Max’s Beatles theme birthday


This is the second year in a row I have neglected to write about Max’s birthday. Shame on me. Max is very particular in what he wants and his party this year was no different. He wanted a Beatles themed party with cardboard guitars and a jam session.


When I asked what he wanted for his birthday he said “A mandolin and a YouTube Channel.” Well, he got a mandolin, just like every six year old boy. I love him.

His friends gathered and played and hung out and ate and celebrated my sweet, funny, kindhearted, musical boy. He is so very special and it was lovely to see how his friends accept and love him for who he is. I hope that continues and he offers the same to them.

PicMonkey Collage1

And the food? You. Guys. I don’t want to brag, but I do have the best girlfriends in the world and two of these best girlfriends in the world happen to be two of the best cooks in the world. When I was pregnant and had HG I would send my girls Bridget and Kelly pins of food and say “When I can eat…I am eating this.” And one of those things was a meatball sub on a stick. And Bridget made them for the party and I ate them all. Kelly brought her John Lemmon bars and OMG I am not even one for lemon and I ate about a billion of these. The Yellow Submarine cake was of course made by my awesome sister in law and it was rainbow trippy inside.


PicMonkey Collagefood

Someone, who shall remain nameless unless you look at the URL of this site, managed to slice her ring finger to the bone while cutting the very first cardboard guitar the day before the party so my father in law-after shuttling me to urgent care for stitches- came home and cut out about 20 cardboard guitars. I think he would agree that it was worth it!

All of it was worth it, including now knowing what my knuckle joint looks like and sacrificing a ring that had to be cut off my finger.

This face?



All the boy babies are leaving…..



He was adamant he carry his bag. To the car, to the school, and to put it on his name plate – there was to be no helping him. Thank you very much.

I knew that sending Huck off to his first day of preschool would be different than sending Max. First of all the simple circumstances dictated it; we had been in that school for three years and now know all the teachers, the classrooms, and most importantly the playground. Huck himself had been there every week since he was 3 months old, saving for summer vacations. He knew the teachers and the classrooms and how it works.  He is a different kid than Max. He maintained that I was staying with him at class, although I prepared him that I was going to leave, Daddy was going to leave but we would be back to pick him up just as we had with Max.

He has been waiting, waiting to do what brother does and his gleeful cry of “It’s mine day! Mine School!” when I told him it was time to go to school said it all.

He was first into the classroom sitting right down at a table until his teacher asked him if he wanted to take out some toys. You don’t have to ask Huck twice on that front, dude had toys less that 2 seconds later. I snapped a few pics, kissed that sweet, golden Dennis the Menace hair and we scooted out the door…

Call us if you need us, I told my very favorite teacher ever. (Seriously FB suggested I friend her and I didn’t because I don’t think it would be healthy for me…I love her that much. )

No matter how much you love the school and the teachers and how much you trust the administration there is, at least for me, a battle of instincts. My instinct is to run in and gather my baby in my arms and never leave him. What I do is get in my car and go to Starbucks and get a drink because in this instance my instinct isn’t in his best interest. He is ready. He loves to play games and do puzzles and he is so bored of me. He wants to go to school. He wants to paint and color and play and make friends. He is ready.

But he told us emphatically he does not want to go on the red thing on the playground. Which, incidentally next to the swings, is Max’s second favorite thing on the playground. He could spin on that all day. We assured him he didn’t have to go on it at all. He seemed relieved, oh that that should be the biggest worry about school ever, right?


I needn’t have worried. Huck had been waiting for so long to do what Max does. By the time I got through the throng of parents at the door Huck was the last one in classroom…a situation that would have Max thinking I was never coming. I caught a glimpse of him and he was playing happily with a toy, he saw me and (thank God for small mercies) his whole face lit up. He raced to grab my hand and show me everything in his classroom.

I scooped him up in my arms and he rested his head on my shoulder, so tired from the excitement of the day. His teacher told me “Stephanie, he was perfect! He followed directions, he sat for story time. He was an angel!”

