also got her on probiotics to help keep her gut in good health and try to avoid some of the digestive issues that come along with antibiotics.

Meanwhile, Lewis and I sang the ABC’s today and he knew all the letters!!! First time I’ve heard where he nailed it like that. Sweet boy is learning so much!!!


Well well well! Miss Ellen went to the doctor this morning, and my decision to take her in was not so dumb after all!

Sweet girl has some bum ears at the moment. The doctor called them “borderline infected”. What this actually means is she has an ear infection either on the way in or on the way out, but it is impossible to tell which.

So we have a prescription in-hand for antibiotics, but we’ve been instructed to wait a day or two to see if she gets better or worse and then make the call to get the meds or not. Seems logical to me!

I have a strong suspicion that the infection is on the way out, and I just missed the signs. She never had a fever, only tugged at her ears when she was tired, wasn’t super whiney or grumpy or fussy… and she didn’t even have consistently bad sleep! Those good nights mixed in threw me off the scent!

Essentially, she had none of the signs that Lewis always showed when he had his chronic ear infections. Ellen seems to be much more even-keeled about the whole thing than Lewis. The only thing she gets worked up over in life is when she is left with people other than me, Kyle, or daycare. Other than that? You’ve got to have a master’s degree in Ellen-behavior to detect if anything is wrong!

I’m very glad to know that, now. That will inform a lot of decisions about her wellness in the future. Subtle signals with this one!

A good one!

Last night, after I did literally nothing different, Ellen slept 7.25 hrs + 3.75 hours and then had to be awakened to get up for school.

All I can do is shake my head and accept the sleep when it comes. At this point, I’m convinced I’ve done all I can to lay the groundwork for Miss Ellen to get good sleep, and it is up to her whether or not she actually does it on any given night.

Ellen will be visiting the doctor tomorrow to get a quick once-over. She’s been sick for going on a month (ish? who can keep track anymore…), and her cough doesn’t seem to be getting better. I figure it has been long enough, we might as well let the doc take a peek at her just to be sure it isn’t anything more than a lingering cold. I’m 98% sure that’s exactly what it is, but that pesky 2% is driving me toward the doc. I’m comfortable being sent away with good news, but I’m not comfortable not going and missing something.

Lewis has been putting us through a “you win some, you lose some” pattern with potty training. Win: he woke up in the middle of the night last night to go potty. Lose: Over the weekend, he refused to go for so long (despite needing to) that he peed all over the floor when he finally gave in – got to the toilet, pulled his pants down, and didn’t have enough time to sit because he had to go so bad.

It’s been mostly wins, though!

We’re trying to move away from the little potty in favor of a “safety seat” on the normal toilet. Our first step was to make the kid potty downstairs disappear. The accident over the weekend seemed to be in protest of using the normal toilet, but he shaped up after that. He uses a normal toilet at daycare, so I see no reason we can’t get rid of the little potty upstairs soon too. We are definitely looking forward to not having to clean out the little potties anymore. It is so gross!

P.S. Remember when I thought Ellen was teething at 2 months old? She’s almost 7 months old and still has no teeth! Where are they?! haha



We had another terrible night last night. But both yesterday and today (so far) have been wonderful. It’s funny how much the daylight changes your perspective.

Well, that and caffeine…

Plus, I am reading a book right now (kindle on my phone – pro tip for getting through sleepless nights!) where one of the characters inadvertently killed her newborn baby, and the telling of that scene brutalized my mama-soul. I read it on about hour 5 of being up with Ellen last night, and suddenly I wasn’t angry to be awake. In fact, I couldn’t squeeze her warm body close enough.

And I couldn’t wait for Lewis to wake up in the morning so I could squeeze his warm body too. I was immediately in desperate need of feeling the rise and fall of their chests.

I hate the book I’m reading, between the alcoholism, the lying, the incredibly poor decisions and the stress caused by the characters engaging in all three, I’ve hated it from the start.

It’s for a book club a friend of mine is just starting up, so I have been powering through. I wanted to stop reading it long before that awful scene. Now I am truly traumatized by it, and I dread picking it up to read another page.

But I am grateful that it got me through another bad night. Grateful it made me appreciate what I have. Because during the bad nights, I struggle to maintain that perspective. So thank you, terrible book.

