Be a Good Little Monkey

We are huge fans of Curious George in our house. The books. The shows. The movies. We love us some George. My daughter can even be heard calling the baby a “naughty monkey” when he gets into something he shouldn’t. Actually, I’m only able to type this right now because kiddos #1 and #2 are engrossed in the “Invisible Sound/Peeling Monkey” episode on Netflix (child #3 is down for a nap). Using the television as a babysitter? Right now, maybe, but I don’t feel THAT guilty about it since Curious George usually offers a life lesson of some sort and it’s perfectly appropriate for preschool-aged children.

Needless-to-say, we knew we would be going with a CG theme for our combo party to celebrate our daughter’s 3rd birthday and our youngest son’s 1st (their b-days are just 10 days apart). DD’s actual birthday is on Valentine’s Day, which fell on a Saturday, this year, so the party was set for the 14th.details Curious George

Didn’t want to go crazy on actual George monkey characters, but rather stuck with the color scheme of brown, yellow and red without going overboard. You know, balloons, flowers, bunting banners and the like.

details flowers details flowers 2 details HB banners

The birthday girl, eyeing the cakes

My daughter, eyeing the cakes

Brought in catering from a local Italian restaurant to save myself the headache and stress of trying to find the time to cook for 30 people, all while 3 little ones pull at my apron strings. Made the cakes myself, though, to save money; red velvet for my valentine girl and chocolate for my baby boy. (Recipes coming to my recipe page soon). Adorned them with darling personalized cake toppers from Etsy.

details both cakes

details cake scarlett

details cake Liam

Did our usual birthday posters with all of their faves and stats and they turned out super cute. We keep each year’s in the frame behind the current one, so it’s always fun to look through the previous years as we’re framing the new one.

details poster scarlett details poster Liam

Gave all the kiddos in attendance a cute takeaway, a bit of a departure from my usual bag/box of goodies; they each received a Curious George original hardcover book by H.A. Rey (board books for the babies), tied with a ribbon and banana. I did my research and made sure to order only the original titles, as the more recent releases are only “in the style of” H.A. Rey and not actually written by the author. Not as good, IMO. These seven original classics are:

Curious George

Curious George Takes a Job

Curious George Rides a Bike

Curious George Gets a Medal

Curious George Flies a Kite

Curious George Learns the Alphabet

Curious George Goes to the Hospital

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It was only later that evening, after all the guests had gone and I was reading some of the aforementioned original CG books to our own tots before bed, that I realized what true gems these classics really are…Case in point; this page from Curious George Takes a Job, copyright 1947…

Excerpt from Curious George Takes a Job

Excerpt from Curious George Takes a Job

Love it.

Soooooo…I may/may not have sent the kiddos home from the party with some classic bedtime stories featuring a naughty, anesthetic-inhaling primate. What would the Man in the Yellow Hat say?!

Do I win for best children’s party favor of the year?

‘Night ‘night, my darlings. Now, be a good little monkey and go to bed (unless you pass out from the ether first).

 

My kids ate broccoli! (Gasp!)

You guys. I deserve a pat on the back. For real.

Last night, the impossible happened; my toddlers ate broccoli. Willingly.

Yup. Decided to try a new dinner recipe because I thought it looked easy, cheap and delicious (ranking not necessarily in that order). The furthest thing from my mind was trying to, yet again, sneak in another vegetable my toddlers would tolerate at the dinner table. I just didn’t feel like fighting that fight, last night.

Wouldn’t you know? The ONE time I wasn’t even trying is the ONE time they both gobbled up their vegetable? Broccoli, no less!

It was delicious, if I must say so myself, and ridiculously simple. Not to mention, inexpensive. Could have been even cheaper if I didn’t splurge on the parmigiano reggiano cheese (you could easily use regular grated parm), but the reggiano really added to the flavor, IMO.

One-Pot Pasta

One-Pot Pasta

The glory in it all, though, was watching my 4 year-old and 2 year-old  actually clean their plates. The baby, too, but he eats everything at this age, so no major feat there.

