Dear Charlotte,

It’s hard to believe I’m back here writing your 8th birthday letter when it feels like I just sat down to write your first. Where has the time gone? You’re growing up so quickly before my eyes and I wish I could slow it down just a little bit.

You are such an incredible kid. You’re still shy and reserved and it takes you a bit to acclimate to a situation, but once you’re comfortable you are silly and fun and love to have a good time. You love nothing more than play dates with your friends, doing gymnastics and copying whatever new dance fad is out there. I’ll never understand your obsession with Roblox but now that you’ve taught your sister how to play it I guess I don’t have to get it.

You can be so helpful when you want to be. I especially love when you have cleaned the entire downstairs while I’m putting Mackenzie to bed and have a big grin on your face when I see your work.

You say the funniest things, especially when you don’t realize they’re funny. Like the time I asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up and you responded with “Mrs. Jeff Bezos.” Not a bad dream to have if you ask me!

I love you with every part of me. You make me so happy and so proud and I can’t wait to see what you accomplish this year. I’m looking forward to your gym show and doing the CartwheelOThon together. I’m looking forward to so many things with you by my side. Happy birthday my Charlotte Shea.

To Be(d) or Not To Be(d)

That is the question!

Mackenzie is a little over 3 months until she is 3 years old and she is still sleeping in a crib. I know that Charlotte already had a toddler bed at this point – not that she EVER slept in it – so if I am going by how I did things with the first I’d be converting her crib by now. My question is, do you really need to take your kid out of the crib if they actually like it? Mackenzie has never once tried to climb out (let’s hope I’m not jinxing that by writing it down) while her sister used to launch herself over the edge like a ninja on speed. She genuinely seems to enjoy going to bed, except for the last week or so where she has decided to scream for 10 minutes before finally giving up and laying down, but I’ll attribute that to the cold she’s had. She sleeps all night (even though she has been waking up at like 5:30 AM, PLEASE STOP DOING THIS) and she sleeps well. So do I really need to think about changing things up? My gut says no and to just let her sleep there until she shows some sign of wanting a bed. I have the toddler bed rail waiting in the garage for her so it would be an easy set up but I’m thinking not such an easy transition? I don’t really need to bring any more difficulties to my days, so even though she is on her way to school in September I kind of feel perfectly comfortable leaving her in a crib until she protests otherwise. I think I’ll let sleeping dogs lie. Or sleeping kids.

Charlotte on the other hand is still a giant pain in my ass. My dad and I built that loft bed for her, she slept in it the first night and then last night she made me lay up there with her for almost 2 hours and then didn’t go to sleep and then cried like an infant and then ended up in my bed anyway while I yelled at her and let her fall asleep silently weeping so now I feel like a shit mother. But I am tireddddddddd of her sleeping nonsense. It has been almost 8 years of this crap. You’d think by now she’d just, oh, I don’t know, lay down and go the F to sleep? I think I’m going to give her melatonin tonight because I am tired and over it. Too bad I can’t stick her in a crib anymore like Mackenzie.

11 days until we’re off to Vegas and I don’t have to worry about these annoyances for 5 nights. Praise be to God.

The Sweet Spot

This is such a sweet spot of an age with Mackenzie that I can’t help but write about it. She is such a little chatterbox and she is so sweet and affectionate and I wish I could stop time for a bit to be able to enjoy all of this before it leaves too soon. Every day she talks about how much she loves us and how we are all her best friends. She thinks Charlotte’s two besties are her best friends too, and if you tell her differently she screams NO! MINE BEST FRIENDS! Whenever I leave her presence, whether it is to go to work or just to put her to bed, she demands a hug and a kiss multiple times. She is obsessed with Charlotte and always wants to wake her up every morning. She wants to talk to her constantly (even if Charlotte isn’t reciprocating) and will just chant “Char-yit, Char-yit” until she gets an answer. She loves to play with her Peppa Pig house and her Barbies and she always wants you to sit and play with her. “Hiiiii, how you doin?” is how she starts off every play interaction, like a little Joey Tribbiani. She talks to people whenever we go out and she always wants to runs errands with me. Yesterday at the supermarket she was telling the cashier about how she has bad dreams about Oogie Boogie at night and as we left she’s shouting and waving to her saying “bye! Have good day!” She is always asking if you are happy and she seems genuinely concerned if you say no. Charlotte has been sick the last few days and every morning she asks her if she feels better. There is just such a caring side to her personality that Charlotte didn’t have. Not that Charlotte doesn’t care about people, but she doesn’t show it in the same way Mackenzie does. When Charlotte does entertain her demands they love to dance together and she is always trying to copy Charlotte’s gymnastics moves. She is probably the most excited for Charlotte’s birthday and will tell you that she is IN the party. “I in it! I in it!”

