Corpse Flower, Missing Kid , and a Maimed Leg

You guys, we know how to have fun around here.

Like really have fun.

I made my kids move this morning so we could beat the crowds (hey, you never know – there could be other weirdos out there!) and get to Foster Botanical Gardens to see the Corpse Flower in bloom.

It was worth it.

The smell of dead fish.

The brown, rotting flesh of the blooming flower that towered over me.

The looks on my kids’ faces, confirming what they’ve suspected all along: their momma is a nutcase.

I wrangled Sweet M into the stroller because hey! He’s 2 and a little cray cray and he also insisted on wearing his shark slippers (though that was short lived and he eventually broke free and went shoeless like the feral little person he is).

After we finished waiting in line to see the Corpse Flower (yes, there really was a line!), they got to run free amongst the gardens with some of their friends who joined us.

It’s been pretty crummy weather here all week. Chilly, cloudy, sprinkling here and there. I know, not even fair to complain when it could be snow like back in the Midwest, but I guess we are acclimated now, so.

Our tiny kid gang was roaming free, but in a group, and I suddenly realized I couldn’t spot…wait for it…Wait…can you guess which child I lost? I mean, it’s not even a surprise, right?

Sweet M. No where to be seen.

He loves to hide these days so I didn’t go into automatic panic mode, assuming he was hiding behind one of the larger trees. But once I ascertained he in fact was not, my heart started to creep into my throat.

Well, fuck.

Only six months into this 4 kid thing and I’d lost one. I’m still not sure if I was congratulating myself for having made it 6 months or lamenting it in that moment, to be honest.

Sheesh.

I started yelling his name calmly. I’ve learned that I’m super calm and level headed in genuine moments of panic. It never fails to surprise me when it’s all done and over, because I feel wild and unleashed in those moments. Alas.

Suddenly I spotted him near the entrance, another momma and her crew talking to him. Sweet M was all chill and calm and I stared running for him because he seemed like he was a million miles away and I hadn’t seen him in years and I couldn’t believe that in the blink of an eye I’d lost him and oh my gosh.

He saw me and immediately burst into tears, the impact of his baby’s day out coming to an understanding. I think in that moment he realized he hadn’t been surrounded by a single person he knew, and he sprinted his tiny toddler legs to me and threw himself in my arms.

I wanted to burst into tears, but figured one of us should keep our cool, and it didn’t appear it was going to be the 2 year old.

So I scooped him up and mouthed “thank you” to the momma who’d been hanging with him and she smiled and took off with her kids. Probably to see the Corpse Flower. It’s all the rage right now.

Then after my nerves returned to a somewhat stable place and we were back with our friends, Miss H, sitting at a picnic table, suddenly said “ow, I scratched my leg.” She wasn’t too upset so I didn’t think much about it, but my friend looked closer and said there were splinters.

I walked over to look, and I’m not even going to lie, I’m so mad I attended to her before taking a photo of the gnarliness.

It was so much more than a splinter. Somehow she’d brushed her leg against a thick, thorny stick and had large thorns embedded in her leg. Some were in there like arrows and I am still amazed I removed them with my fingernails.

She was an absolute champ. I mean, she wasn’t thrilled, but she sat there and let me remove them all.

We finished our morning shenanigans with invading Zippy’s with our nine kids who seemed to mostly keep themselves composed (you guys, seeing my big kids function in society gives me so much hope that one day all of my kids will be a part of functioning, upstanding society and not completely feral. Just saying.)

Now it’s back to a lazy afternoon of baby cuddles, rain, school work, and maybe a movie.

Oh yeah, and I drank a whole coffee milkshake from Zippy’s with my kids being none the wiser so I didn’t have to share a single sip – so I’m calling today a win!

This Is Almost 30

This.

This is me at almost 30.

