Considering Being A Human Boob: Looking for Nursing Tips.

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 09/15/14 11:59 AM
CATEGORIES: Blog, Choices, pregnancy, Pregnant at 45, The Babies!

It’s time to face the music.  It’s not that I’m trying to avoid it.  It’s just that I have so many other balls in the air right now the actual task of preparation for this baby keeps being postponed.  My goal is to have all of my Christmas shopping done and wrapped before October 15th.  (My friend Amy would be SO proud.)  This week I have to clean out my entire garage–and when I say entire garage I mean ENTIRE garage!  Meaning by next Monday my garage has to be empty.  As in there can be nothing in it.

Because we are a little crazy we figured this would be a good time to undertake a major addition and renovation to our home.

Because we are a little crazy we figured this would be a good time to undertake a major addition and renovation to our home.

We are dropping our master bedroom into our existing garage and building a new garage onto the side of our house.

We are dropping our master bedroom into our existing garage and building a new garage onto the side of our house.

As a result, everything in that garage has to go in here...or into the basement.  May the force be with us.

As a result, everything in that garage has to go in here…or into the basement. May the force be with us.

So, baby prep has to wait.  Except I know that putting it off isn’t the wisest of decisions given my history of shaving a few weeks…or months…off of my pregnancies.  I’m really hadging my bets with this little guy, however.  Given how well I’m doing combined with the fact that I’ve had a very stern discussion with him about how he must wait until at least November 2nd due to his sibling’s schedules, I figure I’m kind of safe.  So far he seems like a pretty compliant boy.

Of course that could change at any moment.

Cue anxiety.

So, I’m dipping my toes into the waters of preparation.  Nothing crazy like recollecting all my baby gear that is in my friend Tracy’s basement, or God forbid buying baby clothes!  I need to start slow.  I figure doing a little research and reading is more my speed at this moment.  As a result, I’m looking for some informative resources about breast feeding.  I need a starting point.

Now, before anyone goes all willy-nilly in this space about the glory of nursing I want to provide my personal background on the subject. I’m not a rookie…but my experiences have been unique.

Baby #1 –  Drew was born full term and was formula fed.  At the time I made the decision to forego breast feeding for multiple reasons.  I was going back to work the minute he turned six weeks old; I wanted Sean to be able to bond with Drew through the act of feeding him; and, at the time, not a single person in my immediate family had done anything but formula feed.  It was the norm.  And, I’m happy to report that 20 years later he seems just fine.

September 1994

September 1994

Baby #2 –  Ryan was fed nothing but breast milk for his first six months of life.  I decided to nurse Ryan when I delivered him at 30 weeks gestation due to HELLP Syndrome.  Preemies notoriously tolerate breast milk better than formula.  Their under developed digestive systems need the gentlest nourishment nature has to offer.  However, I quickly learned in the NICU that the act of nursing takes a lot of energy on baby’s part.  It’s harder to suck milk out of a human nipple than it is to suck it out of a preemie bottle nipple.  So, I made the decision to pump the milk into bottles for him and never went back.  Ryan was never put to breast.  It was a lot of work but it was worth it.

Ryan at birth in the NICU.

Ryan at birth in the NICU.

Baby # 3 –  Mary Kate was eight weeks premature due to a milder case of HELLP Syndrome so I followed the same pumping regimen that I used with Ryan.  Interestingly, protocols had changed between 1997 and 2008.  So, not only did MK get breast milk, but the NICU insisted on mixing a specially prepared formula in with the breast milk to increase her caloric intake.  She did gain weight faster due to the added formula so we maintained that regimen for six months.  As a result, she was never put to breast.

Mary Kate, 2008

Mary Kate, 2008

Baby #4 & 5 –  Reagan and Isabella were delivered by our friend, Jennifer, who served as our gestational carrier.  As a result, they were formula fed with the exception of the ten days that Isabella was in the NICU after birth.  Her admission was extremely unexpected because the twins were full term, but nevertheless she had breathing problems.  It was then that Jennifer went above and beyond and pumped for her.  Isn’t that awesome?!?!  I just had to slip in this tidbit of informartion about Jennifer because it demonstrates what an awesome first mother she was to our daughters.  I will be forever grateful for what she did for our family.

