Dinner observations

Image result for restaurants with screaming kids

I took the kids to dinner the other night, only because Sammy had it in his head that we should go and I liked the idea of not making dinner. Besides, we needed a break at the end of a loooooong week of school.

He picks Cheesecake factory, and we are seated outside. The tables are so close together, you can’t avoid sitting in the middle of the conversations around you.

On my left, is a family of 5. Two parents and three children, all seem to be under 5. They are loud, kids take turns screaming, actual screams…. and the parents both speak a mixture of English and Italian to them. I like the sound of the Italian, but not when the mom is speaking in a constant yell, right into my ear.

Jenna likes to watch other people, she’s still too young to realize it’s rude. And knowing her, she probably wouldn’t care. I keep directing her attention to our own table, but the noise and activity next to us are hard to ignore. First she comments that one of the boys goes to her school. I don’t look over, but I sense the mom turning her head toward us as though she knows they are being mentioned. Jenna says later that one of the boys is looking at her, as she continues to stare at him. I feel eyes on us again, and lightly tell her to just look at me then.

She continues to watch the progress of the family, parents attempting to stop the screaming and fighting of their kids and not doing a great job of it. During a lull in the noise, she comments to me “Yeah, I like the dad better than the kids”… Since the mom is practically in my lap, I am sure she hears it. The head turning toward us confirms it. I think I tell  Jen to eat her dinner and keep her eyes on her food.

But she’s so right. He was definitely the quietest…..


Poop talk

Let’s talk about poop.

You don’t want to talk about it?

That’s ALL I seem to talk about these days. Not one day goes by without mention of poop. So you can leave now, or just hear me out.

I think about poop a lot, as I’m working on potty training the 2 year old. Sometimes we have conversations that go like this:

Jenna: Mommy, I pooped! It’s so cute!!
Me: No, Jenna. It’s not cute when it’s in your pants. It’s only cute when it’s on the potty.
Jenna: Blank stare.

Followed by another day:

Jenna (on the potty): I pooped!! It’s not cute. (sad face)
Me: No Jenna… it’s soooo cute!!! Poop is adorable on the potty, we love poop on the potty!

We flush the poop. Wave bye-bye. She yells down the toilet “Have fun with your friends!!”. Because in our world, poop and pee can’t wait to get out and into the potty, where they can be flushed to catch up with their family and friends having a big poopy party.

I was organizing books today, and noticed our large selection of potty training books. One of their favorites??

Where's the poop?  by: Julie Markes

Where’s the poop?
by: Julie Markes

Where’s the poop indeed.

A cute take on showing little ones that EVERYONE poops. Even wild animals like elephants, kangaroos, tigers and monkeys.

One of Jenna’s favorites? Baby penguin.

The parent animals are always very attentive to the whole poopy business...

The parent animals are always very attentive to the whole poopy business…

Nope, I pooped behind that rock. Now go find it!!

Nope, I pooped behind that rock. Now go find it!!

It's a pop up book, but here's a hint for parents... the poop is always hiding in the lower left corner. wink.

It’s a pop up book, but here’s a hint for parents… the poop is always hiding in the lower left corner. wink.

Of course. It has to be tied in to humans at the end, or there is a real chance we could be teaching our kids to just go poop behind whatever they want. Cover it up, and let us find it. Fun!!

Here is the little boy, proudly telling his mom about his own poop.

Here is the little boy, proudly telling his mom about his own poop.

Where is it?? Where is that poop? Jenna knows!!

Where is it?? Where is that poop? Jenna knows!!


Anyway…. that’s what we do around here. Pretty much every day. In case you were wondering.

Noise pollution

On any given day…. for any variety of reasons, or maybe for no reason…. you will hear a sound in my house.

It’s a horrible whiny, screechy noise. It can last and last depending on what started it. It makes my ears want to bleed.

It’s Sammy.

I’ve been told this is normal for his age. A completely normal part of development.

Lately it has been happening when his baby sister decides to take something of his, or he wants to take something of hers and she won’t let go. It happens when his brother doesn’t want to play with him right now. It happens when he doesn’t want his dinner, when he doesn’t want to wear an undershirt, when he doesn’t want mom to retain her sanity much longer…

You can’t reason with it. I’ve tried.

