Hi. I'm 35 years old and married to my best friend. We have two (mostly!) sweet boys, Gray, and Parker. We really, really love them. This blog has been the escape for my feelings, questions, excitement, fears and the joy I felt in my ten months as a pregnant lady (twice).

Now I'm a mom of two....who knows what's next.

It is (was?) a banner year for ticks out here, so I really appreciated this blog post about ticks. How to recognize them, how to repel them, how to get read of them…all good info for you and your little ones.

image



Repellent for your pets:

For pets, add 1 cup of water to a spray bottle, followed by 2 cups of distilled white vinegar. Ticks hate the smell and taste of vinegar, and will be easily be repelled by this ingredient alone. Then, add two spoonfuls of vegetable or almond oil, which both contain sulfur (another natural tick repellent).

To make a repellent that will also deter fleas, mix in a few spoonfuls of lemon juice, citrus oil, or peppermint oil, any of which will repel ticks and fleas while also creating a nicely scented repellent. Spray onto the pet’s dry coat, staying away from sensitive areas including eyes, nose, mouth, and genitals. When outdoors for an extended period, spray this solution on two to three times per day. 



For you and your family:

In a spray bottle, mix 2 cups of distilled white vinegar and 1 cup of water. To make a scented solution so you do not smell like bitter vinegar all day, add 20 drops of your favorite essential oil.

Eucalyptus oil is a calm, soothing scent that also works as a tick repellent, while peppermint and citrus oils give off a strong crisp scent that also repel ticks.

After mixing the solution, spray onto clothing, skin, and hair before going outdoors. Reapply every four hours to keep ticks at bay, and examine your skin and hair when back inside to make sure no ticks are on the body.

For pets, add 1 cup of water to a spray bottle, followed by 2 cups of distilled white vinegar. Ticks hate the smell and taste of vinegar, and will be easily be repelled by this ingredient alone. Then, add two spoonfuls of vegetable or almond oil, which both contain sulfur (another natural tick repellent). 
To make a repellent that will also deter fleas, mix in a few spoonfuls of lemon juice, citrus oil, or peppermint oil, any of which will repel ticks and fleas while also creating a nicely scented repellent. Spray onto the pet’s dry coat, staying away from sensitive areas including eyes, nose, mouth, and genitals. When outdoors for an extended period, spray this solution on two to three times per day. 
For you and your family:
In a spray bottle, mix 2 cups of distilled white vinegar and 1 cup of water. To make a scented solution so you do not smell like bitter vinegar all day, add 20 drops of your favorite essential oil.
Eucalyptus oil is a calm, soothing scent that also works as a tick repellent, while peppermint and citrus oils give off a strong crisp scent that also repel ticks.
After mixing the solution, spray onto clothing, skin, and hair before going outdoors. Reapply every four hours to keep ticks at bay, and examine your skin and hair when back inside to make sure no ticks are on the body.

# Comments | Posted at 1:00pm

Jackson saved this photo on Notabli forever ago, but it’s one of my favorites. Just a random Saturday morning ages ago, spent flying and laughing.

# Comments | Posted at 1:00pm

Jackson saved this photo on Notabli forever ago, but it’s one of my favorites. Just a random Saturday morning ages ago, spent flying and laughing.
I love this. Absolutely love it. Read on…

# Comments | Posted at 1:00pm

Sometimes I look over and realize just how much I love this little family of ours.

# Comments | Posted at 1:00pm

Sometimes I look over and realize just how much I love this little family of ours.

Did you know that the traditional gift for your sixth wedding anniversary is iron or candy?

I laughed when I read that, as it is so representative of life six years into marriage, especially with kids. If you’re lucky, life with your loved one is sweet and fun. It’s also hard, being long past that easy breezy honeymoon period and now knee-deep in mortgage payments, dirty diapers, bills and sleepless nights.

This year will hopefully be full of sweetness, with a iron-hard core of love, trust, and respect that will keep us laughing even when life feels hard.

I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have spent the last six years next to. Even if he never, ever makes the bed.

