Monday, April 28, 2014

monday, april 28th, at 6:13am

Everyone is sleeping.  There are loud birds outside.  In just the space of an hour, our house will be a hive of activity.  Lunches in bags, breakfast splatters being wiped up, searching for the right underwear with that dress, the elusive matching sock.  Prep for the week has been done: chopped veggies and roasted sweet potatoes and a huge pot of brown rice.  Most of the clothes are folded.  Most of the clutter is tidied.  It will only be this quiet for a few more minutes.  It is absolutely perfect in here, just waiting.

Before I finish this post, I'll hear the soft patter of Milo vaulting over the side of his crib and padding out into the living room.  I'll hold him and show him the new shelves with all his toys.  I'll remember how much I liked picking them out yesterday, at Ikea, with his father.  We looked at other people with kids and pretended we were dating again.  Milo and I will watch Peppa Pig and negotiate about when it will be time for breakfast.  We'll hear little stretch and yawn noises from around the corner, where Elliott is sleeping with Daddy, where he has been since sometime around 4am.  Then, all at once, the house will be throbbing and loud and the day and week and month will start.

I was up early, before it was light, to sip coffee and read different articles.  I stocked up on quiet and privacy.  I cried if something was sad and clicked save on things I found special enough to share.  I strengthened my reserves to get ready for my real life, where little kids need me in the morning and at night, and slightly less little kids will be eagerly waiting for me in the classroom hours, kids who are as desperate for their routine as I am for my morning time.  We'll share news and hugs and talk about the countdown for summer, and I'll try to remember how wildly different those 8 weeks are for some of them.  Not everyone "can't wait."

I live for these moments.  The couple of seconds before the next big chunk of time.  I like the month before a new baby is born, the first week of a new year, the night before a birthday, the morning before school starts again.  The last few minutes before everyone wakes up.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

State of Speech At Our House

We used this April Vacation to take care of appointments- a good half of our time has been spent getting checked and measured and vaccined and making plans.  I'm still processing all the new information about our family and planning out how our spring and summer will roll.  I wanted to share this for a few reasons: I like to write about things as a way to process them for myself, and I also find a lot of comfort in reading about how other families tackle different issues.  I have some speech and language resources included at the bottom, but please chime in with tips and questions.

We started with Elliott's 15-month check up.   He's on track with his percentiles and they were happy with the way we were managing his lactose intolerance, but I felt deja vu as they asked me questions about how much he was speaking and I had to admit that he mostly wasn't.  Grunting, pointing, and healthy babbling, yes.  But not complete words.  It wasn't his normal pediatrician, and the nurse practitioner started stuttering a little, trying to figure out how to suggest a speech evaluation without making me panic.  I put her out of her misery and told her we were already in the system. 

I texted Ben about the speech issue while we waited for shots and he asked me "What are we doing wrong?"  I realized with complete certainty that we're doing nothing wrong.  We read and talk to our kids, take them places and eat meals with them, and have resources that we trust whenever we think they might need a boost.  I started feeling the swirling disappointment, comparing Elliott to his younger friend who says a ton of words, mentally taking tally of all the times I only read Elliott one bedtime story to Milo's five or six.  Then I relaxed, took a deep breath, and vowed not to call for an evaluation until I was home for the summer.  In the meantime, I'm working on the signs "more" and "help" and paying a little more attention to our conversations.

On the other end of the speech therapy process, Milo had his one year evaluation this week, as well.  A year ago he tested into Early Intervention with a significantly low speech score and minorly delayed cognition scores.  At his six month review in October, his speech had improved, but his ability to follow adult directions was delayed.  Yesterday, he tested out of Early Intervention with all his scores above the normal range.  None of us on his team thought that would happen.

I am so proud at how well he did, and I love that they use the same test as last year so I could directly compare the scores for each subtest.  Still, both his therapist and I were a little worried that he might not be ready to completely drop all services.  He has a few sensory things that he could use work with, and he still struggles with adult-directed behavior.  I love this system because they used "clinical judgement" to continue his services for another 6 months, which will take him right up to his 3rd birthday.  He'll be going to a therapy group in the summer, and he'll still be tested by Leominster Public School before he turns three.  

