Eight

Dear Eva,

Tomorrow morning when we wake up (together, as per birthday tradition in this house dictates,) you will be eight. I know, I know. I say this every year. But I seriously CANNOT BELIEVE IT. Eight is…big. I remember eight. I remember feelings from eight. I made major life decisions (hey homeschooling!) at eight. Eight is NOT A BABY ANYMORE AND THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE AS YOU ARE MY BABY.

*ahem*

Sorry.

But you’re not, you’re my big girl now. You’re in second grade. You’re learning multiplication and division and Latin and cursive and doing really well.

You are hilarious. Your grandma told you you came almost a week  before your due date, and you nodded sagely and replied, “I’m not very patient.”

You are definitely not patient. But even though I get frustrated with that, like, a lot, it’s only because you want to experience and learn as much as possible as quickly as you can.

You like to “joke.” Your idea of a joke is basically any verbal interaction where I’m not telling you to do anything. There are some mornings when we don’t have to rush and be anywhere and you follow me around saying nonsensical things while I’m getting ready, and then inevitably at some point you sigh happily and say, “I love joking days.” It makes me wish we had nothing to do at all ever except cuddle and joke and walk around the house together. That would make you so happy.

That’s all I want. For you to be happy. I know that in the long run, your eternal happiness rests in the next life with God. And you are taking great strides this year to grow in your faith. You go to confession regularly, even though I know how nervous you get before. You are making your First Communion and tell me all the time how you think you’ll feel like you can fly when you receive the Blessed Sacrament for the first time because it will be so special. You are good and loving and kind and even when it’s hard, I know you want to be the good little girl God made you.

I want you to be happy here on earth, too. I know sometimes you aren’t, and that breaks my heart. I want nothing more than for you to know peace and happiness inside yourself.

I am so lucky to be your mommy. Days like today I really think about that. Your mama only got one birthday with you- when she had you. This is the seventh I’ve had, and that’s amazing. I will never ever know what I did to deserve this gift, but I am so so thankful for every single moment I get to be your mother.

I love you, sweetie.

Love,

Mommy

O Tanen…whatever

How to Set Up a Christmas Tree with Small Children in 18 Easy Steps:

1.) Put off buying a tree until the last possible minute because the thought of it makes you want to throw up. (Literally. Hey, pregnancy PTSD!)

2.) Tell yourself it’s okay because you’re being liturgical, not lazy.

3.) Let tree sit undecorated in the house for a few days because it “needs to warm up.” No idea if that is a thing.

4.) Have husband bring up every single box from the basement.

5.) Tell husband that you really only use that one box there, and the rest are ornaments that you decided you don’t use anymore.

6.) Get chided for “banishing” ornaments.

7.) Cry.

8.) Make husband feel bad.

9.) Husband puts other ornaments back in the basement.

10.) Sit on the couch surreptitiously watching Alias Grace on your phone while the kids “decorate” the tree.

11.) Which means putting 75% of the ornaments on the bottom third of the tree.

12.) Think about correcting it but then decide it’s pretty cute.

13.) Tell son he’s not allowed to climb on the tree.

14.) Tell son he’s not allowed to keep the ornaments in his bedroom instead of on the tree.

15.) Tell son he’s not allowed to touch the tree once he’s done.

16.) STOP TOUCHING THE TREE.

17.) Wonder if you can spike an egg nog and call it festive?

18.) Go back to your phone and figure this is just the season of life you’re in. The crazy, craptacular Christmas tree season.

Boys and Girls

This is not political, and I will delete political comments. MY boy and MY girl are very different. I don’t know anything about any other boy or girl. 

In the last few months, Buddy has grown up a lot and become…a boy. Like, a BOY boy. A boy who does and says things that I never would have thought my perfectly reared children would say (hah.) And it’s sooo different than his sister.

My girl loves to play rock, paper, scissors. She will sit for hours and do it, even though she always throws the same thing and I catch on pretty quickly.

My boy also enjoys playing this game. Except he calls it Rock, Paper, Gun. And gun always wins. He’s going to teach his new cousin about this.

***

My girl is painfully and realistically shy about bathroom matters. She’s seven now, and whatever she does in there is her business. (And mine. I mean, she’s a kid.)

My boy startled giggling in the car today. When I asked him what was so funny he said, “I like saying “poop” to myself.”

***

My girl was super excited to take Christmas card pictures so we could send them to her friends.

