The babies are TWO.

My sweet little babies that once laid perfectly still … all three fitting on one swaddle blanket. Grunting and making fists and fighting against new eyes to see a tired world that was new and bright and so very loud and brilliant to them.

Now, the same swaddle blankets get carried to and fro on the same carpet they used to lay sweet and simple on. Those blankets are lovingly called “blanshies” by the teeth and lips of a lispy toddler. The same arms that used to so obediently wrap under those “monkey blankets”, as we used to call them, now reach for counters, open doors, put on their own boots, dump cups of water to wash their own hair, sometimes swat at a sibling and within the same breath reach for mama and say “hand.”

I guess those swaddle blankets are conditioned perfectly with love, season and trials for our new baby.

When we were given those perfectly rolled Aden & Anais blankets the first time around … I remember holding them close after being washed in Dreft and just thinking about how good they felt to me.

For me. Not really three babies that I hadn’t even met yet.

The first pregnancy was like a tiara for me. It was all about how special it was to carry life. The honor and miracle that was blessed upon my body and our marriage. It made me proud and slow and happy and nervous. Scott and I would talk about the future like two blind men that hoped they would one day see. We couldn’t feel, taste or touch any of it…

It was all about my vision as a mama. His hopes as a papa. How they would fit in our life.

As I sit here, 22 weeks pregnant with our fourth child – I am full of every emotion under the rainbow. Full of gratitude for God’s grace on our family. Exhausted from telling the same three kids to not do the same million things every day. Bored with laundry. Tempted and joyful to pick out new baby bedding (and relish in the fact I only have to BUY ONE!) Guilty the dishes sit. Happy we have food to eat. Sad from watching a commercial. Happy from watching a commercial. Afraid. Excited. And thinking about life in the present and life in the near present…

I realize, this time around… as I sit on the couch with my mid-afternoon snack dreaming in mind…(I mean, aren’t snacks one of the perks of carrying life??) this pregnancy… I have so much more than an empty, un-swaddled swaddle blanket to embrace.

I have a complete vision of what is at the end of the rainbow. Love. Long nights. Joy. Frustration. Poop. Vomit. Giggles from a chubby belly. Awkward first smiles. Wobbly sit ups. Ambitions of a new life. The secrets of a human spirit unfolding right in the privacy of your own messy, chaotic but wonderfully woven together home. The pit of my heart feels confident this time. Nervous, yes. But confident – even more.

I know so much will be different. And probably some the same. But one thing is different for sure, already: This pregnancy isn’t all about me. Or Scott. Or our plans for the future. I get it. This baby is for US. Our family. Those babies – the ones that call themselves “Ninny” (Quinn AKA Quinny now comes out Ninny) , “Arper” and “Geeshie”.

This baby is for them. This baby is already swaddled in love…because since they are TWO…love comes easy to them.

(Do a million other things like leaving the refrigerator door shut or not climbing on top of their play kitchen come easy? No. But the loving sure does.)

And for that…Baby H. – you are coming into this world with (hopefully) freshly washed but very lovingly used swaddle blankets. I hope you like them.

PS, Baby H. is simply Baby Hackman (no cool “H” name in the works). We got to see Baby #4 a couple of weeks ago at our 20 week ultrasound. All looked great and we were full of joy to see our little babe move and wave and look all cute on the big screen. Such a luxury this time as we don’t have a million ultrasounds like we did with the trio. And as for the gender…your guess is as good as mine … we decided to give our unborn child complete privacy and chose to “look away” during the genital screening. Come on, it’s only decent.





The Opposite of Love.

I don’t know what it means to be a writer. A blogger. I guess a writ-ger.

I don’t know what it means to be a mother most days.

I am not even sure, after five short but full of life, years of marriage what it means to be a wife.

And I am totally not sure what it means to be a peaceful, always faithful, spiritual follower of God – turning to my confident prayer at all twists and turns and moments of glory.

I just don’t. That is partly why I haven’t been showing up to this space. Although I know part of my creation includes putting twisted thoughts into even more twisted words so I can understand the divine swirling around me, and in turn, hopefully help others, I just haven’t been able to do it.

