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Mo at 3.5 years

Mo recently turned three and a half, so I thought it was time for an update. For awhile after she turned 3 we really struggled with her, but the last couple months have been some of the most magical. She responded really well to her behavior chart, which we still use, and now we can spend our time with her enjoying her amazing spirit. Seriously, I love this moment in time with Mo, she is truly one of the most incredible people I know. 

Mo blue eyes silly face

So first, a couple more practical things. One big update is that she'll be starting preschool in the Fall. We thought we'd keep her in her daycare for another year and start preschool at 4.5, but recently her daycare provider talked to me about looking into preschool. She thought it would stimulate Mo in ways that she's not getting at daycare anymore, and she recommended a place that turned out to be a good fit for us. We've got her enrolled for September, and she got to take a little tour. I think she's a tad nervous, but mostly excited. We'll see how it goes!

One barrier to preschool is that lately Mo has started peeing during naps again. For a long time she was out of Pull-ups at naptime, but now has accidents a few times a week. At preschool she has to be fully potty trained, so hopefully this works itself out before then! She also wears Pull-ups at night still, but we're not making any effort to stop that yet. One day we'll bother, but not yet.

Mo pretty eyes

Mo is a terrible eater lately. OK maybe not terrible, but frustrating. She never wants a meal but always wants snacks. Fortunately those snacks often include vegetables, cheese, yogurt. But mealtime is a real bummer. She spends the entire time telling us she doesn't like what we've made and that she's not hungry, and then right before bedtime suddenly she's starving and willing to eat anything, including the dinner we made which is now either cold and shriveled or in the trash. We don't want her to have a negative relationship with food, so we don't force her to eat anything, but we do make it clear that this is what is available to eat and it's her choice whether to eat it or not. She often chooses not, and that's fine, but the problem is that an hour later she realizes she's hungry and now we're deciding between letting her eat and delay bedtime or not letting her eat (because it's bedtime) and causing her to go to bed hungry. Gah!

I thought Mo might make some progress with riding a bike this summer, but she is just not interested. She can pedal her tricycle, but still struggles when there's even a slight incline. She can't quite figure out how to keep up the momentum. And she won't even try her bike (with training wheels), she's just bored with it. When do most kids try out a bike?

Mo never stops moving. Like, really. We do this thing when I need her to calm down a bit where I have her sit on my lap and get comfortable and then I count to 10 slowly and she has to try to not move at all. It's a challenge for her. Ten seconds. She can barely sit still for 10 seconds! She loves to run, climb, jump, and dance. She loves to explore the world and test out her body's abilities. It's fun to watch. 

Mo climbing tree instagram

Mo's mind has been expanding like crazy. She knows a lot of her letters and numbers by sight and can write many of them. The other day she, out of the blue, counted to 7 in Spanish. I have no idea where that came from! She's also very fascinated by rhyming and by time. She's always exploring what words rhyme, and has been talking a lot of about the concept of time, trying to get her head around that.

So that's some of the practical stuff. Now a little about her beautiful spirit. Mo is intrigued and amazed by everything. In fact, we call her a trash collector because she's always finding some bit of trash and making it into a treasure. She finds joy in all things, even a broken piece of plastic at the park. She has an inspiring imagination. I want to get inside her head and see the world because anything is possible and everything has the potential for a great adventure. I know it sounds like I'm describing any child, but there's something pretty cool about Mo. Obviously I think so as her mom, but I think others see it too. She's fun to be around and to have around.

And she's a genuinely sweet person. She has her moments, but she's kind and loving and innocent. Recently a couple of her cousins were playing and found it funny to leave Mo out. That alone is heartbreaking, but what makes it worse is that Mo doesn't even have a way to process that. She likes and loves everyone and can't even comprehend not wanting to play with everyone. I just want to scoop her up and protect her from the world. I want to make every person she ever encounters love her as much as she loves them. I'm a mom, I can do that right?

Her sweetness is reflected in her treatment of her brother. She is nothing but loving to him. I've never seen her be mean or even annoyed with him. Sometimes, she's indifferent and busy doing her own thing, but then suddenly she'll give Drum a hug or a kiss, or bring him a toy and play with him. I hope she always loves him that way.

