(Not) Just Another New Year's Post

I’m feeling reflective in a way I don’t usually at this time of year. Looking back on the past year might be a habit for other people, but for me the transition from New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day is more or less like any other day of the year. But this year I feel different. I feel a compulsion to go back through photos from the past year, to read back over some of my writing, to really take in and savor the idea that an entire year has passed and we won’t ever get it back.

Maybe it was the video recapping 2018 we watched from Vox. By the end I had tears streaming down my face. (People who know me IRL know just how rare a phenomenon this is.) I couldn’t help it as I sat and watched the news highlights from the past year - from the good to the bad, from the natural disasters to the shootings (so many shootings) from the royal wedding to the #metoo movement to the historic midterm election. Tyson asked when it was over what it was that made me so sad. Or maybe I was happy? “It’s BOTH!” I cried, “It’s all of the emotions. It’s all the feelings from the past year.” And also the idea that 2018 felt like an actual eternity. Was the shooting in Parkland really only last February? It feels like three years ago. Surely the Kavanaugh hearings were at least that long ago. Or more. It seems like an eternity.

Maybe it was the mistake I made of looking through some old photos. Because I saw Nolan in his diaper at the beginning of last year. 2019 dawns as the first year that hasn’t begun with a child (or two or three) in diapers in a long time. It seems like we’ve turned a page, or a chapter, like it’s some sort of dramatic leap forward. And to look at Nolan, how far he’s come since last January. Physically he looks so much the same, but how much he’s added to his extensive vocabulary. How much more daring he’s become. How much more of a person he is.

Maybe it’s the idea, as I continue to look through those old photos, at how much will stay the same this year. The yearly routine. My birthday in January followed by the three kid’s birthdays to celebrate and plan for in February. Easter sometime in the spring, with all its egg dying and pastel-colored clothing glory. The end of preschool (forever, this time, for two of them) and a dance recital. Summer activities and a perpetual backyard pool and the Fourth of July and hanging out with our neighbors and a trip up to the lake. School shopping and the beginning of another new year of the September variety. The rest of our year really amps up then, as we celebrate and plan for one thing after another: Tyson’s birthday turns quickly into our anniversary which turns into Halloween and then Thanksgiving and then Christmas, all over again. More presents under the same tree, tucked into the same stockings, surrounded by the same decorations and people, now a year older.

Maybe it’s that people really amp up at this time of year, ready to set new goals and intentions and proclaim new words for the year. I’m not much of a goals person. I’m reluctant to set them. I think it has to do with my perfectionism streak: setting a goal means I may not achieve it, and I prefer to avoid failure at all costs. (Healthy, I know.) Then there’s the part where I hate being boxed in - I’d rather let things flow a little bit easier. Whatever it is, I tried last year. I jumped on the bandwagon and set a word and mapped out some goals and then set that expensive workbook aside...and never picked it up again. I have a few goals in mind for this year, but it’s not because of the date on the calendar. They’re already things I’ve been mulling over in my head. And I still like my word from last year: enjoy. I’m not ready to let go of it just yet. I still have lots of enjoyment left in me. I spent a lot of 2018 thinking over that word, what it meant to me. It wasn’t such a bad way to spend the year. I’m not ready to flip over to a new page just because the calendar is.

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It’s a *balmy* 10 degrees outside right now as I write this. Part of me is loathe to leave behind the holiday cocoon, the cozy time from Christmas to New Year’s where we’re all cuddled up and don’t mind if we get snowed in because our only plans are to play with new toys and color pictures and read books and watch movies and cook comfort food. When Tyson is off work more than he’s working and we don’t have to know or care much what day of the week it is.

Today Caden and Brooklyn went back to preschool; it was nice, they were ready. When they came home, after lunch and quiet time, I let them watch a Batman movie, by request. It was sort of a special treat. A nod to the fact that I still have one foot in the coziness of the holiday season. We had a snack afterwards, smoothies, made with the blender I got for Christmas because I’m not a complete Grinch about new things in the new year. (Until Nolan spilled a green smoothie meant for Tyson all over the upstairs carpet. *all the facepalms*) Maybe I’ll keep inching forward this way, one foot forward, the other planted a little further back, bringing along the best things of the past year into this new one and hoping for the best.