Had I known this was going to be such a triumphant evening, I would have taken better pictures. And put on make-up. And “real” clothes. And streamed my victory live, for all the world to witness. Next time, promise.

If, like me, your tiny humans are “selective” at the table (read: annoyingly picky) and you struggle to find ways to sneak in nutrients, try this One-Pot Pasta and report back!

Etsy been a rough coupla weeks

We were hit with the stomach flu. Direct hit. No mercy. The ugliest of GI bugs systematically laid out four of the five of us. Called in reinforcements. Twice. (Thank God for “GaGa”.) At this point, only the baby has been spared…

In between sprints to the bathroom to help this child, or that one…or myself or the hubs, for that matter…and mad dashes for the bucket, we were all completely helpless on the floor, or the couch or the bed, unable to move. It’s a nasty virus, folks, and I know this outbreak wasn’t exclusive to our family. It seems this season’s super bug is coming to a household near you.

In moments of respite when the tots were finally resting and I was laid up on the couch, seemingly able to move only my thumbs, I spent some time on my fave online marketplace; Etsy. I’ve gotten some amazing goods over the past few years from some super talented artisans. Wanted to share a few of my favorites. Have any you love?

I just adore this beautiful, dainty layered set from SeaAndCake. I got mine with with three gold discs, each stamped with the first initial of each of my 3 babes, and long pink chalcedony gem.  I LOVE these versatile pieces, which can be worn alone or together.

Gold disc necklace + long pink chalcedony necklace from SeaAndCake

Gold disc necklace + long pink chalcedony necklace from SeaAndCake

 

We celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary a few months ago. Every year, I try to get creative and present the hubs with a gift from the traditional list; IRON being that for six years. I searched around and stumbled upon Blue3Studio, a talented “Jack of all trades, master of one,” who makes coat racks out of reclaimed wood and (iron) rail spikes from old Central Ohio rail lines. He worked with me to personalize our coat rack and even sent me progress photos. Such a pleasure to work with (not to mention he also went to my alma mater, Miami University -GO REDHAWKS!- so I was happy to support his business). Looks great hanging in our front hall and my beloved was so happy with his gift. Here’s another one Blue3Studio currently has in his shop:

Reclaimed Distressed Wood and Rail Spike Coat Rack from Blue3Studio

Reclaimed Distressed Wood and Rail Spike Coat Rack from Blue3Studio

 

When we Baptized our youngest, last summer, I was looking for a personalized frame for his Godparents. I wanted something a little different from the typical engraved frames you see at the mall. I found this perfectly rustic–without being too frilly–personalized frame from CrystalCoveDS. She has TONS of different options throughout her shop. Makes a great gift for Grandparents, too!

Personalized frame from Crystal Cove Design Studio

Personalized frame from Crystal Cove Design Studio

 

For my train-loving son’s 4th birthday, we chartered a vintage trolley car (still operational on a rail line) to take our guests down to our outdoor party at a local forest preserve, and then back to the station when it was all over. So fun! I had ordered this super cute and comfy organic blend birthday tee from lilthreadzclothing for the birthday boy to wear to his big celebration and it has since become his absolute favorite. He sports it more-than-regularly and it washes/wears superbly. They have lots of different options for boys and girls, with various themes and colors.

Vintage Train Tee from lilthreadzclothing

Vintage Train Tee from lilthreadzclothing

 

My daughter’s birthday falls on Valentine’s Day, so it goes without saying that she is sometimes adorned with a heart of some kind. She’s not overly frilly or frou frou (and neither am I), so for her first birthday party, we knew we wanted something special without being kitchy. A knit dress from tenderblue was exactly what I was looking for and it’s an heirloom piece we will keep forever. All of her work is knitted on a vintage machine and she has some beautiful pieces she ships worldwide from Portugal. I’ll be placing an order for a two piece baby boy set for my youngest to wear on his first birthday, as well. (The dress I ordered for my Valentine baby girl is no longer in her shop, but here’s another beautiful option).

