Letting go, one milestone at a time

 

Motherhood is mania personified.  Truly.  One second I’m pulling my hair out, desperately wondering when getting W dressed will no longer require chasing and tackling.  The next second, silent tears of pride stain my cheeks as he proudly pulls his own undies up and down to go potty.

And this week’s mania?

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W started his first art class where (soon) he’ll be in the class all.by.him.self. [GASP]  It was terrifyingly adorable.  Miniature chairs, tiny smocks and paint splattered masterpieces mixed with a little bit of sharing and learning his colors.

I faded into the background knowing that the goal was to soon leave him there alone.  I was just a silent (and proud) observer of his little personality filling the room and coming through loud and clear…a whole lot of spark and persistence, a little bit of antsy curiosity and a lot of kindness for his new buddies.

It’s exhausting.

And not always in a bad way.  But exhausting in a cathartic sense.  The other side of extreme joy and pride is seriously just as tiring as the other side of panic.  And I know a little bit about panic.  Like the mild panic I feel as I think about actually leaving him alone at his art class in the coming weeks…

But the day will come.  It will happen.  Eventually.  And whether I’m ready or not, there will always be another milestone fading away in the rearview mirror…another one appearing on the horizon.  A never ending lesson in letting go.

But real talk, this road toward a more independent child is a nail-biter of a ride for those of us in the driver’s seat.  It’s bumpy and paved with chaos, but it’s a scenic drive splashed with tiny moments of triumph, exhaustion, lots of joy and a few spilled bottles of paint.  Oops.

But the passenger seat?  Well, that’s a different story.  Let’s just say that my little co-pilot seems to be thoroughly enjoying every second of this hectic ride and happens to love speed bumps.  The more the better.  The bigger the better.

No wonder I’m starting to go gray…

Manically yours,

MomME

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Go BC!

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This weekend W and I hit the road with my parents to cheer on my alma mater, Boston College, as the football team kicked off the season.  I’ve gotta be honest, though.  There was something totally strange about pushing a stroller around the same places we used to drunkenly stumble at 5am exclaiming, “People are sugaring their Corn Flakes right now!”

True story.  That was actually said.

But seriously.  This past weekend I was that old person who brought their kid to campus.  That old person in the dining hall.  That old person in the Mods.  And then, of course, there were those moments when I felt totally out of place amidst a sea of cut-off jean shorts and crop tops (BC’s new student uniform, apparently).  Had me feeling like my distressed denim was all sorts of mom jean.  Lame.

That lady. Pushing the stroller.

But once I got over all that.  I’ve gotta say.  There was something absolutely priceless about having my little guy running through the quad, cheering Go BC!, dancing to the band while proudly wearing his new Eagles shirt as those same questionably clad co-eds smiled and cooed, “Awwwww” as he zoomed by them.

IMG_9367 Go BC! IMG_9369

I think they call it pride.  Yeah, that’s it.

I was proud.

Proud to be there with him and talk about where Mommy went to school.  Proud to be back on a campus that helped shape me in so many ways.  A campus where I met life-long friends.  I was proud to be an alum of BC.  And proud thinking that, one day, this precious little guy would be wearing his own Super Fan shirt.  (Thankfully I have 15 years to prepare for that milestone.  I’m still anxious about dropping him off…alone…at art class next week.)

And with that pride welling in my chest, I wanted to get a picture with the little guy in front of the Boston College sign at the entrance to campus.  Well.  Want to make a toddler laugh scream?  Tell them your plans.  And then take the photo below.

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I was still proud.  A little sweaty from the 80 degree day and the anxiety that is holding a tantruming toddler.  But proud.  Here’s to more tailgating in our future…

Proudly yours,

MomME

Little boys and their tractors

Nothing makes W more giddy with glee than the sight of countless big, green, dirty…tractors.  I think he actually prefers the ones that still smell like manure.  Yup.  My kid is definitely from Maine.  Even though we don’t own a tractor…and never have…and never will.  Ever.

But, knowing his penchant for anything with wheels, I hoped the “Tractors and Trucks” event at Pineland Farms would be a hit.  What I didn’t know was just how much was going to love the place, too.  After making the 40+ minute trek, parking once to buy our ticket, getting back into the car to drive down to the farm…we finally came to the top of a hill…

And I was at a total loss for words….

