Step 1

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Before I had kids, I decided that from day 1, my kids would sleep in their own cribs. Once I was pregnant, I made sure that the crib was completely ready to go, in case my baby girl came early, we would have the ability to start her on that routine right off the bat. We had a bassinet in our bedroom and on the day we got home from the hospital, once she was finally asleep, I lay her down in it and finally got myself back into my own bed.

But then she woke up. No big deal, I knew exactly what to do! I nursed my sweet, beautiful girl back to sleep, and returned her to her bassinet. Back to bed I went, a little drowsy, but still on that I-can’t-believe-I’m-a-mom-now high. I was awesome! Self taught, no lessons! This baby thing was going to be a breeze! And then, about 2 hours later, up we went again, boob, sleep, back to bed. This went on all night, and all morning for a good 3-4 days. By about day 4, I was done, completely defeated. I was a walking zombie and could no longer fathom the idea of getting up one. More. Time. So, I did what many nursing, sleep-deprived mothers do; I brought my baby into the bed with us so that I could nurse her without having to get up.

At first, it was a temporary thing. “My baby will totally go back to her own crib, as soon as she starts sleeping through the night…sometime around 3 months.” Nope. She did not sleep through the night until she was about 18 months old. 18 months. 72 weeks. That’s one hell of a long time to go without a real night’s sleep. And, it’s also one hell of a long time of building a “bad” habit. Getting her out of our bed, after 18 months, was not going to be easy. This baby thing was most certainly NOT going to be a breeze.

And then came baby #2. Well, at the very least we had learned from our mistakes and would have one kid properly sleep trained. Nope! Our solution this time around was….wait for it…a king size bed. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, for over one year we slept (and I use that word “slept” loosely) two adults and two kids in the same bed. There were nights when it was tough, one kid waking up the other, dad taking a heel to the face at 3 a.m, constant nursing. But, there were also moments when it was so sweet. Waking up to the three most important people in my life, having all of them within arms reach, safe and sound in our own little bubble; I will forever cherish those moments. Seeing the three of them, completely sprawled out, a sea of limbs, drool and snores, first thing in the morning…pure bliss and complete peace.

As big sister turned four and baby sister approached her first birthday, we knew that it was time to rip off the bandaid and just do it. They needed to develop healthy sleep habits, not to mention that big girl has apparently inherited her father’s soccer-player feet and a kick to the face was now enough to cause some real bruising. So, out they went, better late than never. Admittedly, we had tried some half-assed attempts to coax them out of our bed and into their own a few times. I had managed to get big-girl napping in her own bed. Woohoo, point for me! Heck, the fact that I could still get her to nap at all at the age of four I think deserves another point! Slowly, we were also able to get baby sister to sleep part of the night in her crib…point again! But alas, by about 3 a.m, my bed was once again blissfully crowded.

Cut to one week ago when I, once again, got the itch to redo their room. I was bored, and the room had looked the same for over a year now, which is way longer than I can usually stand a room before I go and change something. Also, we had been noticing that baby sister tended to fall asleep much more easily and stayed asleep much longer, when she slept on a bed rather than in a crib. My mom reminded me that I too had preferred a twin-size bed over my own crib as a baby, so we thought, what the heck, we have her bed already in the garage, let’s bring it in and give it a try. Full disclosure, I was also super thrilled about being able to move furniture around and play with new layouts and fabrics…woohoo! A new room to decorate!

So, we took our adorable Ikea beds, extended one to twin-size for big sister, left the other one toddler sized for baby sister and, once I was happy with the layout (spoiler alert: I changed it the next day) we began to get ready for bed. But, as we were walking out the door I hear, “You know mom, I think I’m going to sleep in my own bed today.” Huh?!? What now? Come again! On her own, without really any insisting on my part, without putting up a fight, she decided, on her own, that it was time. And just like that, my baby girl, my first born, the child that turned me into a mother, grew up right before my eyes. Baby sister also slept in her own bed that night and as I walked to my own bed, my own, king sized bed, it suddenly felt so big. The truth is, as much as I enjoy not needing to bob and weave to avoid a kick to the head in the middle of the night, I miss them. I cried a little that first night and I got up about six times in one hour just to go check on them…they were fine. They are fine. They are growing up and this was step one towards independence. They are fine, it’s me I’m not so sure about! Maybe after a few more nights of uninterrupted sleep I’ll be singing a different tune! Or maybe I’ll try to lure them back…I’m kidding! Kind of…

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Summer Vacay Kick Off

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Summer vacation has officially started! Movie night in the girls’ room, projected on the wall, felt like the perfect way to kick it off!

