Getting Crafty


I am not a crafting kind of mom. But of course I have two little boys who LOVE to do crafts.

This usually means when they ask if they can do crafts, I get out paper and crayons. The end. They can do their crafts at school/daycare.

Sometimes I let Eddie “do crafts” during his little brother and sister’s nap time. That means stuff is everywhere and I get hives. There is no rhyme or reason, just scraps of supplies everywhere.


When I heard about Avery & Austin I thought it was the perfect idea! You get a box delivered to your house with everything in it for a “perfect play date:” a couple crafts (with everything you need right down to glue!), a healthy snack for two, and a cute hostess gift.

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The November box had a photo theme. Each boy got to assemble a wooden model camera and then paint it (wooden model kit even includes sandpaper! and Avery & Austin supplied wood glue and acrylic paint AND brushes).

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Then there were cardboard frames to decorate with stick on leaves. They even came with magnets so you can frame pictures on the fridge when you are done.

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There were little speaking bubbles to write on too with a wood dowel–a prop for all the fun pictures that would be taken. Charlie asked me to write “help” on his. It was appropriate.

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OMG my hair. This is what “pj day” looks like in Sluiter Nation.

I mentioned a healthy snack. Eddie wasn’t a fan, but Charlie–my uber-picky eater–devoured his bag and most of his brother’s bag. WIN!

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I have to say, I had some reservations. Even pre-planned crafts scared me a little, but it took up a huge chunk of our morning, created almost no mess (that’s right, even with paint!) and the boys loved it! They were so excited to put together a planned craft rather than have me just shove crayons and paper at them.

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We had fun! And I can’t wait until the December box! It will be perfect for a day over Christmas break!


Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I am an ambassador for Avery & Austin, but I do not have to create blog posts. I just did because A) I am trying to post every day in November and B) We really had a great time with the crafts. I was truly impressed.

five sleeping babies

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Saturday Charlie came into our room while I was in there, and wandered over to my bedside table and this conversation happened:

Charlie: Mom Mom? What is in that circle box?

Me: Two little hearts.

Charlie: Why, Mom Mom?

Me: Because they are for two babies.

Charlie: What two babies?

Me: Two babies that were in my tummy, but died.

Charlie: What were theirs names?

Me: They didn’t have names. They died before we knew if they were boys or girls. They were very tiny in my tummy when they died.

Charlie: Well….they are somewhere.

Me: Yup. They are. Maybe in heaven with Papa?

Charlie: Yeah. Mom, Mom? Why do you have three pictures of Alice?

Me: Those are not all Alice. That one is. But that one right there is Eddie, and that one there is you.

Charlie: We are alls sleepin’.

Me: Yup. All five babies. Sleeping.

Charlie: I like babies, Mom Mom.

Me: Yup. Me too.


Sometimes the most important conversations happen when you least expect them to. Cortney and I have always made it a policy to always answer our children’s questions in the most age-appropriate, honest way possible. When we brought up this conversation with Eddie, he first reacted in a way that was almost a little funny to me.


He is a little dramatic.

But when I explained to him that he was the first to be born, and that he is a miracle, and that once he was born, we knew what we had to do to have healthy babies–his brother and sister–he was happy again.

Being oldest is important to him.

As it should be.

better together…or not so much?

After my 20-week ultrasound with Charlie, and after we had texted all the family and friends, I asked Cortney if he was excited to have another boy. Both of us were actually quite giddy about another little boy. Eddie would have a BROTHER! They would be BROTHERS!


I have never had a same-sex sibling, but from what I could tell, it was both a blessing and a curse…but mostly a blessing. I was always a little jealous of my two brothers. Even though Chris and I were closer in age, he and our youngest brother, Mike were closer. I guess there are just things that you can’t talk about with your big sister, but that a brother understands. You know, like sports.

Cortney, though, had a brother. There are almost seven years between them, but the have a special bond. Now that they are adults, they get together regularly. They bond over a beer and discuss everything from sports to their dad to having daughters.

Brothers are special. It’s just a special relationship. That is why when were told Eddie was getting a brother, a Charlie Bird, we rejoiced for our family.


I had to write all that because now that they are three-and-a-half and six? I am not always so sure about the wonder of the brotherly bond.

Friends, the level of bickering goes to eleven with these two.