The events of Friday December 14th, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut have shaken all of us. So much that I didn’t want to write about it because I felt like there are no words. Let me say that again, – I STILL feel like there are no words. So this post is not really a response to what has happened – you, as the reader, and I, as the writer, don’t need a blog post to digest something like this. We feel this one with our guts. We know when we hold those sweet babies close to our chest and brush their hair all we want to do is keep them inside, willing them not only to the safe walls of our home, but to the safe walls of the world. We know when those innocent school pictures flash up on Facebook it is disgusting to even go there in your mind. Wrong. It feels like the world has lost a piece of what makes it worthwhile and good. The mission trips of 2012, the births, the marriages, the diseases cured miraculously, all sit in the shadows, discounted like they aren’t real enough to wash away all the black.

Here is where my response comes. How do we define ourselves and keep on keeping on, even if everything feels un-defined…and scary and shaken and full of doubt?

This is all I know:

I know that when it’s time to write, I write.

I know that holding my puking child against my chest all night is being a mother. I know cheering on every piece of their being, even when it feels like a chaotic circus around me, is being a mother. I know celebrating the dance of kicks and pure life inside, instead of worrying about the delivery or if she/he has two heads, is being a mother.

I know saying those simple words like “I’m sorry” and “I love you” means being a wife.

And with the help of an author that has helped me many times, I sort of know what it means to pray. I have wrestled with this one over and over and over again…ESPECIALLY after this month’s tragedy. I felt like my prayers just weren’t enough to help. Or enough to even mean anything.

I read this last night and just had to share. It felt like a God moment as I read the words. The twisted thoughts and words spoke to my mother/wife heart … and suddenly all the confusion and doubt in my heart and the surrounding world didn’t seem so confusing. Or dark.

From Philip Yancey’s “Prayer”:

I am privileged to be associated with a group in England called St. Colomba’s Fellowship. Its members consist of hospice staff, nurses and other workers who work among the dying. My wife and I are sometimes invited to speak at the fellowship’s conference. 

At one of the conferences, we heard a hospice chaplain tell of a patient who asked to see him because he was in great emotional distress. He was in the last stages of cancer and was feeling very guilty because he had spent the previous night ranting, raving and swearing at God. The following morning he felt dreadful. He imagined that his chance of eternal life had now been lost forever, and that God would never forgive one who had so cursed and abused him. 

The chaplain asked the patient, “What do you think is the opposite of love?” 

The man replied “Hate.”

Very wisely, the chaplain replied, “No, the opposite of love is indifference. You have not been indifferent to God, or you would never have spent the night talking to him, honestly telling him what was in your heart and mind. Do you know the Christian word that describes what you have been doing? 

The word is ‘prayer.’ You have spent the night praying.” – Roy Lawrence

On this magical Christmas Eve, as we practice love and light and all that is shiny…don’t worry if it feels like there is less than love, light and shine in your heart. You are a mother. You are a wife. You are praying. Just by doing it. Just by jumping out of the ring of indifference. You are love.

Merry Christmas to you. May our real and non-indifferent prayers be with every person touched by the hate crime of December 14th, 2012. Many bells will ring this Christmas as the little angels get their wings.




Get up & Show Up

First of all … Hi to all my new lovely friends that I am lucky to have thanks to the gals at The HuffingtonPost.com for sharing our story this week in the “Parents” section. I feel hugs from all over when I read your words of support and want to call you and be friends with you when I read your emails in response to that “miracle baby that just showed up” … kind of like Baby Jesus, right?

If you are new here, here is a little bit about me. I would love for you to comment so I can know you too!

This is our family as of … hmmm, yesterday around 4 PM. Yep, it was family picture time around here this week. As any mother knows, this is up there with getting ready for a vacation or Christmas morning. I can breathe a little easier this morning now that they are complete. (And thanking God for Photoshop – what you don’t see in this picture is the black eye and huge dent Gracie has under her right eye. Or the chip out of Quinn’s chin because I accidentally didn’t realize he was rolling out of bed from under my arms. Oops.)


Seriously, though, I am humbled and grateful to share our journey (ongoing) of hope and faith and love. We try to learn everyday that all three work together, like people simultaneously rowing a boat over tiny waves in the water … but as you know, the waves aren’t always tiny. The hope becomes small and hides behind monotony. The faith has holes poked in it by the fear that is born in a mother the day you find out you are expecting the arrival of another human being(s). The love becomes weak because you gave all you had to the disciplining, washing, cooking, chasing, crying and keep up-ing of the day.

