Hi. I'm 34 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.

(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 come 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 and desire 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

New party trick.

A post about Parker. Shared from Notabli.

An Ode to Sleeping Children

Epic : instant iPad access to thousands of kids books!

10 Disgusting Things Only Moms Do

Maily : your kids’ first email

Ryland’s Story

# Comments | Posted at 1:00pm

Just another night in Vermont, and a boy who can’t tell time but loves his watch.

(Thanks, Ed, for the photo!)

# Comments | Posted at 1:00pm

Just another night in Vermont, and a boy who can’t tell time but loves his watch.
(Thanks, Ed, for the photo!)

This morning I had a good reminder about what’s really important.

Gray had made me a ‘surprise’ at school, and wanted to wrap it up for me to open.  With the goal always to empower this little guy to do things on his own, I watched as he confidently marched to the closet and pulled out his scissors, tape, and the wrapping paper I had just bought to wrap up a friend’s wedding present (I’m usually a brown kraft paper and a ribbon kind of girl).

I was about to ask him to pick the brown paper, when I looked over and saw the pure joy in his eyes as he carried it all back. 

So I shut up, and watched him cut off about five times more than he needed and use almost a whole roll of tape. 

He was so proud and excited - he did the whole thing by himself. And the impish look of delight as he taped the whole thing together made my heart sing.

And that confidence and excitement is worth a lot more than the money I spent on the fancy wrapping paper.

# Comments | Posted at 1:00pm

This morning I had a good reminder about what’s really important.
Gray had made me a ‘surprise’ at school, and wanted to wrap it up for me to open.  With the goal always to empower this little guy to do things on his own, I watched as he confidently marched to the closet and pulled out his scissors, tape, and the wrapping paper I had just bought to wrap up a friend’s wedding present (I’m usually a brown kraft paper and a ribbon kind of girl).
I was about to ask him to pick the brown paper, when I looked over and saw the pure joy in his eyes as he carried it all back. 
So I shut up, and watched him cut off about five times more than he needed and use almost a whole roll of tape. 
He was so proud and excited - he did the whole thing by himself. And the impish look of delight as he taped the whole thing together made my heart sing.
And that confidence and excitement is worth a lot more than the money I spent on the fancy wrapping paper.
Hi Laura, I've been following your blog for a while, and I'd love to get your thoughts on weaning. I have an 8-month old who (I swear) self-weaned himself over the past month or so. I have all these mixed feelings about "letting" him (as if I had much choice, I couldn't force him back on the boob!) and what the impact might be on him. He seems ok, but if feels like Doomsday to stop before 1 year. How did it work for you? Was it harder on you than on Gray? Thanks- your blog has helped me so much!
Anonymous

Hello!

What a good question…like sleep, weaning can be one of the hardest things to figure out that you can’t prepare for. It’s all about the baby, and the mama.

First of all, don’t worry. If you can’t force him then you don’t have to try! I would try to keep getting breastmilk in where I could - pump and give him bottles, mix it with his cereal, veggie purees, anywhere!

I know that nursing until your baby’s first birthday is heralded, but it doesn’t always work that way. I’ve had friends stop nursing at six months, and babies who stopped wanting to nurse throughout that first year.

I nursed Gray until he was 17 months old - by then it was really just before bed and/or first thing in the morning when the timing worked. He never really liked taking a bottle, so I thought it would be hard to wean, but he kept dropping feedings and didn’t seem too worried about it.

I anticipated being sad, but actually had the exact opposite reaction. One morning, while staying at a friend’s house, Gray woke up early so I pulled him into bed to nurse him and keep him quiet.  I looked down at him, at how long and strong his body was, how his face looked so mature, and suddenly realized it was time to be done. I know many moms nurse their kids for years and years, but that morning, looking at my sweet 17-month’er, it suddenly didn’t feel right anymore.

And that was the last time. Gray would pull at my shirt every once in awhile after that day but seemed to forget it pretty quickly.

I’m still nursing Parker, and am a bit sad already thinking about when our time will end. Because I don’t think we’ll try to have more children, I already feel a bit heartsick thinking about that beautiful, special connection you have with your baby while nursing. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes. :)

Up.

A post about Parker. Shared from Notabli.

