Listening to your body, or, you know, not.

If a friend was sharing with me their health ordeal from the past two weeks, and it exactly mirrored mine, I would tell them to listen to their bodies, take it easy and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

But, I’m me. So, I put my fingers in my ears and do a weird little “not listening” dance. Which, is funny and fine until you end up in the ER twice in one week, and the second time courtesy of an ambulance.

But, even the ambulance didn’t clue me in. I continued to ignore my body even with the paramedics standing right there telling me to get in the ambulance. I said, “Do I have to go to the ER? Because, I really didn’t want to call you guys in the first place…” He said, “Well, I can’t kidnap you….but, I highly recommend you go to the ER, and that we take you.” Luckily my dad was standing in the background mouthing JUST GO, JUST GO WITH THEM. So, I went, under silent protest, because, apparently, I’m an idiot.

My week of medical turbulence all started when I had surgery for endometriosis. It was outpatient surgery and not scary or dangerous, but it was still surgery, and I don’t know why I thought I would be fine in a day or so, but I did. Unfortunately, I had a bad reaction to pain medicine they gave me right after the surgery and was throwing up all day, so my first 24 hours of recovery were actually wrought with constant throwing up, dehydration, and a trip to the ER to get fluids and try to shut down the puke fest. You know, complete rest and relaxation, ha!

I had the surgery on a Thursday morning and taught ballet on that Saturday morning. Wait, what? I did what? Writing that out highlights to me how crazy that was, but at the time it felt so doable. I had a helper in the ballet classes and she basically did all the moving, and I just ran the class, but still, it was too much. I wasn’t listening to my body.

A couple days later, Monday,  it was business as usual with Patrick going to work and me taking care of the three kids. Sure I was a bit tired earlier than usual in the day, and sure my stomach didn’t feel *great* but I was “fine.”  The next day, business as usual again, I took the kids to pre-school and ran an errand afterwards with Sophia. I planned on getting so much done that day while my older two were in preschool, but my body had other ideas once I got home from that errand with my youngest. Cue faceplant, Ambulance, second trip to ER in one week, and a time for reflection on what it means to engage in self care.

One of my friends had texted me during the thick of things, but before that Tuesday face-plant, and reminded me to listen to my body. I chuckled when I read the text, thinking, duh, I know that! But, I also realized that maybe I hadn’t been listening to my body at all, not even for a minute. I joked with her that my body was telling me to “lie the F down!” and it was all laughs and jokes until the next day my body told me to “lie the F down” by face planting it on the floor. I texted that same friend the next day and filled her in, she said, “uhhhh that was your body again…listen to it!”

So, what is it with parents? Or anyone who feels like they “can’t” rest. Of course, as a parent, I put my kids first, and of course, as an intelligent human being I know that in order to be a good care taker, or parent, I have to be in good shape myself. I also understand that putting myself first doesn’t mean I’m being selfish or putting others last. But, boy oh boy, is that inner critical voice loud, and it’s telling me to suck it up, I’m fine, it’s fine, we’re fine.

I can’t take a break, I have three kids to take care of!! I can’t take a break, I need to get the house in order! I can’t take a break, I need to run these errands! I can’t…I can’t…I can’t. But, if I was honest with myself, I guess what I’m really saying is, “I won’t” and that’s kind of stupid. But man, oh man, it is a hard habit to break.

I imagine it’s hard for all people who are care takers, in any capacity, to prioritize their own health and well being. There are SO MANY jokes about moms (in particular)  being sick but not getting time off, or moms trying to juggle everything or what it looks like for a mom to be sick versus a dad. Those jokes feel accurate and funny, but they also perpetuate that undercurrent of pressure to not take time off, to not put yourself first and to try to juggle everything because that’s what moms do. Cue laughter…cue faceplate…

So, I’ve been thinking alot about these couple of weeks, especially because I have alot of “free time” now that I’m on mandated “rest.” And, now that I’ve made two trips to the ER, I’ve finally decided to listen to my body and rest. Such a quick learner, ha!

But, finally, I think I get it. I guess surgery is not like a headache you can “get over” in a day or so. It’s more of a show stopper that requires intentional rest, strategies for healing and… babysitters, lots and lots of babysitters. Take all my money, babysitters!!

So, here I am, Christmas week, taking it SUPER easy at my in-laws…just what the doctor ordered. Like, literally what the doctor ordered. And you know what, I’m feeling 100 times better. My body is healing, my mood is improved, and I can actually be there with my kids and for my kids, because I don’t have to worry about that good old face-plant situation.

