Tuesday, July 23, 2013


The word of the day {week, month, year} seems to be 'baby'. With each passing week of 2013, the number of expectant/new mommies I know {or know of--because only in my imagination is the Duchess one of my 'friends'} grows right along with the cute little baby bumps that pop up in my FB and IG newsfeeds.  Of course today, I was glued to the screen as the newest little royal made his first official public appearance.  For reasons unexplained,I found myself captivated by the spectacle that is the British Royal Family {of course, I also found myself hating admiring the Duchess of Cambridge for looking so.freaking.good. after having just birthed a future king.  expletive.}

Recently one of my dearest sweet friends became a mom for the very first time.  Her sweet little bundle is a very welcome gift for all of us who have been on a state-side version of a 'Royal Baby Watch'.  With the blessing{?} of social media and technology, I have been able to connect with my dear friend and see a few photos of the tiny little love.

Seeing a sweet little baby, bundled in a flannel hospital swaddling blanket and little knit hat triggered overwhelming feelings of nostalgia, to the times when each of my little babies were placed in my arms for the first time.  Especially the first time.  That first-born baby, your ticket to the realm of mommyhood, the tiniest of people for whom you would lay down your life.  If you could capture time in a bottle, along with all of its thoughts and feelings and aromas and energies; that bottle would stand at the forefront of my collection. It would be proudly displayed on a little pedestal with its own little light illuminating it, so as to identify it as the moment when life as I had known it lost all meaning only to be replaced with something much bigger than I had ever envisioned.

I contacted my friend a few days ago; one of those 'how's-it-going-I-know-you're-busy-but-I'm-thinking-of-you' kind of contact.  A moment to tell her how her sweet baby had me looking back over pictures of my own sweet babies.  Along with my words,  I sent her this picture:

Raegan Harper...just hours old
I took this around 3:00 am the night that Raegan was born.  {the nurse apologized that she ran out of pink bows.  To which I asked, "do you use blue bows on boys?".}  Shortly before I took this picture, Raegan was wide awake, attempting to focus on my face as she took in my familiar voice and began forming a connection.  I had finished feeding her, but she didn't want to sleep {ohh....little did I know what I had coming down the pike!}.  So, we 'chatted'.  I told her about her family, shared little stories and secrets.  I took in her perfectly tiny features, inhaled the aroma of freshly bathed newborn, and admired her head full of hair {she was a Rapunzel in comparison to my older two!}.  It was pretty safe to say, a connection was made and I was swept off my feet, totally in love with this precious doll.

Even though I was no longer considered a 'new mom' by the time Raegan came into our lives, there's just something about those tiny little squishes when they're wrapped up in their long-sleeved, side-snap tees and hospital blankets.  I told my friend that this picture encapsulated one of those moments I will absolutely cherish forever.  I was exhausted from a long labor, anxious to have Gavin and Brynn meet her the next day, and overwhelmed with emotion at the reality of having three kids.  But it didn't matter.  I was making a memory that I'll be able share with my youngest baby girl some day.
During the exchange of messages with my friend, the word 'breakable' came up.  Thinking about those early days of newborn babyhood, breakable is definitely a word that I would use to describe it.  Those initial days when they're so insanely small and helpless.  When you worry about every little movement and adjustment as your dress them or secure them into their carriers.  When you cautiously wash their tiny heads, ever so gently scrubbing their 'soft spot' so as not to injure the still-fusing skull bones {was that just me?  I was so, so afraid I'd make a permanent indentation in their heads if my thumb pressed too hard}.

I thought about that word, breakable.  I know the context of the word was such that a newborn baby is incredibly tiny and vulnerable; but as a mom of an extremely curious toddler, a dance and tumbling obsessed kindergartner, and a boy {that word alone should suffice}, I realize that 'breakable' is something that is going to follow them through life.