At least until I texted all my mom-friends how amazing this place was.  But, seriously. The way the haze settled over the green hills as they rolled into crisp white fences and picturesque barns…I mean, I thought we were in Ireland.  And I never thought I wanted to visit Ireland, but after this I’m totally down…

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Ok, so the tractor part.  We walked down the road and arrived at the barn to find tractor after tractor after flatbed after bulldozer and a FIRETRUCK (have I mentioned how much he loves firetrucks, too!?).  Each and every one of them was open to the kiddos to climb in and on.

But you couldn’t push any buttons.

I know, I know!  I found that hilarious, too.  Like that was going to happen.  So, I just tried to steer him clear of the emergency brake…I figured that had to count for something?

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Then we decided to take a little walk to the Blueberry Hill slide.  We even ran into some friends in the cabin and by the tractor wheel.  Life was good.

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And we still had so many adventures ahead of us!  W said hello to the baby goat and got to feed and pet the incredible cows in the barn.  He was so proud of himself!

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It was an incredible day.  I may have already mentioned that.  But even after several hours there, the awe hadn’t worn off a bit.  We wandered back down the road, said goodbye to the beautiful horses, and our hearts were full.

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Gratefully yours,

MomME

And just like that, we were done

It happened so slowly that I barely noticed it.  But in hindsight I guess I also grieved it slowly.  Every day.  Across months.  And said good-bye minute by minute, session by session…until, finally, my little nursling was no more.

A little more than two years and little W is, I’d say, officially weaned.  For the last several months my energetic toddler has nursed less and less, and still less.  Our once three-times-a-day sessions dropped down to just morning and night.  And, when he was just as eager to wake up and eat breakfast we dropped another session and just nursed before bed.  And finally, when he was just as eager to start reading books with Daddy…

We were done.  There were no more nursing sessions left to drop.

And much to my surprise, I was OK.  I am OK.

There were so many times leading up to this day that I’d look down at him while he was nursing and my heart would just about burst in my chest.  Explode.  Threatening to scatter tiny fragments of my soul across his serene nursery.  I know.  That sounds so dramatic.  But two things: (1) if you’ve ever self-sustained a tiny human (from the breast or bottle) you know what I’m talking about and (2) nursing makes you all sorts of hormone-induced-crazy.  So, it was the silent kind of catastrophe that usually just resulted in big, silent tears seeping from my eyes while my little one happily nursed away none the wiser.  I was already heartbroken and dreading something I knew would come…

But I just couldn’t imagine the day we’d no longer nurse.  The day we’d no longer share this indescribable bond.

It was, after all, a bond forged over engorged, bloody nipples…clogged ducts…and mastitis.  A bond forged through what seemed like endless all-nighters, cluster feedings and days where we spent more time nursing than we didn’t (and I have the app to prove it…).  Across a seemingly endless journey from 32As to 32Es..every size in between…and arriving at my new boobs that more closely resemble tiny, shriveled grapes.

But it came and went.  As I knew it would.  As it had for many of my friends, whether it was before it ever started…or sooner than they would have liked.  I’d grieved with them, too, and felt joy for them as they found new ways to connect and keep their special bond alive.  But I was so surprised that I almost didn’t even notice.  It happened so gradually.  So peacefully.  Not at all the dramatic explosion my anticipation foreshadowed.  Thankfully.

I know that, each and every day, he’s growing and changing and developing and evolving – just like our relationship.  But, nursing or not, I know that our bond is just as strong.  We just express it in different ways now.  A running hug from across the room.  A kiss on my imaginary “boo boo.”  A snuggle before bed.

And, you know what?  It kind of feels good to be wanted just for me.

But, honestly, little W will still ask for milk every once and a while…even though these shriveled milk-makers aren’t making anymore milk.  And I happily oblige because I miss having his little head lay on my chest as we snuggle.  So when it happens, I breathe in every second of his warmth and am grateful for just one more moment.

Gratefully yours,

MomME

 

 

Pooparazzi, Part II

Back by customer demand is a sequel to my ever-popular Pooparazzi post.  And while I have high-hopes for the popularity of this post, too, I have to admit, there’s something way cuter about baby poop than there is about toddler poop.  It’s pretty gross, actually.  Because it’s pretty much adult poop…in a fun-colored toilet.  Not so fun.