I am so close I can almost taste it. If someone would’ve told me half a lifetime ago that this, this is where I would be at 30, I would’ve never in 1 million years have believed them. When I envisioned my life at that point, I was going to be much more educated. A highly successful lawyer. I was definitely not going to be married. And I wasn’t really planning on having kids until I was at least 40 and could afford a full-time nanny to raise my adopted brood. 🤷‍♀️

Oh yeah, and I would be at least 20 pounds lighter because I wouldn’t have four kids, or any steady relationships and thus I would have a whole lot of time to dedicate to nothing but looking hot.🙈

Oh the things I would say to 15-year-old me. That people who don’t go on to higher education are worthy and intelligent humans, too. That the most successful, high paying career is nothing if it isn’t your passion.

That you’re not too broken to be loved or to give love, and that there are people out their still who believe in the sanctity of marriage. Love shouldn’t hurt or make you angry or make you cry – unless they’re tears of happiness.

And that kid thing? You’ll be so happy to “ruin” your body to bring all those sweet blessings into this world over and over again. I probably would tell 15-year-old me to start saving for a nanny though. Nannies are expensive and kids are cray-cray, and you’re kind of committed once you have one. 😅

15-year-old me had big dreams. Such big dreams. But it turns out almost 30-year-old me is living even bigger and better dreams, and would have never believed it back then.

In all those big dreams and life goals, I never once put “happiness” on my list. Not once. But it turns out it’s the most important, and somehow I grabbed it before it could slip through my fingers.

This.

This is me at almost 30.

I feel I can say now, without jinxing things that Sweet M is officially potty learned!

There is something bittersweet about ditching the diapers. Especially when your kiddo says big kid things like “okay” to just about anything you say to him like a big kid, and grunts, “yes, man!” and then laughs hysterically when you’re trying to be serious with him. It’s a huge milestone that you cannot ignore that your baby, well, isn’t really a baby anymore.

I’ve had a lot of emotions lately over this little guy. He was a baby when we moved here. Nearly bald. Hardly speaking.

Now he’s got shiny curls and a vocabulary that would surprise me if he didn’t have two older siblings who’d done it all first.

I reluctantly gave his baby sister her first bites of food this past week, but I’m not eager to give her much or make it a habit yet. And she can blame it on Sweet M.

I was utterly not prepared for him to wean cold turkey the day she was born. I will do whatever I must in order to prevent Darling F from weaning prematurely. You certainly cannot force a child to breastfeed who does not want to, but there are reasons that age 2 is the minimum that the WHO recommends weaning and I’ve got a lot of feels because M was only 18 months old (and I don’t care what others do, these are my own self-imposed expectations).

I know I should be happy that it was on his own terms. That is was a complete non-issue. No tears. He was ready…or forced into it by his sister’s birth, I don’t know.

Miss H had zero qualms tandem nursing with Mr. B and it was kind of the most beautiful thing to witness. And I rode it out, breastfeeding Sweet M throughout my whole pregnancy, even when it was uncomfortable because I was essentially dry because I knew the beauty of the pay out of tandem nursing.

But I didn’t get it.

And maybe that makes me selfish. Being upset because I didn’t get something. But I’m rarely selfish, so I’m okay with it.

We go back and forth, back and forth, pretty much on an hourly basis whether or not having just one more sweet babe makes sense for our family, but regardless, we know Darling F must be much older because I cannot go through her weaning so early, completely unprepared.

It seems like only yesterday that my tiniest babies were Miss H and Mr.B. And now they’re these big, fun, adventurous kids who have conversations and conjure up these big ideas. And Sweet M and Darling F are the babies and all ready Sweet M is growing so big and Darling F is practically 6 months old and time just needs to stand still for one day. Or two. Because it’s all going so quickly and I just want to catch my balance and hold them all so tight and not miss a second of this chaos because it’s all so magnificent and it’s all mine.

Oy. I know it’s sappy. I do. Give me a day. I will be counting down the days until they move out, I’m sure. But for now.

For now, Sweet M has potty learned and it’s a great milestone. It makes things easier. But also. It makes him bigger.

And that’s a great thing, too. Even if it is happening so quickly.