# Comments | Posted at 1:00pm

Did you know that the traditional gift for your sixth wedding anniversary is iron or candy?
I laughed when I read that, as it is so representative of life six years into marriage, especially with kids. If you’re lucky, life with your loved one is sweet and fun. It’s also hard, being long past that easy breezy honeymoon period and now knee-deep in mortgage payments, dirty diapers, bills and sleepless nights.
This year will hopefully be full of sweetness, with a iron-hard core of love, trust, and respect that will keep us laughing even when life feels hard.
I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have spent the last six years next to. Even if he never, ever makes the bed.

There are no words for how sad September 11th is, every year. It’s a reminder of the devastation, inhumanity and cruelty that shocked us 13 years ago.

But the day that makes me even sadder is today. September 12th.

Because yesterday was the day of the impossible, the shock, the horror of the unknown.

But today was the day that thousands of families woke up and realized that it wasn’t a dream…it actually happened. And this was life as they now knew it.

September 12th was the beginning of a new reality, and though the 11th makes me teary, the 12th feels even more raw to me.

To anyone who lost someone on the September 11th, my heart goes out to you. Yesterday, today, and always. I don’t know how you could ever make sense of your world again after losing a loved one.

Thinking of you especially today, on September 12th. 

# Comments | Posted at 1:00pm

Getting four people dressed and fed in the morning sounds like a piece of cake, (especially when three of them can dress themselves)…right?

Wrong.

I often ponder this as our family haphazardly lumbers to the car carrying too many bags and not enough time every morning. Why is this so freaking hard?

Some mornings it works, some mornings it doesn’t. So here’s what has to happen in order to get out the door fairly quickly:

-lunches made the night before
-quick breakfasts to prepare and eat = yogurt & fruit, peanut butter toast sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, smoothies
-kid baths/showers happen the night before, leaving just enough time for quick parent showers (if we’re lucky)
-no messy breakfasts
-everyone (but me) gets dressed BEFORE heading downstairs to breakfast
-gummy vitamins…the ultimate morning incentive (bribe)
-keep toothbrushes downstairs (or just close by) so no one has to climb back up the stairs to brush their teeth after breakfast 
-Gray has easy access to all his clothes so he can get dressed on his own
-don’t fight it…each kid can pick a book or toy to bring in the car, and sometimes a snack too
-have a big school bag that all the miscellaneous crap (lunchboxes, waterbottles, hats, extra clothes, etc.) can be thrown into

And last but not least…
-I wait until the last possible moment to get dressed. This means I have about .02 seconds to prep for the day but also means I hopefully avoid the majority of the morning crud (toothpaste, snot, milk, breakfast) that can easily land on my work duds.

A friend was told me that she would get dressed in the morning and then put on a big, old dress shirt that belonged to her husband, and she’d take it off at the last minute before walking out the door.

Genius.

# Comments | Posted at 1:00pm

Jackson and I had our first night away from the boys this summer, and though we missed them terribly, it was GLORIOUS!

We had agreed that our plan was to NOT have a plan, as our days seem to always be wrapped up in naptimes, bedtimes, playtimes, snacktimes…you name it, we’re working around the times.

So after the boys drove away with my parents and my heart momentarily lurched into my throat as I saw Parker’s little face in the window wondering what was happening, I immediately got over it.

And we had an absolute blast!

Of course it helps when you have grandparents nearby with whom you unequivocally trust with your children, so that was never a question. But it still feels like you’ve suddenly lost a limb when you’re kid-free, together. Getting into the car without buckling up carseats, taking off without a bag packed full of diapers, snacks and waterbottles, and having 24 hours of NO PLANS feels downright impossible!

I won’t bore you with the details, but in short we went for a walk, ended up in a boat, and then hopped from one restaurant to the next, having a drink here, a bite to eat there…no plan at all. It was so wonderful.

The conversation that I have on repeat with friends who are also parents is how easy it is to become lost in your kids lives…being a parent is the single best gift in the world, and so you give yourself without thought to the every need of your child, and that’s what dictates your life.

But as a person and as a couple, you also need an hour or two to just be, to remember what it’s like to exercise without racing back to relieve the other parent, or have an uninterrupted conversation with your spouse, or get to actually spend time together. 

It’s those moments that (hopefully) remind you that, apart from these amazing kids you’ve created together, you actually really, truly like each other a lot.