My boy is not visible in any of the pictures and there were several we couldn’t even print because he’s playing dead in my arms. Playing. Dead. In. My. Arms.

***

Since we met her, my girl has received a dollar bill from my dad every Sunday, and placed it in the collection basket. She loves it. It makes her feel so grown-up.

My boy also gets a dollar. He put it in the collection basket. Then he bursts into tears and screams “THERE’S NO MONEY FOR ME AT CHURCH!!!” Every. Sunday.

***

My girl enjoys buying presents for less fortunate families through our parish every year. She picks someone her age, and takes a painstaking amount of care to select something they’d like. She loves delivering it to church or giving it to me to turn in.

My boy passes the baskets outside of church this time of year and screams, “THERE ARE NO PRESENTS FOR ME AT CHURCH!!!” Every. Sunday. And. Weekday. Mass.

***

My girl was potty trained in about twelve minutes at age 3 with a jug of apple juice and a bag of skittles that rotted before she even ate them all.

My boy is embarrassingly not age 3 and I’ve offered him everything from candy to strippers and while he work a pull-up for an hour this morning, it was clearly a passing fad.

***

In fact, my girl really loved the accomplishment of being a big girl and wearing underwear.

My boy really just likes that when he uses his little Thomas potty it makes train noises.

(And NO! I’m not looking for potty training advice or consolation. I’ve got this, he’ll get it. They’re just different, is all.)

***

My daughter received a painted doll of her patron saint. It was the pair to the one we bought her brother that was done a few months ago. So she patiently waited months and months while her brother had a cool St. Joseph doll and she did not.

Until Sunday morning. When I gave her St. Christina the Astonishing.

And my boy threw a big enough fit IN CHURCH that frankly you’d think HE was levitating and the only way my mom (parenting for 30 years, natch) and I could figure out how to MAKE HIM STOP was to give him ANOTHER saint doll that was supposed to go to my sister’s unborn baby.

St. Benedict, pray for us.

***

Currently, right this moment, my daughter is dressed in a cute outfit she selected this morning carefully because she thought she’d look older in it. While it’s a little loud for my tastes, it includes a shirt, pants, and sweatshirt, and she’s clean and cute.

My boy is naked inside a shark Snuggie Tail.

Gen Alpha

So my children are pretty typical children of millennials. Both could unlock a phone before they could talk, and my four-year-old is genuinely disconcerted when he encounters a screen that isn’t touch-activated. (As are the owners of that screen when they discover his grubby little fingerprints all over it.)

It’s also worth noting that this happened organically. Neither my husband nor I set out to teach our children about technology, and we don’t consider ourselves crazy-connected either.

However, I didn’t realize how much their generation suffered from mine until this weekend when we finally got cable TV.

(I can hear Buzz correcting me now. It’s not cable. It comes in via fiberoptics. Whatever. Mama gets HGTV.)

They watch tv. Don’t get me wrong. They watch a LOT of tv. But until this weekend they have only watched on platforms like Netflix and Hulu and apps. They literally have never seen a commercial.

Until this weekend.

When we turned on the crazy consumer bacchanalia that is Disney Jr. and their worlds were rocked.

Rocked I tell you.

As were our eardrums.

So if anyone is interested, we will be requesting a Hot Wheels car garage and a my little pony flying unicorn and a Mickey roadster racer and a…I don’t even know.

Image via pexels.com

Buddy

Dear Buddy,

Five years ago today I took what felt like the thousandth pregnancy test since I had gotten married (three months previously) and…it was negative. I felt crampy and I was mad that I felt crampy so I took like four Aleve and went about my day with your sister, not sure why God wasn’t JUST GIVING ME A BABY ALREADY. I mean seriously. Didn’t He understand?

Later that afternoon, because anxiety doesn’t make sense, I took another test. This one- this one, there was a tiny blue line.

I was so surprised I sank to my knees in the bathroom, that horrible bathroom I couldn’t stand (even though it was objectively beautiful.) “Our boy,” I thought. I knew right then that you were my Joey, and even though I spent the next nine months convinced you would die, I couldn’t imagine life without you.

And like I wrote to you on  your birthday this year, you have changed our lives (all of our lives) in ways we never thought possible, and we will forever be thankful to you for changing the story of our family to include hope.

One year ago tomorrow morning you had to have hernia surgery. You were fine- literally home by naptime and totally happy. Never even took ibuprofen afterwards. But you were still scared- you had to be wheeled away from me crying in anesthesia, and I had to wait while they cut you open. Afterwards while we were walked to recovery with a mother who knew way too much about how this hospital operated, Daddy and I were never more appreciative of the fact that we have healthy children and get to have so many moments with you and your sister that we don’t even appreciate.

