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On February 1 Drum turned 15 months. He's a hoot right now. He's either being silly or he's grumpy as hell. His grumpiness is wearing on me, so let's discuss that and get it out of the way. Basically he hates everything most of the time. That might be overstating it, but only a little.

This is a typical scenario: He starts screeching and crying. I offer him a pacifier. He shoves it away in tears. I offer him a snack. He wails. I offer him water. He screeches and shakes his head. I walk away, he bends over and puts his head on the ground in exasperation. His face is covered in tears and snot, he's crying, he's miserable. I offer him a snack again. He wails some more, then succumbs and takes the snack. Repeat repeat repeat. 

Drum puzzle

 I've been struggling with this. Everything we do leads to him screaming. I'm sometimes anxious to approach my child to complete a simple task because I don't want to hear the wails of anguish. I hope it's a phase, maybe teething - he did just grow some molars, skipping over the several teeth that typically come first - because his persistent grumpiness is wearing on my psyche!

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I also continue to wonder if some of it is related to some frustration with not being able to communicate adequately. He doesn't talk at all and he only very recently started signing "more" again - he stopped signing awhile ago the couple other signs he had. To get what he wants he usually just makes some urgent noises while looking or pointing at the thing he wants. But I wonder if, when the thing he wants is more complicated than "that pacifier that I can't reach just there," he screams and cries in frustration.
Every couple months I complete an online assessment through a local nonprofit, and in his 14 month assessment I wrote that, though I'm not worried about his inability to speak, I do wonder if there is more I could do to help him communicate if indeed that is causing him some frustration. They are setting us up with an in-home assessment to determine if he's still on track, if there is more we can do at home for him, or if he needs some sort of intervention.
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Anyway, he's grumpy a lot, but that's not all he is. He's also so sweet and he loves to cuddle. He gives hugs and kisses (open mouth kisses!) and he likes to be held. He is very tidy. He never tires of throwing used diapers or other trash away, he likes to put things where they belong, he likes to wipe his face and hands, he likes to sweep and wipe things up. Mo is messy and I don't remember her being so tidy. Up to this point, the two of them have been much the same. A baby is a baby - yeah they were different in some ways, but it wasn't until recently that I've really started to see differences in their personality, to see who Drum really is and how that is and will be different than Mo.
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He still doesn't like books much, but he's been showing a little more interest. Hopefully someday he'll actually enjoy reading. Whenever music comes on, he starts to dance, usually twirling around and bouncing. He loves to play the drum set his grandma got him for Christmas. And he really loves shoes! He's always bringing us shoes to put on him - his, Mo's, ours - he doesn't discriminate. He is a sweet boy even if he does have trouble controling his emotions! 

I want my community back

I have been feeling isolated lately. I grew up in a big family, and as an adult, I've never been good at making friends because I've always had built-in friends. My family is my network, my support system, my friends, and my community. I have a couple really good friends and many lovely acquaintances who bring wonderful things to my life, but I never built a community out of my social networks. I know many people do - they build families out of friends, but I guess because I was lucky to have a big, close family, I didn't create a tight friend community. My best friend is someone I've known over 20 years, and I consider her part of my inner circle, but everyone else I'm close to is family.

But my family is spreading out, both figuratively and literally, and I'm feeling more and more alone. One sister lives almost a two hour drive away, one is moving an hour away, my brother and dad are each close to an hour away, and my mom is an hour and a half. I do have one sister that lives 10 minutes away, but we are both so busy that we hardly see each other. 

This is the time in life where I need people, where we need to support each other. Every day I feel overwhelmed with everything - work, kids, home, life - and I have this vision of surrounding myself with people who I can lean on and whom can lean on me. I thought those people would be my family, but somehow lately that isn't happening. We're all scattering, and we're all hunkering down into our own lives and our own problems. We're all getting by each day, relying on our own small family units instead of relying on each other.

I feel isolated despite my big family. I don't know how to re-establish my community, and I don't know how to build a brand new one. It feels unnatural for me to live like this. I want my community back.



My Mo is four years old

Four years ago I gave birth to a life-changer. My Mosie. I am loving Mo at this stage, too. She is my little buddy, and we love hanging out together. Sometimes I feel a tad guilty because if I am choosing between Mo or Drum to run an errand or something, I will usually pick Mo. Drum is awesome, but he requires so much more effort. I mean, he's one, so duh. But Mo requires less and she's just fun. We enjoy spending time together and I am so lucky to have such an amazing mini companion.

