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I survey the situation from my place on the couch, the cup of coffee I’ve already reheated three times cold again in my hand. The floor is littered with Matchbox cars, discarded stickers and various bits and pieces of other toys. Dog hair tumbleweeds around the furniture. I need to vacuum, but that would require buying some new vacuum bags, and if we’re being honest, last week I just pulled some old hair out of the last bag to make some room. The breakfast dishes are still in the sink; bloated, milk-logged Cheerios floating amongst coffee grounds.

It’s 8 o’clock in the morning. The older boys are still playing fairly well together, though very loudly, but I know the clock is ticking. Some time in the next 45 minutes their bro love will expire and they will transform into shrieking bear cubs tackling each other (and getting covered in dog hair). I know I should get up and start getting us ready for our day. The baby is napping — thank goodness — though it’s taken much longer to get him down than it did even a week ago. He needed to nurse more, had to poop, wanted to check out the world around him. When I nuzzled his neck before placing him in the crib, I noticed he smelled faintly of parmesan. I make a mental note to wash away the traces of spit up when he wakes up.

I’m tired. Six weeks of middle-of-the-night baby time coupled with refereeing the older two is catching up with me. The bags under my eyes can no longer be hidden by makeup. I avoid showing my face when we Skype with my mom so I don’t have to hear her say I look tired. I know I look tired. I AM tired.

I hurl myself up and head to my room. The clothing situation is bleak. I throw on a clean(ish) nursing bra, one of the few shirts that doesn’t emphasize the postpartum middle fluff, and a pair of stretchy shorts I got at Walmart for $3.77. I do my best attempt at eye circle coverage, and twist my hair into a top knot.

I return to the living room just in time to catch the tail-end of an argument over…blocks? A truck? World peace? I don’t even know. Whatever the reason, it involves shrieking, and I end up yelling at them to just leave your brother alone already! before hustling them into clothes and out the front door. Go. Play. Now. I reheat my coffee for the fourth time and join them outside.

They play. Eventually I hear Drew stirring and go to retrieve him. He screams bloody murder as I change his diaper (how DARE I?), but is content when we settle into the Adirondack chair to nurse. As we do, I occasionally have to shoo his brothers away from him, telling them to get out of his face while he’s eating. Repeat this process all day.


I know how this sounds. It sounds like I’m not so much into this three kid thing. Truthfully, it’s hard. It’s harder than I thought it would be. We are finding our groove and it’s certainly getting more manageable, but still. For every easy hour there are a handful of tough ones. The biggest challenge? I’m just totally outnumbered. It’s nearly impossible to attend to everyone at once. I just don’t have enough hands!

Despite all that, this three kids thing is also pretty spectacular. Owen and Ryan absolutely adore Drew. The first thing Ryan asks for every morning is “Baby Dooooo”, and Owen has really begun to shine in his role as Biggest Brother. And Drew? Oh, my littlest boy. He is pure sweetness and everything that is good. He’s a bit fussier than I would like, but he sleeps fairly decently and graces us with big gummy smiles and coos. And when he doesn’t smell like parmesan, he smells pretty delicious.

I know eventually the postpartum pounds will drop away, I will sleep through the night again, and my boys will graduate from shouting “THAT’S MINE!” to at least not needing me to referee every fight. I know this is a season in life and one day I will look back on it wistfully. So I am doing my best to stay in the moment and navigate with grace.

Unshowered, sleepy, occasionally grumpy grace, but grace none-the-less.


Dear Ryan,

I’m sitting down to write this two weeks after your birthday. Such is the plight of the second child, I’m afraid. I’ve been composing it in my head for much longer, though. One year…just like that.

The first things people comment on when they meet you is your hair, and your happiness. Both are pretty remarkable.


Your hair is starting to get a little too long in the back and is threatening to become a mullet if I don’t do something about it soon, but the thought of cutting it makes me sad. I’m going to wait it out a little longer until it becomes a vision hazard.

