April Fools #ippp

The eight year old has been talking about April Fool’s Day all week. He’s been plotting, planning, and reading up on it.

Specifically, from April Fool’s Day From the Black Lagoon*.

He asked me last night if they could have muffins for breakfast, so he could stick Lego guys (that he didn’t like very much) in them as a joke. (he’s not that great at keeping secrets yet)image

Then, after he finished eating he came in the bathroom while I was taking a shower (it’s his favorite time to chat: while he’s going to the bathroom).

“What should we do to Ivy today? We haven’t thought of a big prank for her yet…

Are you gonna do anything, mama? You should do something after you get back home. But only to me, so we don’t upset the girls.

Have you ever played the faucet trick? I still need to do that after school.”

Later, because he’s such a sweet boy, he thanked me for serving the muffins.

What’s April Fool’s like at your house?
The Angelas (of Jumping With My Fingers Crossed and Angela Amman) and I want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favorite phone photos of the week. All you need is a blog post containing at least one photo from any phone camera. Link up below, and don’t forget to visit some of the others!

GFunkified

*affiliate link

Birth and Death Together #iPPP

First birthday

I stand over his high chair as he tentatively takes a finger scoop of red icing, poised with my camera to capture the first taste. I see the look of pleasant surprise, and the twinkle in his eye as he digs further into the small circular cake each time, finally scooping up handfuls and shoving them into his wide open mouth. I smile, looking around the room at the houseful of family and a few friends, pairs of eyes watching the one-year-old’s display of sugared gluttony…including my sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, and only two of my brothers.  And I remember:

It was a typical room in the Labor and Delivery wing, newly refurbished and clean, stark in that trying-to-be-homey kind of way. There were a few balloons and a couple vases of flowers, cheerfully greeting those that entered with a Congratulations on Your Baby Boy!

We had seen a few family members that afternoon, and Tyson’s parents were staying in town. The c-section had gone smoothly. Grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles and cousins met the little dude, but there were still some that were yet to visit. Just like any mom that had a brand new newborn (the fourth!), I was happy, and exhausted, and overwhelmed.

I was tweeting and Facebooking and texting, though, too. Those hospital stays can be lonely, and I needed something to take my mind off of the stomach pain, the constant nurse visits, the shoving of the baby onto the nipples, the zero privacy…the all-alone-but-never-really-alone-for-long phenomenon that is having a baby in a first-world hospital.

In the middle of the afternoon, the next day, though, things were slowing down a bit and people were coming in and out with less frequency. A little bit of the new baby excitement was gone and only a few people were left to meet the fourth and final baby. His older siblings were spending time with their grandparents. I had just started walking the halls a little and moving around when I got a Facebook message that was strange and urgent:  A friend from our church had sent it, probably not realizing that I was in the vacuum of a hospital and that I was being “protected” by my family in the vulnerable, hormonal state that I was in, telling me that she was so very sorry. It suddenly occurred to me that the text from another friend earlier, asking me how I was, wasn’t a normal “How are you doing?” but more of an “Oh my God, how are you holding up??” I texted her back to see what in the world was going on, and she told me that she thought I knew.

I had no idea that my brother had been in an accident and had died at work a few hours before.

I called my mom, in a panic, and asked her what was going on. Meanwhile, my husband was the only other person in the room and hearing half of a desperate conversation. My mom told me (more calmly than I, even though she had absolutely no reason to be) that my brother was dead. I got a very general idea of how it happened: he had been hit by someone driving a huge piece of equipment in the parking lot; the driver hadn’t seen him. Even now, I can’t bring myself to press for more details than that.

The oldest of my three brothers, 35 years old and the father of three kids (including a baby) had been run over by a piece of equipment. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair for him to not see his kids grow up. It wasn’t fair to his wife to lose her husband so young and in the blink of an eye make her a single mom of three young kids. It wasn’t fair for my parents or my brothers or me, or the new littlest guy in our family that never got to meet him.

I thought when my first husband died four years before that our family had been through enough. I thought that somehow, we would be spared any more senseless tragedy.

