the post I never thought I’d write

I guess that title is a little overdramatic.  I should say something like the post I thought I’d write in four more years.  I’ve been wanting to sit down and string some thoughts together about this for weeks, but I couldn’t.

I’m going back to work.

Like regular paying job, outside the home, kind of work.  Not that I’ve been eating bon-bons for the past three years, so it feels weird to phrase it that way.


I’m going to back up about seven months and explain all of this.  Last November, I received an email from an old contact I had who told me about a job opening at my alma mater.  There were so many things about it that seemed perfect for me.  It was, at that time, going to be a part-time position as Writing Center Director at a small institution.  Part-time work seemed like a perfect transition back to the working world and it was a position I’d love to hold and one that matched my experience well.

The week before this email arrived, Scott and I had been talking about the possibility of moving.  There are things we love about this house, but a lot of really impractical things as well (namely that it is older and there are a million improvements left to be made and we don’t have the finances or the time for that anymore now that we have kids).  We chatted about the different possible scenarios…. purchasing a newer house in our same area, moving a little south and closer to the city, or maybe moving about 25 minutes northeast of here to a suburb we lived in when we first married.  It’s an area that has changed so much in a few years, and it’s really become a hub of sorts for young families.  It’s also about 40 minutes from my alma mater and makes this job an actual possibility (versus an hour plus commute which I am not going to do with young kids).  So when the wheels started turning on this job business, it seemed like a sign, and we decided to jump in with both feet and sell our home.  We love the area anyhow and would be happy there regardless, but the job possibility also gave us a valid reason to sell in a lackluster market.  Our house was listed on March 15th.

In February, by the way, I am obsessively checking the job postings because the job was supposed to post and it hadn’t yet.  In March, I inquired what was going on and I found out that the position had been restructured so that it was now full-time.  It’s combined with an Instructor of English position teaching two composition courses.  At first my feelings were really mixed on all of this.  I hadn’t planned to go back at all until Norah was around 4 or 5, and certainly not full-time.  But the whole possibility was too perfect to pass up.  I’ve always wanted to pursue something beyond the high school arena, but I had no idea how that would happen (a PhD first or a small community college or what).  To begin this career journey with my alma mater seemed like such a perfect fit.

So I applied even though it is full-time, and I completed the interview process in May.  The job was posted on both the Journal of Higher Education and the university job board, and I knew there were a number of others applying.  My big interview was the day after Norah’s party and four days after selling our house, and I interviewed with a panel of Deans feeling certain I sounded stupid and wishing I’d prepared a little better amidst the madness.  A couple weeks went by and I was thinking maybe the job went to someone else, but I finally got the call two weeks ago, and I begin in August!  (She congratulated me on an impressive interview, by the way, so I guess sometimes our self-doubt clouds our perception a bit.)  I didn’t realize how rewarding and perfect it would feel until all the pieces fell together and it became official.  I’m so grateful for all of it.

The university has a Child Development Center in cooperation with their Education department, so my kids can be there with me while I work.  This was really the icing on the cake and the piece of the puzzle that made me feel like it was meant-to-be.  I know there will be challenges and adjustments, and I’m not ecstatic about commuting 40 minutes to work every day with two kids, but I’m learning that with motherhood – whether you work outside the home or not – there are sacrifices and challenges and nothing is absolute perfection because this is real life.  But overall, I cannot think of anything better for our family right now.


I’ve heard about the “sacrifices” and “hard choices” of motherhood my entire life, but I’ve been a little spoiled on having to make those choices so far. I had a baby.  I wanted to leave my job.  I left my job with no regrets.  There were financial adjustments moving to one income, but overall that was the easiest choice I’ve ever made.  Then this new opportunity came along and threw me for a loop.  It feels strange to me to pursue my own career and my own path when my kids are so young, and much of my last few years (all of it?) has been caring for them and putting them first.  I realize that sounds embarrassingly 1950’s for me to say that, but it’s just been my norm since I became a mother.  Norah will be fifteen months when I begin working though, and Jude will be just shy of four.  I’m realizing that some time in a structured environment without mom for something like 8 months of the year is probably good for them and good for me.  [Side note, I’m also realizing how much time professors get versus teaching high school and it blows my mind!  Three actual full months off for summer, one full month for Christmas, a spring break and a fall break… real office hours with nobody barging in so I can plan and grade!?  It’s such a welcome change and a testament to how insanely hard high school teachers work.]