Ok attempt number 4 in the last 2 hours… please be the lucky one. Please let Ellen stay asleep this time.

We had a good run of good nights again. Streak is over.

Really, it was a good, recharging, much-needed streak of great sleep.

Trying to pull from that built up energy to get through this night. It is 2:40 am, and I have slept for 2 hours total, in two 1 hour chunks.

Zzzzz. Come on, Ellen. Let’s do this. I know you can!!!

Update: I enjoyed a nice 20 minute light doze. Happy to report I am back in the chair with Ellen. Currently giving the doctor’s advice the middle finger and feeding the beast for a second time tonight.

We’ve had a lot of good nights lately. A lot. And those good nights do a lot to get me through the bad nights. But some nights are so bad, nothing can prepare you.

Tonight is one such night.

I have been up with Ellen for all but 45 minutes of the last 4 hours. Why? No idea.

I fed her. She woke up when I put her down. I rocked her, I got out for 45 mins. I have rocked her to sleep no less than 5 times since coming back in. I fed her again. I let her fuss in her crib for 30 minutes.

I just gave her some Tylenol and I’m rocking her again.

The fatigue is hitting so hard my head is throbbing. It makes me nauseous. I’m also absolutely livid, which makes me feel guilty. And I’m sure it doesn’t exactly help me in my efforts to relax Ellen.

I wish I understood why sleep is so unpredictable. Then I would at least have some idea what to do. But I literally haven’t changed a thing, and I’m dealing with a terrible night. For over a week, it was great. And then wham.

In the interest of providing a balanced and true report of how things are around here, please observe some sweet pictures from yesterday. We had the most wonderful day together, sunshine and smiles galore.

The Sickness

Ellen gave me and Kyle The Sickness (AKA a mild cold).

Kyle is home sick from work. I am still working (but also at home), and seemingly getting the mildest version of The Sickness. Ellen has been sleeping much better since the first night of her visit from The Sickness, which I am very grateful for.

Lewis is so far unscathed.

I don’t have much to say, other than colds suck (especially for babies and grown men), and good nights of sleep are blessings from heaven.



I jinxed it. Ellen came down with a cold overnight last night and we didn’t sleep much.

I called in tired to work today.

At first I felt guilty, but then I let that go because I have been “on” for so long, frequently running on fumes, that it makes sense that I needed a day to recuperate.

And I do feel better. It did help. We will see what tonight brings – it could be more of the same – but no matter what, today did me good.

Bonus – I actually witnessed Ellen, Queen of Inertia, roll from back to front this evening!


Today I went to my monthly mommy bunco group and Kyle stayed home with the kiddos. I have been doing this every month for a while, the first Sunday afternoon of each month.

Historically, Ellen has screamed the entire time I was away, which has taken away from the fun for me, because I am constantly worried about her and poor Kyle, and feeling immensely guilty.

Not today, folks! Ellen didn’t cry at all the whole time I was gone and she took her entire bottle! I got away for about 3 hours and was able to completely disconnect and feel no guilt whatsoever. Heaven, I tell ya!

Also, the last 5 nights, Ellen has slept really great. 4 of the 5, I was only up once. The 5th night, I was up twice. She woke up a few other times here and there but put herself back to sleep.

I’m still totally tired, because that’s the name of the game. But it is the kind of tired that is sustainable. The kind I don’t mind.

I probably jinxed everything by talking about it. But at least I’ve got 5 good sleeps stored up to get me through a few bad nights, if my luck has run out.

Balanced reporting

If I am going to write about all the crappy sleep, I should also write about the good nights. Especially since they’re more newsworthy, being as rare as they are!

We have had a string of mediocre nights. Not terrible, but not awesome. A lot of me ignoring Ellen and not going in after her one allotted night feeding.

Last night was not mediocre. It. Was. Awesome.

Girlfriend woke once around 1:45. Then up for the day just before 6. Hallelujah!!!!

So what was different?

Nothing. Literally nothing. Unless you count me forgetting to pull her off my boob when she fell asleep so she sort of dream-sucked for an extra few minutes.

Anyway, I feel like I am seeing rainbows and walking through clouds of glitter. AKA I am rested and it is going to be a great day!

6 month checkup

Ellen had her 6 month checkup yesterday. She is healthy as a horse, and nearly as big as one too!