After this year, I will only have one summer left before my big girl goes off to kinder and everything will be different. Not necessarily bad-different, just growing-up-different. Today I had a student, a fifth grader, say, “It’s like time goes by faster the older you get.” Oh honey, you have no idea!

The Mess

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The Mess. Not just a mess, but The Mess, capital T, capital M; it’s an entity, a living, breathing, multiplying son-of-a-gun that lives at my house. I’m convinced that The Mess follows parents home from the hospital upon the arrival of that first kid and then IT NEVER LEAVES!

Before kids, I realized that having a baby would obviously lead to having baby stuff in my house. I had accepted the fact that there would be some toys, preferably cute, modern, minimalist-looking wooden toys from some fancy boutique, sprinkled in various parts of my house. I imagined that there would be a few delicate, organic-cotton baby swaddling blankets ever-so-gently draped over the couch arms, or the back of a chair. And, there might even be a picture book or two on my nightstand, left there after a pleasant night of reading to my kids as they so sweetly dozed off to dreamland. Ahh yes, parenthood, motherhood would be a dream!

And then, all at once, that beautiful baby comes home and all. hell. breaks. loose! Those beautiful all-natural, wooden toys, you realize are boring and babies don’t like them, plus they’re ridiculously expensive. Not worth it. It took me weeks to finally find a Sophie the Giraffe baby teether toy and I was SO excited to finally get one! I ripped it open, gave it a little rinse, handed it to my teething baby, certain that it was going to just make her smile from ear to ear! And then I realized, uhhhhh…it’s basically a dog toy. A super cute, super expensive, squeak toy that drove the dogs nuts, but did absolutely nothing for the baby. Fantastic. Those swaddle blankets really are amazing and a total godsend, but there’s like a million of them. I swear baby blankets multiply at night. Plus, my kid was notorious for diaper blowouts and, I don’t know, that beautiful organic cotton blanket, draped on the chair, looses just a tad of its beauty when it’s covered in baby poop. Call me crazy.

Suddenly, there were toys everywhere! Books everywhere! And don’t even get me started on the mounds, nay, mountains of friggin’ baby clothes, both clean, and dirty that constantly grew higher and higher. And the toys were not beautiful wooden toys. They were big, loud, plastic and obnoxious! I remember the feeling of elation that came when my daughter had finally outgrown the damn Jumparoo and I could finally get that huge hunk of lights and noise out of my house. The Mess knows no boundaries. You can find it in any room, anytime and it’s stubborn and persistent. If it feels like you’ve finally got a hold on it, BOOM the lid goes flying off the baby’s sippy cup and the bag of goldfish takes a spill on the carpet and The Mess wins again.

It’s now been over 4 years since the day The Mess arrived in my home and 1 year since my daughter got a sister and The Mess became twice as strong. There are days when I get up, look around my room, and there’s The Mess, it’s taken the shape of stuffed dogs and blankets, shoes and laundry, all over my room. Then, I’ll walk to the bathroom, and there it is again! The dirty clothes on the floor, instead of in the hamper, the bath toys that have magically managed to find their way out of the tub and the mound of sparkly toothpaste that has somehow ended up on the faucet handles…damn you The Mess! In the kitchen, it takes the form of dishes in the sink and whatever was on the floor, that has now found its way into the hands and eventually the mouth of my 1 year-old. Thank you so much The Mess.

It drives me crazy! I hate seeing the clutter and The Mess. There are days when I feel like I’m shoveling snow during a snowstorm trying to contain and clean up The Mess, but as soon as I get one corner fixed, all hell has broken loose at the other end of the room at the hands of missy mess 1 and missy mess 2! It’s so easy to get so frustrated and irritated and just plain mad. I don’t want to live in a messy house and I don’t want my kids to think its okay to constantly make messes; I want my house to look pretty damnit! is that really too much to ask?!