So here it goes with a (toddler-sized) turd update.

I’ll start at the beginning…It was January 21st at about 6:00pm.  Yup.  Right before tubby time.  That was the first time our dear little W sat on his potty and went pee!  My husband was getting him ready for his bath and, nonchalantly, suggested W go pee on the potty before his bath and then my husband walked into the closet to get his stuff ready for the next day, leaving W with some peace and quite.  Next thing I knew, my husband was at the top of the stairs asking me if I put water in W’s potty because it had started singing.  The answer was a big fat, NOPE!  He must have gone pee on his potty!

But, because he’s two and enjoys the word “no” (accompanied by a furrowed brow and little head shake), it would be another 37 days until we could scream and shout and celebrate over something in our little potty.

But it was worth the wait.  Because you know what he did a whole 37 days later!?

HE POOPED ON THE POTTY!  And two days later he PEED TWICE ON THE POTTY!

Similar to his first pee on the potty, he pooped on the potty very unexpectedly.  We’d just taken a shower and I encouraged him to go pee on his potty.  He tried a few times but then said no and didn’t seem interested.  So, I let it be. While in the closet getting dressed, he peed a tiny drop on the rug and I rushed him in to the potty again and sat him down.  Knowing that we had success last time when he was left alone, I walked back into the closet to finish getting ready.  Before I knew it, literally 30 seconds later, he came running into the closet shouting, “Poo poo!  Poo poo!”

I was thinking he had to go poop so I started towards his room in a hurry, not wanting him to poop on our white closet rug.  But, W pulled me over to his little potty and again said, “Poo poo! “Poo poo!” and pointed this little gem…

Totally gross.
Toddler sized turds are, well, totally gross.

Holy, crap.  Literally.  A poop in the potty means a poop that is not smooshed and smeared all over his diaper and butt.  Amen.  And, he was SO PROUD of his poop.  If he weren’t buck naked in the picture I’d post that, too.  And just two short days later he decided to take TWO – count ’em two – pees on his potty.

So where does this leave us?

I have no freaking idea.  I haven’t read the first thing about potty training.  I can’t even imagine my tiny human going to the bathroom all on his own, given that he can’t really pull up or pull down his pants yet.  So…I guess it’s just a start.  He seems to have fun using the potty, but honestly, he also doesn’t give a crap (pun intended) if he has a poop in his pants.

To be continued…

Yours truly,

MomME

Tasty Tuesday: Drunken Pumpkin Chili for Superbowl Sunday!

Gorgeous photo from The Scrumptious Pumpkin
Drunken Pumpkin Chili                                                   Gorgeous photo from The Scrumptious Pumpkin

Little W was born on the morning of Superbowl Sunday almost two years ago.  And while I wasn’t watching much of the game that evening, in true Superbowl form, I was eating some delicious hospital food.  (While my writing is usually rife with sarcasm, that my friends, was no lie…our hospital had the absolute best chicken club, the crispiest bacon and amazingly seasoned steak fries.  I’m pretty sure I ordered that combo at every meal while I was there…maybe even breakfast…)

But I guess that is neither here nor there, except to say that the Superbowl means a good game (hopefully) and even better food.  Oh, and the end of football season.  Amen.  

So what’s on the menu for the big game, you ask?  Three words…

Drunken. Pumpkin. Chili. 

I pinned the recipe earlier this fall and absolutely loved it.  Chili on a cold day is always good, but this chili has a really exceptional flavor profile with layers upon layers of unexpected flavors.  Yes.  I was watching Master Chef Junior last night.  So what am I trying to say?

It’s a flavor-explosion in your mouth.  It’s a warm hug on a cold day.  

Cumin, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, chipotle peppers…garlic, onion and bay leaves…velvety pureed pumpkin and mouth-watering pumpkin beer.  Carrots, yellow peppers and black beans.  Keep the beef, or omit for a vegan spin.  Go off-recipe and maybe even add some sweet potato.  Top it off with cheddar cheese, or sour cream, or greek yogurt or make a little chipotle mayo/sour cream/greek yogurt.  Everyone loves a good dollop of something on their chili.

It’s savory, smokey and has a hint of sweet.  It’s a vibrant masterpiece in a bowl, frankly.  Oh, and it’s amazing as leftovers.  You can’t go wrong.

