Vaseline and Other Shenanigans

Merry Hallowthanksmas! It’s that time of year, right? While I intended to write much more about our Halloween, Thanksgiving and upcoming Christmas shenanigans, I’ve found that having two kids under the age of three brings a certain “busyness” to your life (this is where you either laugh into your wine or cry into your coffee, depending on the time of day and how many unmatched toddler and baby socks are currently surrounding you – DO THESE THINGS MULTIPLY IN THE DRYER?!)

Since Halloween was 15 years and 172 cups of coffee ago, I’ll just say it was awesome and full of delicious candy. The best part of Halloween? Miles doesn’t eat chocolate candy that has “stuff” in it. Which means I was able to eat Snickers, Kit-Kats, Reese’s, Milky Ways, Baby Ruths, Three Muskateers and Peanut M&Ms for breakfast every single day for three weeks (my dentist loves me).


Front page Pinterest vibes.


So, Thanksgiving. This year we kept it low-key, and had a Friendsgiving with some of our most favorite people. Everyone shared in cooking and baking; it was awesome, and the easiest holiday meal we’ve ever hosted. Friendsgiving FOREVER.

There are a few things that your toddler can only bring to your attention on Thanksgiving Eve, though:

  1. My turkey baster has been used as a bathtub toy for the better part of 2015.  So…secret turkey flavoring!
  2. The only measuring utensils I have are for a tablespoon, ¾ teaspoon and 2/3 cup, and let’s get real: those last two are never used, ever. Where did the rest of my measuring spoons and cups go? GOOD QUESTION (side-eye to the Batcave in the living room making a funny noise when I shake it).
  3. Someone hid the green beans in the laundry basket.
  4. It’s a good idea to buy several bags of mini-marshmallows; not that someone would eat an entire bag, but someone could very well lick all of the marshmallow powder off and then put the marshmallows back in the bag. Hey, did you try those Rice Krispie Treats I made last week?

The day after Thanksgiving we picked up our Christmas tree. Miles chased several Christmas tree patrons around the tent waving his “sword” (tree branch) and declaring they could not pass down the aisles. En guard.

The tree looks great. No one has knocked it over, Miles has managed to keep the lights out of the tree stand (it’s not until you have children that you fully understand that you’re putting a tree in a giant bowl of water then covering it in electrical lights) and Grant has only eaten a handful of pine needles (fiber).

So now let’s talk about Vaseline, which has nothing to do with the festive season but has everything to do with my sanity.

At 5:30am last Tuesday, the yell came through the baby monitor: “Mama, come in! Mama, come in!” Miles knows he still has a baby monitor in his room, and he does usually call out if he needs something (we haven’t hit the “wandering around the house at 3am for no reason” stage as of yet). He doesn’t normally wake up until closer to 7a, though. I thought maybe it was a bad dream, or that he lost his blanket, or that his gray teddy bear was touching his white teddy bear (all valid reasons he has expressed in the past). I was up, so I went in to check on him.

If you’ve ever used Vaseline, you know that the stuff they keep in the baby aisle is usually scented. It’s a very pleasant, yet distinguishable, scent. When I walked into Miles’ dark bedroom, I noticed there was a familiar smell in the air. I had yet to turn on the light.

I went to Miles and touched his shoulder. I noticed his pajamas felt different; odd, really. There was a clamminess to them, but not really damp, more sticky than anything. I thought, “Huh, that’s weird.” So I touched his leg and noticed the same feeling. Because it was dark and early, and I’d had no coffee, my deductive skills were lacking.

“Miles, what’s on your pajamas?” The response: silence. I touched his blanket – same weird feeling.

“Miles, what’s on your blanket?!” And still: SILENCE.

I turned on the light and gasped at the sight before me – had Slimer entered the room overnight?! What on earth was all this goo everywhere?!




Then I spied the enormous, and previously full, tub of Vaseline in Miles’ bed. I knew it was now empty because there was a monster truck jammed in the tub. The contents had been smeared on every stuffed animal, pillow, blanket and sheet in his bed. Then I looked at Miles.

