One of the Best Things About Boys & Why I’m a Little Jealous

As a mom, I can always gauge my babies’ ages by my favorite little sweet spot on the back of their necks.

Do you know the place I’m describing?

It’s right where their little heads wobble when they’re brand new, raising their heads from their daddy’s shoulder with no little effort, trying REALLY hard to check out the world around them for the first time.

It’s where that little roll forms when determined babies lift their heads when they protest tummy time.

It’s the spot that fluffy little baby bird hair covers when not-quite-a-baby babies need their first haircuts.

After a birthday or two, that little spot slowly fills in. It’s strong. It’s not as rounded. The shoulders do the same thing as toddlers turn into little boys or girls.

Does this sound weird? It can’t if you’re a parent who has spent a BILLION hours laying down with your child. Sick, to sleep, playing hide and seek in the exact same spot over and over…you know.

Roscoe still has that little spot. Gus? it’s barely distinguishable.

After many nights of laying with him as he falls asleep (but mostly during failed naptimes) (I know naptimes are over for him, but I still try out of desperation), I’ve admitted it. My baby boy grew into a little boy. B-O-Y.

He headed to preschool this week and he couldn’t have been more excited. I know I’m his mom, but I could gush about him forever.

The best, most enviable part of boys is that no matter how broad their shoulders get, no matter how tall and strong they grow, they never really grow up.

Not in 100% totality. Sure, boys grow into “men,” and definitions may vary… but all the best men I know still have a little bit of boy in them.

That ease, that ability to separate themselves from their other roles and titles of responsibility to let loose for a minute, the ageless appreciation for the funny if not immature…all of it. If you look at an elderly man’s eyes when he laughs, a younger boy is still visible there.

(In general, I don’t think women can shake off their stresses/motherhood responsibilities/worries as easily. Women would argue that is favorable, or that someone has to be the adult…but, maybe, it’s suicidal to that youthful, lively, sometimes abandoned side of us.)

My husband is this way. I love this about him. He is a mature, professional, and driven adult, but…treading water underneath all the work clothes, contracts, work emails, phone calls that interrupt dinner, bills, and daddy duties is that super fun, charming, seventeen year old boy.

Brian had his longest running Fantasy Football League in town, and they were ridiculous.

I’m a big fan.

To determine their draft pick, these men (I didn’t use quotation marks around that as not to offend anyone), who are adult professionals, shed blood racing through a bounce house obstacle course, sweat through a home run derby, raced scooters, pounded soda and hot wings in a contest…and I didn’t ask for elaboration beyond any of that.

My only real contribution was generic Advil.

I’m grateful my little guys have a strong daddy, who will help raise them into great men who never lose sight of the boy inside.

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Baby GIRL!

There are a dozen or so milestone moments in your lifetime that are completely surreal. They elicit so many overwhelming emotions competing for the spotlight, there truly are no words to describe them.

Getting a long awaited positive pregnancy test and learning gender of EACH of my babies was incredible.

Discovering our baby is a GIRL yesterday added to these once-in-a-lifetime, total Cloud 9 moments.

We waited an extra couple of hours to do a gender reveal. I’m too antsy…I never could handle the wait with my other two pregnancies! Even though I love my friends and a party, I loved having just my little family gathered (with my photog friend Chelsea). I didn’t think of entertaining, food, or anything else. We were totally undistracted and absorbed the moment!

(Brian had previously joked that he only makes boys because of his Mountain Dew and fried chicken intake, and I was totally THRILLED with the three boy family I’d half anticipated…but me closing my eyes as I opened the box suggests that deep down, a girl tipped my hope’s scales.)

Don’t ask how much I’ve already spent on her wardrobe! We CANNOT wait for February.

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It’s Really Happening! New Baby in February!

After lots of prayers and a bumpy year of hoping for a baby, we absolutely could not be more over the moon to welcome a new addition to our family in late February!!

We are THRILLED and are eagerly awaiting this baby’s arrival!

