Walk This Way!

Hello my friends! I’m writing this around 6 AM, having been awake for roughly an hour but refusing to get out of bed. Mackenzie has started to wake up for her day at 5 and I’ve decided she can sit in her crib and cry until there is some light outside because 5 is too early. Mackenzie has taken a page out of her sister’s sleep book lately, with constant wake ups and early risings. BUT! I think it is because this whole using two feet to walk and not scoot around on the floor like a gorilla has started to click for her. I think all of the baby people on the internet say their sleep gets disrupted when they’re learning to walk, right? I’ve actually given up looking up anything baby sleep related because my children do what they want when they want when it comes to sleeping and that’s just the way this cookie crumbles.

Anyway, Mackenzie has realized she can stand up and go, and what a time it is. She is still scooting 90% of the time, but that other 10% she is wobbling around like a drunken sorority girl on her way home from the bar. She likes to stare at her feet as she toddles around which obviously leads to her falling over even more. Every time she walks we have to stand close by to make sure she doesn’t go head first into the wall, or a chair, or the couch. And every time Mackenzie stands up on her own she lifts her arm to say hooray and when she falls after walking she claps her hands. Nothing like a kid who is proud of themselves, am I right?

was much easier with Charlotte because she didn’t have nearly as much space as Mackenzie does to roam around. Charlotte really gets a kick out of her walking and will hold her iPad across the room and coax her like a dog. “Here Mackenzie! Come here Mackenzie!” It’s very cute.

Speaking of Charlotte, she is SO excited to go back to school on Monday. Her backpack is already packed and her first day outfit has been chosen and set up since yesterday. She has a back to school countdown and every day tells me how many days are left. AS IF I HAVEN’T BEEN COUNTING SINCE JUNE 26. I swear this year better be “normal.” And by that I mean they better not be sent home for remote learning one damn time because I’m NOT DOING IT. Everything will be fine. If I keep saying it maybe it will come true.

To Be or Not to Be

As parents it’s important that we tell our children the world is their oyster. They can be whatever they want to be! You can do whatever you want to do! With enough hard work and dedication the world is yours! I tell Charlotte this. I say work hard and you can do whatever you want to do when you grow up. And then she tells me it is her dream to be a pop star and a dancer.

So let me be honest for a second. Charlotte is not going to be a pop star or a dancer. And I’m not saying this to be mean but I’ve heard her sing and I’ve seen her dance and as entertaining as she is she is not the next Britney Spears. I’m not enrolling her in music lessons anytime soon. The world of pop stardom is not her oyster. It’s not happening. Sure, I continue to tell her she can be whatever she wants but I’m 99% sure we’ll never be on E! doing an interview saying we knew Charlotte was destined for stardom at a young age.

So my question is, do other parents out there just know that there are some things your kids are NOT good at and lie to them? Or am I the only one? Am I mean? Is there something wrong with me? I want her to have confidence so I’m obviously never going to tell her she sounds like an alley cat when she belts out the lyrics to Cascada, but deep down I know it. I’ll continue to lift her up and boost her dreams even while knowing this particular childhood dream will not come to fruition. I know she’s still young and all of this will change, I mean she thinks unicorns and fairies are real and just hiding from her still, but I can’t be the only parent who knows their kid is bad at something, right?

I always wanted to be an actress and for a time I thought it was possible. My parents always told me to go for my dreams but I feel like deep down they knew I was always going to get a regular job and have a regular life. And I’m not mad about that! I wasn’t running off to Hollywood to really go for it. I’m very content with the life that I have and the pop star wannabe daughter I reside with. Who knows, maybe she and Mackenzie will become a dancing duo. I know I will always lift them up and cheer them on, but I know I can’t be the only mom out there who in her mind is saying “oh this is never going to happen.” Or maybe I am. At least I’m honest about it? And at least I know she’ll change her mind about what she wants to be when she grows up 650 times before noon.

It’s Leap Time!