So that’s the story.  Big changes are headed our way, and I am equally excited and scared and all of those other feelings that come along with big moments.  Any advice from seasoned working moms is greatly appreciated.

evolution of my little family

Mother's Day 2010

Mother’s Day 2010

Mother's Day

Mother’s Day 2011


Mother’s Day 2012

Mother's Day 2013

Mother’s Day 2013

Happy Day to all the moms out there and those of you who are missing someone on this day as well.  It’s the hardest job in the world, but it’s also the best one.  Cheers to doing the best we can and making sacrifices to create love and memories for our little ones.

Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day 2013, and I’m definitely having the most romantic day ever.  Want to hear?

Jude’s horrific battle with the preschool plague continues when he started randomly running a fever again Tuesday, the day after finishing his antibiotic.  So we head back to the doctor yesterday, and his double ear infection is STILL THERE somehow, so they give him Omnicef which is a super strong antibiotic.  All in all, this will make 25 consecutive days he’s on them.  Poor kid.  I feel so bad for him.

We get home from the doctor on Wednesday afternoon.  I give him a dose then and then another dose this morning.  It’s his preschool Valentine’s Day party, and I’ll be there with him for half the day anyhow and the doc tells me it’s not contagious, so I send him anyway.

Norah and I attend our baby music class where she crawls around like a maniac and eats the instruments.  Yay!


Then I head to Jude’s school and they seem to be having a great time. He eats lots of good food and makes me a necklace.



Then we head home and he lifts his shirt to scratch his belly and hives hives hives. Like everywhere. Swollen hives. All across his little tummy and lower back and on down to his knees. I run to get the package insert to the newest antibiotic and like all package inserts, it pretty much makes you think that your child is dying right that minute, and I pick up the phone to call the doctor. As it turns out, it’s not entirely uncommon to be allergic to it in this way and as long as his face or throat is not swollen or itchy, we are okay. So they call in an antibiotic #4 and I give him some Benadryl, and he’s sleeping now. I’m just hoping we wake up tomorrow with a new start.


Because y’all, he had hives on the bottom of his feet and he cannot walk at all.   So I’ve been carrying two children who total 60 pounds.  All afternoon.

And by the way, Scott has been in Boston all week and it’s been WEEK THREE of caring for sick children alone, and I am pretty much at my wits end.  He comes home this afternoon feeling terrible, and he just left for urgent care an hour ago and called me to say it’s a sinus infection.  Which if course I hate for him, but THANK YOU BABY JESUS it is not contagious.  I cannot handle more sick in this house.  Cannot.

PSA for all of you:  You can be the most kale-eating, granola-making, vitamin-taking, green-smoothie-drinking, real-food-cooking, breastfeeding mama out there.  And preschool germs?  THEY WILL FIND YOU.  And it won’t be pretty.


Toddlers have an innate ability to catch every strange bug floating around and spread it to the rest of their family, it seems.  It’s really no surprise when you see how they interact with the world around them.  Hands in their mouths and noses for no good reason.  Eating any random food they find.  Refusing anything that might be deemed as healthy and nutritious. I feel like Jude’s been sick a lot this year, but in reality I suppose once a month sickness is pretty much par for the course for your average preschooler.