Knit dress and booties from tenderblue

Knit dress and booties from tenderblue

 

I’m always looking for cute and useful “Thank You” gifts for my boy’s preschool teachers. Came across these zen mugs from TeacupOwl and his teachers adore them. I have them personalized with the Teacher’s name and then, under the tree, “Thank you for helping me grow. Love, E.” So cute and so much better than a Starbuck’s gift card.

Hand painted mug from TeacupOwl

Hand painted mug from TeacupOwl

 

For the fellas: love this unique, personalized, leather-wrapped flask from Moxie & Oliver. We gifted one of these to my brother, a pilot, with a few different aviation quotes I had chosen. He loves it (though I’m assured he doesn’t use it WHILE flying).

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Personalized leather-wrapped flask from Moxie & Oliver

 

When we bought our first house, I was looking for a lumbar pillow to put on the bench in the entry. Came across this coordinates pillow from LifeCraftsWhatever. Such a cool thing to have, as we are now looking to sell and buy another house, but this will follow us wherever we go, always reminding us of where we started.

Coordinates Pillow from LifeCraftsWhatever

Coordinates Pillow from LifeCraftsWhatever

 

A must-have, with babies (and a dog). Now, if only our UPS driver could read…

Do Not Ring Bell Sign from SaltboxHouseSigns

Do Not Ring Bell Sign from SaltboxHouseSigns

 

Again with the traditional anniversary gifts…rewind to year five; wood. I had this gorgeous cutting board from WoodInk personalized with our initials and our wedding date. Turned out so great and with the proper care, it will last forever. Also reminiscent of one of our favorite children’s books, THE GIVING TREE.

Personalized Carved Heart Cutting Board from WoodInk

Personalized Carved Heart Cutting Board from WoodInk

 

Speaking of THE GIVING TREE (as mentioned, I love), and tea (which I also love), I just had to snatch up one of these for myself.

Giving Tea Mug from SquackDoodle

Giving Tea Mug from SquackDoodle

 

Ok. I think I’ve fed my Etsy addiction enough for one afternoon. Gotta run. Tots are up.

Merry Christmas

Every year, I am tasked with making the Christmas cookies for our family celebration. I usually spend all of Christmas Eve baking 5 or 6 different varieties, making a lot of extras for everyone to take some home after the party the next day.

This year, instead of the usual carryout box or tin, I picked up a few of these glass cookie jars to showcase the goodies. Tied on a card inclusive of one of my fave recipes (courtesy of my SIL) and voila! So cute. So simple. So ready to eat.

Merry Christmas!

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Gift Guide. And, go!

gift guidePerhaps you’re a bit behind on your holiday shopping (me? never.). Or, perhaps, like me, you don’t like to (read: aren’t crazy enough to) venture out of the house very often (do they even make shopping carts which hold 3 tots?!), forging a first-name basis relationship with the UPS driver. ‘Sup, Joe.

Just for you, I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite fineries this holiday season. Don’t fret. There’s still time!

(Just now noticing I have a thing for parentheses…)

(And elipses…)

 

For Daddy:

Joe’s Jeans are a favorite for me. Turns out, the hubs loves the men’s version, too. Best part? You can score them at Nordstrom Rack for less than $80 (reg. up to $189)! Different cuts, sizes and colors available in stores or online.

Joe's Jeans at Nordstrom Rack

Joe’s Jeans at Nordstrom Rack

 

For Boys:

Every Year PBK sells the Polar Express Lionel G-Gauge Train and sells out. Plus, it’s pretty pricey. You can look and watch on ebay all you want (guilty) but you can’t be sure you’re getting the real deal. This year, I finally went straight to the 100+year-old source; Lionel. Shipping was fast and free, so there’s still time. Can’t wait to see our little guy’s face Christmas morning. PolEx-me-up!