I just know that this phase will leave sooner than I’d like. I look at Charlotte who is almost 8 (how?!) and I feel like I can barely remember her at Mackenzie’s age. It really goes just too damn fast. So I’ll soak in all of the “I luff you mommy” moments, enjoy the cuddles and the playtime and pray for time to stand still just a little longer.

Potty Training is a Nightmare

Well friends, we are at that time in life where potty training becomes a focal point of my parenting life. I *think* that Charlotte was trained by the time she was 3 – and I mean fully trained – underwear all the time, no pull-ups necessary even at night. While she was difficult with every other aspect of her young life, potty training seemed to be an easy accomplishment for her. I don’t remember doing anything special with her and it was like one day she just did it and never looked back.

Mackenzie is another story. Last week she decided she wanted to go to the bathroom on the toilet. This is it, I thought. We are going to do this! We’ve had a potty seat for ages that she’d look at but never want to use, but this day she was sitting on that training seat and peeing like a champ. She would go every time I put her on the bowl and even told me she had to go a few times! She even wanted to try and go to the bathroom in a public setting, which was the failure that may have led us to our current lack of accomplishment. I bought her pull-ups because she seems to hate the diapers now and I thought we’d be on the road to underwear just like her sister. But now she refuses to go or even sit on that damn Minnie training seat. “No peepee on the potty. No more peepee! I no do that! No thank you mommy!” She has lost ALL interest in it. I hate it because I am sooooo done with diapers and all that comes with it. My mom said Charlotte did something similar (I do not remember any of this because I think I mentally blocked out the ages of 0-3 with her) but I’m hoping maybe she has just a temporary loss of interest and will pick it up again soon? I am really not one of those people who can do that 3-day crash course of leaving the kid naked peeing all over the house. That is not me and will never be me. This is truly one of the worst parts of rearing young children if you ask me.

As of now I’m kind of just letting her dictate what she wants to do. I see no point in constantly putting her on a toilet she won’t go on, especially because we don’t have a bathroom on our first floor (thank you 100 year old houses) and my knees aren’t what they used to be for 25 stair sprints a day. I ask her if she wants to go, she tells me no thank you and we move along with our day. She won’t go for me or Eric or the babysitter. She’s done with it, and for now so am I. A slave to diapering I continue to be. Oh well.

Career Day

Charlotte had career day at school this week and one of the projects she had over the winter break was to make a doll with the career she wanted to have and write a little note about it. I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up and her response was “I want to be a billionaire who gets to sleep whenever I want.” Now this is great for two reasons. 1) That she, the child who would take 7 minute naps and wake up for the day at 3:30 AM screaming “LIGHTS ON” would add sleeping to her preferred career requirements and 2) that she went right for monetary wishes over an actual career. I mean more power to the child for wanting to becoming a billionaire and I hope she achieves that goal, but we couldn’t decorate a doll as a billionaire as a career choice without just slapping a photo of Elon Musk’s face on the front. I asked her how she thought she could become a billionaire and she said “whatever it takes to get me there.” After much back and forth over how we would complete this project she settled for make-up artist because she is really into doing make-up and we also had enough stickers at home to complete the project without taking a trip to Michael’s.

We only had some blue yarn to make the hair and while her doll was looking a bit bald she was happy with the blue because that’s the hair color she wants in real life. I think she did a pretty cute job on it. When I packed it into her bookbag she told me that while she likes makeup, she in no way wants to become a makeup artist and still wants to be a billionaire who sleeps. Sky’s the limit?