Cue Christmas celebrations, spending time with family, eating good food, and enjoying the week…face-plant free.




Sleep deprivation induced creativity.

As I was putting my youngest, Sophia, to bed last night I was thinking about the night I “created” this lullaby for all my kids.

April 2014: It was week two of having my first baby. Aka, crazy time!! We had this bassinet that played Brahms’ lullaby in a strange, synthesizer-like way. I couldn’t remember the actual words to this lullaby, heck, I couldn’t even remember if it had words! All I knew was that singing or humming with the synthesizer soothes my crying newborn.

So I started making up words. I created the song in what I imagine to be a typical creative process….on speed.

I couldn’t stop singing or the crying would start back up, so I just sang version after version after version, somehow editing in my mind along the way.

I finally settled on the version I’ve posted. I use whichever child’s name I’m signing to, and you better believe I make any number of syllables fit, haha!

I will never forget that night of manic creativity, the synthesizer bassinet or the patience my husband has for lying in that same bed listening to version after version of me singing frantically along with the bassinet. Since my youngest is becoming less of a baby and more of a toddler I thought I better write down “my” lyrics. Enjoy!

Feeling pretty darn lucky.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not great at calendar math. What is calendar math, you ask? Well, it’s when you do math about months in the year…and for some reason I struggle. For example, when my third baby was born my oldest was technically still 2. I really thought she would be three by the time the new baby was born…she wasn’t. So, from February 10th until April 13th of 2017,  I had a newborn, a 1 year old and a 2 year old. I started saying “we’re fine, it’s fine, I’m fine” alot…and we all know what that means.

By “fine,” I mean we are an absolute circus show anytime we go anywhere in public. I used to feel super sensitive to the stares and remarks made by complete strangers, but now I see them for what they are. People just interested in our family. I like to give them the benefit of the doubt that they are not being judgmental when they make comments about us having our hands full, about my sanity or about the lack of sleep. I mean, they’re pretty much on point. My hands are full, I have very little sanity and even less sleep.

But, despite all of the daily chaos, exhaustion and mayhem, I love our family. I love the way my kids play with each other, I love how my older two are best friends. And now that they are closer in height, coordination and language,  they are sometimes mistaken for twins, and they love it when that happens! They always shout, “twinsies!” and burst into giggles. And, oh the giggles. Now that my youngest is almost 2 I live for the moments when all three are laughing that full, toddler belly laugh.

As you can imagine, living with three toddlers is not always a walk in the park, but it certainly isn’t boring! And I’ve got to think that all the physical running around, the mental exercise maintaining my cool, and the laughter that constantly fills our house is a perfect recipe for staying in some kind of shape! I’ve certainly become more easy going, haha!

I used to worry a lot about each child feeling loved and getting enough attention, and I worried that by having them so close together I missed out on special moments. In some ways that is actually true, I can’t tell you a whole lot about Grace at 18 months old because I also had a newborn, or Henry at 18 months old because I was about to have Sophia, but I’ve accepted that sure, my experience with my little ones won’t be the same as if I had had them further apart, but our experiences are still super special. And, I’m not “missing out” on anything other than the experience of having kids further apart, and that’s ok.

People get really hung up on spacing of siblings, but I honestly don’t think there’s a “wrong” spacing. Close together, far apart, 2 years, 18 years, lots of kids, one kid, no kids. Every family is doing what’s best for them, what works for them, or what’s been dealt to them. I’m still figuring out our rhythm, ways to spend the day in a meaningful way and how to balance giving myself to my kids without giving all of myself to my kids.

I write a lot of posts about our chaotic misadventures, but there are so many moments each day when I am reminded of how lucky we all are. Grace and Henry have the funniest conversations about all sorts of wildly imaginative and creative topics. Sophia is becoming her own little person. I joke about Sophia being “psycho” (she is) but I also see a child filled to the brim with determination, a desire to be heard and an adventurous spirit. So, when I’m not trying to prevent her from leaping off the shelves she’s climbed or calming her down during an epic meltdown, I’m wowed by her huge personality.

Yep, Patrick and I are pretty darn lucky!

Baking with littles is BIG fun!

Full disclosure: I hate messes and I hate inaccurate baking. I wasn’t always like this, but unfortunately, I got like that right around having kids, and if there’s anything I’ve learned about kids….they’re messy and inaccurate.