Reagan and Isabella, 2011

Reagan and Isabella, 2011

Although two of my children have received the benefits of breast milk I have never had a traditional nursing experience and I want one.  I think.  Let me say I’m not hellbent on nursing.  I’ll do what works best for our son and our family, but as of right now, with no indication of him showing up early, I’m thinking I’d like to try and nix the bottles and simply breast feed.  There are some aspects of that decision that make me very nervous and that is where I’d like to hear your thoughts.


First, I’m nervous about not knowing exactly how much my child has eaten.  With bottles I could measure, record and track the number of ounces consumed at each feeding. And I did.  Neurotically.   The idea that I’m just supposed to rely on my child having wet diapers makes me uneasy.  Thoughts?

The Human Boob

Second, I’m nervous about being relegated to nothing but a human boob.  I have five other children who need my attention and I have visions of being on the couch all day with a baby hanging off of me.  I would love to hear from some moms who have managed to exclusively nurse and meet the needs of the rest of their brood.  Are there any tricks?  Equipment that was helpful?  Please share.

Bonding with Dad

Sean loves feeding our children and I love the bond that is created between him and his child as a result.  If I exclusively breast feed how do we foster that same bonding experience for him?  I’m especially curious if anyone has successfully pumped and nursed.  I’m wondering if I can pump a little into a bottle and let him feed the baby every once in awhile without causing massive boughts of nipple confusion.

The idea of not having to deal with bottles is very appealing to me.  The idea of bloody, cracked nipples: being the only one who can ever feed this child rendering me exhausted; and boughts of mastitis scare the crap out of me.  That’s why I’m asking for some feed back.

And, on that note…I don’t want this discussion to denegrate into a “breast is ALWAYS best” discussion.  Like I already wrote…I’ve formula fed and it was just fine.  To each his own.  I’m specifically looking for some resources that I can read so I know kind of what to expect.

Thanks in advance as always.  I will truly appreciate all of your thoughts and advice.  After all,  it was solicited.





And Then She Fell in A Hole…and Pee’d Her Pants.

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 09/9/14 10:48 AM
CATEGORIES: Blog, From The Files of You Can't Make This Sh*t Up, perspective, Pregnant at 45, Shenanigans

I have the plague.

Okay.  Maybe it’s not the plague.  Actually I think I may very well have the “mystery virus” that is popping up all over the midwest.  Reports say that those primarily effected are children.  I know I’m not *a child* but I’m *with child*—er—so maybe that puts me in the high risk group?   Regardless, I have been sicker than I’ve ever been before with some sort of respiratory illness that has rendered me short on oxygen and energy.

In other words I’ve been a worthless sack of humanity this past week.  Hence my absence from the radio and this space.

Of course, the show that is the Savage household doesn’t shut down for sick days.  Kids still go to school, activities are still attended, and the to-do list still needs doing.  Of course, none of my chores have been slam-dunked this past week.  Instead, it’s all been a giant example of “half-assery”.  Well packed lunches were replaced with lunch money;  kids were a little less polished in both their appearance and preparedness; and chores?  Well, I resorted to a bare minimum to-do list leaving peripheral duties…like laundry… for the weekend.

I’ll be digging myself out for days.

Isn’t that how us mothers do illness, though?  We put ourselves last and come hell or highwater we can’t take a day off no matter how crappy we feel.  It’s both noble—and stupid. Noble because nothing will stand in the way of being present for our children.  Stupid because after we drag ourselves to these supposed watershed moments sometimes sickness prevails and we look plain stupid for not listening to our bodies and collapsing into our beds.

What am I alluding to?  Allow me to set the scene.

Drew had his first NCAA cross country meet of his sophomore season this past Friday.  The race was  in Athens, Ohio, a mere four hour drive from our home.  Knowing it would be an all-day commitment both Sean and I made the necessary plans to attend.  Friday meetings were rescheduled; babysitters were hired;  and rides home from school were arranged.   I thought my ducks were in row—until I got sick.

