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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Nothing Gold Can Stay

I can feel change approaching. Preschool is starting…and it’s just preschool. I know. Still, with my boys being back to back in school, I know this year kicks off a new life of schedules and time apart. (Time apart means less control of my kids’ environments, exposing my babies to outside influences, and…missing them!)

Cue flipping through baby pictures at night.

That’s where I’ve been this week. The impending threat of real-life scheduling has sent me into a panicked fun overdrive. I’ve completely worn us all out with daily excursions to multiple pools (slides! fountains! beach entries! hotels!), parks, Chuck E Cheese, trampoline parks, indoor play areas, and car washes.

(Car wash + Pop cookies/popcorn is how we do.)

This is all because my knee jerk emotion to change is sadness, but when I think about it…I don’t know if I should be completely sad about the “babies at home” chapter closing. In fact, when I really think back to the past few years, I think of the most tender, precious, quiet moments of my life mixed with some growing pains. They were a couple years of loneliness (happy loneliness, but loneliness nonetheless) as life at home with young, not-yet-talking children feels a little secluded. There were long nights, and anxiety as I learned how to care for sick babies, squinting at infant Tylenol directions at 3 AM. There were long days that were a mixture of laughter, love, walks, play dates with friends, and total bliss watching “firsts”, but also failed naps and multiple baths, just to fill the time.

Not joking on the baths. There were a LOT of baths in the winter. What else were we going to do?

It’s been a beautiful time of life. One of my favorite Robert Frost lines pops into my head often, “Nothing gold can stay.” Even though I’m concerned about a setting sun and a new chapter of motherhood, I am certain I’m just now approaching the gold.

And though I know nothing gold can stay, I will hold on to and admire that gold for every second it lasts.

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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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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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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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My Most Sunny Days Always Leave Me Teary

There is a wonder I experience as a new mom, crossing new bridges as my oldest child does the same.

My kids are approaching the real pearl of childhood. At almost two and three, the sleepless nights are behind us. My boys are both talking and expressing their own, hilarious thoughts, and I feel that new-mom isolation no more.

I’ve been caught off guard by this new stage of life and its unexpected sprinkling of pixie dust, because my kids think EVERYTHING is magical.

From seeing a street sweeper, to a stranger’s raspy voice, to blossoming trees…it’s all entrancing. Holding a ladybug for the first time, and watching with sheer astonishment when it flies away! Listening for helicopters! Watching a puppy lap water from a bowl! Garbage day! Witnessing sprinklers turn on! Putting detergent in the washing machine! It’s new. It’s fresh. My mundane routine is suddenly dazzling and vivid. The days have more zest. I’m still tired, but my kids give me a shot of laughter hourly, and their thrill of pioneering a new world is contagious.

My children are young enough to not understand real sorrow. Heartbreak is unknown. They don’t know about the world…they only know the world I put in front of them. At ages one and three, naivety is normal. Innocence is beautiful. Heaven still feels close.

They’re also young enough to not have any real school schedule or pressing commitments. I savor the peacefulness of midmorning strolls on quiet roads, and appreciate being rich enough in time to admire every dandelion along the way. I love the slow pace, and have to remind myself often not to complicate it. The world hasn’t sped up yet. I know, I know, it will, and the sand will slip through the glass quickly and cruelly; let me just enjoy holding onto those little hands a bit longer.

And those little hands. Those teeny, sticky fingers always find me, because I am wanted. A heart soars to feel wanted! The elation of feeling truly wanted as a parent is unparalleled. I know they’ll need a mother for years, but to WANT a mother–that’s different. Even on the days I go crazy almost tripping over two extra shadows, I know my heart will break just a little the day my kids insist they can spread their wings alone.

These are the days.

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Nursery Rhyme Meanings That Keep You Guessing

 I’ve heard convincing arguments that Mother Goose is the key to Ivy Leagues. I’m all for brain stimulation and early developmental progress, but I don’t remember many nursery rhymes. I’ve had to go off of memory, and it has proven to be a little fuzzy.

By “a little fuzzy,” I mean that I can’t remember even half the words. “Ring around the Rosies” is the only thing that’s clear in my mind. Sadly, that’s only due to years of elementary school repetition, because of the fascinating rumors of its morbid meaning that were shared in the shadows of the tether ball poles.

I looked up a couple nursery rhymes to keep in my back pocket.

Have you read them recently? There are some real creepers in there. How many young children go to sleep smiling serenely after hearing about some egg-dude Humpty that fatally fell off a wall, anyway?

Why do none of these have conclusions? Are there sequels?

What do these even mean, anyway?!

Here are a handful of my loose interpretations.

“Little Miss Muffet
Sat on her tuffet
Eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider and sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.”
Translation: Little Miss Muffet sat on her stool, or possibly Kim K booty (haven’t checked “tuffet” on Urban Dictionary), and ate 2% cottage cheese. She regretted not keeping the pest control guy’s magnet on the fridge.

“Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold, pease porridge in the pot, nine days old.”
Translation: Someone spilled frozen peas in the steel cut oatmeal. Before finally throwing it out, Mom kept it for nine days, because there are starving children in Africa.

“It’s raining, it’s pouring;
The old man is snoring.
Bumped his head
And he went to bed
And he couldn’t get up in the morning.”’
Translation: He got the Advil mixed up with Ambien. Or else…

“The bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain, to see what he could see. To see what he could see, to see what he could see. The bear went over the mountain to see what he could see.”
Translation: This was a “she” bear, probably a mom, just trying to get out of the house. Sometimes I do that. I go to Target, to buy what I can buy, to buy what I can buy.