Polar Express from Lionel Trains

Polar Express from Lionel Trains

 

 

For Girls:

What little girl doesn’t love the story of precocious little Madeline? My toddler is into the movie, so I thought this PJ and Gift Book set would be perfect! Now on sale at Chasing Fireflies for $24.99 (from $44). Comes in sizes 12 month through 3T. Those who need a larger size can snag the pajamas (only) over at Signals, up to a size 6.

Madeline PJ and Book set at Chasing Fireflies

Madeline PJ and Book set at Chasing Fireflies

For Babies:

Plush rockers are all the rage, haven’t you heard? Pottery Barn Kids and Restoration Hardware Baby & Child have some nice ones, again this year. For a more wallet-friendly option at just $59, I found these cuties on MYHABIT (designer deals affiliated with Amazon.com). Free 2-day shipping if you use your Mastercard, so you’re sure to have it in time for Christmas.

Happy Trails Plush Rocking Barry Bear With Sounds on MYHABIT

Happy Trails Plush Rocking Barry Bear With Sounds on MYHABIT

 

For Grandparents:

Let’s face it. Grandparents love a photo of their grandchild(ren). Why not feature it in an adorable personalized frame? Loving this one from Crystal Cove over on Etsy. We ordered one of these for a Godparent gift when our youngest wee babe was Baptized, this year, and it was a hit. Different options for colors and personalization without being overly infantile in it’s design. Super cute. Message the shop owner to ensure holiday production schedule and delivery meets your needs.

Personalized Frame from Crystal Cove

Personalized Frame from Crystal Cove

 

For The Hostess (Oh, who are we kidding. This one’s for you, Mama!):

The Nest Birchwood Pine candle IS Christmas. The scent is so perfect and fills the whole house with the sweet smell of pine, without being overpowering or giving me a headache like some of the cheaper waxes/fragrances. Ok, so it’s a bit of a splurge at $34 over at Saks , but it’s once a year and as far as I’m concerned, no other seasonal scent “holds a candle” to this one.

Nest Birchwood Pine Candle at Saks Fifth Avenue

Nest Birchwood Pine Candle at Saks Fifth Avenue

Have any fave finds of your own?

And, go!

I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency)

And now for the really important post;

How to open a bottle of wine sans corkscrew. The folks over at Yahoo posted a few solutions for getting into the Mommy Juice when you just can’t find the darned opener.

Genius.

Huge sigh of relief.

(Am I the only one who keeps a corkscrew in her diaper bag? You know, in case of emergencies.)

Ok. Click HERE

16-glass-of-wine-pv

Post-op Perspective

My poor little lu. Usually, I’m singing a different tune when it comes to my daughter (a.k.a. “The Pistol”) but in this case, I have such sympathy for my poor little lu.

It goes without saying, as it does with any parent; I love ALL of my kids the same, with every fiber of my being. They are all different, each in their own unique way. Even though my daughter, my middle child– my little “pistol”– can be challenging, I LOVE her strong personality. I really do LOVE that about her and I hope she never loses it…though she takes me to “Crazy Town” on the regular.

She can be a sweet, thoughtful, snuggly baby girl and I relish in those moments, documenting nearly all of them in a photograph, since they can be few and far between. At other times, DD pushes my every button, testing every thread of my patience with her “spirit”. At just two years-old, she has developed such a strong will and personality, it’s remarkable. Most days I maintain composure and remind myself that she is the child, I am the adult. Ok, that may/may not be an untruth. On any given day, there’s about a 50/50 chance that I totally accept her “sunny disposition” for what it is, or else fail miserably and give in to her dramatics. It’s on the latter type of days that I find myself saying “no” more than “yes,” yelling more than listening. It’s a balance I struggle with, particularly when it comes to “Ms. Pistol.”

But on THIS day, my heart aches for her, my little darling. On THIS day, she is scared…confused…in pain. And so am I…

As a Mommy, you never want to see your child suffer. It’s unimaginable. Any parent would agree, that goes without saying. But when you’re a Mommy, when you’re a Mother, when this is your child…you can’t bear it.

