uh huh, okay

So sometimes people say, "you make it look so easy!"  to me and I just smile.

I am going to tell you a story about today that might make you like me less, but right in this moment I don't care.  Because it is a true story.  It isn't embellished in any way and there is no hyperbole, it just is what it is and what it is is the most embarrassing series of events I can remember, even more embarrassing than the time when I was 13 and I was distracted and talking to a friend after a Cross Country race and started to change my clothes outside, in a field full of people, thinking I was in a locker room.

Are you ready?

I think I have a problem, sometimes, with pushing myself to go get stuff done even when it isn't the best idea.

Today I took the kids to Target with me because we needed peanut butter and bread and also so I could see if this particular store had any of the bent plywood dining chairs in stock.  We need to fit six tiny chairs in our tiny dining room and these were tiny and on clearance at another store for so cheap it would be silly NOT to buy them, but they were out of stock at that location.  Wouldn't you know that at this store they had exactly six left?  And I could get all six of them for less than $40 total?  I had an employee load them all huge and crazy on a second cart.  I also grabbed some groceries and a few other things (hello, it's Target, of course I did) and then suddenly I could tell my kids had had it.  They were just d-o-n-e.  Clark started doing his shriek.  His "I am tired and loud and three years old and I don't have any self control" shriek.

We got to the check-out and the kids were getting louder and louder and when I went to pay and ran my debit card through -- rejected.  "I'll run it as credit," I told the cashier.  Again -- rejected.  Deep breath. I knew immediately that if my debit card didn't work that it meant Luke had been too busy to deposit his check from last week.  Last week!  You know, our income?  What I use to buy groceries?  The bill was somewhere around $60 and I was standing there like an idiot as the line backed up.  I searched my wallet for another way to pay but had nothing but frequent customer cards and old receipts.  While I was distracted with the wallet searching, Clark climbed himself out of the cart all clumsy and noisy and scary like, and bolted towards the little end aisle full of trading cards.  I called Luke who confirmed that he had not deposited his check.  He was busy.  He had to go.  He apologized and hung up.  I chased after Clark.  I tried to distract him and it didn't work.  Then I tried to whisper-inform him that he needed to loosen his grip on the stuff we didn't own because we were leaving.  He asked me why and I decided to be honest and whisper-explain that mommy didn't have her money with her to buy anything and he LOST.  IT.  Lost it.

Clark is smart and emotional and persistent and he has a huge sweet heart but is also easily frustrated and often defiant.  He can have a fit the size of Nevada and a few seconds later start calmly talking about something that happened last week.  He has a temper.  He has no self-control.  He also tells me he loves me and gives me big hugs and apologizes later.  He is unpredictable.  And he is three.  I am at my wit's end with him sometimes.  He has embarrassed me so many times and I hope this doesn't sound rude, but I do not want your advice.  I know that from the outside looking in you may think what you do with your kid would totally help with my kid but I don't think kids actually work like that.  He isn't textbook anything and I promise that I will never ever give you advice on how to do things with your kid because our kids are just small people and it turns out that people are all different from each other.

Also I have already tried everything.


So I carried my 40 pound, off-the-charts tall, screaming, thrashing three year old away from the trading card aisle and back towards the cart that contained Alice, Alice who is two, Alice who was attempting to leap from the cart and towards the super cute Sanrio 50th Anniversary tote bag I was going to use the rest of her birthday money to purchase.  "MINE BAG!  MINE BAAAG!" she screamed.  Girl loves bags.  And Hello Kitty.  And birthday presents.

There were probably 30 people staring at us.  I don't blame them.  We were very loud and ridiculous.   I was wearing a newborn baby and pushing a crying toddler and carrying a tantruming preschooler.  Ridiculous.

We got just past the check-out area and I stood Clark up on his feet and told him he needed to walk but instead he got down on the floor and thrashed and pushed and SCREAMED.

And then?

I tripped on him.  And fell over.  Onto the floor.  With the baby.  While the people watched.

I was there on the dirty floor, next to Clark and I thought, wow, I truly do not ever remember being this embarrassed, ever, in my whole entire life.

I was saying bad words in my head.  When we got back to the car I called my mom and cried hot blushing tears and then when we got home I drank two beers as fast as I could. 

Deep breath.

I guess the truth is that I do kind of try to make it look easy.  I don't do it so you all (readers, friends, citizens of the world) will think it is easy for me, I do it so I will think it is easy for me.