Mo hair eyes park instagram


Mo at four is silly, loving, and full of adventure. She loves to be around people and draws her energy from others. One day, out of nowhere, she said, "This whole world is like a party!" and there could be no truer statement to describe her outlook on life. She makes everything a party, and especially loves an actual party where the goal is to hang out with other people and eat snacks. Someone told me that the way they are as young kids is essentially the way they will always be, and if that's true, Mo is going to live a great life. I'm excited to continue watching her make the most of any and everything she does.
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Mo silly closeup instagram

Mo started preschool in the fall, and it is going well. If asked directly, she says she'd rather stay home than go to school, but I suspect that is because she enjoys hanging out with us so much. She doesn't quite understand that the alternative to school is not lazy days at home with family, but rather going to daycare, which she definitely doesn't want to do. When I ask her what her favorite part of the school day was, she'll say, "When you picked me up!" But I know she does well there. Her teachers say only great things about Mo and her time at school. In fact, her primary teacher always tells me how much she enjoys Mo. She'll often pick her up and cuddle with her a bit when I drop her off, and Mo loves her back. The teacher says that her vocabulary is impressive and she's always saying the funniest things. She describes her as silly, smart, easy-going, and klutzy.
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Mo silly face closeup

Mo is very affectionate. She still loves to be close to people whenever possible, cuddling up on the couch, pressing her body against mine or crawling onto my lap. She likes to sleep with me, and it's a little treat for her on the weekends. If she stays in bed all night (she went through a phase of getting out of bed a million times at night), she gets to sleep with me on the weekend. When I drop her off at school, she wants "one more kiss and hug" again and again. I love it. I love it so much. I want her to always want to cuddle and kiss and hug me. I cherish every time I get to hold her hand, every time she climbs into my lap unprompted, every time she gives me a kiss. I know there will come a time when she doesn't need or want to hold my hand or cuddle with me, and I don't want to take any of that for granted now.
A year ago Mo was just starting to learn letters, and now she's almost mastered them. She can recognize all letters (though she sometimes struggles with lowercase d, b, n, and h), and she can write them well. She loves to read, and will stay up far too late reading books in bed. She's can't actually read of course, but she loves to "read" books and magazines. We put a reading lamp in her room because her night light wasn't bright enough to read and she kept turning her overhead light on. I can't wait until she learns to really read - I hope she loves devouring books like I always have.
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Mo makeup instagram

She continues to be a picky eater. She went through a phase for several weeks where she had a huge appetite, wanting to eat all day long. But even then, she was picky about what satisfied her endless appetite. Fortunately her list of acceptable foods includes things like peas, broccoli, black beans, carrots, cheese, yogurt, granola bars. We get her to eat some pretty healthy stuff, but she also loves "treats" and tries to negotiate for them all day long. "Mommy can I have a treat for being good?" Always.
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Mo is still wearing pullups at night, and still very much needs them. I wrote a year ago that we were too lazy to work on getting her out of overnight pullups, and oops, that's still true! I do kind of wonder if it's a problem. She has been potty trained for a year and a half, but still wets at night. I had a kidney thing that had me wetting the bed until I was well into elementary school, and I want to be sure there's not something going on with Mo. I plan to ask the doctor at her four year appointment.
Anyway, another cool thing to watch is how Mo and Drum grow together. Drum is old enough now that they can play together and they often do. Both are still pretty independent at times - Mo likes to "cut paper" or draw by her self at the table sometimes, and Bro likes to wander around the house and explore solo - but they also invent silly little games together. I hope they continue to be friends forever.
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Mo is very creative. She likes to draw, paint, and color. She has been really interested in puzzles and games (I made her a memory game for Christmas, and she also got Spot It and Guess Who - three games she has been loving). She still loves to watch TV as much as we'll let her. She usually goes through phases of obsession with different shows - the show du jour is Shaun the Sheep. She sings little songs, some she's learned and others she's made up. She likes to tell and hear stories. She pretends a lot, becoming a superhero, a princess, a kitty.
It has been the joy of my life to watch her grow these last four years. I worked hard to bring this child into the world, and I work hard to be a good mom to her, and she makes me proud every day.
Happy fourth birthday Peach Pie!
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Drum - fourteen months

I'm a couple days early, but I'm off work this week AND I sent the kids to school/daycare today so I'm just getting all kinds of stuff done. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you're not working and have no kids around. 