Today we got one of those moments. Squeaks went with Aunt Colleen for a special girls day, and I took you with me for what I thought would be a normal day. But you wanted a Mommy Joey day. So we had one. We got a Happy Meal and took a cuddly nap and watched TV (“Movies are too scary,” you told me) while eating Halloween cookies and cuddling on the couch. You literally kept saying “Best day ever!”

I hope I never forget that stuff. How sweet you are, how much you love cuddling. How you want to be close to someone all the time. How much you love to be cozy under a blanket. How you’re scared of the most random stuff (movies) and love British TV shows.

I hope I never forget anything.

Love,

Mommy

Second Grade 

Dear Squeaks,

Today you start second grade. SECOND GRADE. I say this about every development you make but I’ll say it again, I can’t believe it. Second grade wasn’t…um…great for me, so there are no fuzzy memories like I usually have of you doing things that I did. But I know you’re going to have a great year.

You are so bright and questioning and you’ll get to learn so much this year. By the end of the year you’ll be doing division. I know. I can’t believe it either.

You get to do the most important thing in the world this year- receive your First Communion and receive God’s forgiving grace in the Sacrament of Reconciliarion. I am so excited and so blessed to be able to teach you all of the things you need to learn and watch you experience everything you get to experience. 

Things are better than last year, emotionally. At least I think they are. I think we’re both figuring out how to react better to each other and that’s helping.

More than any of this though, you’re here. You’re here and you’re healthy and that’s all Daddy and I care about. 

I love you so much, sweetheart. Thanks for letting me be your mommy. 

Love, 

Mommy


I am 49 inches tall and 62 pounds.

I write my name like this:

,

My best friend is: Joey and Mommy and Daddy of course. 

I like to play: Solitaire by myself and tag with friends.

My favorite color is: purple.

My favorite book is: the Puppy Place series.

My favorite TV show is: I have two- Rescue Bots and My Little Pony.

My favorite food is: pizza.

When I grow up I want to be: a mommy and an art teacher! But I think I’m just going to teach my kids. 

Something I don’t like: When Joey tricks me.

Something I like about myself: I have the longest hair!

Something I want to do this year: have a pool party!

A Library Scene

Scene: Midday, suburban library. Kathleen and Squeaks and Buddy enter, and go to the front desk.

Buddy: Excuse me. I am sorry for dis book.

Librarian: Pardon.

Buddy: Dis book. I ripped it. I am sorry.

Kathleen: We need to pay for a replacement for this book.

Librarian: Ah, I see. Well, we accept your apology. Sometimes things happen. (struggles to hold back a smile.)

Buddy: I very sorry. Thank you.

Librarian: Okay, let’s see here. I’m not sure how to…*asks other librarian* Do I mark it as lost?”

Other Librarian: Well, were they just damaged or were they ripped out?

Buddy: *pipes up* Dey were ripped out. I’m sorry.

Other Librarian: (also trying not to smile) OKay then, thank you for apologizing. Yeah, just mark it as lost and they can keep the item after paying.

Kathleen: Oh. Good. A $22 board book. At least we’ve all learned something here.

Buddy: I sorry.

END SCENE.

Things Buddy Wants To Be For Halloween.

I’m sorry, I don’t mean for this blog to become omg look at my son he is so cute drooooolzzzz, but kid is in a particularly hilarious stage lately. 

1.) A priest. (Awww! My heart! It is warmed! I am a good mother!)

2.) A ninja priest. (Say what?)

3.) A ghost priest. (Um…)

4.) A turtle.

5.) A baby turtle. (Well yeah, don’t leave cute points on the table.)

6.) Darth Vader. (I think this is just a ploy to get to wear his uncle’s cherished collectible mask.)

7.) A ghost. (Me: “Aww, like a cute ghost?” Buddy: “No. A ghost to scare people.” Oookay.)

8.) Sarah (of Sarah and Duck.)

9.) Duck (of Sarah and Duck.)

10.) A conductor. (Me: “Like on a train?” Buddy: *scoffs* “No. Like to teach people music.” Gosh, Mommy.)

Taking Your Four Year Old to the Dentist For the First Time In 15 Easy Steps

1.) Ignore recommendations by literally every single major child-health organization that they should definitely see a dentist before they’re four because pssh that’s ridiculous he’s your baby and if he’s not your baby anymore maybe you need to have another baby and ugh can’t deal with that right now how many teeth can he have, really?