Last week, as I drove Mr. B to kempo practice down our long winding mountain, the roads were empty and desolate as usual at that time of day, and suddenly, and in less time than it would take you to say “hippopotamus” there was a little boy running in front of my car after his ball.

As I put my brakes to the test, and swerved to the right to avoid him, I clipped the telephone pole hard with my mirror.

That little boy was just as oblivious as my own little boy to what had just occurred. They had no idea that in those split seconds all of our lives could’ve been altered irreparably. And maybe, lost.

It was one of those moments, that in retrospect, I’m thankful for. It was eye-opening and a good refresher of what is valuable and important in life, and what isn’t. Life is precious. And in a split second that happy ending can be gone forever.

I don’t blame that little boy’s parents. I don’t begrudge them for not watching him close enough, or for not teaching him better. Because I’m a parent. I get it. My kids play outside by themselves all the time. Even the two-year-old has free reign of our yard. He knows the boundaries, I keep an eye on him up in the window, but that doesn’t mean something couldn’t happen. And just because a kid, of any age, knows what is and is not allowed, or even what is right and wrong, doesn’t mean they’ll always follow it. Adults don’t. Children at least have the excuse of not having impulse control. Their brains are genuinely not capable of it. It’s hard to fault child for simply being a child.

Life happens. Mistakes are made. And I don’t think children should be helicoptered in order to keep them safe. You hope for the best, but at the end of the day, that’s really all you can do. Our children deserve the freedom to learn, play, grow, and even make mistakes all on their own. And the majority of the time those mistakes will be small in the grand scheme of things. They will be learning opportunities, teaching moments, ways for them to better grow as humans. If you’re too busy protecting them at all moments, they don’t get those moments that benefit them in the long run.

So yes, a little boy ran in front of my car. It could’ve been tragic. Instead I have a shattered mirror from swiftly averting my vehicle that I bear the brunt of replacing. And isn’t that how it should be? As adults, shouldn’t we be the ones looking out for our children, not the other way around? We teach them and we teach them, and we model for them, and we pray. And in their moments of unhindered childhood, we hope we have a village that is willing to take on a shattered mirror so that our kids can be kids and we can allow them the freedom of childhood that they so well deserve.

Okay

There is this moment in This Is Us where Jack is talking to the car salesman in reference to his children and what he wants for them in life, and he says, “I want them to be okay.” (This may not be the exact wording, but you get the gist.)

Basically everything Jack says or does gets me because he is so much like J as a husband and father that’s it eery (I’ve cried way too many times and told him if he dies before I’m ready, I will kill him. It speaks volumes that he still watches this show with me each week even though I become an emotional mess and often a bit irrationally upset at him for a fictional character’s death). And I looked over at him in this moment, tears all ready running down my face, and I just lost it.

8 years of parenting. Of reading and researching and trying and trying again. Of failing. Miserably sometimes. Of questioning everything. Of finding answers that actually only lead to more questions. Of failing again. Of trying harder

Okay.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this word.

Ki with a two year old and infant loathed this word.

What kind of person – of parent – only aims for okay? Why set the bar so low when you want so much for you children?

But now?

Now okay is good enough and good enough is more than acceptable.

I’ve gotten calmer and more laid back with each kiddo.

There are still things that are non-negotiable for me, but that’s not for this post. But in general?

I’m right there. I’m learning and surviving and most days even thriving, and you know what? So are my kids.

And their momma and papa aren’t perfect. Not by a long shot. Even though most days I feel J is about as close to it as humanly possible.

I strive to be more patient every single day. I battle my type A personality that wants everything to be perfect and I try so hard to get that evil little word out of my head and vocabulary all together.

Perfect isn’t attainable. It’s isn’t real.

But okay?

I can do that. And I can do it without beating myself up every time I fail.

Sometimes I will have the patience to let my two year old do his own car seat buckles even though it adds ten minutes to our adventure.

Sometimes I will have the empathy to hold my near tween when she’s crying over spilled nail polish.

Sometimes I will just sing to and rock the fussy, teething infant who hasn’t slept in twelve hours.

