Category Archives: Of Family and Children

I Miss Yoga and T-Shirts

yoga first t-shirt

Well hello there. It’s been almost seven months, hasn’t it?

Turns out two kids are more time consuming than one. Surprise surprise.

Rowan is a lovely little person who is now sitting up, eating some foods and figuring out just how much noise he can make with his voice and his hands.

He is not nearly so content as Iris was as a baby. Back then I sort of hoped that any future babies would be more cuddly and attached to me. I got my wish, and then some. No complaints – it’s just more challenging when it’s 24/7.

The first few months of Rowan’s life had some difficult patches. By his two-month well-baby appointment, he’d stopped gaining weight, required an ultrasound on his spine and had a mysterious red spot on his bottom lip. While all tests and efforts resulted in our now very healthy baby, I had my share of freak-out moments this spring.

But, all’s well. And the cute little strawberry on his lip (properly known as a hemangioma) should fade with time. As a side note, we had no idea that his pre-birth nickname of Baby Vamp would be so apt. The kid literally always has blood on his lips. Goes well with the pale skin and widow’s peak.

As for me, I find a second baby to come with far less culture shock than a first. With Iris, I had to adjust after a decade of what was a mostly free-spirited adulthood. With Rowan, I was used to a more structured existence.

However, by the time Iris was this age I was back to exercising regularly and more frequently taking a night off, when I could wear normal clothes that didn’t center around easy access to my chest.

I’m really beginning to miss yoga, and wish I could wear some of the t-shirts in my closet.

Then I remind myself that the Squishy will never be this squishy again, and decide to enjoy the time I spend laying with him on the couch and feeding his fabulous little face.

I’m going to try to do this again before another seven months pass.

Happy Wednesday!

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Rowan Reilly Mitchell

newborn baby boy

We had another baby.

Rowan Reilly Mitchell was born on February 2, 2016 at 12:23 pm. Like the day of his sister’s birth, this Tuesday was a minor “holiday”, unseasonably warm and a day before the due date. Unlike that experience, this one was relatively calm and quick, with labor only lasting about 15 hours altogether.

According to legend, the Celts organized their year according to trees. The period of late January to mid-February centers on the Rowan tree, and the strong wood and red berries figure into several other ancient mythologies. Just as does the name Iris (which has meanings within botany, Greek mythology and explanations of human evolution), Rowan comes with a colorful richness of which we didn’t even know when we simply liked the sound of the name.

Our new wee one carries it well, especially as his ruddy complexion heightens during his little fits of rage (having one’s diaper changed is apparently a maddening experience).

So, once again, I go on official hiatus. Enjoy the rest of your winter, and sail easily into Spring!

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New Adventure!

preschool girl flowerThis morning, we brought our almost three-and-a-half-year-old to preschool. Overall, it went very well, but I must admit to feeling a touch of sadness (as does her dad).

Iris’ expression here is reflective of not only the early (to us) hour, but our family’s swing between excitement and hesitancy. For us, as parents, we’ve handed our baby over to strangers who care about her no more than they do other students, which is a good thing. We have an extra monthly cost, which is never ideal. Iris is going to learn for fun and, in some cases, the hard way. Like I said, good overall.

For Iris, as a first-time student, this has to be weird. She’s not shy, and had no problem kissing us goodbye as she played with a dollhouse. But I’m guessing things will be less smooth at nap-time. Really though, I can’t stop thinking about how she’s already experiencing something I never did – preschool. Children outpace their parents in so many ways, and it starts early.

Of course, I’m also admitting to a personal upswing in all of this – more time for work and personal projects! My Mondays and Wednesdays will be starting earlier and progressing less chaotically (until February, that is), and this could mean great things for my career. I had 30 years of me-time before Iris, and I do look forward to regaining a small piece of that.

But, come 5pm, my little Squishy will be picked up by a very eager mother, who misses her face and questions already.

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Stuff Stuff, Baby

little girl happy baby announcement

Blog posts – what are those?

I really have been neglectful, and I’m sure it bothers me more than it does you.