I noticed his pajamas, and their glue stick-like quality. I noticed his shiny, dewy cheeks, hands and feet. But most of all, I noticed his hair, and all the varying directions in which it was pointing. Miles had covered himself from head to toe in Vaseline.

The look on my face must have been that of shock/horror/stifling laughter. I wasn’t quite sure how to react, because my brain was continuously processing all of the items covered in goo.


Then I lost it. I laughed uncontrollably while trying to explain that Vaseline isn’t a toy. In my head, I cursed myself for forgetting the tub of it in his room the night before.

After scrubbing his entire body and his hair no less than four times with Dawn dishsoap, Miles declared morning baths to be “the most fun EVER.” After three turns through the wash, his bedding and animals have returned to normal. When I dropped him off at school, I explained to his teacher why he may have a lingering baby fresh scent for the next six weeks.

It was, all in all, one of those moments that will turn into a favorite story to tell in company and to his future girlfriend. It was also a moment of thankfulness, because of all the things a toddler could smear on themselves, this was a pretty good choice.


Depth of Grace

There is a reason God’s grace is called amazing. Truthfully, there’s not another adjective that comes to mind that could do his grace justice.

When I wrote this post on my experience as a victim of assault, it was important for me to share with you the truth I’ve found in life’s horrible situations: God didn’t do this to me (or you). You must know how much He loves you, and that no matter what has happened to you, God will use it if we open up and allow him. God has a purpose for your life.

God called me to share my story; it has led to an incredible healing for me, and has created a dialogue with others who have been victims as well. But if I’m going to tell the complete and open and honest truth, it’s important to know that I didn’t come away from those events unscathed, with a sudden awakening and understanding of God’s love for me. The reality is those events, for a period of time, left me in a dark place. I retreated into myself because I didn’t know who to talk to, or even how to begin the conversation. I coped in the way that made the most sense to my very young self; I drank heavily, and made poor decisions because of it. Being victimized is much more than just the act or acts against you; it’s the unraveling of your life afterwards.

After a few years of self-medicating, something happened. Something changed. I was on my way home from a happy “hour” that ended up lasting eight. Have you ever closed a bar down on a Wednesday night? I think that’s what opened my eyes to a certain sense of desperation; of floundering, of seeking yet finding nothing.

I was driving home (yes, driving) when I randomly came across a Christian radio station. I say randomly; however, I think many of us know there’s nothing truly random about these things, is there? Anyway, I paused to listen to the pastor. He was delivering a message of hope, and he was speaking of the Prodigal Son. He closed his brief message with a sort of altar call. I continued driving, but found myself repeating his words. The realization that I was finally finding began to creep in.

The following day, listening to the same radio station, I heard a commercial for a local church having its annual Christmas Bazaar and White Elephant sale. My husband and I were not, at that time, attending any church on a regular basis (side note: God bless my husband, who I met when I was just 19 and who has been by my side through every step of this journey). I was loosely raised in the church; I had a vague idea of God’s love, but not really an understanding of its depth. I knew the scriptures, but I didn’t live the scriptures. For some reason, that simple commercial called to me. I mentioned it to my husband, and he was naturally gung-ho to go. We went, and that was it – I was hooked. The love and light emanating from the people we encountered was astounding. The beginning of the positive road was before me. God was hollering to me.

When I began to feel the calling from God to return to him, I initially felt an immense amount of shame for decisions I’d made. I couldn’t imagine God forgiving me; the idea of God saying, “Okay, I’ll forgive you,” while secretly condemning me was in the forefront of my mind. Yes, I think that shows the depth of my shame – can you imagine our awesome, incredible and loving God doing that? Turning one of his children away? Of course not, but when you’re coming from such a place of despair, the human mind is capable of convincing you of quite a bit.

We are imperfect creatures; we are full of free will, and we are sinners by nature. It’s just the truth of the matter. Try as we might to do good and right, to be just and fair, we’re going to slip up, and sometimes that could be a lot. Our sinful choices don’t need to define us, though.

When I came to a place of knowing I wanted God’s full and complete love, that I had accepted things as they were and wanted God to use them in my life for good, I also came to a place of knowing that even though I’d made some no good, horrible, very bad choices at times, God still loved me. God has given me grace. It is by His grace that I’m saved and forgiven. And man, did I want that forgiveness.