Of course he was. He saved his devilish side for me. I took him to get a donut, the first day of school deserves a treat, don’t you think? His chest was puffed out with pride all day.

It was, in a word, perfect.



You’re gonna kill it in Kindergarten, Shorty.

“you can leave”


Just moments earlier he had screwed his face into his “I am mad/scared face” as I tried to convince him clippers would make this much protested back to school haircut go faster. “no clippers!” he wailed, his eyes tearful, his chin quivering. We acquiesced, me and the slightly grumpy stylist at the local Sports Clips. No clippers. He giggled and squirmed as she sprayed his hair with cool water then sat still as she began to comb and cut. “you can leave” he told me.

I waited in the lobby until he was done, looking ten years old suddenly and I praised him for surviving the dreaded chopping of the locks. After Huck was done we headed out for frozen yogurt.

The night before he started Kindergarten he was too excited to sleep. I had been prepared for extra cuddling, extra reassurances and perhaps one of the early morning panicked wakings. He put the fan right on his face and cocooned up in the blanket on the other side of the bed from me, not his usual as close as I can possibly get to you position and after our good night ritual he told me it was okay if I left to get some water. He hasn’t fallen asleep without me by his side, usually tightly gripping my arm in two years, excepting when I was in the hospital with Piper. But that night he let go.

“You can leave”

I got water. I showered. I crawled back into bed expecting him to roll towards me as he does…like a sleeping homing device draws him to  my side. Nothing. I nursed Piper and finished my book and resisted the urge to grab him and pull him toward me. Perhaps I should have. I know I felt a sense of accomplishment that all our encouragement about school had led to this day and he was excited and only a little scared as opposed to sobbing and terrified. He was okay. I also know I wanted those cuddles. I wasn’t okay.

I took a picture of him before he woke. He looked so small and still and I knew today was a marking point in our lives. My mother always said 5 is the best age because it’s before you send them to school and they get told that all things that make them special actually make them weird. Its the time they are the most themselves. I mourn this. I pray his specialness won’t get stomped on and I pray he won’t stomp on someone else. He is silly and sweet and funny and he celebrates everything and every one and I hope to God that is treasured by others the way we treasure it.

Once he finally woke, Dad brushed his hair and got him ready. Max put on his backpack and paced around the hall. Ready to go. Ready for this adventure. He was focused and I could see him pep-talk himself a time or two, but he was ready. Finally we got in the car and headed out to the schoo. Then he was off. He lined up with the other kids as the paparazzi snapped a million pictures. His teacher had them wave to us and tell us not to cry…


…and  he left.


The dance of motherhood.

I dream at night of being a ballerina.

suzanne farrell holding onto air

I am lithe and long as I glide across the non-existent stage. My arms slender and pale, ethereal. I am so thin and so very strong and there is no shame; everything is exquisite. The arch of my foot tells the story. The the soft folds of my ballet dress float as I turn, pirouetting. I am Suzanne Farrell. I am Gelsey Kirkland. Long dark hair trailing behind me as I spin and jump, so free. It is my ascension to heaven.

I wake drenched in postpartum sweat, feet aching from unconsciously pointing in slumber to nurse the new baby.

My great grandfather was a bit of a scum. He was run out of town and went on to have an entirely different and separate family. My great grandmother, not one to suffer fools, bravely filed for divorce in a time when that simply was not done. She had four children and worked so hard, standing such long hours her uterus prolapsed at work. She was strong, but she was not lithe.

We met this other family once. A meet up of my grandmother and her half-sisters, one thrilled to have more family and one very put out that Daddy’s Girl has a girl before her. Never mind that he walked away and abandoned that very girl. I myself was always desperate for family and wanted to know them. Wanted to be with them. Wanted them to love me.

They didn’t.

