Thursday, June 30, 2011


We've been having some issues with Keaton lately.  I think it's just normal 2-year-old-stuff, but I don't want to pass it off as that and look back in two years and think, damn, we could see it back then, why didn't we nip it in the bud when we had a chance?

It's mostly over toys.  Holy Mother of God is this child possessive.  And he has a temper.  It's like a monster bursting out from inside of him.  It gurgles around in his tummy until it boils up and up and then comes shooting out of his mouth in a ball of fire.  I know this all to well because I also have this monster.  Except fire isn't the form of aggression.  For me it's yelling, hateful words, sometimes throwing things and slamming doors.  For Keaton it's shoving, hitting, kicking, even biting.  

I've been talking to Busha about what we should do, right now our form of discipline is time-out.  This child is nothing but a type-A, rule-follower.  I tell him to go to time-out and he almost always gets up without complaint, walks to his corner, sits there until I tell him he can get up, tells me exactly what he did to deserve said time-out, apologizes and hugs his brother.  I mean, Supper Nanny would be pleased.  But! that doesn't stop him from being aggressive/possessive the next time Hutton touches one of his toys - even if it's only 30 seconds later.

I've considered spanking but nothing about that feels right to me and something about it tells me it would backfire on us.  The thing is, 90% of the time he is a really good kid.  He loves to help out around the house, last night he carried a garbage can to the curb all by his 2-and-a-half-year-old-self, he'll hold Hutton's hand and walk around with him and read books together.  But if Hutt touches his toys, he snaps. 

Last weekend Keaton and our nephew were playing in the sandbox together when a toy gotten taken away from him (I think, I wasn't actually there) and Keaon pinched/scratched him so hard our nephew had blood on his arm. It's one thing for him to do this to Hutton, not that it's okay but it makes dealing with it on our end easier.  It's another when he does it to other people's kids.  After this incident I was in the kitchen talking to my mom and Amanda and pondering what I'm doing wrong as a mother that is causing him to act like this? 

It hit me pretty quickly, I'm not spending enough time with him. And I'm not patient enough with him.

Will getting down on the floor and playing tractors or calmly disciplining make these behaviors magically go away?  No, I'm naive, but even I know that won't be the case.  But could it help? Could being more attentive and patient make him more loving and patient?  Can I teach by example that snapping is not the answer?  Yes.  I think so.

Yesterday was Wednesday, a day that is supposed to be about spending time with the boys.  I haven't been good about this lately.  Too often I'm frantically trying to clean and getting upset with them for being underfoot or making more messes.  Now that Hutton's birthday party is over and we won't be having guests any time soon, I'm making a conscious decision to make Wednesday what it should be.  A day about us.  WeDay (I loved all the suggestions but this seems to be the name and reminder that I need the most right now.)

I had so much fun with the boys last summer while I was on maternity leave, and I want to get back to that happy place with them so badly.  Thankfully yesterday our plans had been made in advance, picnic and swimming at the park with friends. 

We had such a good day.  Were there breakdowns?  Timeouts?  Yes.  There were plenty. But I remained calm.  I didn't yell or snap.  And after spending 12 full hours together, at bedtime the boys were fighting over who got to lay closer to me.  As a mother, that's one fight I don't mind seeing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today I woke in the wee hours of the morning with contractions.

One year ago today we sped to the hospital and I cursed at all the early morning commuters.

One year ago today I asked your Daddy "what is it?" after the first push and he told me "it's a head."

One year ago today your Daddy looked down at me and whispered "it's a boy!" and everything about that statement felt right in my heart.

One year ago today I touched your little hands and held you skin-to-skin, and could no longer imagine my life without you.

One year ago today you came into this world.  Our family grew by one, but our hearts grew by one million.

Happy 1st Birthday, Hutton Andrew!

More pictures from his birthday party this weekend to come!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Today is Summer Solstice.  The official start to summer.  The longest day of sunlight.