How do I know God’s grace is amazing? Well, just reading of King David, the Apostle Paul, the Apostle Peter, Moses, and a host of others has proven it to me. I have realized that if God can use murderers, liars, adulterers, and all-around not great folks to accomplish the greatest of his works, he probably had a place for me, too.

The more I’ve come to know His grace, the less of my guilt and shame I carry. The more completely I allow God to guide me, the less inclined I am to figure things out on my own. Understanding God’s unconditional love meant I could also finally love myself in that same way. Even better, it means that I am capable of loving others in that same way. I can give grace and love and forgiveness, because God gave it to me. And the best part? It feels really, really awesome. If you don’t know what it’s like to wake up every single day with joy in your heart, with a smile on your face, with an overwhelming desire to show everyone – EVERYONE – your love; well, I want you to know that feeling. I want you to know God’s grace and love, because once you do, it will be impossible for you not to share it.

Know that God’s grace is deep. When folks say, “tip of the iceberg…” that’s how I imagine God’s grace. I see this iceberg of grace; this massive, brilliant, beautiful and pure thing, and yet I still have so little comprehension of its true magnitude beneath the surface. It is that full of mercy and forgiveness. And it’s there for all of us.


It is awesome. It is deep. It is amazing.




The Mom Diet

After both kids, I had a few people remark on how good I looked. Not in a “wow, you look so well-rested and you have no gray hair or bags under your eyes” way, but in a “boy, for someone who ate two burritos a week for 40 weeks, you don’t look too bad.” And here I am, sharing the secrets of my success.

Full disclosure: The only exercise I get is chasing a toddler around (which is the equivalent of P90X, to give my childless friends an accurate comparison) and hauling an 18 pound meatloaf of an infant (which is some Crossfit worthy stuff, trust). So just because I fit into my jeans doesn’t mean I have abs. Well, I do have abs, they’re just hibernating for the winter (and all winters to come…

Before we had Grant, my husband worked most Saturdays and it was just Miles and me at until late afternoon. With a day booked with important activities, it was important that I develop a weekend diet that would keep me on track. Here we have…

The Mom Diet

5am – Wake Up Call

FIRST BREAKFAST: Your first mom meal of the day will be four cups of extra bold dark roast Colombian something or other, with a splash of cream (or your toddler’s leftover milk from dinner the night before) and some sugar. Okay, lots of sugar. We need to be firing on all engines here, people.

8am – Did I eat any food yet?

SECOND BREAKFAST: Half of a cinnamon raisin English muffin, with all the raisin picked out. Left over vanilla yogurt from a yellow bowl with a yellow spoon. Orange segments with the juice sucked out. It’s worth noting that this meal coincides with the kid’s breakfast.

10am – Now my blood sugar is getting low.

FIRST SNACK: Six Chips A’hoy cookies eaten while hiding behind the couch. BE SURE TO GET THE CHEWY ONES. Otherwise your kid will know about your secret stash.

11am – Lunchtime!

FIRST LUNCH: Annie’s Homegrown Mac ‘n Cheese, served cold and with blueberries mixed in. You may also enjoy the green beans, pre-chewed for maximum efficiency to ensure you are able to resume playing trains as quickly as possible.

12pm – THE KID IS NAPPING. What happens next?

12:17pm: Eat handful of goldfish crackers. Fold laundry. Try not to get crumbs on the laundry.

12:33pm: Eat an apple. Watch “Golden Girls.”

1:02pm: Wash dishes from first half of the day. Wait, is that hummus? Where is my pita?

1:45pm: Realize that you’ve eaten half a tub of hummus and two pita loaves. Also realize you forgot to finish folding the laundry because you were too busy watching Blanche try to juggle men.

2:07pm: Eat another cookie.

2:12pm: Decide you need to eat something healthy. Eat some salad mix directly from the bag, alternating with squirts of Italian dressing.

2:30pm: Put remainder of unfolded laundry back in the dryer to de-wrinkle.

2:37pm: Eat a cookie. Decide the laundry can be folded tomorrow. Lay down on the couch.

3:07pm: Kid is up. Eat a cookie. Get kid.