And it’s those moments that hold you together when things get tough. When someone’s puking, not sleeping, crying, yelling, not listening…you get the picture.

As parents you need those little blips to hold yourself together, individually and as parents. One night away now feels like the equivalent of a week’s vacation…and that’s all it takes.

I feel so lucky, to be Gray and Parker’s mom, but also to be Jackson’s wife. And every time we get those blips in time to just be us, I’m reminded how much I love him as him…not as a dad, but as my husband. 

So if you’re a parent, make sure you get away. For a hike, for breakfast, for a movie, or if you’re really lucky, for an evening. It’s incredible liberating to NOT be home by 7pm, unless you want to be.

# Comments | Posted at 1:00pm

Jackson and I had our first night away from the boys this summer, and though we missed them terribly, it was GLORIOUS!
We had agreed that our plan was to NOT have a plan, as our days seem to always be wrapped up in naptimes, bedtimes, playtimes, snacktimes…you name it, we’re working around the times.
So after the boys drove away with my parents and my heart momentarily lurched into my throat as I saw Parker’s little face in the window wondering what was happening, I immediately got over it.
And we had an absolute blast!
Of course it helps when you have grandparents nearby with whom you unequivocally trust with your children, so that was never a question. But it still feels like you’ve suddenly lost a limb when you’re kid-free, together. Getting into the car without buckling up carseats, taking off without a bag packed full of diapers, snacks and waterbottles, and having 24 hours of NO PLANS feels downright impossible!
I won’t bore you with the details, but in short we went for a walk, ended up in a boat, and then hopped from one restaurant to the next, having a drink here, a bite to eat there…no plan at all. It was so wonderful.
The conversation that I have on repeat with friends who are also parents is how easy it is to become lost in your kids lives…being a parent is the single best gift in the world, and so you give yourself without thought to the every need of your child, and that’s what dictates your life.
But as a person and as a couple, you also need an hour or two to just be, to remember what it’s like to exercise without racing back to relieve the other parent, or have an uninterrupted conversation with your spouse, or get to actually spend time together. 
It’s those moments that (hopefully) remind you that, apart from these amazing kids you’ve created together, you actually really, truly like each other a lot.
And it’s those moments that hold you together when things get tough. When someone’s puking, not sleeping, crying, yelling, not listening…you get the picture.
As parents you need those little blips to hold yourself together, individually and as parents. One night away now feels like the equivalent of a week’s vacation…and that’s all it takes.
I feel so lucky, to be Gray and Parker’s mom, but also to be Jackson’s wife. And every time we get those blips in time to just be us, I’m reminded how much I love him as him…not as a dad, but as my husband. 
So if you’re a parent, make sure you get away. For a hike, for breakfast, for a movie, or if you’re really lucky, for an evening. It’s incredible liberating to NOT be home by 7pm, unless you want to be.

Jackson always jokes with me that I hate change.

First of all, I don’t hate anything. Well, shrimp…I despise shrimp. But other than that, I actually really like change. But I haven’t thought about it from the eyes of a little one that much, as it seemed like a lot of our changes (new house, new baby) were behind us. 

Upon returning from our recent trip, Gray arrived at his preschool and discovered that several of his little buddies had graduated to kindergarten. Sure, he knew they were the BIG kids in class and would, theoretically, head to elementary school…but a kid’s clock isn’t based on the same reality or schedule that ours is. It’s based on the every day - who is at school that day is the bigger question, not who’s going where in a month.

'They'll be back soon, right Mama?' he asked after I explained that the big big kids had ‘graduated’ to kindergarten.

What a strange thing to try to explain to your child…the progression and transitions of childhood, and why things work the way they do.

I felt bad that I hadn’t given this HUGE change in his life much thought, especially given its daily impact on his little life. We’ve talked about it more and he seems okay with it, though once in awhile he’ll ask if ‘JACK H!’ will be at school that day, and I’ll have to break the news to him, again, that he’s at a new school for good.

From the eyes of a four-year-old, I guess it doesn’t make much sense why friends would ever break ties with your school. From Gray’s point of view, this will always be his school, and he can’t imagine those friends not there.

Any advice on how you’ve explained change to your child?

# Comments | Posted at 1:00pm

(Notice I did not say ‘vacation’.)