Although I haven't finished up all of my spring posts yet I thought it would be a perfect day to post my Summer Soul Season list.  Have you been working on your list?  I'll admit mine is solely in my head at this point; I have not written anything down on paper. 

I got up this morning and started working at 4:30 am because I had a 10 am deadline to meet (I mostly met it and will have another deadline next week that I'm already starting to fret over/dread.)  About 4:45 am the storms started rolling in.

Big boomers of thunder and lighting strikes that were so large and so bright I could clearly see the neighbors house way across the road.  Collin got up to check the weather channel to make sure we shouldn't be in the basement.

The rain and storms continued off and on all throughout the day.  Everything is wet. Usually anything under the covered part of our deck is protected, but not today.  The table, the chair cushions, even the rugs that were freshly washed and hanging to dry.  Wet.

It reminded me of these pictures I took of Keaton a few weeks ago.

I'm pretty sure he was explicitly told not to go by the sprinklers, lest he get wet.

Obviously I'm still new at this parenting gig.  I'm still learning that if you don't want a toddler to do something the last thing you should do is tell them not to do it.

He didn't realize I was watching him this whole time.  He thought he was being sneaky, getting away with a little mischievousness.

He has a lot to learn at his young age.  Most importantly, Mommy sees everything.

But I didn't have the heart to stop him.  Do you see that smile?  

We don't see that much out of our very serious, hard-working, always has a task to complete, little boy.

So even though he was getting wet, I let him play.  And when he came up to us smiling, laughing, sopping wet, I smiled too.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Curling up with a good book


Years ago, when I was interviewing for internships and potential jobs the prospective employer asked a number of questions about my schooling and related work experience.  Then they'd asked about my strengths and weaknesses and sometimes provide a hypothetical situation in which I would have to describe my course of action.  And almost inevitably they would ask about my hobbies.  Things I liked to do outside of school and work.  With the exception of gardening, I added that in the past few years, these are the things I'd typically list.

If I think about the things I like to do for pleasure today these items still top my list.  The thing is, I don't actually do any of these items very often (with the exception of running, which I have started to do regularly again.) It's not because I don't want to; it's because I rarely have the time to.  When the kids are playing nicely together or have finally gone down to bed at night I spend my time frantically trying to switch/fold loads of laundry or put the dishes away or clean the crumbs and greasy hand prints off of the table from dinner. There is never enough time to get done the things I should be doing (my floors are disgusting!), let alone do the things I want to be doing.

At the beginning of this year I set some personal goals for myself and one of them had to do with reading. In my Spring Soul Season list I included 'read two books.'  I've been making a point to read almost daily.  Never much, usually just a chapter here, a few pages there, most often before bed.  I forgot how much I love this past time.  How much I need this past time, this escape.  In May some friends and I started a book club and I'm happy to say I read both of those books I set out to finish this spring.

Photo from
The Help by Katherine Stockett was recommended to me by Amanda.  I loved this book and I knew I was going to love it on page 1.   I was immediately sucked into the South, the characters, and the time in history. Although I felt like the end was a bit rushed and I wanted just a little more out of it, I still gave it 5 stars. I have a feeling I'll be thinking of these ladies for awhile and I'm looking forward to hearing that the author has released a new novel.

Photo from

Our first book club book was Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult.  I've only read one other Picoult book so I was looking forward to this.  Overall I liked the story; I was chugging through it because I wanted to know how things would play out.  But I didn't have a great connection with the characters and didn't "feel" a lot of the relationships.  Among our book club ladies I think I can safely say we all thought it was a bit lacking and felt a bit forced.  I originally gave it four stars on Goodreads but just changed it to three.  I'd still read another by this author, but I didn't love this.

I'm currently reading Mudbound by Hillary Jordan and I have a number of books in my "to-read" pile.  It feels good to reclaim this hobby.

