Babysitting notes

I'm just ahead enough in packing for a vacation Paul and I are going on that I'm feeling overconfident in my timing so much so that I thought it would be fun to stop for a quick blog post. Tonight, I will swing right back into the pendulum of suffocating anxiety and hyper-excitement for the trip.

Here are the notes I am leaving with my mom regarding watching the boys:


+ If you do nothing else, make sure Thomas pees right before bed. Otherwise, he will absolutely pee his bed. If you get so much as a trickle from him though, he's good to go. Unless he vomits in the middle of the night. That's a whole other problem.

+The twins may wake in the middle of the night. Maybe pause / ignore / put in headphones or descend two floors and let them figure out their woes on their own. They can be dramatic. Otherwise, go in, give a sip of water, and avoid good eye contact.


+ Thomas is only allowed to say that something is "not my favorite".  Remind him of this and enjoy how absolutely disparaging he can make this comment sound as he slinks into his chair.

+ Have Thomas cook anything with you & I guarantee he will proclaim wild things like "this is the best food ever!" or "you make the best food! this is so yummy!" or "nana, you're just the best cooker in the world!"

+ Really, the boys are great eaters. They eat just about anything.  Maybe take this time to clean out your cabinet and fridge!

+Alistair will eat all the things. This is good. This is also bad. He will not put non-food objects in his mouth & attempt to eat but he will literally find & eat every digestible calorie within a hundred foot radius of himself as if it is his life's mission.

+Emerick loves to entertain his table guests as well as act like he is courting his food rather than eating it. If he isn't taking his food seriously (tossing it, letting it slowly fall from his tongue, building structures with peas and potatoes, wiping it in his hair, placing on face while making funny expressions, building on spoon for fun game, swapping with brother, creating artistic pieces on plate, etc) feel free to take plate away.


+ Preventative = Make Thomas work. Make him think his jobs are really important and you really need him. You will have no problems.

+ When you do have problems, refer to handy dandy reference:

----- wound up -  send him off for time alone so he can cool down
----- is winding boys up  -  send him off for time alone so no one sends you to the E.R.
----- is whiny - tell him whiny boys go to bed early
----- is fighting with brothers -  tell him to make it right or else. then give big eyes and cryptic facial expression. ;)

+ Twins = take toys they are hurting each other with for the rest of the day. Then separate each one and lock them up. Turning a blind eye helps. Also, paying someone else to watch them.  Overall, just channel your inner boxing referee and enjoy!

G R E A T   A C T I V I T I E S

+ The twins are ticklish in their armpits and Thomas under his knee caps

+ Give the kids spoons and turn on music. Enjoy lip syncing and booty shaking at its primal level.

+ Find an animal and set the boys loose after it.

+ Find the boys and set them loose on each other.

P O C K E T   P H R A S E S    T O   U S E

+ "That's how we do it at Nana's house."

+ "Are we following our family rules?"

+ "I heard they just built a new prison down the road for kids who don't listen to their Nana and do exactly what she says."

Thomas is FIVE!

All the angst I expected to arrive on my 30th birthday sat with me on the couch this morning.  My firstborn turned five today, and I'm stumped and panicky and elated all at once.

Did that go okay? The past five years? Did I just mess that all up?

Do other mothers catch their breath five years in and wonder the same thing?

I could gush all day about how awesome Thomas is. He's caring. He's imaginative.  He's entertaining & smart & would sit and listen to me read all day so he gets a thousand gold coins for that alone.

But what about the other stuff?

What I missed when I was working.  All that time I lost when I wasn't quick to discipline and failed to be consistent.  What I'm doing now in favoring to huddle at home in our own little sanctuary--great though it may be--balance continues to allude us. Hello, humanity. ;)

What about all those times I yelled? Or woke up in tears because I felt I had failed?...because I had failed!  Because no matter how hard I try, failure just happens. It's there.  All my flailing to figure things out year after year and he was there with his big brown eyes waiting for me to catch up to him.

And will I have all the time to teach him how to be a gentleman? How to respect a woman for her whole, complete beautiful self? How to be just like his dad and never, ever suggest his wife's hormones are changing her tune and therefore become a saintsaintsainnnnnnnnt in her eyes?

The time. Oh, the time. I can't replace it.  Will I remember to instill in him habits of hard work and self-discipline amidst the chaos? And will I make time to have him make pasta alongside me? And when are we going to become that family in my mind that does charity work that matters?

And are we going to make it to DISNEY??!!  Are we going to ever run around and RIDE ALL THE RIDES??  Because you're five and that means you're almost 18 and we are going to watch you leave and I'll cry all the tears!!!

Yeah, what about all that.

When I got married I was struck dumb at how every single one of my married friends, when asked about being newly married, sounded like they had jumped on a friggin unicorn and flew over a rainbow to a pot of gold, all hearts in eyes and everything.  And I beat my dang self up so much you can't even know.

I love Paul with my whole heart, but where was our friggin rainbow? Our pony express? Our pot of gold?  Well, if my relationship in marriage is going to be anything like my role as a mom, there are two things I'm going to get straight and keep straight right here, right now.