It usually starts with both of them doing their own thing. Maybe Eddie is playing the tablet while Charlie catches up on his DVR-ed Mickey episodes. Everything is peaceful in Sluiter Nation. And then someone (ahem, Charlie) feels the need to sit too close to Eddie. Or maybe someone (ahem, Eddie) randomly mentions that he had a piece of candy after school. AND THEN ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE.

Eddie freaks out on Charlie or Charlie freaks out on all of us.

And they BOTH need the last word.

I admit that I yell. I know, I KNOW. I’ve read all those stupid articles and posts about yelling at your kids and how you need to be all patient and down on their level.


This goes on and on for days and days.

The picking the bickering the not being able to be in the same dang room without driving Cortney and me to the Loony Bin.

And then Eddie will come home from school with a library book he picked out because Charlie would like it.

Or Charlie asks Eddie if he would like some of his m&ms.

Or Eddie asks Charlie if he would like to learn to play Where’s My Water on his tablet, and they scrunch together in the chair on a Saturday morning.

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Or Charlie asks Eddie if he can play Pokemon with him and Eddie says Yes.

Or Eddie asks Charlie what letters he learned at daycare and tells him “Good job!” when Charlie shares his letter work.

Or Cortney and I wake up at 6am on a Saturday because we hear the two of them giggling and talking with each other in their room because they know they can’t get up until 7:00am.

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I catch myself in those moments pausing and trying to picture them in high school together or in their 20’s and talking smack to each other about fantasy leagues. I try to picture them standing up in each other’s weddings or holding each other’s newborn babies. I like to think they will always stick up for each other, always be there when the other needs a buddy to just have a beer with.

And just as a tear is starting to come to my sentimental mom eye, I’ll hear a smack and then the yell of “CHAAAAAARRRRLLLIIIIEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!” Then a three-and-a-half-year-old scream and another thump.

I will suck in my breath, shake my head, and try to calm down so I don’t yell. Again.

Brothers, man.

Get Down, Get Down

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Well, we did it again. We got another Kidz Bop CD. I can hardly believe there are already THIRTY Kidz Bop albums! I can remember when it first started. I was just out of college and I remember seeing the commercials with songs from Brittney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Enrique Iglesias. I especially remember those kids crooning “Bailamos!” Oh my word. I thought it was so goofy!

And now here we are, 15 years later, and I have my own kids and six of the Kidz Bop albums including a Christmas favorites album. I still think it’s goofy, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to listening to three songs the other day with NO KIDS IN THE CAR.

As usual, the boys have their favorites on this one. Eddie loves “Worth It” (Fifth Harmony) and Charlie likes “Cheerleader” (OMI). I thought for SURE we would be stuck listening to “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” (Silento), but they really aren’t impressed with that one.

And I should mention that even though neither boy knows who Taylor Swift is, thanks to Kidz Bop they love all her songs. “Bad Blood” is on this album and while I’m not generally a Swifty fan, it’s pretty fun to belt out “HEY NOW WE GOT PROBLEMS! AND I DON’T THINK WE CAN SOLVE THEM!” with two little boys while cruising down the street in my mom-mobile.

Yeah, I never saw this coming either. Looking back, I’m not sure how this happened, but it makes me smile.

I will say, though, that we have gotten to the point where I almost need all the songs on one big MP3 Disc because Charlie will yell “PLAY THE I DON’T CARE SONG!” and then Eddie is all, “PLAY HOT PANTS!” and then Charlie is like “PLAY GRANDMA’S COAT!” but Eddie is like, “I WANT WORTH IT!” Yeah, none of those are on the same album.

(sidebar: the I Don’t Care song is really “I Love It” by Icona Pop, Hot Pants is actually “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars, Grandma’s Coat is “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and Worth It is still “Worth It by Fifth Harmony.)

So yes, we rock on to kid-friendly versions of pop songs of already questionable value.

What of it?


Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post. Kidz Bop did send us the album, but not our opinions. Those, regrettably, are our own.


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Oh. Hi. It’s November.

That means it’s National Blog Post Month (you know, for those of us who don’t have the stones to do National Novel Writing Month). This is where I attempt to post every single day in November.

What could go wrong with that plan, right? I mean, this week is only the end of the first marking period at school. Next week is only  parent/teacher conferences for both my school AND Eddie’s. We only have Thanksgiving coming up plus my starting a new marking period with my students. We only have three birthday parties and two babies due in November in our family. NO BIG DEAL. It’s the PERFECT time to try to write something post-able every. single. day.

[I’m crazy]

Anyway, this first post is an easy one. It’s about last night. Halloween.