Library visit Mo and Drum 2016

Mo is very special to me. She always has been and always will be, of course, but right now we have a special relationship. We love to spend time together - maybe just cuddling, often talking and laughing together. She likes me to scratch her back, and I like to ask her about what's on her mind. This past weekend we were in northern Michigan with my family, and Mo and I played in the water a lot, just the two of us. We swam together, I threw her in the air over and over, we floated in a raft and talked about lots of things, we pretended to see a mermaid, we looked for stones. It was magical and I will cherish those memories forever. I hope she does too. 

Mom and Mo 2016 instagram


Anxiety much?

I know all mothers - all parents - fear for their children. This is not new. But I’m starting to wonder if maybe I need some therapy about this. I really, honestly mean that. There are three things that almost never leave my mind:

  1. That my children could die.

  2. That my children could be stolen from me.

  3. That my children are growing up so fast.

Let’s start with the first two. Everyone worries their children could be taken from them in some tragic way, it’s the universal curse of parenthood. But I don’t know if it’s normal to worry about it constantly. Not just a constant awareness that it could happen, but a constant worry. Every single night I check on my babies in their beds - normal - and every single night I’m convinced I’m going to walk in and find them not breathing. Every single time they’re near water, any water, even the smallest collection of water, I can see them in my mind’s eye, face down, gone. I’m always sure I’ll be the next headline - child of negligent mother kidnapped at the grocery store. I follow Mo around at the park because I’m convinced if she’s more than 15 feet away from me, she’ll somehow get snatched away even if I don’t take my eyes off her.

I function pretty well despite all this. I know it’s mostly irrational while also completely justified, so I don’t keep my kids in a figurative (or literal…) bubble. In fact, many people are surprised how calm I am when Mo is climbing and jumping off of very tall things! It’s because I’m rational enough to know that all the protections in the world can’t actually keep my kids safe. If you keep them home to protect them from the world, they’ll just trip over the rug in your house and break their neck. Every single day (every minute?), I push my panic aside and allow them to be kids because I know ultimately that is best for them. I use common sense, I make rational decisions, and then I let them live and hope they don’t die. Or get stolen.

So it’s not that my overwhelming fear of losing them is affecting them negatively. They’re not overly sheltered and I don’t think I’m overly protective. But the constant act of pushing my fears aside is mentally and emotionally exhausting, and I wonder if I need some kind of therapy to give me better ways to cope so I don’t slowly lose my mind.

The other part of this, number 3 up there, is a little less rational. Everyone says that kids grow so fast, that it flies by, cherish every moment, they’ll be grown before you know it. And I think we all try to take that to heart. But here’s the thing. I’m in a panic about it. I have a lot of anxiety - like, too much really - about how fast things are going.

I was like this when I was a teenager and young adult, too. I heard a lot of people talk about how high school and college are the best years of your life (which, who the hell actually thinks that and why were they spewing lies?), and you’ll never get them back, and make sure you cherish them! I was in a panic about it. I spent about six years desperately trying to hold onto moments, and pausing constantly to soak it in, commit it to memory, suck the life out of every second. It was draining! And what did I get for those efforts? I have great memories and I did enjoy much of those years, but I don’t think I got any more out of it than I would have had I just been living those moments instead of spending so much energy noticing them.

Now it’s the same with watching my kids grow up. I’m in panic about how quickly it’s going by. I want to freeze time or at least slow it way down. I’m so anxious about trying to hold onto time that I don’t think it’s healthy. I believe I would enjoy this time with my kids to its fullest even if I wasn’t working so damnn hard to enjoy it, but I can’t seem to let it go.

I think this is all related to my general anxiety. I’ve had anxiety my whole life, something that was officially diagnosed about 10 years ago. I’m on meds, which help, but clearly things still creep up. My anxiety is manifesting right now in this overwhelming fear of losing my kids. Losing them forever or losing them to time.

So… therapy?


Monthly Drum Photo - Eight

This year is flying you guys! I think it feels even faster than Mo's first year. Or maybe not, maybe it's all just fast all the damn time. Yeah, that's probably it. So here we are, Drum is 8 months old, two thirds of the way to one year.