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2023, where one of my resolutions is to write more because I have been slacking so hard as of late. We made it through the madness of the holiday season and everyone had a lovely time. Charlotte woke up at 1 AM on Christmas morning and came into our room to ask if it was time. She then continued to wake up every hour or so before launching herself out of bed at 6 AM and going in to wake up Mackenzie. Santa had left snowy footprints in our house leading up to the tree and his milk and cookies and Charlotte’s eyes were bulging out of her head. Mackenzie cried “wash it! wash it!” over and over until I mopped the floors before we opened presents. They were so happy together, each taking turns opening gifts, Charlotte helping Mackenzie with the wrapping paper. I want to bottle these moments up forever.

Now that Christmas has ended Charlotte is reminding me every day how many days away her birthday is, as if I’d forget. I can’t believe I’m going to have an 8 year old soon. How is that even possible?? She really wants a loft bed from IKEA and since Santa didn’t bring it I guess we’re going to have to get it for the birthday. Too bad money doesn’t grow on trees. She is doing really well in school even though she complains about her homework every single day.

Mackenzie is the cutest kid I know. I know I am her mother and I’m biased, but I really can’t stand how cute she is. She talks up a storm and the way she says words crack me up. She still has a slight British accent because of her obsession with Peppa Pig. Every day she says “mommy I lufff youuuuu” in the sweetest way imaginable. If I leave the room she shouts that she misses me and demands hugs and kisses. She is so affectionate and always wants to cuddle and be smothered in kisses, all of which I am happy to oblige. She has a real temper though, and hell hath no fury like a Mackenzie scorned. She still doesn’t want to potty train at all. In fact, she’ll only ask to sit on the toilet before a bath and that is only so she can pretend to go to the bathroom instead of getting in the tub. Bathing Mackenzie is like bathing a cat. It never goes well and someone is getting scratched and water will be everywhere. She loves her sister so much and is always asking her to play with her or hug her and I just melt. They do fight though, and Mackenzie is usually the one throwing punches as Charlotte screams in her face. It’s very loud in my house – so loud that my Apple watch is usually telling me the sound levels are unsafe.

I have been an absolute demon of gluttony these past few weeks, so I’m focusing on getting my health back on track. I’m trying Dry January and restarted my favorite Barre workout program and am just generally trying not to eat 4 servings of burrata in one sitting. Did you know the serving size of burrata is 1/4 of a ball? News to me. Who can just eat 1/4 of the ball? I hate portion sizes. If eating an entire ball of burrata at once is wrong then I don’t want to be right.

Eric and I celebrate 10 years of marriage this year, which is wild to say the least. We are going to Vegas to celebrate with our BFFs and I cannot wait. My kids won’t miss me though because Nonna and Pa are taking them to Disney the same time. My mom said she’d rather watch them in Disney World than sit in my house and watch them and I don’t fault her logic there. Charlotte has no idea she is going and I don’t think we’re going to tell her until the night before. She keeps complaining that she hasn’t been back and how badly she wants to go. She has no idea how lucky she is that she’s already been there like 4 times! She’s going to lose her mind when we tell her. Mackenzie will too but she doesn’t understand it like Char does.

Here is to a happy and a healthy new year – I hope 2023 treats everyone right!

The Sleep Chronicles, Continued.

If you’re someone who knows me or has read this little blog from the beginning you’ll know that Charlotte has always been a problem sleeper. From waking up for the day at 3 am as a baby to napping for 9 minutes and feeling refreshed, we’ve had issue after issue since she was born. As she’s gotten older she has gotten better but it isn’t like she would get a gold star report card for her sleeping habits. When Eric is home at night on the weekends she does sleep in her own room without a problem but I still have to lay with her until she goes to sleep. During the week she insists on sleeping in bed with me. Last night when I brought her up there I asked her why she always wants to come in my bed even though she loves her new cozy comforter. She got quiet for a minute and then she said “because I feel the most safe when I’m next to you. It’s dark up here but I don’t get scared when you’re with me.” It was like my eyes instantly turned on a faucet and I started crying. It makes sense that this is why she wants to be in my bed but hearing her say it was different. I know there will be a day that she doesn’t need me to feel safe to sleep, but for now how can I deny her that feeling, especially when I’m alone in the bed anyway? I might as well take it for as long as it lasts.