And your happiness? Oh, Ryan. You are just the happiest. You are always smiling. Always! You flirt and laugh and give giant, wet, open-mouth kisses. You have pride in your accomplishments and give yourself a round of applause when you do something well, all while shrieking “Yay!!” Sometimes I find you laughing while flipping through a book or crashing a car because, life! It’s a blast!

Your nickname around here is “Trouble”, and it suits you. You are into everything, so very scrappy, and are already proving to be my wild child. One of your favorite “scare Mama” tricks is to push your giant stuffed lion next to Owen’s closet, climb on top of it and pull on the net of his basketball hoop. Can you at least put a helmet on if you’re going to do that? Over the past two weeks you went from taking your first step, to standing from the floor on your own, to basically walking around the house like you own the place. I forgot how startling it can be to have a small person round the corner doing his best Frankenstein impression when you’re not expecting it. I think Kodiak forgot, too, because you’ve startled him a few times.

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I’m hoping once you are fully comfortable with walking that your sleep will go back to normal. And by normal, I mean you used to just sleep all the time. Naps were done in minutes without a fight, bedtime was easy and essentially through the night. As you’ve been working on this skill (and working on adding to your four teeth, I suspect) though, you’ve been up a few times at night, wanting to nurse constantly and have been royally fighting your afternoon nap. I would really, really like to go back to you sleeping. Really. Trust me, we are all happier when everyone sleeps. I will say that you always tell me when you’re ready to sleep. When you’re tired you cry “nigh, nigh, nigh!” until we put you down for night night. Never stop that, ok? It’s adorable.

You are a talker, mister. You are constantly babbling to yourself or anyone who will listen. Your consistent words include: mama, dada, wawa (Owen), dog, book, ball, bear, dat (that), yay, bah (cup), nuh (nurse), night night, hi, uh oh, rum rum (which isn’t really a word, but the sound you make when you drive toy cars around), and believe it or not, dinosaur. It comes out as “dye-dye-dye”, but you only say it when you’re playing with and showing me toy dinosaurs so I know that’s what you mean. What a funny thing to add to your vocabulary. You smack your lips together when you want to eat and always use the signs for more, all done, milk, and have created your own for lovey, which is you touching your mouth with your open hand just like you press your lovey to your face. (SO CUTE.)

Speaking of your lovey, you are totally attached to it. It’s a white lovey with a sheep head that was gifted to your brother when he was a baby. Owen never took any interest in it, but you clutch it to you while you sleep and like to carry it around when you first wake up. It’s slowly going from white to…not so white, despite washing it. I guess it’s just well-loved.

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Owen continues to be your ultimate buddy and it’s clear you already idolize him. If he does it, you need to do it too, and that means imitating him in every possible way. You need to drink from big boy cups, and play with big boy toys, and eat big boy food (you did purees for maybe a minute around six months. Then it was “give me what he’s got”, basically.) (Oh yeah, you eat everything. Every. Thing. And if there isn’t food on your tray mere seconds after I put you in the high chair you shriek!) He loves you to infinity and beyond, even though he’s become very territorial about his toys. I don’t think he was quite prepared for all that sharing. The joy in both of your eyes when you play or spontaneously hug, or the peals of laughter from both of you in the back seat makes me know we’re all doing something right, though.

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See what happened, Ry Ry? I finally got to writing about you and now I can’t stop. There is just so much to tell.

I will stop, though. For today. Happy first (and two weeks) birthday, my not-so-little Little. Thank you for the joy you bring me constantly.

I love you through and through.




There’s never a good time to step in urine, but stepping in urine before 7 a.m. really takes the cake.

We’re knee deep in potty training Owen and while he’s doing excellent — really! — boys have that whole extra issue of having to tuck it in and because of that, occasionally I find myself dodging puddles. We’ve bought stock in Clorox Wipes.

I guess I can’t really complain too much. He announced one day while in the tub that he had to go potty, and after that things just took off. I still have to tell him it’s time to take a “potty break”, as he only sometimes tell us he has to go, but if we keep up on him he spends almost every day entirely dry and many nights too. He’s also been learning the concept of “privacy”, and now wants us to leave the bathroom and shut the door while he goes. Cracks me up, this kid.