(I am also eagerly awaiting the day I am no longer sick, although I’m always relieved by my new close friendship with the bathroom because it’s a sign that things are progressing. 🙂 )

Now that I’m 14 weeks and past the scary first trimester, and the baby has a strong heartbeat, I am ecstatic to share this pregnancy! It makes it real!

(It has to be said: I am also getting myself in check for the inevitable, “Ohhh, what if it’s a boy? Would you be so sad?” “You must be dying for a girl.” “Are you going to keep trying if it’s a boy?” Am I just hormonal, or would those comments make you legitimately angry?

Do you know how badly we want a baby? Do you know how much we (and any mothers) are continually keeping this baby’s good health and safe delivery in our prayers?

Did you know I’ll punch your face?

Gender is secondary, and although a girl would be so, so fun, I sure adore my boys! I am truly just grateful to tears that I’m pregnant!)

My boys have opinions, though!

Gus says he already has a baby. “No thanks, I already have this Roscoe Bear one.” Gus is usually hoping for a brother, sometimes a sister.
Roscoe is hoping for a kitty.

Gus also thinks we’re having three babies: one in my tummy, two on my chest. “Wow, all those babies are getting bigger now!” Hahaha

And me? I’ve been super not fun, and even though I’m on nausea medication, I’m sick almost every. every. every. evening. (It’s kind of reassuring, though!) I loathe my favorite foods, with a special hatred for tomatoes, avocados, and meat in general. I’ve never been a big soda drinker, but now I drink Coke everyday, and I prefer the species of Coke I used to “Eww,” Diet Coke. The only things I enjoy eating are Coke, cucumbers, celery…lobster. Talk about high maintenance!

We are giddy to share our news with you and cannot wait to have a brand new baby in our home again!

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Things Parents Fib About: Enjoying the Tantrum Thrower

My parents lied to me.

My siblings and I would often lure my parents with, “Who is your favorite child?” They’d both respond, “We don’t have a favorite! We like you all the same!”

Really?

(Maybe that was code for, “Not you.”)

I loooove my kids both equally, and it’s a smothering, obsessive, endless, completely unconditional love; however, as a mother of a two and three year old, my level of fondness per child correlates with the level/volume of whining per child.

Of course, I’m not TELLING them that, but I hope they can read between the lines. Like, I’ll ALWAYS be obsessed with you, kids, but he who whines the least will get away with the most, you get me? I’m tired. I’ll pick my battles. I’ll overlook you sneaking a few bites of ice cream before 9am.

Shoot, I’ll even just Instagram story my child that drew on the bathtub with my only Chanel lipstick if he’s been nice.

The other one, though? The one who has been kicking on the floor all morning? The one who unloaded his dresser during the one minute he was sent to his room?

You’re going to make me break my Botox, sweetheart.

This whole concept was reiterated this morning. I was lying in bed with a headache, and Roscoe woke up earlier than normal. He plowed through the morning in full I AM TWO fashion: he yelled at me for juice, yelled at me for cereal, and then he yelled at me because I poured the wrong cereal. I also turned on the wrong episode of his favorite cartoon…I faced the music for that. His shrill whining continued when I tried to sneak back in bed instead of watch Blaze with him (which I’ve made very clear is NOT my favorite show of his), and when I left anyway, he spent the next hour (literally, bad headache) sitting on my head, manually opening my eyes, crying, and occasionally throwing himself down on Brian’s pillow in an unrelenting rage only a two year old can muster.

So this is it, huh? Second child, but first stamp on my Terrible Twos passport.

My other little guy, Gus, slept in until 8:30, was happy to eat the stale Costco muffin left on the counter from the night before, and played with his cars. He came in to say good morning, grabbed my phone to pull up his playlist, and spent the rest of the morning dancing his little heart out in another room, pretending to surf to Beach Boys.

At that moment, I was guilty of having a favorite. It was the child not poking my pupils.

In that moment, I also realized that my mom probably didn’t like me from 2001-20…now?