And Mackenzie is my good sleeper (please don’t let me be jinxing myself) so at least I have that!

I find that the longer I go without writing the harder it gets to come back to this space. So many things happen from day to day that I can’t keep up with what I want to write down, and then months have gone by and I realize I’ve never written anything.

We are in the trenches of second grade now! I feel like Charlotte has so many tests and assignments that sometimes it’s hard to keep up with it all. Math is a nightmare because whoever has changed math has decided to make it 1000000x harder than it needs to be. She has a math test tomorrow and every day she has had anxiety about it saying how she is going to fail. It’s so hard to see your kid struggle with something, especially when I am struggling with it too! I have to sit down with her math homework and teach myself before I can even do it with her. I told her I don’t care about the grades she gets as long as we study and try our best, and if we have to get a tutor and try that route we will. I just feel like second grade shouldn’t feel this hard? She loves science which is wonderful, and her reading is really impressive. We’re reading chapter books and she rocks out chapters by herself every night with very little help from me on words. Strengths and weaknesses, am I right?

Mackenzie continues to be a menace and an absolute delight all rolled into one. She is the biggest chatterbox going now and I call her a parrot because she repeats everything you say to her, which is great until Charlotte tells her to say ass. Her favorite phrase right now is shouting “WHAT THE HECK” in every situation. She is very excited for Halloween (she’s going to be Buzz Lightyear, per her request) and when you ask her about Halloween she will say “trick or treat blue pop” because all she wants is a blue lollipop, so if any houses in Westerleigh can stock up on blue pops that would be great! We have a trunk or treat on Friday and a Halloween party on Saturday, so I think the chances of her getting a blue pop even before Monday are strong.

The two of them together are just the sweetest thing when they aren’t fighting and screaming at one another. Mackenzie hugs and kisses Charlotte goodbye every morning and looks forward to playing with her when she gets home. They play with Mackenzie’s figures together, or cook at the play kitchen and pretend to feed their dolls and Charlotte is teaching Mackenzie how to play Roblox on the iPad, which is a game I will never understand. They are exhausting and wonderful and fun. I feel like we’re in a really good groove right now so I’m hoping nothing comes along to screw that up, even though I know the second things start to feel good and easy is when something changes and BAM everything is terrible. But we’ll enjoy it while it lasts!

Hello Again!

Happy end of September! It has been so long since I have last written. We are fully in the swing of school being back in session and I have just been chosen as a class parent! It remains to be seen whether or not I made a mistake, but I put my name down for the sole reason of being allowed into the school. Since COVID was in full bloom when Charlotte started schooling I have never actually stepped foot into the building, so this was an easy way to get in there and see what it’s all about. I get to go to a class parent meeting tomorrow in the auditorium! WHAT AN EXCITING TIME!!! Maybe? We’ll see.

Charlotte told me yesterday she got her name on the BINGO board, which means she is one step closer to being Student of the Month. She is DYING to be Student of the Month. She has her first math test tomorrow and she is stressing the hell out because she doesn’t want a bad grade which would get her out of the running. Nothing like starting performance anxiety in kids at a young age, am I right? I don’t particularly care one way or another if she is Student of the Month, but because it is so important to her I am trying to help her realize she can achieve her goals. Also, the ceremonies are in person again, so that’s another way for me to get my butt inside the building. Can you tell I really want to see the school?

Mackenzie has become an incredible chatter box. The child does not stop talking from the second she wakes up to the second she goes to sleep. She is absolutely obsessed with Halloween and asks multiple times a day to go on a walk to see the Halloween decorations around the neighborhood. Some of them scare her so we walk on the opposite side of the street as she shouts “no way no way!” My dad is with her today while I am at work and the second he walked in the door she started in with “big stroller Halloween!” She also started her day at 4:45 AM asking for baby waffles and syrup, so I bet she falls asleep on her Halloween walk. Lord knows I’d love to fall asleep right now. Also, if you ask her what she wants to be for Halloween she will either tell you Buzz Lightyear, Barbie or a big werewolf. She says werewolf like Beowulf though, and it makes me laugh every time.