Sometimes I will be able to just grin and let my 6 year old continue belting out music at the top of his lungs when I deeply desire quiet.

Sometimes.

Most of the times, even.

But sometimes I will buckle his car seat clips and tell her that I can’t sit with her for an hour while she cries and I will put the fussy baby down for five minutes and walk away and I will insist on peace and quiet.

Sometimes.

And it’s okay.

Because although I will always strive to be more patient and more gentle and more respectful, I am human. And I will fail.

And that’s okay.

Because regardless, my kiddos will be okay.

Deeply loved, and okay.

Bo is 2!

I don’t even know how it happened, but my sweet baby boy is T W O!

It’s weird how life plays out. We went from being done with kids for good at two, a vasectomy reversal, a miscarriage, and the sound conclusion that God’s plan differed from our desires and that two kiddos was it for us. And then literally finding out we were pregnant with Sweet M a month after that.

It’s been a whirlwind. And he came 12 days “late” and was my most intense birth, as well. Holy cow, that darling was hard. But so worth it.

Oh, he’s so worth it all.

He’s so much fun. He’s silly and mischievous and loving and ornery all at the same time. He’s so lucky he’s got a pretty laid back momma who can take all his shenanigans in stride, ha.

I don’t know how time flew by so quickly. And not only is he this amazing 2 year old, but he’s also a big brother – and such a good one at that!

I hope he continues to grow to the be the kind, loving, compassionate little boy that I know he is (let’s just say those moments don’t always shine through when he’s with friends, but I know he’ll get there!).

He’s all ready very opinionated. He has clothing preferences and color preferences. He eats me out of house and home – he’s definitely trying to rival his Momma’s appetite.

He’s also ridiculously cute and looks just like a little Who from Whoville. I want to constantly eat him up.

He talks non stop. And sings.

He loves Beat Bugs and PJ Masks and any video from his Grandpa Shawn. He’s also pretty obsessed with his cousin “Baby Harlow.” He might lose his cool when he meets her in person.

I am so thankful, every single day, that God made me his momma.

No Picky Eaters

You hear it all the time. No matter where you are, who you know. If you know even just one kid, you’ve heard the horrors of having a picky eater.

People are always a little surprised to discover that none of my kids are picky eaters. Some of their favorite foods include fish, shrimp, asparagus, and salad (okay, Miss H loves salad, the boys are still working on learning to love it).

Now don’t get me wrong, they don’t necessarily love every single thing they are offered. They for sure have their preferences. And Mr. B will take something full of sugar over broccoli any day. But getting them to eat healthy and nutritious food is never a challenge. I don’t have to sneak vegetables into cheese sauces, and they have no idea that macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets are considered the norm for “kid” foods. Actually, the older two don’t really like macaroni and cheese at all. But we all love a good chicken nugget now and then.

The truth is, I don’t think we did anything special. We just kept offering, and offering, and often. I kept them involved in the kitchen, and then kept offering a little more.

Until about the age of 2 1/2, Mr. B thought that he only liked bananas, granola bars, and cheddar bunny crackers. But he wasn’t offered those foods at every meal, and he didn’t get to eat them to his hearts desire. The granola bars and cheddar bunnies were a snack food only, and only offered at snack times. I put itsy-bitsy portions of food on his plate each day, knowing he likely wouldn’t eat much of it, and I could always add more if needed. This helped me to not be frustrated with wasted food or for him to feel overwhelmed by the quantity.

He is by far my most particular child, and still, there is not very much he will not eat.

We didn’t discuss with him whether he ate it or not. We didn’t make a big deal of him not eating it. We didn’t make a big deal of him trying it. We just put it on the plate, and let him be.

It took time, for sure, but eventually he got it. Food is tasty.

When he weaned right at age three, he became a more adventurous eater. Suddenly things he’d always claimed he didn’t like, such as tomatoes, became his favorite foods. And, of course, we kept offering.

We’ve never made our kids separate meals. There is no such thing as grown-up food and kid food in our house.

