My Little Wild Card

Since M has been born, H and B have been all about me recounting their birth stories to them.

At this point, I’m telling them their stories so often that I’ve got them down to be pretty short.

For H: “I pushed for two hours, and then finally, I gave one big push and you came flying out. None of that cute, ‘oh the head’s out! Now the body!’ stuff. Just one push and bam! You were all out! And you were screaming (at this point I make a fake baby cry, which they find hilarious), the cord looped around your neck once, and you promptly pooped all over me. And I didn’t even care. You were perfect.”

So much of that short story sums up H’s personality too. She does everything on her own time. Sometimes she drags her feet and it feels like she’ll never be where I’d like her to be, and then when she’s ready she’s all in, and I’m flailing to catch up with her. She’s loud and in charge. Always. And even when there are obstacles that might hinder others (cord), she’s unaffected and still greatly intact; a mighty little girl. And, let’s be honest, she doesn’t care who gets pooped on along the way, ha. But she does it all gracefully, and you don’t even care, because she is so damn lovely.

And B: “Your labor was 8 hours of sporadicness, off and on. But when I was ready to push, all 9 pounds of you came out with ease. They placed you on my tummy and you were so calm and peaceful. I kept squealing that you were a boy, because I was convinced until then you were a girl, but you were so perfect. And right when I started to worry that you should be crying, you let out the most beautiful little noises.”

And again, it’s all so much of who B is now. I’ve always called him my wild card, which is funny because it is his sister whose middle name is Wilde. But I’ve never quite known what to expect with B. He’s ever changing, a rhythm enitirely of his own. Much like his labor. But once he’s ready, transitions are always so seemless for him. My tiny, peaceful observer who is always changing things up, and making sure he doesn’t get lost in the mix of it all.

Oh B. Sweet, lovely, adventurous, mischevious B.

There is something special about that boy. He’s changed me as a momma so much.

When he was one year old he was diagnosed with elevated lead levels. If it’s not something you are very knowledgeable about or have experienced yourself, it’s one of those things that is easy to brush off as “no big deal” and “thank goodness it isn’t my kid” and not think anymore of it than that.

What followed was two and half really intense years of researching and educating myself on something I’d never really ever heard about before. I spent a lot of sleepness nights just watching that lovely child sleep, wondering why him? Why us? What had I done wrong? What could I have done better?

I’ve long surpassed that. I know it wasn’t anything we did or didn’t do. Not even our historical house that I was sure would be the culprit. After extensive testing inside and out; it was ruled out. It didn’t stop us from doing renovations we couldn’t quite afford though. Or converting us to a more hippy lifestyle and The Great Purge of all plastic toys (we have since, obviously, added “unsafe” plastic toys back into the mix). We even had him and H’s car seats replaced.

It’s challenging to battle something when you don’t even know what it is exactly you’re fighting. But we knew exactly what we were fighting for, and that is all that mattered.

We will likely never know the true cause. Was it environmental? Something ingested (spinach and other produce can often have high lead levels if grown in soil with high levels)? Was it from his toys or carseat (lead in plastic is mostly unregulated)? Was it, as suggested a highly likelihood, that his body simply could not filter and remove the lead from his body, so “normal” exposure quickly rose to toxic levels in his tiny body?

We don’t know. We know it wasn’t until he was 4 years old that he finally had “normal” levels (there is no “normal” level – any lead is bad. But under 5 is considered acceptable. By someone).

But being B, he never let’s anything slow him down.

He’s got such a versatile personality and is up for nearly anything. I had no idea what was in store for us with B, but I couldn’t have asked for a child more perfect for this family.

He’s forced me to change ideas, to learn new things. His personality has taught me to parent him a different way than his sister, and likely his baby brother will be just as outstandingly original.

He’s allowed me to see first hand how sometimes pushing a kid is not in their best interest; that slow and steady wins the race. That he will come into his own on his own time. That first is not always best, that fast is not always best. That he is best, just as he is. And that some days I will have to dig deep into my parenting resources to figure out just how to parent such a laid back, sensitive little dude without causing too much damage in the process.

I think it’s easy some times to get caught up in what works with one child. We decide it’s law and we’ve got everything figured out. Even when your second child is as “easy” as B, you still have to be ever-changing and ever-bending. It’s okay to change your mind; it’s okay to do things differently.

Some days I worry that my little wild card will slip through the cracks of it all. That his laid back, easy personality will get overlooked because he just isn’t as needy or verbally demanding.

And then I remember that tiny, peaceful baby on my chest. And how he squawked just so in reassurance that he’s perfect; and can certainly never go unnoticed.