Thankfully – the boat keeps floating because we are told the greatest of these is love…and sometimes all you have to do to love someone is show up. And some (most) days, that is all I can do for our children … the three out of utero and the one in utero.

Showing up and praying the love shows up with me. Savoring the days where hope is alive with giggles and hugs and scrunched up nose smiles. Clinging to the faith that right now, all is where it should be – even the dust on the coffee table. The idea of just sitting where we are, not trying to move to the next spot in the game of life – even when passing go and collecting your money sounds really good from where we are sitting.

Faith, Hope and Love.

We are 17 weeks along with baby #4 and it couldn’t be more different from our last pregnancy…but in the same breath, it’s all the same.

A little comparison of the “mule” as Scott calls me…carrying the three babes versus one babe.

14 weeks with the crew (notice my face is not in the picture because I still felt like puking every second in-between my burger and fries at this point)

14 weeks with one bambino. So THIS is what the 2nd trimester buzz is all about…


I pray that you, no matter who you are, can be at peace with the love you give by just showing up. If you ever need to feel better about the showing up you are doing, contact me and I will give you a sample of some of our days. You will probably feel really good after that.

Hope.Faith.Love to you and your family & your little row boat – thanks for hanging around & sharing your life with me if you’ve been here awhile. And welcome to my new friends – isn’t the internet a cool little serendipitous place sometimes?



People constantly ask us, “Were you SHOCKED when you found out you were having triplets?” This simple question usually insinuates the following:

Were you so infertile that you had to do that IN Veet-Rooo* thing and ended up with three at a time…OR less interestingly, does it really run in your family?

*Just one of the embarrassing attempts at publicly discussing a very private, medical matter – pronounced In Vitro Fertilization. At least know what you are saying before mumbling it into the distance and making up your own weird, botched version of it all…really just wanting to know something that isn’t any of your business anyway*

Every time someone asks us the “were you shocked” question,  I always consider my answer with deep thought and say, “No.” It is the truth. I wasn’t that surprised. To answer everyone’s burning question, NO we did not do In Vitro. YES we (I) were infertile. NO we didn’t put three eggs in. (Nor would we wish one away had we put three eggs in. A guy actually said to Scott once, “I bet you wish you had only put 2 in now!” Ha ha…douche bag). Yes, multiples run in our family … however, we aren’t shy to say we did injections into my belly for five days, followed by big horse pills up my vagina and a shot to make me ovulate…and that’s how we “GOT” three.

The day we had our 1st ultrasound for the triplets was one of the best days of my life. I was NOT surprised. The correct description would be happy. Elated. Thankful. Full of joy. Grateful God chose us to be parents, finally. Grateful the little television screen showed life. Excited for the journey ahead.

And that is honestly how I felt. Scott pretty much felt the same. Shock never entered our system. We had been trying/praying/pleading to have a baby for TWO YEARS, so this moment felt like it was heaven-sent – no matter what road we had to take to get there. It felt


If you want to know shock, I will tell you shock. Here goes.

It was a hot, sunny day in July. It was one of those days I felt like all the i’s were dotted and the t’s were crossed in our family. See, they never are, but every once in a while we are blessed with a day that feels like we have it all together. For example, I remember that my hair was actually blown dry and straight and looking decent. The kids were clean and dressed really cute. (I remember all of this because we ran into Scott’s x-girlfriend…and I remember thinking, “Oh, thank you God we don’t look anything remotely like we usually do.”) So on this particular HOT day … we decided to go shopping at the big BOGO sale at Stride Rite at the mall. New fall shoes – nothing takes you back to childhood like new leather for the rolling months of September and October. We forgot the strollers so we actually walked our then 18ish month trio into the SHOE STORE (yikes, they probably have our picture up not welcoming us back) and bought shoes. And somehow all made it back to the van as a family – hot, sweaty, frustrated and hungry – but still happy. It was just one of those mysteriously, joyful and connected family days where you look around and feel like the luckiest girl in the world. They come less the more “toddler” they get, so you learn to savor these moments like a hot fudge sundae with nuts and whipped cream.