Some days, I swear the only noise he makes is a whine. He can speak in a whine, I think sometimes he actually forgets what his voice is supposed to sound like, I know I have. The older kids get fed up, and tell him he’s a baby. Then he comes crying to me, like a baby, telling me that they called him a baby.

How ironic, he is, at this very moment sitting on my knee…..crying/whining as he tells me that Jacob told him he’s a baby. I’m choosing to pretend I can’t hear him. Sometimes I tell him I can’t hear that whiny noise…I am only capable of hearing normal speech.

Conversely, his sister is almost two. She does not whine and rarely cries. She usually tries to comfort him when he is having his mini meltdowns during the day, much to his displeasure. She’ll pat him on the head, “It’s ok Sammy”.  This usually makes him cry/whine more about people touching him.

Today, playing number flashcards….. his older brother said “11” before he did. This is what happened:

The master of distress

The master of distress

We had to put the card back, and let Sammy say the number first….Amazingly his smile came right back!!

Over time, you can develop a good ear for the real cry over the fake cry. Sometimes, during a good fake cry/whine session, I will take photos to admire my sweet cry-baby, and keep them to share with him or future girlfriends when he is older. I think taking a picture is much healthier than yelling at him or rashly putting a plastic bag over my head to stop the noise. Being able to laugh at the situation, is often a saving grace. And sarcasm. Sarcasm helps a whole lot.


I know it looks serious. He is a great crier, especially when he fakes an injury and can continue crying about it for 30 minutes straight because he is secretly mad that he doesn’t have a REAL injury…

This too, shall pass. Right? Right??!!

The joy of having a 13 year old


Truly, an unparalleled experience.

This is the second time I’ve had a 13 year old. I have 2 more to go after this one.

There are just so many amazing and wonderful things that go along with this age. Some things I remember from my first child at that age, and some new things I am just learning. For instance…

There is a need to be right, and always have the last word. It’s not even a need to be right, who am I kidding. He’s right. that’s IT. I just NEED to accept it.

There is a potential argument for everything. Because he is always right. And by speaking to him, I might somehow be questioning his awesome rightness, so he must assert himself yet again.

the whole idea of good personal hygiene is still a bit hazy….the need to take a shower after football practice does not strike him as urgent, although the rest of us are gagging every time he comes close to us and begging him to clean himself.

Deodorant is still considered optional.

He will still take walks with me and the little kids to get ice cream, and even pull the wagon without embarrassment.

If he is required to make his bed and keep his room clean, I have no right to expect him to help vacuum the living room. because that is borderline abuse. And the start of a text argument.

He plays amazingly well with the 4 year old, then fights with the 4 year old, then gets mad at me because I expect one of them to be more mature than the other in these situations. Apparently the 4 year old should know better.

He still lets me kiss him goodnight, and tells me he loves me.

hairy legs and baby face. (him…not me)

All discussions (arguments) will end in me losing. Because no matter how wrong I believe he is….. he simply reminds me that  I am the one who chose to bring him into the world. And since he couldn’t have done anything bad if he didn’t exist…..that clearly makes everything my fault. (he’s a philosopher.)

He will be a man…tomorrow. But still clings to his childhood today, as do I. The day I can’t excite him with some fake tattoos or bubble tape will be a sad one indeed.

Sammy and the moon

My Sammy just turned 4 years old.

He’s always been a funny kid, an inquisitive kid, a very active kid.

Like many kids his age, he talks on his imaginary cell phone, fights all sorts of “bad guys” with super ninja moves all around the house, uses the word “actually” a lot, and asks question after question as he tries to make sense of this place we live.

One day a couple weeks ago, he asked me when the moon was going to talk. I kind of laughed and said I didn’t know the moon COULD talk. He was completely serious, he knew it was going to happen and he believed it was going to happen that night. As soon as it was dark enough for the moon to be “out” all the way.

It just so happened that his dad was home early that night, and took Sammy with him to visit some relatives. They all sat outside and Sammy watched for the moon, still believing “he” was going to talk to everyone if they were just patient. People laughed, commenting to each other “how cute!, he thinks the moon can talk!”

