Christmas Tree Hunt

On the second day in Rochester, Grammy said to us, “let’s go cut down a Christmas tree.”

Kunz's Christmas Tree Farm.
Kunz’s Christmas Tree Farm.

We awoke to a cold and blustery morning, but no snow, much to Davey’s dismay.   By mid morning, we trekked through Kunz’s Christmas Tree Farm near Penfield, NY in search of a tree for Grammy’s house.  It’s been quite some time since I’ve actually sought out a live Christmas tree and on a farm no less.   Live trees are cumbersome, they’re messy, they require regular maintenance, and you’re cleaning up their needles for the next year, but they’re also fresh, aromatic, and even romantic.

Row upon row of uncut trees.
Row upon row of uncut trees.

The last time I had a live Christmas tree, I was in Charleston, SC in 2001.  The last time I hiked through the woods of a tree farm, my brother was five years old, I was 11, and my mother was miserable.   29 years later, and I’m searching for a tree.

The boys perusing the pre cut trees.
The boys perusing the pre cut trees.

What did we want?   We listened to the owner discuss when he’d planted trees, how many he’d already cut, the fact that we were early or perhaps he was late, and which tree would be best to meet the criteria we had.   There was blue spruce, douglas fir, fraser fir, pine, and a few others.   We were given a cart and a hack saw, we were definitely getting back to the adventure and reality of getting a Christmas tree.

Henry helping Daddy and Grammy.
Henry helping Daddy and Grammy.

My husband led the group, my father-in-law complained about the fact that my mother-in-law had two perfectly good fake trees in storage, and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law chaperoned the boys who were nearly bundled up beyond recognition.

Davey helping Daddy with bring the tree around.
Davey helping Daddy with bring the tree around.

We walked a few hundred yards, inhaling the crisp western NY cold air.   Mother Nature was definitely playing her role in the whole “Doser Family Searches for Tree” scene.

Henry off for the hunt.
Henry off for the hunt.

There was every tree imaginable…full ones; short ones; tall ones; fat, tubby ones; and even ones that resembled the pitiful tree from a Charlie Brown Christmas.   After very little debate we landed on a tree.  What kind?  I couldn’t possibly tell you and I was quickly losing faith in the young lad who attempted to tell us.   He looked over the tree, stroked its needles with his gloved hand, before taking off his glove and rubbing the needles.   He closed his eyes for a moment, as if willing the tree to speak to him through osmosis of the needles.   I chuckled and had to walk away, no offense to any of you “tree whisperers” out there.


My husband gallantly and a bit exhaustingly, I might add, cut down the tree, loaded it onto the cart, and trucked it off.   The entire event took a mere 30 minutes of our time, but was truly an enjoyable experience.   Davey created a song to the tune of “Going on a Bear Hunt”, while Henry did his best to keep up on the walk.


Day two of Thanksgiving in Rochester is in the history books.   Day two of the excitement and adventure that surrounds the worlds of Grammy and Aunt Dee Dee.   Day two of my boys truly being the most well behaved little angels I never thought I had.  :)


On The First Day in Rochester

Aunt Dee Dee did for me…a fun-filled crafting spree.


Our night was short and sleepless.   After the previous evening’s flight, we were all exhausted and Henry had given cry a couple of times during the night having woken in a strange place and in a strange bed, but we all made it, safe and sound, to Grammy’s house, and now we were heading out for an exciting morning of Pancakes and Pajamas at Aunt Dee Dee’s house.


Rochester, during the winter, is known for its gray days, downtrodden weather, and temperatures much colder than this Southern ga’ls blood is accustomed to.   Today, Rochester did not disappoint…she held true to all of her “winterly” traits.


So, we dressed the boys in their winter pajamas, put on their insulated snow boots, jackets and hats then trekked off.   When we arrived at Aunt Dee Dee’s, the aromas from the kitchen beckoned us in like the teasing finger of a wicked witch.     She had eggs on the stove, sausage and ham placed on plates, and was finishing off with silver dollar pancakes.   Homemade hot chocolate enticed us at the bar, and fresh fruit, which should be unheard of in these parts at this time of the year.   Did she pay high dollar to specially ship them in?


The boys were excited and indulged in almost a dozen pancakes between the two of them, two slices of ham and a half dozen sausage links.   I suppose travel can famish the souls of toddlers.   And what a treat, to have their own special Santa “milk” jugs complete with straws, with which to put their hot cocoa in.   My boys are spoiled, but never as much as when they see Aunt Dee Dee.


