in june 2010, our lives got turned upside down in the best possible way: the birth of our awesome kiddo, john. in october 2013, brother charlie charged into our life to change the status quo again. i'm proud to have "mom" at the top of the list of titles on my resume, but i'm also still a hard-working professional. how does a working mom juggle work and family? ride along with me and see if i can figure it out!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


this guy right here ...

i tell a lot of stories on this blog, sharing ups and downs of these two beautiful blond boys we’re lucky enough to share our lives with. and there are lots of stories to share, because they are active and awesome kids who make us laugh and cry, make us rue our weaknesses and be so proud of our strengths.

no stories today, though. today i want to talk about transparency.

there’s a strangeness to the era of social media. we share the most intimate details of some parts of our lives, yet edit heavily to portray the “best” of our selves.

but the best of our selves is truly that we are human, and multifaceted, and dimensional – that we do not fit into happy smiley boxes of vacation pictures and beautifully decorated walls and immaculate homes and elaborately cooked meals. (tho there is nothing wrong with any of those things – but we are more.)

shew, that’s an elaborate preface for a little blog entry.

(another little preface here: i'm writing all of this from my point of view and with my emotions. please know that i am not alone. my husband is hand in hand with me on this journey, and struggling with his own emotions about it. i would not presume to write his perspective, but rest assured we're in this very much together.)

i've been pretty open that we’ve been challenged with john’s behavior lately. the behavioral tendencies he’s battled for the past year or so at school have escalated intensely in the past month. what used to be periodic episodes of anger or frustration expressed through yelling or inappropriate silliness have turned into near-daily bursts of rage and uncontrollable behavior.

between incidents - and the majority of the day - he is still my sweet, mannerly, engaging, charming john. but in the two weeks previous to this one, he was removed from his classroom twice for removing his clothing and urinating in class; twice for throwing blocks or toys; once for throwing chairs; once for hitting a parent and younger sibling there to pick up a friend. his school and teachers have been supportive and amazing, but there is a limit, and he is near to being asked to leave.

thursday morning was the breaking point, for me. john had another incident early in the day. usually his tough times are afternoons, but the excitement of the fourth of july parade they were doing or the visiting parents or the birthday party for america or SOMETHING overwhelmed him, and they called me to come get him.

there is nothing quite like entering a daycare in tears against the tide of preschoolers pouring out for their patriotic parade - their teachers happily shuffling them along, their parents snapping pictures and cheering, their red white and blue paper hats and signs fluttering - to hit home that your child is not ok.

my child is not ok.

that's a terrible thing to say out loud.

i made a tearful call that morning to john's behavioral therapist - we just started seeing her three weeks ago - and told her what was happening. i had a conference with the school scheduled for 2pm, and i feared that john was done. the therapist listened - they're great at that - and suggested i go ahead and call an occupational therapist for an evaluation of john. she hears a lot of things in his behavior that suggest sensory processing disorder, and an aval with an ot would help identify the issues and start the development of a plan for john.

later that day, i had the tough conference at school that they wanted john to take a week off of school until that plan was in place. they would then allow him back and they are willing to do anything recommended by the occupational or behavioral therapists to help ... but if things don't improve, he will be disenrolled.

my child is not ok.

i have spent the past several days beginning to make peace with the fact that john is not "normal." there are big quotes around normal, because who is? but there are degrees, like with everything, and MOST kids are never in danger of being kicked out of pre k. MOST kids have temper outbursts but don't throw chairs at their friends. MOST kids don't have to have a cadre of therapists helping them figure things out.

and that's all ok. it really is - and intellectually i recognize that with that coaching and assistance and the toolbox we're building john will be just fine. he'll grow to be "normal" or whatever passes for it - i am no expert on that!

but in my heart, in my soul, i am crying and rending my clothes. because my beautiful child is not ok. my amazing little boy is not ok right now.