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Drum will be 14 months old on New Year's Day! This month has been busy as it always is, but it has been good. Drum just keeps on growing. He's still not talking at all (making sounds, but no meaningful words), but he's very interactive. He recently learned to point to his hair and nose when asked, and he loves to blow on his food before he eats.

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He's starting to run and loves when we chase him. He's always dragging large objects around, like the laundry basket or an large empty box. His cousin Scarlet got a microphone and stand for Christmas, which she left at our house, and he loves to drag it around. He figured out how to turn on the music, so he walks around, dancing, with that thing dragging behind him. He also likes to find three of something - pacifiers, markers, toys - and carry one in each hand and one is his mouth. For no real purpose, he just hangs out like that. He also loves his snack cups. We fill one with puffs or cereal, and he strolls around snacking from the cup, perfectly content.

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Drum loves to get into the recycling, the trash, the pantry, the baking cupboard, and the cupboard full of pots and pans. If ever we can't find something (like a missing remote), we first check those places and 9 times out of 10 we find the missing item that way.

We had his daycare's holiday party at an indoor play place. He met Santa, and though he was not impressed, he only fussed. No tears. But at that party I watched him bully another kid. The kid was standing somewhere Drum wanted to be, so Drum screamed and kind of hip checked the kid to get him out of the way. I guess he's like that at daycare a lot. Dude, my kid is the toddler bully, what the heck?

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He loves this one particular woman (K) at daycare though. I think she's like his second mom. When I'm around, he won't go to anyone else. But he will happily go to her when I drop him off. It makes me really happy, and I told K that she's not allowed to leave until Drum goes to preschool. She was noncommittal.

Bro is a big time climber. He's all over the furniture and anything else he can scale. He has definitely developed that tendency a little earlier than Mo did. She's a big climber now, but looking back when she was his age, I think she was just starting to figure out how to climb onto our ottoman, something Drum has done for awhile now. It might also be because he's a lot taller than she was and can climb up things more easily. Anyway, every day is an adventure with him!

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One thing that kind of concerns me is that Drum hates reading. HATES IT! He always has. Mo did as a baby but by this age she had learned to love books. Bro wants nothing to do with them. If we try to read to him, he pushes the book away or closes it, and wriggles himself free. I know how important reading with your kids is, so I wonder what developmental stuff he's missing out on.

We celebrated his second Christmas. We always have a lot of family parties, and it can be tricky with his nap schedule, but he did pretty decent. On Christmas day we stayed home. We didn't do much for the kids in the way of presents, which was a good thing for Bro. He was only mildy interested in opening gifts. His favorite was a big orange ball his sister had picked out for him. 

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I spent a couple days home with both kids while Mike worked recently. I love them dearly, but I was reminded why I wouldn't be a stay at home mom even if it was an option. It's frustrating and it's definitely not the kind of stimulation I need to feel like a full person. I do wish life wasn't quite so crazy so I could have a little extra time with them, but I'm glad for the reminder that staying home full time with kids is not for me. Plus I think they get so much out of daycare and school, things that I can't provide for them.

I do wish there was a little more time for snuggles though!

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2016 Year in Review

I didn't do a year in review last year (maybe because I had a tiny baby who required me to sit on a yoga ball 95% of the time), and I realize I rarely write here anymore. But whatever, shut up. Let's review 2016!

1. What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?

Voted for a woman for president! I voted for HRC in the 2008 primary, but this year I got to vote for her in the primary AND the general election.

2. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Several friends had babies, but no new babes in my family. I think my siblings (other than my half-sibs who are 20+ years younger than me) are done with having babies, which is sad in a way.

3. Did anyone close to you die?

Nobody really close, thankfully.

4. What countries did you visit?

None, unfortunately.
5. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
A bigger presence in my community. I am maxed out, I'm at capacity, I don't know how I'll fit anything more in. But after the election, after learning that nearly half of voters support racism, bigotry, and misogyny (or at least are willing to overlook it when electing a leader), I need to do something more. I hope to find ways to be more active locally in hopes of impacting people and policies everywhere.

6. What dates from 2016 will remained etched upon your memory?
November 8. A monumental day as I voted for the most qualified presidential candidate ever and a personal hero of mine. A devestating day as the least qualified presidential candidate ever and one of the most vile representations of humankind managed to win the election.