After our wonderfully fulfilling breakfast, we jumped onto the craft train that Aunt Dee Dee had scheduled.   The boys painted ornaments and decorated cookies.   And we even followed this up with a special surprise guest…SANTA!   That’s right, Ole Saint Nick decided to stop by Irondeqouit, NY to see the two little Doser boys.   Davey jumped ecstatically, eager to see Santa and fill his ear with all the goodies he desires. Henry? Well, let’s just say Santa is a little on the scary side for him.   We all, including Grammy, had to thaw the ice of fear that seemed to paralyze Henry, and after a few minutes he shuffled over to Santa, if only to give him a high five before scurrying off behind the safety of Grammy’s legs.


I was told we’d have a special guest and I suppose I should have known it would be Santa, but my in-laws are great at planning surprises.   Santa was definitely the whipped cream on top of the Pajamas and Pancake breakfast. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay long, so the boys stood at the door and waved goodbye to Santa before we completed our day of decorating Aunt Dee Dee’s tree.


Our trips are always exhausting, especially the travel, but there’s always one guarantee when visiting Rochester…my boys are never disappointed, and today was no exception.



Going On a Bear Hunt

I’ve blogged before about all of these romantic, Norman Rockwell-esque visions I’ve had of raising my children.   I’ve always imagined our adventures to be like something you would see in an old Saturday Evening Post.   The boys would be dressed handsomely, the adventures would go off flawlessly, and we’d all have a grand laugh and sheer enjoyment.   Then I became a mother to two boys, and I realized that any sort of notion I’d had about having this type of family could immediately be shooed out the door like today’s annoying fly.


When Davey was still a baby, we bought a hiking backpack that has a nice little compartment for him to sit in.   My husband and I thought that since we lived in one of the more beautiful place of South Carolina, with mountains literally right in our backyard, that we could go on hikes.   It never happened.   Davey never once got to sit in said backpack and experience the fresh air, the exciting wildlife, or the exhilaration of hiking through the woods.


When Henry came along, we used the backpack while flying, finding it easier as he’s become older to put him in it as opposed to bringing along a labor intensive stroller.   For weeks I’ve considered remedying this, to take my boys out into the woods, to experience nature, like I did as a kid.   Unfortunately, the incessant rain and cumbersome flooding we’ve received have dampened (all puns intended) my desire to go for a hike, not to mention that I’ve been super worried about going alone with the boys, only because they can be a handful at times.   Yesterday, we made that dream into a reality.


For the first time in weeks, my husband came home early on a Friday.   He had no meetings, no golf games, or clay shooting events.   He wasn’t going deer hunting on a Saturday morning, so no need to go out on the land to check out his blind or his feeder.  Nope.   The stars officially aligned for our hiking trip, so we took it.


As I stated earlier, we live in the most perfect of places.   We have Paris Mountain literally in our backyard.   It’s a beautiful mountain, not extremely high, but gorgeous to look at while sitting on our back porch in the evenings.   Since it was after 2 when my husband got home, we decided our best bet was to just go to Paris Mountain to hike as opposed to driving to one of the many other splendid places.


I laced up my hiking boots, the wonderfully comfortable North Face boots my husband bought me 5 years ago and which I’ve only worn a handful of times.   I dressed the boys warmly, had them all prepared, so that as soon as my husband walked into the door we could go, and off we went.


This is a great time of year for a hike, especially in South Carolina.   The days are still enjoyably warm, but not too hot.   The mountain air was fresh and invigorating.   We started out on the small trail, before taking on one just a little bit harder.   My husband took the lead, Henry strapped to his back, while Davey and I followed along.


The entire hike, Davey periodically broke into song, singing, “Going on a bear hunt,” while other times asking about the creeks, the fallen trees, the fallen leaves, the rocks he had to climb over, or some of the massive roots.   We used the opportunity to talk to him about if he’s ever lost in the woods and is thirsty where best to drink water…from a flowing creek or stream.   We talked about the huge roots, why some of them can be seen above ground, and what their purpose is.   We stepped over small breaks in the trail where trickles of water were flowing.   We even repurposed some of the fallen branches into our own personal walking sticks.


About a mile into the hike, Henry decided he’d had enough of being lugged around on his daddy’s back, especially as he saw Davey able to enjoy the physical exploration of the trail, so we took him out and let him walk.  I cringed for a split second as I wondered if he’d actually stay with us on the trail or if he’d wander off and try to climb the mountain.   He quickly proved me wrong, but after only a half mile of walking, he tripped and fell, thereby skinning up his hands and forcing us to put him back into the backpack.


We had a wonderful time, an hour and a half of nothing but us and God’s beautiful creations.   It took us literally an hour and a half to hike 3 miles, which I’m hoping will improve once we get the boys going more regularly.   Davey even enjoyed himself so much, that he wanted to get up and go again this morning.   Unfortunately, our Saturday is already booked solid.


What a great day of hiking, “bear hunting”, and family time.   I can’t wait for more.

