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I had a moment last week where I totally broke down. After a day of irritability to the extreme — everyone and everything was making me cranky — I lay in my bed and sobbed until the tears ran dry. There really was no one reason for it; more of an accumulation of things from of a really hard, really long month. I just felt done.

Immediately after returning to school after winter break, Owen came down with a horrible cough. He would be unable to catch his breath and as a result, he would throw up. In the kitchen, on the couch, in his bed. It lasted a week, and despite my best efforts to sanitize every thing he touched/looked at, it wasn’t long before I started to feel run down. Without getting TOO whiny about it, my cold turned into a sinus infection that completely and totally put me out of commission. I’m not exaggerating when I say I would rather give birth than have a sinus infection. Especially when you can’t take any good drugs. At the height of it, I parented from the couch, moving only to put on another movie for the boys or go in search of some snacks for them. They ate pancakes for dinner twice in a row because the thought of getting up to make an actual meal was exhausting. Despite all the help he gave when he could, Michael had to work. No way around it. So it was just me and the kids and oh yeah, a polar vortex that kept us housebound and closed school more times than I could count. To say we were going stir crazy was an understatement. Ryan came down with his own version of the cold sometime in the middle of this. I’m really, truly done with kid snot. Really.

In total, at least one of us — mostly me — were sick for an entire month. It wasn’t until last week when I was finally able to take a strong breath, smell things and taste my food. It took a toll on us. As a mother, I felt like a failure. I was tired, grumpy, yelling. We did nothing fun. The boys fought and wrestled and yelled. Ryan climbed things and threw cars at his brother. Owen was defiant and pushed boundaries and yelled no all day long.

For a month, all I felt was guilt. I felt guilty when I sighed with relief after dropping Owen off at school, guilt for looking forward to nap time and bedtime like it was Christmas day. Guilt over the amount of television they were watching. (SO MUCH TV.) I felt guilty for not even smiling when Michael came in the door because I was just too burnt out. I was stretched thin and began to panic. If I feel this way now, how am I going to feel come June? Another baby, another little person with needs. That straw broke the camel’s back, and the tears came.

I woke up the following morning feeling better. Nothing was resolved, but it felt like a new day. A day where I could make a change. Now that I was healthy, it was time to work on my behavior and how I was relating to and dealing with the kids. The yelling, it needs to change. Look, I’m not naive. Sometimes I’m going to yell. Sometimes it will be warranted and hello, it’s part of life. But I don’t have to yell as much as I have been.

In my quest to Do Better, I stumbled across this post and it stopped me in my tracks. If you have a three-year old, you should look at that. Especially a three-and-a-half-year old. The behaviors listed are Owen to a tee right now, and made me feel SO much better. It’s not just him. It’s not just me. We’re all dealing with a crazy child at this age. Some of the less desirable traits (and don’t get me wrong, there’s some awesome stuff going on with him too. But, that’s now what this post is about. Ha!) that stood out to me were:

Three and a Half Years:

“Turbulent, troubled period of disequilibrium, the simples event or occasion can elicit total rebellion

New- found verbal ability “I’ll cut you in pieces!” and lots of whining

May refuse to do things a lot, or howl and scream, or say a lot of “I can’t” I won’t” kinds of things

Demanding, bossy, turbulent, troubled but mainly due to emotional insecurity

Mother-child relationship difficult but may also cling to mother

May refuse to take part in daily routine – may do better with almost anyone than Mother”

Oh yeah. That’s Owen right now. Throw in an equally strong willed 19-month old who is in a whiny stage, and you have a recipe for a crazy mother.

The follow-up piece to that post discussed dealing with those behaviors, and a big part of it was about how the parent handles it. I read this passage, teared up (of course), and the light bulb was turned on.

Which, of course, does not always mean that your child will “behave”.  Many attached parents feel like failures when their children hit three or so, as the child’s sense of self and an increased need for boundaries start to come out. As a parent, you cannot count it as a “good day” if your child doesn’t cry or melt-down or not have a temper tantrum… You can count it as a “good day” if you were calm, if you helped to de-escalate the situation, if you held it together. And even then, please be easy with yourself!  Living with small children can be challenging!  This is about the path your child is taking as he or she grows and becomes their own person, this is not about you versus them. – The Parenting Passageway 

So that’s where I stand today. I am determined to be a better mom. My poor little first pancake, Owen. I’m sorry I have to make the mistakes on you, buddy. You are blazing the parenting trail for me. Every day with you is something new and I want you to know I’m trying my best. Together we will make it through this crazy year — and all the crazy years that are to come. I love you, kiddo. So very much.