and i do feel guilt about even thinking that, because there are kids out there who are way less ok than john. his condition is not life threatening. he is healthy and well. he is (presumably) neurotypical and able to recognize his behaviors and learn coping mechanisms and be fine. and even if he wasn't - those non neurotypical kids are ok too! he's alive. he's running and jumping and laughing.

but as my friends will remind me that i tell them all the time - it's not a competition of who has it worse. this is our path and it's really hard right now. i'm struggling. john's struggling. our family is struggling. and you know what?

that's ok. 

that's part of life.

so instead of sharing a pinteresting craft or an amazing dinner idea, i am sharing this: my child is not ok. i am not ok. but we will be, and your love means the world.

i'm gonna finish this up on a brighter note. let's count a few amazing blessings:
1) my oh-so-flexible work from home job with an amazing dear friend as my boss means i can make this work - i can shuttle to appointments, work with my husband to cover john's week off of school, and still crank out some great work in the quiet moments
2) my oh-so-supportive husband who is on my team and is my partner in all of this and loves these kids with all his soul
3) my funny smart john whose company i cherish even in these rough spells
4) my funny smart charlie who chugs along happily with our family (and has thankfully fully recovered from his viral rash from last week)
5) the resources and drive that our family has to seek out the help that john needs
6) the friends who love us and understand when i don't return calls or schedule meetups or manage to shower on a given day
7) the parents of john's friends who still see the good in him and want to arrange playdates with my son even though he's going through a tough spell

i could go on and on. 

we will be ok.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

last week sucked.

exploring the doctor's stool while we wait
for blood tests to come back.

i try to maintain a pretty positive and, some might say, even pollyannaish perspective on our lives. nothing is gained by dwelling and festering, right?

but i can say without equivocation that last week sucked.

charlie came home monday afternoon with a high fever. he's my fever baby - if he's going to bother getting one, it's going to hit 103+ - so i wasn't too alarmed. rest and fever reducer and he'd be fine. but then tuesday he broke out in crazy hives. so my husband and his mom (who happened to be visiting) brought him to the doctor just in case. viral fever with rash was the diagnosis. ok, treat the symptoms, care for the cranky babe, he'll be fine.

wednesday morning the hives were much worse - covering probably 60% of his body. i called the nurse. we discussed, and agreed that as long as there was no swelling around the mouth and no breathing issues we'd just keep up the same treatment.

and then thursday, he woke up looking like he'd been beaten. his inner thighs and the area around all his joints were purple and angry. walk-in clinic hours here we come. the np affirmed that we were right to bring him in - in his words, in the medical world, anything purple is bad. and apparently there are some serious conditions that can manifest like that. (dr. google had already told me that, at which point i promptly stopped reading.) fortunately, charlie's platelet counts came back normal and a regimen of antihistamines and steroids was prescribed. within a few hours he was on the mend, but with a fine case of roid rage that we're still getting over.

meantime, john had a very tough week behaviorally. i picked him up early tuesday because he had pulled down his pants and peed in the classroom (?!?!). thursday he hit a parent and a younger sibling who were picking up a friend. friday he threw chairs and blocks and was sent home again.

we were at a complete loss. in between these incidents, john was his normal well-behaved and sweet self. but the demons were coming out in force.

with a phone consult to his therapist, we came up with a gameplan. she would talk with his teachers so she could get some more insight into what triggers him. we would start a star chart to reward such good behavior as "control your body and yourself at school" and "accept no" and "ask for help when needed." i would create a sorting bag for him - he finds sorting to be cathartic and if he could intervene when he feels overwhelmed, he might cut off the outbursts before they happen. and i would bring some "special snacks" with plenty of protein in case blood sugar had anything to do with the timing of his issues.

on top of that, john and i would talk a lot about his toolbox - the things he can use when he starts to feel not so good. he has his breathing technique his auntie lizzy taught him, his yoga poses he can do, his sorting bag, his snacks, asking a teacher for help, reading a book. all ways he can cope, and we keep talking about them and adding more.