Every time we take a trip with these boys I learn something new…

What To Do:
-go grocery shopping upon arrival and fill your fridge with breakfast foods, PB&J fixings and snacks. (oh, and wine/beer/whiskey for mom + dad)

-bring more (kid) clothes then you think you’ll need. you’ll need them.

-find the best local funspots for your kiddos (which does make it a vacation for them). for us that means pools, a bookstore, fountains, the zoo, parks, playgrounds, the children’s museum, riding the light rail and ‘city bus’, and delicious food.

-ice cream. ice cream. ice cream.

-find a local version of the BEST (VT-grown) website, find & go seek. it won’t be as good, but it helps to hear what local parents recommend for fun things to do.

-coffee. stuck somewhere between EST and PST here folks, which somehow means late nights AND early mornings.

-treats. I’m not above a bit of a bribe/treat when needed, so my bag is loaded with kind bars, gummy bunnies, and dried mango. it’s practically Halloween in there.

-bring the stroller. so much more fun and easy to get out when you have it.

-books, books, and more books. bring them, borrow them, buy them.

-rent a specific kid-friendly house. we reserved our airbnb house because it had a treehouse, playhouse, bunk beds, high chair and toys. what wasn’t listed but has been awesome were the plastic kid plates/cups, kiddie pool and fenced-in yard.

What Not To Do:
-expect to keep your normal schedule, in either timezone. 

-do not go out to dinner without major reinforcements (see: buy books, ice cream, treats) or the expectation that someone may head home early with the littles.

-expect to sleep much.

But the biggest lesson I learn every time is to just do it. Fly, drive, camp, rent…just go for it. Yes, it may be harder than your normal home routine, but it’s amazing to get away with your kids and experience the world together. Even if that just means a sunny afternoon, a shared chocolate ice cream cone and a fountain 3,000 miles from home.

# Comments | Posted at 8:29pm

We recently flew at night, well past the boys’ bedtimes. In hopes of aiding our big talk about it being a ‘sleeping plane’ we had both boys in their pajamas by the time we got to our gate.

With time to spare and energy to burn, we took turns running up and down the terminal hall with the boys.

You’d be amazed what a difference three years makes.

People were literally stopping to watch and smile at Parker stumble-run down the hallway, with no clear path or awareness for people in his way. In his little striped pajamas and mini red shoes, he’d wave to people along the way, and more than one person literally stopped walking to laugh and comment on his cuteness.

And then Gray would come running by in equally cute pajamas, smile and joy radiating out of his every pore, laughing along the way. And so many people were clearly annoyed.

That’s only a three year difference between smiling and waving vs sighing annoyingly and making an exaggerated effort to get by.

Though Gray did a much better job of staying out of their way, people would look intently at him and then glare at me, as if to say, ‘who is that mother letting her child run down the hall?’ These same people who, steps or moments before, were giggling at Parker running in circles.

To those people I have two things to say:
1) have you tried flying with kids? If so, you’d understand the need to do everything possible to wear them out.

2) be fair. Your ageism is so noted, and though I understand why a mini-pajama-clad one year old who is still figuring out how to run may seem infinitely cuter than a gangly four-year-old, your frustration is unweighted and unfair.

It was a reminder for me about how the world sees and treats a ‘big kid’ in comparison to a ‘baby’, and how we do too.

The second Parker once born, my ‘baby’ Gray instantly seemed so old and mature. And from that moment we’ve expected such different things of him - heck, he’s a walking, talking, non-diaper wearing person who should certainly be able to take care of himself (and we can get frustrated when he doesn’t).

But he’s four. Four! That’s only four years with his feet on this ground to learn about life, and perhaps sometimes we, as his parents and general passersby, expect too much from this little person.

Yes it’s fantastic that he can dress himself and brush his teeth, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t like or need some help sometimes. He’s F.O.U.R.

So to parents everywhere and random airport and life strangers we run by, I ask you this. Look for the unadulterated joy, cuteness and naïveté in all kids, not just the tiny squishy ones. And cut the others some slack.

The big ones might look big, but they’re still so very young in life.

# Comments | Posted at 8:30am

I still love getting the weekly/monthly emails from BabyCenter about what’s happening in the minds and bodies of our little guys. It’s fascinating, I think, to know the developmental backstory of what we’re probably encountering in our daily lives with Gray and Parker.