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The last week or so has been a rough one. Let’s break it down, shall we?

Last Sunday:

How it starts: We load up and hit the road early for a 3.5 hour drive to my sister’s graduation. Knowing I’ve timed it just right, I figure Ryan will nap most of the way and Owen might even fall asleep as well. We will get to New York just around lunch time and both will be rested enough to enjoy the graduation before heading to my aunt and uncle’s house for lunch.

What actually happens: Owen immediately falls asleep and stays that way for most of the ride. Ryan naps for 40 minutes then proceeds to cry on and off the remainder of the trip. Since he’s hardly rested, he is exhausted by the end of the ceremony, yet refuses to nap the rest of the day. At all. He is in full-blown meltdown mode by the time we head back home that evening. Both boys sleep the whole way home and we arrive around 10 p.m.

What happens next: I bring the boys in and Michael lets Kodiak out the front door for a quick bathroom break before bed. It’s pitch black and pouring rain. He’s mad at us for leaving him during the day (even though Michael’s grandmother let him out twice). While Michael is in the garage, Kodiak saunters away into the dark and refuses to come when called. Fast forward through countless searching, both on foot and in the car and calling and calling him, and we give up, angy, and hope he comes home safely. At 1:30 in the morning I hear him bark to come in. I open the slider and as he walks into the house — BAM. I’m hit with it.

He’s been skunked. UGHHHH. We quickly put him in the garage but the damage is done. The house STINKS. It is so overpowering that I have to sleep with the blanket over my head just to breathe. He is so very much in the dog house.

How it ends: In the morning, I wash him twice to no avail. He spends the next three (thankfully sunny) days outside and sleeps in the garage until we can take him to the groomers on Thursday. He is still slightly skunky and will probably smell every time he gets wet for a long time. Did I mention that Sunday was Michael’s birthday? Happy birthday to him, huh?

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Post-skunk bath #1. Pathetic.

Wednesday:

How it starts: I go to get Ryan out of the crib in the morning and immediately feel how hot he is. I take his temperature and it confirms he has a fever. His spirits aren’t to bad, though, so we go about our day just keeping an eye on it. That night we hear a strange sound coming from the crib. When I go to check on him I find that he’s wheezing. Great.

What happens next: I take him to the pediatrician the next morning and he is diagnosed with a virus. Which basically means, sucks for you. Got to ride it out. He’s given a little something to help with the wheezing, but the fever continues for a full 24-hours. He is also now leaking snot and oh! Look at that. Cutting a giant tooth. Poor guy is a mess. I worry, because we are leaving the boys, Ryan for the first time, the next day to attend a wedding. I still want my mom when I’m sick, so I feel for my little baby.

How it ends: Well, this ending was just the beginning. Friday morning his fever is gone, but he is cranky and coughing and generally unhappy. I waffle about leaving him, but am convinced to go. We leave the boys with my mother-in-law at noon and leave for my good friend’s wedding. We have a great night away (there was a cheesecake bar at the wedding. I mean, nom.) but return the following afternoon to absolute chaos. My in-laws are loud people, so the house is a frenzy of noise and activity. As soon as I walk in the door, both kids burst into tears. Ryan is hacking a lung and snotty, and I know the minute I hold Owen that he is now running a fever as well.

Saturday, Sunday, Monday

How it starts: I…I don’t even know. The next few days are a blur of no sleep, bodily fluids and miserable, MISERABLE children. Michael had to work all weekend too, so it was just me and the sick. For days. I keep a detailed white board listing who took which medicine when. I try to find anything they will eat (Owen – some toast, applesauce and a popsicle. Ryan – boob. And then some more boob. And hold on, let me scream my head off for a bit and ok…more boob now), I run humidifiers, put mattresses on angles, offer cool wash clothes and warm baths and anything I can think of to make them feel better. It goes on, and on, and on.

What happens next: Yesterday, Ryan appears to be back on a normal nap schedule. This looks promising. My mother-in-law offers to take Owen for a few hours to get him out of the house and give me a small break. He has fun, but returns feverish and exhausted. He naps on and off for four hours and when he finally wake up, he seems a bit more like himself.