Life Lately

Usually after Thanksgiving I'm ready to dive into Christmas - bring on the decking of the halls, music that fa-la-las, and all things peppermint, please! This year, though, I'm content to have a buffer week. Though I will admit to feeling a twinge of jealousy over everyone's festive photos this past weekend. One drawback to traveling over Thanksgiving is that it doesn't feel like we're around to begin the Christmas festivities. Driving down our street late Sunday afternoon to find each house on the block adorned with bright lights and garlands as we arrived home gave me a false sense of failure as we pulled into our own dark driveway.

We'll decorate as we typically do:  this coming weekend, the first of December. I'm thankful that Thanksgiving came "early" this year, so there is plenty of time to put it to rest before moving on to all things green and red. I don't feel quite so rushed as I do when we arrive home to December already on the calendar.


Unrelated but related: a neighboring house has lights that change color each day. Red and green the first night, bright white and blue the next, tonight their house is lit up in alternating red and blue bulbs. It's amazing but also it's 2017 so OF COURSE this is a thing. And I'm totes jealous.


Before Thanksgiving break, Caden and Brooklyn had watch week for their dance class. After class I asked them what they liked best. Brooklyn said, "All of it." Caden's response on the other hand? "Waving hi to you guys."

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He must have waved to us fifteen times during class, finding us across the room and sporting a proud yet shy grin as he shook his hand back and forth until we waved back. I can already see him at their spring recital, frantically scanning the audience and waving from the stage.


Nolan's new thing is "poopy!" He points to himself and says, "poopy!"

"Are you poopy?"

"Noooo," he replies, with that little nose-scrunching grin. But he continues.

"Poopy!" he cries, pointing to me. 

"I'm not poopy!" I say.

"Poopy!" he cries again, pointing to Caden, then Brooklyn, and everyone else in the room. He thinks it's hilarious. And it's pretty adorable. Figures that he's already picked up potty-talk at a year and a half. 


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We leveled up in parenting as our travel to and from Iowa saw our most successful car trips EVER. One potty stop on the way, with kids who either napped or were entirely engaged with snacks, toys from the dollar section, and, yes, their tablets. On the way home we had - wait for it - NO STOPS WHATSOEVER. We made a straight trip in four hours and fifteen minutes with three kids under the age of four. I really think that might be some sort of record.

Their teachers asked about our trip when we arrived at preschool today. Apparently visiting Grandma and Grandpa's house was something that had been much publicized in their class the week before we left. But when I asked what exactly they said to their teachers, Brooklyn's response was, "I told my teacher that we are going to ride in the car for a long time and eat food and play on our tablets." Accurate.

Snacks and tablets aside, the real draw was cousin Quinn. She was overwhelmed with a bit TOO much love (ranging from bringing her a blanket every 4.2 seconds to hugs and kisses to helping her do things she's already been able to do for months, i.e. eat food) and is probably glad to be recovering at home with the peace that comes from being the only baby in the house.

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We also had another family photo session while we were in Iowa. Our matching game was on point, and I can only hope the photos will be as well given the CAN'T STOP WON'T STOP attitude of these kids and can you just say cheese and STAND FREAKING STILL FOR ALL OF TWO SECONDS?!?

(We looked good, too. And even knew how to stand still. #adulting)

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So...who's excited about another royal wedding? Because I DEFINITELY am and am totes over the comments on every single engagement article that are to the effect of "Who cares?" I CARE, DAMMIT.


But probably the most significant event of the past couple of weeks was:

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Our first ER visit. (I'll tell you what I told my mom when I called her: EVERYTHING IS OKAY. He split his chin open going down the slide backward and it was pretty disgusting, but nothing that some super glue (seriously) and technology couldn't handle.) 