Suddenly, mercifully, Roscoe flipped his two-year-old switch from sour to sweet. We snuggled at nap time. He fell asleep in my arms for the first time in over a year, and all his offenses of the morning faded away. I fell in love with that perfect little face and fluttery eyelashes all over again, and held my baby boy for much longer than necessary.

I can’t help but wonder if my children gravitate toward a parent they’re most partial to in the same, unsaid-but-can’t-blame-them way. Brian is way more fun than I am, so after his sports knowledge is factored in…ugh. I better work on my patience, or apply for a Target Redcard to buy their love with 5% off.

Rough day with this two-year-old little dude. I’m always grateful for the tomorrows of life.

(And just for the record, it was decided amongst my siblings years ago that my parents’ favorite child is Colby. We aren’t mad.)

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It’s Possible We Were Overzealous in Planning Family Vacations

Because I am LDS, everyone thinks I am:

a. From Utah.
b. Traveling to Utah.

I get it, but just wondering…does everyone do that to their Latin friend when HE goes on vacation? “Oh, Juarez again?”
Weekends with friends? “I bet the weather is great in Tijuana.”
Visits family? “Have fun in Guadalajara!”

No, because that’s racist, and he’s a third generation Peruvian from Milwaukee.

I’m the cookie cutter blonde hair, blue eyed Mormon chick, but I’m not from Utah, nor do I often visit it…although I LOVE Utah, and I would totally move there.

Totes.

Alas, this time, it’s true. I WENT TO UTAH. Back to the motherland!

For the first time EVER, my little family made the drive north together and enjoyed time with both sides of our family. Brian’s sister Courtney was an awesome host for the Fourth of July, and then we ventured out to my grandparents’ house to celebrate my grandma’s big 8-0.

I did not even completely unpack before repacking. This summer has been the epitome of “work hard, play hard,” working 12-14 hour days in between leaving town. I think I prefer a “work normally, just go to bed at 9” lifestyle.

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Family Vacation: The Ultimate Involuntary Workout

The ultimate summer workout doesn’t involve much gym time, but I can promise this: you will be sore, and you will be tired.

It is called “family vacation.”

Total body workout includes:

1. CARDIO. Your cardio routine will begin as soon as your car is put in reverse backing out of the driveway. Run back into the house at least five times for forgotten items. Did you adjust the thermostat? Did you remember the iPad charger? Are you sure you locked the front door? Really sure? Way to go the extra mile and hurdle over the garage door sensor on your way back out the third time. I am convinced that traveling with a large family is how Bruce Jenner stayed in decathlon shape, back when his family was young, and back when he was a he.

2. UPPER BODY. When you’ve got ninos in the backseat, upper body is what your car’s co-pilot seat is all about. You’ll have the opportunity to stretch unused muscles and contort yourself while fishing for dropped items. It would be unfathomable to wait another 20 minutes until you stop at Jack in the Box to rescue that Paw Patrol figurine wedged in the seat crack between Graham crackers. It’s just like having Jillian Michaels yelling at you…for free!

You may have a seat belt rash on your neck from being nearly decapitated, but did I not promise you soreness?

3. LOWER BODY. Unloading the car will provide you with ample squatting/ bending/lifting opportunities. If you’ve got a great workout support team like I do, they’ll hide necessities all over the car and keep you running back to get them, individually. Oh, wait. The wipes. Oh, and where’s his other shoe? Oh…the stinky diaper. Did we leave that in the trunk? Good looking out, team. At least when you arrive up the elevator for the third time, your family will switch up the USA chant for, “M-O-M! D-A-D!”

Just kidding, they won’t care, but they will point out that you dropped the iPhone charger in the parking lot, and they’re wondering when it’s time to eat.

4. Upper body, again. If there is a pool, and you have little kids, it will be assumed that you are a shot-put Olympian. You will launch all of your posterity, one at a time, “one mo’ time,” over and over. And one more time for a picture. It was blurry, though, so one more. Your arms may be on fire, but when it comes down to it, you’ll toss your kids a million times over for those laughs.