I sort of hate Halloween. It stresses me out and makes me cranky.

I know, I know…I’m such a scrooge. Such a Debbie Downer.

That doesn’t mean we don’t do the Halloween “stuff”. Everyone was in a costume (everyone = all three kids) and we had pumpkins that we actually carved. We didn’t do the pumpkin patch because it was on the list of things ain’t nobody got time for, but Cortney grabbed three great ones on his lunch break Thursday, and we carved them up Friday night.

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Saturday the kids dressed up in the costumes. Alice was not all that excited to have whiskers drawn on, but she got over it. Charlie was almost too excited to have a mustache drawn on.

We went to first to Cortney’s mom and step-dad’s house. That is always fun because Granny knows how to rock Halloween. Not only does she have goodie bags for the kids, she also always has cookies and other snacks out…as well as a beer/wine for the parents.

Plus the cousins are there too, so cute goes into overload.

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I know. Alice appears to be questioning all her life choices up to this point. She was so unsure of all that was going on. But she and her cousin, Alia, were adorable as Raggedy Ann and Minnie Mouse.

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If we could have just stopped here, I would have been totally cool with Halloween. Seriously.. Maybe next year we should just go here and have the kids trick or treat their neighborhood because there were snacks and wine for adults.

But we went over to my parents house next because Halloween is totally a grandparents dream…seeing their cutie grandkids in costume, spoiling them rotten with too much candy, and then sending them on their way.

By the time we got home, it was rainy and wet and way past dinner time. But the boys wanted to go door-to-door. So Cortney took Alice in to feed her and get our dinner ready, and I took the boys to a few houses.

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Since it was raining and I was cranky, I dropped the boys at the first house, rolled the windows down in my car, and yelled “run to the next house!” while I slowly drove along. We did this for about 8 houses. Then I pulled their damp little bodies into the car, drove around the block to our street, and dropped them to go to the house next door to us. Then they sprinted home to ring our doorbell.

As much as I was over it, I couldn’t help smile at the fact that Charlie looked just like Mario running and jumping through yards.

Until we got home and I pulled shoes off and found dog poop on Eddie’s skeleton foot. Ew.

But then we ate chili and cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate and all went to bed.

Oh, and rolled the clocks back. That was good times too.

Happy November. Happy NaBloPoMo. Let’s see if I can keep up.

The Willful Child

IMG_6655Last week, my eighth graders had the word “willful” on their vocabulary list. When we first go through the list as a class, students create circle maps to help them define each word. In those maps they put synonyms and examples that help them each remember what the vocabulary word means using a personal connection. If I had been making my own map for the word “willful”, I would have written Charlie’s name in it.

Charlie could not be more different than Eddie was at this age. I feel like I say that all the time, but it surprises me every single day.  Eddie has his issues, but by and large he is a rule-follower, a people-pleaser. He is honest to a fault–the boy will even tell me he was thinking of something bad. And he stinks at lying. His disobedience is either being mad about having to do something he doesn’t want to do or getting to wrapped up in what others are doing that he doesn’t realize he is being “naughty”.

My Charlie is different. He knows the rules, but feels that they only apply when he wants them to. For instance, we require pants to be worn at the dinner table. I don’t really feel like this is a major request, yet Charlie and I had a full blown stand off about wearing pants last week.


I was getting the boys’ dinner ready one Thursday night while Cortney was bowling. Charlie was using the bathroom, and came out in nothing but his underwear.

Me: Charlie, where are your clothes?

Charlie: In da baf-room.

Me: Why?

Charlie: I peed.

Me: Ok, Costanza. Go get your pants and put them on. Your dinner is about ready.

Charlie: NO. I not wear my pants!

Me: If you are going to eat dinner, you are going to wear pants.

Charlie: NO! NEVER! (actually it sounds more like “nevah!”)

Me: Fine. Then you can stand there until you put pants on.

Charlie: (turns his head away and puts his nose in the air and makes a little hmm! noise)

I put the food on the table and Eddie and I eat while Alice gums a cracker.

Charlie: (in a tiny, sweet, innocent voice) Mom mom? I am so hungry. So very hungry, mom mom.

Me: I bet you are.

Charlie: (nods with big eyes)

Me: Put on your pants and you can eat.

Charlie: NO! NEVAH! EVAH! NEVAH!!!!!!!!