P.S. I'd take any and all reading suggestions!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dear Hutton: 11 Months

Dear Hutton,

When I was pregnant with your brother a parenting site I was reading asked if I were to describe my baby in one word, what would it be? For Keaton I chose inquisitive, which he has been since day one. For you, I chose spitfire. During the first few months after your birth I wondered if my instincts had been wrong; with the exception of your hernia you were just a laid back, let things roll off your back, baby. In the past several weeks it has become obvious that my declaration of you way back when you were still in my belly was spot on. At 11-months, you are our little spitfire.

The main reason I picked this word to describe you while I was still pregnant was because during your brother’s bedtime routine, after bath, after teeth brushing, but before lights were turned out we would sit in the glider and read bedtime stories. Without fail as soon as we were settled in and reading you started kicking. But not just any kicking, kicking your brother. It was as if you were saying, hey, move over, I’m here and want to listen too. Having an older brother is delightful in so many ways, unfortunately with the good comes the bad and you have had your fair share of toys taken away from you, seats stolen, and attention grabbed. Up until recently you were pretty laissez faire about this, but not anymore. You are done being pushed around by your brother and you’re putting your foot down. Now when he takes a toy from you, you take it right back. You grab his arm, neck, hair, whatever is within your reach, and you put up a fight. You also scream. And I’m not talking a cry, I’m-not-getting-my-way scream, I mean a from your belly, I am angry, give-me-that-toy-back-right-now-or-else, sort of scream. There’s usually some arm swinging involved as well and I’m just waiting for the day that you start stomping your foot.

For as feisty and sassy as you are, you are equal parts lovey dovey, snuggly wuggly. You love to be held and carried around on a hip and you have a way of melting right into our shoulders, smiling and tucking your head into the nape of our necks as if you are being shy, but really you’re just very, very happy. While Mama is still you favorite (and I’m perfectly fine with that buddy, that never, ever has to change!) you seem to have finally grown out of your aversion to being held by men, specifically your Daddy and Grandpas, and I know they are extremely happy about this. There was once a time when we handed you to one of your Grandpas and you would start crying, instantly stopping as soon as Mama or one of your Grandmas took you back. This past weekend I was holding you and Papa walked up to us and you actually reached out for him. It made me so happy to see this and it made Papa glow.

You’ve been on the move for awhile now, I wouldn’t say you crawl as fast as your brother, Lightening McKeat, but you get around with no problems, crawling, cruising the furniture, and going up and down the stairs (you learned down this month.) While you’re not yet walking you have taken several unassisted steps between your Daddy and me or between us and the furniture, and you can stand with no help for a good 30 seconds or so. But the thing that has become most obvious this month was pointed out to me by your Auntie Kira. I’m not sure why I didn’t notice it before but while we were at her house having a play date a few weeks ago you were all over the place, trying to get up on the table and into the cabinets. She looked at me and said “he is going to be your climber.” Yes, she hit the nail on the head. You climb on everything. And you scale things to get to where you want to be. It makes me a bit nervous because I have a feeling we have some tumbles coming in the future but it makes sense because we believe you are going to be an adventurist when you get older, rock climbing, sky diving, scuba diving, we can see you doing it all.

At 11 months you love to babble and ‘mama’ has become your favorite sound. You love bath time, which is in stark contrast to those early months, and will stand on the side of the tub begging to get in. You usually bathe with your brother but in the rare chances you have the tub to yourself you like to kick your legs out and lay on your belly in the water. You have six teeth (four on top, two on bottom) and have stopped eating purees. You are a big boy now with a plate to yourself and you like to eat. There isn’t much you’ve turned down or that we haven’t tired. Your new favorite thing is popcorn. I would have never given it to you this early but you got your little mitts in that bowl and surprisingly ate it with no problem. You’re not a fan of reading books but you like to play with balls, cars, blocks, and the vacuum cleaner. When you’re tired you arch your back and scream bloody murder. When we take something away from you and your mad you squeal and sound, I kid you not, just like a little pig.

