Category Archives: General

Handmade Family Rules

This project has been in the works for some time now, so hanging it on our wall tonight was a really big deal! I read awhile ago on one of those parenting blogs that kids respond better to direction when they are not overwhelmed. I don’t blame them – all day every day they hear, “Don’t touch the candle!” “No yelling in the car.” “No somersaults on the bed!” …the list goes on. Nate and I sat down and came up with nine. Just nine that we thought encapsulated our children’s most regularly-needed instructions. We kept them short and sweet because this mama had a creative plan in mind…

Here are our Family Rules in all of their idiosyncratic glory:

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I love it. It makes me happy, and it’s the obvious centerpiece of our family room, which worked itself out perfectly!

Want to make your own? Here’s how I did it (Please know upfront that I fear most, if not all, things on Pinterest because I know I’m just not that crafty, so if I can do this, you can do this):

1) Find a frame with multiple openings. I got mine at Marshalls about six years ago (and yes, the stock photos of rocks and waterfalls were placeholders until today…so pathetic). I found these guys on Etsy and think their work is whimsical and fun for this project specifically.

2) Create rules in Word and save them in a fun, bold and clear font. I sent my files to Office Max Impress and asked them to print them on transparencies.

3) Get out the paper and let your kids be creative. We used fingerpaints and sponges and made shapes in various colors.

4) Then it’s just a matter of layering the painted paper under the transparency in each photo opening. I taped everything in place, so the back of the mat looks like a gift wrapped by a 2-year old.

5) Hang on the wall and admire!

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My Memoirs, Age 4 (Parents magazine)

This is from an article I just read in my Parents magazine. It was written by Jason Good for the July 2013 issue and is freaking HILARIOUS! I couldn’t find it online anywhere, but wanted to grab some bits and pieces that relate flabbergastingly well to the Brunner household. Enjoy some of these lines from this amusing article from the perspective of, say, Coen (and every other four-year-old boy in the world today):


“Apparently, I can eat all the broccoli I want because it has vitamins, but if I want to stuff my face with just (gummy) vitamins everyone acts like I’ve lost my mind. I would eat cheddar bunnies instead, but unfortunately my dad scarfs them all at midnight while watching HGTV like some depressed tween. You’re 40, and that’s way too old to eat anything in the shape of an animal that isn’t an animal. Instead of peppering me with annoying questions, you should just turn on the TV. Seriously. When I’m watching television I’m totally Zen and in the moment. Just leave it on all the time.”

“Whenever I yell for my dad to get me ham or come outside to push me on the swing for three hours, he gets annoyed. It’s either because I refuse to wear sunscreen or that I’m interrupting him from staring at his phone. I don’t know what he’s doing on that thing, but he loves it more than my little brother loves my mom’s boob.”

(referencing his little brother) “That kid is an animal. I’m honestly frightened of him. If he throws one more yogurt squeezer at my face, I’m calling a social worker. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s fun to get crazy with him and tear up important tax documents, but a guy like me also needs some solo time building a Lego tower without a cackling maniac in a diaper going all Godzilla on it.”

“We have three cats. There’s an orange one named Oliver who my brother loves to sit on. I yell, ‘Arlo, NO!” but my mom and dad get mad and say, ‘Don’t yell at Arlo!” Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry! Next time I’ll just ignore him when he uses the cat as a beanbag chair.”

“It’s chaos, and I think we need some kind of family whisperer. They’re yelling about where the keys are and trying to remember if my brother has pooped or not and where the green sippy cup is and Zzzzzzz – I totally just fell asleep. Meanwhile, I’m standing there…is someone going to put on my shoes? I mean, I can do it myself, but I don’t feel like it right now. Usually I just hang out by the door in one sock yelling, ‘Let’s GO!’ Mom gets crazy and dad becomes quiet and takes deep breaths until she yells at him to help her. Eventually one of them puts on my shoes for me but does it really fast like they’re mad and that usually makes me want to stay home.”

(referencing his little brother eating a lollipop) “Mom gives him one, he licks it twice, then bites it off and chomps on it. I told you he was an animal. Meanwhile, I’m licking mine like I belong in civilized society. he gets jealous and starts crying again, so my dad says, ‘Hey buddy, could you go finish that in the basement so your brother can’t see it?’ WHAT?! Now I’m being banished to the cellar because that spaz can’t control himself around candy? I just stand there, staring at him, slowly licking my delicious lollipop and turning my body away whenever he reaches for it. Then I start running away from him and my mom starts yelling because – STOP THE PRESSES – apparently the WORST thing you can do in the world is run with a lollipop in your mouth. It’s not a grenade, for crying out loud.”

Relatable? Um, yes. Check out more articles at

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They Fear the Rabbit

As I sit here pathetically staring down a bag of Reeses Pieces, silently debating whether or not to break into the Easter candy meant for my kids’ baskets tomorrow morning, I start giggling to myself, reflecting on the afternoon I had today. We did it again. We got excited! We stood in line. Our turn came. We freaked out. We left.

Same thing, different holiday.

I know there are a number of you out there who pride yourselves on the beautiful Easter and Christmas dresses that your children don every year. You’re the same people who have a lineup of annual 8x10s displaying your smiling angels next to our holiday mascots adorning your entryway. Your kids enjoy rabbits and bearded men who bring them gifts and candy, and why shouldn’t they? It’s tradition. It’s cute. And they’re kids. That’s what they’re for…to remind us all to believe in a little magic and negate the “reality” of a rabbit hopping solo around the world delivering baskets full of cocoa product or a jolly fellow with a flying sleigh who lives in the coldest part of the world with his plump wife, magical reindeer, and evidently no child labor laws.  It’s what’s supposed to be. It’s adorable. And it is not in the cards for my children. They hate them. They fear them. And they’re completely satisfied hearing OF them rather than sitting BY them.

Seriously, this must be what my kids see...

Seriously, this must be what my kids see…

It’s one of those things where I kind of secretly wish I had that lineup of photos, or maybe even one with them crying while Santa holds them with a look of anguish and dispair. I would even take one of those! But since day one, I haven’t been able to put my child through it when I knew they just really didn’t want to do it. I’ll get them close, and as soon as the hesitation sets in, I say, “OK, forget it. No big deal. Wave goodbye now.” I smile, and it’s fine, but deep down, MAN it woud be cute to get one adorable picture of my babies together with the  Northtown Mall bunny, who sports Harry Potter glasses and the cutest pastel blue corduroy vest I’ve ever seen on a rodent.