With our little girl, we chose to have a routine surgery done on her. WE chose it. Not her. She didn’t understand what was happening. At two years of age, she couldn’t comprehend that having a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy would, in the long run, help her breathe better, sleep better…live better. At least, that’s what the doctor told us and that’s all we had to go on…what choice did we have?

We commissioned the grandparents to watch the oldest and youngest, and the hubs, middle child/pistol and I left for the hospital at the crack of dawn. After meeting with the doctor and the anesthesiologist pre-op, they reassured us that she would be comfortably sedated before going into the OR and being put under for the procedure. We were told that this mild oral sedative would relax our toddler, easing her into the separation, since we weren’t allowed to go with her into surgery. It was supposed to make it easier on her, easier on us. But, even after receiving the sedative, while she may have been a little loopy, she was still very much aware that she was being taken away from us. As the nurses wheeled her into the OR, she was confused and crying for us. It was heart-wrenching. When she was out of sight, I turned around to walk away and couldn’t hold back the water works for one second longer…

We were led to a waiting room, but decided to go to the gift shop, instead, thinking a giant, larger than life Hello Kitty balloon was exactly what our little one needed, post-op. In hindsight, I think this ginormous, floating cartoon feline probably contributed to her post-op hysteria. (Mommy fail).

Hello Kitty balloon

 

The hubs and I waited over coffee and a croissant. It seemed like a few hours passed, as I thought about what the doctor was doing to my child at each moment, what my baby was going through. I imagined her laying there in the operating room, being cut open (as microscopically as it may have been), without me by her side. As a mother who grew this child in my body, and provided her sole source of nourishment through breastfeeding, I had a different feeling about this procedure than my husband. Not to take away from his fear and worry for our daughter, but it was different for me. I grew her little body. I grew those tonsils, those adenoids. They were a part of me, as much as they were a part of her. I felt a sense of loss in addition to my concern for her. It was a very strange, foreign feeling and I hated it.

It wasn’t 45 minutes before our pager went off, alerting us that the surgery was complete and the doctor wanted to talk to us. How had only 45 minutes passed? It felt so much longer.

The three of us (my husband, myself and Hello Kitty) were led past all the other folks waiting for their loved ones, and into a private room. All eyes were on us, probably assuming something had gone horribly wrong since the doctor wanted to meet with us, privately. This only added to our nervous state.

The doctor eventually came in and greeted us warmly. He said the surgery went well and he did, in fact, need to remove the adenoids, too. Once she was under and he got “in there”, he discovered her airway was 75% blocked. My eyes widened and I immediately felt a sense of guilt and relief, all at the same time. Guilt for not having done this sooner and relief that we had taken care of this while she was so young.

We talked and talked, asked a lot of questions and then a few more. I wish we hadn’t talked so long, honestly, because as a result, we missed that moment when she woke up. We wanted to be there as they brought her out of it, so she could see a familiar face. But, having spent so much time with the doctor, we missed it.

We were warned beforehand that when children come out of anesthesia, it can go one of two ways; either they will be totally hazy and out of it, or they will wake up in hysterics. We fully expected our “pistol” daughter to be in the latter group. She did not disappoint.

When we were brought into recovery, even though we had been warned, I wasn’t prepared for the scene. It was a room of several children on gurneys, situated in a circle-like fashion. Most of the kids were quiet (I think), but I didn’t really see them. I was focused on the one hysterical child, who was no longer laying down, but had rather, apparently, leapt out of bed, IV still attached, and into the arms of the anesthesiologist. There she was, my daughter, wide-eyed, confused, tears streaming and trying to scream (but hoarse from the surgery). The anesthesiologist gave us a knowing glance as we entered, as if to say, “I tried to warn you.”

