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Rainbow dash

"I want to whisper something in your ear," Squish told me as Bug and my husband were leaving for Kindergarten this morning.

I bent down to listen.

"I am going to squish Rainbow Dash," Squish whispered.

I suggested that it wasn't very nice to squish people.  Squish corrected me on two points: (1) Rainbow Dash is not a person - she is a pony; and (2) she is not real.

Fair enough.  I decided to let his imagination work its magic while I nursed Pumpkin before taking them both to school today.

The three of us made our way upstairs so I could nurse and rock Pumpkin, and I had suggested that Squish look at books on my bed.

When I checked on Squish before I settled in with Pumpkin, I saw him sitting on my bed, criss-cross-applesauce, staring at the wall ahead of him.

"[Squish], you don't want to read books this morning?"



Proud to report that Pumpkin, who discovered her feet a mere ten days ago, can now put them in her mouth.  

Also, trying to blog daily this month is crazy difficult.  


Can it be NaBloPoMo every other day?

Too many priorities.   Trying to avoid the trap from everything being a priority (nothing will be a priority).

At this very moment, sleep has to be the priority.  Pumpkin is sleeping in her crib.  Bug and Squish are snuggled in their bottom bunk and sleeping.  

So I suppose this blog post is just a very long way of writing, "good night."



Monday mornings are that time when I look at Pumpkin and realize how short the weekend was.  

Then I take her to daycare.  

And Monday evenings are that time when I realize how long weekdays are.  

Then I nurse Pumpkin and put her to bed.   

When Bug was a baby, I worked part-time (four days a week) until he was one.  I remember the night I did the math in my head while I nursed him at bedtime.  I calculated the number of waking hours he would be spending with the nanny and compared it to the number he had with me. I was okay because I had more.  

I worked part-time (four days a week) until Squish was almost nine months old. He and I had Fridays together just the two of us for months even after I returned to work.  

I can't afford to work four days a week now.  

 I know I am actually really lucky in so many ways, but Mondays just leave me feeling a little broken-hearted lately.  


Bright spot

When I wasn't checking social media for answers today, I was wrangling the boys.  

Into swim clothes
To swim lessons (Squish went; Bug abstained)
Out of swim clothes 
Into the car after Pumpkin started to go berzerk in her stroller on the playground 
Up the stairs to our front door
And so on and so forth

In the afternoon we decided to go to the grocery store for chocolate chips so that we could make cookies.  

More wrangling. 

Then in the middle of it all, Bug started singing a silly song while he danced in a circle around me.  

In my arms, Pumpkin was entranced.  She loved his song and dance and started to laugh. Her sweet, five-month-old belly laugh.  

I looked down to my right, and Squish was sitting cross-cross-applesauce with his palms facing upward meditating.  

That was my favorite moment today.  Absurd and light filled.   And I am  grateful for it.  



Keeping France in thoughts and prayers tonight.  


The bounce back

I offered to pick up all three munchkins today because my husband was making all of us a delicious dinner. 

First stop - Bug.  

His after school program takes place in a big gymnasium.  On one side of the gym, kids can draw, read, and have snacks.  On the other side, they usually play a sport.  

I didn't see Bug on the drawing side so went to check the sports side.  Not there either.  

I went back to the first side and found him sitting quietly, looking at the floor.  I asked how he was doing, and he said he felt sick.  

To his stomach.  

A long night of barfing flashed before my eyes, and I felt queasy myself. 

I brought Bug home to my husband and headed back out to get Squish and Pumpkin. 
Squish was easy to get today. He was in full Diligent Helper mode and went with me to get Pumpkin from the infant room. 

Pumpkin was tired but her usual, dear self.  Then one of her "teachers" told me that Pumpkin gets angry after she finishes bottles during the day, and that she needs more to eat.  

Nothing like feeling inadequate at the end of a drizzly fall day.  

Fifteen minutes later, when we were all home again, Squish asked, "Where is the ukulele?"

"The ukelele?!?!??"

"THE UKELELE I GOT FROM SCHOOL!!!!!!  WHERE IS IT?!?!!?" Squish explained. 

"Sweetie, it must be at school.  I didn't realize you won it this week."


For about a minute this evening, it felt like everything was completely falling apart.  Oldest kid on the verge of the barfs.   Middle kid apoplectic about a ukelele.  And starving baby.  

Somehow the night actually turned out just fine. 

Pumpkin was a happy baby, blowing raspberries while I ate dinner.  Hardly a baby in need. 

Squish was a happy monkey, playing a rhyming puzzle game with my husband after dinner.  