Human beings are a fragile species.  Yes, the medical world is an infinite source of advancements and breakthroughs and cures for all kinds of ailments that just a few decades ago would have resulted in a far more dismal outcome.  But that's the physical part.  It's the paint on the shutters, the curtains hanging in the family room, and even the new plumbing you installed in the bathroom.  'Fixable' aspects of a person that will repair something that's broken or malfunctioning.  Sometimes the repairs needed are far too great in comparison to the malfunctioning parts; but from that, amazing medical breakthroughs can be made.

Yes, the physical aspect of a human is breakable, but {often times} fixable.  But what about the aspects you can't see?  The character.  The morality.  The psyche.  The heart and soul of a human being.  Those aspects are more breakable than an arm or hip or pancreas.

My dear friend mentioned that the single piece of advice she's heard one time too many is to 'cherish this time because they grow up so fast'.  I'm probably guilty of writing this on the card for her shower, and I know I'm definitely guilty of telling other mommies-to-be and new moms those same words.  Thinking about it, I feel silly for saying such an obvious statement.  I don't know of many moms who aren't going to cherish the moments, who would simply wish time away.

The fact of the matter is this.  There is never.ever.ever. enough time.  The time you need to enjoy your newborn is filled with the busyness of taking care of a newborn.  This is not to say that taking care of a newborn isn't enjoyable, because it is {most of the time}.  I'm just saying that it's easy to become lost in the 'work' of it and exhaustion from it, and lose sight of the impact of it.

I've found that the same thing holds true for every age of kids {granted my personal experience is only up to age 7, but I'm inferring that it stays this way throughout the rest of childhood}.  Too often I find myself focusing on the time needed for the physical part of taking care of children.  Cleaning messy faces, brushing snarled curls, applying sunscreen, cleaning up {nonstop} toy explosions, chasing toddlers, scrubbing crayon from every God-forsaken surface.  Couple all that with the demanding and whining and bickering and tattling, {while not a physical activity} and you've got a recipe for wearing a mom down to the very core of her being.

Over time, a less-than-balanced mom {ahem, me} begins to wither and wilt and lose the ability to do what it is that earns her feelings of warm fuzzies as she lay down to sleep at night; feelings that she has done the best job she can as a mom during that day.  A less-than-balanced mom begins to doubt herself and use a hurtful voice when talking to herself {and often times, when talking to her kids as well}.  She begins a spiral into a space from which she feels the energy needed to escape far exceeds her abilities to do so. She wilts further.

Each morning begins with the intention of practicing patience and kindness and all of the virtues and values she tells her kids to exhibit each time they're doing just the opposite.  But then life happens.  Breakfast table bickers and spills and demands for a specific color bowl wear away at the thin shell of sanity that mom was able to begin to rebuild during her restless and fitful sleep.  The shell cracks further as the morning progresses.  Chores and errands and even fun activities like swimming become daunting and despised simply because the physical and mental strength required to get through to the finish line proves to be too great.  By the end of the day, mom's shell of sanity has been wiped away along with the umpteenth spill, and what's left behind is simply the shell of a person.  A person who knows that the reason the kids aren't speaking kindly to one another is not because they haven't been told, but because they haven't heard kind words.  Their psyche and morality and character are being impacted.  Not by the big and messy and scary 'outside' world that we parents so desperately try to keep them sheltered from.  From the mommy who is supposed to keep them safe and protected and happy and busy and healthy and loved.

Don't get me wrong.  My kids aren't in physical danger.  They're not unhealthy.  They're not being left alone or neglected, fending for themselves.  They're just not getting the best of me.  The eyes with which I'm viewing their world right now have compounded my guilt for not being able to escape this space.  To the outside world, even to my husband, the kids are happily going through life, content and enjoying the comforts with which we've been blessed.  To me, I worry they're walking on eggshells.  Tip-toeing around to avoid being on the recipient end of an audible sigh, a frustrated huff, a shout of disgust, or a declaration of exhaustion.  I focus heavily on my guilt and regret and even humiliation for every time I revealed my brokenness in such a way that they hung their heads in disappointment and walked away.  The times when I collapse onto the couch after finally tucking the last of them into bed and instantly begin to recount all the times I've failed my kids that day.  The frustrations, the dismissive tone, the blatant annoyance with a particular situation {the likes of which are usually not that life-altering}.  I wince when I think of the ways in which my own brokenness has begun to break them.  I wilt further.