You don’t have to like everything you eat, but you also can’t say it’s gross or disgusting. You can smile, thank whomever prepared the meal, and not eat whatever you’ve decided you don’t currently care for. Though honestly, very rarely do they decide they don’t like it.

He is enjoying stuffed zucchini and a salad. Yep, at 20 months he ate it!

They are offered three square meals a day. Unless Miss H makes breakfast. Then it’s typically just pancakes, which isn’t a very square meal, ha ha, but trust me, they certainly don’t complain nor do I, because it’s nice to have a break. Plus they have free reign access to fresh cut veggies, nuts, and fruits. They can eat as much or as little as they please. I will never tell a child that they’re hungry and are required to eat more. Nor will I insist that there’s no way they could possibly still be shoveling food in their tummy. I have full confidence that they know how hungry or not they are, at all times. And I want them to learn from an early age how to satiate themselves without under or over eating. I want food to be something that nourishes them and makes them strong. I even want them to enjoy the things they eat. But I don’t want them to eat mindlessly, or avoid foods when they’re hungry.

In general, after toddlerhood, we insist they eat at the table (we certainly aren’t militant and make exceptions such as movie night or if they’re in the middle of a board game and want to munch an apple, etc.). When you have to stop what you’re doing and put thought into what you’re doing in terms of eating, you often tend to be mindful and intentional. At least I know I am.


I suppose Bean could be the one to break this method. She could be the one who this no-frills normalcy of healthy food just doesn’t work with. But withstanding any legitimate food issues, I’m assuming probably not. Since it’s the only thing she will know.

We want our kids to have a love of food, the way we do. We want them to enjoy healthy and nutritious food in its organic state. We want them to enjoy exotic foods, fine foods, foods from street vendors, and chocolate chip cookies. Because at the end of the day, we don’t want them to be picky eaters.

Matching

I love matching my kids.

I will probably match them until they leave the house if I get a say.

I always hoped I’d have two of the same gender close together to make matching easier, but let’s be honest, I wouldn’t change any one of these nuggets.

And it turns out it’s not so hard matching them as I envisioned it to be. Sure, there could be more options. And I super love rompers on the babies and those might not really work for the big kids, but we are making out options work.

I wonder how old Miss H will be when she no longer finds it amusing to match her baby sister?

And most days Mr. B and Sweet M are butting heads; I imagine my days are numbered there. Although B gets very excited about matching his baby brother still.

M is getting very particular about his clothing though. Mostly, he just likes his birthday suit if we are being honest. Eep.

Regardless, until someone begs me not, I will be matching these kids for life.

Baltic Essentials Necklaces

All my babes have worn amber necklaces essentially from birth. Frequently they’re referred to as amber “teething” necklaces as they are often associated with helping to ease the pain that infants and toddlers endure from teething as they release natural, pain relieving oils onto the skin.

Really, though, they can help with all kinds of aches and pains, not just the pain of teething, which is really pretty awesome and beneficial at all ages and stages of life.

But amber isn’t the only stone associated with bringing relief to little ones and adults alike. There are all sorts of stones that helps with many different issues and ailments.

Miss H and Sweet M each wear a necklace from Baltic Essentials that has seven other stones included with the Baltic amber (pink rose quartz, amethyst, lapis lazuli, turquoise, aventurine, chrysocolla, and red agate).

Why?

These stones are used to help ease stress, calm big emotions, dispel anxiety, and quell anger. And for my amazing, high needs, big feelings duo, it’s just the help they need in their big moments. Miss H even will say “I need to stop and focus on my necklace helping me for a minute while I get calm.”

Bean wears your typical amber necklace, but in addition she also uses a Baltic Essentials hazelwood necklace, as does Mr. B.

These two sweet loves got their Momma’s tummy troubles: reflux, eczema – those fun things. Hazelwood helps to alleviate those issues and soothe the tummy. Mr. B happily wears his 24/7, so that should say a lot.

My kiddos love their healing and soothing Baltic Essentials necklaces as one, and a super cute one at that, tool to helping with their daily well being!