He came home in tears. Devastated. The moon DIDN’T talk.

My husband had played along with him, not realizing how serious it was for Sammy. He didn’t know how to fix this. You can’t just buy a talking moon at Target. Neither of us was prepared for the letdown when his expectation didn’t happen.

He went to bed that night a little broken hearted, the silent moon mocking him from above. (Well, probably not…)

He brought it up the next day, still puzzled. Trying to work it out, as if he just needed to find the right “code word” or perhaps the right sequence of secret hand gestures to release the moons voice.

I felt like he was too serious to play with about this. I wondered if I should be more forceful in telling him that I really, really didn’t think the moon could talk.

A couple nights later, he announced that the moon would talk…..in two days. I don’t know where he got that information, but we all wanted to see where this would go. He mentioned that the moon might even “come down” but he needed to eat all of his vegetables first. Great idea. So the moon is a guy, he will be talking and possibly visiting in 2 days.

It’s funny, because every day since, the answer is still the same; the moon will talk in 2 days. No problem.

Coping mechanism?

I love his imagination. He hasn’t seemed upset since that first night of bitter disappointment, instead the moon talking is always safely “2 days away”. I am sure this is a way his 4 year old mind has dealt with a problem that he just was not able to figure out or fix. I’m not going to worry about him being 30, and creating imaginary solutions to deal with realities that he can’t handle. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to be concerned about that.

Now he’s an expert on the moon, did you know he looks white in the sky because he drinks so much milk?? He doesn’t have parents though, so that’s kind of sad.

I think his mind is amazing. I love it, I love talking to him and hearing his logic. His opinions are based on so many things that may or may not have to do with reality or fact….but they are valid for him. I don’t want to stifle that imagination, I don’t want to force him to think in terms of what’s “normal”….at least not yet.

So I enjoy him and our conversations. About the moon. About painting his toenails, because “mom, I like green, why can’t boys paint their toenails green??” He makes a good point! Why not indeed? And maybe the moon will talk, to a little boy who believes it so much, he might just make magic happen.

Nothing beats writing in a journal

I started my first journal as an assignment in high school. January 25, 1991, 10th period composition class. Hmmmm, I was 15 then.

Back then, it started out as something I had to do for credit. We were given different things to write about and turned in our journals to be graded each week.

I enjoyed it. And I kept writing even after I didn’t have to.

There were more journals after that first one. Early ones filled with teenage uncertainty, drama, angst. Later, as life got busier with jobs and kids, I wrote less. I stopped writing in my “all purpose” journal, and started a pregnancy journal for each child. Each would chronicle my pregnancy, hopes and fears, body changes, and later would also include notes about the baby. How I felt (depressed initially, elated eventually), and every once in a while I go back into those journals and jot some notes about, or a letter to that child….talking about them and how much I love them.

Once in a while, I will come across my stack of journals and page through them…reading things I can’t believe I’d forgotten in some cases. Sometimes, when I’m feeling REALLY wild and crazy, I will look up the same date in different journals to see how my life changed over the years.


Here’s how it works. Usually, I’ll check out what I was doing “today”, or a date close to it. So……..On May 1st, 1991, My teenage self was focusing on the very important topic of boys, which one’s I liked, which ones liked me, and how I can’t believe one of the guys I’d been drooling over was actually dating an old friend of mine from middle school…. and WHAT is up with that, “She’s not as pretty as me and her personality is just strange!”

That journal is really hard for me to read. I’m just….embarrassed for myself.

5/1/1997, Pregnancy journal 1: I was up to 155# at the doctor appointment that day, complaining about back pain, hip pain, worrying about labor, and getting up all night to pee still sucked.

4/28/2001, Pregnancy journal 2: “Today was one of the worst days. I cried today a few times.” The baby (3 weeks) has been crying so much, I’m sleep deprived, I saw blood in his diaper and was taking him in to the doctor.

5/1/2010, Pregnancy journal 3: “Sammy is 3 weeks old tomorrow….I’m feeling much better, I feel like we’ve finally bonded. Doing better with breastfeeding-don’t feel so much like he’s not going to survive or something.”