Sean:  Do you think you should go?  I mean, you don’t look so hot.

Carolyn:  I’m not missing this.  I’ll take some tylenol and rest in the car.  There’s nothing anyone can do for me here, anyways.  It’s viral.  I’m pregnant.  I have no choice but to suffer through it and wait for my immune system to kick in.  Plus, what harm could come from watching a running race on a golf course?

Little did I know.

Fast forward to the morning of the race.  My cough was epic causing me two very inconvenient issues.  The first was easily solved by a text to my midwife who gave me permission to use my inhaler.  The second, however, was bit more of a nuisance.  You see, I’m 28 weeks pregnant and my sweet little two pound bundle of joy is resting comfortably on top of my bladder.

My forty-five year old, warn-out, saggy bladder.

I don’t want to get graphic here, folks.  So, let’s just say that not only did my cough cause me to have to refill my inhaler but it also led me down an aisle of the drug store I’d never paid much attention to.  As I stood in that aisle I realized how little I knew about the product I needed and was quickly overwhelmed by the vast selection.  There were mini-pads, maxi-pads and full on under garments.  Some were designed for men.  Others for women.  All of them promised discretion and came with guarantees of absorbancy.

I studied the products and sized up my issue.  It’s only a little when I cough.  I need to catch it.  Not collect it.  I don’t think I’d classify the issue as a major leak.  Let’s categorize it as mild to moderate.  And with that, I grabbed something I thought would do the trick and scurried back to the tampon aisle–a place more befitting of a 45 year old woman…who’s not pregnant.

Oh well.

By the time we arrived at the race I was convinced I was prepared.  Tylenol had been swallowed;  inhaler had been inhaled; and any mild to moderate “spills” were guaranted to be contained…it said so on the package.  I was confident.  And all was going swimmingly.  The race started, Drew was off, and I commenced my waddle across the course to snap pictures where I could.

I was so proud of myself.  I was there despite the fact that I felt like hell and sounded like I had a fifteen-pack-a-day habit.

Everything was going great until Drew hit the third mile.  It was then that I thought I should make my way towards the finish line.  Sean had long abandoned me to run around the course encouraging Drew at different stages of the race, so I was alone.  Me.  The very pregnant mother of a sophomore in college.

And…about that.

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again.  Nothing has gotten me more stares than the wondering eyes of my fellow collegiate parents.  I can practically read their horrified minds as they ponder going back to the days of bassinets, burp cloths and bottles AFTER having successfully booted one chick from the nest.  I’m sure maybe an iota of what I imagine is projected onto their private thoughts from somewhere deep in my psyche…but I have no doubt the looks of astonishment I get from that crowd are genuine.  And I understand them.  If it were someone else I’d be thinking the same thing.

That being said, I’m a little self conscious around the whole college parent scene.  And, on this particular day I was trying hard to look inconspicuous. It was going okay until I fell.

That’s right.

As I began my waddle towards the finish line I managed to find a well camouflaged, twelve inch hole and promptly fell into it.  My camera flew out of my hands.  My sunglasses fell to the ground.  As I was falling I remember thinking, “Holy hell!   Please don’t let anyone be watching.”

No such luck.

Unfortunately, the tumbling mass of pregnant woman managed to catch the peripheral attention of at least a dozen other bystanders who ran to help.

I wanted to die.

I wanted to die because it was embarrassing.  I wanted to die because drawing more attention to myself was the last thing I wanted.  And, I wanted to die because if hurt like hell.  I’d twisted my right ankle something fierce and as I quickly popped up and assured the growing crowd around me that I was perfectly fine I was thinking, I think I just broke my fucking ankle AND for the love of  God hold onto the one last shred of dignity you have and don’t fucking cry.

But it was too late.

I could feel the tears coming as my ankle throbbed.  Out of desperation, I made a last ditch desperate attempt to mask my pain by laughing—because you know—that makes sense.  So,  I laughed like what just happened was the funniest thing I’d ever seen–which under normal circumstances may have saved me and lightened the mood of the very concerned bystanders–but instead, given my current bought of what may have been the Ohio version of ebola, sent me into an immediate respiratory spasm.  Before I knew it I was doubled over coughing so hard I could see stars.