Has anyone out there heard of The Wonder Weeks? I think it was originally a book that describes the 10 mental leaps that every baby goes through in the first 20 or so months of their life. It tells you what skills you can expect them to learn with new leaps and how they react to them. It’s different than milestones, which I think is important because I don’t believe in milestones since every baby is different. Case in point, Mackenzie is 14 months old and still doesn’t walk, a milestone she should have hit at 12 months if I followed the list. She’s perfectly fine, so I think following milestones just leads to anxiety and stress. The Wonder Weeks is totally different and something I didn’t even know about with Charlotte, and I believe it would have helped my mental state. When I had Mackenzie I downloaded the app and put the information in, and I swear to you every single leap period is spot on. Like, truly mind blowing in its accuracy.

For example, if there are weeks where she is clingy and crying and sleeping poorly or refusing to eat, I check the app and honestly 9 times out of 10 she is on a leap, especially the “fussy” period. She typically has all of the signs of the leap she’s currently experiencing, and whether or not this stuff is true I feel better knowing there is an explanation for why she’s acting like a Richard. She has been off the past few days, and wouldn’t you know we are right at the beginning of leap 9. The app shows you the skills they start to learn with each leap and how you can help them through it. It really sounds like some witch doctor shit but I am telling you it is legit. After every leap she typically displays the “skills” associated with it and then goes back to her normal self. I love it and I wish I knew about it when Charlotte was a baby. So if you are pregnant, have a new baby or even have an older baby who is not yet 2 years old, I highly recommend downloading this app. I don’t know about you but having an excuse, any excuse, for your baby’s ridiculous behavior is better than not having a clue as to what is going on. Blame it on the leap!!!

Family Times

We have just recently returned from a four family trip to the Poconos. The trip was anticipated for months since we were unable to do anything last year because of the pandemic and it was the first time our kids would be able to really hang out and be together in what felt like forever. We rented a house with 5 bedrooms and a trampoline so we basically had all of the essentials. Thank goodness for that trampoline, for it kept our kids occupied a LOT. It kept me occupied too, and my body still hurts because I didn’t realize going on a trampoline at my age was a workout and not the fun jumping experience I remember from my youth? Anyway, there were 8 adults and 9 children and nobody was ever tired except for the parents. WE WERE EXHAUSTED. The first night we got all of the kids (minus the 1 year old and 2 year old) into the room with the bunk beds, we put on the tv for them and told them to go to sleep. HA HA HA HA. I think each of us went back and forth into that room 150 times. I had to lay in the top bunk with Charlotte and play Lisa Loeb and they all finally gave in to sleep probably close to 11 PM. AND THEN WE WERE ALL UP AT 5:30 AM. Except most of us were up all night for various reasons. My reason being that Mackenzie has never been away from home and was NOT a fan of the pack and play shoved into a bathroom as her place of rest. She also doesn’t like sleeping with me, so she spent the entire night laying on top of me moving around until she gave up at 6. IT WAS A TIME. I ended up having a panic attack the second night wondering what time she was going to wake up the whole damn house, but she ended up doing a little better than she did the night before. When I tell you that child was THRILLED to be back in her own house on Sunday I mean it. She went back into her crib like it was a refuge. Charlotte was never like that.

Anyway, even with very, very little sleep we had such a wonderful time. The kids get along so well – literally no fighting ever – except for the random tantrums over being pulled out of the hot tub or losing a game of freeze dance. You can see how much they genuinely love each other and how much fun they have when they are running wild and free. It was totally worth the no sleep and the panic attack. Charlotte has not stopped talking about it. She wants to live in the Poconos house. She wants a bunk bed. She wants to go away with the family every week for the rest of her life. “How can you expect me to sleep in my bed now when I am used to a bunk bed?” I’ll never hear the end of it. She also said to me, “mommy, do you know why it took me so long to go to sleep?” I said yes because you were in a bunk bed in a room you were never in before, right?” “No mommy, it was because I was NOT used to the underwear and the pajamas. But I did it! Are you so proud of me?” She couldn’t sleep because she wasn’t naked. Of course.

