Momma's Little Monkey

Perhaps you have heard me mention how small Sterling is. The truth is, she is tiny. Any time she is in a group of kids her age, she is by far the smallest one.

She was born itty bitty and has stayed small.

Which is why it shouldn't have surprised me when she discovered that she could fit her whole body, including her head, between the spindles of our stairway.


I about had a heart attack when she called out "hey momma, look, I up here" and when I looked up, her entire body was suspended on the WRONG side of the bannister.

The more frantically I demanded she move back in as I rushed towards her, the harder the little turkey waggled her eyebrows as she dangled as far out as her little arms would reach.

So when I reached her, I snatched her up with my heart pounding, and explained to her why it was incredibly dangerous to play like that.

She looked back a me with mirth swimming in those ornery little chocolate brown eyes and it was clear that she loved this game.

I was changing Bennett when I heard her little voice pipe up again "look momma, I naughty".

Want to guess how this story plays out? It really isn't hard to guess.

Yep. Homegirl was at it again. This time, she was smart enough to duck back in and run right before I got to her.

The third time was right before (early) bed. The finish line was in sight, she was in her jammies, and I was mentally preparing myself for a much needed break.

A bit too early, as always seems to be the case.

I went to grab Bennett's bottle when the little turkey called out "oh maaaamaaaaa, I up heeeeeerrrreeee".

And I knew without looking exactly where my little monkey would be.

This time, the second she saw me she ducked back inside the railing and took off laughing hysterically.

One of us is going to end up in a straight jacket, anyone want to place bets on which one it will be?

Cherish Your Gift

Today I went to a service for the husband of a dear friend, a friend I have known since high school.

They have two small children, each a year older than ours. She is way, way too young to be a widow.

If you read my blog regularly, you know that in addition to the mayhem, I live with a firm belief of wringing every drop of life out of the days you are given, because they ARE infinite.

But today really made me realize just how finite they are.

I think there is a part of me that has always secretly believed that I am one of the lucky ones. That I and my loved ones are invincible, that we will live forever. Sure, I talk a good game about living as much life as possible in the days I am given, but the truth is, on some level, I think those days will last forever.

That I will always have another tomorrow.

Which is ironic because I learned about loss early on. It is what taught me to live in the moment.

But somehow, dealing with such a profound loss so early on also gave me this warped sense of invincibility.

I survived that loss, came through the flames like a Phoenix, and it made me feel strong enough to stand up to any challenge.

Until I see surrealistic moments like this, where high school cheerleaders are made into young widows, and I have no choice but to face the truth.

Death is real.

And it comes for us all at some point, whether we are ready or not. Whether we have had our great love or written our great novel or had our great adventure, or not.

Goals are wonderful, but they are empty and hollow unless you are living and breathing towards them TODAY.

The reality is, no one knows how many tomorrows we each have. All we know is that we have this moment, right now, today.

And what you choose to do with today will make the difference between reaching your goals tomorrow, or being stuck in the same spot you are today.

You may may have 10 more tomorrows. Or thousands. Or hundreds of thousands. Or none.

No one knows, but what I do know is this: the today that you are living right now, this today currently in your hands, it is a gift. Cherish it, make the most of it, appreciate it for all that it is.

Make the most of it, because it is a gift that my friend's husband wasn't given.

I love you P, my heart goes out to you and your girls.

Ornery Humor: Business Name Brilliance

Best. Business. Name. EVER.

Even better than this one, and I didn't even think that was possible!

I don't know what visionary came up with this business name, but I thank them because it totally made my day :-)

Monkey Show Mayhem

Getting ready in the morning at our house is a bit like a monkey and pony show.

That's kind if like a dog and pony show, but with WAY more antics and acrobatics.

With two little monkeys running full tilt and only one of me, it's pretty certain that there is always someone doing something they aren't supposed to be doing.

Like this morning.

I had already changed Bennett when he immediately pooped again in his clean diaper.

I was snagging him a diaper when they both disappeared upstairs.

As a mom, the pitter patter of little feet is incredibly sweet... until they are somewhere they aren't supposed to be.

Then, it's the pitter patter of doom.

Like this morning, when they were in my bathroom, playing in the cabinets.

After calling to them and being thoroughly ignored, they were finally rousted from their fun times.