8 months outtake

8 months outtake


Mo | Drum

I've already started thinking about his first birthday party! Apparently Golden Birthdays are not a thing everywhere, but in our family we like to celebrate the day when you turn the age of the date you were born. So Mo's Golden Birthday will be when she turns 14 because she was born on January 14. But Drum was born November 1, so his Golden Birthday is his first birthday! I'm going to do a gold theme for his party. Not that I ever go all out for birthday parties, I'm just not good at that, but I do think it'll be fun to have some golden touches when we celebrate.

Anyway! That's four months away. Hopefully four loooong months. 

Drum has made some pretty big leaps this month. On the day he turned eight months, he figured out how to clap and he is so proud of his new trick. Probably because we are all so thrilled every time he does it! I remember thinking that it was the cutest thing that had ever happened when Mo started clapping, and now Drum's clapping is a dead tie for cutest. He claps on his own all the time, but also any time anyone says "clap clap clap" or even "yaaay!" He just loves to celebrate. He's also figuring out how to wave. He'll study my hand very intently, trying to learn, and I'll see his little hand start to move. Again, adorable.

Drum christmas pjs headband close up smile

He's rolling all over the place now. He learned to roll to his tummy a long time ago, but could never get back over. Now he rolls and scoots all over, especially when he's in his crib. He can get from seated to to his tummy (it was fun to watch him figure this one out over a couple days), he gets up on his hands and knees and rocks back and forth, and sometimes pushes up on his toes. He's not pulling up yet, but he's pretty strong on his feet if you prop him against something. He also zooms all over in his little walker. Mo and I like to call him the crazy driver! Drum has amazing posture. Have I mentioned that? He has a very long torso, and when he sits, he's usually rod straight. It's impressive!

Drum sit up straight back posture

Drum is eating a lot of solid foods and so far likes everything he's tried. Mike makes him pureed fruits and veggies, and he also gets little bits of other table foods. He's figuring out how to use a sippy cup. He loves to drink water, and he can get a sippy cup into his mouth, but he can't figure out how to tip it back enough to drink.

Drum sippy cup instagram

We moved him up to a big boy car seat a couple weeks ago. He got Mo's old convertible seats, so Mo got two new seats. This time we bought a Graco seat that goes from a 5-point harness to a highback booster to a backless booster, so hopefully she won't need anymore seats. I can't believe we waited so long to transition Drum actually. When I referenced journals from Mo's babyhood, turns out we moved them at the exact same time, except Drum is several pounds and inches bigger than Mo was. He was too heavy to be lugging around in an infant carrier a long time ago, but he wasn't quite sturdy enough to not be in one. Now though, he can sit in a shopping cart, etc. so we ditched the carrier.

Mo Drum car seat instagram

 Mo on the left, Drum on the right.

Drum shopping cart

He also finally got a tooth. Sort of! He went through a couple weeks of grumpiness, which was a little tough because Mo was a pretty undramatic teether. Drum wasn't inconsolable, but he was persistently fussy and clearly uncomfortable. Finally a few days ago we felt a little tooth poking through. 

Drum loves stuffed animals just like Mo did and still does. Sometimes when we lay him down he'll momentarily get mad, but if we hand him a stuffed animal he immediately smiles and hugs it to himself. His favorite at the moment is a little monkey that we keep in his crib. His other comfort is rubbing his head. When he nurses, his little hand automatically goes up to his head where he either rubs his hair or just rests his hand. The other day I got him up in the morning, and he was still pretty sleepy so he stayed asleep in my arms. That never happens anymore - I can't get him to sleep in my arms if I try - so it was really sweet. It's funny how during those first few months he would ONLY sleep in my arms and it was exhausting. I knew it would change quickly and I'd miss having him snooze there, and sure enough, here we are. So those small moments where I get to hold my sleeping baby in my arms are very special. 

Drum sleeping crib

One of my favorite things is to watch the relationship between Mo and Drum. Drum is endlessly fascinated and entertained by her, and Mo is so sweet. She has never shown anything but love toward him. She snuggles him, kisses and hugs him, brings him toys, makes him laugh. Siblings are such a gift, and I'm so fortunate I was able to give them this special relationship, this lifelong friend!