So as I’d mentioned before, about two weeks ago, a mean head cold made its way around to Jude, then me, then Scott.  It seemed to stop there, but let me tell you it was MISERABLE.  Like I’d almost  think I had the flu with all the aches and two days of fever and copious snot, but it came on too slowly to qualify for influenza.  After we seemed to recuperate, Jude kept up this horrible hacking cough that sounded terrible and developed a fever after the cold, which is never ever a good sign.  I take him in last Tuesday.  The nurse practioner listens to his chest, says it sounds terrible and gives him a breathing treatment and a prescription for steroids and a mild antibiotic because she “cannot rule out pneumonia in that left lung based on what I hear.”  This is where my mom radar freaks out a bit and feels really grateful that Norah hasn’t caught the nastiness.  We get his meds and head home and he’s much improved in the following days.

And oh yeah, the next morning my husband woke up on his birthday to horrible food poisoning he acquired at a famous Atlanta BBQ joint.  He spent his whole day in bed, and I felt like I had 5 kids.  A toddler with ‘roid rage, a puking husband, and a baby who actually had a good reason to act like a baby given that she really is one.

Then Thursday afternoon, Norah went down for a nap and woke up screaming at the top of her lungs and running a fever.  I rush to the pediatrician yet again.  They do an RSV test and it’s positive.  Breathing treatments for her and poor bug has an ear infection, too.

Then on the weekend, they look like this and I assume the universe is obviously going to correct everything since Scott has some work travel this week.

Sibling Love

They play happily and everything seems great until Jude wakes from sleep at 9pm yelling about his ear.  I gave him Advil and he promptly wakes up at exactly 3am when it wore off, still yelling.  At this point, it becomes really clear to me that we are in for round three, so I try to medicate him and keep him comfortable until our scheduled Monday morning follow-up with the pediatrician, but his fever soars to 102.8 and he’s crying and saying he wants to nap which means clearly he has lost his mind and is very, very sick because daytime sleep has not been okay with him in months.  So I call my pediatrician who calls in a stronger antibiotic and after two doses, he is already doing so much better.

But then Norah’s fever soared in the middle of the night last night, and I pretty much just stayed awake and rocked her and listed nervously to her scary raspy wheeze all night.  Back to the doctor this morning for our follow up and now she’s on a steroid and has increased the number of her breathing treatments.  Apparently this strain of RSV this year is really brutal, and I am not being overdramatic in saying that I really think she’d be hospitalized if she were a tiny baby.  She is on the mend, I hope, and she’s eating and drinking well.  So  I think we are emerging just fine.  And judging from the fact that Jude ran around all day like the usual toddler maniac he is, I think he’s much improved for sure.

Kids can get sick so fast and then turn it around so fast too, you know?  It’s beyond my understanding.

So things getting me through this week?  Bubble baths after the kids are asleep.  Knitting on my almost-finished Henslowe.  Dove chocolates.  An HGTV magazine I picked up on a pharmacy run yesterday.  Downton Abbey.

And the promise that this too shall pass.

on recent events

There was a time when I could hear a news report on a tragedy and feel sadness, but soon forget.  Hear soundbites and shake my head and move on.  But Friday’s tragedy is different.  I don’t know if it’s because I have kids of my own now, or more specifically that I drop one off at pre-school , and his little face does not look entirely different from the little faces I see plastered across news reports.  I can’t shake it.  I feel physically ill hearing about it and reading about it and thinking about it.  But I can’t stop thinking about it.

I’m beginning to think parenting is both the scariest thing one could ever do and the most important thing one can ever do.  I was once naive enough to think that good parents could bring about a perfect world, but I know that there is far more to it than that.  I hurt so much for the parents who have empty beds in their homes and clothes to clean out and are undoubtedly feeling a pain none of us can pretend to understand.  But I look at the same blurry photo of the gunman that is plastered all over news reports, and I feel another pain entirely.  I hear people calling him a monster, and I get it.  I really do.  But this has happened too many times in recent history for us to always point fingers and blame someone else.

He wasn’t loved enough.  He played too many video games.  His parents never taught him right from wrong.  Blah blah blah.  If we think for a moment that the issue stops there, we are fooling ourselves.