5/13/11, Regular journal: “Rachel will be 14 tomorrow…in a lot of ways those days were really the happiest of my life, I miss it. Things just get busier and harder, I have less and less time. I miss those days with her, I really was the center of her world. I hugged her yesterday after her game, she was upset for playing bad. She didn’t give me much of a hug back. She always seems to be holding back now, doesn’t want to get too close. I hope this changes, I miss her hugs. She’s almost a grown up now. I’m so sad about it, it came too fast!! I wish I could just go back to when she was younger, just to visit and feel those memories happening around me again. Thank God the kids are all good and healthy, I really have been blessed!”

5/1/2012, Pregnancy journal 4: It’s hard to study, I’m so tired at night I fall asleep whenever I sit down to relax. “Six weeks pregnant now, baby is the size of an ice cream sprinkle.”

5/9/2013, Pregnancy journal 4: “my Jenna-Bean, you are amazing! Why do I find you so wonderful, cute, perfect, adorable and fun?? Because you are!! Thank you God for this angel, I could not have asked for anything more…”

These journals are a treasure for me. They really are a way for me to get back into the moments we can’t hold onto forever. Yes, I can’t stand the teen I was, superficial, selfish, and sooooo annoying. But I sure can relate to my own teen as I read the entries of a teenage me, and cringe the entire time.

I visit painful memories. Happy memories, sad memories. I empathize with the depressed me suffering with PPD and worrying that she/I may never feel better again. I enjoy silly memories of my kids growing up. I have mixed feelings still when I read entries about preparing for my first wedding, and the wishes, hopes, and dreams I penned onto those pages. I shake my head at how young that girl was, and how grown up she thought she was.

I realize that time will not stop. My kids will continue to grow, and one day have families of their own. I feel like my daughters will probably want to read the things I’ve written about them, starting with my first positive pregnancy test…..and only ending when I no longer have the presence of mind to continue writing. I’m not sure about the boys….but I still keep writing about them, and writing to them.

There is something special about choosing a new journal. It must be hardcover, not too thick or thin. I hold it in my hand, flipping through it’s empty pages, and wonder where I will be in life by the time I fill those pages. When I find a new journal that looks and feels just “right”… I take it home and open it up, usually 12am or later when everyone in the house is in bed. This is my time to be alone with my thoughts. I put the date on the inside cover, and  wonder who will eventually read these pages, and what will they think of me?

And then I start writing.






Why do we travel with Kids????

I am going to Vegas in a month.

With a 4 year old.

And a 1 year old.

The flight will be just over 4 hours, and I know I will be on the verge of dying the whole way.

As much as I am looking forward to being there, I dread the task of GETTING there. And that is the problem, because kids are smart, and like wild animals….they can smell fear.

It is a terrifying thing to know you are stuck on a plane with a kid who is about to have the mother of tantrums……and short of suffocating them, there is NOTHING you can do to make them stop. It might be the scariest thing ever. So of course I try to pack for every possible shift in humor, every potential desire, every whim that child may have.

I’ve done this pretty successfully with one young child. But this will be the first trip with two . And I hate myself as much as all other passengers are going to hate me as I walk past them to my seat, holding a toddler, a blanket, a 4 year old by the hand, and a huge backpack with a variety of toys and treats, guaranteed to hold their interest for a good 30-45 seconds.

I’ll be praying to be seated near other people with kids. Best case scenario, someone will have a HORRIBLE child who acts up the whole way, if they are bad enough they might just keep the interest of my kids who can just watch them instead of “Frozen”, which I will definitely be packing. As much as I would feel bad for that parent, I will also be silently thanking them for taking the pressure off of me and mine.

Is that wrong? I don’t think so.

I can’t convey the stress…..

The fact that I have been so LUCKY travelling with a little one in the past…does not bode well for me. My now 4 year old has really been great so far. He went with us to Florida once, Boston once, and Vegas twice before he was 3, and was a champ each time on the plane. I was so proud at the end of each trip, pretending I was somehow responsible for his behavior. Other passengers may have been fooled…..but parents know. They know my turn is coming.

I feel like this trip might just be the one.