Mo and Drum 2016

This has been a truly amazing month. I was reading about Mo at this age and it was the same thing. There must be something about this stage, it's magical and wonderful. I've been traveling a lot for work and I've missed out on some time with my babes, but I feel like our time together is all the more special. Drum has really bonded to me lately. He's always loved me, but for awhile I felt a little sad that I wasn't his favorite, that he didn't want me over anyone else the way Mo had. But in the last few weeks he's discovered that mom is the best ever. He gets excited to see me, upset if I don't grab him right away, sometimes even jealous if he wants me and I've got Mo already.

I love it. I love him. He's my Boo Bear!

Mom and Drum 2016


Mo's behavior chart

Some time ago, I wrote about how tough three has been for us and Mo. She was also having trouble at daycare and we were getting daily reports of her not listening well. I think maybe it was some kind of delayed reaction to Drum's appearance in her life, and she was seeking some attention. So on top of focusing on giving her positive attention whenever possible, I decided to implement a behavior chart. 

So far it has worked wonderfully, and I wanted to share!

I did a little Pinteresting and ended up creating a system that rewards her for good behavior and acknowledges bad behavior while giving her the chance to correct it. 

Mo behavior chart

Let me first say that the words are pretty pointless. I replicated something on Pinterest, but as soon as we started using it, we realized the flaw in the words. For instance, say she's up on blue, doing great, and she has a problem. We give her a warning and move her to the light orange "warning" status. Then does she have to do four good things to get back up to blue? We couldn't figure out the logistics of it, and we wanted to be consistent form the beginning so we just ignore the words and move her up and down one spot at a time. Good behavior = move up one. Poor behavior = move down one.

We start every day on yellow, and if she is on blue at bedtime, she gets to put three craft pompons in a jar. Once the jar is full, she gets a special prize. We've been through one round of jar-filling, and there were only a couple nights she went to bed without pompons.

Mo really responds to this system. When she is not listening well or making poor choices, I say something like "Do you want to move down to green?" and she immediately changes her behavior. If she doesn't, I move her down and she works hard to move back up. When she does something good, like listening the first time or making a good choice about behavior, I thank her and tell her she can move up a color. Now she'll even say, "Mommy, I was good! Can I be on blue?" And she'll frequently check the chart to see what color she's on. She's thrilled every night when she gets to pick three pompons to put in the jar.

Over the last couple weeks, as she was making progress, we asked her what she'd like her special prize to be when the jar was full. She chose a jump rope, and every time she added pompons, she smiled big and said she was so close to getting her jump rope. Last Friday she filled the jar for the first time, and the next day I took her to the store to pick out a jump rope and some candy (bonus prize!).


We emptied the jar and started over, and she's still responding just as well to this type of motivation. She has been getting great reports from daycare and has been so much more pleasant at home. I'm really proud of her! It may not work for every child because they're all wired differently, but if this might work for your child, give it a try.


My best parenting advice

I sat down to write something about how exhausting it is to have two kids and a demanding full-time job and how there's no time to do anything, but frankly, I'm exhausted and there's no time for writing deep thoughts.

But that made me think about how we overwhelmed mothers need to support each other, and so here is my advice to mothers (and fathers) everywhere. It's something I say over and over to myself and other parents:

You gotta do what you gotta do to survive.

It's different for everyone, and you have to do what works for you and your family. For your mental, emotional, and physical health. I consciously avoid the phrase "I'm such a bad mom" because there are some truly bad moms out there - moms who do terrible things to their children - and I'm not one of them. I'm a good mom and so are you, and we're doing a good job. Some days, some moments even, we're just trying to survive and that's OK. Do what you gotta do.

My other, super practical advice? No snaps on newborns.

Or at least as few as possible. Pass on any sleepers with snaps and go straight for the zippers because those little buggers pee and poop a lot and they're super wiggly, and you need easy access for diaper changes. Zippers are where it's at.

What's your best (practical or philosophical) advice for other parents? 

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