These were my thoughts today as I spoke with the super kind *bunny attendant (*probably not her real title). She asked me if I had filled out my photo purchase form yet while we were still in line. I told her I probably didn’t need a pen, and that she could trust me on this one. She tried to coax Coen to the front of the line with a snowglobe and I showed him the cool Easter coloring books the bunny was giving to kids who smiled nicely, to no avail. She tried asking Coen if he liked the Packers (thanks to his super-Eastery-sweatpants he selected for himself this morning) and he responded, but she said she couldn’t hear him and he’d have to come closer. He responded louder and she said she still couldn’t hear him and he’d have to come closer. This went on until I was almost embarrassed by my child’s volume so I told her, “He’s 3 1/2, but he’s no dummy. You’re probably not going to win this one.” Strike One. Finally it was our turn. I carried Mabel up to him and those tears started immediately. Wailing, horrible “I’m-going-to-get-kidnapped” tears. Strike Two. As I was nearing my end, I calmly asked Coen if he wanted to tell the Easter bunny what candy he likes or if he wanted to give him a high five. He actually had tears welling in his eyes as he slinked silently towards the exit, butt against the white picket fence, literally as far as he could get from that furry white lap within the perimeters to which he was currently bound. Poor kid. I took that as Strike Three and told the lady to just forget it.

I wasn’t frustrated. I wasn’t upset. I wasn’t surprised. I was mostly amused (and only minorly envious of the crazy lady behind me who basically had her kid in his satin baptism outfit sitting in a wooden Easter basket holding a stuffed lamb smiling reverently at the camera lady).

As I sit here tonight (ok, I opened the Reeses Pieces) cutting out rabbit footprints from construction paper and writing clues in my best bunny penmanship that will lead them to their shamefully overloaded Easter baskets, I know we have our own traditions. No two kids are the same and there’s not a darn thing we can do about it. I’ve been blessed with two rascals who despise holiday icons, and I’m going to have to make myself ok with that. It’s not the end of the world. In fact, it technically saves me money.

And who knows? Maybe someday we’ll get there and I will get that picture I’ve always dreamed of. But for now, I’ll have to take pride in my kid shouting, “I want Skittles!” from the top of his lungs at a minimum of 50 yards from the Easter Bunny. I am absolutely positive the bunny didn’t hear him, but I can rest assured that he’s definitely going to find Skittles in his basket tomorrow. Ahhhhhh…magic. 

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Keep Going, Mama

At some point in all of our lives, we were uprooted from the comforts of our home and tossed violently and without warning into the realms of our peers, being advised to share nicely, play gently, speak kindly, and listen carefully.  Thrown from the one and only nest we’ve ever known directly into the mouths of the wolves. When it comes to describing preschool from the perspective of a three-year-old, this is it. This is how it feels. And we’ve all done it. We’ve all been there. And we all survived.

This is what I try to tell myself every Tuesday and Wednesday morning when I pack Coen up to head out to school. “I survived. I made friends. I became social. He can do it. This is important. Keep going, mama. Keep going.” I pack his lunch, cutting PB&Js into rocket ships or putting a smiley face with chocolate chips on the bread. I gather coats, snowpants, boots, gloves, hats, fieldtrip forms, art projects, show-and-tell items and (assuming I remember) my laptop, purse and cell phone. Every preschool morning has been a cry-and-whine fest since he started a little over a month ago. He will get out of bed and sit on the couch in his pull-up and pajamas, waiting for his pancakes and banana or whatever other random concoction of breakfast crap I can pull together that could be deemed “healthy” by your neighborhood pediatrician. He will eat it slowly (seriously, like he’s chewing cement-based molasses), so I’ll say, “Coen, eat up. We need to get you to school.” That’s when it hits him. It’s a SCHOOL day. Here come the waterworks. Every morning. I hear this. Every. Single. Morning.

Coen’s preschool photo – STUD

“Why do I haaaaaaave to go to schooooool? I don’t want you to gooo to woooooork.” Every morning he asks Nate why he has to go to work. And every morning, he hears, “To make money.” Logical. Sensible. Correct answer, actually. Buuuuut, doesn’t go over so hot on a preschooler. So, we tried ignoring the questions and the whining. We tried answering all of his questions. We tried redirection, bribery and straight-up lying. Nothing worked (big shocker). After our worst morning drop-off in the history of the existence of preschool, his teacher Kathy asked me a bunch of questions about his behaviors at home. Is he OK when our plans change abruptly? Does he deal well with not getting his way? Is there any jealousy regarding his little sister? I answered her and she looked perplexed. He seems normal and happy at home. She told me it seems that he has slight separation anxiety because he cries a lot throughout the day and needs constant reassurance that we’ll be returning. Well, if that don’t make a mama feel like a puddle of sadness, I don’t know what does! So, I told her I would work on it. And I meant it, darn it.

So, I did. I went home and researched online. I read and read and read. The last thing I wanted was for my child to be miserable on the days we weren’t with him, especially while being surrounded by toys, teachers, and friends. I wanted him to thrive and grow and socialize and learn and speak up and make some little buddies that he could talk about at the dinner table. I was bound and determined to work on this with him, and I spent the next few days doing just that.

After a night of staying up late in bed trying to get inside the head of my child, I think I put some pieces together. He’s sensitive. He’s one of the most sensitive and emotional children I’ve ever known. He doesn’t like to see people sad. He comforts and hugs, yet yearns for his own attention. He lashes out to get attention, sometimes in ways that are not what you good parents would call “appropriate.” He knows we will be back to get him – I knew that wasn’t the problem. He’s not a dense child. So, after hours of staring at the baby pictures on the wall and picking ungodly amounts of dirt from under my fingernails, I had a plan!

The next morning, I promised the kids a trip to the Children’s Museum, but we needed to make some stops along the way. Exciting, right? Our stops were going to be to both my and Nate’s offices. I wanted Coen to experience, in person, what we do all day and to see that we enjoy where we go and who we see. At my office, we walked around and talked to all the super fun people and took candy out of all the jars within his reach and I even let him play at my computer for a while to see how fun that could be. We filled (and refilled) our cup at the water cooler, high-fived the tallest guy in the building, and walked out with a Buzz Lightyear Pez dispenser. Now, who wouldn’t love THAT job?