There are so few options between expensive outpatient therapy and prison.  So few, in fact, that these occurrences will increase until they are commonplace if we don’t figure something out.    Was Adam Lanza’s mother a perfect parent?  Probably not, but most of us aren’t either.  I don’t know the nuances and details that made up their daily lives, but I know that many parents of mentally ill adolescents – even the very best ones – feel out of options and fed up with the system we have now.  Our mental health system is just as broken as the rest of our healthcare, and we are all going to suffer for it.

And I rarely get political in this space, but how many more of these incidences do we have to see before we understand that the carelessness with which we handle guns is quite literally killing us.  I know the second amendment protects our rights in this area, but our founding fathers could not predict for a second the “arms” we insist on bearing today and the ease with which they can move from state to state and person to person.  Why does anyone need a semi-automatic?  I am posing a serious question here.  Give me one solid reason someone needs a weapon of that kind.  I get hunting.  I get sport and hobby.  I do.  But what purpose do these assault rifles serve?

I read this great essay recently and found out that the gun murder rate in the U.S. is TWENTY times that of the next 22 richest and most populated countries COMBINED.  And this editorial explains that children in America are THIRTEEN times more likely to die from gun violence than children in other industrialized nations. And Australia made simple changes like banning rapid-fire long guns and requiring safe storage of remaining guns and their mass shooting problem literally disappeared.  The citizens still have the freedom to own guns and use them for sport, and one simple change had this effect.  Canada, for instance, requires a 28-day waiting period to purchase a handgun, and you have to have two people vouch for you when you buy it.  Maybe I am some crazy liberal who doesn’t respect personal freedom, but does a four-week waiting period and two signatures really strip us of those second amendment rights?  I don’t think so.

I’m not even sure where I am going with all of this except to try and write my way to understanding this problem like so many others are doing now.  I know there is no simple answer and the questions just keep coming.  But I also know we have a responsibility to our kids to figure this out.  It’s not a school issue; it’s a societal one that is emerging in parking lots and malls and theaters and everywhere else.  It’s time we stop shaking our heads and DO something to fix it.

In the meantime, like every other parent watching the news, I’ll be hugging my own a little tighter and feeling gratitude for my undeserved grace.  There but for the grace of God go I.

family. and some ramblings on perfectionism.

We got our family photos back a couple of weeks ago, and in my absence, I forgot to post them here. We worked with Andrew Thomas Lee again as we did last year and the year before that.  Like I’ve said before, if you are in Atlanta and looking for a great family photographer, he’s perfect.

I thought for sure there’d be no way he could capture all four of us together without a blurry toddler or a crying baby or some sort of mishap, but he did.




Norah was three weeks old when we did the session.  She’s already grown so much that I feel nostalgic looking at these tiny newborn features from the beginning of the summer.






And Jude lit up the camera again and gave us lots of personality.




It’s funny looking at professional photos of your own family and knowing the nuances behind them.   This summer has been great, and Norah is the “easiest” baby I could ask for.  I love the cuddly baby stage, and I could have a dozen babies if they were eternal newborns.  I love it.

But toddlerhood?  Oh my.  I’m so exhausted at the end of the day lately that I cannot even begin to describe it for you.  He’s wearing.  me.  out.

Just yesterday, I tweeted this.

for blog 2

And today it was followed by this.

for blog

And really there are a million more where that comes from.  It’s all happening at once lately, and it’s not letting up.  He’s fighting bedtime which he has never done before.  He’s completely regressed on potty training to the point that I feel like I shouldn’t even have started months ago, and it was all wasted effort.  He’s given up naps.  He never stops running and he has to be busy at all hours of the day.  My only saving graces are that he’s sweet as pie to little sister and never aggressive at all with her and that the new no-nap situation brings a 7:00 bedtime without the fighting we’d had recently on napping days.  But still.  Toddlerhood is no joke.

And I’d like to be that mom who prepares three gourmet, organic meals with my children each day and doesn’t allow television in our home and photographs my toddler playing independently all day with a handcrafted wooden toy.  Because I feel like I see that everywhere I turn, and if they can do it, then why can’t I?  The internet is an inspiring place in ways, but sometimes it just leaves you feeling like shit, if I’m being honest.