***This post was sponsored by Baltic Essentials but as always, I only work with companies I genuinely love and believe in, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

To the ER We Go

We are really fortunate that we have more great days than wtf days. I mean, even in our great days we have our moments, but I rarely have days that I consider it all a loss. They happen, but they’re not the norm.

The last week of November was a doozy for us though. I was all ready emotionally out of sorts. So I should have seen it coming.

After a loooong day I finally put the big kids to bed and crawled into bed with the babies, J still not home as he was working overtime. I’d just got us snuggled in as Miss H walked into the room.

I won’t lie, I was annoyed to see her there. I’d tucked her in 20 minutes ago and I was tired and this was just not the night to play 100 reasons to get out of bed.

“What?” I whispered, exasperated.

She whispered something to me that I swear to God sounded like “there was a mouse in my bed.”

I momentarily panicked. There aren’t mice here. Rats though, yes. If there was a freaking mouse in her bad she really meant there was a rat and Oh my god. I was not a good enough mother to deal with that. And then I started trying to figure out how a rat even got in our house. And do they have rabies? Oh shit.

Thankfully, or not, you choose, I heard her then say “there was something metal in my bed.”

“Metal,” I repeated. “Did you get hurt? Did it cut you?”

She shook her head, coming closer to me. “I swallowed it,” she answered.

I sat there for a moment, trying to figure out if I’d yet again misheard her.

“I went to put it on my window but it fell into my throat and I swallowed it,” she said.

I nodded.

Good grief.

What a story.

In my nearly 30 years of life I can say I have never had something accidentally fall into my mouth which I then swallowed. But I kid you not, that is her story and she is sticking to it.

“What was it exactly?” I asked.

She shrugged.

“Okay, ” I sighed, climbing out of bed, putting my clothes back on.

I wanted to sleep.

“What are you doing?” Miss H asked cautiously.

“Getting dressed so we can go to the ER when Papa gets home.” I mean, at this point she still seemed to be breathing so I didn’t feel like I needed to drag all four kids down to the ER.

“What?” Tears sprang to her eyes.

“Kid,” I said to her, leading her out of my room so as not to disturb the babies, “You just told me you swallowed something and don’t know what. It could be anything. A battery. A magnet. Who knows?”

“I don’t think it’s a battery or magnet.”

“Then do you know what it was?”

“No…”

Roughly 40 minutes later we were at the ER of the Women’s and Children’s hospital. I actually can not rave enough about this hospital and the phenomenal care we have received here.

A few x-rays later and we determined that Miss H had swallowed a flying saucer. Well, something metal that looked similar to a flying saucer. But otherwise, she was on the up and up and the doctor reminded her not to stick things into her mouth.

H stuck to her story. “It fell in there.” The doctor was a good sport and told her she should probably keep her mouth shut then while she’s laying in bed.

Home we went.

Finally.

I want to tell you that was the end of our ER trips that week, but alas…

Two nights later, feeling on top of the world because I was actually making a proper dinner at a proper time, baby was sleeping, kids were playing; Sweet M comes into the kitchen crying, Miss H behind him.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

M cradled his arm as I envisioned 8 weeks in a cast and now what in the heck would we do? We live on an island paradise, is 8 weeks of no beach even feasible?

It was deduced that while playing, H grabbed him by the wrist to take him off the couch. While better than a broken arm, he still had a dislocated elbow.

The one night I had my act together and was feeling like a million dollars, and I was even going to get to eat a hot dinner as I was headed back to the ER because no way was I going to attempt to pop it back in myself.

Seriously, nothing physically hurts your heart more than having a kiddo in pain. I’d have done nearly anything to have switched places with him as he clung to me and cried.

Per usual, the nurses and doctors were all outstanding and super quick and efficient. They popped it back in while I forced myself not to cry for him.

And then we went back home to three sleeping kiddos and dinner that J had kept warm for me. He’s a keeper.

Miss H may or may not have come back into my room at 4am that same night telling me she had swallowed something else. I may or may not have taken her back to the ER.

Y’all, we should get a discount at the ER at this point. That’s all I’m saying.