We already decided the next house needs a pool in addition to the trampoline. Maybe that will tire them out faster so the moms can sit outside and have a drink for longer than 30 minutes before we crawl inside to pass out.

Baby Mine

I think it’s safe to say I am not in the sleeping children club. Sometimes I go back years in this little blog and read about the many, many times Charlotte started her day at 3 am, 4 am. How she would wake up 50 times a night and basically sleep with me since birth. It took us 5 and a half years for her to sleep in her own room all night, and even still she likes to sleep with me. I was determined to do everything different with Mackenzie, and I have! But she still doesn’t sleep all night. I guess I’ve succeeded in the fact that she is truly on a schedule when Charlotte never was and that she’s never slept in my bed. Those are wins, right? And she has slept all night many more times than Charlotte ever did at this age. But more often than not she is still waking up once or twice a night. But this time around, instead of obsessing over what it is I’m doing wrong, I’m just trying to embrace the fact that these times will pass faster than I’d like. Last night she woke up around 10:30, which was about 10 minutes after I fell asleep of course. I tried to let her cry herself back to sleep, but she finally says mama and listening to her cry “mama mama mama” from her crib made me go into her room without much hesitation. I rocked her in the chair as she put her head on my shoulder and her arms around my neck and I realized there was a time I did this with Charlotte, and I can’t remember when the last time was. There was a night where I held her and rocked her and it was the last time I did it and I didn’t even realize it. So while I was tired and groggy from being jolted awake so quickly after falling asleep, I sat in that chair for a half an hour and rocked my last baby until she was in a deep sleep. I’m sure last night wasn’t the last time, but I’m going to embrace every cuddle and comfort she wants, because I’m never going to do this again.

Was I as enthusiastic when she woke up again at 4? Nope. But here we are. She slept until 7:30 after that, but because the sleep gods are cruel I was woken up by Charlotte at 6 AM standing over my body whispering “it’s Wednesday. The talent show is on.” Because why sleep in when you just HAVE to watch America’s Got Talent?

Pink Hair, Don’t Care

So I let Charlotte dye her hair pink. Not the entire head, just a couple of streaks here and there. It might seem crazy to let a 6 year old dye their hair and at first I thought so too, but then I realized it’s just hair? Who cares? It makes her happy and it’s not hurting anyone so pink hair it is! The process of getting the pink hair was a real hoot. For someone as easy as Charlotte highlights were no problem! (Kidding, of course.) She absolutely hated the foil.

Exhibit A.

She was happy when it was over though. Mackenzie was just happy to be there. Scooting around on the floor screaming DAT DAT which is all she does any day at any given time so the usual for her. It was an exciting day!

Pink lady.

Now Charlotte just constantly asks me if the pink is still in it whenever it gets wet. This won’t get old at all! In other developments, Charlotte has decided she wants to be a pop star when she grows up. Which is really something considering she doesn’t speak to people, she refused to partake in a single dance movement break during the school year and she DEFINITELY would give the costume department a hard time on music video sets. This all stems from me giving her an education on the one and only Miss Britney Spears, so I understand the desire to emulate the Queen. “I Wanna Go” is currently her favorite song, so my work here is done. I’m pretty sure Mackenzie likes it too, but since she dances to everything it’s a little too soon to tell. But one thing is for sure, this is a #freebritney house!!!

Life Lately

We’ve done a lot of celebrating since I last wrote. Mackenzie’s birthday and Father’s Day and soon we’ll be celebrating the last day of school! Huzzah!

Mackenzie has finally begun to use her fat legs to move. She is taking her very first steps with her toy walker and she is cruising on the couch. She’s figured out how to get up the first step of the staircase landing and if left there long enough she will try to go up the other steps. I think she’ll be walking all on her own in another month or so and I’ll be wishing for the days when she didn’t move.

She still only has four teeth but it looks like another 6 are coming in all at once. Her gums are red and swollen and some days she is clearly in pain and uncomfortable. This is why the good Lord invented medications. When all else fails, give the baby some drugs.