Bug was a happy kid, practicing writing in a notebook while he curled up under a blanket in the family room.  

The daily tribulations sometimes seem to pile one on top of another until it isn't that easy to shrug them off.  But I think I can see (this evening, at least) that what goes down must go up around here.  Thank goodness.  


From the bedtime files

After rocking and nursing Pumpkin, it was finally time to put her in her crib.

With Bug and Squish, I often raced to this moment every night with an eye on the glass of wine that awaited.

With Pumpkin, I am in no hurry.  Ever.  I don't hope the day will come to an end.  I don't look at each developmental milestone as some kind of token we collect to be traded in for a big prize.  I hold her, we rock, she dozes, and we breathe.


A little green

Late fall is not exactly my favorite time of year. 

Of course I love the cooler temperatures and the clothes and boots.  I think pumpkins and mums on doorsteps are cute.  Butternut squash is delicious.

I live in New England, and the people here love fall.  It's their Time.  Summer is too hot for them.  Winter is brutal.  Spring is nice.  But they love fall.  They love driving around and looking at trees.  They love pumpkin spice lattes.  They love apple picking. 

I get it.  Those are lovely traditions.  But all I want to do is to pull everyone aside and whisper, "Can't you see what's happening?"

What I see happening is days shortening so much that the sun sets in the afternoon.  (The afternoon!)  I see trees with no leaves.  I see grass turning brown.

But we are settled here for many, many good reasons.  We are not moving to warmer climes for at least thirty years.  So I need to make peace with my regional climate.  And in an effort to restore the glass-half-full mentality, I decided to buy some indoor plants.  I thought a little green in our home would help.

Yesterday at the store, I picked up a very cute mini-hydrangea plant.  The clerk asked if I had any questions.

"Will this do well indoors for the winter?" I asked.

She said, "Yes.  You need to water that a lot."

"Okay!  Sounds good!" I exclaimed.

Then she looked at me as if she knew that I had not had the time to replace the shampoo that ran out a few days ago.  She seemed somehow aware of the fish that I couldn't keep alive a few months ago.

And she said, "Like every day."

So I bought the plant anyway because I am a secret optimist.



On the mend

I will not let strep and exhaustion throw me off of pursuing this weird little goal I set.  One post every day this month.  Today's is done.  Now I can go to sleep.  


Second sick day

Typing this as I nurse Pumpkin for her bedtime.  

Chills, fever, aches, and sore throat.  Strep.  As an adult.  Sucks.  Not like serious illness sucks.  Just like stuck in traffic for two days and afraid of getting your kids stuck in traffic sucks.  


Sick day

Technically this post keeps me working toward my goal of a post a day.  


COMMUNITY NEWS: Hip Hop Nutcracker

Just got a note with the press release below.  Take a look, and let me know if you go!

“The Hip Hop Nutcracker” Poised To Become Holiday Classic 

Show Kicks Off 12-City Tour with “King of Rap” Kurtis Blow in NYC

October 28, 2015 (New York, NY) —  On November 20 and 21 “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” returns to the United Palace (4140 Broadway at 175th Street, NY, NY) to kick off a 12-city tour, including Miami, Atlanta, St. Paul, Charleston, Charlotte, and Moscow, Russia.

The show features the music from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker”, 11 dancers, DJ Boo, an electric violinist, and digital scenery that complements the adapted storyline, which locates the action to New Year’s Eve in a contemporary WashingtonHeights community in New York City. The adaptation is respectful of the traditional narrative with references to beloved touchstones like the Mouse King and growing tree.

The production inserts the vocabulary of hip hop movement to what has traditionally been a classical ballet, broadening the audience for the art form. The variety of styles represented (breaking, popping, locking, etc.) serve as a history lesson of hip hop dance.

“What better way to bring people together during the holidays than to combine different popular art forms to reach as wide an audience as possible, then dip this classic story in a contemporary setting that celebrates community,” said Mike Fitelson, executive director of the United Palace of Cultural Arts who adapted the story and is supplying the imagery for the scenery. “This production is the perfect symbol of how we are combining old and new to reinvent the United Palace. It has become a new holiday tradition here.”


How many toys is the right number of toys?

Yesterday, a friend posted something online about Christmas presents - the suggestion that Christmas should involve four gifts:

- Something a kid wants;
- Something a kid needs;
- Something to wear;
- Something to read.

Apparently, this suggestion has been wandering around the internet for several years now.  But, always late to the party, I just found out about it.

Here were my four immediate reactions (in order of experience):


Fashionably late to NaBloPoMo

The fact that I am only a day late to the NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) party feels like a genuine accomplishment these days.