1.  my kids are not like anyone else's kids. they are unique little guys with their own ideas, dispositions, and needs & I'm going to focus all on that. work with it. respond to it. and love on them with everything I've got.  I'm not going to look to other moms for their traditions, their schedules, or their choices. I'm going to, barring the obvious need for awesome mentors (yes! those are important!) forge my own path & in doing so it's going to be messy and wild and good.  I'm going to show up every day and do my best and pour my love out as enough. my kids are cute and all but they get the grace and free will to fail big too, and when that happens, I'm going to show up just as much and pour out just as much love that day as well.

2. it's a lot of damn work & magic comes and goes when it wants to (mind of it own, it has). I'm here to do the work even when the magic isn't there. but it will show up. it always, always does!

A little spontaneous manifesto right there for you.  And for me, apparently, since it all came tumbling out just now.

But really.  Do you understand all my angst? I really hope so.  Motherhood is hard and we put way too much stock in the results and maybe not enough in humility for our imperfect efforts (which are still very, very good things!)

I think Paul has his head on straight a bit more than me about that though as evidenced by what he texted me earlier.  

He just watched the 3rd Star Wars movie with me (the first time I've seen it).

I laughed for two seconds before remembering one word: teenager 


Well, we have a few years...

And now to celebrate the special boy, a little interview with the lad.  I really wanted these certain answers but, no surprise here, this interview turned out to be just like all of parenthood.  He did his own thang.  And my money is on any of you who have had a 5 year old boy being understanding of some or all of these responses. 

1.  How do you think being 5 will be different than being 4?

"Because I growed so much and I learned so much about not whining, so I’m not going to whine anymore.  And, I’m good. I never go in time out. Ever."

2.  Fill in the blank. Thomas is___________________

“a Lego builder”

3.  My favorite book is ________________

“Gone With the Wind because it is perfect and someone dies…actually, a lot of someones dies.”

4.  My favorite meal that mommy makes is ___________________

“pb & j”

5.   My brothers ___________________

do not like the way I dance”

6.  I wish people knew that _____________________

“I do not like the way they poop. BUAHHAHAHAHA. PSHHHH. BUAHHHAHAHA.  That is SO FUNNY!”

7.  What would you like to be when you grow up?

“That’s a simple question.  I would like to be a cake seller.”

If selling cakes doesn’t work for you, what would be your second option?

Being a cookie.”
“A cook?”
“Yeah! A cook!”

8. If you had a hundred dollars, what would you buy?

“I would buy a dog…I want a cute little puppy with a brown scarf on his head.”

And what would you do to take care of this dog?

“I would teach him how to flip over on his heels…

9. My dad 

likes to watch Star Wars with me. And I like it too.  Good bye statements.  I’m DONE WITH THIS BUSINESS”

10. “Now ask me what I like about my mommy. Please.”

Okay, What do you like about your mommy?

“My answer is that I love my mom. It’s true mom. It’s true, mommy. I love you.”

Thomas Talks

Does this post even need an introduction? No.


Happy Tuesday.

A very very happy, mega-happy Tuesday!

: : :

Asks me what he can buy for me. I mention make-up, books, and coffee.

T: “You should get a stuffed animal. You don’t have enough of those!”

Me: “Well, yeah, hmm.  Adults don’t usually have stuffed animals.”

T: [cheerfully] “You have 1 stuffed animal, your pink bear….[long pause]...nah, you don’t have any stuffed animals. I’ve taken over that bear.”

: : :

T: [yells] “Get inside my brain so you can know my skills for…. [with the flare of a magician] french toast and maaaaaaaath! [jazz hands]

: : :

After gazing longingly at Jesus's picture in the hallway...

T: "If Jesus lived after dying on the cross, why didn't he become a zombie?"

Me: "Wow. We have a lot of work to do on your religious education."

T: "What?"

Me: "Good question."

: : :

T: "Mom, I GOTTA tell you something!

Me: "What's that?"

T: "You are mega-pretty."

Don't buy it. He had just watched some show with Megatron in it.

: : :

Thomas was running errands with Paul when he hurt his leg and yelled

“My fricken leg!”

Paul: “Woah, why did you yell that?”

Thomas: “That’s what you yell when you hurt something on your body. My fricken heaaaad. My fricken armmmm. My fricken legggggg.”

: : :

Thomas is moving my Rosary beads on my phone when he looks up and sees this picture & exclaims:

"Hey, this guy's checking out a magazine!"

I’m cleaning the kitchen & Thomas spots an ant

T: “Okay, stop what you’re doing and stand really really still.”

Me: “Why?”

T: “Ants think that humans are going to smush them & kill them. That’s their fear.”

Me: “Okay….”

T: “So we are going to stand very, very still so that he is not afraid.”

A minute later…

T: “Oh, I think he is looking for sweets for his ant children….His ant children live here. We just can’t see them right now.”

Five minutes later…

T: “Oh, I know what’s going on here. [Looking at the floor]. Someone must have left a trail for these ants to come to the kitchen. I think it goes to right over there by our cabinet, that cabinet we keep b
eers in, our beer cabinet. Yeah. They definitely live under that beer cabinet over there.”