I'm reeling a bit from all the unexpected outcomes of the week.  I also am unsure of my next steps.  Milo has made so much incredible improvement, and I am bursting with pride at my communicative, (sometimes) self-calming son.  Here is the million dollar question: what caused all this change?  His weekly therapy?  The work I did with him last summer?  Or just getting a year older?  My gut leans towards the last one.  Would all of this growth have happened without our work with sign language and doing planned activities and having someone come to house?  Elliott may be eligible for the same support this summer, so these questions are right at the surface.

I didn't even get into the details of my appointment about my slightly elevated blood pressure and blood sugar, but my health needs to be at the top of the list right now, as well.   I know that I can do a good job taking care of my family, but I'm terrible at taking care of myself.  (Note to Ashlie: "letting" yourself eat lots of ice cream and consistently skipping chores in favor of browsing Pinterest is not taking care of yourself).  So that's my challenge in the coming months.  Recognize that I'm a lucky-ass lady who has thriving kids and a toolbox to help them keep growing.  And shift a little focus to my own health, so I can keep being there for them.

When Milo was really struggling with communication last spring, I spent some time gathering resources to help me understand what was going on.  Playing With Words 365 is a website completely centered around building speech skills in everyday play, and I love their articles.  I have a Pinterest board, talk to me baby, where I keep tips/charts/ideas about development.  I also wrote about our experience here and here.  If you have other tips or expertise to share, I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Coffee and Blogs No. 2

(found here.  also, read someone's palm today!)

I hope you're having a wonderful time in this post-Easter sugar haze.  I'm still on April Vacation and loving every second of it.  Even the doctor visit, vaccine, speech evaluation parts of it have had their charm (I get to be here for this!  There are no sub plans involved!) I've been collecting some cute things from the internet that I think might strike your fancy.  Get cozy with a cup of coffee and check these out.

Best quote ever: "Be steady and well-ordered in your life so you can be fierce and original in your work." -Gustave Flaubert, stop speaking directly to me. 

I loved this article on finding your people.  Sometimes we feel pressure to connect with people who have similar lives or who are most often around, but there is something different about the instant connection with certain others who aren't really others.  Find your people and (even though they're usually the ones who need the least maintenance, I find) give them a little love.

These blogging tips were simple and inspiring: blogging for busy women and the case for guest blogging.

Speaking of blogging and fabulous women, these are some of my real life friends who have kick ass blogs: Stephanie makes her home awesome and we follow along at Sandpaper and Glue, Meg does lots of sweet DIY projects at Sunshine Maker Meg, and Sarah shares meals, decor, and FREEBIES at Thrift Tales.

I'm constantly searching for the secret formula that will allow me to lead a perfectly organized and productive life.  I think the 20s decade is made up of tons of input, trying out tons of different routines, and shaking down into what will actually work in our 30s and 40s.  I can unironically say that I can't wait to be older and wise.  These articles gave me some strategies to try in the meantime: creating a weekly rhythm and a night time routine for morning success.

Binge-eating is a form of disordered eating that is usually associated with so much shame that no one talks about it.  Thank you, internet, for helping me listen to people who are talking about it.  Good first step.  Half Size Me has an encouraging podcast and blog, as well as a paid community for more support.  This was another great article with strategies to prevent binging. 

This is such a cute bathing suit, and this is such a cute dress.

Rad things for radical kids: pulling out the water table, sending hugs through the mail, and last year's big hit during homeschool summer...sensory week.

Consider voting for Simple Mama on Top Baby Blogs- CLICK HERE if you're into that kind of thing.

I hope that was a relaxing break for you!  What is cute/interesting/helpful on your internet?  Any good links to share?  Send them, please and thank you!

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Friday, April 18, 2014

28 things making me happy today, this moment, right now

I've missed you.  And you, and you.  When I stop making really specific time for writing, or when my kids start deciding that 5:15 is a fun time to be with Mama, then my posting trickles away a little.  And it makes me sad.  I have lots to talk about (my sweet little head is about exploding with ideas) but right now, I want to give myself and all my lovelies a boost.  Here are 28 things making me happy right now.

1. Posting this! 

2. Both kids are napping

3. Laurel is coming tomorrow

4. We're planning on mimosas

5. We watched Frozen in the 1st grade yesterday, and we let the kids sing along to Let it Go, and their tiny voices raised together made me cry.