However, I’m trying to take a page out of my mother-in-law’s book and let my crazy bunch bake, mess and all. Because I guess it’s not about a perfect product…it’s about building confidence, having fun and letting my kids be independent and all that jazz.

So, this morning we made a “Christmas family tradition” cookie. Some people call them Russian Tea Cakes, probably because that’s what they are…and some people call them snowball cookies, probably because that’s what they look like and we’re Americans, darn it! Whatever you call them, they’re delicious and don’t have any eggs in them, which means I’m not a nervous wreck when my kids make them because even if they eat a little dough there’s no salmonella risk. Win-Win.

I measured out all of the ingredients ahead of time so that my young kids could just dump and mix, but if your kids are older I say let them measure! Baking is not an exact science (it literally is….I mean it’s fine.)

First thing’s first….wash your hands and wash your kids’ hands, and then use hand sanitizer because ain’t no one want runny nose cookies. YUM.

Now, pre-heat the oven and pray that your kids don’t touch a pile of dirt, go to the bathroom, or rub their hands in the fireplace soot while you do that. Let’s be clear, that could happen, it takes at least 3.4 seconds to preheat the oven and….kids.

Pre-Heat oven to 325F as quickly as possible.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper OR a snazzy cookie sheet.

Divide two cups of walnuts into any number of ziplock bags, I did three ziplock bags because my three kids were helping me

Put two cups of flour in a bowl

1/2 cup sugar in a bowl

1 teaspoon vanilla in a tiny bowl

set aside two cups of powdered sugar in a big bowl

Put 2 sticks of very soft (but not melted) butter into a big mixing bowl

Are you wishing you could do this in your kitchenAid mixer….me, too. But THIS baking session is about the kids, not us. Ugh, I know.

Make sure your ziplock bags are sealed tight (I messed that up…oopsie!) and let your kids POUND the walnuts with wooden spoons, or anything else that is safe for them to pound a bag of walnuts with. Good ideas: wooden spoons, rolling pins, fists. Bad ideas: wine bottles, glasses, anything breakable…and actually…move fists into bad idea category.

Now, let each kid dump their bag of crushed walnuts into the bowl that has the butter.

Next let a kid dump the sugar in, flour in, vanilla in.

Now, I recommend an adult starts the stirring and lets the kids take over, but I’m also not totally committed to a messy baking experience, so it’s really up to you. Worst case scenario is flour getting everywhere and let’s face it…that’s bound to happen anyway.

Next, divide the dough into three bowls (I kept reusing my flour, sugar and vanilla bowls) and let each kid make small balls of dough and set them on cookie sheet.

PRO TIP: You can’t “roll” the dough into balls because then they crumble. You have to kind of squeeze them into balls. The balls shouldn’t be bigger than ping pong balls, but don’t make them too tiny, either. (Remember when I said this isn’t about perfection…I was wrong)

Once the cookie sheet is filled with cookies, put them in the oven for 25-35 minutes. My cookies needed 30 minutes. You’ll know they’re ready when the bottom is slightly browned. The top won’t look much different than when they were raw, so be sure to check the bottom!

Take them out and let them cool just a bit, cool enough that you can handle them and your kids can handle them, but still warm.

Now the fun part. And by “fun” I mean the most stressful, messy and chaotic part. Let your kids roll the cookies around in a bowl of powdered sugar. I divided the sugar into three bowls so they each had their own because my kids share everything all the time and I like to give them their “own” things on occasion.

You should accept the fact that your kids are going to lick their fingers because they’re covered in sugar, they’re going to eat the cookies and they’re probably going to lick the bowl like a dog lapping up water on a hot day. No? Just mine? Cool.

Now you have some awesome cookies, great memories, probably some cute pictures, and a fairly manageable mess to clean up.

Want the recipe but not the sweet, sweet commentary? Find it below.

2 cups crushed walnuts

2 cups flour

2 sticks of soft butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325

Mix butter, flour, crushed walnuts, granulated sugar and vanilla

Roll into balls and bake for 25-35 minutes until bottom of cookie is slightly browned.

Let cool so warm to touch and roll in powder sugar

**I also did a batch with mini chocolate chips…delicious!!!!**

Why I don’t buy my kids Christmas presents even though we celebrate Christmas…

Because I’m the grinch and not only do I accidentally tell my kid there’s no such thing as Santa, but I go on a rant about commercialism and they have to write a three page essay on selflessness and not being materialistic, I don’t care if they can’t read or write yet!!