i know that, like charlie's horrible bruise-y rash, this will pass and john will be fine. but all of that piled into one week - on top of the visit of my mother in law, which while a blessing is still just different than routine - was a lot for this little family.

want pollyanna back? yesterday was an amazing day for john. he used his sorting back and ate his snacks and had no even minor issues at school. he came home and was a dear. he got all five stars on his star chart. it was only one day, but it was a good one, and we'll happily mark a check in the w column for monday.

we'll get there, boys.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

a letter to john

"i'm five years old!"

hey my birthday bug!

i can't believe you turn five today. when you woke up grinning and leaped into my lap for the first "five year old kiss," i knew you were going to have an awesome day.

you've given your daddy and me five years of awesome days, kiddo. you've challenged us, made us laugh, helped us be better people, and shown us the world through your brilliant creative eyes.

you are so like me. sometimes that makes us mad at each other. sometimes we even yell. but i always know in my heart that we'll fight through it together and hug and take care of each other. we're a problem solving family, and you're an excellent little problem solver.

you are so like your daddy. you are determined and persistent and funny. you liven our house with your laugh and your smile and your rambunctious running and climbing and jumping and never-standing-still.

you are unlike any child i have ever known. you're a special, precious little dude and i can't believe i am blessed enough to know you, let alone to be your mama.

five years ago you came into our family, and i've told you every night how proud of you i am. but i will tell you today that i am EXTRA proud.

i am proud of you for helping others. i am proud of you for taking such good care of your brother. i am proud of you for seeing god in the world around you. i am proud of you for asking questions and not stopping until you understand. i am proud of you for being fast and strong and working hard. i am proud of you for reading, and writing, and building, and drawing. 

but mostly, i am proud of you for loving so much. you have a big tender heart, and you put it out in the world with abandon. 

and you are my heart, silly man. you will always be my baby boy - always.

your mama

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

serious talk: my john

my little shaded studs
we've been on a wild ride with my john the past year or so - he's an amazingly sweet, remarkable, mannerly, kind little boy, but there's a switch inside him that flips when he gets frustrated or overwhelmed, and he just can't process his big feelings. the result is some really disruptive behavior that's been a challenge for him to control.

there've been good weeks and bad weeks, and after a particularly tough spell recently we decided to seek professional help. john had his first therapy session today, and he loved it and they seem to think we'll be able to help him find some coping mechanisms to learn how to control his emotional outbursts and process big feelings in a more productive way. i'm excited for him, that he will be a little more prepared by the time we start kindergarten in the fall.

in the meantime, his little brain is unbelievable. 

on the way to therapy today, i asked him how he met his "different grandpas" - a pair of imaginary characters that are a vivid part of his imaginary play. he told me the story. 

apparently while he was in "japans" trying to protect everyone from a meteorite, it turned out the meteorite was actually two guys landing from outer space who asked to be john's grandpas. he said yes. they both started out good but then one got kidnapped by a bad guy who shot a bad arrow at him and then dropped him off on mars while the bad guy stole a whole bunch of supplies. now there's a bad different grandpa and a good different grandpa.

he told me all of this with such a straight face, and so much inflection and detail. what a vivid imagination he has.

but sometimes, mommy gets a little too fanciful for john. a couple of nights ago, as i snuggled him before bed, he said, "mommy, the stories we tell at bed time don't make any sense."

curious, i asked, "why do you say that, john?"

he responded, "talking animals? me, too fast or too high? dinosaurs that dance and sing? those things aren't real."

"but it's nice to use our imaginations, isn't it? to be creative?" i suggested.