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting through. It was a tough year adjusting to two kids while both Mike and I started new jobs and we figured out our new normal. I hate to say that surviving was an achievement, but it was a challenging year and I feel good about how we ended up.

8. What was your biggest failure?
Not doing enough to raise awareness in my inner circle about the danger a Trump presidency posed. I tried really hard with a handful of people, but I should have done more. I know my efforts alone wouldn't have changed things, but I regret assuming that several people I'm close to would vote to actively block him. Not only did some of those people turn out to be third party voters, but others turned out to actually be supportive of him. I'm still working to reconcile that what I thought I understood about some of the people in my life is just not true.
9. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Last time I did this (2014), my answer was a miscarriage. Thank the lord I didn't experience anything like that this year. No serious injury or illness at all

10. What was the best thing you bought?
Not so much bought, but donated. We support Planned Parenthood and will continue to do so. If you disagree with that, I implore you to ask me about it. I would love to have a respectful dialogue about why I believe it's so important to support reproductive health and rights.

11. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The 2.7 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton. 

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Everyone who voted for that other person whose name I don't even want to write.

13. Where did most of your money go?
Nothing exciting: mortgage, insurance, student loans. The biggest expense though? Child care. Preschool and daycare expenses is by far our largest expense each month.

14. What did you get really excited about?
My kids. I just super love them.
15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
- happier or sadder? I guess happier. This time last year I was on maternity leave, full of emotions, not sleeping, listening to a gassy baby fuss all day and night. I was happy, but it's easier to feel the happiness when I'm not so sleep deprived.
- richer or poorer? Neither. We make a little more money, but our expenses have increased (two kids in full-time child care), so while technically richer, we feel poorer.

16. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Advocated for what's right and good in our country.

17. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Yelling. I got kind of a yelly with my kids a few (dozen) times when it wasn't warranted.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
I'm doing this before Christmas, but as usual, we have A LOT of holiday parties so we'll be all over the place again. 

19. Did you fall in love in 2016?
Not with anybody new.
20. What was your favorite TV program?

I watched the Veep series. Mike wasn't interested, but I thought it was pretty funny.

21. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No. Loves trumps hate. See what I did there?

22. What was the best book you read?
I read about 34 books so far this year, which I think is pretty good considering TWO KIDS AND A FULL TIME JOB! One that sticks out is "Rise of the Rocket Girls." It was poorly executed, unfortunately, but it opened a door to learning all about the contributions women have made to science that have been buried by history. 
23. What did you want and get?
Continued health for my family. I try to never take that for granted.

24. What did you want and not get?
I wanted an HRC presidency so badly. I wanted this country to prove me wrong, to prove that we won't tolerate hatred. Despite the majority of voters trying to prove me wrong, we did not get an HRC presidency. (Are you seeing a trend here? This election hit me hard, and for good reason I believe.)

25. What was your favorite film of this year?
I've been watching a lot of Hallmark holiday movies while I work. They're great for mindless background noise!

26. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 36 earlier this month. I worked a long day, then had cake and ice cream with my family. 

27. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I think this one goes without saying lest I beat a dead horse...

28. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Desperate. That's what I said in 2014, and it's still true today. My body changed yet again after Drum was born, and nothing works on me anymore. I bought a few news things, but fashion is not in the budget right now, so it means I'm only comfortable about 5% of the time. It's not that things don't fit because they're too small, but they don't fit correctly and comfortably. I need to start all over with a fresh wardrobe, preferably assembled by a professional stylist, but ain't no way that's happening in the next decade!

29. What kept you sane?
Mike. We are good teammates. We're partners in this chaotic life we've created and when I'm losing my sanity, he's there to keep us together.
30. What political issue stirred you the most?
I just can't.

31. Who did you miss?
My extended family. We all live pretty close to each other, but our days are so full that we don't see each other as often as we used to or we'd like. I hope we can change that.

32. Who was the best new person you met?
I kind of met Hillary Clinton. I mean I was about 20 yards from her when she spoke in my city, so let's just say I met her and she's the best.

33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
Be the change you want to see. I've long known that quote and I frequently share it as a life motto, but it seems ever more pertinent this year. We can't just talk about the change we want to see, we can't just hope for the change we want to see, we have to BE the change. We have to DO the changing.