3:30pm – Sesame Street

SECOND SNACK: All the mashed/bruised/unacceptable parts of a banana, and some peanut butter.

4:00pm – DAD IS HOME!

THIRD SNACK: Glass of wine while “cooking dinner.”

6:00pm – Knock three times…

DINNER: Pay the pizza guy. Everyone to the table for dinner. Your meal consists of pizza crust, cheese that “looks funny” and a dinosaur chicken nugget.

7:15pm – Bathtime

THIRD SNACK: Glass of pinot grigio and the last dinosaur chicken nugget.

8:00pm – Bedtime

FOURTH SNACK: Cookies. Wine. Hummus. Cheese. Salami. Realize you need something green…decide pistachio ice cream will do the trick.

9:30pm – Snoring on the Couch

During the week, I’m much more organized and cognizant of what I’m putting in my body, because I’m cooking real food for my family at dinner time and because my breakfast and lunch are eaten sans children.  But once the weekend hits, all bets are off, because I’m subject to hostage negotiations and playing trains.  We very much enjoy eating dinner as a family, but I have also found that my husband and I very much enjoy eating hot food.  So, once a week, we get take-out after the kids have gone to bed and I am allowed to sit on the couch in my pajamas with a glorious plate of Thai and an enormous glass of wine and no one is asking me for a bite.  It’s all MINE.

Dinner is served.

Dinner is served.

Some Updates – Now Featuring Vomit!

A few days ago, someone mentioned to me that it had been several weeks since I’d shared anything. They wanted to know if I was “done” writing; well, I’m not, and knowing that someone maybe kind of missed my rambling was encouraging. So think of this as my State of the Union Address.

Truthfully, I knew I’d take a little break after my last post. I felt that once those words were shared, they would need some time to breathe and just exist. I received so many calls, texts and emails with outpourings of love, for which I am very grateful. Some shared words of encouragement, others shared words of thanks, and a few shared their own similar stories. I am reminded again of how valuable and important this tribe is – we who lift, support and lean on each other. Words couldn’t adequately express how blessed and loved I am to have you in my life.

And so, much like a fine wine, I gave those words time to breathe…but not long, because I’m not big on letting my wine breathe, especially since my “fine” wine is classified as anything costing over $13 a bottle without a screw-cap.

Typical Friday night.

Typical Friday night.

The hiatus extended because life happens. In our current state, life primarily consists of three rounds of the stomach flu and an upper respiratory infection. It’s also worth noting that as soon as I sat down to write this, one of the cats projectile vomited in the hallway outside the kids’ rooms. I know this because I didn’t just step in it; I walked through the two foot trail of puke, each step growing more startled and revolted and hastened. So, I quickly ran through puke and nearly slipped and fell, but so help me I’m going to sit down and drink this glass of wine and write this because I don’t know when a). someone will wake up or b). someone/cat will throw up and c). I have zombies I need to watch, so let’s move it along.

Typical Sunday night.

Typical Sunday night.

What was I saying? Oh yes, puke. I’ve shared stories of vomit before, and I’ve even written about what it’s like for your very first child to be sick for the very first time (red poop, right?)

Now I can add another notch to my Belt of Parental Experiences: Our first trip to the Emergency Room.

Three weeks ago (I think – so much exhaustion, so little coffee) I woke up in the middle of the night to feed Grant because 2am is peak party time in our house (side note: isn’t life funny? Like ten years ago, you’re staying awake until 2am on purpose and now if I’m not in bed by 10p I feel like I’m a long-haul trucker coming off a three day NoDoze binge after delivering lumber in Alaska). Once Grant and I were done, I headed back to bed. I heard Miles cough through the baby monitor, but didn’t think much of it since he’d been fine when he went to sleep. Half an hour later I awoke to this horrific noise, sort of like the sound you’d hear if someone swallowed a kazoo and tried breathing through their mouth afterward.

Miles is a child who very rarely gets sick. I was naturally concerned, and by “concerned” I mean “panicking and consulting WebMD.” I asked Evan what he thought we should do. I always ask Evan not only because he’s my partner, but because I know he’ll help balance out my crazy. The noise was loud enough and scary enough for him to confirm my thoughts: go to the emergency room.