5. CARB LOAD. I don’t know, but it’s vacation, so it just seems right.

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California-ing and Wondering When Webster’s Going to Employ Me

Vacation mode. I want to say something like, “It’s where your mind is, not where your feet are,” but my mind wanders away from me exponentially more often than I’d consider myself vacationing.

Currently: trying to figure out how to sleep my little family in one room, with a two and three-year-old who both still nap, and a two-year-old who is a little big for the pack and play but won’t go to sleep without one, climbs out sporadically, and spends an hour at bedtime trying to find other people in the dark room using echolocation style squawking.

In fact, I’m writing this at 6:40am as I’m feeding that little two-year-old Goldfish crackers to keep him quiet. Low volume cartoons aren’t helping the cause with the occasional, “I WANT THAT,” at every commercial.

Sooo I’m not sure if he caught the vacation mode drift.

I’m readjusting my original vacation mode statement to, “It’s not where you are, it’s where your child who doesn’t sleep later than 8AM is.”

Roscoe sure is a cutie, though!

Other than being a little tired, Gus and Roscoe have been having the time of their lives. You can tell by the photos that Roscoe is still lukewarm about beaches…

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To My Stay At Home Mom Friends: You’re My Heroes

To the moms that refer to themselves as “just a mom”:

You are everything that I hope to become.

This can further be summarized by saying, “You’re the (little poo emoji)!”

Instead, I’ve chosen to use more eloquent (mature?) words, because this has become a personal, deeply moving topic for me. You stay at home moms have been on my mind often the past several months.

Let me back up before I continue.

I was raised by a father who grew up farming. I legitimately don’t know if you’ve ever seen a man with bigger calves or more muscular, callused hands. The ability to earn a living was often discussed, with emphasis on “earn.” His fatherly preaching? Don’t stumble over feelings of entitlement, work hard, don’t expect to always be taken care of, education is crucial, and women developing a skillset that will give them the ability to financially support their families know what’s up with Survival 101.

(I’m sure that went over my head for a good while, but when I spread my wings, I was grateful for the realistic perspective.)

My dad wasn’t necessarily a feminist, but he very much applauded and encouraged women’s self-reliance, married or not. (A woman empathetic to the effort required to make ends meet makes a great partner, right?)

Because of that, I have MAJOR admiration for women in the workforce. Whether they’re employed out of necessity or by choice, their representation in every sort of job fills me with pride.I could go on and on about women with successful careers. For a long time, I was one of the “work by necessity and don’t stop at Marshall’s on your way home because you can’t even afford cereal” type. I worked six days a week, and now, with kids, I’m relieved to be down to part time (which somehow still exhausts me with two little guys at home).

Working as a mom is tough, emotionally as well as physically.

But, even as I work part time, do you know who I am REALLY in awe of?

Stay at home moms. The “just a mom” moms.

Motherhood shouldn’t overshadow their capabilities. They are just as strong, determined, educated, and powerful, yet honorably decline the workforce. All those student loans? Unrealized dreams? A promising potential career path? Affording a different lifestyle?

Do you know how much faith that takes to watch these things fade in the rearview, even if they’ll be revisited in later years?

I’m so amazed by these women (and very specific women who I hugely admire) and their steadfast decisions to just to stay home with their children.

And by “just to stay at home,” I mean join their kids hand in hand on the front lines, battling a scary world. These moms are wise, and know that, if they can afford it, their time is most valuable teaching their children before sending them off to the world.

“Just a mom” is a woman, who, by choice:

braves the isolation that comes with young motherhood.
makes do with just a little less than she might if she worked.
is completely, utterly, painfully selfless.
stretches herself to be everyone’s everything, constantly.
never stops.
never gets a break.
is always, always on the clock.

Before I had kids, I asked of stay at home moms, “What do they do all day, every day?”
Now, I wonder, “How do they do it all day, every day?”