We’re in the midst of planning your first birthday party and I cannot believe this year has gone by so quickly. The only consolation of these days going by is that we have so many more to spend together, learning new things and making new memories. I love you with all my heart my little piglet.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Things I did not do this weekend:
  • Spring clean our dining room.
  • Or even just clean the very disgustingly dirty dining room floor.
  • Clean the basement in preparation for Hutton's birthday party.
  • Make the pasta salad for Collin's family reunion.
  • Package the new baby gifts for two friends and get them in the mail.
  • Schedule Keaton's haircut.
  • Run 3 miles on Saturday, according to our training plan.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Vacuum the popcorn kernels off the living room floor.
  • Finish Hutton's 11-month post.
  • Work on my project, which has a deadline of tomorrow at noon.

Things I did do this weekend:
  • Enjoyed hanging out with and talking to Collin's cousins and other relatives at the family reunion.
  • Bought the pasta salad and stuck it in a bowl to a least look nice.
  • Received, addressed, and mailed Hutton's 1st birthday party invites.
  • Exchanged and returned Busha's Mother's Day gift (crocs.)
  • Watched Yogi Bear (it was just okay) with the boys and ate popcorn that Collin and Keaton made (it was great.)
  • Made homemade blueberry pancakes with Keaton's help on Sunday morning. Tee got to stir, stir, stir.
  • Planted our garden (Collin did most of the work here, I really just planted.)
  • Cleaned the kitchen.
  • Went for a Sunday night bike ride and followed behind Collin so I could watched the boys hit each other, honk each others noses, and laugh together in the trailer.
  • Had a nice chat with Amanda.
What did/didn't you do this weekend?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Perfect Summer Day

Have you ever had one of those days, be it spring, summer, winter, or fall, that completely embodies everything about that season?  A day you'd like to hit the record button on and then replay it over and over and over? That was this past Saturday for me.  It was a perfect summer day.

I mentioned in my last post that Collin and I are back in training.  But we aren't the only ones who have been training. Oh no.  A certain little guy who stands about 3 feet tall has also been clocking the miles.  Last year Busha and Auntie Bea participated in Walk Wisconsin, completing the half marathon distance.  They loved it and this year Busha wanted Keaton to join her for the Kids Walk Wisconsin.  

Busha started walking with the boys this winter, before the weather was even remotely nice.  They'd bundle up in snow gear and put Hutt in the stroller or sled and walk down to the end of the road.  When they started training Busha thought Stink would walk the 1.3 mile distance, but as the weather got better and their walks turned into 3-mile "biiiiig walks" (as Keaton calls them) they decided to go all out and do the 2.6 mile route.  So on Saturday we all joined them, Collin and I took turns pushing Hutton in the stroller and Busha and Papa walked alongside Keaton.

About mid-way though he got a little distracted and started wandering off the road.  I was a little frustrated.  I just wanted him to listen to us and keep trudging ahead with the walk instead of his diddle daddling. He was testing our patience as he poked around and picked up sticks and dandelions. We finally got him back on track when we saw the orange cone, which was the halfway marker.  With promises of banging on that cone with a stick he rejoined us.  As we turned to make the 1.3 miles back a man with three young kids, one on his shoulders, walked past us and said "you know, he's got it right, we should all slow down and enjoy life a little."  And you know what, we should.

With that we walked back past the play ground, over the bridge, and through the park where we saw ducks with their ducklings and geese.  The trees shaded us from the heat of the mid-day sun during the final leg and the breeze felt great as we walked along the river.  We finally made it to the finish line where the kids were awarded with medals and popsicles for a job well done. 

After the walk Papa & Busha picked up pizza and we met them for a picnic in the park (another park, different from our walk park but for those in our wedding it was our "picture park" )  Busha gave Keaton a Congratulations card and wrote about all of her favorite moments on their walks.  Some of my favorites were:

"Seeing you get stronger as you walk to the first mile...(you know that your Daddy also walked the same road you are...)"