I bet Gisele is going to whip up a batch of this for her hunny before the big game.  Yup.  So that means you probably should, too.

Go Pats!

MomME

 

Drunken Pumpkin Chili from The Scrumptious Pumpkin (her blog post is filled with absolutely gorgeous step-by-step pictures, so check it out!)
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour, 10 minutes
 
Yield: 6 servings 
 
Ingredients
1 pound 93% lean ground beef (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup pumpkin ale
15-ounce container pure pumpkin puree
15-ounce container diced tomatoes
2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeds removed and minced
15-ounce container black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
15-ounce container cannellini beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tasty Tuesday: Roasted Garlic & Cauliflower Mash with Parmesan Cheese

Photo Credit: http://www.hummusapien.com/roasted-garlic-mashed-cauliflower-potatoes/
Roasted Garlic & Cauliflower Mash                                       Photo Credit: http://www.hummusapien.com

Chances are, if I’ve had you over for dinner, I served my Baked Honey Mustard Chicken alongside this decadent Roasted Garlic & Cauliflower mash.  The smell of roasted garlic mingles with the rosemary and, man oh man, it smells good.  Like been-cooking-all-day good.  Add a dash of something green to the plate (so you’re not serving a monochromatic meal) and you’ve got a (pretty healthy) serving of what I consider comfort food.

Rich.  Savory.  Flavorful.  Simple.

I tweak the dish a bit and leave out the milk, butter and yogurt because (1) my husband is borderline lactose intolerant and (2) I don’t always have milk on hand so I just improvise.  Instead?  I opt for a dash of chicken stock and a bit more olive oil – or nothing at all – depending on the consistency.  But honestly, the roasted garlic has such a rich and creamy flavor that I don’t even think the recipe needs the milk, butter or yogurt.  It is, however, ABSOLUTELY EVEN MORE AMAZING if you do add in a  bit of something creamy 🙂  If I’m making it for friends or girlfriends who aren’t lactose-intolerant (and I have the milk or creamer or yogurt on hand) I add it in without hesitation.

Either way, what I do add on top of my portion is a heaping handful of parmesan cheese.  It gets all melty-yummy on top and is just sublime.

So, don’t overlook that head of cauliflower at the grocery store next time!  It could be the the best vegetable dish you’ve served in a long time.  Love broccoli?  I’ve even roasted broccoli AND cauliflower and the mash was delicious, too!

Hungrily yours,

MomME

Day 18 – 20: [final installment] Sleep Regression Update

All seems right in the world when your kids takes their nap.  And that is hardly an exaggeration.  It’s been 5 days of easy-peasy-no-nursing-down-at-1pm naps and we are both loving the life of the rested.

For now.

They always say, just as you’ve settled into a comfortable routine and something feels easy…just wait a second and it will change.  [We say that about the weather here in Maine, too…awesome.]  I’m sure you can imagine how much my compulsive need to know and plan absolutely loves the certainty of ever-changing-uncertainty.

Nope.  Not at all.

But.  I’m actually getting better at rolling with the punches.  Nap time, though, was just NOT something that I was going to let roll out the door.  Instead, I did some contingency planning during Days 1-13 that allowed me to have a semblance of control over the day and a tad bit of personal time before 7pm.  And it involved setting my alarm for 5:45am to do my Tone It Up work out, write a blog post, whatever.

And even better than setting my alarm for 5:45 (I know, you’re thinking that pretty much everything is better than that…and I don’t disagree) was setting my automatic coffee maker for 5:40am!  No joke, I heard the coffee machine finish brewing and that was all the motivation I needed to groggily find my way to the kitchen, grunt a good-morning to my husband (who gets up at 5:15 every day…you’re so good, honey!) and head on downstairs to workout and rack up the steps on my FitBit (and my competitive nature loves trying to out-do myself with this little tracker!)

We all bend and adjust to the new and changing circumstances as best we can, even little W.  And sooner or later we all fall into a new normal that will, no doubt, change again soon.  Sigh.  But even though my early wake-up was only meant to be an interim modification to adjust to a no-nap scenario, I think it’s going to stick around even with nap time back in full-swing…

For now.

So, here’s to Day 21 of our (formerly known as) Nap Regression.

Gratefully yours,

MomME

 

Tasty Tuesday: Baked Honey Mustard Chicken (with a grown-up twist!)