With that phone call, the hospital room became a jail cell. I no longer had any desire whatsoever to be in that room, but I wasn’t allowed to leave. With the matching plastic bands on our arms, we were literally locked on that cheerful floor full of new life and happy families welcoming their new bundles of joy. Just twelve hours before, we had been one of those families, oblivious to the worries of the outside world. Now I had this tiny baby, completely dependent on me, and I couldn’t hold myself together long enough to speak a complete sentence without falling apart. I spent so much time on that dreadful bed with only my poor husband and the TV to keep my mind off of what was happening, and neither was successful.

At some point shortly after the call, my husband talked to his parents on the phone and told them what had happened. They were on their way back from the hotel and though I didn’t want to see anyone, I didn’t want to be so desperately alone, either.

My in-laws let the women at the nurses’ station know what was going on, and before long, there was a fruit and deli tray from the cafeteria in our painfully quiet room. The staff that was on duty walked on eggshells when they came into our room, their faces screwed into looks of sympathy and worry when they saw me. I can’t imagine what the next wave of workers thought when they saw me, puffy-faced and broken;I’d guess that word traveled fast.

The day continued like that: me sobbing over my baby as he nursed, looking down on the sweet face that would never have the chance to see his uncle looking down at him in his arms.  Tears streaming down my face in the hospital bed every few minutes when my mind wandered the tiniest bit to what was happening outside the windows of the fourth floor, keeping me inside and away from the family crisis that was occurring without me. When the pressure of the task of holding it together became too much, I escaped to the hall bathroom to release it into a pile of tissues and stretch my weary, emotionally and physically drained body before returning to the room and counting down the minutes on that wall clock until it was time to pack up and go home.

I’m grateful that my sweet newborn was unaffected by what was happening. I knew that the stress would be awful for the developing breastfeeding relationship that I was trying to establish, so I worked extra hard to try to keep that particular train on the tracks. My milk came in before we left the hospital, and the act of nurturing my baby became a welcome respite from the pain in my heart. I couldn’t think of anything in those moments except the latch, soreness and satisfaction of filling my baby’s belly.

A few days later, we met with a pastor and his wife from my brother’s church, our whole family together in the house occupied by my SIL and her three kids. We were missing an important presence: the one we were all there to talk about, remember, share memories of. Then the memorial service, where a slideshow of his pictures played, and the same message that I’d heard years earlier when my own husband had died…that bad things happen to good people for no reason other than free will. I didn’t go anywhere without the tiny boy that was just a few days old and needed nothing but his mama. It turns out I needed him more than anything in those long, awful days as well.

Now, my son’s birthday is forever connected with the day my brother died. I can’t think of one without the other, and every family gathering is missing someone important.  I always sit and picture what I think he’d be doing if he was with us, and I’m grateful for a lifetime of memories to go on.

erv mama

The Angelas (of Jumping With My Fingers Crossed and Angela Amman) and I want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favorite phone photos of the week. All you need is a blog post containing at least one photo from any phone camera. Link up below, and don’t forget to visit some of the others!

GFunkified

Things are happening around here. #iPPP

It’s safe to say that I’m burned out on training for a half marathon. It just is….no one will argue.

I started training for the Disney World Half back in September, and while I was training for that, I signed up for another one here in Kansas CIty in April. I took off a couple of weeks after Disney, and then got right back into it so I didn’t lose any momentum.

Which means that for nearly seven months, I’ve been running four days a week, including a long run every weekend.

I. Am. Burned. Out.

The next half is April 12, so I have to get through the next four and a half weeks and I can take a break for a while. Not running altogether, just training. I’m excited to get back to running a few miles a few times a week, when I feel like it. I’m excited to not have every Sunday planned around nothing but prepping for the school week and running for hours on end.

I just want to get it over with, you know? I’m ready.

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Hey, did you know that you can help Huggies with their Every Little Bottom program and donate diapers to babies in need, just by playing fun little games? You can, and it’s super easy. Find out how here.

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I’ve alluded to the fact that I’m the new owner of a website, Today’s Work At Home Mom. I’m really excited to be bringing it back to life with a  ton of content and resources from amazing people who are doing great things working from home (or working full time). In the process, I’ve officially become a work at home mom myself (it was totally unofficial before). I’m still learning a lot every day about running a website like this, and I need your help and your support. I know it’s not for everybody, but I would love for you to check it out. If you think it might help you, feel free to subscribe to the newsletter or RSS, follow on social media, and share with your hard-working moms and friends. And, I’m looking for contributors, so if you’ve got something to share—tips, recipes, stories, etc, get in touch with me and we’ll chat about it.