They shared stories of my grandmother’s absent father and of his other grandchildren. I had cousins, they said. And they danced. I love to dance! I told them, all of 13 and full of dreams not yet unrealized. I thought we are the same, those cousins and me. Scoffing I was told no they dance. Ballet. With Balanchine and Baryshnikov, who’s poster hung on my wall above my bed. My heart soared. Maybe I could meet them? Maybe I could just glean a touch of that world from them. They had both left NYC Ballet and moved on to be Ballet Mistresses of their own companies by then. We never saw my grandmother’s half sisters again. One meeting was all. I don’t know if they kept in touch, perhaps my mother does.

I saw a ballet once in San Francisco listing my cousin’s name as Mistress. Was she in the building? Were we close? I imagined her perfect, strong.

The baby has violent hiccups and I dance my own dance of bounces, sways, and rhythmic pats until she quiets, giving a shuddering sigh and relaxes her wisp of a body fully into my arms. Gingerly I kiss her cheek, she still smells of heaven. She settles into her bed and I crawl back beneath the covers and try to rest.

I am not thin. I am not strong. I am not even a success anymore. I feel sad for myself that I haven’t accomplished anything of great worth. No real goals achieved. When you are small years seem to take forever to pass and suddenly you blink and your thirties are gone. And here I still am, tied to the ground. Heavy. I miss the theatre. I miss my old friends who smoked on the fire escape at intermission. I miss the stories they told. It’s as if I missing a limb.

But truly I am happy here and now. There is no music more beautiful than my children’s laughter. There is no ballet as intricate as their play, beautiful and painful.

The sun rises, as it always does and things look brighter. My sons and I pour love over their new sister, kissing her head to toe while we wonder what she will like. Princesses they say assuredly. And baseball. I hold her impossibly tiny foot and she points. A good arch. I smile and wonder will she want to dance too? Will she want to act? Whatever she chooses I envision her strong and ascending upwards to her dream.

Perhaps motherhood is it’s own version of Ballet Mistress. My company my brood of babes. Warm ups are Yo Gabba  and the Wiggles. The music the Beatles and Green Day and Sophia The First. The steps are wild and unpredictable. More Twyla Tharp than Balanchine.


From man to man to zone defense.

If I worried when I was pregnant with Huck that Max would have trouble with a new baby, that was nothing compared to how I worried about Huck when this baby would arrive. My sweet Huck is possessive, jealous and all around 3. He is the baby and I stressed about how to make sure he knew he wasn’t displaced, that there was just one more to love.

And for the second time, I was worried for nothing. Max thought Huck was the greatest thing ever and Huck thinks Piper is. Max does too, obviously, but for him this time he is the expert. He knows how this goes and he watches over her like a hawk beaming with pride at his baby sister.

Huck? Huck just wants his baby and woe to anyone who gets in his way.

very first glimpse.jpgWe were back in our room by 7 and the boys arrived around 7:30 to meet their baby. We always call the baby “their baby” and they love this! We did this with Max as well when Huck arrived. He still calls Huck “his baby.”  Grandpa lifted them up for a very first glimpse at Piper and it was magical from there on out. I am not sure how Huck grasped the concept so clearly, just as Max did, but he knew without a doubt this tiny creature was what had been in mommy’s tummy and was now out and finally available for snuggling!



WMFirstMeet1.jpgZach told me that when this was taken Huck was saying to her “Hi Baby Piper. I take care of you. I get you milk!” so…..that’s basically perfect. And Max just took over, he is madly in love with his baby.


Dr. Hussein came by to check on me and I was able to grab a pic of her and the boys. I am so grateful she brought Huck and Piper into this world safely. A good doctor who really listens to you can be hard to find, and she is a gem!

Before long it was time for the boys to head home to bed. I miss them the moment I am away from them. If I could have I would have headed home with them, I wanted us all to be together. I’m so glad my in-laws brought them right away to see her (and me!)


So we start to adjust to being a family of five. And I attempt to find a way to protect Piper from Huck’s rather voracious Love Muggings. But it’s all good.