There are times when my energy is revived long enough to re-establish a connection with the kids; we play a game, read book, bake some muffins.  I feel a little mending taking place.  The breaks in my heart sport a neat little bandage, sealing up a crack.  But instead of staying firmly in place, allowing time to heal the wound, I allow something to rip the bandage away, revealing the tender spot where the cracks have been trying to heal; increasing my susceptibility to breaking further, which in turn breaks my kids further, which in turn breaks me further.  The spiral won't stop.  I can't seem to find the exit for this ride, or just 'snap out of it'. I need help.  Beyond my own reading {the likes of which have been ravenous}.  But man, is it scary.

Maybe that's why I've been a crappy blogger.  Words and sentences and posts run through my head at an alarming rate.  The sleepless nights and lack of desire to do very much have provided me ample time with which to write.  But the fear.  The vulnerability of showing up, laying the broken pieces out on display and saying "Hi.  Somewhere in this messy, jagged, crackled pile of pieces--I exist.  I just can't seem to find them all by myself.  Can you help me?".  That declaration is such a hard thing.  The fear associated with it grabs hold, restraining your forward progress.  It makes you feel guilt{or guiltier}, feel susceptible to scrutiny and judgement {which adds to the fear}, it makes you feel scared.

But it's in that vulnerability, that susceptibility, that openness...that I will eventually find the strength I need to climb out of the spiral, to stop wilting and start flourishing, to reach a point when my kids see my brokenness as a way in which to gain strength, not to feel disappointment.

So for those mommies-to-be, new mommies, and mommies with years of experience, my advice is no longer 'cherish every moment'.  My advice is this: Know when to ask for help. {and I'm not just talking "help me figure out which carrier is best--invaluable advice, absolutely, but that's not what I'm referring to}.  Don't just know when to ask, actually ask.  Put fear aside, set your vulnerabilities at the door, and {this one is tricky, especially for someone like me} let go of the fact that people will judge.  Let them judge.  They'll make subjective judgements that they're 'better/stronger/more capable', or wonder how it is that you could possibly feel like you do when your life is 'so good'.  Go ahead.  Let them.  Know that you aren't worse or weak or less capable; and that even though your life is 'good', you're still human and you're still allowed to have brokenness.  Just be able to recognize that point when your brokenness starts to break down your capacity to enjoy and to thrive in this beautifully messy and crazy world.

In all the reading I've done; in all the the wise words and beautifully crafted paragraphs and pages of some of my favorite authors, I find solace in this:
"Owning our story can be hard, but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.  Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky, but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy--the experiences that make us the most vulnerable.  Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light" ~Brene Brown 
On the road to mending the brokenness...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

One year ago today...

A year ago today, I was standing in a gazebo in Chesapeake City, Maryland.  Anticipation and excitement added extra sparkle to the water that was the backdrop.  Row upon row of guests stood to catch the first glimpse of the bride as she made her grand entrance. Countless eyes gazed toward the end of the grassy aisle leading down to the gazebo.  As soon as I saw movement behind the tall bushes, signalling that she was on her way, I turned my head to watch the face of the groom.

That moment.  The expression on his face as he sees his bride for the first time.  The complete vulnerability of a man as he is momentarily rendered breathless by the reality of what is about to happen.  When the heart and soul of a person shows in the tender eyes, the awe-struck smile, and the softened gaze as he looks the woman about to become his wife.

I recall being on the recipient end of that kind of connection, that kind of tunnel vision when I stepped out of the limousine on my own wedding day.  The moment when I gazed down the aisle at my groom as he eagerly awaited my arrival; I felt like I was the only other person on the face of the earth.  On this particular day, one year ago, I wasn't watching my groom's face however, I was watching my 'baby' brother's.