Today is Dad’s day

I am so fortunate to be surrounded by so many amazing dads.

My own dad: the amazing human who makes up half of my DNA – mostly my twisted sense of humor. He’s always been one of the best people in my life, and one of the few people who I know would drop everything and do anything for me if I ever needed. You don’t get that from very many people; Lord knows I love him to pieces.

My ex-step-dad: you know you are deeply loved when another human makes the conscious decision to stick around be your parent, and to be an amazing grandparent to your children, when there is nothing binding him to do so. I genuinely couldn’t be luckier to have this guy participating in our lives.

And J. My sweet, amazing husband. The dashing father of our three babes. He is everything I ever hoped for in a partner, and then some. I grew up knowing a lot of not-so-stellar dads, so I was a wee bit leery in the men department. But I was upfront with him from the beginning; if we were going to do the kid thing, then he had to be all in. He didn’t get nights and weekends off. He didn’t get a free pass because he’d had a crappy day at work. He was there. Committed. 100%. It was kind of a silly discussion; because he was so committed even before then.

Those tiny babes have each had him wrapped around their tiny fingers from the day of conception. And more so, they’ve been fully wrapped around his heart.

There is nothing more beautiful, or sexy, than a man in love with his children. I do not take for granted for a single moment that he has always been an equal parent. He’s changed just as many diapers, paced the hall in the middle of the night with a colicky baby just as often, mended owies, kissed hands, been spoon-fed spaghetti by toddlers, and had eyes rolled at him just as frequently as I have.

He’s ever-calm in a way I still don’t understand how he manages. All hell can break loose and he’s the one cradling kids and meeting everyone’s needs while also making it explicitly clear in the gentlest of voices that families must always work together and be loving.

And there are other dads that we are surrounded by that are so great. J’s best friends. The husband’s of some of my dearest momma friends. My step-dad. My future brother-in-law is going to be a bang up dad; he’s so great and loving with my kids all ready.

When scary stuff in the world happens, it always makes me so sad. But then I remind myself of all the men I know who are raising strong, kind, loving children who will never hate another human based on race, gender or religion, and it makes me feel so confident that slowly this world will be a better place. Because of J, because of other hands-on, gentle, forward-thinking papas, there will be a whole generation of kiddos one day who only know love. (And obviously their mommas are helping there, too!)

So here is to all the dads today! To all the papas who love their babies fiercely. This is your day. You so deserve it.

Strengths Based Parenting – Giveaway!

What better way to kick off The Learning Momma finally having its own domain (previously located at, and I will keep that blog up for the foreseeable future) than by having a giveaway!?

Anyone who knows me knows I love books vehemently. Next to my children, they may very well be my greatest love. So it is no surprise that I absolutely love parenting books. My two greatest passions combined!

Last month my aunt gave me a book called “Strengths Based Parenting: Developing Your Children’s Innate Talents” written by Mary Reckmeyer, Ph. D. with Jennifer Robison.

Guys, it’s a winner. I devoured it in a few short days while M napped on my chest (and the big kids partook in too much TV). It discusses both parent’s and children’s innate strengths, and how to proceed, foster, and work with them in positive ways. It’s a book for your personal library that you definitely want on hand whether you are a parent, caregiver, or just want more insight to yourself!

And one of my lucky readers are going to win a copy! All you have to do is  “like” The Learning Momma on Facebook, share this post on your personal Facebook, and comment below what you feel is your best strength. One winner will be chosen next Friday, June 24th.

The End of a Lovely Breastfeeding Journey

H and B are weaned.



All gone.

No more milk. (Okay, it’s still technically there, but it’s drying up slowly but surely).

They weaned in December. Sometime right before Christmas.

But it’s taken me this long to write about it.

It was a lot easier for them to wean than I anticipated. A complete breeze for them.

I was an utter hormonal mess.

H self-weaned. I knew it was coming. It has been a slow self-weaning process for her since last April. That was when she suddenly significantly reduced her nursing to not even 1x a day every day. She’d go days in between without asking. I knew it was coming.

But it always seemed that just when I thought, “Oh, maybe she’s done,” she’d ask to breastfeed again. But then by October when she was asking, she was literally breastfeeding for less than five seconds at a time. I knew those moments were fleeting. That she was nearly done.

And then it just puckered out. By the time Christmas Day rolled around I’d realized that she hadn’t asked since the very beginning of December. She was done.

And so was B at that point.

I made the conscious decision to cut down breastfeeding sessions with B after his second birthday. I needed it. For my sanity. He was nursing 6-8x a day, sometimes for over an hour.