As we drove home, I remember sitting in a traffic jam with Elmo on and all the windows down. We had just kung-fu’d our way through a mall trip and I thought this is the perfect time to say it. So I said it.

“Would you legitimately like to try for another baby?”

I don’t really remember Scott’s exact words – but I remember his smile. The smile didn’t say no.

That’s all I remember. So, we gave ourselves six months. If it happened on our own without much anxiety or effort, we would rejoice and accept the challenge/gift/crazy decision. If it didn’t happen in six months, case closed. Beautiful family of five it is.

To us it seemed a win-win…but the control freak in me had been stirring leading up to this family decision. In my mind I thought…you know, it’s probably just the five of us, and that’s OK, BUT…

And I guess that is where the journey began. The journey of letting go and letting God.

I have always known I wanted another baby, I just felt like the table/van/house was missing someone. Sort of like when your husband is gone when you are sleeping in bed. You may be asleep, but you know he is missing. Or on Thanksgiving when you are SO full you may explode…but you couldn’t LIVE without a piece of pie.

I just knew.

Entering this stage of admitting we wanted another life in our lives opened up a can of worm-worries for me. I was paralyzed and nervous (and rightfully so) that we couldn’t get pregnant without fertility medicine. I was terrified if we did, we would suffer loss. I was mostly afraid I would be back to that dark place of “want” again. I was scared it was the wrong decision. I was afraid we would be judged for having another child when we had three very young and very healthy babies. I was confused at the seed of desire because I can barely handle the three I have.

And then I got over it. Well, not all alone. After a lot of counseling, praying and turning every last ugly piece of anxiety and fear over to something bigger than me, I was OK. I really was OK. I wasn’t afraid of every last “what if” I could come up with. I came to a shining place called


I felt a true answer to prayer. It’s called peace about a decision. This is HUGE for a girl who can’t even decide what type of sandwich to order for lunch.

Over the summer my counselor assisted me in the true art of “letting go and letting God.” This may get to be a little spiritually heavy for some of you, but it is part of my story and it is part of my truth. The truth is that when you are a control freak, you are for life. You don’t wake up one day in an Eric Carle book, transformed from the big fat control caterpillar into a beautiful, colorful and calm butterfly. However, you can learn to let go. When you learn to say  to yourself, “It’s OK, no matter what, I’m OK and IT’S OK and someone, something IS bigger than me and IS in charge”, that’s when life happens.

Now what I’m about to say is not a direct outcome of anything I did or didn’t do. (Well not exactly I guess…) It is something I recognize and accept as a pure gift that was meant to be. Something that feels so precious that it may just slip out of our hands because it arrived to us SO differently this time.

2 pink lines.

In our bathroom at 6 am.

One sleepy husband telling me the 2nd line “was too faint to be true.” But I knew. I just knew.

To a girl that waited 2 years…got a million ONE PINK lines…stabbed herself with injections…peed on ovulation sticks…timed intercouse (ack) and timed EVERYTHING…and was sad and in a place of want for a long time…this serendipitous moment …                                        

Now that is shock. 

Under God’s grace we are having baby #4. And I know three babies that will be the best big siblings on the block. We are due around Mother’s Day 2013. You may find some irony with that here. 

Of course every great story has a sequel…when I have a break from napping, crying or eating nachos, I will tell the rest of what real shock can teach you about life. Oh PS, this is the real reason I’m so tired. You didn’t think three toddlers got me down THAT much, did you?

Do Not Give Up

So it’s been awhile. I somehow turned into one of those bloggers that goes missing for weeks on end. Thankfully, I am not missing – just barely swimming. Instead of regular blog posts, I have been trying to keep mouths fed, faces somewhat free of snot and walls and cribs clean from the poop painting that has been going on during naps. Oh, and saying “no” a lot. I can only dream of getting through all the laundry and actually using that pound of meat I bought to make something tasty and homemade with.

I love this blog. I love you, the people I get to connect to through this blog. The dilemma is, loving my three little people and my husband and this blog can get crowded.

This isn’t my resignation letter, this is simply my “hello, I’m still here” but I can barely keep up with myself and family, so you may see less of me until I can get up for air. Katrina’s post the other week on how physical the toddler stage is … it’s true. All true. I’m so blessed, yet so tired. Just tired. Do you have (almost) 2 year olds? Have you had them? Well, you know then.