Jason and I have been connected since his arrival in January of 1987.  Being nearly 6 years old at the time, I thought it was pretty awesome that my parents had brought home a real-life baby doll whom I could care for and love.  A lifelong bond was formed, and strengthened over the years.

However, our years of sibling-ship had periods of adoration mixed with annoyance as well as aggressive anger.  We fought with each other as siblings do, but we also talked and laughed and played and cried together.  When our emotions were awry and displaced and confused as we navigated life as children of a broken marriage, we turned to each other.  When we swam all summer and played Hot Wheels and Nintendo, we did so together.  As his powerful swing sent the baseball sailing over the outfielder's head, I stood in the stands; cheering him on as he rounded the bases.  When he did his impressions of Fire Marshall Bill and Cartman, I laughed until tears ran down my cheeks.  When I needed a partner in crime as we conspired against our brother Geoff, I turned to him.

He was my 'Jakey' {he'll probably kill me for that one}.  My buddy, my refuge when I needed a smile or a laugh, and the person whose heart I tried to protect most fiercely; even moreso than my own.

As I 'grew up' and moved away to college, we still found ways to chat and connect.  It was strange to move back home each summer, he 'grew up' in those pockets of time I was away.  He had dates, a job, and a circle of friends.  We were still close, but our wavelengths were becoming a little less in sync.  I wish now I had shown more interest in the experiences of his life, rather than focusing so narrow-mindedly on the experiences in my own.  But even when I wasn't as 'in tune' with his life as I had been in our earlier years, I still could rely on him for friendship, a laugh, or an accomplice and support for whatever shenanigans I had gotten myself into.

I can't honestly say I remember the first time I met Juliana.  I wish I did, but then I wonder if the reason I don't is because it's one of those things that would make me feel guilty about the way I had acted.  I wonder if I was indifferent because at the time I was in a strange place in my own heart, or ruder than I intended because I had pangs of jealousy and distaste toward someone who'd captured the attention of my baby brother {not out of dislike, but rather from a protective standpoint}.

The year they were together before Randy and I got married gave me the opportunity to witness their relationship in its 'new' phase.  Since I was still living in PA, Sunday night dinners at my mom's gave me a chance to watch the two of them together.  I grew to quickly admire and appreciate the connection they shared, even as high school 'kids'.  Jason's personality and humor is something that I'd always looked to as a source of comfort; and a place where I felt 'at home', because I often use humor to diffuse stressful and upsetting situations.  Juliana quickly recognized his eccentricities as the unique qualities that made him 'Jason', appreciated {most of} them for what they were, and she still hung around! {*smile*}  I couldn't put my finger on it, but something about their relationship just 'clicked'.

When they were both in college, and I was figuring out life as a 'wife' and then soon after, as a 'mom'.  Despite each of our busy routines and lifestyles, I was still in touch them; hearing about their experiences and listening as their relationship grew through the natural ebb and flow that transpires during a long-distance relationship.  I traveled back to PA several times over the years I lived in Colorado, and observed how that each time I returned, their commitment to 'go to the distance' had deepened.

College graduation paved the way for their careers to begin, and soon life found them at the threshold of their first apartment together.  A sweet puppy wriggled her fluffy way into their hearts, and from the phone calls and texts we exchanged, things seemed to be on course for 'the next step'.

I remember the day I answered the call in February of 2011.
"Sooo....I bought a ring today."

I don't know how I managed to speak during the rest of the conversation with my mouth in a perma-smile, my eyes leaking tears of happiness, and my heart excitedly thumping in my chest.  Aside from my own engagement, I don't think I'd ever felt such a rush of exhilaration and love.

A little more than a week later, another call.

I dashed down the hallway at work, excitedly shouting {it was after school hours} as I ran into my drama club's rehearsal.

"I'm sorry I'm late!  My baby brother just got engaged!!!!!!"  I passed my phone around the circle of girls so they could all see 'the ring' {the boys were indifferent as they leaned back against the risers}.  I don't remember the rehearsal that day, but my heart was on cloud 9.