He stands there with his arms crossed while we eat. Out of the corner of my eye I see him slide his pants toward him. Then he slowly pulls them on. After standing there with pants for a minute, he slowly slides into his spot at the table, eats his food, and we seem to forget the stand off while we all eat and chat.

about 15 minutes later…

Charlie: Can I be done, mom mom? I am full!

Me: Yup. Go wash your face and hands.

That stinker came running out with NO PANTS ON.


When it’s not funny, it’s downright maddening.

I have very few bouts of rage due to anxiety anymore, but when I do it’s usually triggered by Charlie. He is the most stubborn, strong-willed, headstrong person I know. He will do nothing on anyone else’s terms but his own.

In my 12 years of being with Cortney and 20+ years knowing him, I have never seen him yell or get super mad…until we had Charlie. Charlie doesn’t just say, “no” (although he DOES do that a LOT), he stares you in the eye and defies you.

He will tell you he is not doing something AS he does it. In front of your SEEING EYES.

And he is NOT afraid to throw down in front of all of the public in the land. Won’t let him ride in the cart because it is full of groceries? Not good enough, mom. Now the entire store shall know my displeasure in the form of screaming fits and thrown objects.



This boy is the biggest love bug you will ever meet. He is just as stubborn about his love and his cuddles as he is about not wearing pants. Eddie can want nothing to do with him, and he will adamantly insist on hugs. I will be in the middle of feeding Alice and he will bulldoze his way into my arms.

When he is mid-fit, the only way to calm him is to sit down next to him and just be close. No words. Just be at his level with him.

He refuses to trust anyone with his little sister when Cortney and I aren’t around without diligent supervision and constant check-ins. His daycare mom–who I was pretty sure he loved more than he loved me for a chunk of his life–is not immune to this. He stops whatever he is doing randomly throughout the day to make sure Alice is “ok”.


His bullheadedness drives me MAD. Literally. I go a bit nuts when he can’t do one simple task without a full on, epic fit. I get angry when, even though we do the exact same damn routine every day, he acts surprised by it and refuses to move forward until HE is ready.

I have always been against using spanking or hitting or other corporal punishment with my children, but he is the one who makes me question my stance.

And yet…he is so sweet, so wiling to give up the spotlight for his brother or sister or really anyone who will take it off of him because he hates it. He shares so easily. He loves so hard.


This horrible willfulness we are going through at age three-and-a-half will serve him so very well when he is an adult. I hope he never loses the will to stick to his guns.  Even if it’s going to drive me to crazy and back parenting him.

Once again, all photos by TMV Photography

Verbal Abuse





These tirades get hurled at me every day–more than once. I joked with someone recently that if anyone else in my life said such hurtful things to me so consistently, my friends and family would be begging me to leave that relationship. And they would be right. Anyone who consistently slams you with insults is verbally abusive.

But I’m not going to leave this relationship because it is with my sons.

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Whoever said, Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me, is a damn idiot. I know this because every time Eddie doesn’t get his way lately, he tells me he doesn’t like me. Even though I know it’s a typical 6-year old reaction, it still hurts.

Eddie and I had a very rough start; the first year of his life was hard on both of us, as I have written about many times. His birth was traumatic for both of us, his colic was traumatic for both of us, and my postpartum depression was traumatic for everyone. There are large chunks of that first year, that I have no memory of his babyhood. In fact, as I watch Alice learn and grow, I can remember Charlie doing the same things, but I can’t remember Eddie’s phases. Cortney has to remind me, and even then, without looking at photos, I don’t remember.

I spent more than a year thinking I was not supposed to be a mother. My body rejected pregnancies, it wasn’t the right shape to give birth, and my brain was chemically imbalanced. Everything about my physical being rejected motherhood. I needed medical intervention to stay pregnant, have my babies, and keep my brain from destroying myself. It was only after years of talk therapy coupled with medication did I begin to heal.

Through it all, Eddie loved me anyway.

He had no idea what was happening to me on the inside. He didn’t know that my brain was struggling to match my heart. He didn’t know that his needing my cuddles at night were healing me, and therefore healing a relationship he didn’t even know what broken–the one between mother and son.

When Charlie came along, I was well into a routine with my meds and my therapy. I knew that PPD was probably going to happen, and I was prepared. From the first night alone in the hospital with him, my relationship with Charlie was different, more whole. I tucked him up under my chin and that is where he stayed for his first year of life–never far from my arms.