It’s because I’m chea– frugal. We are so incredibly lucky to have lots of family who love to shop for our littles AND I find it very stressful to have too much stuff, for our kids to have too much stuff and to place too much importance on presents. I’m sure there’s a happy balance, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

Now, having said that…my kids make bank on Christmas. They get toys and holiday cheer and love and it’s an incredibly special time. But, if I’m gonna choose between spending money on a family weekend getaways versus sixteen unicorn themed toys my kids will lose, destroy or hoard:…we’re going to Great Wolf Lodge for a night! (They have a fireplace…. in the room!!!!!)

We also give away all of “last year’s” toys. We bag it up and donate it. All of it. Because we have always done this and because my oldest is only 4, we continue to “get away with this.” The kids don’t mind, I feel better about having less stuff and life moves forward!

It also helps that I’ve never been sentimental about “things.” It’s just not who I am. So, before I paint a picture of selfless giving that’s sacrificial, know that I LOVE giving my stuff away. But, I do understand that some people, especially young kids, get attached to “stuff” so there are a few toys we have kept over the years, but no joke, only a few!

I also plan to continue our frugality as the kids get older and focus on experiences rather than things. It feels extra important in our fast paced, instant gratification era to teach my kids patience, disappointment, and gratitude. (But I do know that the best laid plans….)

Patrick and I do buy our other family members and nieces and nephews gifts, we aren’t the Scrooge of the family, but when it comes to our own kids…nope. They’re fine. Will this work for everyone? Absolutely not! Am I writing this as an “advice on Christmas protocol”? No way!!!

It just works for us, and holy smokes do we know how lucky we are to have such an influx of gifts we can choose to teach this lesson in this way. It’s definitely a privileged scenario and we are grateful for the family that are able to express their love through gift giving of toys, paying for classes or other extras!

Would love to hear some other family traditions of giving!!!! As our kids get older we are looking for ways to share the experience of giving time, energy and selves to others!

Road Trip with a toddler.

So you’ve decided to travel with your toddler on a road trip to see aunt Suzy Q. It’s about 8 hours away and you’re terrified.

You should be. This isn’t going to be fun and you should manage your expectations accordingly. This isn’t about creating memories, this is about getting to Aunt Suzy Q’s without tossing your child or partner out the car window. Haha.

But, seriously.

I’m going to break down the car trip into four manageable parts. I’m going to assume you’re leaving at the crack of dawn because ain’t no one got time to be in the car during the witching hour for children (between 5pm-7pm)

A couple things before you hop into the car-

  1. Fill up the gas tank the night before. Trust me, you don’t want to add unnecessary time to your trip.
  2. I like to pack the car the night before, too, but I’m kind of OCD. BUT, I’ve also traveled with my kids about a thousand times and I’m basically a pro.
  3. And finally, I’ve traveled with my kids about a thousand times and I’m basically a pro and there are STILL things that pop up that I feel unprepared for…so….again…manage your expectations. This isn’t about the road trip, this is about getting to your destination.

The biggest piece of advice I have….plan your stopping times. You cannot just hop in the car and wing it. If you do that, you will be stopping every 45 minutes and an 8 hour car trip suddenly becomes a three day journey from Hell. You must plan on pushing through until your planned stops unless there is an emergency. For example, for an 8 hour trip I would do three hours, two hours, two hours and then destination. Not to brag, but I’ve worked my kids up to 3 hours, 3 hours and then destination. But…don’t do that if you’re not a seasoned road tripper!!! (humble brag over)

Schedule Template for 5am departure and 8 hour trip.

5am-6am: This first hour of the trip is what I like to call the honeymoon. Everyone is feeling the buzz of excitement for getting on the road and taking a trip. Kiddo is excited, driver is excited, partner is excited. Everyone is happy. NOW is the time to do things like podcast children stories, favorite music, and car games. Side note: don’t “save” new music or movies for a car trip, kids love repetition. Think about how many times you’ve seen Moana. They aren’t going to refuse to watch it a 1,475th time. But imagine the disappointment, for everyone, if you spring a new movie or music on your kid and they don’t like it. Don’t do it. Stick with tried and true. But WAIT, don’t put in a movie yet!! We need this first hour to be magical without back-up.