Welcome Back, Jasper

My father in law has a “thing”, I suppose you can say, about nicknames for his grandsons.   When Davey was born, he nicknamed him Jasper.   When Henry was born he nicknamed him Higgins.   Now, I know where Higgins comes from…My Fair Lady, Professor Henry Higgins.   Jasper?  Not quite so sure.

So, when Davey became old enough to start speaking, he referred to himself as Jasper when around his Guh Guh (my father-in-law).  It’s endearing for Davey and truthfully I enjoy it.   When my sister-in-law purchased an Elf on the Shelf for Davey years ago, we needed a name for the Elf and Davey immediately jumped on the name Jasper.

Jasper resting atop the miniature Elf tree.
Jasper resting atop the miniature Elf tree.

With the onset of the holiday season and my decorating, Jasper was pulled out of storage and found his way onto the top of our Christmas tree.  Last night, when the boys got back home from church, I pointed Jasper out and explained his importance.  I suppose since Davey is older, he grasps the concept and I now find myself falling prey to the whole “Elf on the Shelf” ideas for this Christmas season.

When putting the boys to bed last night, I read the story about the Elf on the Shelf, substituting in Jasper’s name where relevant.  Davey became extremely excited.  He wanted to know if Jasper would really magically fly away and come back in the morning.   I told him, “of course,” and that Jasper’s sole responsibility is to tell Santa all about how well he’s behaved.

This morning when Davey awoke, he darted off to the bathroom and while on his way excitedly asked if Jasper was in a different place.   My first thought was, “oh crap!  I was supposed to move Jasper!   Crap!  Crap! Crap!”   I told Davey that Jasper was in a new place and that he could find him AFTER he brushed his teeth and put on his clothes, thereby buying me some time to unimaginatively move Jasper.

Where did Jasper end up?  On the elf tree in the kitchen.  I know, very lackluster on my part, but I can already tell I will fail miserably at this.   When the boys came downstairs, Davey immediately found Jasper, and heeding the words from the story, kept his hands behind his back, lest he be tempted to touch Jasper and force him to lose his magical abilities.   As I made breakfast, both boys sat in the floor looking at Jasper on the elf tree.  I asked what they were doing and Davey exclaimed, “seeing if we can watch some of his magic.”

Trying to spy some of Jasper's magic.
Trying to spy some of Jasper’s magic.

After school today, Davey asked me if Jasper saw how nice he was to his classmates and if Jasper would tell Santa.  Once again, I replied, “of course,” but secretly I’m already not liking Jasper.   We’re roughly six weeks away from Christmas.  That’s 42 days in which I will be required to remember to move Jasper each night when the boys go to bed.   That’s 42 days that I’ll have to despise all of you creative moms with your cute Elf on the Shelf pictures and your ability to actually remember to do this.   That’s 42 days of me constantly reassuring Davey that Jasper will not do him wrong.   That’s 42 days of pure hell as I’m frantically trying to remember and come up with great places for Jasper.

I’m only one day into our Elf on the Shelf.  One day, and I’m already despising the little flying pixie.   Stay tuned to see if I can manage to keep up the fiasco.

Goodbye, OCD

There are things in life that must be a certain way.   Cabinet doors and drawers must be closed at all times.   The fat fold of the towels must be facing outwards in the closet and beds must be made.   These are my criteria for my house.  I don’t think they’re absurd, but to many these are difficult goals to attain.   I’m told that I have a bit of OCD, but I don’t think so.   I think I’m just your normal, average, every day person who likes things her way.   I’m human.  Well, yesterday I let that “human” persona slide away just for a little bit as I allowed Davey to have his very own Christmas tree in his bedroom and I allowed him to decorate it.

I blame this side of my personality on my mother, not that it’s a bad side, but it is a side that I perhaps should let fall by the wayside at times.   My mother has her own way of doing things.  She’s very particular and she prefers doing it herself.   It’s faster, it’s easier, she can blame herself if something goes wrong, and then there’s the sense of accomplishment with doing something on your own.

As children, my brother and I were never allowed to decorate a Christmas tree.   Christmas was, and still is, my mother’s favorite holiday.   She loves to decorate her house, erecting numerous trees for every room of the house, even providing each room with its own personal theme.    We weren’t allowed to help decorate because there was the concern we would break things, but mostly I think it’s because as children we didn’t understand the necessity to separate out the ornaments when placing them upon the tree.   We basically wanted to put them all in the same place.

Placing the first ornaments.
Placing the first ornaments.

Last year I allowed Davey to somewhat help me with decorating one of my trees and I encountered the same thing…his inability to see the full picture, or er tree.   He wouldn’t even walk around the tree, he just seemed to zero in on one spot, pulled in by the force like that of a magnet.   It was as if there was only one place for the ornaments to go, one place on a seven foot tree.   I had a hard time with this last year and my patience, or lack thereof, took over and I shooed him away.  This was definitely not how I saw my family decorating a tree.