ANYWAY, I digress. My point was that at 6:39 a.m. I opened the bathroom door to find that not everything had made it in the bowl and I guess those things can get some range, because the puddle I stepped in was closer to the door than the potty. At the same time, Ryan was complaining from his crib where I put him after he woke to eat at 5:30 and wouldn’t go back to sleep, and Kodiak was all up my butt wanting breakfast.

I finally got everyone situated, but before I could get a drop of caffeine in my system, Ryan was ready to go back to sleep (uh, yeah. Because you were up at 5:30, kiddo.), Owen wanted breakfast and Sesame Street and now the kitchen floor needed wiping from Kodiak shaking his face after drinking. Sometimes I feel like I’ve had an entire day before the day ever starts.

– I’ll admit it. I totally use Owen as a “babysitter”. For example, Ryan’s needs are all met and he is happily playing on his play mat while I write this. Until he’s not happy, for whatever reason, and starts to fuss. “Hey, Owen. Go make your brother laugh,” I’ll say. And he does. And I get five more minutes of me time. We’ll have to have another kid just to keep the cycle going.

– Have you started holiday shopping? I…haven’t. I kind of know what I’m getting most people, but aside from one purchase already made for Owen, I’ve done nothing. I always say I’m going to shop year-round to avoid last minute stress and I NEVER DO. Never. Of course.

– Speaking of holidays, don’t forget you have until Friday to enter to win $50 off your Tiny Prints order. Do it! Cards are expensive! Free stuff!

– Random (appropriate for this post, no?) but do you have a headboard for your bed? Do you love it? I really, really want one, but they’re so expensive and I just can’t commit. I want one that is padded but won’t collect dust and hair. I’m not sure I love leather. I’m pretty much screwed, right? Help?

Something like this, maybe. I really like the clean, modern look of it. I do not like the price tag. Damn you, West Elm and you’re pretty, expensive things.

– In the time it took to write this post, we had another successful potty endeavor. One and two, if you cared to know. (You probably didn’t.) I’m happy to report everything made it into the bowl and no mothers were forced to step in anything gross. The end.

Dear Owen,

Happy 27 months, kiddo. A lot has changed in your world since my last letter, hasn’t it? Not only are you solidly a two-year old, but you are also officially a big brother, and a great one at that. You really do love Ryan and it makes my heart all melty every morning when you greet him with love and kisses and “brothers!” in a sing-songy voice. You always want to be near him…to the point that I often have to tell you to get out of his face. But really, it’s all good.


The addition of a sibling has brought on some jealousy, though. I know this because you’ve taken to pretend crying in this awful whiny voice whenever the baby starts fussing. I understand your train of thought, I do. When the baby cries he gets attention. But, oh, KID. Please stop that. It’s like nails on a chalkboard. We’ve been talking about how Ryan doesn’t have words so that’s why he cries, but Owen has SO MANY words and can use them to tell us what he needs.


You do have them, you know. You talk so much that sometimes after I put you to bed I realize the only time you stopped talking was when you were sleeping. You carry on entire conversations and are so very curious. You want to know what everything is, the name of every person we encounter, where we are going, what we are doing and who is going to come visit you. You are curious and thoughtful and interested in everything.


Two is a challenging age. You are willful and demanding and self-centered. Some days you leave me ragged after a constant battle of back-and-forth. On the flip side, you are funny and sparkly and cuddly and loving. You are affectionate and smart and some days you leave me dazzled by what you come up with. Your accomplishments leave me beaming with pride and I think your cheeks are still one of the most delicious things to snack on.


You are still a very cautious kid, although watching you slowly come out of your shell has been really cool for us. It took nearly the whole summer for you to walk on the beach without fussing or to actually go in the ocean, but once you did it, you were hooked. I love watching you experience these things for the first time. Seeing life through your eyes makes me appreciate it a little more.



You love to be outside, riding your bike, playing with toy cars, shooting hoops, running with the neighborhood kids, collecting sticks and acorns and coloring with chalk. At the end of the day you are a mess. A happy mess, but a mess none the less.



