Twinkle, Twinkle, Cheesy Breath…

“Okay girls, hop into bed!” I called. “Lights out.”


“Don’t forget Twinkle, Twinkle,” Gwen sings with an upward lilt.

As if I ever would.

This is our nightly ritual after all. The same ritual we have performed since the first night she spent in her crib. That night when we clipped one of the strings that tied her so tightly to us – the first of many strings. Her chubby body, all warm from a bath filled my arms, and I pressed my cheek against her tiny face. That night, I began our song and we’ve been singing it nearly every night since. Nearly four and a half years of singing our special night-time prayer. The song that I whisper into her ear to tell her that she’s loved.

Sometimes she joins me, our voices weave together and linger in the air over her sweet pink bed before I kiss her goodnight.

I remembered this as I knelt at her bedside, pressed my cheek to hers and begin to whisper-sing the song.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, How I wonder wha….

She pulled away, nose all wrinkled in revulsion, “Your breath smiles like cheese.”

“Oh, sorry,” I apologized. “I just ate some white cheddar Cheez-Its.”

“It stinks,” She declared. “You can skip Twinkle, Twinkle tonight. No…wait. Sing it but just stand over there by Kate’s bed and then you can go.”

Mouthwash…it’s a good thing. Click the blinking brown box if you agree.

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No. 7 Is Packing Her Bags!

If you follow No. 7 at all and, have read some of my memoir and essays, then you know that I have a habit of hittin’ the road when the poop hits the fan. Well, despite some completely out of character patience, I have finally given up on Blogger. I can’t access my drafts and they ain’t fixin’ it. I can’t edit and whole pages are missing on my end.
Adios, Blogger. You were a wonderful starting point. You helped me travel down a road that I’d always dreamed of but I never had courage to explore. It’s been fun but now you’re making my road too bumpy.

I’ll keep you all posted. My blog will always be at regardless of the platform I use. Bear with me as I begin the big move and I’ll see you at my new place!
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Leaving Survival Mode

… ‘course I don’t really need another kid, but Dottie says these-here are gettin’ too big to cuddle.  Raising Arizona

I always say that its a good thing Dave and I didn’t meet until we were nearing the age of  “too old” to have babies. Had we been five years younger when we married, we’d be raising a herd by now, giving the Duggars a run for their money. Okay, no. No we wouldn’t…that whole situation is just borderline freaky.

For awhile there, we never planned on having any at all. We were going to be those city-dwelling professionals who worked, dined and traveled sans sticky, loud and smelly tiny humans. Then one day my biological clock, the same one that had very nicely kept it’s tictocs to itself, began sounding the alarm. You’re 33 years old, WAKE UP! 33 years old, WAKE UP! I realized that it was now or never. 40 seemed so far, yet so dangerously close. So Dave and I got busy. In all senses of the word.

10 months later we were the proud parents of a handsome baby boy. 24 months after that, we were the proud parents of a handsome toddler and a beautiful baby girl. 24 months after that, we were the proud parents of a handsome pre-schooler, a beautiful toddler and another beautiful baby girl.  For me, the pain of pregnancy’s 9th month provided the perfect mix of clarity and decisiveness, both of which are latent traits under normal conditions. I knew I was getting a c-section so took the opportunity to get ‘fixed’ at the same time. That’s right, tubal ligation.Why? Because I knew that sometime approximately 18 months after the birth of that baby, I’d start saying “Oh, she’s getting so big” and, “I miss having a tiny little baby in the house, one that I can carry around like a perfect warm, sleeping angel sent from heaven above.”

Let me provide an analogy… Think of me as a person who loves puppies and kittens, so keeps acquiring puppies and kittens. Eventually they get big and I begin longing for more puppies and kittens thus creating a vicious cycle of animal hoarding. I’ll leave the baby hoarding to Natalie Suleman. The bottom line is, I knew that my inert baby-hoarding tendency had to be nipped in the bud, so I ordered that tubal and  assured my OB at each and every visit that “NO, I will most certainly not be changing my mind!”