How it ends: I’m hesitant to say it HAS ended, but it looks like we might be almost there. Both boys slept through the night and awoke happy, fever-free and just a little congested. I managed a shower and even met a friend for coffee. Could this endless stretch of suck finally be over? Are we finally emerging?

OMG, I HOPE SO.

(Hope you all had a good Memorial Day. I’m hoping next year includes a bbq and beer instead of fevers and Advil.)

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I’m behind again in my photos of the day. I had planned on doing another round up post today, but yesterday Owen woke up from a FOUR HOUR nap with a 104 degree fever.

We spent the rest of the afternoon cuddling on the couch and watching some Thomas the Tank Engine, his hot little body burning into my skin. After I put him to bed, he woke an hour later sweaty and screaming, so we repeated the whole process until he fell asleep on my chest. I felt sad for him and helpless, even though I knew my arms were the best thing I could offer him.

Today the fever is down to 102, but he’s still a malfunctioning little furnace, playing one minute and sobbing the next. And he won’t eat! Anything! Luckily he is drinking, but I can’t convince him to take a bite of one little thing.

Last night he ate applesauce for dinner, so aside from that he’s had no solids since about 6 p.m. If he gets worse I’d like to give him some medicine, but I’m nervous about doing that on any empty stomach. Suggestions welcome!

It’s so sad watching your baby feel sick, but it’s also hard not to get frustrated when nothing seems to work. I hope whatever he is fighting passes soon and we can all go back to normal. Until then, wish us luck!

  • Owen and I spent the weekend in New York visiting my family, and while I was there I came down with The Plague. I’m still not entirely sure if it was food poisoning, or a short-lived virus, but I spent my first night home (and into the early morning hours) on my mom’s bathroom floor begging for mercy. I’ll spare you the nasty details, but in short, it was both ends, for hours. At one point, realizing she only had an unlined wicker trash can, I had one of those horrifying realizations that something absolutely disgusting was about to happen, and something was just going to have to go on the floor. The upside of this, I suppose, is that after disinfecting the floor at 1 a.m., I could be sure it was nice and clean as I pressed my face against it the rest of the night.
  • The worst was over by 10 the next day, but my body had shut down and I spent the entire day alternating between drinking Gatorade, and sleeping. I am thankful for a few things: a) I’m glad no one else caught whatever I had. I had horrific images of Owen being hooked up to an IV in a hospital bed, as there’s no way his little body could survive the Exorcist imitation mine had. b) I’m glad the sickness didn’t begin on the 3.5 hour drive there. I have no idea what I would have done. c) Mostly, I am thankful I was at my mom’s house when it happened. Sure, Michael would have taken off of work and stayed home, but I had forgotten how much I want MY mama when I’m sick. She took care of everything, took care of me, and between her and my sister, Owen was occupied completely and I was able to heal.
  • A  lot of friends have expressed concern that I might be disappointed about having another boy. I swear I’m being honest with them when I say I’m not. I’M REALLY NOT DISAPPOINTED!!!! Sure, I’d like to buy some girl clothes, but I’m going to compensate by buying some new completely cute and unpractical newborn boy clothes BECAUSE I CAN.
  • I’ve been having a hard time sitting down to blog lately. Judging my the comment count I’m guessing most people have stopped reading because I’ve drifted so far from the daily posts I used to write. That’s ok, I guess. Ebb and flow and all that. But because I still like to do something blog related, and since I enjoyed reading the posts of friends who participated in the February Photo Challenge, I decided to participate in the March one. Yeah, I totally said I was going to do this months ago and failed miserably, but I’m just going to take them on my phone and upload them directly this time.
  • Day 1: Up
    Downstairs, looking up, at a toddler having a tantrum. Good morning!

The air in my house has been tainted for a few days. Not only did Michael’s seasonal allergies hit him like a ton of bricks, but he developed a head cold on top of it (“Swine Flu! I must have Swine Flu!” — Typical male sick overreacting drama).

Determined not to catch whatever was oozing out of his nose, I’ve been washing my hands like crazy and chugging Airborne like it’s going out of style. But there’s that pesky fact that he’s my husband and I sleep next to him and all that jazz.

I woke up this morning and my throat hurts.

I refuse to allow this cold to win so I’m upping the fight with Vitamin C and tea and more Airborne and whatever else I can get my hands on. Anyone got any fail-proof cold remedies?

Will. Not. Get. Sick.