The official weigh in was 21.1 lbs, and she is 28.5 inches tall, both at the very top of the charts.

The doctor advised me to stop feeding the beast at night time unless she absolutely demands it and won’t sleep without it. And even then, only once per night maximum. That’s what my gut had been telling me to do anyway, so it was nice to have my instincts backed up.

HOWEVER! Ellen wouldn’t stay asleep last night after waking until I finally gave in and fed her. She kept falling back asleep and waking up as soon as I would put her down. But when I fed her? Zonked for 5 hours. Pretty hard to cut that night feeding out entirely at this point, if she literally will not sleep without it!

Ellen also got 4 shots and an oral vaccine and was a tough girl. She cried for a bit and then as soon as I picked her up, she was fine again. Didn’t seem to have any adverse reactions throughout the day/night afterwards either, which was delightful.

Lastly, Ellen got rave reviews on her developmental milestones. I was actually a tiny bit concerned because she isn’t rolling (queen of inertia!) even though she’s shown that she can. But the doctor didn’t react at all to that news, and said Ellen was doing everything she was supposed to be.

Proud mama!!

6 months old + Family Update

My sweet girl is 6 months old! You’d think that after going through this once before I’d be prepared for how fast time goes, but somehow, I’m just as surprised this time around at how quickly my baby is growing up!

Ellen is doing fantastic. She can sit up endlessly, can pass things back and forth between her two hands, is suddenly overjoyed by the idea of standing up (while holding your hands), and is capable of rolling over – as evidenced by her doing it one time each direction – but seems so content to be wherever you put her that she hasn’t repeated her rolling performance.

We’ve also been having a great time trying solid foods, all of them purees so far. Daycare has given her a bite or two of banana and avocado, but everything chewable that I’ve offered Ellen has been rejected. Lewis was similarly uninterested in chewable food until well after he turned one… I’m hoping Ellen gets on board a little sooner than that, but no rush!

Just after turning 6 months old, Lewis was already showing interest in crawling. Ellen doesn’t seem remotely interested. Lewis also got his first tooth on the day he turned 6 months – I still don’t see any teeth on their way for Ellen. Lewis had also been sick a bunch with ear infections by this point in his little life, whereas Ellen has only had a little cold, has never had a fever, and hasn’t had to have any antibiotics! So different, my two babies!

Ellen’s sleep saga continues, but I am feeling hopeful again. We’ve had a few good nights, but I had to break some sleep safety rules to get them. Long story short, Ellen seems to prefer a “squeeze” when she is sleeping, and she may have been cold too. I’m working on safer ways to accomplish those two “requirements”, and should have everything in place by Monday so those theories can be truly tested in a safer manner.

In summary – I am fully boarding the “sleep crutch” train, and I am OK with it. As long as Ellen is safe and we are sleeping, I do not give one single shit (sorry for the language, Granny!) if I am using crutches. Screw hardcore standards that require your child to comply with rigid guidelines. “Rigid” has no place in my parenting philosophy, so I’m going to take all the recommendations and adapt them to find what works best for Ellen. It is taking a while, but we will get there. And she won’t need those sleep aids forever, of that I’m sure.

OK! Update on the rest of the family!

My body has come a long way in the last 6 months. I have officially lost over 50 pounds since right before giving birth. I had intended to lose another 5 pounds this month, but only managed 3.5. Given how utterly sleep-deprived I’ve been, I feel glorious about the fact that I lost anything at all! Go me!!!! I even went down a pants size for the first time since getting out of maternity clothes.

Lewis is almost fully potty trained. Or maybe he is fully potty trained? I guess it depends on how you look at it. He is still wearing diapers at night, although to be honest, he makes it through most nights without peeing in the diaper, so he might be ready for nighttime training soon, too. And he has only had one accident during the daytime in the last week, and that was in the morning when his nighttime diaper got stuck on his butt after he had un-velcroed it and he couldn’t sit down on the potty because it was in the way. Result? Pee on the floor. Oops! If the diaper hadn’t gotten stuck, we would have been accident-free all week. That feels like fully (daytime) potty trained to me!

Last weekend Kyle (and Lewis) did a little home improvement project – our sink in the downstairs bathroom cracked all on its own (so weird!), so we had to replace it. Lewis was super into the repair process, and Kyle did an excellent job. We had a new sink installed within 24 hours of the crack showing up. Besides paint, this is really the only customizing we’ve done to this house, and it is fun to have at least one thing that we picked ourselves.