Let me just say – no one can prepare you for this age…not to mention three of them. No one. So for now, instead of writing about our days – I’m just trying to live the day. I’m sure you understand. The independence, curiosity, defiance, memory, preference and opinions are all something we pray for in our children. Now I am praying on how to handle these things from minute to minute (you can guess those characteristics don’t form in parallel with three small people. This can result in other choice words in describing the state of the mother witnessing all of these current developments).

I am just trying to be a mama. And I’m just trying to breathe. I hope you are too. all

One of my favorite verses that seems to pop up with these babes : (I had this verse, along with a seed, taped to my breast pump when they were newborns – now I should tattoo it to my face- ha!)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up – Galatians 6:9

Toddlers sure can make you weary…but the good news is, if we keep on loving them, they will turn out good…just the way they arrived to us.

Love to you.

PS, I am so sad for everyone on the east coast experiencing damage and fear from the hurricane. My sincere prayers and thoughts go out to you if you are living through the nightmare. I have special prayers for mommies and daddies just trying to protect their young – I pray you find special powers and sweet angels to help you. Please comment if you have suggestions on how/where to donate or help other than the RedCross. Thank you!

Thursday Nourishment – Guest Post by Katrina Anne Willis

I’ve sort of got a girl crush on this amazing writer/mom/cool person I met on this funny thing called Facebook. Seriously, we met over the comments section on one of my favorite blog’s Facebook page (she was meeting THE Anne Lamott, so I creeped in and started talking to her.) What’s really weird is that we used to live 10 minutes apart, know some of the same people, both have a lot of kids and each seem to try to be a sane, spiritual being in this same big world – so the world got small and we got kindred.

I am pretty picky about who gets my “tears” on the internet and it takes a lot to get into my crazy head. Somehow, Katrina always does it. Maybe it’s because she has four kids and she’s been to mental and back again or maybe it’s because she’s funny or it could be that she is just an amazing writer. You can judge yourself, I am sharing my FAVORITE Katrina essay for our nourishment guest post today.

If you like the popular blog “Momastery”, you should add Katrina’s blog to your blog roll. I think you will enjoy. You can check her blog out here : Katrina Anne Willis. If you want to read a sample of her “big time writing” –  you can read and review “Baby Steps” here. (Bring your tissues, moms)

Ok, enough of my words. I hope you get the beautiful, ugly cry I got reading this. Be nourished! PS, after  you read this essay, go read this one, my 2nd to favorite. 

Toddlers and Teens and In Betweens

Our kids are 15, 13, 12, and 10. That means at one point in our lives, they were 5, 3, 2, and barely out of the womb. When Mary Claire was born, Gus was not yet walking. When George (the baby) was born, Sam (the oldest) was still in preschool.

People ask how we did it. How did we manage with 4 kids under the age of 5? And my answer? We just did. It was what we knew, what we created, what our lives were all about. Parents of quads do it. We know a family who just had their 9th kid. NINE! Makes us look like lightweights in comparison. And that mother of nine? She’s always smiling. Always.

I was not always smiling.

Many have asked how hard it was to go from one to two, from two to three, from three to four. And here’s my experience… zero to one was the hardest. Zero to one rocked my world. When Sam was born, I was a lunatic. I was afraid of every germ, of every disease, of every nuclear holocaust that had ever been threatened. I was entirely sure he’d choke on his food, fall out of his crib and directly on his soft spot, be eaten by wolves. And meningitis? It haunted me. I don’t know why. But every time he ran a fever, I was SURE. I was ill-prepared to be a mother. I’d always hated babysitting (ask Chandra, she has first-hand experience with all my failures as a sitter), had always been more of a tomboy than a nurturer. I played with basketballs more than I ever played with dolls. I didn’t know what to do with a baby, I only knew that I loved him with a ferocity that scared the shit out of me.

Then came Gus. People asked, “How do you love the second baby as much as the first?” And that always seemed a bit silly to me. Because you do. You love them with the same fierceness, with the same all-encompassing power. Your heart expands with each baby. It has a limitless capacity to love. And, of course, Gus made sure we noticed his arrival. He and Glenn Close? They would not be ignored.