I packed a bag, grabbed my wallet, got dressed and got Miles ready to load up. We (as in just the two of us) walked outside at 3:30am and my child marveled at the sight of the moon and stars, something he doesn’t see very often because he goes to bed at 8pm. “Mama, the moon is so BIG! The stars are so PRETTY!” I realized that his breathing had improved quite a bit; he wasn’t running a fever, didn’t have any weird spots, but I think it’s safe to say that rational, sound decisions aren’t generally made during the hours of 2a-4a, and since we were dressed and packed and loading up I knew we’d just stay the course and go to the hospital.

For the brief ride, Miles continued marveling at these nighttime sights. Cars on the road, empty parking lots, the dark sky. He thought we were on some sort of adventure, in which he got to wear his pajamas and take his blankie.

We arrived to an empty waiting room and checked in. I carried Miles, his blanket, two teddy bears, one stuffed tiger, a sippy cup and a bag. I refused to let anyone or anything in our large caravan touch any object or surface in the waiting room because if we weren’t sick now, we certainly would be later.

The adventure continued as a nurse took us back to check Miles’ vitals (all fine, of course). Miles got to hold a stethoscope, wear a surgical mask, and attempt to open all unsecured cabinets and drawers. I reassured the nurse that less than an hour ago, I was positive he’d somehow managed to swallow a toy in his sleep and it was most definitely lodged in his throat. He was sick.

We hiked four miles back to triage where the game of “TOUCH ALL THE THINGS!” continued. A gentleman with an upper GI bleed was admitted and being treated in the room next to ours which began the game of “If I could only sneak next door…” and “Did she just drop a hypodermic needle?” followed by “I DON’T WANT TO STAY IN THIS ROOM ANY LONGER! WATCH ME WRITHE IN ANGER AND PAIN!”

Three nurses, one albuterol treatment, one x-ray and one doctor visit later, and we were diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection and prescribed a steroid. Miles skipped (!!!) all the way to the exit. And again I told the nurse he really was sick.

We filled the prescription and were given a liquid that surely tasted like radiator fluid. Miles would not be ingesting this. We tried hiding it in juice, ice cream, chocolate frosting – nothing. I called the pharmacist three times to beg for another form of the medication and I was met with more suggestions like, “put it in honey!” I told her she surely must not have children.

Four lost doses and one vomit session later (it really did taste that bad) we gave up. I called his regular pediatrician the next day and we were prescribed the same steroid in a dissolvable tablet that tasted like powdered sugar, which now has me convinced that there are certain folks in the medical field who make decisions based solely on entertainment value.

So he took the steroid, great! Right? Well, in toddlers and children, most steroids sort of turn them into feral animals. Case in point: naptime.

Miles usually naps from about 12-3p without issue. On the first day of the steroid, after an hour of climbing on the dresser, unscrewing the sippy cup and pouring milk all over the room, trying to take down both sets of blinds and successfully crawling underneath the bed and “hiding”, he gave up in a fit of exhaustion and went to sleep. And we did this for FIVE DAYS. Is it wrong for me to say I was sort of happy Monday showed up, and I got to take him to school? Because I was. Poor baby, yes, but have you ever tried to put a wet cat in a burlap sack feet first? That’s a toddler on a Prednisone.

Typical Saturday naptime on Prednisone.

Typical Saturday naptime on Prednisone.

The day of his last dose, I threw confetti and drank champagne and relished in the fact that I wouldn’t need to pull a kid off the ceiling fan to get them in the bathtub anymore (I hope). And here we are, a few weeks later, and all is fine. Well, Miles caught our stomach virus, but other than the vomiting this past Thursday and Friday, all is fine. I think we’ve met our quota for the year.

So after a few weeks of words breathing and toddlers wheezing and mom and dad vomiting, know that I’m still here. I have a lot of half-written things that I will eventually get whole-written and share, as long as I have enough coffee. And wine. And chocolate. That is the current State of the Union.

Next up: the Mom of Two Kids Under Three Years Old Diet.  It’s as easy as making dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets (because sometimes it is making dinosaur chicken nuggets…)