5:45am-6am: The magic of the honeymoon phase is starting to wear off. Remember what I said about not having new music or new movies…well…that same philosophy does NOT apply to toys!!!! Have something new for your kiddo, stuffed animal, car game, car toy, whatever, and give it to your kid at 5:45am. You think it’s no big deal if you give it to them at 5:30am…hahaha…you sweet, beautiful person, you. Don’t do it. Wait until 5:45am. Trust me.

6am-6:30am: You’ve done it!!! yay!!! you’ve gone 1 of the 8 hours. Don’t celebrate yet!! Try to push through another 30 minutes if you can! This is a GREAT time for a snack! Read a book, play a game, listen to some more music etc. But try your best to get through the next thirty minutes! (Tip: If you’ve been listening to music, put on a story, and vice versa, key is to change it up at this point)

6:30am-8am: You’re doing great!!!! Now, put in a movie. If you are against screen time, ok,  you do you, but a 2 hour movie is not going to turn your sweet genius into a zombie, I promise. The rest of this trip is going to rely heavily on movies, this is primarily because my kids are so young books don’t work. Once they can read, this schedule for a car trip isn’t really applicable anyway.  Pick a movie they LOVE, have it on the iPad, the van screen, whatever. Just give them a movie!!!

8am-8:30am(ish): What the whaaaat? It’s already 8am!! You’re doing an awesome job!!! GUESS WHAT!!! time to STOP! Get out, change diaper, or go potty, do some jumps, do some marches, do some silly dances. Do enough to get some energy out, but don’t do so much that your kiddo hates you when you put them back in the car. Although….that might happen anyway. If there are two drivers, it’s not a bad time to change up who is driving, this means changing who is “dealing with” your child. This change is a great way to break up the time! And don’t think you or your kid is above bribery. Kid doesn’t like transitions, have something at the ready to lure your toddler back in the car!!!

8:30am-9am: If you’re thinking your stop will be significantly less than 30 minutes adjust the time, but also…don’t panic if the stop is 30 minutes. Before you get back in the car you should probably tell your toddler that you’re SO excited to listen to some music or podcast stories! (basically, you’re mentally preparing them to NOT watch a movie, but doing so without mentioning screen time just in case it’s a non issue, you never know)

9am-9:30am: Snack break!! Sing some silly songs, play eye spy, listen to music, push through to 9:30, you can do it!!!

9:30am-10:30am: New book time!! You bought a couple new books, or borrowed a couple new books from library, right?! Time to get one out! Yay!!! Also, have an old favorite ready just in case the new one isn’t a hit! Ask your toddler to read it to you, or read it to them. Whatever you can do to use up time. At this point I would probably let my kids watch a couple episodes of Daniel Tiger because they love watching TV and it’s a treat for them and it would help pass the time. For some toddlers, too much screen time makes them antsy and unhappy and overtired…so do what makes the most sense for your kid. But do not, I repeat, do not make another stop until 10:30am!!!! (Unless someone is bleeding or dying)

10:30am-11am: Wowzers!!! you’re doing great! you’re halfway there!! Time to stop!! Get out, change diaper, or go potty, do some jumps, do some marches, do some silly dances. Grab lunch if you can…I know 10:30 seems early, but you’ve been up since 4am or 4:30am….you’ve gotta be hungry! Also, if possible, let your kid run around while you eat, and then have your kid eat in the car when they have to sit anyway. Don’t make them sit for EXTRA when they aren’t in the car!!! If there are two drivers, go ahead and change up who is driving, this means changing who is “dealing with” your child. This change is a great way to break up the time! Also, don’t let your toddler eat their lunch in the car unsupervised, if you’re driving solo try to shove something in their mouth in between the laps you make them run around the gas station/McDonald’s etc.

11am-12:30pm: At this point you probably don’t want to get back in the car….but you’ve got to. Let your kiddo eat their lunch in their car seat if supervised and then start a movie! This is gonna kill at least an hour and half!

Here’s where it’s going to depend on the mood of the car and how things are going.

On paper it looked great to break up the trip the way we did, but at this point, maybe it makes more sense to push through another hour? Or even the rest of the way. Or maybe there’s no way you can do that and you’ll need to stop at 1pm (your planned stopping time- do not stop before then!!!)

If your cutie usually naps during this trip see if you can get them to nap. Treat it like regular nap time. Even do the routine, read a book, sing a song, give them their lovey and maybe a blanket and then IGNORE them for ten minutes, hopefully they’ll conk out! Baseball hats, sun hats, and window shade are all possible ways to darken the car if needed!

Good luck and may the force be with you.