Every child is different, so sometimes it’s a bit off, but a few weeks ago it was spot on.

For Parker:
Does your toddler sometimes hurt other children? It’s not surprising – making another child yell or scream seems like great fun at this age. The good news is that your toddler doesn’t mean to inflict pain on his playmates. When he pulls another child’s hair, he’s either fascinated by the reaction it provokes or copying someone else’s behavior. The best response is to gently but firmly stop the hurtful behavior and redirect your child’s attention. The more he gets a rise out of you, the more likely he is to repeat the behavior. 

__________

For Gray:
To encourage independence, you need to give your child a chance to try. Of course, this often ends with you wanting to scream because she’s taking so long or is about to spill or break something while trying. Still, it’s important to give her lots of opportunities to practice. Your patience will be rewarded with a child who really can do things “all by myself.” 

In a nutshell, this sums up the last month. Our sweet little Parker has suddenly gotten more physical, hugging, kissing, snuggling, chasing, pushing, and testing the limits with a bit of hitting. It makes sense that he’s liking the reaction, but we’re working to teach him what’s okay and what isn’t.

And Gray…loves to DO IT HIMSELF! Whether it’s brushing his teeth, putting on his shoes, climbing into his booster seat, washing his hair, you name it. I love the independence but sometimes it takes a long, deep, breath to slow down and give him the space to do it himself…no matter how (UNBELIEVABLY) long it can take.

# Comments | Posted at 1:00pm

Hi Laura, I'm teaching a writing class to adult ELL (ESL) students at UCCS this fall and was wondering if I may use some of your pieces published on PNF as mentor texts for my students. You employ a variety of writing genres on your blog, each one (consciously or not) chosen to best communicate a specific message. I will, of course, note you as the author. Also, if you're not comfortable with the idea, I completely understand. --Rosanna Czarnecki
Anonymous

Of course! I’m flattered!

# Comments | Posted at 8:59pm

Parker has slept through the night for months now (HALLELUJAH!!) but last night he woke up at 3am, crying. I sleepily ran to his room, phone in hand to use as a flashlight so that I didn’t have to turn on any lights on my way.

I pulled his heaving little body out of his crib, kissing him and tucking him right into that Mama-nook, and sat down in our chair, humming our song.

He quieted down after a minute, and though it was the middle of the night and I knew he could fall back asleep on his own, I happily sunk further into our chair to rock him to sleep. Once settled, I pulled out my phone to look through my Notabli and Instagram feeds.

And then I caught myself.

Here I was, with this beautiful sleeping boy curled into me. The house was quiet, the fan was sweeping by, we were covered in a gauzy blanket and he had his hand on my arm. His sleepy weight felt perfect as it settled into the nooks and crannies of my lap, and his forehead was in kissing reach.

So why was I looking down at my phone?

I quietly turned off my phone, and graciously surrendered myself to that moment, knowing that babies grow fast, and soon he won’t call for me in the middle of the night, or wear footie pajamas and fit into me the way he does now.

People always look at new parents and remark ‘how fast’ it goes, and usually I just smile and nod but in this moment I realized how true that really is.

I need to savor every moment of this that I can.

And so I did. It was so sweet to pull myself into that moment and appreciate such a simple thing that won’t be in my life forever.

That’s what I’ve tried to make this summer…an intentional, fun, quiet few months together, where phones and computers take a backseat whenever possible and picnics, swims, ice cream cones, roadtrips, swings, playgrounds, farmer’s markets and bike rides take the front seat.

You haven’t heard much from me in the last two months, and this is why. Not because I have nothing to say, but because I made a quiet pledge to myself at the beginning of the summer to get off my computer, and just be with my family. 

And when the boys are fast asleep and I would usually sit down to write, I’ve been savoring those moments, sitting outside with Jackson, or climbing into bed early with a good book.

Last spring on my birthday I told Jackson I wanted to live life more intentionally, and I’m trying.

I’ll be back here more, as there’s about a million things I’ve learned or want to write about. But for now, I’m here…just off having fun with the loves of my life while the sun is out and the winter boots are far, far away.

# Comments | Posted at 4:59pm