He's so intent.
He’s so intent.

This year I decided that I would let Davey have his very own tree and since it’s in his room which no one really ever sees, then he could decorate it however he wanted.   The only stipulation was that he had to use a tree with decorations I already had or else make his own.  I think the thought of making his own and the time involved bummed him out.   Like his mommy, he doesn’t have much patience, and making ornaments would have delayed the erecting of the tree.   So, he chose to have my Clemson tree in his bedroom, a perfect choice considering his bedroom is a sports theme.

As he and Henry ate their lunches, I put the actual tree itself up, checking to make sure all lights were working and that there was an easily accessible power outlet.   Once that was completed and Henry was fast asleep for his afternoon siesta, Davey and I began the process of decorating the tree.   And true to his previous form, he wanted to put all the ornaments in one location.   And going against the grain, I stood back and let him.

My sweet boy.
My sweet boy.

Truth be told, it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be and probably the fastest I’ve ever had a tree decorated.   For me, it was nice to quickly mark that one off the list of trees that need to be put up.   For Davey, it was easily one of the most exciting times he’s had.   For every ornament he put on the tree, he would step back and say, “mom, come take a look at this.  Did I do a good job?”  I loved that he wanted to please me, but it also saddened me a bit to know that he was seeking out my approval.   I don’t want him to do everything to please me, especially things like decorating a Christmas tree.   I want him to really enjoy it and I want him to have these memories as he grows older.

Davey and the Christmas tree.
Davey and the Christmas tree.

I loved watching him as he would study the tree, walking around it a couple of times, looking for just the right spot, which like I said seemed to be right next door to the previous ornament he’d had.   I loved how he would stand back, after placing the ornament, and smile, proud of himself for what he’d done.  I loved how he didn’t want to handle the glass ornaments, but instead handed those to me, wary of himself actually holding them.   I loved how he wanted to just sit on his floor in the dark, looking at his lit Christmas tree.   I could see the sense of accomplishment in his eyes and it made me happy.  Happy that I had the ability to create another memory with him.

And…I was happy that I was able to cage up the OCD monster at least for this memory.

Christmas is a special time for everyone.   Some of the greatest and most treasured memories are made during Christmas.   I’m trying to keep that in mind this season as my boy’s are anxious to help Mommy do the decorating.   So, OCD, you’ll need to take a holiday from these holidays.

Kitchen Talk

In my short amount of years as a mom, I’ve learned a few things.   First, you don’t ever offer a toddler options…he’ll always choose poorly.   Second, snacks after 4 in the afternoon spell imminent doom for those of us hoping to enjoy a peaceful family dinner, and third…you learn a lot about your child when cooking together in the kitchen.

Allowing his little brother to help melt the marshmallows.
Allowing his little brother to help melt the marshmallows.

From the moment Davey was old enough to help in the kitchen, I had him with me.   I was a new and inexperienced cook at that point, eager to start a new adventure with my child.   I voraciously poured through websites, Pinterest, and our cookbooks looking for easy, yet fun and healthy things I could cook with my little one.   I wanted to create memories, to be the fun mom, to have something to do as a stay at home mom.   I wanted to document our cooking fiascos with my new camera and my insatiable desire to write.   The kitchen was my stage, my prop, the backdrop to my coolness as a stay at home mom.   What I didn’t know was how much I would learn from cooking with my son.

Adding in more marshmallows.
Adding in more marshmallows.

Before he could even speak, he was lining muffin pans, tossing cut up apples into batter, dipping his finger into icing and licking the spoon and bowl.  When I would suggest we make something, he would jump, grab his monster apron, a stool, and an eagerness greater than anything I’d ever seen.   One would think when starting in the kitchen with your littles, you would pick something easy, a Betty Crocker brownie, Pillsbury premade, precut cookies, or a Duncan Hines cupcake mix.   Me?  Well, I don’t like to start small, my goals are high and lofty, so we started with a made from scratch apple muffin recipe.   It took us nearly two hours, but we made some of the best apple muffins I’ve ever tasted and Davey was hooked.

A continual process of mixing and stirring.
A continual process of mixing and stirring.

Back then, he didn’t talk much.  These days; however, are much more different   These days, my son loves to talk about what he’s measuring, how he’s going to bake it, cook it, or grill it, how to decorate it, and who gets what.  This past week, I learned a lot more than I bargained for, especially about Davey’s fellow classmates and his teachers.

All ready to be cut out.
All ready to be cut out.

In celebration of Halloween, I decided we would make Rice Krispie treats for his class.  I decided to make them in the shapes of pumpkins and bats and decorate them with chocolate and candy eyes.   I even bought cake decorating pens to help with the faces.   As usual, Davey jumped right in, his brother even helping out, but the true fun for me didn’t really start until Henry was napping and Davey and I were left alone to decorate the treats.