She is saying a lot more than just dada now. She calls me nana so mama bas to be right around the corner. Everything is “dat dat dat.” She points constantly screaming DAT! And the other day when I said you want this? She said “yea dat.” She makes sure she is understood by screaming at you until you give her what she wants. She will go from the sweetest, cuddliest baby to a Godzilla-like temper tantrum in a minute. I guess that’s the Gemini in her. She is very determined to get what she wants, when she wants it, and most of the time that is food. If you are eating around her she opens her mouth immediately, even if you aren’t offering the food to her. She reminds me of a dog.

Charlotte is very happy summer vacation is right around the corner. She will go to camp in July and probably tell me she hates it and then I’ll show her the cashed check for camp and explain it doesn’t really matter what she thinks!

All in all, things are good and feel normal again. I’m hopeful this summer continues the momentum of leaving the pandemic behind us. I’m hopeful we get good news about school sometime before August. If we don’t you’ll probably see me on the news like a raving lunatic. I don’t want to write or live or read about remote learning anymore. Here’s to better days ahead!

One.

Dear Mackenzie,

It’s hard to believe I am writing your first birthday letter. I don’t think I have ever felt a year go by as quickly as this one. As a 2020 baby, your first year of life was drastically different than most. I remember in March of 2020 when the world locked down how I thought everything would be back to normal by the time you came into the world. But then I remember spending so many days worrying that I would have to give birth to you alone, that we would have no visitors, no help, nobody to greet you. Your birth was so much different than your sister. Your daddy was thankfully allowed to be with me, but the hospital was such a different place. It was so quiet. No visitors lining the halls with balloons and gifts. Masks on everyone around us. But then you came, and for two nights it was just us. The no visitors policy wasn’t such a bad thing. We had you all to ourselves and we loved every minute. We video chatted friends and family to show you off. And then we went home to start our new life as a family of four.

This has been, without a doubt, the best year of my life. It is conflicting for me to say that, because for so many it has been the worst of times. There were certainly days I didn’t think I would make it, but you are – and I say this without any reservations – the best baby I could have ever had. You are so different than your sister and I think it’s because you are pandemic baby, and if the Lord blessed me with Charlotte 2.0 in a lockdown I probably would have gone a little nuts. You are so calm and so happy 99% of the time. I cannot believe I have had the privilege of being home with you this past year. I love you in a way I didn’t think possible. I love watching you and your sister. From the early days when she would hold you on her chest and pretend to feed you, to the times now when she carries you around the living room so you can play together, every moment is a gift. I love how much you love to eat. I love how you scoot your chubby butt around the floor. I love how you wake up and give me the biggest grin when you see me come into the room. Could you sleep a little better? Perhaps. Waking up at night isn’t really necessary any more, but I love how for just a few minutes you need to put your hands on my face or my chest to go back to sleep. The fact that you are my last baby and that I will never do this again is probably why I don’t complain so much about it. I also know Charlotte was a hell of a lot worse so I can totally manage this.

I love the way you dance and how much you love dogs. The way you point to everything and anything and say “dat” over and over. How you actually behave during Charlotte’s never ending zoom schooling. I am probably a bit biased because I am your mother but I think you are one of the most beautiful babies in the world.

There have been days where I didn’t know if I could manage all of this. I imagined your first year a lot different than it has been, but you were the calm in the storm. You came to us at this time for a reason. When I hold you I feel at peace. Some of my favorite times are when me, you and Charlotte are hugging each other and you can’t stop looking at both of us and laughing. I am so blessed to have had this time with the both of you together.

I can’t believe the baby times are over and behind us. I already miss your infant smell and those baby stretches, but those have been replaced with your little voice trying out new sounds and words. The sleeping on my chest has been replaced with pulling yourself onto my lap to hug me. The nursing has been replaced with …. well, still nursing. You’re the same as your sister in that regard. I doubt I’ll be getting you to stop any time soon. As sad as I am to have your first year behind us, I know things will get better and better. I love you and your sister more than anything in this world. You complete us my Kenzie girl. Happy birthday, baby.