That’s when the horror set.

What happened next is somewhat of a blur.  I think my fuzzy memory of exactly how this went down is due to either oxygen deprivation from the cough or because the the human mind, out of self-preservation, is hard wired to forget traumatic incidents.

And traumatic it was.

Because with every cough.  Every contraction of my diaphragm.  I flooded.   I quickly thought about the packaging I’d so hastily read earlier that day as the words “mild to moderate” mocked me.  There was absolutely nothing “mild to moderate” about what was happening in that moment.

This was a catastrophic event.


When I was sixteen I wrecked my mom’s car during my driver’s license exam.  When the secretary of state person drove her to the scene of the accident she gently told me something important as I sat in the back of the cop car explaining to the police officer that, “I can’t provide you with my driver’s license because I was actually taking the driving test when I disregarded that stop sign“.

She said I’d laugh about this one day.  At the time, I didn’t believe her.

But she was right.


I have no idea if anyone around me truly realized what happened in that hole on that golf course last Friday afternoon.  After I eventually caught my breath, I thanked everyone for their concern, assured them I was fine and then pointed to the finish line.  By the grace of God, the runners were coming.  They all left which gave me a moment to take inventory of how bad the situation was.

Luckily I had a change of clothes in the car, and a cooler full of ice to plunge my ankle into.  As for my dignity?   Well, I admittedly checked that at the door during my first labor and delivery experience.  No harm, no foul.  And with that, I waddled to the ladies room.

Later on that evening Drew noticed something was amiss.

Drew:  Why are you limping, Mom?

Me:  I fell in a hole at the race.

Drew:  Oh man [horrifed].  Did anyone notice?

Me:  Yes, Drew.  Many people noticed. 

As for how much they noticed?  Well, hopefully I’ll never know.


FYI…My ankle isn’t broken.  And, I’m happy to report my virus is responding to antibiotic treatment.  I guess it isn’t ebola.  I’m hoping to be back to my regular old self by the end of the week.

Of course, laughing…with proper protection…has helped as well.

Settling Into A New Season: Can This Be Over Already?

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 08/28/14 10:44 AM
CATEGORIES: Blog, perspective, saying goodbye

Around the middle of May my social media feeds were flooded with posts from parents who were”limping” across the finish line of the school year.  Pinterest inspired lunches were replaced with lunchables…or boxes of crackers.  Homework assignments that required parental assistance morphed  from over-the-top to, “What homework assignment?  Aw…just pull some scraps out of the garbage and glue them onto this posterboard…er…side of an Amazon shipping box.”   It seems that when the pressure of our busy school year routines build up, the light at the end of the tunnel known as summer causes us to wave our white flags of surrender.

We need a break.  We need to slow down.  Can this be over already?

Funny thing is, I noticed the same thing about the end of summer.  When school let out the first week of June I was ambitious.  Maybe even a little over eager.  I had a mental summer bucket list that included hiking in our metro parks; day trips to the shores of Lake Erie; and water balloons.  There were day camps and art programs;  swimming and tennis lessons; and backyard fires with s’mores.  My cupboards were amply stocked with sunscreen and bugspray.

Fast forward to the beginning of August.  Suddenly hiking, swimming and water balloons had lost their appeal.  And as for sunscreen?  Hell.  I was down to one bottle with a wonky spray nozzle that only squirted sideways.  Cloud cover quickly became my friend.

Making matters worse, I remember returning home from our week in Michigan and walking into the store to see aisles and aisles of happiness on a shelf.  School supplies.  Hallelujah.  It was almost time to dust off those lunch boxes and get inspired again.  I had two more weeks of time to finish off that bucket list with the kids but suddenly I was all, “Forget it.  You five need some alternative adult interaction in your lives.

That’s code for “Mama’s tired.”

Tired of applying bugspray;  tired of drying beach towels and scrubbing asphalt stained feet;  and tired of breaking up fights over squirt guns and cleaning up toys.  Suddenly I didn’t care as much if tennis was played or a swim stroke was perfected.  And back yard camp fires with s’mores?  Nope.   It was time for appropriate bedtimes.  For all of us.