All of them?

Oh. Okay.

2.) Make appointment for four-year-old and his big sister so that he can see how not scary it is. Also you can only have to skip one afternoon of napping. But mostly the emotional trauma. (Mostly the nap. Shhh.) Make appointment for their father’s summer vacation for maximum number of soothing hands/voices involved and a chance for him to get to see what your life of herding cats is really all about.

3.) Tell four-year-old repeatedly about the appointment. Beam in happiness as he gets genuinely excited about being a big boy and think with pride about how wonderful he’s going to do just waltzing in there for the first time.

4.) Arrive at dentist’s office, both kids excited for their appointments. Four-year-old begins telling office staff and other patients in the waiting area about how this is his first time and he is pretty excited. Feel smugly adorable.

5.) Go back with Big Sister for her appointment. Four-year-old seems to do really well. He stands next to you and calmly takes in the scene.

6.) Realize he’s not standing calmly so much as literally shaking.

7.) Assure four-year-old that it will be okay. Look at how well Big Sister is doing!

8.) Have four-year-old start whimpering and then full-on crying and clinging to your body like a spider monkey.

9.) Give up on having him be on his own in the chair and lay down underneath him, cradling his little shaking body and murmur soothingly to him whilst getting sprayed with grape toothpaste and gunk from between your kid’s never-professionally-cleaned teeth. Mmmm.

10.) Not really  mind because he picked you over Daddy.

11.) Have dentist tell you that his bottom teeth are cracked and ask if you know when that happened. Shrug and respond, “Frankly I’m surprised he still has teeth. This kid has no fear.”

12.) Walk out of room with four-year-old who is now all puffed up with bravery and saying things like, “Me pretty brave. Uh-huh.”

13.) Tell him you’re so proud of him and that you can’t wait to see him be brave again in six months when you come back.

14.) Watch as his face falls and his spider monkey tendencies come back. “NO ME COME BACK. I ALL DONE!!!! I BRAVE!!!”

15.) Figure out how many teeth he can actually exist with because ugh this is so much work, y’all.

Foodie

Buddy is a bad eater.

Like, really bad.

I remember sitting in the hospital bed trying to feed him the morning after he was born and he wouldn’t take the damn bottle for ANYTHING and thinking “I’m sure he’s just tired. This will get easier.”

It did not get easier.

It got worse.

At one point, he had five bottles a day. Each bottle took me an hour to get in him. A literal hour. I spent five hours a day bouncing and dancing and sitting quietly trying to get him to fall juuuuust enough asleep that he would take it but not enough asleep that he would choke and die because I’m lazy, not awful.

As a toddler he refused to eat real food and was on a steady diet of Gerber 1st foods until he was two and a half. TWO AND A HALF. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY LITTLE CONTAINERS OF OATMEAL A THIRTY POUND TWO AND A HALF YEAR OLD GOES THROUGH?

A LOT.

WE HAD TO REFINANCE OUR HOUSE PRACTICALLY.

I took him to ENT specialists and feeding specialists and whatever, turns out it was just Buddy.

We’ve been able to work out most of it, and he at least consents to eating some food sometimes now. But mostly, he subsists on a diet of wheat bread (sometimes toasted), frozen mini pancakes, and whatever cookies he can glean from his grandmas.

(Which explains why his full diapers are a once-a-week occurrence and smell like a tire fire.)

I mean, you all read the Super Why saga.

I still try though. Every night I force him to eat two or three bites of the dinner I make and then go back to whatever bread product I’ve shoved in front of him to make the screaming stop. There’s always yelling. Sometimes crying. Occasionally dumping the food onto my plate and demanding that I eat it because “IS NOT MINE MOMMY.”

You know, totally normal shit.

Tonight I made beef and broccoli over rice. I gritted my teeth and shoved a spoonful in front of his face.

He beamed.

And ate the whole bowl, barely stopping to chew.

And then he ate another bowl.

Even the broccoli.

Yeah. The kid for whom McDonald’s french fries are “too spicy” and who routinely rejects pasta that has been cooked in oil (Not served with oil. COOKED IN IT.) and toast with butter on it as being weird went to town on a crockpot Chinese dish.

I don’t even know but I’m super excited.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to put soy sauce on a bowl of that stupid fake Super Why cereal and see if we can’t get rid of a few boxes.