And then, it hit me. I was focusing so much time and energy on trying to constantly clean up messes, that I was missing out on the joy and fun that my kids found in making those messes in the first place. Yes, there were 27 books on the floor, but it was because missy mess 1 had been “reading,” both to herself and then to her sister. Yes, every single princess doll was out and on the floor, but it was because little missy mess had finally figured out how to make the music come on in the castle and big sister was showing her how each princess played a different song. And sure, every plate, cup, saucer, fork, knife and spoon of the play-kitchen was all over the floor of my kitchen, along with a puddle of water, but it was because they had just had an impromptu tea party, one that I had been invited to, but declined because I “had to finish cleaning.”

Who am i kidding? I’ll never “finish” cleaning. And in the meantime, I’m missing these moments, moments that I will never get back because the reality is that big sister will start kindergarten in one year and that will be the end of having these lazy, messy mornings with my two girls. And soon after, little sister will start school and then, yes, for a few hours in the morning I’m sure my house will be clean and free of The Mess, but it will mean that my 100% uninterrupted, unstructured, unscheduled and purely free-time with my babies will be gone. Poof! Gone forever. They will no longer be babies. In many ways, they are no longer babies now.

So, I’ve decided, from now on, I’m just going to embrace The Mess. Maybe not like full-on BFF status, of course I still need some kind of order, but I will appreciate it for what it is, proof that my kids are happy, healthy, imaginative and blissfully normal kids who build Lego towers and finger-paint at their tea parties. And who knows, maybe, if I play my cards right, I may even get invited to the next one except this time, I will most definitely accept!

Crumbs in the bed!?!

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There’s nothing worse than crumbs in the bed. Well, actually, there are a whole lot of things that are way worse than crumbs in the bed; gangrene comes to mind, or the smell of vitamins…yeek, both way worse… but, I digress. “No crumbs in my bed!” has actually become a recurring mantra in my house, which I guess is why I have lately been finding Cheerios in between my sheets and under my pillows. See, what I fail to remember on pretty much a daily basis, is that 4 year olds take what you say very literally. Their minds have not yet been graced with the ability to infer things in the same way that we adults would sometimes like them to. So, when I say “no crumbs in the bed,” the mind of a 4 year old says, “Well, it’s a good thing Cheerios don’t leave crumbs!” I’m not kidding. When asked about the “no crumbs” rule, upon finding a nice little mound of Cheerios on my bed, my kid’s response was, “They’re not crumbs, they’re Cheerios.” Hmmmm…she was right though, wasn’t she?

It’s true, 4 year olds don’t think the way adults do. They can’t read more or less into what we say, or don’t say, and they can’t always make the assumptions that we would make. And sometimes, it’s frustrating as hell! But, at the same time, THANK GOD kids don’t think the way we do. Yes, they do take everything we say literally. This means that when I tell my 4 year old that I love her and her sister more than anything else in this world, she believes that. She doesn’t question it. She doesn’t doubt it. It’s true because I said it’s true and right now, at the age of 4, that’s all the proof she needs. When I tell her that she looks beautiful when she has just dressed herself, in her purple tutu and the black and yellow bee tights that she wore for Halloween two years ago, she believes me and says, “Thanks!” because if I’m saying it, then it must be true, because I am her mom, and, duh, I know everything!

I was a kid once, much to her surprise. More importantly, I was a teenager once. So I know that this won’t last forever. I know that there will come a day, when no matter how often or how hard I try to tell her that she is beautiful, or that she is smart, or that she is absolutely perfect just the way she is, she won’t believe me. I know that the day will come when someone else’s opinions will be valued far more than mine and when my opinion will not only mean less, but will actually devalue things and rob them of their coolness. I also know that that will only be a phase and that eventually, a corner will be turned and I will regain my position as the all-knowing best friend and confidant. I know all this because I’ve done this before, I’m just playing a different role this time.

But today, she is 4. Today, she not only hears me when I tell her that I love her and that I am proud of her for being such an awesome kid, but she believes me. Today, she believes that as long as I say so, everything will be good in her world because I said so and today, it was. God, I want to be 4 again!

So, for now, when I see the Cheerios and, heaven forbid, the crumbs in my bed, it will remind me that she’s right, and she is listening and following the rules; Cheerios are not crumbs. And, crumbs in the bed are definitely not the worst thing in the world.