"Teaching you not to be afraid of bugs - Keaton, do you want to pick up the caterpillar? "You Busha." We are still working on this."

"Singing songs while we walk..."What does a cow say?....What does a tractor say?...What does a Keaton say? 'Hey Mama Bush!'"

"You just started 'sprinting' at times on the walk, of course it is to keep up with the tractor that is plowing next to the road."

"peeing in the tall grass"

"Giving Hutton a dandelion you picked...and finally"

"Holding Busha's hand as we walk together."

Next goals: Keaton walk around the block (5 miles) / Hutton - walk to Busha

After lunch we headed to the beach where the boys splashed around in the river and played in the sand.  And of course no summer day is complete without ice cream.

Around 2 pm we brought two tuckered out boys home and tucked them into bed, where we joined them for the next two and half hours.  That evening we made popcorn and all watched Gnomeo & Juliet - a super cute movie for the family (I now want a garden gnome.)

Yes, I could hit replay on this day and it would never get old.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Start and Maintain a Fitness Routine

That was one of the items on my Spring Soul Season list.

To be perfectly honest with you, it was because I want, I need, to lose weight. Which, I know.  I know that is the wrong reason to get back into working out.  I know, I know, I know....and yet....if I'm being truthful, that was my motivation.

Through the month of April (and, well, for several months leading up to April) I dabbled here and there.  I started a program on Monday, held strong through Tuesday, hit a bump on Wednesday and said oh, forget it, on Thursday.  Through Sunday. Then we were back to Monday and I started the whole process over again.

At the beginning of May two things happened.  1)  I started counting calories using SparkPeople and got an email that said: the best workout for losing weight is doing the activity you enjoy and 2) My friend Amanda (Hi, Amanda!) ran a 5k and had a blast and felt awesome afterwards. 

It was Mother's Day weekend and as I read her tweets and Facebook updates it hit me like a ton of bricks...I need to start running again.  These other programs are great but if I'm not going to actually, you know, exercise, then they aren't working for me. 

And that was the paradigm shift that set things in motion.

To actually make the change happen I did two things:

1)  Found a 5k to run in over the 4th of July weekend
2)  Started a workout calendar.

Collin has agreed to run the 5k with me and so we can officially say we are back "in training."  Although it's not the half marathon I had hoped to run this summer, it's something.  It's a commitment.  Since having kids I find that I only make exercise a priority when I have something I'm working towards (vs my pre-kid days when working out always came at the top of the to-do list.)  If I don't have a race or event in mind I easily put laundry (insert any other household chore here) at the top of the priority list.  So we're running a race. And I'm so. freaking. excited.

The workout calendar is a little tool I used in my college/post-college days.  The basic function is to be a visual to easily see how many times in a week you've worked out. I don't know about you, but a lot of times I think I've worked out a good number of times in a week but when I actually go back and look I realize it was only twice this week, once last week, etc.  My workout calendar keeps it real. 

Now, I'll be the first to admit that the last week of May was not stellar and that 3 weeks does not a routine make, but compared to April this calendar is rockin'. And having signed up for this July race I have faith in us that we'll put up good results in June.

And, prior to the Memorial Day weekend, where my eating went. to. shit. I had lost 4 lbs.  I was 1 lb shy of my pre-pregnancy Hutton weight.  I'm hoping someday soon I'll be able to tell you that I actually hit my pre-pregnancy Hutton weight.  But for now, I gotta jet....there are a pair of running shoes calling my name.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gateway to Summer

As we were walking the dogs Sunday morning my Mom said “I’m sure there were some weekends we missed.” And she’s probably right; there probably were some Memorial Day weekends that we didn’t spend at the cabin. But I don’t remember one.