Our next stop was Nate’s office, or as I call it: “Silent Hill.” Nate was happy to have us come in and see his new office space, freshly redecorated with photos of the kids and a calendar I made him last Christmas. His cube-mate had window decals of Snoopy and Woodstock, which Coen thought was pretty cool. He was introduced to some of daddy’s friends and got to sit in the spinny chair for a good long time eating candy he still had stashed in his pocket from the aforementioned candy jars. This place was pretty cool too, he decided. Then, it was off to the Children’s Museum. Phase I complete. Comfort.

On our drive to the museum, I told him how much fun we have at our jobs and that he never ever has to worry about us when he is at school because we are with our friends and having a great time, so he should have a great time too. Yes, it was a bit of a stretch, but you stretch what you gotta stretch to give peace of mind to those who need it most. But, hey, I like me some candy jars and I’m a pretty big fan of the water cooler myself, so it’s not like I was LYING.

Coen’s over-stickered calendar

Later that night, we sat at the table and cut out colored squares to paste on to a calendar. This was meant to show him visually which days are school days and which days are stay-at-home days. We crammed an envelope full of stickers to place on each day as it passes so we can look forward to the next one. Now, on the eves of school days (or the “white days”), we talk about what’s going to happen the next day and how much fun he’s going to have. He knows that I’m going to my work, daddy’s going to his work, and Mabel is going to her daycare. And all of us are going there to play with our friends. And on the eves of our at-home days (or the “red days”), we talk about what anticipated activity we have going on the next morning. Regardless of the fact that it’s been less than two weeks and we’ve gone through about $14 in stickers, Phase II complete. Preparation.

Lately in our house, we’ve been watching a lot of Clifford the Big Red Dog, and there’s an episode where Clifford PROMISES his buddy T-bone that he will watch over his pile of leaves while he runs home for a minute. Clifford can’t help but jump into the leaves and then feels guilty, so he walks all over Birdwell Island trying to locate every last one of T-bone’s special, brown, crunchy leaves (it’s really a ridiculous plot line since we all know T-bone would never know the difference between his leaves and any other random leaf on the island! But dogs can’t talk either so that shoots my deductive cartoon-dog argumentation in the foot). Anyway, it’s about only keeping promises you can keep (yes, that was my point). So, before bed, I’ll ask Coen if he is going to be happy at school tomorrow. He always says yes and I make him promise. He says, “Yes. I promise.” So, the next morning, when he starts whining or being sad, we will remind him of that promise and 80% of the time, he will change his attitude and put on his best face for the day. Phase III complete. Declaration. Thank you, Clifford.

I know he’s still young, and I know it’s only been a month. I just don’t want him to have bad memories of school or associate unpleasant thoughts with what-could’ve-been friendships. He’s only three, but the force is strong with this one, so I’m sure his memory will be better than that of the average Joe. I only remember one fleeting moment from my preschool days (where I was blindfolded and told to walk with a cane while holding a friend’s hand so I could feel what it was like to be blind. Yeah, nothing scary about that!), so I just don’t want Coen’s fleeting moment to be a sad one.

Our Progress Report – Yay Coen! Yay Mom and Dad!

We have had three good drop-offs since we started this new routine and I don’t expect it to last forever, but I’m loving where it’s gotten us so far. The teachers have said he hasn’t cried at all and rarely asks about his parents (victory!). We hear stories about Addy, Audrey and Evan over dinner at night, and we’ve been asked to play “calendar helper” with him while he imitates the teachers and we get reprimanded for not raising our hands.

This morning was my icing on an already well-frosted cake. He got out of the car, walked himself up the stairs without a tear, and greeted his teacher with a huge, dimpled smile. I took off his coat and mittens, holding my breath waiting for the melt-down (it’s habit, OK?). I hung up his coat, signed him in on the binder, gave him a hug and started to walk away. He looked at me when I turned back around and smiled reassuringly, then waved and shouted, “Bye mommy. Have fun with your friends!” And off he went.

He is a growing little boy and I’m such a proud mom. I know he has beautiful wings. Sometimes he just needs a little push to know that it’s safe to spread them. Children are forever a challenge and when it’s not one thing, it’s another. Embrace the challenges and know that you will get through them if you work as a team and you work HARD. No one said this was easy. And on the days that you just want to throw in the towel, just remember: “I survived. This is important. Keep going, mama. Keep going.”

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Ruby (came on a) Tuesday

“She would never say where she came from
Yesterday don’t matter if it’s gone
While the sun is bright
Or in the darkest night
No one knows.”
~ The Rolling Stones, “Ruby Tuesday”

My little sister had a heckuva pregnancy. Pretty similar to my last one with the vomiting and the lethargy, but with (what seemed to be) a massive amount of additional hormones! There were times she felt alone. There were times she felt like a first-time mom-to-be who was pissed that her body was falling apart and her husband “could never understand.” There were times she felt confused, afraid, abandoned, inadequate or unsure. And I always got a phone call at these times, and with every one, I hung up and prayed that the day would come quickly so she could experience all the new wonderful times and have all these old questionable times fade into the distance. That day came…six days past due date. Not as quickly as I had prayed, but regardless…

Pretty mama-to-be, ready to meet her little girl

The story of my new niece goes like this.

Julie was overdue by four days, so when my phone rang at 11:45 pm on October 14, I had a feeling this was it. She had what I couldn’t tell was fear or excitement in her voice as she told me she was having contractions and Lance was going to take her to the hospital. Months earlier, I was honored to accept their request to be in the delivery room to help welcome baby girl into the world. I was anxious and fearful of the unknown (being that my children failed to exit via va-jay-jay like babies are rumored to do). She told me over the phone that I didn’t have to come to the hospital yet because they had to determine whether her water was broken and there was a possibility she might be sent back home. I doubted it, packed my own bag, threw my hair into a ponytail, put on a sports bra, kissed my husband and sprinted out the door knowing full well I wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway. I arrived at the hospital and made my way to the Family Birth Center, slightly embarrassed to realize I beat them there. I walked around looking for a soda machine to kill time. I felt silly. Finally, I got a call from Julie that they were getting things checked in Triage and that I could come down if I wanted to. My feelings were dithering because I didn’t want to be an imposition during these memorable moments. I wanted Lance to have his time. But I wanted to support. So, I said a big-sister “screw it” and went.

After determining she was there for the duration, the staff moved them to a room in the Birth Center. This would be the room where everything went down – well, everything except the physical birth of the baby, but more on that later.