If I had my druthers during the 8th month of my last pregnancy, I would have video-taped myself to deliver a message to my future self…the current me. You follow? Past me would deeply empathize with current me, saying, “Yes, I know you love babies, so do I,  but just look at us.” I’d stand and pointedly exhibit my wide pregnancy ass to the camera. I’d tell myself how very tired I am and encourage future/current me to try and remember the last two weeks before birth because they suck. The tape would cut out and pick up again in the days post-birth. I’d be swollen, recovering from another c-section (which, admittedly, weren’t all that bad thanks to my friend Percocet) and I’d have bags under my eyes. I’d tell myself that breastfeeding with two other kids running around isn’t a picnic, and by the way, just this morning the UPS man knocked causing Kate to pop off for a look and whoops! He saw our boob! (true story.)

I’ve been holding it together pretty well. I passed the 18-month mark and have had a few ‘moments’ that led me to believe that, if I hadn’t been ‘fixed,’ I’d be attempting to talk Dave into baby number four. Once you’ve had three you might as well throw another one on the pile, right? Wrong!

At this moment, two years ago today I sat in my OB/GYN’s office hooked up to monitors because baby number three hadn’t been moving all that much. She wasn’t due for another two weeks, but once you pass the age of 35 and enter the land of High Risk Pregnancy, most doctors don’t mess around. My OB sat with me watching baby Kate’s movement, or lack thereof, and we chatted. She looked at me and laughed, “Well, you are about to enter survival mode. Two children at home under the age of 5 and a new baby…that’s what I call survival mode. I did it. You’ll be fine. In a few years it will all be over with.” Having shared that information, she stood and told me that I was being admitted for another emergency c-section. Survival mode in T-minus three and counting.

Lest you think my OB was a total jerk, she shared my no-nonsense, sarcastic sense of humor. Boy did we laugh at the thought of survival mode. Her children were entering college and mine were just entering the world. We shared stories and giggled at the joy our children have brought to our lives. No matter what their age.

Today marks the day when I officially declare the end of survival mode. Today my baby enters her second year and leaves all that is “baby” behind. To celebrate, she had a raging party at her crib last night and the light show was amazing.

When her party eventually wound down, I tucked my one year old girl into bed for the last time and mentally said goodbye to her infancy. Happy Birthday, Kate.
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Inhale deeply. What do you smell? I’ll bet your house smells pretty, like flowers and sunshine. Well, I smell poo.

I’m sitting here at my kitchen island with the scent of poo gently wafting to my nose, carried on the slight breeze that follows in Kate’s wake as she trots past with Stella in hot pursuit. I can only assume that to Stella, the contents of that diaper must smell like the ambrosia of the Gods. I’m glad that someone enjoys it, but I’m so tired of walking through my house and smelling poo. If you have children, you probably know what I mean. You’re walking along, maybe skipping down the stairs on your way to the kitchen to raid the fridge and WHAMO! You walk through the cloud of darkness.

July 22, 2004 was the first day that we changed a diaper belonging to our offspring. Technically, it was Dave who did the changing in the first 24 hours. Not by choice. I was busy being immobile and riding a (delicious) morphine high following that picnic called Joe’s birth. I’ll save that tale for another time. Back to today’s delightful subject of poo…

July 22, 2004 was the first day that we embarked on our illustrious diaper-changing career. Having given birth to three children in two year intervals means that we have been wiping someone’s rear-end for roughly 6 years, 6 months and 21 days. That’s a lot of poo.

Kate will be two in exactly ten days. She has begun announcing the evacuation of her bowels by simultaneously squatting, pointing to her bottom and announcing, “Poo poo” in a quiet whisper while the stench of it hovers around her in a noxious cloud. I haven’t figured out what the whispering is about, but her tiny face proudly bears the smile of a child who is thrilled to make the announcement. Maybe on some level she understands that she has passed that milestone on the long road of diapers, the one that says, ‘Sitting in Your Own Poo is Unpleasant’.