Planning began, and 'the' wedding so many of us had been waiting for was officially 'in the works'.  The distance between Delaware and Colorado never seemed so far, but the phone calls and emails from both Jason and Juliana filled my heart with even more happiness as they filled me in on the details of what they'd accomplished.  Feeling 'connected' during their wedding planning, despite the distance between us, meant more to me than I think they even realize.

Before we knew it, it was 'that moment'.  I stood across the gazebo from my brother, watching tears pour from his eyes, wearing a smile wider than the sun's rays could reach, and bouncing up and down as his excitement bubbled over in his heart.  His excitement permeated throughout the crowd, building up some kind of an electricity that allowed everyone there to feel the love connection the two of them shared.  In every detail, in every word spoken, and in every action they made; they personified the quote, "today I marry my best friend".  My memories of that day always circle back to the moment he saw her, how she wiped the tears from his cheek, and how I could actually feel their connection.  Magical, inspirational, and encouraging.  The way marriage should feel.

Jason will always be my 'baby' brother.  He's my buddy, someone I can always go to for a smile or laugh, and one of the people whose heart I fiercely protect.  And now he's a husband.  He's Juliana's best friend, he makes her smile and laugh {and sometimes shake her head}.  Their hearts are both fiercely protected--by one another.  I'm blessed to know that my baby brother is in hands more loving and understanding and caring than my own; and blessed to have a sister-in-law who has grown to become the sister I never had.  I don't think I've ever witnessed a more amazing display of love, admiration, and connectivity between two people than I have when I see my brother and his wife together.  They've taught me a lot more than I think they realize, and I'm ecstatic that they're celebrating their first of countless years together as husband and wife.

Congratulations, Jason and Jul...my love for you both is immeasurable.

the guys may have laughed, but he didn't care.

{not to be outshined by us bridesmaids passing out the tissues}


and this.moment.  <3

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Serenity NOW!


Synonyms of this word include calmness, composure, patience, tranquility.  
Antonyms?  Agitation, disruption, disturbance, trouble.  See also: a day in the life of a mom.

Moments of sweet bliss that can appear throughout the day as an opportunity to take a step back and regain perspective.  Perspective seems to be an area with which I struggle when I'm in the trenches with mothering.  It's not necessarily that I don't have perspective, but rather sometimes it's so narrow that I'm not taking a moment to broaden the lens to find a reason for the tantrum, a purpose behind the question, the initial cause of the fight, or an alternate {read: calmer} way to handle a situation.  The results have led me down a path of knee-jerk reactions, unnecessary yelling, and wrongful imprisonment {relax...it's just a time-out in their toy-filled, spacious bedrooms complete with ventilation, light, and electricity.  They drive me bananas, but I'm not a tyrant!}.  Sometimes most days it's not easy to keep that perspective wide enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel {bed time?!}.  Yesterday was one of 'those' days.

Our neighborhood pool is always closed on Mondays; which in my humble opinion shows that the person who came up with this *brilliant* idea is not a mom of young children.  I rely on the gloriousness of my children's post-swim stupor to help me accomplish a few additional things on my 'to do' list.  Ok.  I lie.  I actually use that time to catch up on Facebook, play some Candy Crush, or clear a show or two off the DVR.  But still.  Aside from the whole exercise and Vitamin D part of being at the pool, the after effects can be pretty awesome.  The number of fights reduce, the eyes glaze over and occasionally even close, and their energy levels are just about right to do not much other than play mindlessly with Legos, Barbies, or crayons.

With the hopes of a chlorine-induced siesta out the window, I planned to take the kids to the library to replenish the empty bag since we had returned books last week in the middle of an errand-running marathon.  The morning had been filled with endless arguments, whiny battles over who loved whom more {I guess there are worse things they could be fighting about}, a non-stop trail of random toy scatter, and a litany of questions that would even get on the Riddler's nerves.  It was also filled with the darkened skies of an emerging thunderstorm.