The one to put me back in my place, and remind me that I have NO control at all. All the pipe cleaners, stickers, goldfish crackers and juice boxes can’t save me when that baby decides she wants to get off my damn lap and go find something she can put in her mouth and try to choke on. Or maybe she’ll want to grab the face of the guy in front of me, innocently smiling at her as though she’s harmless, and doesn’t plan to gouge his eyes out. Oh, it could get bad.

It could be the 4 year old too. He did recently throw himself onto the floor at drug mart because I wouldn’t buy him a plastic gun there. I had to drag him out of the store, all the while keeping a totally unaffected, even nonchalant look on my face for the other patrons. I don’t think I can pull that off for 4 hours.

My husband hates travelling with me like this, because I am literally so tense beforehand-I can barely speak. I pack so much in the carry-on, because this is life or death! If I can’t produce a spinny thing that lights up like right NOW, all hell is going to break loose people, I just KNOW it!!

So this is my warning to you.

We’re coming. There might be pee, there might be vomit…I just don’t know. Don’t get too close,and for gods sake….don’t make eye contact.





My many trips into the world of Post Partum Depression

How could something so wonderful, make me feel so bad?

ImageMy first two…

When my first child was born, I was 21. Excited to have her, never believing it would truly happen. I couldn’t comprehend parenthood, as much as I looked forward to it.

Following the birth of my 10+ pounder (come on, do ounces even MATTER after you hit the 10 pound mark??), I fell into a very dark place. I came home 2 days after having her, and remember waiting as long as I could to call my mom the following morning. It was probably around 7am before I dialed the number, and began to sob uncontrollably at the sound of her voice. What followed was seemingly endless days of sobbing, as I failed to adjust to this new role. The anxiety, panic, fear, depression….overwhelmed me, but I had NO IDEA what was happening to me, other than I knew I didn’t like it, and at one point I remember standing in the shower, wishing I could die.

Thankfully, I never wanted to actually do harm to myself or my baby. I still videotaped her from day one, and watching the video’s now, you would have no idea of the conflict going on inside of me, other than the scratchy voice that gave away just how much I’d been crying.

Two weeks later, I felt like I was coming out of the darkness. I was willing to move forward with life, instead of trying to ignore it. I chalked it up to being so young, and a somewhat difficult birth, and went on to love my role as a mom, and adore my daughter to the annoyance of those within frequent earshot of my blabbering about her perfection. I truly believed I would never suffer through that again if I ever had another baby, now that I “knew” how to do it.

Three more babies later, I’ve learned a lot.

I’ve learned that you can’t talk yourself out of being depressed. You can’t pray yourself out of it, you can’t force yourself out of it.

My children mean the world to me, but after my second was born, and I found myself back in “the pit”, I realized I had been kidding myself all those months during pregnancy, believing that I was so much more capable of avoiding it this time. I felt GREAT the first 2 days, then fell off the cliff. I swear, I recall the moment it hit me, that chemical shift, or whatever you want to call it.

No appetite? check. Feeling of hopelessness? check. Anxiety and panic? check and check. I did seek help, and found Ohio was not a place for a big PPD support system. I managed, but it was very difficult, for me and those around me. I felt so alone, despite never being alone.

With my fourth, I prayed often during the pregnancy that I would remain as happy after the birth as I was to BE pregnant. I gathered my support staff around me, making my family promise to be there and not leave me alone. Although I “knew” it would happen, the depression, when it hit, was still a major blow. I felt like I’d failed again.

That time, I finally tried medication despite my internal struggle over it. It helped, and I actually got to enjoy some of the infancy of my Last Baby, instead of feeling overwhelmed and unsure, scared to do anything and feeling miserable.

I battled my depression, my anxiety, my adjustment disorder. With each baby I prayed to feel better, and was so scared that this time, I wouldn’t.

I never neglected my children. If anything, I overstimulated them, over nurtured them, and over compensated to make up for the guilt I felt over not adjusting beautifully. I did not blame these babies, I blamed myself for being somehow broken.

I learned a lot about myself, and I can empathize so much more with other moms who go through similar issues.

Although I am depression free, medication free, and newborn free (Last Baby is 14 months..), I am not left without scars.