Next came sweet Mary Claire. That finger-sucking, pink-wearing, smiling-all-the-time baby. We had her pretty quickly after Gus. I was afraid I’d chicken out if we didn’t keep going, and I knew I wanted six kids. (My uterus made me stop at four, but that’s a story for another day…) At this point, we went from man-to-man to zone defense. It’s a bit of an adjustment to be outnumbered by those who can’t wipe their own tushes, but like everything else in life, you learn. You adapt. You keep the other team from scoring too often.

And George. Georgeous. Baby George. I was as big as a barn when he made his debut. Waddling up and down the preschool stairs, carrying Gus in one arm and Mary Claire in the other so they wouldn’t go plummeting down into the dark basement abyss. Because “my uterus was tired,” we knew George would be our last.

Those early days, quite honestly, are a blur. Gus was our baby who didn’t sleep. We tried everything with that one — we swaddled him into his carseat and put his carseat into his crib so he’d get used to being in his room. I cried a lot back then. (Not really all that different from today.) I remember pleading with him as I sat on the wooden floor beside his crib, trying desperately not to curl up and go to sleep under his Paddington mobile. “Please go to sleep,” I’d beg. “Please. Please. Please. Just for an hour. Just one hour.”

The early days were all about survival. While Chris was at work or at IU (let’s all remember that these are the years during which he got his master’s degree, then his doctorate…) or supervising a school activity, the kids and I were on our own. I’d strap Gus and Mary Claire into the double jogging stroller, load George up in the Baby Bjorn, give Sam a piggy-back ride, and we’d be on our way… to the grocery store, to the mall, to a restaurant. Those were the two-cart days: when shopping at Marsh, I’d push a cart for the groceries and pull a cart that contained all the kids. We weren’t fast, but we were a sight to behold.

The nighttime routine was akin to a marathon. One in the bath tub, one out. Another one in, another one out. Lotion, powder, diapers, PJs, books, songs, bed. Chris and I would tag-team it all. Unless, of course, he was at IU. Then it would just be me.

I remember crying at my beloved uncle/doctor’s office because Sam stopped drinking milk at one point. “Is he going to die?” I asked. “Are all of his bones going to break? Will he be crippled with osteoporosis by the time he’s ten?” And my sweet, straight-talking doctor/uncle said this to me, “Honey Baby, there are children in this world who eat nothing but rice and fish eyeballs. Shit survives.” It may seem a bit crass to you, but if you knew my uncle/doctor, you’d know that it wasn’t. It came straight from his tough-love heart, and it became my mantra… when they boycotted vegetables, when we ate too many McDonald’s cheeseburgers… when breakfast consisted of Pop-Tarts and donuts… when they skinned their knees and bruised their hearts. Shit survives. It is the beauty of this crazy life.

Those early years were the physical ones. Everything we did involved a high degree of manpower. We’d carry our gear around like pasty, overweight Sherpas. High chairs, carseats, diaper bags, Pack and Plays. By the end of the day, we’d fall into bed, exhausted. My muscles ached, my legs were tired, my arms were sore. Every single moment, I was spent.

We set lots of kid parameters back then. It was a necessity, not a luxury. By age five, you were in charge of your own wiping, seat-buckling, milk pouring, and buttons. Those might not have been our most hygienic days, but little by little, they became more manageable. Some mornings we even made it to school on time.

The physical days have since morphed into the mental ones. Now that our kids are teens, tweens, and pre-teens, they take care of their own physical needs. They wipe themselves (I don’t actually check that, but I’m definitely banking on it), wash their own hair, make their own lunches, load their own backpacks. But they also come to us with middle school drama and full-blown teenage grunting. There’s either too much communication (Mary Claire… talking… nonstop… All. Day. Long.) or none at all. Parenting teenagers requires less physical stamina, but the mental prowess of a seasoned Zen Master.