Like countless toddlers that have come before her, she has begun hiding when it’s time to go, choosing to a quiet spot in the corner or under a table. Lately, she has begun to find us immediately upon completion and, through a series of complicated maneuvers and nose-wrinkled “eeeews”, demands to be changed RIGHT NOW. She has handed me a diaper and laid herself down in front of me expectantly, while jabbering in some unknown language. If I’m translating her words properly, I think she’s saying something to the effect of, ‘Well, what the devil are you waiting for? Change me, you silly woman!’

She hasn’t quite grasped the purpose of the potty, nor does she understand what the hubbub is about when she sits on it. She simply enjoys the captive audience of happy family members who applaud the fact that she can park her butt on the potty. In fact, whenever she feels that the household is a bit tense, she runs to fetch the potty in an attempt to lighten things up. Maybe those birth order theories are true. Don’t they say that the youngest is the clown of the family and strives to make everyone laugh? Well, Kate uses her potty as a comedic prop.

What’s the point of this poo post? Well, I’ve come to realize that my last baby is almost done being a baby. As thrilled as I am that the end of diapers is on our horizon, I’m sad. I’m going to miss the diapers, the bottle, the crib, the senseless jabber. Joe can read now, Gwen makes her own sandwiches and soon Kate will be using the potty. For the past six years, 6 months and 21 days I’ve had a baby. What’s next? I’m not entirely sure, but I won’t be smelling poo!

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And….He Was Punched.

When Joe was just two months old, I sat in one of our living room chairs and cradled him on my chest. I relished the sensation of his warm, fuzzy wobbling head brushing against my cheek. His infant squeaks and gurgles softly touched my ears. His breath warmed my neck as he grew tired and succumbed to a nap in my arms. Babies sleep so deeply and that sunny afternoon, mine slept soundly enough that the short, quick rhythm of his breath lulled me into a state of bliss. I slowly pulled him from my shoulder to lay him on my lap. It was there that Dave entered to find me sobbing over the tiny, perfect body that was my newborn son.

David’s face registered a look of concern, “What’s wrong?” Struggling against my tears, I attempted to speak but my words were choked back by a spasm of fresh sobbing. He was across the room in three quick strides, his eyes zeroing in on the baby sleeping on my legs. He knelt at the side of my chair and put his big hand on Joe’s tiny middle, as if to make sure that he was still breathing. David looked into my eyes and took my hand, “What’s the matter?”

I wiped the fat, wet tears that were rolling down my checks and took a deep breath. I needed that air to speak without the interruption of hysterics. “Someday, someone is going to punch him”, I said as I exhaled. Immediately, I was overtaken with a fresh set of tears and squeaky crying. The thought of some boy hurting my perfect, tiny child was unbearable. To imagine that one day, someone might harm him was too much. David wanted to smile; I could see it glinting in his eyes, struggling to spread to his mouth. Instead, he hugged me and stroked our baby’s round, bald head. Together we watched him sleep.

Who am I?

Okay, so there was a time that I could clearly define who I was. My career, my clothes, my car, my hobbies and interests were all wrapped up in a tidy little box that said, “30-something, career girl, well-traveled, groomed and funny.” No strings attached. I would have described myself as spontaneous and just a skosh sarcastic. That is, until my husband entered my universe. Of course, after a few years we added a baby to the box, then two and, woops..make that three!

So here I am desperately attempting to define this “new” me. Am I simply a stay-at-home mommy now? I have to admit, it is sometimes painfully clear that old spontaneous, no-string-attached girl hopped on a plane to paradise and isn’t coming back. EVER. She took her plane hopping, sleep-until-10-on-the-weekend-self and ran like the wind. (Someone should tell her that she forgot to take her fabulous shoes.)

Mom…Mommy…Mama…whatever “label” the beasties attach to me, I’m having one heck of a good time. Sure, I miss my daily shower and no, I don’t like these dark circles under my eyes, thank you very much! Yet, there is nothing more beautiful than my 18 month old, sporting her newly acquired pigtails, running on chubby legs and wrapping her tiny arms around my neck. I’ll take that and all the moments these three children provide, over that no-strings-attached girl anytime!

For now, I’m going to sit back and take my time figuring who the real me is. Mom, neat-freak, wife, obsessive-compulsive amateur interior designer, sarcastic, happy, sad, angry, creative…Maybe you can help.