As Sterling was waking down the stairs, she looked me in the eye and said "Momma, I was thinking about you the whoooooooollle time."

Yeah, I'm sure she was.

And it probably went something like this:

Man, momma is going to be PISSED when she sees the mess we are making. Oh well, serves her right for thinking she deserves to have anything nice that is off limits.

Oooooh, she just called us again. And that time she sounded pissed. Thank god for the modern American disapproval of spanking, otherwise she would whoop our assess! Wonder how mad she can get before that totally gets overridden...

Yep, this is something she really LOVES. We must destroy it.

If I weren't already firmly set on sticking with two, mornings like today would help me in making my decision :-)

Picking Your Favorite (Nose)

Sterling and Bennett have spent the last few days apart due to dueling bouts of flu, RSV, bronchiatitis and cutting molars (for Ben).

Over the weekend, John and I took the "divide and conquer" approach. Sterling reigned supreme over the TV in our bedroom while Bennett ran rampant in the playroom, but they really missed each other.

Today was their first day back together, and like a pair of puppies, there has been lots of nipping and hair pulling as they reestablished their social order.

I knew things were back to normal when Sterling leaned over, picked Bennett's nose, and ate it.

Ahhhhh, motherhood is a beautiful, beautiful thing...

What's Really Important

Sterling has the flu, and has been a miserable, snotty, fevered, coughing mess for the last few days.

It's funny, but the comfort items she has chosen to keep around her are incredibly telling.

There is Bucket, the blanket that our good friend Teddi made for S on her first birthday, and has been a beloved member of the family ever since. There isn't a nap or a bedtime complete without a little Bucket love, and Bucket has dragged across countless floors and through numerous play dates ever since.

There is a pair of Bennett's jammies that I originally put on Sterling because she had fever sweated through hers.

I gave her a bath, and a pair of his jammies were the first clean thing handy after I got her out of the tub. She instantly recognized that they were his and did a little shimmy of happiness, and has been incredibly attached to them ever since. I dread the moment when I will have to peel their sweaty, Tylenol-sticky grossness off of her sick little body for good.

Every time we have to take them off for a potty break, it's a major ordeal and there is a part of me that inwardly cringes each time I slide those jammies back for cuddling in my bed.

And there is her "Vioyet". A Christmas card from her friend Violet who recently moved to Denver.

S found the card two days ago and has diligently carried it everywhere with her since. It's a bittersweet memento. Emblazoned with the word "Cheer", it simultaneously reminds us of good friends that we love so much, but at the same time of how far away they live.

The card is now a little battered and frayed around the edges, but she still hugs it to her tiny little chest and proudly proclaims "that's MY Vioyet" with a sigh of happiness.

And late last night, after hours of waking up repeatedly screaming in discomfort, S finally decided that what she really needed was a little FaceTime with Nana and Pop Pop. The ultimate comfort, some grandparenty love and the added benefit of it being illicitly after bedtime.

Looking at her horde of comfort got me thinking.

When she was miserable, it wasn't the beautiful house or the nice car or the awesome toys that Sterling looked to for comfort.

No, it was the loved ones and little pieces of their love that she wrapped around herself to find comfort in the depths of her sickness.

And there is something beautiful that we can all learn from that.

When we are stripped down to a miserable little nub, nothing more than a wretched, sad little bundle of raw nerves, and are looking for comfort, it is the loved ones that we choose to surround ourselves with that are the most important thing.

Really, they are the only thing that matters.

The great thing is that your loved ones aren't limited to the ones that you were born to. Sterling chose Violet, just as I have chosen many of my closest "family" members. The key is that you let yourself be honest and open enough in your heart that you let them in.

Just like a closed hand cannot hold on to anything important, a closed heart cannot hold on to anyone important. And if my kids have taught me anything, its how to live life with an open, loving heart.

Because at the end of the day, love truly is all that is really matters.

Shifty Snapping Shenanigans

An all time favorite game in our house is "sneak Momma's iPhone and take as many photos as you possibly can before she yanks it back from you".

Sounds awesome, right?

Sterling can snap more photos in the 3 seconds it takes me to snatch my phone back from her than any self respecting paparazzi.

And she rivals the best of them in snagging shots that are unflattering.