When doors are slammed and texts go unanswered and eyes are rolled, I want to yell, “Don’t you remember that I offered you MY BOOBS at all hours of the day and night ON DEMAND??” But actually voicing that statement would probably do more harm than good. And with all the parenting missteps we’ve taken thus far, we’d just have to add additional money to the therapy fund. And there’s never enough money to go around, anyway. Have I mentioned how expensive these babies are? Don’t think you’re getting a raise when you no longer have to pay for daycare. Because soon thereafter come book rentals and sports fees and lacrosse equipment and hollow-legged teenager snack rations and car insurance and college tuition and weddings with open bars. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

There are two things, I believe, that have sustained us — Chris and me — in this parenting journey…

1. Love and respect for each other.

2. Unconditional love for our kids.

That doesn’t mean as a family that we always like each other. Sometimes, in fact, I want to jump on a plane and fly far, far away to a private beach that contains nothing more than sunshine, a library, a full-service bar, a cabana boy, and no cell signal.

But we always love each other. Ice cream before dinner is negotiable. Love is not.

There are so many mountains we can die on — the key is choosing which ones truly matter. You want to cut your long, beautiful hair off? It’s just hair. You want to wear plaid shorts with a striped shirt? It will make for a great graduation day picture later. You want to go on a date when you’re 13? Umm. No.

We haven’t always gotten it right. I’m not even sure we’re 50/50. But my best advice to new parents in the throes of the physical years is to breathe.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat.

Remember every possible detail. Write it down.

Take time to nurture your marriage/partnership — it was you and your spouse first and foremost, it will be you and your spouse after the kids have grown and left home.

Trust yourselves. Your own instincts are better than any advice you can read in a book.

Find a mentor who has been there before. Watch, learn, grow. Thank God for my sister and my cousins who blazed the Mama trail before me.

Never say never. I was the perfect parent before I had kids. Just ask Carrie.

You’re not the only one who can “do it the right way.” Let your partner take over. Let the grandparents spoil them. Hire babysitters. It takes a village. Sometimes it takes an entire country.

It will get easier. And then it will get harder again. Life is like that. There will not be a day when you’ll wake up and say, “We’ve arrived!” (Although the moment your youngest straps himself successfully into his own carseat will feel that way.) Little victories become big wins. Celebrate them. And know that new challenges will come. They are, in fact, peeking around the corner right now. Teenagers are a breed of their own. They stink, they’re sullen, they’re messy, they’re secretive, they’re moody. And they’re also fun and witty and smart and full of life and wonder and promise.

Those babies? The ones whose noses you’re wiping and whose shoes you’re tying? They blissfully, magically, wondrously came from you. But they’re not you. Remember that. They’re individuals. They’re human beings with their own little brains and their own little quirks and their own little wants and needs and dreams. Nurture the shit out of that. They may not be who you expected them to be, but they’re perfectly themselves.

Give them a safe place to land, always. The babies, the toddlers, the teens. They all need love and kindness and reassurance at home. And when you’re done yelling because you’ve — once again — lost your shit, make sure they know that despite your craziness, you still love them. You have always loved them. You will always love them.

Let them know that you will make mistakes, but that you will always have their best interests at heart.

Expect the best from them. Not your best, but their best. Vast difference.

Love them. Love them. Love them. Kiss them while they’ll still let you. Hug them. Sing to them. Read to them. Laugh with them. Let them see you cry. Then they’ll know that all those emotions are okay, are normal, are expected, are perfect parts of our human imperfection.

You may not think you’re doing it right, Mamas and Daddies, but you are. Oh, you are. Just look at those precious faces. There’s nothing wrong about that.

Get dirty. Get clean. Get grateful.

Fall down. Stand back up.

Do the work. Embrace the reward.

Hang in there. Sleep when you can. Drink when you must. Hide a secret stash of Oreos. Pull up your britches and get on with it. Hang on tight. Let go when it’s safe.

Enjoy the ride.


Tuesday Taste: Fuel The Body Well Guest Post

Last August at the Blogher’12 Conference, I had the privilege of a chance meeting with a girl after my own nutritional heart – Simona Hadjigeorgalis from Fuel The Body Well.Com. I met her briefly but feel like I know her well from following her awesome blog and watching her personal videos on nutrition and health.

Simona was nice enough to put together a video JUST FOR US!

In today’s Tuesday Taste, Simona shares with us 5 quick-tips for nourishing our bodies.  She made this video especially for “Just Breathe Mama” readers, knowing that we mama’s need reminders on prioritizing our own wellness!!

Enjoy this video and check out Simona’s full bio and info below her video…and then go check out her blog fuelthebodywell.com for more simple and practical advice on health and nutrition!