Here are my excuses: Belated 1oth anniversary celebration, birthday dinners, prepping for preschool, out-of-town family gathering, out-of-town training program, bunny-sitting, outdoor concerts, frozen yogurt and a giant surprise 30th birthday party for my baby sister. Oh, and doctor appointments… nausea… extra sleep… late night ice cream…

For those yet unaware, we are expecting our second child in early February, and he’s happily making himself known on a daily basis. All three of us are excited, along with our invaluable friends and relatives. Today marks 18 weeks… it’s gone so fast, yet the 22 week road ahead feels so long.

So, parenting two small humans is a breeze, right? Barely noticeable increase in demands, right?

Trying to fool myself is futile – I’ve been a nanny.

In the meantime, autumn holds all sorts of adventures for our family, though I’m not quite ready to give up on summer. Summer means the DQ up the street is still open.

To your Labor Day!

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Get a Pet

orange cat face

11 year-old Ted is less than thrilled with the 3 year-old…

I’ve loved felines my entire life, but did not have one to call my own until the age of 23. While it’d be dishonest to say it was an easy adjustment in every way, the full truth is that the small amount of extra work is well, well worth it.

According to the Humane Society, these are the reasons to adopt (rather than shop for) a pet. In addition to these points about saving an animal’s life and not supporting puppy mills, adopting a pet can be good for your physical and mental health. Would you like a healthier heart and better mood? Walking a dog gets you exercise, fresh air, vitamin D, social interaction and all that comes with it.

For my part, I ended up with a partner who’s had cats his entire life, and can’t really imagine it any other way. As long as we’re able to care for one, we’ll have a kitty or two hanging around our furniture and heads at bedtime. We’ll also have cat hair here and there, and occasional vet bills. Small price to pay for those purring nuzzles and hilarious antics with the laser pointer.

When kids are involved, pets offer even greater value. For many kids, the death of a pet is their introduction to loss, and a chance to understand in a very real way what the absence of a physical, living being means. Caring for pets is a responsibility, and being around those that go outdoors can even minimize allergy risk for children.

No question about it – adopting a pet is good for you, animals, kids and the larger society. Finding one is easy, and caring for one is as natural to human nature as anything. This is one of the simplest ways to put some good out there in your world.

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Domestic Bliss

mother toddler daughter african bracelets


On Friday, Iris and I went to an event featuring the Zulu Birth Project. I’m acquainted with a local doula, and she was one of the hosts for an evening with South African birth professionals, Native American singing and traditional African dance.

Iris is a dancin’ fool, and always starting dance parties around the house. So when there were drums and voices and women performing large, joyful movements, she was so there. Outside of worrying that she was going to get accidentally kicked by the performers, I loved watching her participate.

Something else sticks with me from the night… I purchased three bracelets made in South Africa, and was given an interpretation of what my choices suggested. While I don’t typically place significant belief in such things, I do think it’s worthwhile to consider the bigger concepts these readings put forth, and dwell, at least for a few minutes, on my life.

The colors and shapes in my bracelets represented many feelings and elements, but the one most repeated was domestic bliss. I think that, sometimes, this phrase connotes images of a happy, perhaps somewhat suppressed, housewife, submitting to her husband and caring for her children, all the while finding “fulfillment” in keeping a clean, cooked-in home.

But, what if we did a 180, and thought of domestic bliss as something we build together – in my case, as women who embrace our homes from the roles of partner, mother, creator, professional and, yes, home keeper? What if domestic bliss isn’t about submitting to an outdated ideal, but making our homes exactly what we want… spaces in which to relax and grow?

I assume this isn’t a revolutionary concept to most of you, but it is what I’ve been thinking about, and what I’m working toward during most of these wild days.

Let’s start the week.

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The Best of Two; The Worst of Two

toddler girl sunglasses outside pigtailsWe did a lot this weekend. A first birthday party on Saturday, and a bridal shower on Sunday. Both were lovely, with delicious food and great company.

During each, Iris and her parents experienced the best, and also the most challenging, things about two year-old existence. On days like these, I remember something I said back in my mid-20s, before I was thinking about having kids myself. The statement holds true, but carries a bit more weight these days:

“I’m looking forward to the good and the bad about having kids. It’s all part of the complete experience.”