You are growing so quickly that some days I worry I’m going to blink and you will be leaving for college. I want to bottle these moments with you — however challenging some of them may be — and remember them always. (Sigh, maybe not ALL of them. Even as I’m writing this you had a mini-tantrum over crayons, of all things.)


October 2011/September 2012. From cautiously toddling along, to always on the move.

Each time I write one of these letters it dawns on me how quickly you change in such a short period of time. How each time I sit down to reflect on the previous three months, a little more of your babyhood has faded away and a bit more of who you are becoming has emerged. It’s a wonderfully bittersweet journey.

I love you, through and through, you crazy kid.



– Guess who is sleeping all night long in his bed with no crying? This beautiful little beach boy, that’s who.

He did cry at nap time the day following the silent return night, but that night he went right to sleep. And the night after that. And again last night. His pajamas are covered in reward stickers and everyone is is great spirits. Your suggestions about keeping the door open were spot on. It never bothered him to have it closed before, and I was keeping it closed so the baby wouldn’t wake him, but we have found that leaving it open even just a crack appeases him and makes him comfortable. Good advice, all! Hopefully this phase has passed and if it hasn’t, at least I know we can use that method again with success.

– It’s 52 degrees this morning. We have a family birthday pool party to attend at 4 p.m. Something tells me it’s not going to be the best day for a swim…

– Ryan woke up at 4 a.m. and since he’s been sleeping longer and longer, when he does wake he majorly chows down. Usually I have to pull him off halfway through and burp him to prevent a massive spit up situation, but it didn’t matter last night. Last night while burping him over my shoulder, he projectile spit up all over the both of us and into the cushions of the glider.

And into my underwear.

This would be bad enough, had it been the first time I had baby spit up in my underwear. Sadly, it was not.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know the last few nights with Owen have been horrific, to say the least. Seemingly out of the blue he went from going pleasantly to bed and sleeping through the night, to screaming bloody murder at bedtime, despite how much soothing we do, and waking multiple times a night doing the same. Saturday night was so bad, my mother-in-law came over yesterday afternoon just to put Owen down for a nap. I couldn’t take another sleep time tantrum and I myself was exhausted.

I’m assuming this is a phase brought about by developmental changes, a new sibling, and the arrival of fears and separation anxiety, but having “reasons” doesn’t make it easier. We’ve tried to talk to him about it during the day, reinforce a good sleep with a reward like a sticker, etc., given him an earlier bedtime, a later bedtime, a long nap, a short nap, but to no avail. I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject, talked to family, friends and coworkers with kids and the story is all the same. Most of their kids went through a stage like this around age two and uh…you just have to deal. Fan-freaking-tastic.

I vowed to do the “silent return” to bed Saturday night, where every time your child opens their door, you walk them back calmly to bed saying absolutely nothing. We used this technique briefly when we transitioned him from the crib to the bed. It makes sense, I guess. Any verbal attention, be it positive or negative, is attention. And that’s what they want. So yeah, we tried. And FAILED miserably. We both lost our temper, Owen was hysterical, and when you factor in Ryan’s 3 a.m. feeding (it’s a wonder that kid is sleeping through all this. Score one for the sound machine.), neither Michael nor I slept more than three hours total, and not even in one stretch.

Zombie parents, right here.

This has to end. It HAS to. And soon.

Scene: Sunday night. I try something different and instead of reading our usual books at night, I read them during the day. As I nurse Ryan down for bed I tuck Owen in on the loveseat, turn out the lights and put on this dreadfully (purposely) dull show on Sprout OnDemand where they basically just show random characters sleeping set to an instrumental lullaby. Warning parents: if you’re not careful, YOU will fall asleep watching this. We talk about how they are all closing their eyes and going to sleep quietly. Owen pretends to sleep on the couch and I am hopeful.

I put Ryan to bed and Owen and I walk to his room. We get in bed, sing songs and tell stories. We close our eyes and I cozy with him for a while. We talk again about going to sleep quietly and how if he does this, he can pick out a new sticker in the morning and watch a special dvd his grandmother brought him. I am hopeful, again.