As we approached, a glimmer of recognition flashed across my daughter’s face, and she reached for me. I swept her into my arms and glanced at the group of doctors and nurses standing around us, seemingly half-waiting for our reaction to the scene and half-hoping she would calm down so as not to upset the other children. When she saw the hubs standing behind me, she reached for him, wanting to be comforted by Daddy. Initially, (admittedly) my feelings were hurt. Why didn’t she want Mommy? But those feelings quickly vanished, as our baby’s pain and confusion set in and if comfort was found in Daddy’s big, strong arms, then that’s where she needed to be.

We were ushered into a recovery room and much of the same continued for the next few hours…drowsiness, waking in hysterics, confusion, screaming, crying, coughing, drifting back off again, repeat. The hallway was lined with recovery rooms occupied by other children, each going through their own version of this experience. So much crying in this wing of the hospital, coming out of each and every recovery room. Oh, the crying. The crying, the crying. I decided, right then, that was the worst place in America to work and the nurses who show up everyday, serving, treating and comforting these hysterical children should be sanctified.

in recovery

Daddy sat and held our little pistol as we went through this process, together, for hours. I sat in the chair next to them, urging our daughter to drink something anytime she came to, just to be denied when she calmed and drifted back off. We knew that as long as she was taking fluids at the end of this ordeal, she would be released and we could take her home. But, there’s no reasoning with a two year-old and we couldn’t make her drink.

During the moments of calm, we sat and watched her, seemingly sleeping, but with a pained look of discomfort on her face. It was during one of these moments of calm that it hit me. I think I may have even thought out loud, in my husband’s direction…

We think WE have problems? We get to take our daughter home at the end of this awful day. Within two to three weeks, she will recover and be back to her hell-raising self. God-willing, I get to tuck her in her own pint-sized bed, at night, and see her beaming face in the morning. She’s healthy (save for this procedure). What about all of those parents who aren’t as fortunate? The friends of friends I read about on Facebook and hear about in the news…What about all of those children who spend so many days and nights in hospitals, hooked up to machines, test after test, med after med? What about those parents who pray and pray, and cry and cry over their sick kids with real illness and injury? How do they do it? I am completely leveled by this experience and to even compare it to what other parents go through doesn’t even seem right. 

We think WE have problems? We don’t. We are blessed. We are so fortunate and this is just a little blip on our radar, perhaps to remind us of how lucky we really are…

I am brought out of my thoughts and back into the room as my daughter begins to show glimmers of her bossy self, even ordering me to sit in a different chair; a good sign. She finally decided to accept the now-melted ice cream, and took a few bites. After a while, she even asked for milk (her fave) and we began to see a bit of hope. We were released after about eight hours into the whole ordeal and took our pistol home. (Sigh of relief).

The next week was a rough one, not going to lie. Lots of crying, coughing, clawing at her throat and the worst smell being emitted from her mouth and nose; a cross between death and poop. Her voice even changed and was now, somehow, mousier.

We’re now 6 weeks post-op and she’s breathing and sleeping better. She’s so quiet, in fact, that I find myself leaning in next to her face while she sleeps, just to make sure she’s still breathing. Somehow, though, I suppose I expected that “sunny disposition” to improve. Like this was to be some sort of miracle surgery and her personality would change as a result. You know, a little bit more easy going.

Nope. Still full of “P and V”.  Just this morning, there were several episodes of whining and crying about this and that, and then she threw a fit because I wouldn’t give in to her incessant demands for candy. The kind of fit where she’s flailing on the floor in protest. (I may/may not have sent the hubs a text reflecting our morning)…

text

But she’s here. She’s healthy. Demanding, yes. but, we are ever so fortunate to have our little pistol to hold. There are so many Mommies and Daddies out there who aren’t as fortunate, who can only wish to be able to hold…or scold…their child just one more time.

Perspective.

Relief.

Gratitude.

I’m a sucker for a Peter Pan Collar

What’s more darling than a little girl (or baby boy) in a charming little ensemble, polished off with a Peter Pan Collar? Aptly named for the costume worn in the 1905 American stage production of J.M. Barrie’s play, Maude Adams, who played Peter, wore britches, a feathered cap and a blouse with a white, rounded collar; suitable for a young boy who never grew up.