Eddie still comes to me when he needs to talk. He opens up to me, even when he sort of doesn’t want to–like when he has gotten in trouble at school. Charlie still comes to me when he just needs to be held–when he needs touch.

But they have both started flinging hurtful words at me (and Cortney) as well.

It started with Eddie. When he didn’t get his way, he would tell us he didn’t like us, or that it was the “worst day” of his life.  Now it’s almost predictable.

Eddie, please put the tablet away; it’s time for bed.
Ugg. I don’t like you, mom. 

It’s become his knee-jerk reaction for anything he does not want to do.

We have talked about how these are hurtful things to say, but he has entered a very egocentric phase and cannot understand that someone else’s hurt feelings matter. Eddie, my always kind, always thoughtful boy, now claims to not care about anyone else–especially me, his dad, and his brother (because he doesn’t always do what Eddie commands).

My rule-follower suddenly sneaks things behind my back and then blames me when he gets caught. He does or says something hurtful and claims it is my fault he lost a privilege. No matter how many times we explain that he “acts his way out of” a privilege like screen time or an extra book before bed, he claims we are the worst.

It’s getting harder and harder to respond in a positive, loving, affirming manner to these outbursts. I have caught myself saying, “great because I don’t like you right now either” and “whatever. I don’t even care.” Not only do I know this sends the wrong message, but Charlie has been picking up on all of it too.

Charlie’s mouth is even more venomous than his brother’s because he has no idea the impact of his words. He knows it’s “naughty” to talk like that, so when he is angry or frustrated, that is how he lashes out: with hurtful words. He repeats what he hears, so we get a lot of “I don’t like you, mom. You are not my mom.” Or “I don’t even care about you, mom.” While I know he has no idea what he is even saying, it stings–especially because his tone is much, MUCH nastier than Eddie’s for some reason.

Last week Thursday I hit a wall. It had been a particularly challenging day in the land of teaching middle school, and I went to pick Eddie up from the after school program. He is normally not too excited to have to leave the fun he is having, but Thursday was awful. He was rude and snotty and just an all around jerk to me both in front of the teachers that run the program, and in the hall when we were alone. His words ripped at me so badly, I almost started to cry.

I don’t know if it’s a phase or if Cortney and I are somehow failing to teach our boys kindness, but I need it to stop. They are not like this with anyone else–in fact we get compliments about how kind and engaging they are with other children and adults.

It’s just Cortney and me that are on the receiving end of all the verbal abuse.

How can we teach the boys that they are slowly killing our hearts with their words?

Three is Hard, Yo.

Dear Charlie Bird,

Part of me doesn’t want to record this time in your life. I want to let it go by the way side so maybe we can both forget it. But that wouldn’t be fair because it’s part of who you are and who we are right now. So let me tell you a story.

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Tuesday night we were watching Curious George before bed as usual. Daddy was in the chair with Alice, I was reading my book at one end of the couch, Eddie was in the middle with the tablet, and you were on the other end. Everything was totally fine.

Then you decided to sit on the arm rest.

It is a well-known rule that we don’t sit on the arm rests of furniture. For one, you fell off from it just an hour before and landed in your sister’s rock n play with her in it. There was much crying.

Anyway, I said, “Charlie. Please sit on your buns the correct way on the couch cushion.” You looked over Eddie at me and stuck your tongue out.

Daddy said, “Charlie. Sit. Now.”

You spit.

Daddy started to count. You did not comply.

We were all tired. We just wanted you to listen just this once. But no. You did not want to. I had been going through this with you all day, although throughout the day, your clip drops on the behavior chart when you make a poor choice. I don’t know why we were giving you eleventy billion chances in that moment.

Yes I do. We were all tired.

I had been doing it for ten hours. Daddy was soothing Alice and had been at work all day. We were so done. We didn’t handle it well. I didn’t handle it well.

I threw my book on the floor. Marched over to the Behavior Chart and put you in the red. Then I stormed over to you, picked you up off the arm of the chair, and threw you onto the couch so you would land on your butt. I yelled.

I know this is not the way to parent. I especially know this is not how to parent you. You will not cower and crumble and obey out of fear (not that I want to parent that way anyway. It’s awful just typing it). You will lose your mind.  And you did.

You screamed. You threw things. You spit.

Dad got mad. He set Alice down, grabbed you, and put you in your bed.

When I got downstairs to put you boys to bed, you had thrown everything out of your bed. The rule is, if you throw it out, you don’t get it back. So you screamed while I read books to Eddie. You cried when I turned out the light.