I kiss him goodnight and…HYSTERICAL SCREAMING. I try and calm him, but no. He won’t have it. “COZY!!!!” he screams at me. With a heavy, yet exhausted heart, I walk out and shut the door.

Scene: I park the ottoman at the end of the hallway and set up my my Sleep Training Survival Station. I have a notepad and pen to mark down how many time he comes out of his room. I do this both out of curiosity, and to see if it gets easier as the nights go on. I am committed to making this happen. I have a Parenting magazine (HA!) (they come free in the mail. I don’t know why.) and a hard cider, although I could use something stronger. Let’s do this.


Scene: 8:04 p.m. He comes out of his room for the first time screaming at me to cozy with him in his bed. I point behind him, he turns around and back we go. I put him in bed and walk out, shutting the door behind me. I return to the ottoman, take a swig, tell the Twitters what’s going on and read a stupid article about Heidi Klum’s new clothing line for Babies R Us. He continues to rant. He screams for me to cozy in his bed, to sit in his rocking chair, to cozy in my bed. I’m sad, but this time I’m more determined. He needs to sleep. WE need to sleep.

Scene: He opens the door for the 4th or 5th time. This time as I walk towards him, he bolts by me and runs into my room screaming to cozy in my bed. He is trying to scale the side of our bed like a sleep-deprived crazed monkey. This kid’s got balls. He is sweaty and sticky. I pick him up and bring him back to bed. “MOMMY!” He yells at me. Not sad. Angry! “Mommy! You come back here!” Sigh.

This continues. Seven, eight times. Nine. And then, it changes. I hear him flop into his bed. His screams become moans, then whimpers, then just the occasional “ehhhh”, reminding me of a windup toy losing steam. Forty minutes on the dot from the start of this ordeal, he is quiet.


Scene: 3:40 a.m. Owen wakes up crying. I go into his room, tuck him back in, give him a kiss and spend a few minutes rubbing his back. When I get up to leave he protests. I tell him I love him and will see him in the morning. He starts to scream as I shut the door. This time he comes out and into our room just twice over the course of 2o minutes before falling back to sleep. Certainly not quiet or relaxing, but worlds better than the previous night.

Scene: 5:45 a.m. I have just laid down in bed to nurse Ryan when Owen comes into our room. Had this been any regular sleeping night, we would just pull him up into bed with us for a little extra sleep, so that’s what we do. Everyone dozes until 7.

End scene.

I’m still exhausted today, but not quite as badly as yesterday. Owen is is great spirits, but hoarse from all that yelling. I’m not looking forward to nap time or bed tonight, but I am hoping that last night was in fact progress and it will only get better.


As promised, I want to touch base on how it’s going using the toddler alarm clock I bought for Owen. This is a totally unsponsored, unpaid post. I bought the clock myself out of desperation and sleep deprivation!

After we transitioned Owen into his new room and big boy bed, he managed to get the sleeping all night in there part down pat quickly. But since he now could climb out of bed on his own, as soon as he opened his eyes he was doing just that, opening the door and coming into our room. Every day between 5 and 5:30 a.m…WAY too early for his tired parents.

We tried bringing him back to bed and tucking him back in: FAIL. We tried letting him cozy with us in our bed, hoping he would go back to sleep: kick you in the stomach for a half hour FAIL. We tried to let him play on his own with toys in our room while we rested: drive toy trucks on your face for 5 minutes before demanding oatmeal FAIL.

So that’s how I found myself one VERY early morning combing the internet for a solution to our sleep problem. I came across a lot of chatter about toddler alarm clocks doing the trick and figured well, it certainly couldn’t make things worse. After reading some reviews, I decided on the Onaroo OK to Wake! Alarm Clock. I ordered it from because the price was comparable to other places, and since I was ordering it so early in the morning, it would be delivered the very next day.

The concept is simple: you set the time you want your child to wake up. When that time arrives, rather than the clock making noise, it glows green and displays a smiley face (see photo above), indicating to your child that it’s OK to wake up.