It’s a timeless style I can’t resist. Every season, I pick up a top or onesie for my daughter (like THIS one) to keep in her closet as a “go-t0”.  I also have a few in my own wardrobe.

Check out some of these adorable pieces at different price points. Can’t go wrong…

Peter Pan Collar

1. Baby Girl Mix-Fabric Feather Dress, Gap

2. Infant layette (boy or girl) Solid Cotton Wrap-top Set, Ralph Lauren

3. Girls Quilted Barn Jacket, Gap 

4. Infant Girls Plaid Cotton Shirtdress, Ralph Lauren

5. Girls Shimmer Jacquard Dress, Janie and Jack 

6. Women’s Wool Peter Pan Dress, Boden

Beets on Parade

Introducing beets, today. Not sure how it will go over. Will report back. (Mad love to the Beaba Babycook, btw).
Beets

Baby L, at 8 months old, isn’t a super duper eater, just yet. Still prefers the breast to anything else, but we’re working on exposing him to different flavors and textures. What is it they say? “Food before one is just for fun”? While we’ve tried many fruits and veggies (skipped the grains, so far), L likes my apple/sweet potato blend best.

Do you have any favorite baby food recipes? Would love to hear some! Comment below.

Do this. If you have kids, do this.

Mothers with more than one child; I’m talking to you.

Do this.

You know how they say that after you become a parent, you need to make time for yourself, make time for your spouse, blah, blah, blah? While that may be true, I recently was hit with an equally important truth that, until now, I didn’t know I needed…I didn’t know WE needed. The “we” I speak of is my oldest and me…

When E came along–my first baby–the sun rose and set on him. STILL does. Only now, there are two other planets sharing the galaxy; his little sister and baby brother. But, before them, it was E and me.

When he was born, I decided to leave the workforce and stay home with him full-time. Best decision ever and I don’t regret it for a minute. We did everything together. EVERYTHING. My days and nights were spent gazing upon him, recording and documenting his every breath, coo, cry and toot.

I toted him everywhere with me, too. You know how you do–you mothers of one child–where you just throw the baby in the car and run your errands, here and there? (Man, those were the simple days).

I’d reflect back on his first year of life and couldn’t help but feel like we had been through a war together; figuring each other out, navigating our way through breastfeeding, first fever, first teeth, first steps, first words (and lack thereof)…I was there for it all and we formed such an amazing-beyond anything you can put into words-type of bond.

And then his sister came along. His beautiful, “sensitive” (needy, colicky, fussy) baby sister who demanded so much of my time and attention that my Mama’s Boy was drifting and shifting into Daddy’s Little Man. Some days, admittedly, it even felt like E was my husband’s child and baby S was mine. I felt like I didn’t know my boy, anymore, and that somehow he was no longer mine. Our dynamic was different. Foreign. (I didn’t like it).

But as S grew out of her colicky phase a bit, I was able to spend more time and bond with E, too. Especially being home every day, alone with the two tinies, I got to see him shine in his new role as a big brother, as my now-oldest child. I loved having a daughter, too, and came to the realization that it would never be just me and E anymore. And I was ok with that. I had to be. We were now a family of four.

Until we weren’t.

When number three was on the way, I was panicked. E was now in the toddler stage and had a few developmental delays, which made those terrible twos especially terrible. S, though she’d outgrown the colic, was still “sensitive” and had developed quite the strong personality of her own at just a year of age (nickname: “The Pistol”). Even though the IDEA was to have them close together in age so they could grow up together, I was now faced with the harsh reality that I may not be able to handle these two tots with a newborn. And what if the new baby was as demanding as S had (has) been? I was to have three kids, ages 3 and under!  And I. Was. Terrified.

Luckily the heavens were shining down on us as we welcomed baby L and he turned out to be such an angel! He is truly a delight. Phew! A good baby. Yes!!!! I got this.