We all need a break.  To slow down.  Can this be over already?

Sometimes I worry that I don’t live in the moment enough.   I don’t know if it’s because I have so many obligations–five kids;  a home and yard to care for;  a pregnancy to protect; and a publishing date…and birth date… looming on the horizon.  I often find myself thinking about what I should be doing instead of what I’m actually doing and feeling guilty about all of it.  I also admit to looking forward to the beginings of new seasons before the old season is complete.  But then, I wonder if that isn’t the way our culture is wired.  We are taught to prepare in advance lest ye be caught off guard once what’s on the horizon is actually happening tomorrow.   Back-to-school hype begins the day after the Fourth.  Stores have their Christmas stuff out already. And summer vacation dances onto our radar as soon as the Easter Sunday sun has set.

I think those subtle–and not so subtle–cues cause me to feel behind.  At the same time I kind of like it.  I look forward to change.  The thoughts of pumpkins and stuffing;  football games and cross country races;  I find the change in seasons is invigorating.  It motivates me to move on to something new and to turn away from my tiredness.

Change is my break.  It causes me to simultaneously slow down and wrap up–and push my peddle to the metal in a new and very different gear.

It keeps me inspired.

The girls are settled into their school.  Ryan is rocking his senior year, so far.  Erica has only been here for a week, but it seems like we’ve known her for our entire lives.  And Drew?   Well, his sophomore year in college and second season on the Bobcat cross country team seems to be off to a stellar start.

We are settling.

Time to get inspired.

Now onward.

All At Once: A Whole Bunch of “Firsts”

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 08/25/14 12:56 PM
CATEGORIES: Au pair, Blog, college, School

Sorry about my absence last week.  It’s been a whirlwind of “firsts” around here and as a result I had some choices to make about how my time was spent.  Sometimes I’m very disciplined about choices regarding time allocation.  Sometimes I’m not.  Last week left me with very little time for anything that didn’t have to do with one of our children.

Of course, that’s what happens when you have kids.  And, when there’s five of them…well…at certain times of the year–like back-to-school-time– there’s just not much left over at the end of the day for anything that doesn’t have to do with them.

Thank goodness I like all of them.

The week started out with a return trip to college.  Our dining room was suddenly filled with bins and boxes of dorm gear.  I’m happy to report there was less than last year.  Less stuff.  Less stress and less anxiety.  It’s amazing the difference a year makes.  Drew’s already been there done that.  Familiarity breeds comfort so a sophomore move-in is truly easier than a freshman start.  Still, we enjoyed having him around the house for the past three months.  We’ll miss him.  The kids will miss him.  Hell…our lawn will miss him–he’s a fastidious yard man.  And I know after having experienced how quickly his freshman year flew, soon these “move-ins” will be less about dorm gear and more about him making a home for himself away from ours.

photo (72)

There’s that pit.

One peculiar little anecdote–moving your sophomore into a college dorm while  seven months pregnant is a bit of an anomaly.  Luckily there were only three flights of stairs this year, but still.  And the stares from the other parents.  I could almost read their minds while they tried to figure out our story.  “Second marriage?”; “Maybe she ate a basketball because who in their right mind would have kids twenty years apart?”  I’m guessing they ruled out I was the “trophy wife”.  I mean seriously?  I own a mirror and there ain’t nothing going on with me that screams “She’s a prize, isn’t she?


No sooner did Drew leave than we turned right around a welcomed our newest family member.

No.  Not that family member! This little guy is under firm orders to stay put until after the first of November.  There is no time in the schedule for his arrival one minute before he is fully cooked.  I hope he’s a compliant child.  We shall see.

Anyways, when we found out about our impending bundle of joy Sean and I decided to pull the trigger on a childcare option that we’ve been kicking around for awhile now.  We’ve always had about 15-20 hours a week of help which was a God send.  Having a sitter here on a regular basis has allowed me to adequately meet the needs of every one of our family members including attending to our sons events without a trail of cranky distraction.