When the box arrived, I made a big deal about opening this special gift for Owen and explaining to him what it was for. I set the clock for a few minutes from then and showed him how it glowed. “When the light is off,” I told him, “it’s still night time. We stay in our bed. But when the light turns green, it’s time to WAKE UP! And come get Mommy!” He was SUPER excited about it and started repeating, “Light turn green! Come get Mommy!” over and over. I set it for 6 a.m. and crossed my fingers.

I’ll be honest with you: it has NOT been an overnight success. Not even close. While Owen completely understands the concept of the clock, (he talks about staying in bed until the light turns green all the time), we are still not on a consistent routine with it. I don’t think this is the fault of the clock, though, rather that he’s only just two and when he wakes up, well, he wants his mom. He is slowly getting better with it, though, and after two weeks of using it we have had some really good mornings. On occasion he will wake up so close to the time, so I will go back to bed with him and we wait quietly together until it turns on. I think that has helped him understand the concept better.

I have slowly been able to push the wake time up to 6:15 and today he came RUNNING into my room at 6:17 announcing the light turned green and was SO PROUD of himself. Beaming! Kissing! Dancing!

Well, I had to get up after that. I was so proud of him too! I am optimistic about this little clock. A lot of the positive reviews are written by people with toddlers closer to three years old who seem to get it right away, so I’m not worried about having continued success with it.

Some details:

– In terms of design, I don’t find this little guy all that obnoxious looking. It comes with two interchangeable face plates; a pink flower or a green “alien” (we are using the green). When it’s in clock mode it displays a digital time reading, and when it turns on it makes a smiley face. It makes no noise.

– It is battery powered, which I suppose could be a nuisance to some, but I like that I could position it anywhere in the room and that it’s portable for travel.

– You can set the alarm to stay on for up to 2 hours, so if your toddler happens to sleep through the wake time (yay!!), it will still be on when they do wake up. This way there’s no confusion about waiting for the light.

– There are also options to use the clock as a nap timer, but I haven’t used it, as Owen naps just fine without it.

– The control buttons are hidden under a panel that is flimsy. Some reviews I read said that they were disappointed their toddler broke or damaged the clock by dropping it. I kind of want to say, “well…duh” to those people, because of course your kid is going to want to play with it. To avoid this all together, I put the clock on top of Owen’s dresser facing the bed. He hasn’t asked to play with it, so that’s that.

Overall, I am really pleased with this clock and firmly believe it will only work better for us over time. At around $30 for a clock it is a little on the pricey side, but I don’t think you can put a price on sleep!

– My baby turns two years old tomorrow. I’m kind of blown away by this. I can’t believe I will be posting the first quarterly letter of his second year wishing him the happiest of birthdays, because it’s hard to believe that just two years ago today I went into labor with him. Be prepared for some sap tomorrow.

– Last year we did the big first birthday party, but this year will be low-key with just a family dinner with the in-laws, cake and presents. We will probably do a second cake when the baby comes and my family is in town too. Owen is getting his first bike and helmet — both red (his choice!) — which will, I’m sure, provide hours of entertainment for him, and heart palpitations for his mother.

– In preparation, I’ve pinned about half a dozen cake recipes, so I just have to decide which one to make today. Yum!

– I’m 37 weeks pregnant now, officially full term and ready for this kid to come out. I’m not uncomfortable, I’m just impatient. I really want to meet him! The only two days I’d like to avoid is tomorrow (it would be nice for the kids to have their own birthdays, even if they are close together), and the fourth of July. Being a holiday baby myself (New Years Eve), I know how annoying sharing your birthday with the entire country can be when you’re a kid. Other than that, he can come. I have a feeling he’s not going to make an appearance until at LEAST the 39th week, but I’m willing him out all the same.

I’ve had three real contractions the past few days that were uncomfortable and familiar enough for me pause and think, “now???”, but obviously, they didn’t mean anything. Saturday I was in the mood to clean…and clean, and clean, and clean. Somewhere around 9:30 p.m. while steam mopping my kitchen and planning on tackling the bathrooms next, it hit me that this was exactly what happened the night I went into labor with Owen. I had two schools of thought: one…baby time!, followed by two…wishful thinking slash nesting to the extreme. Guess it was number two.