The cut product.
The cut product.

For the better part of an hour, I spent the afternoon with my oldest son listening to him as he decorated the Rice Krispie treats.   He told me about the two Annas in his class, one of whom I knew from last year.   He picked out the pumpkin each one could have and told me the reasons behind giving them their pumpkins.  He told me stories of the boys in his class, how one always makes him laugh, how another one is really quiet.   He picked out bats for his two teachers and told little anecdotes about the things that he likes best about them.   I learned who he likes to sit alongside, who he plays with the most, who makes him sad and why, and what his favorite part about each person is in his class.  This was truly the first time when I wanted to put down the camera, the laptop and phone.   This was the first time in our cooking when I just wanted to totally immerse myself in the moment, the being, with my son, and savor every little morsel he wanted to share with me.

The bats.
The bats.

This was more than just a memory to be created.   This was more than just an adventure, or an excuse to write.   This was my opportunity to really get to know my son.  This was an opportunity I hope to recreate again for years to come as his love for the kitchen grows, but it was also an opportunity for a mother and son bonding experience that may one day go away as he gets older.   Needless to say, if you’ve had some sort of influence in Davey’s life, be it good or bad, then I’m likely to hear about it in the kitchen, while we cook, and dissect the events of the days.

The pumpkins that look like monsters.
The pumpkins that look like monsters.

Kitchen talk…it truly is a magical time.

***as you can see, there are no pictures from the actual cutting or decorating.   I was too wrapped up in the stories I was being told.***

“Fall”ing in the South

This is my favorite time of the year.  I love the beautiful colors of the trees, their constant metamorphosis into the rainbow of warm canopies.   I love the cooler weather, the ability to roast marshmallows in the backyard without sweating off 20 pounds (however, if that were true, I think I could enjoy that).  I love the smell of pumpkins and apples, cinnamon and cider.   I love fall, but I love it more in the South.

The great thing about the South during the fall is that you can get up in the morning, layer on a coat over short sleeves, and by the afternoon shed the coat and walk around in warm comforting sunlight.   Fall in the South is wonderful.  My boys want to be outside ALL. THE. TIME.   They’re not crying about it being too hot or too cold.   It’s quite literally perfect.   The only problem is that Fall doesn’t seem to last long.

One of the bridges at Falls Park.
One of the bridges at Falls Park.

So, knowing that the days will soon be getting shorter and our window of opportunity to enjoy the cooler weather closing, I’ve decided to start taking advantage of every free moment.   Over the course of the past week, we’ve had bike rides, picnics, and planes.

Since we live so close to the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Northern Greenville County, I try to get the boys out at least once a week.   Davey hops on his bike and Henry and I tag along behind him.   I love how the trail, which is old railroad tracks, looks at times to be carved into a mountain, the rocky terrain shadowing us on either side.   With the changing of the season, the trail is filled to the brim with leaves.   It’s a great sight to see.

Biking on the trail.
Biking on the trail.

Last week, after enjoying a run on the trail as it winds through Falls Park in Downtown Greenville, I decided that I would treat the boys to a picnic.   My original intent was to hand make a lunch, but then reality sunk in and I remembered quickly that I’m not a Martha Stewart, but more of a Savannah Guthrie, so I shouldn’t push my luck and just be grateful I have the wherewithal to actually do a picnic.   Instead of the hand made lunch, which I had romantically envisioned in my mind thanks to my binge viewing of Madmen episodes, I stopped at Chick-Fil-A.

Hamming it up in front of the Falls.
Hamming it up in front of the Falls.

I packed a blanket, some snacks, some books, and loaded up the wagon.   We parked near the Governor’s School, and strolled through the park, over rock bridges and onto some of the softest grass I’ve experienced this side of the Mason-Dixon line.  The boys grabbed chicken nuggets and playfully ran about the park, picking up sticks and leaves along the way.   We even had an opportunity to feed the ducks, an excitement beyond measurable proportions for Henry.

Run, Henry, Run!
Run, Henry, Run!

That day was quickly followed up by a day out at our favorite café and park, The Runway Café and Park at the Downtown airport.   Three WWII era planes were scheduled to fly in around 1:30, so once again we took in the beautiful Fall day, sat outside on the patio, ate our lunch and watched some pretty awesome planes land.  And while mommy was super interested in the planes, my boys really just wanted to run around on the playground, soaking in every last little ounce of Fall they could before it’s gone for another season.

WWII planes.
WWII planes.

Unfortunately for us, rainy weather has moved in yet again, cutting into our fun outside.   Stay tuned for all latest indoor adventures in Dreaming of Mommyhood.