Eddie got concerned that you would cry so hard, you would barf. You didn’t.

You spit and tore things off the walls because you had run out of things to throw.

I ignored you.

You continued to freak out.

I gave you your pacifier and your pillow.

You threw them back at me.

I left.

Daddy came down and talked you down. He gave you your pacifier and your small pillow. You were fine. So I came back down to lay by Eddie for a bit.

You freaked out again. You were so mad at me.

So I gave up.

Daddy came down instead.

I went up and cried.

This is not an isolated event, my dear Charlie.

You have one of the worst tempers I have ever seen. Most times, I don’t freak out on you.  Most of the time I can muster the patience to talk calmly to you and administer your consequence with a soft voice. Most of the time. Tuesday I was weary of mothering. I just wanted you to listen and obey the first time. For once. I didn’t want to have to count to ten and put on a calm face.

Three is just hard. It is. I have to remind myself of this over and over.

And it’s not just hard on me and daddy. It’s hard on you.

Three is a big age. You aren’t a baby anymore, but you are clinging fiercely to baby things (like diapers and your pacifier). But you want to be BIG and STRONG too.

You have BIG feelings, but no words to describe them.

You are trying new things and wanting to do things on your own, but getting so so frustrated when you can’t do it easily like your older brother.

And on top of all that, you lost your place as the baby of the family four months ago. You are trying to figure out your place and your voice in all this, and, well, it’s just down-right frustrating and stupid sometimes.

We went through a lot of this with Eddie when he was three. He also had a new baby (you!) to deal with. His temper wasn’t as short and he acted out in different ways, but still it’s all about three just being dumb and hard.

I’m sorry, buddy. I’m sorry I lose patience with you. I’m sorry three is so hard sometimes.

But it has it’s good stuff too. I hope you remember the good more than the difficult.

Like how I was there during the thunderstorm on Monday morning and you said, “Mom mom? I am going to sit right here so you can keep me safe.”

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I love you so much, Charlie.

So much.

Love, Mom mom


Little Sister

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I can’t set Alice down without this happening. Her brothers swarm.

I expected it from Eddie. From the minute we told him I was pregnant, he has been wishing and praying for a sister. His reasoning? “I already have a brother and I do NOT want another one.” Ok then.

Eddie has been every bit of the best big brother I expected him to be. When Charlie was born, Eddie was two and a half. He doted on Charlie even at that young age. He loves babies. He is gentle and kind and soothing.

He offers to hold Alice and sing to her and feed her.

He tells her she is pretty and asks her what is wrong if she fusses.

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Eddie will always be her rock.

She will come to him with her heartbreaks and her victories. He will be her shoulder, her support system. He will teach her that she is worth more than all the gold in the world. He will stand behind her in all her choices. He will argue for her when she gets in trouble. He will probably do her chores so she can do something else.

She might take advantage of his heart, but I hope not.

I expected Eddie to be attentive and love on her.

I did not know what to expect from Charlie, but since he showed little interest in any other baby in the entire world, I thought maybe he would ignore her at best, show jealous rages at worst.

But you know what happens when you think you know your kid?

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He surprises you in the most wonderful way.

Charlie is completely taken by “Baby Alice” or “Allie Beans” or “Baby Alice Beans”. He loves her fiercely.

He is protective, caring, and borderline violent about her happiness. The first day she was home, I was feeding her and he put his hand to his ear and said, “what’s that noise?  That ::makes a kissing noise:: sound?” And I said, “That’s Baby Alice. She’s sucking on her bottle.”

From that moment his ears have been set to her. One peep and he is by her side. If he can’t get to her side, he will very loudly announce that SOMEONE needs to get there. “BABY ALICE BEANS IS CRYING! MOM MOM! DAD DAD!”


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If Eddie is her rock, Charlie will be her guardian.

Woe to the boy that does wrong by Alice. Charlie acts first, thinks later–which means anyone who hurts his sister? Well his ass will be grass.

As Sonny was for Connie, Charlie will be for Alice. Let’s just hope it ends better for Charlie. Luckily there are no toll roads in Michigan. (please tell me you get this reference. PLEASE or we cannot be friends.)

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(I have no idea what is going on in this picture, but I do know it was probably ridiculous. I’m guessing the smell of poop was involved).

Eddie makes her coo.

Charlie makes her laugh.

Eddie calms her.

Charlie delights her.