Not out, still in.

My appointment on Friday confirmed dilation has started — like, barely — but all that means is hey, guess what? You’re going to have a baby at some point. Duh. I know, I know. Babies come when they want to come. I was just hoping that him being my second would mean he’d come out a little sooner, that’s all.

– I think the solution to any sleep issues Owen encounters is to write about them on the internet, because after I do that they tend to resolve themselves a bit. After realizing that the sound of shutting the door was what was upsetting him and causing him to climb out of bed, I started leaving the door open a bit until about 20 minutes after he falls asleep. Success! No more opening the door. He just sleeps.

The main issue is that with the freedom to get out of bed comes the new routine of him waking so freaking early (see last post), and no. That needs to stop. I ordered a special toddler alarm clock that looks like a little alien and rather than making noise, lights up when it’s time to start your day. We’re on day two of using it and while it hasn’t been an overnight success, I can already see progress and he’s definitely excited about using it. I will do a full review of it in a week or so in case any of you are also bleary-eyed and so NOT bushy-tailed while your toddler drives trucks over your face at 5 a.m. and are looking for a solution.

– Owen is trying to climb into the baby swing so I should probably go stop that. Behold my (very near) future.

When you walk into our house you have to go up a short flight up stairs to go into our main living space. We have a gate at the top. A gate that is always closed and the dangers of an open gate have been drilled into Owen’s head, so much so that if it’s even a little ajar, he will walk away from it as far as he can while saying, “no, no, no.”

You know where this is going, right?

Two days ago we had his new bedroom furniture delivered, so we took the gate down to make more room. And…we got lazy, I guess, and complacent in the idea that Owen knew not to go near the stairs so it was fine for a day.

Yesterday afternoon I was finishing up some stuff in the kitchen while Owen road around the house on his little John Deer tractor. I could hear him going up and down the hallway and around the living room. I was listening, but I wasn’t really paying attention. All of the sudden I heard the sound of wheels speeding down the stairs. It happened so quickly, and as soon as my brain registered what I was hearing I started to run the 10 or so feet to the top of the stairs.

I was too late. I made it just in time to hear his first scream and when I came around the corner he was lying on his back on the bottom (tile!) landing, the wheels of his little tractor spinning next to him. As I flew down the stairs a million thoughts were racing through my head (Broken bones! Head injury!), but when I reached him the only thing I could see was red.

There was so.much.blood. I scooped him up and while he howled and buried his head into me, I tried to decipher where it was all coming from. With all that screaming it wasn’t hard to figure out that it was his mouth. The entire thing was filled with dark red, his teeth hidden beneath a pool of it and it ran down his chin and down my shirt. I ran into the bathroom, wet a washcloth and tried to wipe as much away as I could, all the while comforting him and trying to stay calm for him.

My brain was not calm. My baby was hurt, there was blood everywhere and it just kept coming.

I managed to get him to stick out his tongue and do a quick sweep of his teeth, and discovered that he had bit into both his top and bottom lips, but I didn’t know how badly. I grabbed my phone and called Michael, who thankfully picked up and said he would come right home. I couldn’t decide if I needed to take Owen to the hospital or not. He was still sobbing and the blood was still flowing. I just couldn’t tell how bad the injury was. And I started to cry. Luckily, being away from the mess and having a straight head, Michael texted me right then and suggested I call our pediatrician first before heading the ER. I did, and they told me to bring him in.

I grabbed a bag of ice and tried to get him to hold it to his mouth (ha) as I gathered up our things. In my rush, I didn’t even put shoes on the poor kid, although I did at least remember to throw them in my bag. As I peeled out of the garage, I put on a brave face and waved at the neighbors who were talking next to the basketball hoop on our street. (We think this may actually be why he fell down the stairs — I think he was driving by the top when he noticed them playing ball through the screen door and leaned forward to get a better view.)

It was only then I noticed my entire shirt was soaked with blood and it was streaked across my cheek. I probably looked like a pregnant serial killer.