So, that’s my update with things that are going on right now. Soon, potty training and a third birthday party. Next month, Kindergarten Round-Up (not the same child). GAH. Then the end of school and summer, camp, swimming lessons. If you need me, I’ll be changing the bag on my coffee drip.

outside

The Angelas (of Jumping With My Fingers Crossed and Angela Amman) and I want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favorite phone photos of the week. All you need is a blog post containing at least one photo from any phone camera. Link up below, and don’t forget to visit some of the others!

GFunkified

Let It Go, Winter. #iPPP

I think this winter has done me in. I woke up Sunday in a foul, foul mood and never came out of it. Even after sending everyone upstairs and getting on the treadmill (which usually turns a woke up on the wrong side of the bed day around), I still didn’t want to talk to anyone. So of course, that was when everyone wanted all of the attention.

Anyway, Monday wasn’t much better. It’s been below freezing here since Saturday, the heater is cranked up, and I just don’t want to get out of bed.

The littlest one has all but given up naps. Plus, he’s turning three THIS MONTH. I can’t say I’m thrilled about either of those things, if I’m being honest.

So. What can I do except throw a pity party and invite everyone over for cake? I guess I can try to look for some good things that are happening.

One good thing about freezing temperatures are that I usually take a shower in the morning and my hair freezes on the way to and from school drop off. It’s obnoxious and uncomfortable. BUT, it also eliminates almost all of the frizz that normally plagues me. So even though I desperately need a trim, my hair doesn’t look half bad. Until I pull it back and get on the treadmill anyway.

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What else? Well, according to Weather Whiskers, it IS supposed to warm up this week. (Please join me in crossing fingers that there’s no snow Wednesday. Please.)

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Though my sweet boy is getting older without my permission, he’s also been really funny lately. He’s found his personality and his imagination, and it’s quite entertaining. One of the things that cracked me up this week was when he’d come into the room and say “Oh uh, hiya, mama!”

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Angela shared this video Tuesday morning, and I freakin’ teared up. I’m not even kidding. I love Jimmy Fallon and the Roots SO SO SO MUCH, and then add in one of the winter anthems in our house? That includes a whole lotta BELTING OUT? AWESOME. I watched it twice. At least. I’ll probably watch it again tomorrow morning. Or when the girls get home from school. Or both.

We’ve eaten a lot of cake lately, but we’ve also been baking. Hubs was kind enough to make gluten free pastries for us, and then I made little donut muffins the next day. Yeah, some cinnamon and sugar will cheer anybody up. Am I right?

And when they were done, I had a food photography protégé. (I will be sharing the recipe. Oh yes, I will.)

Ivy photog

Last but not least, my dry winter skin is so, so happy to be pampered by real French soap again.

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How is your winter going? Have any good winter news to share? (Like, that’s it’s almost over??)

The Angelas (of Jumping With My Fingers Crossed and Angela Amman) and I want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favorite phone photos of the week. All you need is a blog post containing at least one photo from any phone camera. Link up below, and don’t forget to visit some of the others!

GFunkified

Check Up. Buy Food. Cut Hair. #iPPP

Things the Toddler Doctor says:

I have to bam her.

I need to check your bwod (blood).

That wooks vewy good.

Say ahhhh (and shoves the tool down my throat).

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Around these parts, we call it the “Super Market” (thanks, Nick Jr.), and we loooove going.

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It was haircut time.

After Flock of Seagulls, I was still very much in love with what I like to call “Erv’s Epic Head of Hair” but we have a pattern: shave, trim, shave, trim. Shave, let it grow out. Trim around the edges, let it grow some more. Shave. And so on. But his birthday is in one month (sob) and I wanted it to be in the “let it grow out” phase for all of the pictures….it’s my favorite phase.

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The Angelas (of Jumping With My Fingers Crossed and Angela Amman) and I want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favorite phone photos of the week. All you need is a blog post containing at least one photo from any phone camera. Link up below, and don’t forget to visit some of the others!