So first I lessened the length of time. Then how many times he could nurse.

It was hard. I felt so mean. He’d cry and I’d hold him and offer him anything under the sun except for the one thing he wanted, and then I’d want to cry with him, because I knew I could stop the tears if I just nursed him, but I just didn’t want to. I mean, I did. I wasn’t trying to wean him at that point. I just wanted the breastfeeding to happen less.

And once it started, I’d put the ball in motion and he weaned right along with his sister. It was done and over with before I’d realized what had happened.

Truthfully, I was ready to be done. So ready to be done.

But then again, I wasn’t. Not even remotely. I totally could have been that mom still breastfeeding her 6 year old. I wouldn’t have cared. Because I wanted it to be on his terms. So I feel a bit bad that I kind of forced it along instead of letting him self-wean like his sister. I’m sorry his sister got nearly 4 years of awesome momma milk and he only got 2 years and 4 months. Not like I counted or anything.

So long as he wasn’t, you know, nursing 6-8x a day we’d have been good.

But B is kind of an all or nothing kind of guy.

So now it’s nothing.

But I’m glad we’re done. I’m fantasizing about buying a REAL bra. I bought a few spring/summer dresses (because it will get warm again some day, right!?) without thinking about being able to nurse in them (although my subconscious clearly was, because they’re all totally compatible. Alas!).

I’m glad I don’t have enough milk to let down when I hear another baby cry (for real, that happened all the freaking time).

I’m glad that I had the ability to nourish and sustain two healthy, strong babies. That I could tandem nurse them. That I could breastfeed H while pregnant with B. That I had an overabundance of milk and their tummies were always full.w

I’m grateful that I was able to connect with my children in this way. That we were able to share so many beautiful moments together.

I’m grateful that weaning wasn’t traumatizing for them.

I didn’t know what to expect when they weaned. My hormones were a mess. I’d be chopping vegetables and I’d burst into tears. And not because I was sad they had weaned. Just because I suddenly felt compelled to cry.

I cried in the supermarket once when reading a box of cereal.

I’d watch something on TV and something ridiculous like a lion hunting a zebra would bring on the waterworks.

It was a tumultuous few weeks. I’m glad those hormones have figured themselves out.

I believe in breastfeeding. I believe it is the best thing for all babes.

Although I’d encourage anyone to breastfeed to a minimum of 2 years, I’d mostly encourage everyone to do it for a day. A week. A month. As long as you feel you possibly can. Because every drop is awesomeness for your babe.

But this relationship with my children is now over. It was beautiful and fantastic. And some days made me want to pull my hair out. But I’m glad I was able to do it for them.

And on a closing note, here are some booby pictures. 😉 It’s certainly been a good run!

Newborn Miss H. Look at that nose! I just love it.

 Taking a break from the beach and sun.


The day B was born. Fist tandem nursing.

Newborn Mr. B

B needs in on this milk on the beach thing, too!

I’m so glad to have this picture that one of my dear friends took for me.

My heart is full.

Mary Stood

I’m not one to talk about religion very much, it’s just such a personal thing.

But lately I’ve had Mary on my mind.

I picked up my Bible the other day; something I haven’t admittedly done in years.

I’ve been exhausted and spent with sweet M’s late afternoon/early evening wailing. I was prepared for this. All through my pregnancy I reminded myself that I only produce colicky babies. Although I hate that word. “Colicky.” It makes me think that a baby is crying for no reason. And I think there is always a reason. Even if I don’t know exactly what it is.

The story of Jesus’ crucifixion is a powerful one. He allowed himself to be tortured, nailed to a cross, and murdered so that the souls of all people could be saved. Even if you’re not religious, it’s still a powerful story. This guy had the ability to stop what was happening to him by calling out to his Father, but he chose to endure it in hopes of saving people. In today’s world, we’d call that a hero if nothing else. And that’s still pretty cool.

But as I read this story, for the first time in my life as a mother, what really struck me and pulled deep at my heart strings was Mary.


The mother of God.

A simple human.

But she was so strong. So mighty. So collected.

While many mothers would have screamed, begged, pleaded, been absolutely hysterical as their son sacrificed themselves for the good of others, Mary stood strong. Mary stood brave. Mary stood.

She watched it happen.

The baby that nourished from her breasts. The toddler whose sticky hands no doubt wrapped her legs in hugs. The gangly child who lost his milk teeth and smiled a toothless smile to her. Her heart, disconnected from her body.

That was her child.

And yet, Mary stood.