Criss Cross Apple Sauce

When I first became a stay at home mom, I immediately began taking Davey to our local library.   I wanted to have interaction with other adults and for Davey to have interaction with other children.  It was a wonderful experience as it allowed me the opportunity to meet other stay at home moms, and we even formed a playgroup that met weekly outside of the library.   It was an absolutely wonderful thing.

As with most things in life, people grow (children more specifically) and responsibilities become more and more burdensome.   Our playgroup fizzled apart after about a year when moms were having other babies and unable to attend or were moving, as was the case with two of the moms.   It was a sad day for me as this became such a wonderful thing for both Davey and me.

With the introduction of Henry into our lives, I found it hard to maintain our once hectic schedules and I stopped taking Davey to the library.   I soothed my guilt by saying that he was enrolled in a Mother’s Morning Out program and that was plenty of social interaction for him, but by doing that I neglected to let Henry have his own thing.  I didn’t take Henry to the story time at the library because it was geared for little ones (his age) and met on the days when Davey wasn’t at Mother’s Morning Out which meant he would be with us and thereby bored with the baby stuff.   So, Henry’s social interaction fell to the wayside.  I firmly believe that my lack of getting him involved with programs the way I did with Davey is the reason he’s so clingy to me when he attends the same Mother’s Morning Out program Davey did.

Fire Safety day and story time at the library consisted of a real truck.
Fire Safety day and story time at the library consisted of a real truck.

Yesterday, I decided to brave the elements…not the cold, but the “elements” of taking two boys to a story time at the library.   I hemmed and hawed about it.  I’ve gotten into my own routine, my own comfort level, but I need to step out of that and step out of it quick for Henry’s sake.   The story time consisted of books about fire trucks and fire safety.   There were even firemen and fire trucks for the boys to explore.

As soon as I walked into that same room of previous years’ story times, I had an immediate twinge in my stomach, twinge of regret as I didn’t know how my two boys were going to react.   When I originally began story time, Davey was a free spirit.  He was the child who never say with his mother, was always running around, liked to sing the loudest, touch everything, climb on other mommies, and just not focus at all.   He was the child who refused to sit still.   I was always jealous of the other moms.  I would come home and tell my husband how Davey would run around, how I felt he was getting nothing from story time, and how frustrating it was for me.   Henry is becoming the same way, but Davey?  Well, let’s just say this mommy was pleasantly surprised at how well her big boy is growing.

Davey immediately sat down in my lap, eagerly listening to stories and rhymes.   Henry?  Well, he was a Davey of years past.   He ran around, screamed, tried to take sippy cups, climbed on chairs, took books.   He was my terror, the one who would not allow me to enjoy the program with all the other moms.  Davey; however, decided to join the circle of other kids.  He sat criss cross apple sauce the entire time.  He sang the songs, listened intently to the stories, and even participated in the “stop, drop, and roll” with the firemen.   If I hadn’t been chasing after Henry and trying to quarantine him, I’m likely to have sat in the room, mouth agape at the astonishment of how much my oldest has grown.   He can sit quietly, albeit for just a short time, but he can do it.

Henry was able to sit still for just a split second.   Long enough for me to get this picture.
Henry was able to sit still for just a split second. Long enough for me to get this picture.

As I sat discussing the days events with my husband, he remarked, “remember how you never thought Davey would sit still?”   Yes, I do remember that.   I suppose that since I survived Davey and his terrible twos, then I’m capable of doing the same with Henry.   Maybe in two more years, I’ll be amazed at his ability to sit criss cross apple sauce as well.

Survival of the Fittest

It’s a motto used by athletes and intellectuals all across the board.  Celebrities use it, common folk use it, politicians use it.  Once upon a time, I even used it.   These days, I don’t know how much stock I actually put into the words.  I’m getting older, a lot less bolder, and I just want to make sure that I can survive the raising of my youngest child, regardless of who’s the fittest.

Davey has become a lot easier these days.  He sasses me more than I’d like, but he’s also settling down more and becoming a bit of an asset to me (if children can be considered that).   He helps out more, is able to watch a television show and even most of a movie, thereby allowing me some downtime or the much needed chance to get some chores done.   He understands his chores and because I’ve chosen them wisely, he actually enjoys doing them.

I can take him places, football games, museums, restaurants, and not be too terribly concerned about either not enjoying myself or management kicking us out.  It’s been a long ride to get us to this place, a lot of heart aches and head aches, but we’re there.   Looking back, I never thought it would happen.  So, I can say I have at least survived my oldest son’s terrible twos.  Whew!  Henry?  Well, he’s a different story.