I KNEW that our first ER visit would be with Nolan. I just knew it. I had always predicted it would be daredevil Caden, but then Nolan came along with his GO GO GO attitude I knew by the time he was six months old his fearlessness was at another level.

He was bleeding pretty good and screaming about it until we got in the car and I gave him his tablet. Then he calmed down and followed all directions with his eyes glued to the screen, following each nurse along from one room to another to another like a little duckling. The doctor warned us that the cleaning and gluing of his wound would probably sting, but he didn't bat an eye. Then we took the tablet away and he screamed bloody murder the entire way out of the ER. "Tab-bet! TABBBB-BETTTTT!!!!!!111!!" We may have been the only people who ever brought a screaming child OUT of the ER instead of INTO it. We assured the few bystanders and the charge nurse that he really was fine, we had only taken his technology away, but honestly I'm surprised they let us go home with him. ("TAB-BETTTT!!!")

Also, this all happened within an hour of our arrival home after being gone for nearly a week. We arrived at the ER with a kid splattered in yogurt from a GoGo Squeez enjoyed on the drive from Iowa, a diaper that should have been changed two hours ago, and covered in crumbs (why change when bedtime is in less than two hours?), which meant we looked exactly like the type of people who have no business parenting in the first place, because that's how life works.

He also apparently has no memory of the incident, or at least didn't seem to have learned any lessons from it, because the pictures above are from the VERY NEXT DAY, where he tackled the wound-inflicting slide like a boss as well as about 14 other gravity-defying stunts.

I Don't Do It Alone

Having three kids in two years means I’ve heard some variation of “you’re supermom!” more times than I can count. (See also, “you must be a saint”, “one kid is hard enough!”, and general looks of bafflement when I explain their ages and spacing.)

It also means that I get asked, “How do you do it all?”. A lot. How do I wash the floors, make dinner, get anywhere ever at all on time, take a shower, get three toddlers in and out of the car, write blog posts, keep up with family photos, wash and fold laundry, scrub the toilets, put on makeup, wash dishes, stay any sort of organized, go grocery shopping, or maintain my sanity? 

Of course, the clear answer is: I don’t. 

I don’t do it all.

First and foremost: I don’t have a job outside of the home. Period. In some ways I am very lucky and in others it was a “choice” I was forced into (hello astronomical daycare costs for three small children). But the bottom line is that I am a stay-at-home mom. I don’t have to balance a career life with a home life. Sure, sometimes it’s a bit monotonous to be more or less all home all the time, but having a career outside of three kids right now sounds like it’s own sort of crazy, so here we are.

The house? We have a cleaning service once a month. (And that's a birthday gift from my in-laws. Feel free to hate me.) Sure there are still plenty of things to keep up with on a daily basis, (Crumbs and fingerprints: where do they all come from? Please explain.), but at least when the you-know-what hits the fan, I know my kitchen will be clean at least once a month. For a few seconds, at least. 

We have our people. My parents live nearby, we have other family and neighbors and friends that are able to pitch in if we really need help. If I’m sick my mom can usually come over to watch the kids. Heck, she’ll come over if I’m three weeks past desperate for a haircut. I have a mommy’s helper that comes one afternoon a week, we have neighbors whose kids love to play with our kids. 

But the real reason I can hold it all together? My husband. Daddy. He’s the other person, the second set of hands, the equal partner in this relationship. I don’t do it alone. He’s the one who makes sure the garbage can gets put out every Thursday night, the recycling bin every other Thursday night, unloads the dishwasher each morning, preps my coffee, mows the lawn, keeps three kids away from the stove while I make dinner, and kills bugs before I have a panic attack.

How do I get ready in the morning with three kids around? I don’t. Those first morning hours see him getting up with the kids, making their breakfast, and attending to their potty and diapering needs while I get up to shower or otherwise throw myself together (#yaydryshampoo). Thank goodness, because if it were left up to me and those 6 am early birds, I would have experienced approximately zero showering in the past three years.