She was strong, and brave, and as composed as she could be. She knew that in those hours of agony, and during his hour of death, her child, Jesus, needed her to be strong. Needed her to be brave. Needed her to love him like no one else ever could.

So when I read this story, the gift Jesus gave to us is so blatant; the gift of cleansing our souls.

But when I read this story as a mother, the gift Mary gave her son is so beautiful. And a gift that only a mother would, and could, know to give.

For her child, Mary stood.

A colicky baby will never come close to the torture I’m sure Mary felt; not a fraction of it. Her pain is that of which I could never even begin to imagine. But goodness, if in her darkest hour with her child, in such unfathomable emotional pain, Mary could be the calm, loving, strong presence her child needed, what in the world can I not do for my children?

I mean, Mary stood.

To Fail is Not Failure

H is a perfectionist. She comes by it honestly. Her momma was/is a born perfectionist. I spent my entire childhood and adolescence in the mind frame that if I tried once and was not immediately excelling at whatever it may be, then I should find something else that I was good at. Eventually this evolved from being very leery of trying *anything* new because there was always that risk of being imperfect, not the best; essentially in my brain: a failure. And thus I stuck with what I knew and what I was great at because I couldn’t stand to let others down by being less than.

As an adult, and most specifically due to motherhood, I have *mostly* learned from, and outgrown, my perfectionist ways. They still creep up on me every now and then.

But this made it so, so easy to notice these tendencies in my daughter at a very early age. 

I’m still figuring it out, but I am absolutely determined to help her handle her perfectionism in healthy ways and cultivate it for good.

No one ever told me it was okay to not excel at everything. No one told me that being challenged and thus, not instantly the best at something, was a good thing. No one told me that simply not being good at something at all was perfectly acceptable. No one told me that is was okay to do something I loved even if I wasn’t good at it at all.

And so H will know these things (as will her brothers). 

She is the only 6 year old in her gymnastics class. Her classmates are all 10 and 12. H loves gymnastics passionately (I’ve come to realize that ballet will never have her heart as I wished it would, and that’s okay!) She did not immediately excel at running round-offs and back bends and cartwheels on balance beams. She had to work *so hard*. Sometimes she’d get mad or frustrated and that little girl in me would want to say, “It’s okay to stop. You don’t have to do this.” Because I knew the pain and frustration of feeling like you’re less than. Don’t worry though. I put a muzzle on that little girl and duck taped her into a closet and the momma in me instead let her lament her frustrations to me and listened patiently. And then I validated those emotions and pointed out how far she’s come. And how far she’ll go with more hard work. Being challenged is a *good* thing. That’s how you learn and grow.

She auditioned for a show choir recently. I held my breath. She can carry a tune better than her momma, but she’s definitely no prodigy. But I encouraged her to try it if she loved it, and prepped her that it was also okay if she didn’t make it.

After her audition I asked her how it went and she replied with, “Mom, I was amazing, of course. I’ve got this.”

Ya’ll, this girl *has got this.*

And she made it (I’m pretty sure all the little kids did). And she’s over the moon and ready to challenge herself. Which is a good thing. Because I eventually gave up a deep love of performing because I wasn’t half as confident as H. I didn’t know it was okay to be confident and not be the very best.

So this morning while H was reading a book to me and got jumbled up on a long word she’s never come across and immediately began sobbing (see this is where little Ki and momma Ki are two useful people to have in my head. The momma was like “wtf, this is not a rational response” and the little girl was like “this is so rational. I get it. Would you like me to throw that book across the room for you?”) I was able to help her.

“I’m terrible!” She screamed at me. “I don’t know that word! I’m such a failure.” (Note to self: discover who introduced her to the idea of being a failure and cut their tongue out. In a very kind and loving way that is for the good of all humanity, of course).

“You are not a failure. Even if you never learn to read this word, you are not a failure. You failed to read the word correctly, yes. But we rarely get things perfect the first go around. To fail something does not make you a failure. Not trying does.”

She cried for a few minutes on my lap. Then she picked that book back up, and she nailed that word perfectly on the second try.

I’m just making this shit up as I go. Some days I feel completely ill-equipped for this parenting gig. But I remember that there is a reason God chose me to be the momma of these three beautiful babes. 

And just like I’ve told H, so many, many times. “To fail does not make you a failure. Simply not trying does.”

And so every day I try my very hardest, but I give the perfectionist in me a lot of grace. Some days I am challenged, and that’s okay.  I am not the best at any of it, but I’ll keep doing it because I’m terribly passionate about these three tiny humans. And that’s all that matters