Also, Mr. Kodiak has been not himself the last couple days. He’s become a little lethargic and his shaky on the leg he had surgery on. He’s going to the vet for some blood work this afternoon and my motherly instincts are kicked into high gear. I was almost in tears  looking into his big brown eyes last night, wishing he could just tell me what hurts. My first guess is that he has another flair-up of Lymes Disease, which is unfortunately really common here in the Northeast.

Stupid ticks.

We should know by 5 o’clock what’s wrong so cross your fingers it’s an easy fix!

Alright, I’m off to take care of my sick boys. Let’s hope there’s someone healthy left to take care of me! (Sister — you might want to get a Swine Flu mask. Just saying.)

– Wake up for gym, clutch aching head, call Jen and tell her no gym.

– Wake up for work, clutch aching head, call office and tell them no work.

– Throw on slippers and fiance’s giant down coat and take dog out in the pouring rain. Will him to hurry up because the rain! it is wet!

– Call massage therapist in hopes of massaging away the knots in my neck and back that are causing the headache. Am informed she can’t take me until Monday. Pout.

– Lay on couch. Check email, read blogs, download music, watch TV.

– Top Chef marathon!

– Start to fall asleep, phone rings. It’s work. Debate not picking up.

– Pick it up.

– Panic! Problem must be solved immediately! From the couch! Through email! Frantically try and contact the person I need to speak with who is in California and is neither answering his phone nor responding to his email.

– Bury head under pillow.

– Contemplate throwing on pants and dragging myself to work.

– Look in mirror. Decide against putting on pants.

– With nothing to do but wait, place computer near head in order to hear incoming emails and curse daytime television for not providing me with a good enough distraction.

– Top Chef marathon!

– Email from boss! Hold breath…work problem solved! Turn off computer, text with Jen, sleep.

– Wake up to big dog head in my face. Try to ignore him. Ah! Do not want dog kisses! OK, you win! Take him out to pee.

– Come inside, make cornbread and chili.

– Eat cornbread batter. Not nearly as good as brownie batter.

– Michael’s home! Attempt a hug while Kodiak tries to wedge himself between us.

– Eat dinner, put on best sad face/pouty lip and try to get Michael to rub my back.

– Michael falls asleep on couch.

– Damn.

– Get sucked into a John and Kate Plus Eight marathon. I told myself I would never watch this show. Didn’t see the appeal. Until now.

– Watch John and Kate Plus Eight until I can’t keep my eyes open any more.

– Michael wakes up. Put on now-perfected sad face/pouty lip and convince him to rub my shoulders.

– OW!

– Go upstairs, get in bed, pass out.

7:30 a.m.

Michael nudges me in bed. “Molly, are you going to the gym?”

Me: “Grumble, grumble, huh?, grumble.”

Knock, knock, knock.

“Molly, is Jen here?”

“Meh?”

Ding, dong!

“Ah!”

At the gym:

“Feeling the burn on the StairMaster today. Woah, I know I did weights yesterday but a weekend away from the gym really effects my cardio. Blah. OK, 20 minutes is enough. I’ll go on the elliptical for the rest of the time. Music isn’t bad in here today, but I like it better when they play 80s rock in the morning. Really gets me going. You’re way too beeeeeeautiful girl, that’s why we will never work. You had me su — huh? In denial? Those aren’t the words! They’re trying to be PC at the gym? Ugh. Just put on some Poison, will ya?

I feel hotter than usual and I’m really thirsty. Time to stop, it’s almost time to leave anyway. Woooah, I feel dizzy. And nauseous. And uh oh, I better lay down. OK, on the mat. Why is the ceiling spinning? I wonder if this mat was wiped down…ew…don’t care. Still dizzy. And hot. Gah.”

In the shower:

“Wash away the mat sweat ewwww. Still feel dizzy. Should I call out? No, we had yesterday off and there will be so. much. email. Sneeze! Oh no. Now I’m sneezing? And ow, that hurt my throat. Blah. Guess I’m calling out.”

Back in bed:

“Michael, stop being annoying. I’m sick! Stop pinching my thighs. That’s not funny! Grrrr. I’m gonna pop you.”

In the afternoon:

“The woman from the church was supposed to leave the door open for us today. Ugh, we better go. But she never confirmed in the email. Oh well, she knows it’s today. I’ll just call to remind her. Hm, answering machine. Hope she gets it. I know she got it, right? I’ll just throw on this baseball cap and we can go. Quick look in mirror? Sure. AH! Ugh, pasty and gross. Do not look in mirror anymore.”