I found myself feeling as if I were having a Mommy Dearest moment the other day.  I came downstairs to find the 1000 piece puzzle I’ve been working (yes, I work puzzles, they’re fun and relaxing, while also stimulating) demolished and on the floor.  I snapped.   I got so mad,  I wanted to punch a hole in the wall.   I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs.  I wanted to punish whoever did it.   I almost wanted to take a wire hanger to someone, but I didn’t.   I did stomp around, interrogate both of my boys (although I knew who was the culprit) and then I threatened to take away all of their toys.   I made them clean up and all the while I was seething inside, the pressure mounting and a pain began forming in my left chest and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.   Dear God, was I having a heart attack, or coming near to it, all over a puzzle?  Nah, I think it was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Henry.  Yes, Henry is the one these days who’s bringing me to the brink of death.   Henry is devious, strong willed, independent, and doesn’t seem to consider any consequences with his actions.  I’m aware he’s not yet two, but he’s very smart for a two year old, much smarter than Davey at times, a feat I didn’t think possible.

Henry is entering his terrible twos, which if I remember correctly means I have at least another two years of this behavior.   TWO YEARS!  I don’t know if I’m fit, mentally or physically, to survive.   I genuinely believe he will take me down, he will destroy me piece by piece, eroding away my armor, until I’m completely naked and vulnerable, where he’ll then deliver the knife to the heart.   Maybe I’m a bit melodramatic, but I really think Henry will be the death of me.

He’s adventurous, has zero fear, doesn’t listen (likes to run towards the road, regardless of how many times I’ve said “no”) and believes anything his four year old brother can do, he can do it better.   I’m going to die.  I am literally going to go into an early grave with this child if I don’t learn how to relax.   My problem, though, is that I’m not thinking on the level of an almost two year old, or even a four year old for that matter.  I’m assuming, falsely I might add, that these boys are on my level.   I’m not coming down to theirs, and therein, my friends, lies the problem.   I find myself every night saying these words, “I just don’t understand.”

So what if the fence is colored with chalk, it’ll wash off.  So what if my puzzle is destroyed, it can be put back together.   So what if Henry threw my wallet in the trash can at the museum, it was recovered, albeit a half an hour later.   That third thing did happen, by the way.   So what if he’s not eating his food, throwing it across the room, he’s obviously not starving.   So what if he instigates half of the fights with his older brother, he’ll learn not to mess with a bull or that those horns will hook.   So what if he’s pulling poop out of his diaper and wiping on walls?  So what!  Those are the words I should be saying to myself every day.   He is only going to be this age for a while and then all new headaches will start.   Sigh.  I don’t think that thought is really helping my cause as I’m sitting here at 4 am on a Friday morning writing a blog.

The only thing that even remotely makes me smile about the idea of if Henry puts me into an early grave, is knowing that my husband will no longer have a buffer.  He’ll have to deal with these boys on his own.  He’ll have to suffer through my torture.  I’m not thinking nicely, shame on me. I wonder where Henry gets his devious nature?  Hmmm.

Happy Friday, y’all!

10 Things This Stay at Mom No Longer Wants to Hear

Every. Single. Day.  I am bombarded by questions, comments, advice, and judgment from other people because I am a stay at home mom.  Every. Single. Day.   It never ceases, it’s like a constant barrage of words pelting my entire body.  And of course there are blogs and articles about being a working mom vs. a stay at home mom, which is better and which is worse.   This morning, I read a blog on Scary Mommy that had the 12 things a working mother never wants to hear.  First off, let me give props to you working moms out there.  It’s tough work.  I’ve been there and done that.   Secondly, let me also just give props to ALL the moms in the world, whether they be working moms or stay at home moms.   You, WE, are all rock stars!

Back to this blog I read.   Working moms get a lot of grief.  I know this.  On occasion, I’ve thought negatively about my fellow working moms whether it be because I’m jealous of their adult interactions, having a life OUTSIDE of their kids, or because I just think their being selfish (yes, I have thought this.  Shame on me, I know!)  After reading this blog, it got me to thinking about the things I, a stay at home mom, don’t want to ever hear.

1.  Oh, I’m sorry.  You must have lost your job.  First off, don’t just automatically assume that since I’m staying home with my kids, it means I lost my job.   Some of us actually chose to leave our Corporate America jobs.   I went back to work when my maternity leave with Davey was up.  He was six weeks old.  I turned in my notice when he was four months old.  I saw nothing productive out of my day while I was working.   Instead all I could think about was what I was missing out on with my son.  I would rise at 5 to shower and get ready, feed Davey at 6 and while my husband dressed him and fixed our breakfast, I would finish getting ready, pack Davey’s diaper bag and drop him off at daycare no later than 7:10, go to work, leave work at 5, pick Davey up at 5:30 and then would have maybe 2 hours with him before he had to go to bed.  2 hours!  That wasn’t acceptable for me.   I can always go back to work, maybe not in my chosen profession, but I can’t go back and make memories.   So, no I CHOSE to leave my job.