Today's post is very short - a simple declaration that I will be blogging every day for (the rest of) the month of November.

Look out, world.

NaBloPoMo November 2015


Bug gets to the point

I went to Toronto for work this week.  Normally I like to prepare Bug and Squish for my work trips with notice at least two days before I leave.

But that was the old normal.

In the new normal, I can barely remember my name.  So I let Bug know early Monday evening that I would be leaving for a work trip on Tuesday morning. 

Later Monday night, Bug was having a hard time settling down to fall asleep.  Squish went into deep sleep about two minutes after his head hit the pillow, but Bug was wiggly and restless.


First work trip post-pumpkin

I woke up at 5 today.  Not to calls from any of my children.  But to pump so that I could get on a 7 am flight to Chicago.

And I did it. 

I pumped. 
I got dressed in work clothes that almost fit (mostly because the pants have an elastic waist and are technically maternity pants). 
I kissed my sleeping husband goodbye.
I whispered I love you to Bug and Squish sleeping peacefully together in their bottom bunk.
I wanted to go into Pumpkin's room and give her a big snuggle, but I knew better than to wake a sleeping baby.
I walked past Pumpkin's door.
I drove to the airport.
I watched an interesting group dynamic unfold at the gate when the pilot asked that passengers board the plane back to front (meaning those who usually get treated to early boarding would not get their treats this morning).
Those who would not get their treats threw a stink.
The gate agents publicly shamed them.
The pilot came out to speak to them.
I eventually boarded the plane.
I arrived in Chicago.
I ate a crepe and had an insanely overpriced (but delicious - crazy delicious) beet juice concoction.
I came back to my hotel room to pump before my meetings today.

I realized that I forgot to pack the power cord for my pump.

I cannot wait to get home tomorrow.


What a difference a birthday makes.

I went back to work two weeks ago on the same day that Bug started Kindergarten, and here's a little glimpse into how we have been since then:

Pumpkin will not take a bottle while I am at work.  All day long, she gets no nourishment.

We tell jokes about how our big baby girl has so much in reserve that she can afford to be choosy about how and when she eats.   And we marvel at how she stays relatively calm while she waits for me to come home and nurse her. 

But I hate it.  Even when I join in the joking and the marveling, I hate it.  It is hard enough to walk away from my three-month-old for the day without adding the insult of her inability to eat to the injury of our separation.  I just effing hate it.

* * *

Then there's my Bug, our first-born, our authority-pleaser, our rule-follower, who has been struggling to like Kindergarten. 

A few days ago, he launched a familiar anti-Kindergarten campaign just about the time we needed to leave.  He refused to put on his sneakers.

"If you don't put on your shoes, I will just put them in your backpack and carry you and the backpack down to the car," I warned.

"You can't carry me.  I'm too big!" he shouted.

"I can carry you.  And I will.  I need the exercise anyway," I explained.

"No!" he shouted.

He ran and hid under a bed.  I threatened to take away movie night (a weekly tradition and respite that makes all of our lives worth living some weeks - a terrible thing to threaten to take away, and we both knew it).

He came out from under the bed but refused to stand up.

So I carried him in a cross-arm carry and explained, "I used to be a lifeguard.  That's why I can carry you like this!"  Because the whole thing needed more explanation, obviously.

We eventually made it to his school. 

But when his teacher called out, "Alright, Kindergartners, time to go inside!" Bug refused.

I kissed him on the head and said, "Go on now.  I love you, and you are going to have a great day."

"No I won't," he muttered.

"I know it doesn't feel like it right now, but I promise you are going to have a great day," I tried.

He went into the line of Kindergartners heading into the building but turned back one last time.  I saw his little worried face trying to find me as he scanned the crowd of parents, and I waved and smiled.

I caught what looked like a hint of relief in his eyes, and then he scrunched up his face and stuck his tongue out at me.

* * *

Meanwhile, after months of answering Bug's and Squish's somewhat straightforward and simple questions about death, my husband and I were there to witness the moment it all coalesced for Squish.  And it was awful.  Gut-wrenching awful.

During bedtime, while I was lying between Bug and Squish, Squish said, "When everybody dies, who will drive the cars?"

"Everyone doesn't die at once, [Squish]," I replied and thought to myself what a silly question from my Squish.

Alarmed, Squish asked, "So I am going to die alone?!?"

I rolled over to snuggle Squish and said, "Oh, no, love.  No, you are not going to die alone.  Don't worry like that!  Everything is okay."

But a wave of fear had already washed over him.  I hadn't seen it coming, and it was far too late to stop it.