And obviously I know better.  I know that the day to day stuff can suck. But making the decision to do it every day, to do the day to day stuff again and again and again, to keep pushing and trying to learn the kids and my husband and myself and this life a little better?


They do make that part easy.




hey now

This week I went to a funeral for someone my age. The next day I looked at Alice in the backseat of my car and had a memory of what it was like to be tiny.  Not what tiny looks like when you observe it like a grown-up, but rather a real memory of what the world looks like from inside a tiny person.  There are these lyrics from a Hilary Duff song (for real) that say, I've got somewhere I belong, I've got somebody to love, this is what dreams are made of, and I can't stop thinking about how annoyingly and ridiculously poetic that kind of is.  For real.

I've got somewhere I belong.
I've got somebody to love.

This is what dreams are made of.




dear whole internet

Do you think if I admit out loud to the whole internet that having three kids ages three and under is (so far) not the apocalyptically difficult situation that I was expecting that the Earth will cave in and all my babies will throw up at the same time and I will not sleep again for a week and a half?  Probably.  But I am going to risk it, if only so I can look back on this blog post and laugh in a month or so.

(Deep breath.)

So far, having three kids aged three years and younger is not the apocalyptically difficult situation that I was expecting.

I feel like I mostly have things under control.

(Cue the power going out and someone running a fever and someone else having a tantrum that lasts until tomorrow.)

We moved Alice into Clark's room when Hal was born.  We were out of room in the King bed and knew they wouldn't sleep alone.

This new arrangement has been a revelation.  They LOVE it.  They have each other and don't feel lonely and sleep all night and oh my gosh why didn't we do this earlier? I am sleeping much more now, with the breastfeeding newborn, than I was before, with the two large children who sleep perpendicular-like and kick and squirm and get scared of noises and wake up many times to let me know that they want milk but only in a green sippy, etc.  In fact, I am sleeping more now than I have a long while.  In addition to the much less crowded (and talkative) bed, I also don't have a huge baby belly or third-trimester pregnancy symptoms.  In fact I feel kind of lithe and spritely compared to the physical self I was one month ago.

One month ago!

Hal is one month old today.

That probably seems just about right to you, but it feels all wrong to me.  Either he is older or younger than that, I think? Time is just all mixed up for me. It seems that I just met this little person that I have known forever.  He is a part of me and always has been yet he is entirely undiscovered and mysterious and I can't wait to know who he is and I have no idea how to put an age on any of that.

I know you know what I mean.


There are so many things I mean to blog about but never do. All of the nursing and multitasking leaves me little time for typing with two hands. I do, however, post photos on flickr almost every single day. They tell a lot of stories that I never get the chance to write out.

Are you on flickr?

This is my flickr page---  http://www.flickr.com/photos/thedunlevys/

If you ARE over there would you pretty please add me as a contact so I can add you too? 

And as always, I'm @swonderful on twitter if you want to be friends there, as well.

I like friends and I like you guys.


Whole internet, you are such a tiny big place.


i have teeth

People have been asking how the bigger kids are adjusting to the new tiny kid.

Click below to find out or if you like cute things or if you just want to hear me talking a lot in my mom voice.

Oh and I don't generally go around asking people how my baby smells but Alice loves to tell me that Baby Hal smells "SO good" and I was trying to coax that out of her.  It didn't work so I just sound like a weirdo.

Clark is every bit as enthusiastic about Hal as Alice is though he is not nearly as enthusiastic about sitting still for a video.

Do you think their adoration will last for a little while?  I was an only child until I was 15.  I have no idea how this works.


like clarified butter

Ever since I hit publish on my last post -- the one that ends by saying that I am a good mom -- I have felt a little uneasy.  Because by "good mom" what I really meant?  Is that I try.  I try really hard.  I am somehow able to push myself much harder as a mom than I ever was able to as a student or employee, and I am grateful for that. But the trying and the pushing includes a lot of doing things the wrong way and totally screwing up and from the outside looking in, a fly on the wall might observe ten minutes of time with me and my kids and think I am a horrible mom.  Not a good mom.  Not an okay mom.  A horrible mom.

I've been humbled a little, this morning, by a dozen muffins worth of crumbs all over my house and a defiant three year old and a newborn who cries whenever he isn't latched on and a two year old who loves to say, "no way mom" and "no I don't think so" whenever possible.  I've been humbled by the pants that don't fit and the entire half of a $10 bottle of real maple syrup that is spilled all over inside of my fridge and by my defiant three year old and did I mention my defiant three year old?  I try not to talk about his specific behavioral challenges too much on here but lets just say that he has some very specific behavioral challenges.  He is wonderful but he is hard.  And on some days, my patience disappears earlier than other days.  Today I was already getting impatient and not handling him well by 8:30am. 