“Old Mother Hubbard, went to her cupboard, to fetch her poor dog a bone. When she was there, the cupboard was bare, and so the poor dog had none.”
Translation: This is an ASPCA commercial. Cue Sarah McLachlan.

“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.
She gave them some broth,
Without any bread,
Whipped them all soundly, and sent them to bed.”
Translation: This lady came home from Saks with new Louboutins, and her husband said, “You better be living in those shoes, because that was as much as a mortgage payment!” She was like, “Fine, I will.” The new leather smell made her go crazy, and I really don’t know what happened after that. I’m sure the husband has full custody, and a pending restraining order.

I don’t think I’ll read that one to my little guy.

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A Letter to the People Telling Me I Have My Hands Full

To Humans That Throw Me The Old, “You’ve got your hands full! HA! HA! WINK!” Comment Every Time I Leave The House,

Okay, okaaaay. First of all, duh. I have a one and three year old, so, yes, you’re right.

Second of…wait. Are you referring to my children, or the large drink and two Starbucks sugar cookies in my hand as I’m steering the Target cart with my wrists?

Just making sure we were on the same page.

Does, “WOW YOU HAVE SURE GOT YOUR HANDS FULL!” translate to, “Hello!” in some kind of Costco/Target dialect of English?

Could you at least hold the door open for me while you say it?

Maybe not run to try to beat me to the check out?

Buy me a Twix?

I am beyond grateful to have babies with strong personalities and strong bodies to keep me busy. I adore them. I want more. Also, I won’t tell you that they’re actually being very angelic right now because I bribe them with orange Tic Tacs at the register.

If I have another baby, the only reason I’m hesitant to save my placenta to throw at people like you is because I don’t trust my aim. Pulling a placenta out of a Rebecca Minkoff bag and drilling the wrong person in the back of the head at Nordstrom Rack sounds like a news worthy assault suit.

Except, quite a few attorney friends are coming to mind as I’m thinking of it. I could probably count on some feminist friends to rally in front of the courthouse…so tell me I’ve got my hands full one more time and we’ll both see if I’m joking.

Juuuust kidding. We both know I’ll just fake smile at you again, like every week, and maybe say something much classier, like, “So is my heart!”

But, really. Knock it off.

Thanks You’re Annoying,

Ashton

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Finding Light in the Dark

Over the weekend, a past salon owner lost his child. Even though we weren’t close friends, the sadness was felt throughout the whole weekend at my salon. Like any parent, I feel deeply for this family. I can’t even handle the news in my mom-with-a-lot-of-feelings state! It’s safe to say I was a little shaken and very eager to love on my little guys a little extra. As I drove home from work both days, I thought about this tragedy in silence, because music almost seemed inappropriate.

For me, the stillness lingered today.

…but in that stillness, I noticed a lot more than I might have.

The vibrant green of new, spring leaves is stunning.

Teeny legs of a ladybug are ticklish. My boys held out both arms in awe as we caught our first ladybug. They marveled at the red. How many spots did it have? Was it friends with bees and butterflies? What about crocodiles? My youngest son screamed the shrieks of joy only a thrilled one year old and a baby velociraptor can.

My grandpa’s eyes have a never-aging twinkle in them every time he smiles.

My three year old’s face as he looked at himself incredulously in the mirror the first time he tried on new Batman jammies will make a grown man cry…and it did. Gus was stunned speechless with nothing but a huge grin and a few gasps, couldn’t stop touching the Batman logo until he needed both hands to fly. His sweet daddy’s smile was almost as big as he quietly wiped a few tears.

In these still moments, I am reminded what a beautiful life we live. Even though I have a limited understanding of the big picture, I know the Lord intends for us to be happy. Tender, perfect moments are sprinkled all along our lives’ paths, no matter where they may lead.

Right on cue from LDS General Conference today: “Even in the most difficult and darkest of times, there is goodness and light all around us.” -Elder Bragg

I can’t imagine how this cute family must feel, so I write this only as a “note to self” for future reference, and hope they can feel how many people send their love.

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Our Beginning of the Week +1.

For some reason, I’d assumed leaving my kids to go to work would get progressively easier as they got older. For me, it’s proven to be quite the opposite. Watching my little guys fade out of view in my rear view mirror makes me teary almost every single time.

Coming off my long work weekends, I’m so eager to play with my buddies. I like to ditch my phone and enjoy being in the moment. I want to tickle my 22 month old and hear his deep belly laugh. I want to have zero distractions building carwashes with blocks. I want to lay with my boys while they fall asleep and admire the thick eyelashes they will never fully appreciate.

My whole world revolves around them. As exhausting as it is, I am completely soaking in this season of life.

I think it’s because of my work guilt that I let my kids completely take the reins on Mondays.

Thaaaaaat’s why we’ve ended up taking this little turtle with us on several beginning of the week outings. His name is Turtle…my boys are quite literal in the naming process.

Turtle wanted to swing recently, so he got his own swing and I spent a while pushing both my guys and a turtle.

After my boys were done swinging, my 22 month old stood next to me to help push Turtle. I snapped a few pictures, then went back to pushing Turtle and narrating the ride with lots of “WEEEEE! SO HIGH!” until I realized the little blonde in my peripheral wasn’t my child, but a little girl and her grandma. They were patiently waiting behind me to stop taking pictures of my swinging plastic turtle so she could have a turn.

My kids were in a playground tunnel, so I, alone, moved Turtle, and he sat down next to me on a bench.

I’m sure I’m on some neighborhood watch Facebook page, but I’m really into Turtle right now. He’s become a real beacon getting me through my work days.

I am lucky to love my job, but if Turtle joins the crew and makes an appearance in my rearview this weekend, I’ll probably need waterproof mascara.

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