I could be totally wrong about how their relationships turn out. Maybe Alice’s personality will clash with one or both of her brothers.

I hope not.

I hope this love is something she is already internalizing.

If her smiles and coos and finger-holding are any indication, these three are going to be quite the unstoppable sibling team. I can’t wait to watch them grow up together.

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The Magic of Three

Dear Charlie,

Today you are THREE!

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I know things have been a little crazy and your birthday has been sort of part of a whole whirlwind of “events” around these parts, but I wanted to make sure you know how special your day is to me. We maybe be focusing a lot on Alice right now and on mommy resting and getting better, but you have been on my heart a lot.

In fact, while recovering in the hospital, my thoughts turned to you often.

I thought of our hospital stay three years ago. Your soft little head that fit so perfectly in the neck space under my chin. Our late evening chats after daddy had gone home to Eddie. The way you were immediately my little Charlie Bird.

You are now “The Middle Child,” but you are still my littlest boy. And your role in this family is very important. Not only did you make Eddie a brother, but you made daddy and I parents of kids, plural.  You taught us that our hearts don’t just make room for more love, but they actually GROW with love.

face charlie

As a baby, you were our quiet, serious observant boy. You especially watched Eddie’s crazy shenanigans closely and skeptically.  Eventually, he would be the first to make you do the belly laugh you are now famous for.  You gave Eddie the brother he didn’t know he needed and you even out his bossy, follow-the-rules, cautious personality with a dose of risk, stubbornness, and goof.

You taught us that all babies, toddlers, kids are different–that just because you have had one, does not mean you know what you’re doing with all kids. For instance, Eddie didn’t say strings of words until he was almost three, but you have been talking for a good year now. There have been times when I had to remind myself you were only two because you would say such complete sentences.

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While Alice and I were in the hospital this past weekend, you crawled up on my bed and proceeded to hold up cards and papers you found and tell me about traffic lights and how red means stop and then green is go. Not everything made a ton of sense, but you just lectured on it for about ten minutes–telling me I was in my class. You are so very animated with your big blue eyes and your hand gestures and your facial expressions. YOU know what you’re talking about, and that is what matters.

All of your emotions are big, Charlie. I remember that about Eddie being three, but you’ve had the Big Feelings for a long time now. When you are mad, LOOK OUT. Your immediate reaction is to pick something up and throw it or knock it over. You want to spit and hit and scream NOOOOO!!!! It’s very exhausting.

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But your joy and love are big too, and I’m always trying to remember during your times of anger bombs, that you are also a very happy boy. You are quick to say “thank you!” and “I love you!” without being prompted. You like to sit CLOSE to me or daddy (mostly daddy). You even like to snuggle up to Eddie, who doesn’t always tolerate your cuddles like Dad Dad and I do.

Touch is definitely your love language. Whether you are smooshing your sleepy body next to daddy on the couch before bed, or flopping yourself on Eddie to wrestle, you love to touch and be touched. It’s how you show that you like someone.


You are no longer the baby in the family, Charlie. But you don’t seem to care as much as I thought you would. You love your sister and want to share with her and kiss her and hug her. You love to hold her. The look on your face when you hold Alice is a new one to me. I’ve not seen that pride in your face before.

You surprise us and make us laugh every single day. Yes, you are probably also the child who is turning my hair gray so rapidly, but you also make me laugh the hardest.  From the time you put your hand on your hip and said, “I not argue with you, Mom Mom,” to just earlier this week when you were dancing around, planted your booty on Eddie and said, “here’s my butt, my big butt,” and then laughed your head off, you keep us guessing what you’ll do and say next.


Three years ago, you came into this world and helped me heal from a lot of bad stuff I had gone through after Eddie was born. You taught me that having a baby didn’t have to suck. You softly slept on my chest assuring me it didn’t have to be so hard.

You continue to heal me, son. You are important to this family. You make daddy laugh until he cries, you challenge Eddie and give him a built-in buddy, you give your little sister love, and you are the patches and stitches that healed my broken heart.

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I am so proud to be your mom.

I know Three can be a tough age, but it is also a magical age. You will do a lot of growing up this year, Bird. With that will come growing pains for both of us. You will go from toddler to kid this year. You will probably (hopefully) potty train and give up your pacifier. The last of “baby” will fade away.

I will cry. You will fight it. But we will make it.

There will be loads of joy and celebration in it too, my son.

Here is to Three. Let the magic begin.


Mom Mom

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