If there is an unattractive angle with bad lighting and I'm not wearing any makeup, you can be certain homegirl is going to capture it for posterity.

Which is why I am constantly going through my iPhone, deleting out horrible photos, and vowing to myself that I'm going to come up with a better way of hiding it next time.

And maybe never leave my bedroom without a full face of makeup. Buuuuut probably not that last one.

That shot below?

The little turkey totally staged it.

First she came over and playfully shoved her phone into my cleavage. Somewhere in that process, she ghosted my phone out of my bra strap. Not certain how she did it, but she did.

Evidently, I'm not only raising the most youngest pusher, but also the world's youngest pickpocket.

Then, as I was sitting there placidly, waiting like the patsy I was, she whipped out my phone and started snapping pictures to record the degradation.

That smile on my face was a brief "well done ma'am" tip of my hat as I was reaching up to snag it back from her.

But not before she managed to capture me in all my un made-up, non showered glory.


Man Teething meets Man Cold: The Perfect Storm

You might have remembered me mentioning the phenomenon of Man Teething. It's like regular teething, but involves a baby man, and so there is a lot of extra whining.

Well this week we have the mother of all colds in our house.

Usually we are crazy healthy.

Outside of my insane bout with post partum preeclampsia, the toxic crazy sinus infection that would not leave and being hit by a car (all last year), we are a super healthy household.

I am dead serious when I say that this was only the second time I have ever taken one of my kids' temperatures. And it was my first go at one of those handy dandy little nose squeegee things (which are pretty damn fun, by the way).

But when we go down, we go down HARD!

Bennett has had this horrible, wet, croupy cough for about 6 days now, and a full accompaniment of nose snot to go with it.

But because he is a baby man, he isn't content to sit limply in my lap and be comforted.

Instead, he has strutted purposefully around all week with his chest out, letting out miserable roars of congested fury, waving his pudgy little fists like a miniature snotty gorilla.

Then, periodically, he comes to crawl all over me, whining and wiping slug trails on my arms.

Heaven forbid I make the mistake of trying to hug him to me, because then he glares at me in pure disgraced fury. His manhood bruised, his ancestors disgraced. And then he stalks off in snotty disgust to plot his revenge.

Good times.

But over the last couple of days things have really ratcheted up to the next level. And when I happened to get a glimpse into the back of B's mouth today, I realized why.

Homeboy is not only suffering from the mother of all colds, but he is concurrently cutting molars.

If you don't have kids, let me explain. Teething sucks. It super sucks. It's hours of whiny, snotty, whiny, whiny snotty fun. With some whining.

And molars are the pinnacle of teething. They can cause bruising, bleeding, and a hell of a lot of whining.

You get the picture?

Add that on top of a horrendous cold, and you have man misery that no amount of baby Tylenol can touch.

Then, last night Bennett started vomiting, which means we have added some new strain into the chest cold he was battling.


And homeboy only slows down long enough to puke.

Or whine.

Wonder if anywhere local delivers wine. Or if not, how much baby Tylenol I have to drink to get the same effect...

Naked FaceTime Fiasco

There is this lovely little feature on my iPhone called FaceTime.

It's made for bringing families together, bridging the gap between loved ones, or in my case, quite possibly flashing my Father In Law.

Allow me to explain.

My wonderful husband let me sleep in the other morning while he got up early with the munchkins.

If you have kids, you know that sleeping in is the gift known as "that which eclipses all other gifts".

I had just woken up and enjoyed a quick shower when I heard the familiar trill of a FaceTime request.

It's not uncommon for John to check in on me when he hears me up, and I thought he was mixing things up with FaceTime.

We are crazy like that.

I dashed into the bedroom, conked my toe on our big club chair on the way, and hopped totally naked to grab my phone.

Please do yourself a favor and don't do a mental image of that. I have two small kids, it's not pretty.

Anyway, John is the third generation with his name, so in my rush, I missed the "II" instead of the "III" next to the name of the caller. I automatically picked up, thinking it was him.

About 10 seconds into the call I shifted my focus off of rubbing my throbbing toes and onto the name, at which point it finally hit like a bucket of cold water. With piranhas inside. Little, hungry, bitey ones. With red eyes. And super sharp teeth.