Spending this past weekend, the summer opener, Up North has been tradition for as long as I can remember. It’s a weekend we all seem to need. As the stresses of work build there is one thing that is sure to take them away: time in the woods. Hearing the loons call, playing outside in the sand, reading on the porch, watching movies at night, eating rhubarb crisp and vanilla ice cream, being disconnected from the phone and internet, these things do a body good.

We packed up Friday night after work and arrived around 9 pm. Saturday morning was spent organizing and cleaning. I’m not sure I’ve ever shown you pictures of our “deer” room at the cabin. This is our home away from home.

Our home, that I’m realizing, is in need of some decorations. I have a couple things in mind, but just haven’t run across the perfect accents yet. I’m trying to be patient because I know at some point they will show up and I’ll see them and have no doubt they were meant for this room!

Kind of like the deer nightlight I found at a little shop on Sunday.   

Saturday afternoon my Mom and Hutt and I ran some errands in town. Menards, the grocery store, and a cute little candy shop. Kira told me about it a few weeks ago when I was telling her the details of Hutton’s birthday party, she was surprised I’d never been there before. Pulling up I know I’ve seen the building before, but I had definitely never been inside. I looked around at all the cute little things and then I saw them. The candy I wanted for the party. The candy I thought I was going to have to order online. The candy in the perfect party colors. This little stop may have made my entire weekend. (Thanks, Kira!)

While we were out and about the boys were fishing and playing outside. Keaton skipped his nap and was in rare form when we got home. A request for a diaper change (he was sitting in poop!) turned into a brawl and going inside for the night. It was a tantrum to end all tantrums. My child has thrown many tantrums in his day but this one? This one was EPIC. In the midst of the screaming and kicking and arm throwing and refusing to take his diaper off we decided to throw him right in the bath. Collin and I were actually afraid he was going to fall asleep in the tub mid-scream. Thankfully by the end he calmed down and Mimi got him lotioned and dressed. Even though the steak wasn’t ready yet we made him a plate for dinner and then he promptly passed out. At the table.

That night, after the boys were in bed, Collin and my parents and I watched Up in the Air and ate just-out-of-the-oven rhubarb crisp with vanilla ice cream.  We had planned to go biking on Sunday but the weather seemed iffy – off and on sprinkling.  In the end it probably would have been fine but we never got a good enough stretch of sky to worth chancing it.  So instead the guys went fishing and my mom and I took the boys to Minocqua to do a little shopping and ice cream eating.

That night, while the lasagna was cooking, Keaton spent more time outside.  As soon as Pa Grizz arrived on Saturday afternoon Keaton wanted nothing to do with anyone else.  Pa Drr, outside!  Pa Drr, cut trees?  Pa Drr, big trac?

Sometimes we go weeks without watching a movie.  And other times we watch multiple movies in just a few days.  This weekend was the latter.  On Sunday night we watched The Mechanic.  Although I fell asleep in the middle I saw enough of the beginning and woke up in time to catch the ending that I’d say it was a pretty good one.

Keaton is sitting on my lap as I write this post and as he sees the pictures of himself he’s saying: Tee play big sand box.  Help Pa Drr. The “yard” outside the cabin’s front door is all sand and whenever we wanted Keaton to come up from the lake we’d tell him, let’s go play in the BIG sandbox!

On Sunday there was more sandbox playing and then in the afternoon we packed the boys into the bike trailer and took off for the trails.  For the first mile there was a lot of “don’t hit your brother!” but eventually they settled down and enjoyed the ride.  And a few hundred yards onto the trail they both crashed for the remainder of the trip.  I wish I would have had a picture but my cameras were all tucked away.  Actually, they were like that for the majority of the weekend as we breathed in the fresh air and listened to the birds chirping and the chipmunks scatter.

Memorial Day weekend is the Gateway to Summer for me.  While some years I dread the heat and humidity of these next few months, this year I’m looking forward to it.  I have a number of posts I want to write in the next couple of weeks to wrap up our spring because my eye is definitely on summer.