Me and Lance enjoying some time together while waiting…and waiting…

It was a true test of patience waiting for her to dilate. Around 4 am, my parents arrived (to no surprise). They helped to keep the mood light, telling fun stories and keeping things calm. With every contraction, we held our breaths and hoped for the best. Julie was already so strong (also to no surprise). That first day was a bit of a haze – I know we sat through lot of abnormally-painful contractions and determined she was experiencing the misery that is “back labor.” I remember shopping in the gift shop, purchasing lots of coffee, and getting paninis with my parents in the downstairs cafe for dinner. I recall my husband bringing our kids for a visit and explaining to Coen that he was going to have a new cousin soon. I text messaged lots and lots (and LOTS) of people who were checking in on the status of mom and baby.

One of the moments I recall most fondly from that day was when Julie was nearing push-time and family was waiting in the lounge unsure whether they could continue to visit or not. My Aunt Dawn came in to give a final good-luck hug and broke down in tears. She looked at me and said, “It’s just so wonderful when your babies have babies.” I cannot yet imagine it, but still…I believed her. I’m already so proud of my kids at their young ages. When they grow up and start a family with someone they love unconditionally and you just know they will be raised with an over-abundance of care, kindness and compassion – how can there be a better feeling than that? Thanks, Dawn. You made me teary for the first time during the whole ordeal.

Followed by a close second: Mom was in the room with us, and she knew it was almost go-time, but I could tell she didn’t want to leave. And I didn’t blame her one bit. “OK, I’m going to go now and you’re going to experience all this horrendous pain but there’s nothing I can do about it, so yeah, peace out, kid,” said no mom EVER. Mom had back labor with my brother and told me earlier that day that was her biggest fear for her. When it became a reality, you could just read the fear in her eyes. She kissed Julie good luck and gave me a hug. I held on to mom. And held and held. I don’t know if it’s because I knew she was scared, or if it’s because I was scared, or both. She told me to coach as best I knew how, and I told her I’d take good care of them. It’s rare that I see my mom cry, so I knew she was distressed. Who could blame her? I get frazzled when Mabel’s foot gets caught in her crib rails, and that’s not even in the same pain ballpark as pushing a human out’cho lady parts!

Mom, Dawn and I surrounding Julie with love, love and more love

At 11:40 pm on October 15, the nurses told her she could start pushing. Lance and I manned our posts, one on each side of the bed, apprehensive of our roles and scared out of our freaking gourds. In the next three hours, my sister pushed and groaned and cried. She remained positive for much longer than I ever would have, and in moments of pride, would even make jokes (like when the nurse complimented her latest push and she responded in an Elvis voice, “Thank you, thank you very much”). She wailed in a way I’ve never heard a human wail because she thought her back was breaking. We heard all the cliche TV-sitcom phrases including “I can’t do this anymore,” “I need more drugs,” and “Why aren’t they just using the vacuum?!” Every three minutes, I held up a leg and supported her neck and I remember after two hours, no sleep and no food caught up with me at the most inopportune time. I was going to throw up. I grabbed a stool and sat on it between contractions, doing everything I could to draw zero attention to my side of the bed. Lance looked at me from across the bed and mouthed silently, “Are you OK?” I nodded and we were right back to it. No time for rest. No time for distractions. No time for ANYthing but focusing on crossing that finish line.

In this babython, Julie was running hard but losing steam. She had two worried cheerleaders and a coach who kept leaving the room. Seeing the frustration grow in her face, I told the nurse that she needed to stick around and rattle off some sort of mile-markers – give her something to aim for. Being there for someone so close to you makes those moments easier because your similarities give you the answers you need since you’re doing for her exactly what you’d want her to be doing for you. Did that make sense? Basically, you know what they need to hit their end goal. TELL her what’s happening, even if it’s nothing. Is anything progressing?  Tell her. Something. Anything. And they did.

They told her that baby girl wasn’t going to come out on her own and she needed a C-section. First person I looked at was Lance. Stone-faced. No expression. White as a ghost. Discouraged. I feel the same way, bro. Nothing is harder to hear. And poor Jules was beyond distraught, sobbing because you’re angry they didn’t say that hours earlier or that you put in so much work. After all your efforts. After being told everything was looking good. After trying SO darn hard. It’s not going to happen that way.

Julie just kept saying she wanted the baby out. I think she felt some relief amidst all the anguish. Lance and I got our scrubs on so we could join her in the operating room. I sat down on the long bench in the room and put my head between my legs, staring at the floor. That’s when it happened – I cried. And I cried and cried and cried and cried. It was a helpless cry that stemmed from the past 30 hours, watching one of the people I love most in the world go through hell and high water to see what she’s been anticipating for nine long months. I knew the baby was going to come out safely – I wasn’t afraid. I was exhausted. And disappointed. And hungry. And tired. And caught myself wondering if there was anything I could’ve done that would’ve made the whole process easier for her.  Julie snapped me out of it when she screamed in my direction, “Nic, are you low?” Leave it to her to be concerned about my well-being when hers was still in turmoil. I snapped back, “No, I’m not low. I’m just catching up on my emotions.” Nice to know sisters can still bicker even at that stage in the game.

Big Brother Lucas gives Lance and Julie some much-needed support

Lance sent me out to report to the family. I didn’t know if the timing was right since I was still gasping like a hyena on oxygen. I pushed open the doors and saw both moms waiting in the entryway, staring at me with blank zombie-like eyes. “After all that…,” I raged…”After all that, three hours of pushing and back labor, they’re telling her she has to have a (curse word curse word) C-section!” I caught Lance’s brother’s eyes welling ever so slightly. This is a guy who could easily be mistaken for an NFL linebacker, and to see him emotional was just the justification I needed to realize I wasn’t completely out of line here. I told them we’d be back with a baby and off I went.

Scene: The Operating Room. I stood back a few steps to let Lance hold her hand and talk to her through the oxygen mask. Long story short, they tried two doses of numbing medication to no avail. The second time she shouted, “I can STILL FEEL THAT!” I lost it (again) right there under the bright surgery lights. I sputtered loudly, “What the HELL?” Sensing my tension (or maybe she did it as a preventative measure fearing I was going to beat up the anesthesiologist?), a nurse came over and gave me a frail, tender hug. I know I asked  her why Julie had to be in so much pain and when it was going to end, but I don’t think she gave me an answer (probably also afraid that, by saying “to get a baby out” and “soon,” would’ve led to more swinging. She may have been right.). After attempt #2, they told us she had to be put completely under to successfully cut her open. And that was that. To the hall we went.