Anyway, this was conveniently exactly long enough for the call to establish connection.

At which point I began hitting the Hang Up button with all of the fervent determination of a trained lab monkey with a hair trigger finger and a bad treat addiction.

I'm still not certain whether or not my Father In Law saw anything or not. But if I start getting random FaceTime requests from all his buddies, I think we will know the answer to that question ;-)

Note: Yes, my Father In Law reads this blog sometimes. And if he didn't see anything that morning, I'm sure I will get a lot of teasing for it anyway :-)

After it was *repeatedly* pointed out to me that this post needed a picture to go with it, I decided you guys were right.
And since you were so game to see puffy, leathery, nudity, I thought I would share a shot of the chair I cranked my toe on ;-)


I made the mistake of giving Sterling a bowl of yogurt and leaving her alone for three seconds while I got Bennett's milk cup from the fridge.

Three seconds.

In that time, it went EVERYWHERE!

On her hands and all over her face? Check.

On her chair and down the wall? Check.

In her hair and on her clothes? Checkity check check check.

In fact, about the only place that she didn't liberally douse in yogurt was... inside her mouth.

What is it about kids and yogurt?

If you give a kid a bowl of yogurt, chances are they WILL have a heyday with it.

And yogurt is only slightly lower on the "Hard As Hell To Clean Up" scale than oatmeal.

Which means no matter HOW thoroughly I may scrub and how many layers of skin I may remove, as soon as the kid in question is dry, I am certain to notice a slightly opaque, highly sticky scum somewhere on their body.

Good times.

Which is why I probably need a dog. Dogs take care of things like yogurt residue...

Momma's Little Helper

My 2.5 year old strolled over earlier and said "hey momma, want pot?"

Not certain if she meant to offer me tea (fair mistake), or if I've created the world's youngest dealer...

Either way, I'm counting it as as a parenting win because she voluntarily offered to share ;-)

Chunky Chipmonkey

My child is a chipmunk. Or a hamster. Or any other little critter that hoards food in its mouth.

It would be a gross understatement to say that Bennett likes snacks.

It would be more accurate to say something along the lines of "Bennett freakin LOVES snacks". Or at least is super fond of them.

Whenever there is food around, he happily toodles himself over to it and avails himself of it without preamble.

There is no snack too big, meal too ambitious, offering too off putting. Whatever it is, he throws himself at it with gusto.

Which is why there should be no surprise that I had to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on him before he was a year old.

Today they were eating these chunky pretzel rods. Sterling was delicately munching on one while Bennett was shoving as many into his mouth as possible while grabbing for the next one and growling at me whenever I held the bag out of his reach.

Pretty confident that picture below conveys his "bitch please, you best be handin' over that there pretzel" face.

Special memories being made right there. Yep.

I do love my ornery, spunky little chunky chipmunk. Monkey.

Which I guess technically makes him a Chipmonkey. My Spunky Chunky Little Chipmonkey :-)

Creepy Bunny

That pink thing down there?

Oh that's nothing. Just the most creepy ass bunny creature monster thing ever.

See, we went to Florida last month. And I shortsightedly overlooked packing Sterling's snuggle bunny (the cute little white guy).

I packed her beloved blanket, her favorite snacks, and plenty of shoes for her to choose from. But somehow I overlooked her snuggle bunny.

So a day into the trip, she made it ABUNDANTLY clear that we needed to rectify this issue. And off to the toy store we went.

She was very specific that it needed to be a bunny, but after searching and finding no less than 5 incredibly cute, soft, cuddly bunnies, my girl still wasn't satisfied.

It wasn't until we found the rack of overpriced misfit toys and front and center was this Pepto Bismol monstrosity, that she fell in love immediately. No matter how hard I tried to extoll the virtues of the less creepy bunnies, she wasn't having it.

So we came home with this little guy. And every time I see it sprawled casually across her bed at nap time, with its creepy little grin, that I wonder if its ready to take a long trip in the donate pile.

Because when I go in to kiss her at night, I'm pretty certain that it is leering at me with that maniacal gleam in its eye and saying "you're next momma, I'm gonna eat your brains bext".

Gives me the heebie jeebies. But every time I hide the damn thing as a trial run, she frantically searches for it until I magically "find" it.

Which means creepy killer bunny is here to stay, for the short term at least...