At the church:

“What do you mean the church is locked? Well, jiggle the handle. I can’t believe she didn’t show. I’ll call her again…voicemail! Grrrr. Leave snippy message. Can we at least look in the windows? Boost me up, I’m too short. This must look interesting to anyone driving by. And since when are churches locked? Grrr.”

Back at home:

“I’ll just lay on the couch for a little while and read this great wedding book from my aunt…”

Three hours later:

“Huh? What time is it? 5:45! Time for dinner, I guess!”

10:30 p.m.

“I know you have to use the coupon tonight but can you order from L.L. Bean in the other room? You’re talking over The Millionaire Matchmaker! Shush, it’s a good show. Yes it is!”

11:02 p.m.

“Zzzzzzzzz.”

High: Having and awesome holiday party at work where I gorged myself on yummy food and spiked hot cider, listened to Christmas music and got this as a gift from my boss:

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Low: Getting hit in the Marshalls parking lot (why, Marshalls? Why?) as I was backing out of a space. The old man who hit me had originally passed me, but then decided to throw his car in reverse and come flying backwards to get a space. It was like slow motion–I couldn’t get my car into drive fast enough and all of the sudden there was a BANG and his bumper was in my fender. Crap.

We got out of our cars and he explained that “I couldn’t look backwards while I was backing up.” Bewildered, I exclaimed, “That’s why you hit me!”

It was like pulling teeth to get his insurance information (“I don’t know if I even carry it,”) and I practically had to force my contact information on him. And he didn’t want to call the police because “it’s not a crime, I just hit your car.”

Oh. My. God.

After he left I called Michael repeatedly, but couldn’t get in touch with him. Just as I was about to try again, Jen called. At which point I burst into tears and told her what happened. Her mom suggested I go to the police station and fill out a report so I did. I walked in a puffy from my tears of frustration and began filling out the paperwork. Michael arrived just as I was finishing and I can not tell you how happy I was to see him.

The dent in my car isn’t awful, but it still sucks I have to go through the whole insurance thing now. Merry freaking Christmas, huh?

High: Going out with Jen afterwards because I could really use a drink and exchanging Christmas presents. She really liked what I got her and it was nice to see her open it.

Low: Waking up at 1 a.m. with just enough time to run to the bathroom before emptying the contents of my stomach every hour, on the hour until 4 a.m. At one point (sorry, this is gross) I was sitting on the toilet with the garbage can on my lap, not knowing where it was going to come out of and shaking from the nausea. And also wishing that I had thought to grab a hair tie because if puke got in my hair I think that would be the worst part of all.

High: Not puking since 4 a.m.

Low: My whole body feels like it’s been run over by a train.

High: I get to start my vacation one day early.

Low: It will be spent on the couch feeling crappy.

High: But Michael is home with me.

Happy weekend.

I’m sick. And I know exactly where I caught it from. You see, some of my friends are sick as well. And don’t try to tell me that you can’t catch a cold through blogging because apparently you can.

The cold started innocently enough, a little sniffle, the occasional need to blow my nose. On Wednesday I had a three minute straight sneezing attack and now today I feel like the entire weight of the world (yes, the entire weight) is sitting on my chest. (Michael is reading this now saying nooooo!!! Stay away from me!!! Six feet!!!)

The interesting thing is that the congestion is only on the left side. And since I’ve been blowing my nose for a week straight, my left nostril is now raw and sore. I’ve been rubbing my beloved Smith’s Rosebud Salve on it as much as I can to ease the pain.

Except yesterday I forgot it at home. And after digging through my bag, all I could come up with was some peach lip balm.

Yeah, that’s right. I went there.

Aside from the cold, this week has been very wedding productive. Last night we met with, and subsequently booked, our photographer! And we’re thisclose to booking the caterer we met with on Wednesday that served us delicious appetizers, including a fig and caramelized onion puffed pastry pizza that was to DIE for.

After our appointment last night we found ourselves in need of dinner and standing outside of a Pizzeria Uno. I hadn’t been to one since high school and jumped at the chance. (Please stop shuddering at my lack of culinary sophistication. I’m sophisticated, I swear. Just not all the time.)

I ordered the entree that I always loved–their traditional cheese and tomato Chicago-style deep dish pizza. It was as good as I remembered it.

And yeah, I brought the leftovers for lunch. What’s the saying? Feed a cold? You bet I will!

Happy Weekend!