Julie being wheeled off to surgery with Lance staggering behind

Standing in the hall with Lance was the part I was most hesitant to document in this blog. Not because it was necessarily good or bad, but because it was indescribable. In those moments, I watched a man’s heart ache – crying with his forehead against the wall – because he loves his wife so much that her unbearable pain was his unbearable pain; I saw a man – always so pulled-together and level-headed – completely lose his cool and swear uncontrollably out of sheer frustration and fear. And then, 12 minutes after we were booted from the room, I witnessed a man become a father – his tears of fret transforming into tears of pride in a matter of seconds. We entered the small room lined with scrub nurses and incubators and I stood paralyzed by this little girl’s perfection. Crushing my gigantic camera into my hipbone, Lance embraced me with such a sense of relief I could literally feel it in his arms. To prevent  further paralysis, I started snapping photos. The greatest gift my sister gave to me during the birth of Coen was the pictures she captured when Nate first met his son. I wanted to reciprocate. I took photos of her feet, her hands, her chin, her wrinkles. I took photos of her skin – first purple, then red, then perfect. Lance stood back and watched the nurses clean her off, wipe her down, check her inners and outers. I remember Nate telling me he didn’t know if he could touch Coen during this time, so I leaned in and told Lance, “You can touch her if you want.” I took photos of their first connection. In that moment, I was dumbfounded with love, so tremendously honored that I got to be there for it all. There really are no words.

A father’s first touch – October 16, 4:17 am

Her name was Ruby. She was born on a Tuesday.

In their lyrics, The Rolling Stones want to know where Ruby Tuesday came from? I got a good glimpse and I know that this child came from love…

…She came from a mother’s dedication and unwillingness to quit.

…She came from a father’s heart, beaming and refilled.

…She came from 24 hours of contractions, three hours of pushing, two loving parents, and one adoring auntie. No, I didn’t help “make” her, it’s true. But, I witnessed the beginning of her life and vowed at that time that I would do anything on God’s green earth to protect her, keep her safe and happy, surround her with cousins, love and laughter.

Me and Ruby

My little goddaughter. Ruby Marie, born on a Tuesday. You brought a special light into our lives and I look forward to seeing what you’ll do with that light as you grow older. Aim high, be strong, don’t quit, play smart, speak your mind, marry kind, follow your heart, live full. And laugh. Never forget to laugh. I love you, little one.

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The Dandelion Debacle

The other day, Coen and I were playing outside before heading to the store. We were chasing each other around the yard when he looked down, paused and forcefully plucked a dandelion from the ground. He sprinted towards me yelling, “Mommy, Mommy!” As he got closer, he handed me the yellow weed and said, “I got you a yellow flower. Smell it.” I did, and it smelled like dirt and RoundUp. But, my reaction said it smelled like rainbows and unicorns. “Oh, Coen! This is the prettiest flower mommy has ever gotten. I love it so much, I promise to keep it forever and ever and ever.” What I really meant was, “That was one of the sweetest gestures my child has ever shown me and I want that moment to be engrained in my mind forever and ever and ever.”  But, that’s not what came out. And, that’s not what he heard. And that is all that matters.

I took my dandelion with me in to the car after pulling Coen up to his car seat and buckling him in. On the way to the store, I lodged the dandelion in the air conditioner vent below the radio and told him that’s where I plan on keeping it so I can look at it and think of him all the time. He smiled proudly and went back to loudly pointing out building colors outside his window. He didn’t mention it again for the rest of the night.

My pretty yellow flower

Two days later, I got in my car to drive to work and noticed my “pretty flower” looked like a yellow raisin. Definitely worthy of a garbage can. So that’s where it went – in to the garbage can. The next morning was trash day and off it went, to the city dump. An hour later, I packed the kids in the car to run some errands. I turned around to see Coen’s face drop in disappointment and, with a furrowed brow and wrinkled nose, he screamed, “Mommy, the flower! It’s GONE!” It was as if someone had decapitated Elmo right in front of his face. Something that meant so much to mommy three days earlier was now missing and that was not OK in the eyes of a two-year-old. He heard me say “I promise” and “forever and ever and ever” and those words really mean something to an innocent toddler. I threw that promise in the trash, sent it to the city dump, and didn’t think twice about it because, in my eyes, a dandelion is a dandelion and the neighborhood is far too full of them anyway.

When you become a parent, every sentence needs to be much more carefully crafted than they were sans child. Words need to be chosen with a (much) stronger filter for fear of repetition. What used to come out as “Christina Aguilera dresses like a homeless crack-whore” now needs to be expressed more delicately. “Christina Aguilera sure has an interesting taste in skin-tight, low-cut sequin bikini tops.” Then, to kill two birds with one stone, you can tack on your own “I hope” intro to subtly let your kids know your take on the situation. “I sure hope my daughter never buys clothes like that.” (I say it two inches from Mabel’s face in hopes that, even though she’s only three months old, she might pick up on my lecture.)

Every parent experiences that moment when you realize your kid is much more perceptible than you give them credit for. In my case, it could’ve been when I asked my pregnant nanny if she wanted to use my extra box of breast pads and Coen looked up from his morning toast and said, “You want a prest bads, Danielle?” It could’ve been when Aunt Julie (my role model sister) pretended to throw horse poop at Coen and he randomly shouted, “Mommy, there’s horse poop on your face!” in the grocery store. Or, it could’ve been when I scolded Coen for saying the word “stupid” and two minutes later, I told Nate something he said was “stupid” and…well, you can tell how this story of Mommy the Hypocrite is going to end.

The point of this story is that every parent does it, but the truly great ones feel guilty when it happens. Raising children is one of the world’s most accurate self-reflectors. We can all do our best to avoid cursing unnecessarily at crappy rush-hour drivers, tapping our dog on the butt when she barks during nap time, and complaining obsessively about your job on those truly horrible work days. A kid picks up on everything, including your behavior, your attitude, your temperament, and your phrases. Take the good ones as mini success stories, like when they drop an unsolicited “I love you” or add “please” to the end of “I want a cookie.” So, choose wisely. And always remember that accepting something as a lie is not an option at their age. If you say it, you mean it. A promise is a promise. Take it from me and my yellow weed…er, flower.

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Time to brush up the old playbook

I asked my husband tonight, “Which is considered a better defense in basketball? Man-on-man or zone?” I, of course, got a convoluted response (for those of you who know Nathan) that went around in circles with no definitive answer, but overall, what I took from his feedback was, “They can both be considered ‘better’ if done correctly.” Well, I’ll be darned. That whole correlation of sports defense to child rearing may actually be on to something.