# Comments | Posted at 6:23pm

Up. A post about Parker. Shared from Notabli.

Thanks to Eliot for sending me this blog, and this recipe!! Any chance to find more recipes that are healthy, low/no sugar, and is good for kiddos is high on my list!

# Comments | Posted at 1:00pm

# Comments | Posted at 1:00pm

Maya Angelou

# Comments | Posted at 1:00pm

I am truly grateful
For appreciating love -
For knowing it exists.

Maybe due to it’s rhythmic alliteration, The Terrible Two’s had always been the stage in life that everyone warns new parents about. With steely resolve, I remember Jackson and I preparing ourselves for the sh*tstorm that would supposedly reign down on us soon after Gray’s second birthday.

But it didn’t come. Sure, there were tough days and challenging phases, but that Jekyll/Hyde never moved in.

Until he turned three.

At three, he was bigger, stronger, opinionated, independent, had seen more of the world and what other kids in it got to do (JUICEBOXES!) and was quickly forming his own decisions about what he would and would not do.

I literally laughed out loud at this father’s account of his daughter’s Terrible Threes…

I looked my friend square in the eye and said, “F*CK the terrible twos. The twos ain’t got shit on the threes. The threes are where it’s at.”

Every day, I suit up for battle. It’s not just the usual twice-a-day stuff like “I don’t wanna go.” or “I don’t wanna eat that for breakfast.”

I’m talking about something every hour. Telling me that all the tags in her clothes are itchy and that she hates toast, even though she had eight pieces the day before. Getting up in her brother’s face like The Gooch, ripping anything and everything away from him so that he’ll never enjoy a moment of his childhood. Falling to the ground, claiming her “knees hurt” when I ask her to walk up the stairs, as I stand behind her holding eight grocery bags and her brother around my neck. Protesting that something is too cold or hot when it’s the exact opposite. Refusing to get in the bathtub because she thinks the flower petals from her bath fizzy are dirt. And reenacting Indian war dances as soon as I get on the phone with my student loan reps. Screaming, pushing, punching, biting, spitting, back-talking, karate kicks and testicle head butts. All in a day’s work.

In fact, googling ‘terrible two’s’ gives you pages of personal accounts of that horrible year, as well as many examples otherwise, like this dad.

We had a friend tell us that turning four would be the best thing to happen to our family, collectively. That Gray would suddenly blossom with maturity, healthy eating habits, self-sufficiency, and better control of his emotions.

We’re a month in and still waiting for that to happen.

In the meantime, here’s what I’ve realized. The Terrible Two’s exist…for some people. For others it’s the Three’s, Four’s, or Six Month’s. It completely depends on the kid.

Duh.

Sure, developmentally there are common hiccups on the road of a child’s life, but each child’s emotional and physical response varies wildly.

It’s like with pregnancy. Strangers will tell you what to do to get that baby out once your duedate is in the rearview mirror. Literally, everyone. Pineapple, enemas, spicy thai food, walking, sex, eggplant, acupuncture, the eggs at Steve’s Diner, nipple stimulation, codfish oil, a scorpion bowl…the list goes on and on and on and on.

But other than the dreaded pitocin, there’s no sure fire way to induce labor. People will tell you what works, because it’s what happened to work for THEM. Eating pineapple when your water broke made YOU go into labor, but not me.

So wherever you are in your child’s life, here’s my advice. 

Don’t worry about an age just because someone tells you to. The ups and downs of life with your child will depend on exactly that…your child. And though the blogs and books and articles out there can be helpful (and funny), they in no way can predict what you’ll experience with your child on any given day, month or year.

Put your phone down. Get down on their level. Look them in the eye when they’re talking. And try to figure out where they’re at, and what’s working and what isn’t, for your kid.

Good or bad and regardless of their age, the only guarantee is that something will change. And that’s about as exact as you can be.

So be present and thoughtful in your child’s life and try to make decisions based on your kid, not on the four-year-and-one-month post in babycenter. Though helpful, babycenter is not sitting at your kitchen counter on a particularly miserable morning trying to decipher through sobbing whines what the heck goes into a ‘banana swirl smoothie’.

Who knows?

# Comments | Posted at 1:00pm