Nope, not your pants. Definitely not your pants. 

: : :

I walk into the bathroom to find Thomas putting band-aids on his stuffed shark.

Me: "Woah. What's going on in here?"

Thomas: "Sharky was goofing off on top of a mountain and fell off and hurt himself."

: : : : : : : : :


p.s. send prayers

Thomas Talks

I do not write down what Thomas says often enough. For us, it's a real mixed bag. Some things Thomas says are interesting & very smart. Other things...well, I'm left either scratching my head or just laughing because he can be so random. Here are a few nuggets from the last few weeks.

After overhearing me talk about my sister's wedding shower on the phone
Thomas: What’s a wedding shower?
Ashley: “Oh, it’s where we shower someone with gifts.”
T: “Oh, I know the perfect thing you can give Amanda!”
A: “Yeah?”
T: “Yeah, your shower head. Just unscrew it and wrap it up and you can buy a new one sometime soon when we go to Target.”

Thomas: Would you mind lifting me onto the bed? I can’t climb up because my hands are unavailable.
Ashley: Okaaaaaaay

T: Wanna hear a joke?
A: Sure
T: Why did the booger cross the road?
A: Why?
T: Because he got run over by a truck.
A: That makes no sense.
T: It’s a joke. Laugh.
A: [fake laugh]
T: See! It’s funny.
The real deal. True life: I've got 3 kids.

Thomas: [staring at me…]
Ashley: What?
T: I see more of those dead hairs Daddy was talking about.

After seeing me struggle significantly while assembling his bike
Thomas: [puts hand on my shoulder] I hate to say this….but I don’t think you’ll ever learn how to build this.

An hour later when I'm still assembling the bike
Thomas: Okay. How are you doing here? Are you ok? This is difficult for you, isn't it?

His photography skills are just as developed as his joke telling. 

Thomas: “Okay. I’ve got a game. It’s called Penis.”
T: “1st question: Do girls have a penis?”

Thomas is playing with his Legos & talking to himself while I sit on the couch & read
Thomas: "Oh. I said shit. I'm not supposed to say shit. Shit's a bad word. Sorry I said that mom. I won't say shit again."

Thomas: “Is today Boston?”
Ashley: “What?”
T: “Is today Boston?”
A: “Are you asking what day of the week it is? Boston is a city. Today is Wednesday.”
T: “Ah, Wednesday. Correct.”

Thomas: “Mom, would you let me in the sun room please?”
Ashley: “Sure” [opens gate to Alistair & Emerick excited to play with their big brother]
“Be kind.”
T: “Oh, I will. I won’t even try to hurt them.”

In the car & Alistair is making happy baby noises
Thomas: “Alistair is talking back here.”
Ashley: “That’s right. He’ll be saying words soon.”
T: “Hey. He just said boob. He said boob!
A: “Oh?”

T: “Oh, we’re not talking about your boobs. We don’t talk about women’s boobs. That would be very wrong.”

Thoughts on Thomas Turning Four

Parenting the firstborn would be much easier if we were allowed peaks into the future.

Thomas arrived into the world with a mom young enough to be bloated with false confidence that all would be swell.

Since then I've been humbled and humiliated countless times by my severe misunderstanding that parenting just comes naturally.

I'll just have to compensate for my persevering improvisation by doing things that would direct his understanding of me as a mom of superior quality.  I'll continue to read to him until either we've reached the bottom of the library bag or my eyes have fallen out of my head, talk him through yet another trail of culinary steps leading right up to my figure's sabotage but encouraging his enthusiasm for things like measurements! and instructions! and chocolate!, and tell him "because I said so" a few more times to imbue a little mystery as I attempt to upstage his rapidly growing brain.  One step ahead, kid. I'm keeping one step ahead.

Last weekend, family rallied around Thomas to sing happy birthday, and I wondered how time could spin me around so that I was left standing dizzy, staring at a cute kid with big brown eyes harboring my heart just as much as the day he debuted small enough to fit in the cradle of my arms.

Life with Thomas is an adventure, and it's an adventure I had never known or hoped I would have taken.  I've looked to others' lives and thought: traveling abroad!, writing a book!, having so many kids people sometimes count twice when they are studying your family's photo! Now, THOSE are adventures.

But being a mom to this dude is more than I could ever say.

Raising a child and watching his passions, imagination, and ideas form day by day is an adventure just as much as finding ourselves in any foreign territory and scrambling for resources to forge a path.  I won't gush out all the details or draw up a map for how to find the end of the rainbow here or tell you this and this and this about this terrific place!  Thomas is all his own and even though being his mom is a towering amount of joy, no one will make this same journey.  And since I've always been one to not follow the crowd, except for maybe when I begged my mom a hundred times in 5th grade for an Adidas jacket with the stripes down the sleeves, it's an adventure I'm now seeing is the very culmination of all the things I was born to do: Work hard. Play harder. Learn. Laugh. And fall on my ass right where I've sculpted a cushion from all that chocolate.