And then there were five. The birth of Piper; p2


Having a spinal is so weird. There’s no other way to describe your legs going numb and that feeling creeping up your body. Since we had been bumped a few times Zach was in the room for all the prep this time and I really liked that. Plus it gave him a glimpse into my experience of a C-section. Husbands usually breeze in when everything is all pristine and ready to go! 1,2,3- BABY! This time Zach saw the spinal, and how nervous I was. He saw all the prepwork that went into getting me ready and he got to see the well oiled machine that was my team of doctors. I loved this team, they teased each other and joked with us telling stories and putting me at ease, but when it was time to go- it was ALL business. They kept the drape down until right before they cut so we saw them clean my belly- which I did NOT like, there’s a vulnerability to being on the table and it’s the weirdest things that make you crazy. The feeling of them cleaning and putting the beta-dyne on my belly made me repeat in some sort of loopy record “I don’t like that! I don’t like that!”

Too bad, sister, it’s got to be done! They made sure that I was indeed numb and honestly that was the worst part. The actual surgery went smoothly and quickly with minimal effort and Piper let out a big old cry right away! That is the greatest sound ever. I remember how long it took for Huck to cry, it was so scary that silence until he finally began to squall. Piper came out squawking and it was glorious! I kept saying she sounded like a little bird, it was just the tiniest but most insistent cry.


I was thrilled they let us bring a camera in this time, so before we went in I set it up and told Zach to shoot everything. He sure did and I am so grateful to him for being able to both be there for me and still shoot like a maniac.



(shot by Dr. Hammel, of course.)


Zach knew the ropes at this point, he goes everywhere that baby goes while they put me back together. I chose to have a tubal this time, since the old gray mare ain’t what she used to be and truly? Who wants to go through this super fun time with me again? The inability to eat! The headaches! The rushing to the hospital to make sure baby cooks long enough! Good times! So yeah, this baby shoppe is closed. (But I confess if I was able too I would straight up be Ma Duggar. I love having me some babies. Even if those little buggers don’t sleep at night)

Zach headed off to the nursery with a tiny Piper and I got ready for the next part. Once you have the baby it’s totally unfair you still have like 25 minutes of surgery left. (It might not be that long, concept of time is wonky when you’re drugged!)

It was during the tubal that I learned via Dr. Hammel and the Physician’s assistant that it is indeed possible to fracture a penis. These two were hilarious! Stories from the ER, people. If you are ever in need and you score these two on your surgical team count yourself lucky. They are not only people of great skill but they can read a room like a great comedian and put you at ease with the most hilarious stories. Thankfully my abdomen was totally rendered motionless or it would have been very hard not to laugh!

Before long I was done and headed to recovery and hoping to see my tiny baby! Unfortunately, being early, her blood sugar was very low and they kept her in the nursery for a while and tended to her. I got to take a quick nap and before I knew it I had my sweet baby in my arms.


Then all I wanted was my boys there. And I knew they couldn’t wait to meet their “Baby Honey.”

It was even better than I imagined.

I have an excuse, I went on vacation and then had a baby.



We have a joke in my family, I suck at pregnancy but make great babies. I am three for three on sucking at pregnancies and hereby (totally unbiased of course) declare that I am three for three on awesome babies.

All through my pregnancy there was debate whether I was one week ahead of where the u/s said I was (and being desperate to be almost done I was on board for that extra week even if my OB was not. My girlfriend who worked in an OB office said this is normal when you have 2 or more doctors, they all – good naturedly- want to be right and sometimes make bets. I am totally not offended by that.)


Anyway we went on vacation to Rehoboth when I was 35 weeks pregnant and miserable. Listen, if you are pregnant and miserable the beach is the place to be, baby! DO IT! Every day we rolled out of bed and on to the beach where I sunned myself like one of those sea lions on the Pier in San Francisco. Max wave jumped like it was his job and gave impromptu Beatles concerts and Huck celebrated the fact that he was privvy to the world’s largest sandbox. Huck never met a sandbox he didn’t love.


Funniest part of the trip was when I packed a big thermos of ice chips to take to the beach and Max said “good idea, mommy. That way you’ll have something to eat if you get hungry.” How quickly they learn.

It was fantastic! I contracted here and there and had to take it easy a few times but mind over matter I was enjoying this trip! We took the kids to Funland and the boys went to the water slide park with Daddy and Grandpa while we took in the outlets. It was wonderful!