It’s a luxury and I’m well aware of how lucky I am to be able to afford the help.  I often imagine what our lives would be like if I was doing the house and kids alone-the way so many do—many while holding down a full time job–and I’m grateful for the resources at my disposal.

That being said, we knew given the commitments I made prior to this pregnancy (I have a book coming out in January…more on that later) we would need more help.  That’s when a colleague of mine recommended looking into welcoming an au pair into our home.  Of course, I knew what an au pair was, but always dismissed it as too expensive or fancy for our family.  She encouraged me to investigate the option, however.  Turns out it’s much more affordable than I ever imagined and the icing on the cake is that we get to do something we’ve always wanted to do.  Open our home to a loving individual from another country.

Enter Erica…stage left.

I picked Erica up from the airport on Thursday of last week.  I cannot tell you what a gift she has been to our family just in the short time she has been with us.  She is from South America and has introduced a spark of energy into our home that is priceless.  The girls immediately warmed to her and MK is loving teaching her all about our culture as well as learning about hers.

Thank goodness the language of puzzles is universal.

Thank goodness the language of puzzles is universal.

Tomorrow, I’m going to write at length about the program, state department requirements, expenses and all of the work that has gone into preparing for this experience.  So stay tuned.


This morning we had our first day of preschool and kindergarten.  The girls are returning to the Montessori school they attended last year.  MK will begin her last year in the three year pre-primary program which counts as her formal kindergarten year.


In her "classroom shoes".  Her Montessori classroom has the students leave a pair of shoes at school.  They where them while inside...and sometimes on the wrong feet.

In her “classroom shoes”. MK’s Montessori classroom has the students leave a pair of shoes at school. They where them while inside…and sometimes on the wrong feet…but that’s okay.  She tells me they feel just fine!

The twins are beginning a one year program that our school offers to kids who fall into a weird little age-hiccuped category.  (Our local cut-off for kindergarten is five years old by August 1st.  Because the twins have an August 11th birthday they technically cannot begin their pre-primary program this year but they are very ready for school.  Luckily our Montessori school offers a special classroom for young “threes” and fall birthdays where their developmental needs will be met and challenged.)

Looks like we've hit the age of the "over cheeser" smile.

Looks like we’ve hit the age of the “over cheeser” smile.


For this, I am grateful.

I cannot wait to watch them blossom.


Last but not least, Ryan started his senior year at St. Johns Jesuit.  I know I don’t write about Ryan much on this blog.  In fact, last Christmas I was at a party where one of his former teachers made a note of reminding me I have five kids and not four.  Apparently she was concerned that Ryan was left out of most of my commentary.

I thought it was cool she noticed.

You see, Ry is a “fly  under the radar” type of person.  Attention is not something he enjoys.  As with any story I tell about my family, I ask permission before I share.  Whether it’s on my weekly radio segment or through social media.  It’s a respect thing.  I do admit, knowing Ryan’s comfort levels I try not to ask that much in an attempt to save my Ry-sharing for the bigger moments.

This qualified as one.

With two of his teammates during the first mile of the race.

With two of his teammates during the first mile of the race.

We attended Ryan’s last first cross country race of the season this past Saturday.  He has decided to forego pursuing a running career in college so this will probably be his last varsity season for a sport he’s enjoyed since kindergarten.

He did not disappoint.


As you can see we’ve had a lot of transitioning around here.  It’s been a challenge but I realize in the whole scheme of life it’s positive.  Our family is growing.  Both collectively and individually.  That’s to be expected with the passage of time.  I think that’s what makes this space so special to me.  I like recording the growth–our evolution.  It’s my hope that some day Drew, or Erica, or the twins, or this sweet little guy I’m still carrying will come back here and read;  learning about our family and what on God’s green Earth was going through their mother’s head when she decided to do this…or that.

And of course, see how loved they all were.

Happy Monday, friends.

A Third Birthday

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 08/14/14 12:22 PM
CATEGORIES: Blog, Daughters, gratitude, perspective, Surrogacy, thankful, The Babies!

Three years.

It’s hard to imagine that three years has passed since Reagan and Isabella joined our family.  Jennifer, our friend and their gestational carrier, joined our family for a celebration last night and she asked me if I though time was passing quickly.