So, I’ve been tossing and turning a bit more at night lately and I’m pretty sure that my constant is always the same: TWO. Holy crap, we’re gonna have TWO! For those of you who are bad at math, two is twice as many as one. You’re subtracting no work, no time, no money, no energy. Rather, you are doing quite the opposite with two. You are doubling your workload, splitting your time, dividing your money, and doubling your exhaustion. Get the point? Yes, this has me slightly concerned. And knowing that I’m halfway there, and only have a precious few 20 weeks remaining in man-on-man defense mode with my kid, I’m wondering how it will all work out.

So many moments as of late in life have me bustin’ out in a cold sweat. Example: Tonight, Nate and I took Coen and my lovely sister Julie to the Mall of America for a night of shopping, rides, and dinner. Again, do the math: that’s three on one. We chased, we hunted down, we entertained, we rode spinning rides, we cleaned up spilled milk, spilled apple juice and spilled gatorade. We shopped in approximately two stores and spent approximately $10. We walked to the car at 8:30 p.m. and the only one left in a dead sprint was the toddler. Explain that one to me. There were THREE of us! I got in the car, leaned back in the chair, pointed to my stomach and said, “When this one comes, I’m never leaving the house again.” Matter of fact. But, good gravy, I hope it’s not true.

Other times, I just wonder HOW it all works. As in, how do you share your time and love? I remember when we announced we were pregnant on Facebook and an old high school friend, who had just had her second, wrote me a message that said these comforting words: “Take it from someone who knows, how truly big a heart can grow. Gosh, we loved Lou so much and then when Mac came along, our hearts got even bigger.” This message runs through my mind every time I catch myself staring at my child in his high chair, just cutting up his hot dog and talking to himself. How can I love him so much and then just be expected to love someone ELSE that much? Seems so unfair. Seems so impossible. But, seems like everyone manages to do it somehow.

I’m guessing it’s just a natural transformation, like when you go from single-to-couple or couple-to-dog or dog-to-first-born. Not comparing my child to a dog, but it worries me a bit to think of the back shelf our poor puppy took when Coen was born. I have scrapbook pages filled with dog park pictures, she had an extensive collection of collars and bones and I don’t think we ever planned much of a vacation without making sure it was “pet-friendly” first. Along came baby and poof! Chloe spends weekends at the neighbors’ houses while we leave town (humans only), she owns literally one collar (and my cousin bought it for her), and the last spread I scrapbooked that was designated to only dog was about 200 pages ago. It’s sad, but oh so true. Now, before you go calling the ASPCA on us, know that we still love her madly and walk her regularly and buy her treats and groom her monthly, but I’m just saying, her rank may have dropped a bit when the little disruptive human arrived. So, my worry is just that – will baby one back shelf to baby two like our adorable puppy back shelfed to baby one? Coen is such a character that I can’t imagine that being even remotely possible, but it’s a pregnant woman’s fear and it’s being expressed to the world now. Super. That NEVER bites me in the ass. (Does this blog detect sarcasm?)

I have a lot of friends who recently evolved into four-person families, and they are very good at scaring the bejeesus out of me. One friend regularly reminds me that having two isn’t just doubling your work. It’s more than doubling your work. It’s like going from one to five instantaneously. (I would like to point out that this friends’ children are small brunette devil spawn, but that’s beside the point). Or IS that the point? Is it in how you handle the situation? Is it how you discipline, care, behave and react? Does it have anything to do with the impression you make? Kids are impressionable – no doubt about it (the other day, Coen squatted in the grass and said, “Coen poop in grass like Chloe”), but it all comes back to nature vs. nurture and how much personality really does take over. I just hope to God this child is calm like her brother and our lives remain somewhat peaceful and serene. Well, that’s a lot to hope for. Maybe I just hope no one calls my children “devil spawn” in their blog someday. That would satisfy me, I suppose.

When I finish panicking about altering our current playbook, I think about the good things. I swear on my grandfather’s grave, I could not have gotten through this much of life without the help and love and assistance and patience and lessons and pure moments of joy that I credit to my fabulous siblings. Those relationships are unbreakable and that bond is so strong. To imagine growing up without them, I know I would not be the person I am today. I want that for my son. I want that for my daughter. I want them to feel that sense of protection (like when my first date arrived at the house and my then-16-year-old brother came out of his room wearing boxers and a furrowed brow and asked where he was taking me) and that ability to care so much it hurts (like the urge I’d get to hire a hit man every time I’d get a crying phone call from my sister about some jackass that broke her heart). I want that for my kids.

Watching Coen play by himself and use his little imagination never fails to make me smile, but his joys will be so much more substantial when he has someone to share it with. This I know from experience. I can’t wait to create that for my child.

So in closing, I’m ok with a change in defense. A little hesitant about learning some new plays, but really excited to introduce some new players! If they can learn to play the game, and we can learn to play the game, the game will only get better. At least that’s what my husband says. And I’m starting to believe him. So, let’s avoid injuries, keep the fouls to a minimum, continue to practice hard, and GAME ON, people – cuz life’s clock ain’t stopping for nobody!

Coen entertains himself. Now, tell me THIS KID doesn’t need a sibling?!

Let’s get reacquainted…

Well, well, well…time marches on. Time marches on at a harder and faster pace than I ever knew time could march. For those of you who may not know, thus have obviously avoided my friend requests on Facebook or hide my statuses about puke and mood swings, Nate and I are expecting Baby Brunner #2. Believe it, folks. I’m 20 weeks pregnant with our second little person. 20 weeks have come and gone, and I have neglected to write one blog post about it. We are truly over-the-moon excited about our new adventure, which is scheduled to arrive February 5, 2012. I don’t know that I want to rehash the last 20 weeks or not, but I’ll summarize for those of you who I don’t frequent on the telephone with my tales of terror:

Weeks 1-4: Didn’t know a thing was happening inside my body. Drank wine.

Weeks 5-7: Took a positive test with my parents in the house, alone in the bathroom. Didn’t tell a soul until they left. Pounced on Nate as he walked up the staircase and blurted out the news. His face was priceless. Coen learned to point to my belly and say “baby.” Of course, he also pointed to his own belly and said “baby,” but that’s neither here nor there.

Week 8: I hemorrhaged and thought we had lost our baby. On a VERY serious note, I would like to let all mothers who have lost a baby know that I’m so sincerely sorry and I respect and appreciate your strength to get through such a painful and unexplainable loss. Mine was a hemorrhage, and for that I am grateful. But the fear is something I can never put into words. My heart goes out to you strong, courageous and beautiful mothers.