We were set to come home on Saturday and on Friday night it happened. Oh! The contractions! I was pretty sure the contractions were strong but mostly that I had somehow popped a hip out and the contractions were pulling it. I have NEVER had pain like that. Thanks to autocorrect I was able to send Zach a text that said simply “Pain” he came in and at one point we actually really thought this baby might be born right there in the shower at the beach house. Luckily the beach house had a vast amount of hot water and eventually they eased and I was able to sleep.

We managed the road trip home with a quick stop at Candy Kitchen for some supplies and my little contraction timer going the whole while! Every ten minutes like clockwork…I was relieved we were heading home towards my very own doctor and the hospital I was comfortable. The idea of a C-section by a doctor I had never met was a little scary to me.

Sunday was spent lounging by the pool at my friend Kelly’s house, Max and Huck splashed and swam and played with their friends and had a great time. I was so thankful for good friends who helped keep my kids busy and happy while I, yet again, sat with my feet up contracting. (Extra bonus shout out to Kelly’s husband Sean who is my chiropractor and who showed that hip who was boss and adjusted my midback and neck like a madman. God bless Chiropractors!)

But we were home, and if she was ready, I was ready. I was more than ready. All the contracting and not being able to eat anything can really wear a gal down. And honestly? I was bored of myself. Bored of feeling sick all the time. bored of being grumpy. Bored of throwing up. Bored of contracting. I just wanted her here safely and I wanted to be ME again.

But as I sat poolside I really knew just how lucky complaining, whiny, contracty, pukey me, really was. So lucky.


This is what happens when you give a stranger on the beach your camera.


A completely fascinating post…

This will be a completely fascinating post if you are my mother. Or perhaps not even her, as the answer to “who will baby girl look like?” does not seem to be one of her dogs. (I tease but for reals if you need a dog trainer in the Denver Metro my mom is the shizz, she wrote the book. Literally)

I haven’t written much about this pregnancy because honestly I am bored of myself.  Certainly the world doesn’t need yet another oh yay! contractions all night for me again! post.  Or I am so tired of throwing up! (And really, isn’t that what why we have Facebook?) But honestly that’s really whats happening. Lots of contractions for weeks, we are now 33 weeks so at least we are getting to the time when if something happens we will be in a much better position than we were a month ago. And yes, I am a vomiting fool. All day, every day.

It’s so fun!

Did you guys see the movie Rosemary’s Baby? When she is so weak and in pain and can’t keep anything down and the baby is actively stealing everything? That’s me! Except baby G is obviously not the spawn of Satan but rather a really cute preppy guy named Zach who used to let me abuse his Abercombie employee discount in an effort to woo me. It worked. The upshot is that I’m not gaining any weight in the last month, I am actually losing weight since you know, puking.  The good news is the baby is doing great, rocking it at about 5 pounds of adorable. She is stealing calcium from my teeth and bones, protein from my muscles. That little brat. Explains why I am so weak and grumpy.  But one look at that weirdly precious ultrasound and all is forgotten. I’d love to see a brain scan while a momma sees her unborn on a 3d ultrasound because I swear I can feel those good in love hormones coursing through my body. Anyway, yesterday was a mad conference of my doctors and now I am to drink super awesome (and by that I mean totally gross) protein drinks and just attempt to get some protein in me. It took 5 hours of small sips yesterday but mission completion!

I’ve now begun a full list of things I am going to completely inhale when she is born. It includes Mexican food from every local restaurant and a lot of cheese.

One question was answered yesterday, will she look more like Max or Huck?



Answer: Huckleberry.

I might think this was the same baby if I didn’t know better. Needless to say Max’s nose is a tad out of joint as he is the one who really wants a baby sister and feels “She should really look like both of us, that’s only fair.” Honestly I think she has Max’s precious mouth. She may have his eye or hair color. And if she gets those freckles, she’ll be a lucky girl. But a little girl Huck? Yes please! Whatever she looks like, I love her madly.