I used to read Dooce years ago before I had kids, and then I stopped reading when I had Jude because I felt I just couldn’t relate to her in any way.  I felt like she was too whiny and sarcastic about the miracle of motherhood, and I didn’t have a desire to read any longer.  But now I’ve grown tired of my usual online reads with perfectly dressed children and moms who wear lipstick everyday and always do crafts with their kids.  Because I am probably at home with my toddler in his underwear eating boxed macaroni and cheese as they are somehow finding time to make things perfect.  I just don’t get it sometimes, how people have time to do it all.

I don’t want to rush things, but in ways, I really look forward to the time when I don’t have to come in contact with my kids’ poop – or even know anything about it.  When I don’t have to dress them.  When I don’t have to wrangle them through parking lots and into car seats.  When I don’t have to bathe them and brush their teeth and perform elaborate bedtime rituals to bring sleep.  I’m pretty sure this post just became a rambling mess that went in a different direction than I intended.  I am not complaining about my life.  I have lots of things I am eternally grateful for.

I just need to remember that “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  (Thanks, Teddy Roosevelt.)  And there might be mothers whose homes look like a glossy magazine and whose toddlers never have tantrums. But I am not one of those moms at this moment in my life, and that’s okay.

The grass is always greener, I think.  And we always romanticize things- especially when looking at a photograph or reminiscing and daydreaming about another time.  I’m doing it now as I look years ahead to when my kids develop a little independence, and I’ll do it then as I look years back and remember these chubby feet and charming mispronunciations and tiny grins.


They are beautiful little people who offer such sweet moments when you get past all the work and exhaustion.  Perfection is an unattainable quest.

the year(s) of the mom

Last Friday night, I went to a Lia Sophia jewelry party, and I walked in all ho-hum about buying jewelry.  Whatever, I have some I don’t even wear at home.  But then I called my husband on the way home and told him that he should buy himself something nice for our anniversary because I spent almost a hundred dollars.  For real.

I think it came at just the right time for me because I am still carrying that twelve-ish pounds from pregnancy, you know that last little bit that is just enough to keep you from fitting in your old jeans.  My house is perpetually dirty as I have lamented here before, and I am generally just in that “blah” postpartum stage when you feel less than pretty.  So I’m pretending for a while that a few new necklaces will totally transform me or something.  At the party, I sat next to a woman with a 16-month-old little boy at home, and she said, “You know, I feel like I’m coming out of the year of the mom.  I went like a whole year without wearing coordinating outfits or jewelry or lipstick or whatever.  I’m a litle over it.”  I thought that was a great way to explain it – that feeling of always belonging to someone else and not having a lot of time for yourself.  The year of the mom.  I’m in the thick of it.  I love baby cuddles, but in my opinion, from month one to about month twelve or so, you really have to focus on that little one, and it’s hard to feel separate, if that makes sense.

So I’m declaring the themes for this month to be revitalization and balance for me.  The husband has been traveling a lot lately, and I’m thinking of instituting a mandatory solitude hour every Sunday afternoon because this week I really almost lost my shit, as people like to say.  I want to drive to a coffee shop and spend $3 on something to drink and just sit there.  Without anyone touching me.  Maybe I’ll even be really crazy and bring along a new knitting project for all that yarn collecting dust on my craft shelf.

August always leaves me itching for change anyhow.  It’s been hot for far too long in Georgia.  I’m watching the mailbox for the first fall catalogue and ready to move on to something new.  Apparently Jude is too because his little preschool backpack came in the mail this week, and he is wearing it all over the house.  It’s adorable and funny and it’s holding a few random things.  He’ll decide to pack up with a sippy cup, a rubber snake, a handful of legoes, and a snack before he makes the long trek from the dining room to the living room or something.



He starts his two mornings a week preschool program in mid-August, and I was feeling a little weepy, but he’s driven me insane this week, so I guess it’ll be okay and to be honest, very good for us.  If I can nurse a baby without having to worry about where in the house there might be a puddle of pee, that is progress.  Sigh, toddlers.  Good thing they are super cute.