He spent the first year of the twins’ lives going to each and every doctor appointment, because there was no way I was tackling that alone with two infants when they needed shots. 

We’re lucky enough that he works from home right now. If I desperately need him to watch a kid or two while I take the third to the doctor, or we just got outside and suddenly a toddler needs to run back in to pee, or in the moments where I was exhausted and just couldn’t take it anymore because the baby just wouldn’t go down for his nap, he’s able to rearrange his schedule or step out for five minutes to lend a hand. This past week I took the boys to get haircuts and left Brooklyn behind, and she played on her tablet in Daddy’s office while he continued to work. It's not that he's doing the most stellar parenting in these moments, but having the option to leave one behind, one less little body for me to deal with, is an amazing luxury right now.

And writing? Not only did he gift me a year of creativity (good one, hon), but he gives me the time and space to write, by taking over childcare duties for hours at a time on the weekends, cleaning up the house in the evening when I need to get something out of my mind and onto the page, and not batting an eye when he walks into a room and is greeted with “I can’t talk get out of here now” as I tap away at my laptop. 

On more than one occasion I have gone to an event: a party, a baby shower, whatever, and had people greet me with the utmost surprise, “Oh, you’re here! Where are the children?” Uh...with my husband? Y’know, their dad? The other parent. One woman was truly astounded that I came to attend a party and left my husband home alone with all three children. I’m not sure what that says about her own marital and home life, but what I wanted to say was, “Lady, when I left all three of them were NAPPING! I think he’ll be just fine!” Not only is he fully capable and qualified, but he's just as astounded as I am to be confronted with these questions.

So here’s to you Tyson, and to all of the other dads out there who are taking over everything from diaper duty to nighttime wake-up calls. The thing is, we’ve always been in this whole parenting thing together. I mean, we kind of had to with that whole twins thing and all. To-get-up-or-not-to-get-up for those nighttime feedings and marathon rocking sessions wasn’t exactly a choice for either of us. If one was up, all of us were up. But you didn’t shirk away from it the third time around, either. You got up every time with Nolan, too. Every. Time. You never said that it was my job because I was the one who had to feed him or that you had to work tomorrow (as if I didn’t). You got up, you did the work, and you parented, right there along with me.

We don’t always agree on every single little parenting decision, but I’ve never felt alone in any of it. We’re both in the trenches, every day. We’re both tired, sometimes beaten down, but we’re here, together, ready to do it all again the next day.  

So how do I do it all?

How did I go out to brunch with my friends last weekend? Because daddy is home with the kids.

How did I possibly put on makeup and brush my hair this morning? Because it's daddy's job to get up with the kids and feed them breakfast.

How did I find the time to write this essay? Because my husband asked me what I needed this weekend and I told him I needed to get out of the house for a few hours. So I did.

I’m not alone. I’ve never been alone. I don’t do it alone.

Happy Father’s Day, babe. Let’s keep up the good work together.

All photos credit to Prall Photography.

Post (Easter) Weekend

Easter is made for kids. Most holidays are, I suppose, but the combination of eggs and candy, bunnies and pastels, poofy dresses and bow ties are particularly made for the single-digit set. Add in the springiest of spring weather to celebrate our re-emergence from the chill of winter, and these three lapped up the fun of a full Easter weekend.

Except for maybe the taking pictures part.

(Attempt 1: not bad.)

(Attempt 2: cue weird faces.)

(Attempt 3: not everyone is exactly vertical.)

(Attempt 4: weird faces, part 2.)

(Attempt 5: so close)

(Attempts 6-348 not shown.)
(Attempt 349: Nolan: A+. Caden and Brooklyn: need improvement.)

Our church offered services on Friday night, so we took full advantage of attending at a less busy time to help free up our weekend (so many praise hands). And it's so nice to not deal with the rush of Easter baskets/quick breakfast/fancy clothes/church on Sunday morning. Which also meant that we could attend a birthday party on Saturday.