Simona is the co-creator of a family of wellness websites developed to empower people to connect to the wisdom of their human vehicles. She is also the owner of SiVantage Marketing.

While her kids are at school, if she is not consulting for fortune 500 companies or doing P90X2, Simona is either writing for FueltheBodyWell.com and TrainingforLabor.com or she is mentoring wellness-minded and aspiring Momtrepreneurs on their paths to financial freedom.

You can find Simona on Facebook, YouTube , and Pinterest and occasional visit to Twitter.

All Things Nourishment

If you haven’t noticed, I am a big believer in nourishing your body AND soul…especially as a mother. The minute we find out we are pregnant we start to sacrifice the priority of our mental and physical health for the priority of ANOTHER body and mind… and  from there, it never ends. The time we take to spiritually reflect or treat our physical body well starts to dwindle, although this is the time we need that spirit and body the most.

I have two guest bloggers this week for you to enjoy. They are both “experts” in their field of nourishment … one for the physical body and the other for the spiritual soul. Come back prepared to listen, learn and do something for yourself this week. I promise you will enjoy them both!

“Tuesday Taste” : “Fueling the Body Well” with Simona

“Thursday Nourishment” : “Toddlers and Teens and In Betweens” with Katrina

As we enter this beautiful fall week, let us be nourished together – the best way!


Haunted House at Indianapolis Children’s Museum

Who doesn’t love all things fall – including a visit to childhood every October when Halloween rolls around? The smell of Snickers, Twix, Starburst and Milky Way mingling in a trick or treat bag is like heaven. A close second to the naughty candy made calorie-less one day a year, is the spooky fun you can have getting lost in a haunted house.

Of course, our kids are a little on the young side…but since Haunted House at The Indianapolis Children’s Museum offers “non-scary” hours with the lights on, we went ahead and checked out the”Wicked Workshop” last week. (It opened this weekend AND it’s the 49th annual event!)

Although a little young for the witches and really spooky stuff, they still had fun touching the rats and animals down low, watching the lights, dancing to a little “Thriller” and running through the big fuzzy pumpkin. There was so much detail and activity, you could get away with taking toddlers to teenagers, and all have a great time.  They REALLY liked the ‘trick or treat” at the end and there was even a concession stand with various fall treats.

Tip: Marsh has discounted tickets if you aren’t a member! Here is more information on scary/non scary hours and ticket prices ! INFO!

Enjoy a little snapshot of our 1st haunted house!  


Prime Car Wash: No Brainer for Mamas & Papas

So, moving on from marriage to my minivan.

These are my minivan thoughts:

Graffiti of fruit squeeze pouches on the doors and windows, crushed crackers in the carpet, socks ripped off and chewed and thrown to and fro, half eaten chicken nuggets, random sour milk sippy, the occasional missing dirty diaper and the piles of random toys, books, old wrinkled balloons (hazard, I know), and bags and jackets and dirt and grime and wrappers and …

I can’t breathe.

So, I’m lucky that my friends at Prime have a pretty good gig going on for parents with disgusting cars that need help. Disclaimer: I tend to stay away from reviews…but I thought this worth sharing. I did get some perks to try out the wash, but was not paid by the company to give my opinion!

During my “mother’s day out” time last week, I spent around one hour sitting in a clean cafe, with wireless and good music and ended up with what appeared to be a new minivan. I didn’t even know it smelled so bad, until it smelled so good.

If you live in the Indianapolis area – you should go check out Prime Car Wash on 37 and 146th Street. It’s an interior/exterior full service car wash with a CLEAN comfy waiting area with good music, televisions, free wireless and i-pads to use. Did I mention a real coffee bar ? (not grouse black coffee like at the car dealership). It’s only $45/month for a membership including: as many inside/outside washes as you can cram into the month and free coffee in a cafe setting while you wait. PS, Orange Leaf is right next to Prime if you have your kids with you…I always blame ice cream runs on my kids.

OH…and you know how you always clean before the cleaning person comes, you don’t have to for them, they cleaned around my junk and THREE car seats…

Thank you Prime for making me feel a little more sane with a clean, shiny mama minivan!


BEFORE (that is baby food puree that is probably about a year old on the right, eww): 



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