Even still, most days I am completely overwhelmed. Somebody always needs something from me and I am in constant motion, constant servitude. But I’ve learned to just let it go and do the best I can. I eventually gave up on trying to project the image that I’ve got it all together because I just don’t. And that’s ok.

Because I am so grossly outnumbered on the daily while my husband is at work, when he is home on the weekends, he will usually take one of the kids off my hands to lighten my load. And, more often than not, it’s E. Time and again, they will return home from their trip to Home Depot, or the grocery, or the park, or from lunch and the hubs will report back on how much fun E is when you have him alone…what a little chatterbox he was (we delight in things like this since E has a speech delay)…what a good boy he has been…”You really should take him out, one-on-one,” the hubs consistently tells me. And I always nod in agreement, knowing full-well that we’re not in danger of that happening anytime soon. It’s always something; I’m nursing the baby and he won’t take a bottle so I can’t leave him, or S is sick, or it’s nap time for the kids, or E has speech therapy, or whatever

Until yesterday. That’s when it happened. The timing was perfect and the stars had aligned. Daddy was home, the baby had been fed, S was going to nap; there was no reason I couldn’t take my boy, my oldest, out for a Mommy and Me date. So, that’s just what we did…

We went to the gas station (thank you, darling husband, for leaving my car on empty) where E happily chatted with me about the adjacent car wash.

We drove by a house for sale, in a better school district, that I had been watching in the listings. E was bored by this.

We drove to a neighboring town to have lunch. There was a 30 minute wait for a table, so we wandered around the shopping district while we waited.

Stumbled upon a koi pond with stepping stones and a little stone bridge.

I convinced E to dip into a store with me, which he promptly led me out of to head back to the pond.

We explored said-pond, standing on the rocks, pointing out the fish, the color of the fish, the lily pads and the absence of frogs on the lily pads.

We crossed over the tiny stone bridge, again. And again. And again.

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All but peeled him away from the pond when our buzzer alerted us of our waiting table.

We ate chicken tenders and potato chips.

He drew on his paper placemat, declaring it was a map, inclusive of railroad tracks and even penned his name at the bottom, unprompted. Pretty good for four, I thought.

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Announced that he wanted to show Daddy his map when we got home.

We walked over to the farmers market, by way of the train station, of course.

Saw a commuter train.

Saw a freight train.

Saw another commuter train.

Made two loops around the farmer’s market in search of a cookie. Located a gluten-free booth selling cookies. Decided they didn’t look like cookies.

Stopped in another store which sold cookies. Giant snickerdoodle cookies, full of gluten. Ate one on the bench outside, watching for trains.

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Drove to Target to buy Play Doh for his sister. Subsequently, picked out a Hot Wheels car for himself.

Drove home. Fell asleep in his carseat 90 seconds from home.

I got him out of the car and took him up to his room so he could have a proper nap. As I put him to bed he said, “Thank you for lunch, Mommy. I had fun. Can we have lunch again, tomorrow?”

Melt.

(Sigh)

Sure, Buddy. We’ll do it, again. Maybe not tomorrow, but I promise we will do it again.

Why hadn’t I made the time to do this sooner? It wasn’t a complicated thing. All I did was make time for my child, one-on-one, the way it was before our little family turned into a big family. There will be lots of times, I’m sure, that I will have Mommy and me dates with his sister, over ballet class, or shopping, or anything that comes naturally to mothers and daughters. Just as there will be times I will have alone with the baby, as we are home nursing while E and S are at the playground with Daddy.

But E needed to know he wasn’t forgotten, that he was still Mommy’s number one son, the one who made me a Mother.

I reconnected with my son, my baby boy, my beloved, during this amazingly simple train-watching, koi fish-counting, gluten-eating adventure.

I learned an invaluable lesson about the importance of giving yourself to each of your children, as individuals. I got so caught up in trying to balance and manage them as a group of three, that I forgot it can…it SHOULD…also be done one-on-one.

They need this, Mamas. You need this. Do this.