They just seem so grown up.

And they are.


No longer babies, these two little ladies are really starting to show us who they are.  To me that’s one of the greatest gifts of parenthood.  Our children are not ours to mold and shape.  They certainly aren’t extensions of ourselves.   As parents, Sean and I can’t decide whether Reagan will be a ballerina or a basketball player or whether Isabella will be a tomboy or the most feminine girly-girl on the block.  Of course, we have influence on what our children are introduced to but once the introduction is made, it truly is our job to observe and let the child show us who they are.


Their big third birthday present was a bounce house.  Ryan gave it a life span of five months.  We tend to be hard on our play gear.

Their big third birthday present was a bounce house. Ryan gave it a life span of five months. We tend to be hard on our play gear.

It’s a privelege to watch them unfold.


At three, Reagan is feisty.  She knows what she wants and she protests when we don’t follow her path.  It appears that she enjoys performing.  Yesterday I took all three girls school supply shopping.  As we neared the cash registers she spotted an end cap with ballet gear.  I haven’t the slightest clue how she knew what the pink shoes and leotard were for, but she scrambled out of the cart and snagged a pair for herself and refused to put them back.

She’s telling me something.

I think we are going to try an age appropriate dance class for her.



Isabella is extremely verbal.  Her ability to articulate at such a young age surprised Sean and I.  At birth, in spite of her full-term status, Isabella was intubated and hospitalized for ten days due to breathing difficulties.  Both of us worried about the oxygen deprivation she experienced and wondered whether there would be long lasting impacts.  She was a late walker and her feeding and eating habits could be characterized as challenging, but other than that it appears she is developing normally.  She is very friendly, one of our more outgoing children, with a happy, easy-going demeanor.  And the girl can talk even the chattiest person right under the table.


The two of them together are a trip.  They play with one another like most siblings;  one minute they’re “best friends”;  the next they are mortal enemies.  They take turns being the alpha, and for every like they share, there are two they don’t.  Reagan’s a screamer.  Isabella’s a crier.  Reagan’s shy at first.  Isabella is quick to warm.  They both like walking around in click-clack shoes and playing with their hot wheels cars.

They are individuals.  It’s my job to respect them.


So, instead of molding them into my vision of what I think they should be, I’m enjoying the reveal. I’m certainly not passive in my parenting approach.  I’m more of a coach.  I cheer for them but I’m not a blind fan.  I provide support, guidance and boundaries that will–hopefully–teach them to be kind, confident and responsible.  Some moments it seems like it’s all working.  Other moments it doesn’t.    None of it’s perfect.  But in a way, I think that’s good.

Our imperfect world is full of imperfect people.  That’s an important lesson to learn.

We had a small family party with their god parents and Grandma Kate.

We had a small family party with their god parents, Jennifer and Grandma Kate.

Last night, after everyone else was in bed, Jennifer and I stayed up talking.  We both decided time is, indeed, passing quickly.  We reminisced about her pregnancy with Reagan and Isabella.  How big she was.  How much she sacrificed for our family.   We also talked about gratitude.  For Sean and I, it’s an undying gratitude to her for the gift of our daughters.  We are both convinced they wouldn’t be with us if it wasn’t for her.

Jennifer with the girls in 2013.

Jennifer with the girls in 2013.

Jennifer and girls circa 2014.

Jennifer and girls circa 2014.


For Jennifer it was about how thankful she is that she gets to visit with them.  “It’s nice to see what I did.”

I get that–at very profound level.

Blowing out their candles.

Blowing out their candles.


Sean and I are so lucky.  We have five–going on six–amazing kids to shepherd.  They challenge us.  They push us.  They teach us.  And in return, we love them for it.  For all of it.




I know.  This post is an about face from Monday afternoon’s post.  Sean and I talked about the spirit of Monday’s post and we laughed.  We figure anyone who advises an expectant mother to “enjoy every single second of parenthood” probably doesn’t have a child at home under the age of 18.

That being said, we had a birthday here this week.  Our girls are growing up.  So pardon the my sentimentalism (Yes, that’s a real word.  I looked it up).

Happy Thursday.