We got our federal tax refund the other day and paid off a chunk of the debt we had accumulated due to my maternity leave. Our state refund will be used for the same purpose. It feels good to be getting on better financial ground. Realistically, we had babies before we could “afford them” because we chose to have them when we wanted them, while we were young and healthy, and when our careers were on positive trajectories. We knew we had the earning potential to make up for jumping the financial gun eventually, so we went for it. Now that we’re (most likely) done having kids, and we’ve both gotten significant raises, we should be consistently making strides towards a debt-free life, with far fewer back-slides. I feel optimistic, and very proud.

I had a birthday this week. 31 years old! The occasion was marked mostly by spending time with family, and with a birthday pedicure with a dear friend. I also napped (hallelujah!). No great fanfare this year, since it isn’t a milestone birthday, but I felt adequately celebrated, and really enjoyed my day.

There has been off-and-on snow in Portland this week, which even led to daycare closing on Wednesday. I had to work anyway, deadlines being what they are, so I worked from home with the kids. That’s right! TWO kids + work. I can handle two kids, and I can handle work. But when you put the two together, wow. It was a rough day, but the kids were very well behaved, and we got through it. I felt like supermom, even though I was also superexhausted!

And finally, my house is a constant disaster area, but the slogan in our house is “full bellies and beating hearts, the rest is just extra”. So I’d say we’re doing great!

I am completely at a loss. I haven’t slept in weeks.

I am to the point of fatigue where I am angry at my baby. I can’t function. I have serious debates in my head about how I can quit my job and still send the kids to daycare so I can just sleep during the day, because that feels like the only way I will ever sleep again.

I am also contemplating buying every single sleep aid on the market. Sleep sacks, special beds, professional infant sleep coach to come live with us for a week and teach us how to do this… Take all my money, even a tiny improvement would be worth going into thousands of dollars of debt for.

I am obviously shitty at this. I have happy, healthy kids, yes. I’m a great mom during the day – I am consistent with discipline, we have fun, my babies know I love them, they eat balanced diets, they’re safe.

But at night? I’m crap. I clearly don’t know what I’m doing. I follow my instincts and this is what I get. Following my instincts, I end up inadvertently teaching my kids not to sleep. If it was just one of them, I would chock it up to bad luck. But I’m batting 1000 on shitty sleepers, and the common denominator is ME.

In the end, we actually had a good night. Awake at 1 and 5:30. I fed Ellen both times, wrongly assuming she was up for the day at 5:30, and she fell back asleep.

What was different last night to make it better?

  1. Ellen had slightly larger bottles at daycare
  2. Ellen screamed for 45 minutes before going to sleep.
  3. We gave Ellen tylenol before bed.

Tonight, I’d like to remove item 2 and see how things go. We will keep items 1 and 3 to see if the results are the same. If it works again, maybe we will remove the Tylenol and see what happens. I suspect the Tylenol played a major role in the improved sleep, but I think a controlled experiment is required to figure it out.

No matter what, one decent night of sleep does a lot to set me up to handle subsequent bad nights. I feel much more prepared to face the world after sleeping two 4 hour chunks instead of four 45-90 minute chunks!


Tried sleep training this evening. Did not go well.

At bedtime, I literally pulled her off the breast and immediately dropped her in her crib. She was already asleep.

She then woke up 45 minutes later, crying.

So I gave it 5 minutes before walking in to comfort her without picking her up. Off to a great start!

That’s where the success ended. After 45 minutes of letting her scream, and occasionally patting her and attempting to comfort her, I quit.

Ellen was wide awake, angry, and snotty (AKA unable to breathe). I was bawling.

I feel like a total failure. It seems like my choices in this situation are either pile of shit or heap of shit – either I torture my baby and myself, or I never sleep again. In either scenario, I’m in hell. In scenario #2, at least Ellen is happy.

Rocking my baby and holding her feels natural to me. I just can’t believe that there is no way to have a better sleeper who also gets snuggled by her mommy at bedtime. That makes no sense. Why would I have this instinct if it is wrong? Aren’t we given these instincts for a reason?

Sweet baby Jesus, I want to sleep. But not like that. That’s not right for me. I need to find something different.