Hopelessly Devoted

This morning, Sterling was spending some quality time in the Naughty Pen for whacking Bennett with a toy, and he threw the mother of all tantrums for not being allowed to go console her during her exile.

Olivia Newton John's "Hopelessly Devoted" came on Pandora.

So appropriate...

The picture is old, but the sentiment still holds true.

Bathroom Naughty

So yeah, having a kid that is potty trained is totally adding a crimp to my already stellar parenting.

See, Sterling is little. Like super little. So every potty trip requires me to help hold her up so she doesn't fall into the toilet.

Good times.

Sometimes she is fine without it. But she refuses to use a kiddy seat because she is a Big Kid and all, and has landed in the bowl enough times that its worth it for me to oversee her "progress".

And Bennett uses those opportunities when I am distracted to create mayhem.

I have learned that I have to shut him in the bathroom with us, otherwise he goes and digs into things he shouldn't be in.

Like the garbage.

So now that he is shut in with us, one of his favorite tricks is to sneak a hand behind her and play in the toilet water.

Yep, nasty.

I am constantly playing both the offense of keeping her out of the toilet, and the defense of keeping him out of the same.

So today, after helping Sterling go potty, I shut the lid so Handsy McGee couldn't get in there and fish around while we washed our hands.

In theory. Because evidently that ship was determined to sail. In fact, the harder I work to keep him from fishing, the more determined he is to do it.

In the 30 seconds it took me to wash, home slice staggered on over, snagged Sterling's water bottle, and sent it for a dip while she helpfully observed.

When I yanked him away from the toilet, he hurriedly crammed one soggy little hand into his mouth like a pot head with a Dorito.

Awesome. Can't wait until the next time I forget and kiss that nasty little mouth.

Because no amount of soap can make that all better...

Ornery Thought Of The Day

In Physical Therapy they have been using this strange wand on my neck that sends electrical current into my muscles and makes everything twitch and spasm.

It feels really strange to jerk and dance like a marionette, but afterwords the muscles feel much better and it's helped somewhat with my headaches.

I was telling my husband John about it, and he helpfully suggested that we get an electric cattle prod for the days that my headaches are really bad and I don't have PT.

Um, yeah... I think that would TOTALLY do the same thing.


Any question in your mind where the kids get their mayhem genes from?

Road Rash Rage

Poor Bennett had a rough, rough day today.

See, since he is walking full time now, I decided he needed shoes for when we went out. I picked something stylish and seasonally appropriate. Done deal.

Sterling pretty effortlessly made the transition from bare feet to shoes, so I didn't think much of it.

Bennett, true to form, has bitched and moaned the whole way.

He whined when I put the shoes on him. He whined when he took his first steps in them, and holy hell did he whine when we met up with friends at the park and he took a face plant on the sidewalk.

And never stopped whining.

But because life is never truly humiliating unless you have an audience to judge your mishaps, there was a whole battalion of Asian grandparents there with their grand kids, to witness my poor parenting.

And dear lord, the disapproving expressions and condescending comments. Albeit in another language, so I didn't completely understand what they were saying, but their tone and glares made it pretty clear.

Yep. Not sure where my P.O.T.Y. ( Parent Of The Year) award is, but I'm sure it's coming soon. Because if I wasn't P.O.T.Y. before this, all those extra votes should certainly push me over the edge.

Hopefully the award comes with a box of wine.

To help disinfect the head wounds on my child, of course. And no, I'm not sharing...

Clearly, not a fan of shoes. Clearly.

And our first public test drive of said shoes didn't change his opinions one iota...

Come At Me

Is it all boys or just my boy that are dirty little monkeys?

This morning, while I was changing Sterling out of her jammies, Bennett scooted off to do some reconnaissance on his own.

When I wrapped up with her a few minutes later, I strolled into the kitchen and this lovely picture of defiance is what I found.

The little bugger had snagged two dirty bottles out of the dishwasher and plunked the tops back on them.

To give you a sense of the determination, these puppies were on the top shelf of the dishwasher, so he must have climbed up in there to get them.

He then went digging through the recycling for something both nasty AND dangerous to tool around with.

Pretty certain that expression clearly communicates "come at me B, you ain't got nothin I can't handle"...