GFunkified

Valentine’s Day Shenanigans. #iPPP

We actually paid babysitters on Valentine’s Day (because my parents live so close to us, we’ve never had to before), and we had close to four whole hours by ourselves.

We had sushi (well, I had sushi and T had sushi and steak)! And I got sushi to take home for lunch the next day, which I couldn’t stop thinking about through the entire Girl Scout meeting Saturday morning. I obviously don’t get sushi often enough. Can I say it again? SUSHI!

sushi

We didn’t quite have enough time for a movie or anything, so I wanted to be super romantic next and go through the automatic car wash (y’all, we know how to LIVE, and we’ve been living in winter yuck for weeks). BUT, I was so disappointed that we missed the closing time by 40 minutes. Closed! I couldn’t believe it.

So, what did we do next? Starbucks drive thru! Are you getting jealous yet?

We didn’t want to leave the kids at the church too long because we still had a 40 minute drive home, but we weren’t quite ready to pick them up yet. So, where do a couple of spontaneous, fun-loving, early 30s adults go? Target, of course!

Target. Where we bought notebooks for the kids, and milk, and took goofy pictures with Valentine’s Day stuff.

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When we couldn’t hold off any longer, we went to fetch the children. At least one of them cried because we wouldn’t let them stay and finish watching Monsters University.

A good time was had by all.

How was your Valentine’s Day?

Please help me give a warm, iPPP welcome to Angela of Jumping With My Fingers Crossed and Angela Amman, my new lovely, talented co-hosts!

We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favorite phone photos of the week. All you need is a blog post containing at least one photo from any phone camera. Link up below, and don’t forget to visit some of the others!

GFunkified

Love and Sunshine #iPPP

In case you weren’t aware, Valentine’s Day is Friday. So, in honor of that, I thought I’d share how I show my love.

(Every mom is different. I do things that other moms wouldn’t dream of doing, and vice versa. No judgment.)

1. Superhero surgery.

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2. Hugs and kisses before bed.

3. Love notes in the lunch boxes.

4. Playing the Kidz Bop version of “What Does the Fox Say?” at least once a day.

5. Dancing with the toddler to a singing Valentine’s Day toy’s version of “Sugar, Sugar” every night.

How do you show your love?

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Do you know who else showed her love this week? Kim at All Work and No Play Makes Mommy Go Something Something spread some love and sunshine to me and a few other bloggers buried in the snow. She answered some questions and then asked us some. Here are my answers:

  1. If Jane had 3 apples and John had 78 nails, how many layers of clothing are you wearing (how is the weather in your neck of the woods?)? I’m wearing a long sleeved shirt, a short sleeved shirt, sweatpants, socks and slippers. When we went out earlier, I also had on a down coat and fleece gloves. It’s chilly here.
  2. What is keeping you sane during these long winter months? THAT is an excellent question. Bedtime?
  3. If you were on a boat with a box of chocolate and your Mother In Law, who would you throw overboard? SNORT. If I thought the chocolate would still be edible in the water, I might throw myself over.
  4. What’s in your underwear drawer besides underwear? I don’t actually have an underwear “drawer.” I have a plastic shoebox tote. And all that’s in it is underwear and random swimsuit tops.
  5. Do you trust yourself with sharp objects near your face? (as in, do you pluck your own eyebrows? Do you have any eyebrow horror stories?) I do. I actually hate tweezing a million times more than waxing, but I don’t leave the house much without kids so I can get them waxed. So, I tweeze when the take-no-prisoners rearview mirror says it’s time.
  6. I am terrified of dead bodies, spiders, and the dentist. What are you scared of? Falling. And scorpions.
  7. Does your husband cut up the back of your legs with his long toenails when you sleep? This one is purely a “See Shawn, all of these blogger’s husbands take care of their feet”. Just say yes. He would if I let him touch me with his feet.

Robin at Farewell, Stranger and I want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favorite phone photos of the week. All you need is a blog post containing at least one photo from any phone camera. Link up below, and don’t forget to visit some of the others!

I’m sad to let you know that this will be Robin’s last week with iPPP. Go show her some love, and help me welcome Angela of Jumping With My Fingers Crossed and Angela Amman when you come back next week.