6. We have new carpet in the living room, and the boys are overjoyed and run around a ton.

7. Milo specifically asked me to take him to the library.

8. Milo in general is talking a lot more, telling me what he dreams, and answering questions about his day at dinner.

9. I've found some really interesting resources about binge-eating and weight loss, and they feel right.

10. Iced coffee season is here

11. In my personal life, iced coffee season is always

12. Easter is finally this weekend, and making Easter baskets is one of my favorite pastimes.

13. I scrubbed a year's worth of crusted toddler mess (mostly food and finger paint) off the metal ridged rim at the bottom of our kitchen table and it felt SO GOOD.

14. I just admitted one of my most shameful housekeeping secrets (like, I pray every time someone is here that they won't notice the rim of the table) and it felt SO GOOD.

15. FaceTiming with my mom, texting with my sister.

16. Milo sings "Do You Want To Build A Snowman" with me.

17. Elliott's hair is starting to curl.

18. It's April Vacation

19.  I graduate grad school in a matter of weeks

20. I have a ton of great doctor's appointments this upcoming week, and it's step in the right direction for me, and that feels SO GOOD.

21. Laurel got accepted into the Chicago Marathon in October

22. My sister Emily is getting married

23. My sister Julianna is having a baby SO SOON OMG

24. Ben and I have an IKEA date next Sunday (WITH NO KIDS WHAT?!)

25. I had the coolest conversation about the after life with my coworkers yesterday and it was deep and I loved it.

26. I have some cute posts planned, with titles like How To Build Your Village and Can We Talk About Frozen?

27. My kids woke up while I writing this and I cuddled them, put them in the same crib together, dumped in 10 books, and they hung out and read so I could finish.  Woah.

28. I'm here and I am surrounded by love and iced coffee and friends and family.  I'm out-of-my mind lucky, and only rarely do I shake off the mundane daily stuff that drags me down and remember it.  There are plenty of days where everything from not having a dad to leaving my lunch at home makes me feel deeply sad and grumbly, but I'm really happy that today I'm happy.  I'll take it whenever I can get it.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy Monday!

Give yourself some little breaks this week.  If you live in April Vacation land, we are almost there! 


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

move update: february and march

My family's word of the year is MOVE, and we're using it to frame our intentions for 2014.  Here is the year's declaration, and here is is the January update.

I'm overdue to share a move update.  To be honest, the wind kind of got knocked out of me in February when we realized that the keynote event of our word of the year- moving houses- was not going to happen.  Now, at the beginning of April, it feels like a million years ago that Ben and I had our epiphany and broke up with our realtor.  The saddest part was she already knew.  She was relieved.  

But I wasn't ready to let go of move, because it's important in so many ways around here.  If we're not going to pull up roots completely, then we need to rearrange.  We've spent the last month seriously evaluating the flow of our house and discussing what we need to be comfortable.  We're making the revolutionary decision to ADD carpet and COVER HARDWOODS.  Most people we know grow faint at this, but for our family, we truly believe it will be more comfortable.  My house isn't Pinterest, and this hard floor is tough on baby heads.  We also have plans to get rid of some furniture in the kitchen, add matching open shelving to make a "pantry," and paint.  Add a dishwasher.  Our biggest project will be turning the back porch into a den to hold Ben's movies, my books, and our craft supplies.  We're taking quotes.  We're moving forward.

I'm also using this as an excuse to move clutter.  We have a lot of stuff packed and piled in this little house.  I want to be a museum curator in my home, I like to save things, and we frequent flea markets, hoarding little trinkets we can get for under 20 dollars.  It's the best part of who we are and my favorite thing about the way we make our home. So choices have to be made.  Keep the old love letters that belonged to a couple in the 40s and throw out the old papers you wrote your first year of grad school.  Keep the three pieces of baby clothing that you splurged on from Etsy and pass all the cute tiny clothes on to other mamas trying to make it happen- that's how you got by with little ones.  Keep the family heirloom stuffed pheasant.  Always keep the family heirloom stuffed pheasant.

Physically, we're still not move experts.  We love books and movies and we're tired from a life that is busy but not necessarily active.  In the first three months of the year, I've never committed to a regular exercise routine, although I'm not giving up on myself yet.  It was a gross late winter, raw and windy, but the boys truly do beg to dance every night after dinner, ever since our first impromptu dance party that broke my heart.  Literally in the last week it has become nice enough for the snow to melt, and we've already walked to the library once and the park twice.  The afternoons are hit or miss, but we're getting outside more.  I have hopes to take swimming lessons with Elliott, just like I did with Milo, and I'm looking at gymnastics for my 2-year-old who loves to jump and do somersaults.