I don't see a single ounce of remorse in his face. Or fear. Or even a little hint of concern.

Nope, none. Anywhere.

All it does is reinforce how on point my Halloween costume for him was...

Mayhem Overachiever

And thus it begins.

Not that I labored under any misconceptions that Bennett would be a slouch in the mayhem department, but he is quickly proving himself a master of the art form.

Know what that is in those photos? That's a boy who pulled the rolling Pooh-Mobile over so he could climb up onto the table for a new perspective.

His sister used a similar approach.

The primary difference? Sterling was a good two months older than he is right now before she gave it a try.

Which means in addition to crawling and walking faster than she did, he is also accelerating the timeframe for climbing.


Sometimes It's Good To Be Bad

Today is John's last day with a job that required constant travel.

It's kind of ironic, he went on the road full time the week before Bennett was born. He left the road roughly the week after Bennett turned one.

In between those two guideposts, it was a long, rough year.

I blogged the other day that as I was pulling photos together a few weeks for our annual photo book, it made me realize something.

Before that, had I been asked to summarize the past year, I would have said "ungodly hard".

I struggled through the first 4 months of Bennett's acid reflux alone, while recovering from a c-section, struggling with my own severe post-partum preeclampsia and juggling a crazy toddler and a large dog with severe health needs.

Oh yeah, and handling a move.

I then lost my grandfather, spent six months doing house shopping long distance, and I was hit by a driver and have spent the last four months in a lot of pain from that.

Throw in our move back here, John having a surgery of his own, our tax identity theft, and a whole host of other train wrecks this year, it's been an uphill battle.

But as I was looking through the pictures, I saw none of that.

Instead I saw two happy, healthy babies that grew and evolved this year.

I saw Sterling go from being a fuzzy headed little cherub to become a curly headed little pixie. I have 5 full pages full of crazy mayhem antics, and more that weren't crazy or cool enough to include. And I also saw the myriad of Bennett's smiles and laughs and giggles.

It made me realize just what a great year it has been.

True, there has been a lot of hell. I won't deny that. But that has just made for some crazy ass blog posts.

Since I had that "ah-hah" moment, I've really been looking back over our last year with a new lens.

And it's amazing how a shift in perspective changes EVERYTHING.

My take away from this is that it isn't the event itself that matters, it's how you interpret it. You can choose to wallow in the despair and pain, or you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off and focus instead on the good times.

Because no matter how dark things are, there are always good times.

Amidst everything last year, we had a ton of fun, some amazing adventures, and the difficulties strengthened our bond as a family even further.

And I am incredibly thankful for that.

Cooling Our Jets

This morning, when we went downstairs, the thermostat registered a balmy 62 degrees.

I double checked, I normally have it set to 72 while the kids are up but it's a new year and you never know...

Alas, it quickly became apparent that our heater wasn't putting out anything but cold air and grumpy grumbles.

Sterling repeatedly groused "I soooooo cold Momma, so cold".

So after bundling up and braving it in the Arctic Playroom Of Doom for a couple of hours, I finally decided to move our party upstairs to my bedroom.

The upstairs heater was still working just fine and my room was nice and toasty.

Being all proactive-like, I even brought a bunch of Bennett's favorite toys with us.

Which was great and all because it kept him entertained for exactly 3 minutes.

I timed it.

Since then, Sterling has happily tucked herself into my bed to catch up on her Caillou while Bennett determinedly takes our room apart, item by item.

So far his favorite pastimes have been chewing on alarm clock wires and digging through the bathroom garbage.

Yep, good times...

Bed Slat Mystery

So yeah, we aren't even a full day into the new year, and mayhem is already rearing it's naughty head during nap time.

Any idea what you are looking at in that picture down there?

That my friends would be a slat from an antique child's bed. Yep, that's what supports the mattress.

Any idea how my 22 lb daughter got it out during nap?


Crap, me either.

What I do know is that when I went in to get her up from nap, she proudly exclaimed "Hey mama, here's some wood!"

Um, thanks?

Now I have to figure out how to get it back into the bed, and it looks like my only option is to take the whole thing apart and put it back together.

That is, unless I can figure out how she got it out in the first place...

And yes, that is a dresser turned around backwards in the background. Don't judge people, don't judge.