Now I have to go puke and later hit up the doctors again. Sheila E said it best…The Glamorous Life.


Things I want to remember…

Off to the first pool day of the season. These two…I love them madly. (obviously no driving was done while in this seating arrangement.)



We were on the metro headed to a Nats game and a sweet couple asked Huck who his favorite ball player was and he smiled and said “Max”

He was entertaining everyone at the memorial day barbeque and said decidedly “First you get angry and then you cry.” Thus summing up being two in one sentance.

At that same barbeque Max was telling everyone about how he lost a tooth and the Tooth Fairy ONLY brought him a gold coin. Huck said “The Tooth Fairy is a thief!”

Huck drew a picture of Baby Honey in my tummy.



“I wish I had a stuffed animal of Boo to cuddle when he doesn’t want to cuddle.”

We went to chick-fil-a for lunch on a rainy day and he met an 8 month old baby girl and spent the next 20 minutes making her giggle by letting her grab his nose and playing peek a boo. He is a natural big brother and he is so excited to meet his baby sister. He sings Baby Mine to my belly.

Max is working hard on his writing and spelling. This week he mastered the words “poo poo” “booby” and “butt” I am certain his kindergarten teacher will be thrilled!

And Max finished his third year at preschool/pre-k. He has come so far. From crying every day to learning how to handle his anxiety and trust that I will come back. I am so, so grateful to all his teachers who took the time to comfort him and build him up so that he could enjoy school and have fun learning. I am so very proud of him.


Denial. It ain’t just a river in Egypt.

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When Max was exactly two years and one month old I attended BlogHer, and during the trip the illustrious Jodifur instructed me that I was going to have to come to grips with the fact that he was not a tiny baby any more. I was still calling him “the baby.” It’s almost 4 years and a Huck later and I am still in denial that Max is not a baby.

Oh sure, he’s like this fully formed, fun person.  He is a blast to hang out with and you can have (sometimes frighteningly adult) conversations with him and he has great ideas and plans for things we can do this summer. He has intricate and amazing conversations with his friends and I am fascinated listening in on their negotiations and problem solving. It’s marvelous and incredible and all out astounding.

But I still think of him as my baby. My first baby.

Yesterday we were out to lunch with two of his buds from school and mere moments after they had discussed who was who’s BFF, Max took a bite of his pizza and said “My mouth feels funny.” immediately followed by ” I HAVE A LOOSE TOOTH!”

And listen, loose tooth was loose. I mean that was no just a little loose tooth, it was crazy wobbly loose.

I am not ready for this I thought. “OMG That’s so awesome! Let me see!” I said.

It couldn’t have been more perfect, having his friends there to be excited for him. Pizza was quickly abandoned and I didn’t push it, I could see he was a little nervous about eating with his tooth so wobbly. Mozzerella sticks that can be chomped on the side were a better choice. And ice cream. That’s good for loose teeth as well.

All afternoon long he wiggled and wobbled that incredibly loose tooth saying “I can’t believe I have a loose tooth!” His excitement was palpable, and contagious. Huck kept insisting I check his teeth as well, thankfully they are all locked up tight. We talked all about the Tooth Fairy and Max informed me she was going to bring him a tiny guitar or $700,000. I feared he would be greatly dissapointed, because while I wasn’t sure the going rate for teeth I knew it wasn’t seven hundred grand.

Around 4 p.m. he came to me, eyes wide with excitement and nerves and said “Look at my tooth, mommy.” It was all but out. I told him that if he gave it a gentle tug it would probably come right out. He barely touched it, “My tooth! I lost my first tooth!”

We went to bed late, due to Tooth Fairy excitement and when he woke up he showed me the shiny gold coin the Tooth Fairy had brought. “I only got a coin. But it’s okay.” He said with a mix of dashed hopes and resignation.


But he quickly moved on because, guess what? He’s got another loose tooth and maybe this one will fetch $700,000. Dream Big.


And now he smiles that big grin with a little space and I find it harder and harder to call him my baby. But I’ll make it somehow.