"mommy, tonight i want you to tell me a story that's ... serious."

i suppose i was put in my place. so i told a story of dinosaurs who did not speak (and certainly did not dance or sing) but instead ate plants in the swamp. it was pretty boring, but he was pleased.

the next night we were back to different grandpas and talking dogs, though, so i guess i can't complain.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


swimming monkeys.

i used to write.

i wrote to document, for catharsis, to explore, to share.

i wrote to remember.

and then i stopped.

today is just another day. but today, i am writing.

this morning, charlie woke up chipper and silly. he made animal noises at me in his crib before he would let me get him up. he hid behind his blankie and giggled when i asked where he went. he snuggled me tight and shared his blankie with me when i picked him up.

that is why i write.

and in the car on the way to school, charlie sang a song about the sun.

"sun sun sun sun sun" he sang.

and then it was john's turn, and john sang a song about how when we see the sun, we know that god is here. god makes the sun rise and the sun set and we can see his face.

that is why i write.

and right now i am taking a brief break from my new work-from-home job, where i am crafting strategy and devising plans, and learning and pushing and growing. i feel a veil lifting as my creative energies are being revived.

that is why i write.

happy thursday.

Monday, June 23, 2014

the birthday boy.

bonus points if you recognize this as a bulldozer.

i have a long vacation post that will come later this week, but a shorter note of great import today: last week, my first baby turned four.

we had a week-long birthday celebration, starting with a birthday party at the grand canyon  with my dad's side of the family on monday june 16 ... then a wednesday june 18 (john's actual birthday) bulldozer birthday party with our dear friends in phoenix and their children - one of whom is almost precisely three months older than john so they're a great match ... wrapped up with yesterday's present-opening-extravaganza featuring all of the presents that were mailed to our house in our absence.

we are so blessed to have so much family - of both the birth-given and the life-chosen variety - to celebrate with our kiddo.

we are also so blessed to have this amazing four-year-old in our lives. he is the most challenging thing we have ever done, and one of the two most beautiful. he is hysterically funny, stunningly energetic, inspiringly insightful, deeply sweet, and the fastest thing on two legs. he keeps us moving, keeps us laughing, keeps us working, and keeps us on our toes. 

i cannot wait to see what the next year holds for this little man, and as i reflect back on the previous four years of sharing our life with john, i am so grateful that he was sent to be our son.

june 18 2010, 3:47 pm seems simultaneously forever ago and just yesterday!

john, hunny, you'll be embarrassed one day when you read this, but your mama thinks you are just about the coolest person she knows, and she is super stoked about sharing even more adventures with you. and she knows your daddy feels exactly the same way.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


if you've come for witty reparte or a good old fashioned poop story, today is not your day.

if you've come to witness me using words as catharsis, you're in luck.

tonight was one of my least favorite nights of my life. it climaxes (nadirs) with this scene: john, red-faced and screaming "i don't want you, mommy!" over and over.

charlie in his wrap, muffledly crying as he buries his face in my shoulder.

me, nearly hysterical, yelling god-knows-what (i truly don't) through sobs and tears.

* * *
how did we get there? not all at once, of course. in dribs and drabs of bad behavior meets inappropriate response with a mix of too-tired thrown in for good measure.

we've been struggling, my husband and i, to help john through a very difficult time. best I can tell it's a culmination of a year of change that was enough to leave my grownup head spinning - and i chose most of that change, unlike john. john's been acting out at home and at school - disruptive, not listening, back-talking, hitting, hitting himself. we quickly realized that our fairly traditional parenting methods of spankings, punishments and threats of punishment weren't working. in fact they only made matters worse.

we've been working hard on gentle, positive parenting, and when well-executed john responds very well to it.

the problem is: i am truly terrible at it. i do well for a short stretch, and then ... boom. i fail. Not always as spectacularly as tonight, but tonight just emphasizes to me how i am not holding up my end of the bargain for this brilliant, brilliantly spirited, energetic child.

he deserves so much more. my prayer is that i might find an inner source of grace to give to this beautiful little being and help him learn to do good in the world with all the strength he has.

our children are little mirrors of ourselves, and what i saw tonight was ugly indeed.

i'm so very sorry, my john. i will keep trying, keep learning, and love you no matter how much i backslide, yell, and fall.