Weeks 9-17:  Oh dear me oh my. I may never forget this time in my life, nor do I long to repeat it. During these 8 weeks, Nate was a single dad while I spent large chunks of my day in bed hovered over a red mop bucket. My son brought me toy tractors and talking Elmo dolls as comforting devices when I was hanging over the toilet, forcing a tear-filled smile to reassure him “mommy’s just fine.” I threw up out the door of my vehicle onto newly-cemented construction sites. I threw up under the daughter of the company presidents’ Volkswagon. I threw up on my new purple maternity dress (this one still bums me out). I threw up in a Target bag all the way from the 394 tunnel to the driveway of our house. I threw up in the doctor’s office sink. I threw up in a JC Penney garbage can with my arms full of pillows (only this one included slight flatulence and a very entertained sales clerk). At week 10, I dug out maternity pants because I am growing twelve billion times faster this time than I did with Coen. Overall, I would say this needs to qualify as a pretty dreadful couple of months. However, on August 6, my beautiful baby sister got married and it was one of the happiest days of my life. And God gave me a 24-hour vomit-hiatus, so I partied til 3 a.m. and kept down my cake and everything was absolutely perfect! Sunday, I threw up again, but my 24 hours had expired, so I couldn’t complain.

Me with the most beautiful bride

Week 18:Level II Ultrasound. The moment so many women wait for. I was no exception. I had absolutely no idea if I wanted a boy or a girl this time around, so I don’t know where my anxiety was stemming from. I went to bed wanting a girl, I woke up wanting a boy, and the cycle continued until I was lying in the straddle-bed with cold goop on my stomach and Nate’s hand firmly holding mine. The moment of truth. I knew Nate wanted a girl. He was shy about making it verbal, but it was relatively obvious throughout the whole pregnancy. As the ultrasound tech was skimming the baby that morning, I swore I saw a

little boy-part, but kept it to myself. “Yup, we’re having another boy,” I convinced myself in my head. My mind raced to thoughts of Coen and a brother, playing baseball and wrestling and doing other little boy things that little boys do together. I was content with that life in my head. But, then I turned to look at Nate, and I saw something in his face. Something that made my head turn to the skies (sometimes I’m not even sold on what or who is up there, but I’m assuming it’s a higher power that calms me down in moments of panic) and said a mini-prayer: “Please give my husband a baby girl. He deserves this and so much more.” Seconds later, the tech made it known: IT’S A GIRL. Before I could reflect on my obvious inabilities to read ultrasound penises, I was caught in a moment with Nathan. He squeezed my hand a little tighter and we both had eyes full of tears. We had gotten our wish. It was a Top-10 Life Moment. Hands down.

Coen practicing his big brother skillz

Weeks 19-20: Feeling much better. Second trimester has truly kicked in. I’ve started ordering purple decorations for the nursery and buying clothes in all shades of pink (no, seriously, there’s like a million shades of pink!). We have names picked out, but are still taking suggestions. I’m staying up later than my 2-year-old again. The smell of baby poop no longer sends me to the dreaded land of porcelain. Life is good again. It was good before, but now it’s really good. Still working on some things…I can’t say this is his fault, but according to all my books, “intimacy is supposed to resurface” this trimester. Now, although I still fit into my “cute” undies, unfortunately that alone does not blind my husband from the horrific visuals and sound accompaniment from Weeks 9-17 noted above. I was far from pretty, and I’m working on getting that back. But, other than that, we’re well on our way to normalcy again. Well, normalcy as we now know it.

There’s your recap, friends and strangers. Now that we are caught up, I hope to get to writing here again. Life is a balancing act these days and blogging has taken its spot on the back burner. But hopefully this will change. Too many good life moments that make great stories to not share with those who either relate or just enjoy laughing at me (notice, I did say “at me” – not “with me” – I’m not naive).

February will be here before we know it, but I’m pretty positive that pregnant life, mixed with two-year-old tantrums, will provide me enough material to write a novel or two. So, brace yourselves…we’ve officially been reacquainted.

(Please Don’t) Throw Mama from the Train

Mother: A unique specimen of female origin who births, protects, nourishes, guides, and worries for her young until her death (and probably thereafter).

This is not Webster’s definition of the word, I understand that. But, on this fine and beautiful holiday – a holiday that holds a special place in my heart – this is what a mother is. A protector. A worrier. A leader. A woman deserving of her own day…a warm and fuzzy day called MOTHERS Day. So, let me start out by wishing all the moms I know out there a VERY merry and relaxing, clean and inviting, breakfast-in-bed kind of Mother’s Day. You all know who you are, so do me a favor and pat yourselves on the back and know that I love your children (yes, ALL of them) and think you’re doing a phenomenal job in raising them. Lift a glass full of vino (the real kind – not grape juice, cheaters!) and be proud on this day. You’re surviving. You’re incredible. You’re someone’s superhero.

Speaking of superheroes, I’m going to touch on a subject that I’ve been avoiding in my writing for quite some time because I THINK I may have gotten past it. Maybe. My son is a toddler. He goes through phases. Spurts of likes and dislikes. One day he can’t eat his carrots fast enough and the next he finds more joy sticking them up his nostrils. One minute he is laughing hysterically at my rendition of Itsy Bitsy Spider, and seconds later it’s like a scene from Arachnophobia. I’m not asking you to explain toddlers to me. I know how they operate. That doesn’t make it less frustrating. But, every day Coen has the same superhero – his daddy. Nate is my best friend and as close a replicate of my own father as I could’ve married, so it’s no wonder I love him so much. He is sensitive and charming, funny and intelligent, and really freaking youthful. Which is EXACTLY why Coen is madly, truly, deeply in love with the guy! It makes perfect sense. And I can’t say I blame him.

Where my sadness sets in a bit (and this isn’t meant to be a pity-party…especially on Mother’s Day) is with this “phase” he’s been going through. First of all, phases don’t last 14 months, so I’m thinking people just call it that to make me feel better. Secondly, I am 99.9% sure I’ve never done anything to make him resent or fear me. But, for some reason, he has preferred his daddy for quite some time now. He’s the go-to for bedtime routines, book reading, bath time, and wagon rides. Sure, Nate pops wheelies with the wagon and makes a mean cup of milk, but I use sweet-ass voices when I read and my bath time bubbles totally make better Santa beards. It’s not a competition, this I know. I’m just proving the point that I do things equally as well, and for some reason, the boy prefers the man. And this might be how it’s gonna be. Maybe for a little while. Maybe for a long while.