(Where Nolan flirted with all the lady babies.)

("So, does your mom bring you here often?")

(No seriously, so many lady babies. All the lady babies. Nolan, you get your pick.)

(I mean, we might as well cram all the juice boxes and cake into a weekend already filled with candy, right? Let's just get it all out of the way until the next major holiday/birthday party/desperate attempt at bribery.)
Looking out the window now at the rain, cold, and wind that have taken over, it's a little hard to believe that Easter was only two days ago. I've since packed away much (though by no means all) of the Easter paraphernalia. I swear, Easter is second only to Christmas in the amount of stuff we store. I think it's all those darn eggs.

("You guys, I swear there were only empty eggs in here last night!")

(Discovering that the big kids got all of the good candy.)

("Whut? I'm totally not trying to eat a gummy bear right now.")

(They'll all work together to clean up a spill of bunny crackers.)

(And a little bit later, when they somehow got their little hands on an Easter basket: "We havin a picnic!")

(Dying Easter eggs. Except they were way more interested in the stickers that came in the package.)

(So I dyed some Easter eggs.)

(Rocking the bow tie in the Cozy Coupe.)

(Most of my Easter egg hunt photo attempts of Caden turned out like this.)

(Until he paused because he found an egg filled with some cash money.)

(Not quite sure what's going on, but picking things up and putting them in bags is pretty fun.)

(The aftermath.)

(Don't everyone's Easter celebrations involve watching some hockey?)

After a month of birthdays, quickly followed by a week of the stomach flu, then followed by two weeks of Tyson out-of-town, which led up right into a few days of travel for us, and now Easter under out belts, it feels like the first time things are really getting back to normal in quite awhile. Whatever that means anymore. We're ready to settle into a new normal. One that involves a lot more sunshine, flowers, and all things spring.

(Oh, and also, this:)


Post (Thanksgiving) Weekend

Thanksgiving.  It doesn't seem to fly by exactly, but as soon as it's over it's on to the next thing - Christmas!  And I don't mind it that way.  The transition from the most beautiful fall harvest holiday, filled in my mind with all things burlap, delicious, and cozy, to the Christmas season, filled instead with bright colors, lights, and sparkle, is a fun one.  I love both holidays, but my mind has been so preoccupied with all things Christmas since arriving back home from celebrating in Iowa, that these photos seem like they were taken much longer than mere days ago.

(Packing helper.  Really.  I man, he didn't even TRY to take the clothes out of the suitcase.  It's a Thanksgiving packing miracle!)

(He did, however, pack himself into the suitcase.  Fair enough.)

One thing looked more like Christmas than Thanksgiving the morning before we left, though...

(As we are deep in the throes of all things Frozen right now, (I guess there's no escaping that one with toddlers), his name, of course, is Olaf.)

(Our halfway treat: smoothies and french fries for all.  They clearly do not enjoy it.  And now when we drive past any golden arches Caden calls it "the french fry place".)

(Early morning storytime with Grandpa.)

(Naptime with Daddy.  Before even getting to any of that turkey.)

(Naps done.  Ready for turkey.)

(Hurry it up, dad.)

(There it is.)

(His eyes are so big I think he's stuck with a deer-in-the-headlights look no matter what.)

(Approved of the pumpkin pie.  Ate more than his fair share.)

(Who me?)

First time, that the twins can remember, anyway, in "grown-up church".  Brooklyn got into the music with some hand-clapping.

This guy, on the other hand.  Don't let that angelic singing face fool you.  If you follow me in Instagram, you already know that he was belting out a rousing rendition of "Old MacDonald" from the hymnal, before declaring, "I don't like church" during the morning's announcements.  

(Worn out from the long weekend.)

(Though they did wake up to play with some new goodies.  And another stop at "the french fry place".)

Now back home.  More normal schedules and routines, our own toys and technology ("let's watch Super Why!" is a common refrain around here), errands and playdates.

And most importantly, most excitingly...

...adding some bits of Christmas.