Photo Credit: Damn Delicious
Baked Honey Mustard Chicken                  Photo Credit: Damn Delicious

I admit.  I’m an avid Pinterest pinner.  Whether it’s beautifully coordinated clothes, amazingly expensive and impractical shoes I’ll never have the occasion to wear, make-up or hair that I’d have time to style only in my dreams, or decor that I’m sure I could pull off if I could just make it through Home Goods without a toddler on the tear…I’ll pin it.  No matter its likelihood of turning into a reality.

Recipes on Pinterest?  Well, they’re a different story.  

I’m actually totally on top of my meal-making game on Pinterest.  Yeah, sure, I’ll admit some are a disastrous flop.  But, many more have earned their way into my weekly line-up of meals or have become my go-to appetizers at parties.  Pinterest is definitely my first stop for meal-time inspiration.

 

My absolutely favorite Pinterest find is the incredibly delicious, oh-so-easy (to prep, multiply, prepare, clean up after) Baked Honey Mustard Chicken from Damn Delicious.

All you need are chicken thighs, several kinds of mustard (that you likely have in the pantry or are super inexpensive to buy – I use dijon, grainy dijon and honey mustard), honey, chicken stock, olive oil, salt/pepper (to taste) and a few rosemary sprigs.  And if you were wondering what the grown-up twist in this recipe was…there it is!  Rosemary!  Without being overpowering, the rosemary helps to mellow out the mustard and gives the dish an incredible aroma.

The best part is it is so easy to make.  Mix a few squeezes (read: tablespoons – I’m very Rachel Ray when I cook and mostly eye-ball stuff!) of each mustard, a few squeezes of honey, a dash of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of stock in a bowl, mix, and set aside.  I always make more of this mixture because, well, I love sauce.  Simple as that.  Then, rub the chicken thighs with a bit of mustard and some olive oil (both of these steps can be done well ahead of time or right before you’re ready to make dinner).  When it’s go-time, all you need to do is sear the chicken thighs for a few minutes on each side, dump your honey-mustard mix over it, throw a few rosemary sprigs on top and pop it in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the thighs are done.  Whey they are done, the chicken is falling apart and drenched in this amazingly rich and kind of sophisticated sauce.

So fancy.  So easy.  So delicious.  Even little W ate it the other night (he prefers when I use less of the spicy dijon and more of the honey mustard in the sauce for those of you who might be modifying for younger palates).

Well.  My mouth is watering.  I’m pretty sure these will end up on the menu tonight.

Deliciously yours,

MomME

Day 15-17: Sleep Regression Update

We’re continuing to trudge through this dreaded sleep regression.  Keeping up a calm and positive facade as we climb the stairs after lunch…anticipation mounting with each step toward the nursery, with each book read, with each reply to his pleads for “More books.  More milk.”

In hopes of not bombarding your newsfeed with a second-by-second update of W’s every toss and turn, I decided to save up a few days.

But the real reason for hoarding updates?  Yeah.  I really didn’t want to jinx myself again.  So, here it goes…

Day 15: No nap.  But no poop either!  He stayed in his crib [sans intervention] for an hour and wasn’t screaming the whole time.  He was definitely fussy, but it was intermittent and I could tell he was totally doing it for show.

Day 16: A nap!  The hubby was home (it was Saturday) and I was catching up on some work hours, so he put W down for his nap…and voila!   Success!

Day 17: Another nap!  Another  success by the hubby!  I’ll admit, though, I’m anxious for tomorrow when it’s my turn to put the little guy down for his nap.

Real talk.  I wouldn’t be blogging about each and every day…and sometimes minute…of this sleep regression if I wasn’t looking for common threads that have led to successes or failures in the nap department.  And, I’m no Sherlock [one of our new favorite shows, by the way] but I can tell that the common denominator in successful naps is my husband.  Or, lack of nursing being part of the routine.

I’m not ready to say we need to drop it from our nap time routine (we only nurse morning, pre-nap and pre-bedtime right now)…but the pre-nap nursing session is the next up on the chopping block.  If I don’t have success tomorrow, I think I might start eliminating it from our routine.

What’s the worst that can happen?  He won’t take a nap?  Been there, done that.  15 days and counting…

Hopefully yours,

MomME