But now we are going to the grocery store and I will get a second wind and the kids will get a second wind and I will keep trying and pushing and messing up and breaking through and tomorrow I will start all over again. 



a few habit forming years*

Clark is doing the preschool thing this year and it is kind of freaking me out.

Although I was a gifted-program-try-hard-work-hard sort of student, I hated school.

Hated it.

In high school I dreaded every day.

I hated the way I had to ask for permission to go to the bathroom and that sometimes, the teachers said no.
I hated the way I had to run, literally, from one class to another because the passing periods weren't long enough to get there on time if moving at a regular speed.
I hated forgetting my gym uniform.
I hated being graded on how well I could serve a volleyball.
I hated taking standardized tests at 7:15 in the morning, when I could barely peel my eyes open.
I hated math class.  Oh my gosh-- how I hated math class.  

I hated the sign-in sheets and the "NO PARKING in the East lot!" and the way they locked all of the doors when the bell rang so I had to walk to the unlocked front door if I was late.  I hated that the unlocked front door was really far away and sometimes it was snowing and icy and my fingers were numb and my feet nearly slipped out from under me as I trekked over there in the dark carrying 75 pounds of books on my back and an oversized poster board covered in information about Ayn Rand in my hand.  I hated that three official "tardys" landed me in Friday School, which was basically in-school suspension, and that I had to stare at a wall the entire time.  Making eye contact with other students was not allowed in Friday School.  Making eye contact in Friday School got you more Friday School.

The day I graduated from High School was one of the best days of my life.  I remember skipping and running from Conseco Fieldhouse after the cap and gown ceremony, holding hands with my best friends and lit up with a glowy feeling of freedom I had never felt before.  I remember shouting, "I NEVER HAVE TO GO BACK!" somewhat manically. I was aching to get away from it all and never look back.  (I did force myself to go to college that Fall, but quit after two disastrous years and got married--  another story for another day.)

What I am trying to say if I could just get to the point already?  I am not ready to get back into a serious relationship with a school system.  I have been sweeping all thoughts of my kids starting school into a tidy little pile in the back in my brain.   I know it is just preschool, I know, I know I am over-thinking things.  But school is school, and I am already intimidated by the volunteer requests and the forms and deadlines and the fact that they charge you a $10 fine if you are late to pick up your kid.  It makes my heart beat faster.  They say "$10 fine" but all I hear is "Friday School". 

This problem I have with school?  It is just me.  It's my personality.  It's my brain's problem; it's not school's problem, and it is most certainly not Clark's problem.  Clark is really excited about school so (deep breath) I am excited about school.  I just have to keep telling myself that I can do this.  I can do this.  I am a grown-up now.  I take three kids out in public.  I make them food and love them and get them dressed.  I clean up their messes.  I am sleep deprived but somehow functional.  I'm not the disorganized teenager I once was. I am going to choose to view the silly little things that seemed insurmountably annoying to me ten years ago as silly little things.  I can handle this.  I will push myself to do things the right way, every time.  And you know?  Because I am doing this for Clark, it won't even be a question.  I won't be late.  I will never be late.  I might not be a very good student, but I am a damn good mom.

Yesterday was his first full day.  Wish us luck. 



*this line is from this song, a song i loved in high school.  laziness cuts me like fine cutlery and all that.


baby-mooning & multi-tasking

things I have recently done while holding & nursing a newborn:

made beds
many loads of laundry
vacuumed & steam-mopped
fixed my hair
fixed my makeup
buttered & peanut buttered toast
dressed two squirmy older kids
dressed myself
dressed clark back in his clothes after he took them off the first time
dressed clark in his mario costume after he took off his clothes for the second time
tied shoes
visited with friends
visited with the pediatrician
watched baseball games with my feet up
tweeted stuff
edited photos 
browsed flickr
thought out every last word choice for blog posts that will never be written
forgotten the main ideas of those blog posts that will never be written
stared into space
typed this list


and watched my copy-cat in action


ps.  clark starts preschool this week.  i am not sure if i want to burst into applause or sob my eyes out.

pps.  are you on twitter?  i am hanging out over there a bit while i am limited to one-handed typing.  i'm @swonderful, let's be pals.

ppps.  i keep reading the word "applause" as "applesauce" and should probably close my eyes now.