Sh*t Charlotte Says

Sometimes I just need to write down the things that Charlotte says so I never forget them because she really makes me laugh. This is the perfect place to do just that. In no order, Charlotte lately:

When a commercial for a deaf basketball group comes on the television: “I hate this song in this commercial it’s terrible.” I tell her to be nice because it is a commercial about deaf people and she responds with “so they can’t hear the song? Good for them.”

Anytime I put any outfit on Mackenzie that wasn’t handpicked by her: “oh god that outfit is horrible. I’d never wear that. Disgusting.”

When she walked into the living room of my grandma’s house the other day in front of everyone holding my tampons, waving them in the air screaming “HEY MOMMY WHAT ARE THESE?!” And then later on proceeded to ask me if they were candy.

Whenever Mackenzie starts crying and she screams at the top of her lungs “shut it up Mackenzie! Everyone has had enough of you!!!”

Just now when I went to move her small baby Barbie away from Mackenzie and she shouted at me “NO I NEED THAT BABY! SHE IS ABOUT TO GET BORNED OUT OF ANNA!!!” And then proceeds to put on a full performance of the baby coming out of Anna’s stomach and everyone shouting welcome to the baby.

When I hear her mutter to herself when she is shutting the basement door “gotta close this so mom doesn’t yell and Mackenzie doesn’t fall and die.” At least I know she’s listening to me part of the time.

Let it End

I have never in my life counted down the days until the end of school more than I have this year, and that includes all of the years of my own schooling. Never has the warm weather been more of a promising sign that this school year from hell is ending than it is now. Charlotte has barely had a school experience and yet I cannot wait for this to be over. Perhaps I’d feel differently if she were going 5 days a week like most Staten Island public schools, but alas, here we are 8 months in and only 2-3 days a week is still all we get. I cannot wait until my dining room table is no longer a hot mess of books and computers and a tablecloth filled with pencil shavings and crayon drawings. I don’t want to look at any of the crap in there for another second. I don’t want to sign on to one more friggin’ zoom. I wish they’d end it all now, to be honest. What the hell else are they going to learn on the computer from now until the end of June? Absolutely nothing!!! Do us all a favor and put us out of our misery.

A few weeks back we found out that Charlotte’s school had the option to send back two grades full time until the end of the year and they declined. They didn’t feel it was best for the community or fair to other kids or a whole plethora of other stupid reasons. They said they didn’t even decide what grades would have gone back, although the logical answer – and the answer for most schools with this same choice – would be to send back the younger kids. But no, why would we do such a thing like that? Why let the little kids get a taste of what 5 day schooling is like so they can be better prepared for September? There is still no plan for September, by the way. Who knows what fresh hell awaits us then. Whatever guidelines the DOE put in place won’t ever allow for Charlotte’s school to be normal, so if those guidelines don’t change I guess we’re up shit’s creek without a paddle. After we learned about that I did what I like to think I do best and I wrote a letter to the principal and the group of parents tasked with making the decision. A group that we didn’t even know existed because who would know such things when there is no communication? I circulated the letter to other parents as frustrated as I was and I got a lot of signatures. I expressed our frustrations with the year and with the choice they made and hoped they would see what good full time school would do for the younger kids, even if it was only for a few weeks. I received a response from the principal a week later that was probably drafted by some goon at the DOE and didn’t address any of the issues we raised. We also sent the letter to the superintendent and a councilman on Staten Island and got radio silence from them. It is disheartening. I don’t know what I expected and I probably shouldn’t have expected anything at all, but I thought that maybe someone – anyone! – would care.

But I did something. I took all of my bitching and moaning and I did something. I did the only thing I could do for my child and I put pen to paper and put it out into the world. And other parents agreed and signed on to my words, and that will just have to be enough. I tried and I failed, but at least I tried. And if September comes and nothing changes, I will continue to put pen to paper and I will send my words to anyone who will read them. We have to do better for these kids. Enough is enough.