The ride was less than 10 minutes, but it felt endless. The bleeding had slowed, but he still looked like a vampire after a good meal. I tried to make him feel better by telling him that our doctor would make it better soon and Daddy was going to meet us there. He had stopped screaming, but the whimpering was just as sad.He also kept repeating, “I know…I know….” in a sad little voice. I must have been saying that to him as I tried to calm him before, “I know, baby, it hurts. I know.”

I bustled him into the waiting room at the pediatrician’s and as soon as he saw the plethora of trucks and trains to play with, he was off and happy as a clam. Of course. When Michael walked in a few minutes later, had he not seen me covered in blood, I’m not sure he would have believed anything had really happened.

Long story short, he’s fine. He split his top lip, bit into the bottom lip but not enough to cause major damage, and split that ridge of gum between his front two teeth, which was the source of most of the blood. According to his doctor, mouth wounds bleed A LOT, but usually heal up quickly and nicely. He has a bruise on his cheek and his lips are puffy, but that’s the worst of it. He gets to skip a day or two or tooth brushing and eat soft and cold things, like the Popsicle he had last night. Basically, any kid’s dream.

Today he’s in great spirits and actually looks pretty good, considering. I think we can even go to Target today without getting suspicious looks. (Negligent mother, aisle five.)

We are so lucky. This could have been a million times worse. But I can’t erase the vision of him lying there spewing blood, or the guilt that is nagging at the back of my mind.

The gate should have been there. I should have been paying more attention. This could have been prevented.

I guess it’s a lesson learned for all, one I hope to never repeat. And I KNOW this is just the beginning. There will be more injuries. Probably a broken bone, a trip to the ER, some stitches. He is a boy, after all, and we’re having another one.

But still. My heart. My baby.

Gah, parenthood.

– I think Owen got the message that he turns two in three weeks. (Wait, what? WHAT????) I wouldn’t say he’s been terrible, but he’s been…challenging. On one hand, he’s this amazing little kid who is speaking in some complete sentences (“Mommy, I want some oatmeal.”) and asking every morning if baby brother is coming today, but on the other hand, he’s this crazy short person running around my house crying for no reason except for the fact that his oatmeal is gone. Or, too warm. Or, something. I don’t really know. And I know I shouldn’t complain that he wants to read more and more and MORE books one after another, but if I have to read the Richard Scarry “Biggest and Best Storybook Ever – THREE BOOKS IN ONE! – ” one more time, I think I might lose my mind. (Truth? He’s on the couch with it right now shouting “MOMMY READ IT!!!!”, even though we JUST DID.)

Yesterday was one of THOSE days. Nothing could please him, he cried constantly, he took an early nap and had an interrupted night sleep. I’m going to go ahead and blame the eventual showing of his two-year molars on some of it (parent tip: always blame teeth. It will make you feel less like a giant failure and more like it’s out of your control), and the rest of the fact that well, people must call it the Terrible Two’s for a reason.

– A friend and I went to an open house at the hospital yesterday to see the new labor tub they installed. It wasn’t there when I had Owen, so I wanted to check it out before things got going. It’s beautiful! Centered in the spa-like room is a large Jacuzzi tub surrounded by soft lighting, an iPod dock and a pretty sink and toilet (as pretty as a toilet can be, I guess) behind a frosted glass partition. The room is nicer than any of our bathrooms. I’m really hoping it’s available when I arrive, because I’d love to try it out as another method of pain relief. It’s not a birthing tub, so I would have to get out at some point to have the baby, but I still think it’s a really nice option.

– Since my big whine-fest last week I’m happy to report that my foot is SO much better. Like a 2 out of 10 on the pain scale instead of an 8. The plantars wart of doom refuses to totally die, and probably won’t until my hormones regulate after birth, but at least it’s not exruciating any more. I bet you know more about my foot than you ever, EVER would want to.

– You guys. The phone alarm just went off and Owen started dancing to it, until he pushed the side button and it stopped. So naturally, HE BURST INTO TEARS. Yo, Two. Get a grip, will ya?

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