The Perfectly Imperfect Train Cake

On my children’s birthdays, I want them to have a smile that is unforgettable: wide, genuine, unbreakable. I want it to be there the moment he wakes up in the morning til he places his head on his pillow that night.

But the world doesn’t stop for our childrens’ birthdays. Making sure the wide smile lasts from sun up to sun down might require shortcuts. Sometimes hacks are needed to make sure the day exceeds (ok, at least meets) any expectations.

This year, my middle child’s third birthday fell the day after two back to back out of town work trips (not to mention that his birthday is a week after Thanksgiving. Sorry December babies. You totally get the short end of the stick). With no time to be a Super Mom, I was really close to throwing in the towel… Continue reading

Potty Training: 13 Things the How To Guides Forget to Mention

Morning all! We spent this weekend, helping our 3 year old learn how to use the potty. In the highs and lows that come with it, I turned to writing to cope.

Potty training bootcamp is a simple concept. Stay inside all weekend endlessly watching cartoons or movies. The one time as a mother I do not feel guilty about my children’s screen time.

Most How To’s bill potty training bootcamp as a pant-free, M&M raining weekend of couch potato bliss. All you have to do is find a small portable potty, place it in front of the TV, remove the pants and the coveted diaper, turn on their favorite cartoon, promise a reward if they do it and have them try every 15 minutes. At the end of the weekend, you will have a potty-proficient little person.

Most of that is kind of accurate except they fail to mention Continue reading

All the Plans in the World Can’t Stop Rain

This fall, we had our oldest’s 4th birthday party. We have always been in the camp of small family get-togethers to celebrate birthdays. It was a philosophy passed down from my mother and embraced by my husband who does not think birthdays are a big deal.

But our soon-to-be 4 year old knew birthdays were a big deal. And I wanted him to know his was a big deal too.

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Teaching a Son What a Woman Can Be

We stand less than a week away from the ability to cast a vote for a female candidate in the U.S. presidential election. 96 years after women were given the right to vote. 44 years after Title IX prevented discrimination against women in a federally funded education program.

You may be thinking that dirty word in your head: feminism. You may be thinking you want to stop reading.

Despite the numerous understandings and approaches to feminism, at its core, it is about equality. If feminism is a dirty word, so is equality.

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Attempts at Making My Easy Life Easier: 7 Lazy Tricks

Over the years, the desire to find a better way (or pure laziness) has driven ingenuity and fueled creativity.  It has motivated smart and useful inventions. This is not about the items that have served the betterment of humanity.  This is about the small things that keep me from pulling my hair out. The 7 tricks below are small tweaks to my daily, mundane, repetitive tasks… and answers the question: how do I make my life easier?

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Chasing Away the Monsters

The last two years, my husband opted out of his annual golf trip with his college buddies.  Electing to stay home to help me with our growing family.  This year when the ‘who’s in?’ texts began, I told him he had to go.  We (the three boys and I) would be fine.  He seemed doubtful of this statement.  I. could. totally. handle. it.  I reassured him.

I was lying.  Not about him going – I wanted him to go.  He needed to go.  He needed time with his closest friends.  Those friends where there is complete candor, no judging and unabashed laughter.  Three little boys in three years – he needed time with big boys.  The part I was lying about was the totally handling all three little boys by myself for a long weekend part.

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Be Love (not mine)

Until last year, I fell into the I’m-too-cool-for-Valentine’s-Day camp.  I mocked it as an over-commercialized holiday that drove over-crowded restaurants, over-priced flowers and over-blown gestures all to prove one’s love.  I failed to understand that just because these acts did not resonate with me as love, they could be acts of love for others.

My oldest child has now celebrated three Valentine’s Days.  For the first, I begrudgingly filled out his Valentine cards to be shared at his preschool.  At my oldest’s second Valentine’s Day, my cold heart warmed.

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The Line on His Nose

It’s no wider than a string, no longer than a grain of rice.  Its faint red color protrudes from his right nostril.  No one else sees it.  If they do, they do not notice it.  I see it.  When I see it, I take a deep a breath.  I smile away the tears that threaten.  He was born six weeks early.   During labor, my doctor gently informed me that my delivery room experience would be different.  There would be extra doctors and nurses. There would be special equipment in the room to help them deal with potential complications or health concerns.  I would likely not be able to hold him.  Whether because it was my first labor, the fact that my husband was in flight on his way to the hospital, or the kind, warm demeanor of my doctor as he delivered the information or simply that I had never experienced the love of your own child, I could not appreciate the gravity of his words.

He spent the first month of his life in the hospital – constantly monitored to ensure he was breathing and that his heart was beating.  He would not eat. Or he was too young to know how – they said.  Despite our efforts, the only option was the small tube running down his nose.  “If not changed daily, it could leave a scar,” one nurse told us when we asked why it kept changing sides.  We learned the truth of her words in the days before discharge.

Initially I was angry about the scar from his feeding tube.  We would have a visual reminder of this experience for the rest of our lives.   In our time there we held our screaming, crying four pound baby as he was poked, prodded and tested for chronic conditions that would explain his distended stomach and impact the rest of his life.  We witnessed a mother and father as they were told that their baby was revived the night before, but that the episode would repeat and the child would not survive the next time.   I did not want a visual reminder of this experience.

We left the hospital with our son.  We know not all families have the same fortune.  It’s a responsibility we do not take lightly.  Slowly I began to embrace and love his scar.  Like his life, it is a blessing.  It drives me to live my days and stare down my fears.  It nudges me everyday when I forget to live my days and stare down my fears.  It reminds me of the urgency of life, its fleeting moments and fragile nature.

Starting a blog scared me.  I dreamed of it.  I dreamed of writing for a wider audience since I had my first diary.  This dream stuck with me as I scribbled in my well-guarded notebooks in high school, bound journals in college, Moleskins as my career began and finally urgent typing on my electronic devices.   For as long as I can remember as my thoughts circulate in my mind I try to determine how I would write those words to others.    How I would describe the sight I am seeing and the sensations I am feeling.  Every few years, I would mention my crazy and silly dream to write someday.  Supportive friends would say, “you should!”  And that was as far as it went.  His line makes me realize that my fear of failure and being judged is precluding me from following my dreams.  That realization coupled with the greater fear of looking back with regret for not doing this led me here.  Welcome, thanks for reading and hope you are having a good day.