In my personal life, the tiniest piece of life that is for me and only me, I'm moving forward by really looking at my writing hobby.  My blog has always been a noisy online journal, unplanned and unfiltered, and it's been years since I shared any fiction with anyone.  But I think I may want to move forward here, as well.  Last month I created a LinkedIn profile (it still feels like a kids craft next to the impressive canvases of my peers careers, but I'm MOVING FORWARD okay?!) and I guest posted once.  There's more to come.  

I'm tremendously glad I committed to move updates.  I was feeling really low about the word of the year when it was freezing, I wasn't going to the gym, and we weren't even freaking MOVING anymore.  But writing it out, I can see that real, focused change has happened in my family since the beginning of the year.  Even if it isn't exactly what it looked like in January, it's still happening.  We're still learning.  We're still moving.  It's still looking to be a great year.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

happy monday

I originally wanted to share this infographic of great quotes from children's literature, but I couldn't get the image large enough to appreciate the loveliness.  I only LOVE about half of them- perhaps I need to make my own.  Any favorite kid lit quotes?  Read something very wonderful this week.  Have a magical Monday.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Coffee and Blogs

(one my favorite pins of the week.  original link here.)

Taking a minute to share some great stuff I found on the internet recently:

My mom and stepfather gifted me Stephen King's On Writing when I was in high school, based on my love of writing fanfiction.  I never realized they were giving me one of most popular writing guides out there.  Here is some more writing advice from Mr. King.

I've been searching different magazine-style sites to see if contributing would be a good for me.  I used to LOVE Jane magazine when I was high school, and was crushed the first time I couldn't find it in the airport before I flew with my family. Jane is back (has been for awhile) and they have some really great writing advice.  

I love this dress, this outfit, and this make up.  AND OH MAN these  tattoos.

A good friend sent me this site, which is literally a place to write three good things about your day- not for sharing on Instagram or to keep a permanent record, just to write them and see them and know them and move on.

NPR completely got me with this perfect April Fools Day prank.  Woah.

I've read this blog several times over the years and it's frankly not really for me.  The author's lifestyle is so separate from mine, which usually draws me in, but the tone never got me to keep reading.  THAT BEING SAID I really like this post about living simply and saving money.  I think the biggest struggle for me is being a good steward of my things.

Favorite Facebook status of the week: "Finally watched Frozen and felt on the verge of tears the whole time, thinking how all the kids in my hallway at school sing the songs ALL THE TIME and this might be their little mermaid and Esh made some singing noises and it was emotional."

If you don't mind, please CLICK HERE and vote for us to stay on the first page of Top Baby Blogs.  Thank you, lovely.

Did you see anything awesome on the internet this week?  Tell me!

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

walk it off

The past week has been a complete whirlwind.  Elliott and I went to Florida.  Pink eye took over our household.  One of my sisters was in an earthquake while on a fancy business trip to California.  One of my sisters celebrated her coming baby.  One of my sisters got engaged. 

Sometimes stupid moms say things like, "Honestly, my kids never get sick, and we've never even HAD an ear infection" and then both ears are infected and your kid lifts his tiny head and is so swollen from fighting bacteria that he looks like a tiny Rocky Balboa and you cry, in the nursery, in the morning, and do some quick math to figure out if you have enough sick days left to cover this ish.  Those moms are dumb.

I've been thinking much, much, much too much.  Thinking about what is WRONG with me.  Why is my house so dirty?  Why can't I lose weight?  Why do I always feel like I'm inconveniencing day care or massively letting down work?  Why do I spend my time so poorly?  Why am I such a mess? Why can't I handle this stuff without subjecting people to post after post after post about the same mundane problems that everyone deals with and why is everyone doing it BETTER?  I quickly remember that I'm just how I am and if I went for a walk I'd probably calm down and I think about the advice I gave my sister at her baby shower, as the mom with the most recent kids.  There were lots of young pregnant ladies in there.  I felt pressure to make it good.

"No one knows that they're doing.  That's my advice.  None of us know what we're doing.  And if it seems like we do, we're lying." 

I plan to get myself organized (snort) and get back on track over here.  I have a word-of-the-year update for February and March, another write feed play read, and a really cool interview project that I'm excited about.  Stay tuned, lovelies. 

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