GFunkified

Leading the Way #iPPP

The snow started while the kids ate breakfast, and continued while we drove to school. I took them inside, got them settled in the warm, lively building and shielded my ears and eyes as I walked back out to the car.

I sat with the warm air blowing at my feet for a few moments, and left the parking lot. Not far out onto the road, something caught my eye: in the wind and blowing snow, the white sky, a small black flock of geese flew, struggling to maintain the V shape that keeps them together.

It makes me sad to see them out there and I watch as long as I can before I have to turn onto the road that will bring me home. But I don’t really know if they’re struggling. Are they used to flying in the snow, against the wind, fighting to stay in line, without losing any part of the group?

I can’t stop thinking about them as I make my coffee, while the toddler sleeps upstairs and the big kids start their school day. I realize, motherhood is just like that.

Motherhood is struggling to stay together, through the storm and the winds.

Motherhood is pushing a precarious, overloaded grocery cart into the parking lot, then stopping to bend down and pick up the bags that fell over the side, while the baby cries from being in the store for so long and people brush past without pausing to ask if you’re okay.

Motherhood is asking the big kids to help when the little ones are overtired and uncooperative, telling them to just give her the scooter, I don’t care right now that you had it first, just please, for a minute, let her have it.

Motherhood is breaking through the crowd at the mall, begging the child in a state of potty emergency to keep up, I didn’t bring any spare clothes.

Motherhood is keeping the family together, working as a team to just get through it. Just make it past this part, the hard part, until we can find the sun again.

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Robin at Farewell, Stranger and I want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favorite phone photos of the week. All you need is a blog post containing at least one photo from any phone camera. Link up below, and don’t forget to visit some of the others!

GFunkified

Four Years Old #iPPP

So, on January 27th, 2010, I published my very first blog post. Back then I had a blogspot.com address and had no idea what I was doing. Sometimes I still don’t feel like I know what I’m doing, but I’ve gotten a little better at this blogging thing (maybe?).

A lot has changed in the last four years. Here’s a look at our lives, then and now.

Then:

We had three kids, Henry (3), Ivy (1), and Essie (baby)

three

Now:

We have four, Henry (8), Ivy (6), Essie (4), and Ervin (2)

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Then:

The oldest two were extremely close and loved dressing up.

dress up

Now:

The oldest three are super close (especially the girls) and they all dress up.

dres sup

henry mask

Then:

We ate gluten. A lot.

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Now:

We’re gluten free.

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Then:

I talked a lot about poop (and with two toddlers and a baby, who wouldn’t?).

Now:

I mostly keep the poop talk to myself. You’re welcome.

Then:

I was blondish with short hair.

blondies

Now:

I’m brunette-ish with bangs.

four pajamas

Then:

I was married to this guy (the tall one).

tyson henry

Now:

I’m still married to that guy.

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Then:

I had some…er…baby weight to lose. (To be fair, I was actually “with child” again shortly after starting the ol’ blog)

ivy mama

Now:

I’ve (thankfully) lost the bab(ies) weight.

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We’ve come a long way, baby.

How long have you been blogging?

Robin at Farewell, Stranger and I want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favorite phone photos of the week. All you need is a blog post containing at least one photo from any phone camera. Link up below, and don’t forget to visit some of the others!

GFunkified

 

Real Life Princesses and Dancing Fools #iPPP

We went to my cousin’s wedding this weekend. The girls are FASCINATED by weddings, and brides, and fancy dresses. And a reception with a dance floor and free-flowing sweets is the perfect Saturday night for the 2-8 age range.

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I’ve never heard of tossing sprinkles before, but Erv thought it was a BRILLIANT idea.

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Of course, he didn’t actually toss any.

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The kids and their cousins (and aunt and uncle) created their own little dance floor in the corner until it was time to eat.

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After dinner, the girls sat patiently on the edge of the dance floor and watched the first and special dances.

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Once it was open, though….they were on it until we went home.

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Henry said he was NOT going to be dancing. But a few songs in, and you couldn’t stop him.

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Robin at Farewell, Stranger and I want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favorite phone photos of the week. All you need is a blog post containing at least one photo from any phone camera. Link up below!

GFunkified