"I won't be able to see you when I die," he said and started to cry.  Not a quiet crying but a loud, sad, devastated crying.  He just kept repeating, "I won't be able to see you."

I started to cry, too.  And I whispered in his ear that he would still see me.  I whispered it over and over again until he started to calm down.  But he continued to explain that he would not be able to move his arms or talk when he died.

"I'm going to die soon," he said and cried some more.

"No.  No you are not," I told him.  Over and over again in a hundred different ways.

* * *

That has been our brutal reality for the past two weeks.  My baby, Pumpkin, won't eat; my big kid, Bug, frequently  hates school; and my three-year-old, Squish, is afraid of dying alone.

Nevertheless, today is Bug's birthday, and we have all grabbed onto the joy of this special occasion with some fervor.

Today, Bug ran from the car toward Kindergarten.  Squish seems more interested in Legos than his mortality.  And, God willing, Pumpkin will take more than half an ounce from a bottle.


How does it feel to have three? Don't ask the fish.

Our fish died.



The past two months have been an exhausting blur.

It all started with a trip to the midwife's office for a non-stress test because I was about a week past my [alleged] due date.  Based on the results, I was sent down the hall to get an ultrasound and biophysical profile.  Just to be on the safe side.

At the end of the ultrasound, the radiologist said, "If you were my patient, I would induce you today."
Two minutes later, after that radiologist talked to my midwife, he came up to me in the waiting area and said, "Okay.  You can go up to the fifth floor now."

"Labor and delivery?" I asked.

"Yep," he answered.

As simple as that.  Yep.  As in, yep, you will be giving birth soon.  Yep, a major life event for both you and the baby who is about to be born.  In fact, for the baby who is about to be born, it is pretty much The Life Event To Begin All Life Events.  Yep.  

So I went to the fifth floor that day, and the next morning, we had a whole new, healthy, sweet, wonderful baby in our lives, and we became a family of five.

Two months later, I was getting a drink of water and remembering a recent conversation with my husband:

Husband: "Just so we're clear . . . there is no way we are getting a dog for at least seven to ten years, right?"

Me: "Yes.  I mean, the fish is probably going to die soon, if we are being really honest with ourselves."

And I was right.  How right, I don't know.  Frankly, the fish could have already died when I was uttering that little truth gem.

It wasn't until several days later that I got myself that drink of water, remembering my husband's wise words -- I looked in the tank and saw that our fish had left this mortal coil.

I expected to feel some kind of grief or at least guilt.  Perhaps a better rested, kinder, or more capable person would have blamed herself just a little bit. 

But at the time I lacked the energy to mourn a betta fish we had bought two years ago at a pet store. 

And, apparently, I lacked the energy to feed a betta fish that we had bought two years ago at a pet store.

So all I could think was, "Oh dear God - now I have to clean that up and dispose of the body."


Lesson Number One

I am sitting on a birthing ball (i.e., an exercise ball) as I type this post because I read that sitting on a ball will help me get closer to labor.

What else have I been doing in these final days and nights before the little one arrives?


Four snowstorms, four weeks, two dentist appointments, and one exhausted momma : A letter from New England

1.  The first snowstorm was actually a blizzard.  Leading up to the storm, the media was warning people that this could be the blizzard of the century - major cities closed - and I found myself at a big box home-goods/hardware store asking about flashlights the hour the snow started to fall.

Poor New York was disappointed by the storm, but here in Boston, we had a genuine blizzard, spent Tuesday inside watching snow fall, spent another day or two at home because schools and preschools were closed, and we got about two to three feet of snow. 


2.  About a week later, there was another snowstorm.  It arrived on a Monday morning and lasted all day.  It dropped about a foot of snow on top of the several feet from the blizzard the week before. 

That day, I was a little less enthusiastic about the snow.  I woke up tired of having been stuck in our apartment and not looking forward to another day inside.  I took a walk at around 8 am while the snow was still falling.  The sidewalks were not clear yet, not even close.  On my way home, about a half-block from our apartment, I slipped, fell slowly, and landed in a very soft pile of snow - belly and all. 

So fun.

3.  One week later, we had another snow storm on a Monday. 

The same day that Bug and Squish had their dentist appointments about a mile down Mass. Ave in Cambridge.

Perhaps the part of me that took a walk in the snowstorm the week before was the same part of me that decided the three of us were going to these dentist appointments.  We had spent what felt like over two weeks in our apartment because it was too cold to go outside.

Off we went.  The boys did a great job, and I was so proud of them.

Then we re-bundled ourselves to leave - snow pants, winter coats, water-proof puffy gloves, hats, and boots - and we went outside to wait for the 77 bus to take us home.