I’m thinking we’re headed out for breakfast tomorrow morning at my favorite spot and then scouring some thrift stores for a small bookshelf. Happy weekend!

real life

I have two kids.  And some days that feels like a lot, but then again I consider the women who have 4 or 6 or 8 or whatever. And I wonder what is wrong with me because I have not mopped my kitchen floor since Norah was born almost 6 weeks ago.  How do these superwomen do it?  And really even the mom with two little ones and a coordinated outfit and a reasonably clean house is seeming pretty impressive to me right now.

On the whole, I don’t feel as chaotic or overwhelmed as I expected to, but my house is SO MESSY now.  I need to stop saying messy and just qualify it as dirty since that is where we are these days.  I’m developing sensory issues from the crumb situation, and two hungry dogs can’t keep up with it.  The actual temperature in Atlanta is supposed to reach 102 in the next few days, and even a native southerner can’t do that.  So inside the dirty house we will be, making it even dirtier most likely.  But “don’t make a mess” is such an abstract statement to a 2 year old, I’m realizing.

And I was thinking last night about how there is an entire year chronicled on this blog when I completed craft projects every single month.  Like real stuff I actually made with my two free hands and time I actually had.  And that, friends, is an abstract concept for me right now.

I know these months and years are precious.  I know I will miss them one day.  90% of the time, I love it even now.  But I don’t remember the last time I wore lipstick or had clean floors and an empty laundry basket.  This boring, pictureless post just needed to get out there.  Like if I say it aloud, it is somehow better.

moving right along

It’s like as soon as I posted my last entry, the new normal began to set in.  Reassuring rhythms, familiar routines.  Just a little something different thrown in the mix.


I’m thankful for our neighborhood playground and a backyard. It allows us to feel like we are going somewhere without the effort of packing up 2 kids for an adventure when I’m still new at this.



I worry about Jude getting enough exercise and stimulation but I’m also aware that it’s not so easy to just throw an extra diaper in the car and take off anymore. Little trips here or there or a smoothie on the back porch seem to be satisfying him lately. It doesn’t take much to soothe a 2 year old boy’s urge for exploration. A little outside time in the mornings or afternoons, and we are good. That and puttering around the house with his toys.


I’m grateful he is pretty good at entertaining himself.

Norah is growing and eating a lot. Every two or three hours around the clock actually. And as much as I’d love a simple five-hour block, I’m also growing a little attached to nighttime as our time together. Both boys still snoring away and she and I rocking or feeding. It’s pretty much the only time we have alone together it seems.


Such a stark contrast to that first baby when you have miles of time together alone and maybe start to go a little crazy because of it. So many things are different the second time around.

As you can tell, my cell phone is functioning as my camera these days. I need to fix that problem, but I’ve only got so many hands and brain cells to remember to grab a real camera every now and then. I’m so thankful for the ways modern technology helps me to journal and share all of this – my phone camera, Facebook and Twitter, this blog. It’s not making time slow down at all, but at least I can look back and remember things.

Life is crazy these days and sometimes chaotic. But I already couldn’t imagine it any other way.

week one

Norah turned one week last night, and we celebrated with some extra cuddles. I love the way newborns just mold right to your own shape.


Postpartum has been unbelievably easier this time than last. I feel reasonably great excepting a little soreness and a couple tiny stitches. Breastfeeding is working out beautifully, and I’m having none of the issues I had before. The combination of experience as a mother and such a beautiful natural birth is leaving me feeling pretty confident as well. Such a stark contrast from last go around.

Having two kids at home brings the occasional challenge no doubt. Just last night, the baby woke up Jude, and it was two full hours before he could settle back down for sleep. It made for a rough, sleepy morning. But seeing the two of them together already makes my heart swell.



I’ve learned that I can drive myself crazy with Carpe Diem thoughts, especially in this role of motherhood with so much growth and change happening every moment. It’s impossible not to go there with a newborn though. These moments are so sweet and so fleeting.