2.  You must have a degree in Home Ec.  Yes, I do hear this.  Do they even offer Home Economics anymore?  I never took it in high school.   And just for your information I have an Associates Degree in English, a Bachelors Degree in Speech and Communication Studies & Political Science (I double majored) and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.

3.  I bet you have time to get caught up on all your soap operas.  Yes, I do hear this one as well.  Who watches these anymore?  I don’t even have time to sit down and watch the news in the mornings, much less watch a soap opera.   When the boys are napping, I’m usually doing some sort of housework or maybe squeezing in some writing time.

4.  I bet you get to workout all the time.  Yes, I do go to the Y, so I do get in some sort of an exercise routine.   I don’t do it just for me, as the Y offers all sorts of programs for children.   Davey flips out if we don’t go on a Wednesday, since that is his exercise day, but I don’t work out all the time.  Anyone who’s seen me knows that I don’t, but I am active with both of my boys, playing soccer or tee ball in the backyard, going on bike rides, and hiking, but my boys are with me 90% of the time I’m getting in any sort of exercise.

5.  Your children will be socially awkward.  My children will NOT and are NOT socially awkward.   That is because I have chosen from the start to constantly have them at various events, from the library, to the children’s museum, to play dates.  I give up my comforts of wanting to just stay at home, so that they can have the interaction they need.  Being a stay at home mom doesn’t mean we stay home 24/7.  I’m very conscientious about keeping my boys active socially.

6.  Studies have shown that children thrive in an atmosphere when both parents are working.  I went to daycare and look how I turned out.    Studies are coming out EVERY day.  There’s always a new one.  This one touts exercising while pregnant will increase your child’s IQ when he’s 5.  Another says that smelling a person’s farts will increase your life span by 6 years.  Studies are gibberish in most cases, a waste of time and money.  The studies focusing on curing cancers and AIDS and other medical impediments, those are worth the energy to be concerned about  Studies are subjective and can NOT be used in every situation.   I went to daycare, too, and I turned out just fine, but I want something more for my kids.

7.  Your husband must make a LOT of money.  Yes, my husband has a wonderful job and it is his job that allows me to be a stay at home mom, but we’ve made sacrifices.  We don’t drive luxury cars, I don’t own luxury clothing, we don’t go out to eat at fancy restaurants.   We had to change our lifestyle in order to accommodate us living off of one salary.  It was hard at first, but we’ve made it work and my kids don’t want for anything.   Stop assuming we’re rich just because I don’t work by my own choice.

8.  I could never stay at home with my kids.  You could, if your circumstances allowed for it.   Some moms must work in order to help keep food on the table and the kids clothed.  Others do it because they just don’t think they could stay home with the kids.   Look, it’s not easy.   I lose my patience a LOT, I mean A LOT!  Some days I feel like I’m spinning my wheels and getting nowhere.   Some days I feel there has been no sense of accomplishment.  I lay my head down some nights and think, “what did I accomplish today?”  Being at home is hard work.  It’s not easy, but if your situation allowed for it, you COULD do it.  I have faith in you.

9.  I bet you have all the time in the world to write that novel you’ve been working on.  As most of you who read my blog know, I sometimes go for days, even weeks without writing a blog because I just don’t have the time for it.  I do most of my writing either early in the morning before everyone is up or during that 30 minutes of time in the evenings when my husband is having his one on one time with the boys.   After that, my husband and I spend a couple of quiet hours together.  Writing isn’t my priority right now.

10.  Must be nice to get to sleep in every morning.  You know, you don’t have to get up and go to work.  No, you’re right, I don’t have to leave the house to go to work, but I still treat my role as a stay at home mom as a job, a career choice.   I get up every morning by 6 (I do have the occasional morning when I get to sleep to maybe 7), do my writing, have some coffee, get dressed and get breakfast ready.   I find if I don’t keep a routine to my day, including rising in the morning, then I’m setting myself and my boys up for failure.   I don’t let my boys sleep past 7:30 most mornings because I want them already on the routine of needing to get up Monday through Friday.   They’ll be going to school soon, after all.

I could add more to this list, but really I don’t have the time, nor do I think many of you have the time to read more.   Look, we all have this chip in our head, a little switch that turns our filters on and off, but for some reason it seems to malfunction when talking to mothers.   I don’t know if we’re just trying to make small talk, but if this is how it turns out, then just don’t do it.   Stop passing judgment on me and my life just because you either a.) don’t understand it or b.) just think it’s the wrong route to take.

My boys are both very smart, testing above their age groups.   They love each other and other kids.   They’re well mannered and two of the sweetest boys you could ever meet.   Could they be this way if I were a working mom?  Sure, but I don’t think our relationships would be this great.