We did this on purpose.  For fun. 

It was freezing and snowing outside.  Bug and Squish stood behind a 5-foot tall snow bank that blocked the wind while we waited for the bus, which arrived just a few minutes later and not a second too soon.

The boys enjoyed the ride down snow covered Mass. Ave, and I enjoyed spending time with them outside of our living room for the first time in many, many days.

We got off the bus near our local pizza place so that we could have a special lunch together.  My husband was going to walk over and meet us for lunch, too.  It was going to be a cheesey, root-beery, wonderful family hour together.

The pizza place was closed.  Of course it was.  We were in the middle of the third snow storm in as many weeks.

Bug accepted the defeat with some dignity and was ready to walk home, but Squish refused.

He kept pulling on the locked door to the pizza place.  He was crying.  He was shouting.  Snot and tears were running down the little bit of his face that was not covered by his hat and jacket hood.

A woman in a pick-up truck across the street shouted over to us, "Can I give you a ride?!?"

I said, "Oh no.  We are fine. Just a couple blocks from home.  Thank you!!"

She tried again, "But with the baby crying!  And it's only going to get worse out here.  I can take you down the road easily!"

Again, I let her know we would be fine - perhaps hoping that Squish would hear these words and realize that he would, indeed, be fine.

Squish continued to wail and flail and ask why the pizza place would not open.

The woman across the street said, "I'm not a crazy person.  My truck is safe.  You are welcome to hop in!!"

I felt terrible.  She was being so, so kind.  And we must have looked so pitiful.  One prego lady, one quiet, cold 5-year-old, and one floptastic 3-year-old screaming about pizza on the corner in the middle of a snowstorm.

I tried to reassure her that we really lived two blocks away and would be okay. 

She shrugged.

Finally my husband arrived.  I explained that the place was closed and started to walk Bug home, leaving my husband to manage poor, sad, hungry Squish.

So, so fun.

4.  Yes, 4.  Freaking 4.  And it wasn't March yet.  Valentine's Day brought another snow storm this year.  I only remember three things about that weekend - all food related.

Bug and I went to the grocery store and got some Valentine sugar cookies to decorate.

My husband made a delicious dinner that night.

We had nutella French toast with bacon and strawberries that Sunday morning. 

Otherwise, it was just another freezing cold, snowy, several day period when we were stuck inside trying not to go absolutely insane.

So, so, so fun.

The following week, we did not have another snow storm.  But some things were going on at work that caused a lot of stress.  An almost absurd amount of stress.  So much stress that I ended up at the doctor's office one morning for the ironically named nonstress test because of the number, frequency, and strength of those delightful Braxton Hicks contractions I had been having the night before.

After my nonstress test, I got some great advice from the nurse practitioner:

"Lower your standards.  Cereal is a perfectly nutritious dinner for everyone.  Pajamas are not required for bedtime - kids can sleep in their clothes."



We took the boys to the museum of science yesterday, and as part of the fun, we went to the 4-D movie playing in the morning - something about shallow seas.

For those who have not attended a 4-D movie (as I had not until a few weeks ago), you watch the film wearing 3-D glasses plus you might smell hot chocolate or Christmas trees or you might feel snow or bubbles as they fall from the ceiling.

Or you might feel like there are snakes hissing and moving around your ankles.  Which promptly terrified Squish and led to my husband carrying the poor thing out of the theater.

Bug and I stayed to watch the rest of the movie, which had begun with a momma humpback whale and her calf making their way from the shallow seas back to deeper waters.  Bug turned to me and said, "That calf is so cute!"

"I totally agree," I said.

Twenty minutes later, the movie returned to the momma and calf as they gorged on krill.

The narrator said that it would soon be time for the momma and the calf to separate.

"Separate?!?" Bug exclaimed.

"Yep.  It's time for the calf to make his way in the world.  He's ready, sweetie," I whispered.

"But will the calf have to go to danger?  On his own?!?" Bug worried out loud.

"He will be okay.  He's big and ready for plenty of adventures - even if they include a little danger, buddy," I tried.

Bug was quiet as the movie ended. 

When we left the theater and were tossing our 3-D glasses into the bin at the exit, Bug said, "But what about sharks?!?  Will the calf have to see sharks?"

"Maybe.  But he will be a grown whale by then.  Nothing to worry about.  Sharks don't mess with humpback whales.  [Plus, my little calf, I love you very, very much, and I am sure that when the time comes, I will be the one fretting about danger and sharks, while you are the one reassuring me that you are grown and ready.]" I suggested.

"Okay.  What do beluga whales eat?" asked Bug.