Every time I convince myself that I’m over it or I don’t care and refuse to let it bother me, it simply eats away at me until I wind up crying in the bathroom because I sat too close to him on the couch and he screams and cowers into his father’s arms like I’m a 900-pound yeti who eats small dimpled children. Yeah, that’ll yank violently on some heartstrings. And of course, since one cannot share said emotions with a two-year-old, your marriage gets tested because you feel like something must not be written fairly in your parenting handbook to make him have such an obvious and dominant preference.

Mostly, the reason I cry is that I want him to WANT me. I want to be the one who kisses his owies and rocks him to sleep. I guess I just want to know that he needs me on some level. Not just to cut his spaghetti and fold his little sweatpants, but to do those things I defined above – protect him and guide him and beat up any poorly-raised punks that cause him harm.  It’s obvious his daddy would do all those things too, but we’re a team and we’re both here for him til death do us part. So, I try not to let it get me down, and every once in awhile I have moments – super-amazing Mother’s Day moments – that wash away any festering fears of neglect or favoritism.

Tonight Nate took us out for dinner to Tino’s Italian Cafe. We dined on spaghetti and meatballs and buttered noodles – a fine Mother’s Day feast. Now, I’m not sure what started this, but halfway through dinner Coen reached out and grabbed my shirt and pulled me towards him until I was nearly on top of the poor kid. It’s possible he was intimidated by the large and hairy goodfella behind the counter, or maybe he just needed a cloth napkin in the form of an expensive plaid Gap button-down, but my shirt was now greased up from little paws and I felt so very needed. I would pull away to try and take a few bites of my meal, and he would put his hand on my back and pull me back towards him. There was no way I was getting more than 3 inches away from this kid’s buttery head for the remainder of our dinner. And truth be told, I LOVED every MINUTE. He was slimy and he was mine.

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At that moment, he wanted me near him (like, tauntingly-“I’m-not-touching-you,-I’m-not-touching-you” near him, but near him nonetheless). Those moments during that meal erased all recent thoughts I’ve had at bath time, bedtime, story time or wagon time. This kid needs me. He loves me. He does know that I’m here for him. And, no, I couldn’t have taken down the mobster behind the counter should he have gone all “Godfather” on us, but Coen doesn’t know that. In his eyes, his parents are invincible and that is a standard to not be taken lightly. We are his protectors. His leaders. His role models. We are his owie-kissers and his wagon-pullers. We are his parents. And today, on this grand holiday, I was his SUPERMOTHER! I ate it up right along with my spaghetti and will never forget the fun we had.

And in case anyone was wondering, the actual Webster’s definition of the verb “Mothering” is:

Bring up with care and affection; look after kindly and protectively, sometimes excessively so.

Looks like Webster knows what he’s talking about. That guy should write a book.

Happy Mother’s Day, ladies! Live it up and enjoy the ride.

This post is fondly dedicated to MY beautiful mother, Dar Machler. Most kind-hearted soul this world has ever seen. Mom, Mother’s Day was made for saints like you. All my love.

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Change and the changes that changed me

Me and my little change-causer

I’ve been a mother for 18 months. That’s twice the amount of time it took me to grow him. And, now he’s here and he’s crazy and he’s 31 pounds of pure emotion, and truth be told, I couldn’t love anything more.

But, the other night, I was lying in bed thinking about the way things were before baby and it struck me – damn near everything in my life has changed in these past 18 months. I think it’s just the way I look at life now. My first thought immediately goes to Coen and how whatever I’ve done or am about to do will affect him.

While before I would ride the party bus til 4 a.m. and order pizza afterward in a drunken stupor, I now wish to be asleep by 11 and am lucky to down a half a glass of wine without getting a nasty hangover. If my phone rings in the middle of the night, maternal Nicki instantly assumes someone’s hurt and answers the phone in a huffy panicked voice, skipping the hello altogether and jumping right to the “What’s happened and how can I help!?” Old Nicki would answer the phone with a sleepy “Hellllo?” assuming it was just another drunk dial from her friendly happy hour leftovers. When I’m sick, I no longer loathe in self-pity, but rather lock myself in my room and hope to God I can barricade the germs to this one piece of house. When the annoying jack russell down the street won’t shut his pie hole during nap time, I am tempted to muzzle him myself and leave a note for the owners listing acceptable neighborhood barking hours.When it’s below zero, I start the car an extra 30 minutes early so the carseat warms up. When I cook dinner, I always consider what goes with hot dogs. Need a final example? OK…

When you have a pile of brand new boots and scarves and jewelry and movies and flannel pajamas, and the greatest gift you can say you got on Christmas morning was the 3-pack of  front-row tickets to Sesame Street’s Elmo Live…

Life has changed. There’s no denying it.

Funny thing is, I kind of like the new me. I like caring for and protecting something so much that I would die for it. Kind of gives you a sense of back-handed pride or glory. Granted, it may have made me a bit more dramatic and distressed at times, but I try to keep it in check. And, it has caused me to look at life with a sense of purpose. I’m almost 30 and I’ve decided that I want to live forever. Because I now truly have something to live FOR. It’s a remarkable feeling. I dare you all to feel it. Just once. It will make you want to eat healthier, smile bigger, laugh louder, be more polite, contribute more time, and oh so much more! Pretty powerful stuff.

A few nights before Christmas, my husband had to call the paramedics because my blood sugar had dropped so low and so fast that he couldn’t take care of me himself. As I came to at 1:30 a.m. and rolled over with an IV in my arm and 3 medics in my bedroom, my first thought was of Coen. Thoughts were blurry, and I could barely answer the questions “What year is it?” and “What’s your dog’s name?”, but I just wanted to know if my baby was sleeping through the chaos soundly. He was, and I survived (embarrassed and shaken up a bit), but even in a moment of panic when nothing else around me made sense, my heart and head were concerned about 2 things: the man standing frightened in the corner and the child across the hall who might need his mother. A third item of concern was how my bra-less pajamas may have given the medics a bit of a “nip show”, but that was much lower on my concern list. Much, much lower.

I want to be around to see this kid be raised right. To become a man. To drive a car. To find a wife. To go to college. To have some kids of his own. And I will.

There must be some sort of chromosome or something else scientific-sounding that changes the way you act once you have children. Slows you down a bit. Makes you re-prioritize and make wiser decisions. I like being wiser and moving slower. I love being a mom. I love having a purpose. If I’ve realized all this in 18 months, just think how much I’ll know in 18 years!

Looking forward to the road ahead…