Although I’m not ready to throw in the towel with my job, I wonder if I am brave enough to become “just a mom.” For years, I’ve found enjoyment working outside the home. Am I brave enough to let go of years of schooling and hard work? Am I that selfless? Will I lose myself? Maybe that’s the point. Maybe that’s the refining process that creates the unsung heroes of every family.

You “just a mom”s are everything I aspire to be.

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Taking a Minute to Remember Sue

The other day ended with Brian happily swatting flies out of our kitchen with a (new and pretty, I must add) dish towel, and telling Gus, “That fly can run but he can’t hide from the inevitable. Can you say ‘inevitable’?”

Brian’s face while he playfully whipped the flies (and our bums) with the towel reminded me how most men are, deep inside, boys. Youthful, funny boys.

I’m jealous of that inextinguishable playfulness, and hope that, with three boys in my house, it will rub off on me.

On second thought, much of Brian’s youthfulness may be attributed to genetics. His grandma, who recently passed away, was eternally young.

Literally. I don’t believe I will ever see a woman in her late 80s bounce around like Sue Scurr. The word unreal comes to mind.

I will forever think fondly of Sue. I had the pleasure of meeting her the same day I first met Brian’s whole family. We were headed to his sister’s wedding reception, so I was a little “EEEE” about meeting his whole family at one time. Any feelings of nervousness dissipated after I was suddenly arm in arm with this immaculate, stylish woman! Sue seemed about twenty five. She was bubbly, lively, bright, and made me laugh. Good humor always bridges generational gaps, doesn’t it? I felt so welcomed! I’d made a new friend, even.

Before I knew that Sue had a name other than “Grandma,” I knew she had a late husband she deeply missed. Within moments of meeting Sue, she spoke fondly of Harry. While I was trying to remember people’s names at the wedding reception, she told me all about Harry. Never, ever, ever did I have a conversation end without her mentioning how she missed him.

That’s why this photo brought the happiest tears to my eyes. After twenty years, her reunion with Harry must have been indescribable.

(I also hadn’t realized that Harry and my son share a birthday! That makes me smile.)

Although I wasn’t able to attend the funeral, these beautiful photos from my awesome in-laws made me so grateful for family. Isn’t Sue beautiful? I’m not sure what she’s holding, but I wouldn’t doubt she needed an iPhone to take selfies of her glamourous wardrobe.

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Every Beach Trip is Shark Week When You’ve Watched Too Much Shark Week

They say home is where your heart is, and mine is always, always at the edge of the water.

Not far in it, though, because that’s scary and seaweed-y. Too many years of Shark Week.

(I wouldn’t mind a small nibble though, just something that would promise a small scar to elevate my street cred, especially to my boys. I’m envisioning being my kids’ elementary school show and tell object, walking into a spot light in an awed room, commanding attention as I solemnly part my leg hair to show them the 2” scar from what I’m positive was a teacup Great White…)

Oh, sorry. I digress.

Don’t let me watch Air Jaws again this year.

I think I got more smile lines this week from watching my boys beam. We waded in the chilly water, but mostly just played in the sand and exchanged, “This is the BEST, right!?” looks.

My heart feels right at home smelling any salty ocean air, but there is one beach in particular that I love. It’s where I’ve watched the sun set for years and years.

Are you a sunrise or sunset person?

Me? I’m a sunset girl. I think it sounds more romantic, less morning-breath-y. I love the dramatic ending to the day, a fiery exclamation point to punctuate the last moments of daylight. I like the way the sky dissolves into blackness, slowly but unrelenting, the way black ink bleeds on paper.

But.
A sunset is hardly an ending.

A past-life me would reassure you that dusk is just when the night is beginning.

There is a tangible energy that sunsets produce. Instead of blackness, the world suddenly sparkles with a thousand lights. There is a buzz of mystery. At nightfall, the world is suddenly exciting, delicately filtered by moonlight, and forgiving of seen-in-broad-daylight blemishes. Wait, is that why I like sunset?

There is a magnificence in feeling so insignificant watching one of nature’s shows.

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