Such utterances occurred when a customer’s child acted up in the restaurant where I worked, or a friend apologized for a naughty toddler. I never felt terribly uncomfortable around typical child behavior, and always had little patience for anyone who became visibly judgmental of another’s parenting. I figured approaching the “bad” with a relaxed attitude would make it easier, and it does. Still, my understanding of the 24/7 nature of parenting and the emotions it invokes was, understandably, limited.

Iris is at an age where she experiences life very intensely. When an activity is fun, it’s the best thing ever. When it’s over, the world might as well end. For example, two hours on the park jungle gym lead to delirious joy; when those two hours are up and it’s time to get in the car seat , my sweet babe turns into a banshee. The result is that every fun thing is followed by a meltdown. Fortunately, it’s also usually nap time.

Our weekend comprised repeating cycles of bliss and tragedy, though it ended on a high note with bean burgers, sidewalk chalk and movie night. It’s good to know that, while outings and cake (Iris’ favorite new word) are cause for elation, quiet evenings at home still mean contentment and balance for all three of us. I even managed to squeeze in 45 minutes of yoga.

That’s a feat if there ever was one. To your Monday!

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Sloshy Rainboots and A Dead Squirrel

toddler girl outside rain bootsIt’s Wednesday, which dictates the post be somehow related to food or health or science or something practical like that.

But I want to talk about Spring nature and toddler messes. So we’re going to call playing in alley puddles exercise. Ok? Good.

Yesterday, Iris and I spent the day at home doing the usual activities like making and eating food, reading books and listening to music that lets me pretend I’m 16. On this particular day, we were also treated to a mild thunder shower (love). That meant puddles.

Better yet, Iris has a brand spankin’ new pair of rain boots, courtesy of her Auntie Sara. I put two and two together, and made the executive decision to go puddle hunting in the alley behind our house. That made me the coolest mom in the world.

For what was probably close to an hour, I watched Iris stomp, jump and run into puddles, she all the while laughing with abandon and grinning from ear to ear. She did fall a couple of times, but seemed unhindered by her drenched pants and muddy hands. When I deemed she was as damp as she should be, I took us inside. That made me the worst mom in the world.

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March 17, 2014

toddler girl sunglasses Irish paradeToday, my daughter turns two.

Today is also Saint Patrick’s Day.

Obviously, there’s a lot going on over here.

I wish you a glorious Monday. Listen to a little Irish music, if you’re so inclined. Make some merry.

Hug a leprechaun.


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Filed under Of Family and Children, Seasonal

A Change of Plans…

girl toddler pink sleeper booksThis was going to be a post about the opening of the St. Patrick’s Day season, in which I told you of the lovely time we had at Family Day with our friends from Quinn & Tuite’s Irish Pub.

Instead, it is a post about how I now feel like a real parent. Because I have been vomited upon by a small child to whom I gave birth. It is about plans that went from green and dancing and the making of merry to a liter of electrolyte fluid and endless loads of laundry.

On Friday evening, Iris seemed just a little off, though it was nothing a good night of sleep wouldn’t fix. I’d been telling her all day that on Saturday, we were going to go somewhere special, and see all kinds of wonderful people and hear great music to which we could dance. I created an outfit comprising a green sweater and skirt, and set out tights and green accessories.

We hung the St. Patrick’s Day decorations while listening to the Waking Ned Divine soundtrack. Iris learned about cheap bead necklaces, and squealed at the strings of Irish flag lights strewn around the house. It was awesome.

But on Saturday morning, I awoke to the noise of choking and sputtering and what sounded like heaving in the monitor. Hardly conscious, I ran down to a crying Iris, who was learning an uncomfortable lesson about being human.

The day saw us cleaning up multiple GI upsets, and washing several piles of sleepers and blankets and robes. I made the trek to Meijer (in a mounting snow storm) for some hydrating fluids. We watched hours of Thomas. Iris did a lot of resting on her parents – which, admittedly, both of us liked, despite the circumstances.

Plans change. People learn about being people, and existing in a family unit. Still, even though my child seems to have it out for my favorite holiday and its festivities (beginning with her March 17th birth), it’s beyond worth it to have my own little rockstar who heals her unhappy tummy, in part, with books.

Oh, and also – February is over! Spring is only three weeks away, whatever the snowbanks out my door might say. Happy March!


Filed under Of Family and Children, Seasonal