I feel like the months are going faster than they normally do and the girls are growing at a rapid rate. Sometimes I look at them and can’t believe how big they have gotten. Charlotte is so incredibly tall and her face has lost any shadow of baby that she had last year. It’s like I am getting a glimpse into what she will look like as an adult, and I don’t like it too much. Her favorite compliments are when you tell her how grown up she looks, and I got her to wear a jean jacket yesterday by saying it made her look like a teenager. She is in such a rush to grow up. She told me that she is going to have a 5 floor mansion when she is 24 years old and it will have a disco room, a makeup room, a spa and 7 bedrooms. She told me I could stay in a bedroom sometimes but that because I already have a house I don’t need hers. I told her that her house sounds a hell of a lot better than mine, and she said “that’s because it is.” Then she said she would have two kids the same years apart as she and her sister and they could take turns switching bedrooms. She also said she is not having a husband because she is “not in the mood to deal with that.” My conversations with her get funnier and funnier I tell you.

This is truly my favorite time of year. I love the weather, I love the fall decor, I love how happy I feel in the fall. I love the excitement of all the holiday times to come, especially now that Mackenzie is really engaged with decorations and such. If she loves the Halloween decorations this much I imagine she will love the Christmas lights even more. They drive me crazy, but I have to say I have been loving these girls of mine a little extra lately. Come back tomorrow when I’m ready to run away again though!

The Great Unfollow

Yesterday I went on my Instagram and started unfollowing all the accounts that do nothing for me and let me tell you, it was very liberating. The majority of them were mom and family related accounts that stopped being funny and started being too preachy. I like my mom accounts to say horrible things about their kids, you know? I don’t want to sign on to Instagram while I’m hiding from my children and see “you got this mama!” and “this too shall pass!” and “you’ll miss these days when they’re gone!” Because let me tell you, on any given day, I do NOT got this, this isn’t PASSING FAST ENOUGH and no, I don’t think I will miss the days of Mackenzie screaming like a wounded pterodactyl in IKEA loud enough that some woman muttered “Jesus Christ” as she passed us, thank you very much. I mean sure, sometimes I need a motivational quote to get me through the day, but most of the time I like to see everyone else losing their mind like I am. I want to see a mom going live from the inside of her closet binge eating Twizzlers and rocking back and forth like a psych ward patient. I want someone else to tell me that their toddler also has super long nails because she also can’t figure out a way to cut them without blood or injury. I want to see you say that this is HARD and it SUCKS and we all daydream about a solo vacation where nobody is screaming mommymommymommy. I don’t want inspirational recognition for being a “warrior” and to be reminded that “the days are long but the years are short.” I KNOW THE YEARS ARE SHORT. BUT THE MADNESS IS NEVER ENDING.

I look at Charlotte now and I can barely remember her at Mackenzie’s age. I don’t need to be reminded on Instagram about how fleeting time is. Our kids are a daily reminder of that. So when I see some crap online like, “you’ll never know the last time you pick them up is going to be the last time” I kind of want to scream. For one, I had to hold Mackenzie so long the other day that she pinched a nerve in my wrist and I could barely use it for the remainder of the day, so I kind of WISH that was the last time, you know? And two, Charlotte is almost as tall as I am and she is still launching herself on me to be held, so this isn’t over yet. My body is a constant human jungle gym. I am always holding someone or being held onto, so sue me for not wanting to be touched for a bit.

Also, I had to unfollow every single toddler food account I was following because what started out as a way to get inspiration to feed these kids has only become an absolute gut punch every time I realize Mackenzie is eating pancakes with food coloring that I have to use in order for her to eat them for the billionth time and I see kids eating a plethora of healthy, homemade meals, I would only feel bad about myself. So F that. No more toddler food accounts, this is a preservative filled zone.

Now my Instagram is filled with food, dogs, and people complaining about motherhood. All my favorite things.