When a friend or relative has a baby, I come to visit, but in a way I feel like I’m responding to some alarm. I need to be ready to help….I ask a lot of questions about how the mom is feeling…”really?”…… “you’re great??”… and I usually leave perplexed, am I the ONLY one who sucked at this??

I work at hospitals, and often see new moms being wheeled out, baby in their arms. When I see this, I automatically thank God it isn’t me in her place. Not because I didn’t or don’t love being a mom, I do, more than anything I do. But when I see that new mom, I see a shadow of myself, scared, alone, lost. Unable to bask in the joy of new motherhood, instead trying to quell the anxiety welling up inside my chest. Depression robbed me of those initial moments of joy.

My experiences gave me an insight I’d sooner not have, but I accept. Knowing what I do, feeling what I’ve felt, I would do anything to help another person in my shoes. Thank god for the internet. With each new birth, the social networking opportunities just got better and better. I found communities of women like me, and just reading their stories made me feel better about myself. Not alone. Understood.

I am grateful to have made it through depression four times, and Oh so grateful to have my children. They were worth it, I can easily say that now. (Not so much maybe 7 days in….). I did however recently make a choice that my mother said I would regret. My mom made the same choice after the birth of her 5th child. Not because she was depressed, more along the lines of being old and tired I would imagine…. anyway, she made this choice too….and afterwards she cried and cried, regretting it immediately. Mom never had depression.

I got my tubes tied.

I am STILL thrilled 🙂

I AM of course old and tired also, but the freedom of knowing I will never suffer through PPD again? ….Wow. I never realized what a relief it would be.




This is what being a Mom IS…

I love to smell my daughters feet…….


I don’t know how I realized this, but I find myself grabbing those little feet and just inhaling whenever she is near….and just loving that they are so soft, and little, and warm. And they ALMOST smell…..like feet. I cherish it, because one day they are going to REALLY smell like feet, and doubt I will willingly bury my face in them anymore.

I have these little moments, in the middle of the chaos that comes with having 4 children, where I just take a minute to savor the odd moment, before I need to scream at someone for tracking play-doh all over the floor. again.

I’ve got two teens, and they find great pleasure in suddenly turning on me, usually in the middle of my speech about growing up, taking on more responsibility, chewing with their mouths closed…and holding me down to tickle me. This freaks me out, and I really fight to get away, all the while laughing and trying not to pee myself as I try to call them off. My gasping pleas for release are ignored, as they assume my threats are not real because I can’t stop laughing. I really hate that. But I love it, and then I ground them…. for like 5 minutes.

It’s not always fun and games. I’m strict and if you ask my 4 year old who the “mean” one is, the pointer finger zooms right to me. BUT, I’m the one he runs to for kisses, I’m the one he picks as his “favorite” whenever I ask him (ssshhh, I know I’m not supposed to do that), in fact, the only time he runs to his Dad, is to get away from me at bedtime, when he decides he’s not so fond of me after all.

My days home are a blur of cleaning, laundry, cooking, spacing out at the computer for brief moments, changing diapers, feeding, shopping, and plenty of yelling and threatening to never get you a slushy from Target again if you don’t pick up those toys Right Now!

My own 16 year old daughter is convinced that being a mother is the worst job a person could have. I am her reason for never wanting children…as she loves to tell me. I think it’s funny that I felt the same as her, at her age, living with my mom and being one of her 5 children. UGH, talk about a circus.

And yes, I dream of sleeping in one day, and not having to take care of anyone but myself, getting my hair done whenever I want, or just going OUT…..alone!! It’s so exciting when those moments happen!

Yet, as I tell my daughter, I would be lost without them. I’ve had kids for so LONG, I don’t even know who I would be without them. They define me by this point. My time is measured by their first steps, first smiles, even the first time my son told me he hated me. Ouch. I don’t forget these firsts, and I love to remember and cherish those million random things that just make this job extra special.

Like squeezing little butts, using social media to embarrass my teens, and trying to squeeze them all onto my lap for a quick pic before I am squished to death. They are crazy kids, they often do really really stupid things…. no really, it’s true. But they are MINE, and I cherish it, I do. I love watching them grow, sharing their lives, and of course…smelling their feet. 🙂