Friday, January 27, 2012


The past couple of weeks, we have seen major movement forward in some of the stickiest growth areas for both Charlie and Ellis. As I write this, we have reached day 5 of Charlie wearing underwear without a single accident. We're about six months past my original potty training deadline, mainly because I lost focus during my nasty extended bout of morning sickness, but I will be able to keep my commitment to having only one child in diapers when the baby arrives in April.

He's happy as a clam with his new "big boy" status of using the toilet despite all my worries that he would resist forever. He originally wasn't sold on the idea at all, and while he liked his sticker chart and occasional candy awards, he still preferred to go in his pull-up if I didn't make him sit on the toilet periodically. On Sunday, Josh and I decided to take away his pull-up crutch, put some underwear on him, and deal with the accidents. There was a gigantic sob-fest about this transition, but after the crying and a couple of leaks, he sort of sighed and decided to make the most of the potty as if it was his idea in the first place.

This week also marked the third week in a row that Ellis has remembered to bring home his homework every night of the week. The forgetting started when he was struggling with multiplication tables as a way of avoiding an unpleasant task, but became a bad habit. We have a rule at our house that once you take care of all your responsibilities on a weeknight, you can do whatever you want with your free time until it's time to go to bed. Ellis's love of unstructured free time rivals my own, and when he found out that unstructured time disappeared if he didn't bring home his homework, it became a great motivator for him. Now he runs into the house immediately after school to finish his work to maximize his free time.

It took just the right mix of positive and negative reinforcement to facilitate these developments from a parental perspective, and it caused me to reflect on the most effective strategies for facing the growth areas we encounter regardless of our age. It's very easy to lose hope when struggling with things that don't come naturally to us. As adults, I think we too easily pathologize ourselves and give into the unhelpful negative that there's something wrong with us. The gratification for this negative is that we can use it as an excuse to avoid the work we need to do or to give up our power to achieve greater health, wisdom and happiness.

I prefer the asset-based philosophy that development continues long past childhood. We all have a deep well of strengths and assets that include the ability to surmount our personal obstacles and grow in ways that make us better. The primary work of our lives is to continue to identify and address our growth areas while maintaining the belief that it is possible and insisting that it will happen.

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Friday, January 20, 2012


On the days when we don't have to drive Ellis to school and Papa vacates the bed early to head to work, Charlie and I sleep in. I awake to the squeak of the pocket door of his bedroom and hear his quick, heavy footsteps make their way to me in the big bed. He climbs in and tickles himself on my curly hair, chattering to me while I feign sleep. Sometimes we play our favorite game and imagine that we are baby birds in our nest until imaginary worms are no longer sufficient to quell our hunger and we head to breakfast and the start of the day.

Our days are easy now, especially since winter and my rough pregnancy have curtailed many of the outdoor adventures we had this summer. He an I putter around the house flitting from activity to activity. Most often we run on parallel tracks, each doing our own thing, talking and laughing with each other periodically, pausing to share a meal. It is the quiet rhythm of compatibility we have had since he was a baby writ large by the fact that we spend the majority of our time together. I savor the fact that, for right now, we have been given the gift of the mellow, easy, free-form life we enjoy the most.

The swathe of solitary time we have together is about to end. In a few months another little one will join the rhythm of our days. I know that when I see Charlie for the first time after I give birth to his new brother or sister, he will seem so big to me, so grown, and will be my baby no longer. We will both struggle a bit to adjust to the transition, just another along the path of separating from each other as he grows. Nevertheless, we will continue to know in our easy laughter, that we will always be two pieces that broke off the same soul.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

3 Times in 9 Years

I thought it would be fun to compare belly photos from each of my three pregnancies. These pictures are all from roughly the same time in each pregnancy (late second to early third trimester). From left to right: Pregnant with Ellis @ age 29; pregnant with Charlie @ age 34; and pregnant with the current baby @ age 38.

I've spent time reflecting on the differences and similarities of each pregnancy. I can't say that I love being pregnant, but this time around I've taken time to appreciate the amazing and beautiful ways my body changes when I'm growing a human from scratch.

(P.S. I used to say that your thirties are like being President of the United States in that you look a lot better going in than you do at the end. These photos make me think my thirties haven't been as hard on me as I thought. Of course, it helps that I don't have some of the weird skin issues from my earlier pregnancies and can actually wear makeup this time.)
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Monday, January 2, 2012

Out With the Old, In With the New

Popcorn and pie and snuggling on the couch watching movies marked the last hours of 2011.

As the little ones faded or went off to play games, Midnight In Paris with my true love led to midnight in Saint Paul.

When the clock struck twelve, those of us who remained awake, continued our traditions: hats and noisemakers, reading last year's wishes, and writing brand new ones for 2012.

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