Determined to not let it rain on our parade library books, I scurried around the house to get everyone out the door before another 'Moommmmmmm!' could emerge from their goldfish crumb-laden lips.  Just as I slid into my flops, the skies opened and washed away my desire to struggle a toddler into a car seat in the middle of the deluge.  Back into the house marched the confused tears of a toddler, foot stamping annoyance of a five year old, and ornery indifference of a seven year old.  The cats and dogs commenced their fights as I turned the Keurig back on for another cup of energy.

Eventually, we did make it to the library.  However, the allure of row upon row of neatly displayed book spines was lost upon the drool-inducing, colorful flashing screens of the touch-screen computer games.  In the middle of the children's area, a round table boasting three free screens paved the way for three children to whoop it up and rip-roar through the otherwise peaceful goings on of a library to stake their claim.  A tiny part of me wanted join in with the other patrons of the library and look around in dismay for the mother who would let their children act in such a manner.  But, with a look around that said, "look, I'm doing the best I can today!", I hurried over to calm my three howler monkeys who had shifted their noise level from arguing over who had which computer to pleas of, "MOMMMMM, I NEED HELLLLLLLP!".

The serene picture of three children happily tapping away at their screens while I browsed the shelves for a selection of picture books lasted roughly 27.8 seconds before I heard the calls of 'MOMMMM' from two of my three joy-sucking delightful little offspring.  This trend continued for the remainder of my sanity their computer time; help Thing 1, watch Thing 2, hush Thing 3, snag a book or two from the shelves, assist Thing 2, watch Thing 1, hush Thing 3, haphazardly grab some more books.

It wasn't long before one computer had begun speaking Spanish {"Mom, I swear I didn't do anything, it just started doing that!"}, one computer was being operated by a child who needed me to give the okay before each and every single touch of the screen, and one computer had been abandoned by a child who also decided shoes were also optional as well as manners, respect, and a general code of conduct for library patrons.  She {any guesses as to whom I'm referring?} had turned the library shelves into her own personal labyrinth.  But rather than walk slowly and ponder a question or meditate on an idea, she raced around in random circles, her speeds approaching those of a Kentucky Derby horse and her whooping at volumes that only a room full of fraternity brothers could appreciate.

The disapproving eyes of the librarians, the dismayed glares of other mothers, and the annoyed stares from the whole patronage of the library fell upon me as I wrangled my toddler, picked up her shoes and firmly stated to the children, "it.is.time.to.leave.    NOW."  I grabbed our library bag containing who-knew-what that I'd grabbed during those *serene* pockets of 'time' between the incessant cries of children who needed help getting to the next level {or the next language}, lifted my shrieking and wiggly toddler onto my hip and headed for the check-out desk.

At some point in the 38 step journey (that felt like 1/2 mile), wiggly toddler managed to turn upside down in my arms where she proceeded to take her volume to an even more obnoxious level, thus re-attracting the attention of those who had looked away in annoyed disgust at my inability to will my child to behave.  It was about this point when she decided to lift the denim skirt I immediately regretted wearing that day, providing those who couldn't look away from this train wreck a whole new side of me.  Up until then, I had kept an outwardly forced smile, because hey, many of these people had to be parents and empathize with what I was going through, right?  At some point as the skirt reached the top of my leg, a blindness came over me and tiny specks of colorful light flashed before my eyes.  I'd like to think it was the colorful language that was swirling around in my head providing me with my own personal fireworks display.  I'd also like to think I kept the smile on my face...but I'm fairly certain no one was looking at my smile.

We could not get out the door quickly enough, but I knew that I'd have three tantrums to deal with if we didn't bring home Fancy Nancy, The Lorax, and the other characters fearfully hiding within the pages of the books I'd selected.

As if Moses himself were present in the library, sea of patrons awaiting check out parted and I approached the desk, shoving my card in her general direction.  The Annoyed Librarian {A.L.} scanned the card and then paused to look at the screen.

A.L.: "Oh.  It appears as though you have an overdue here."
Pathetic, Horrified Me: "What. {Raegan, stop. Gavin, take your sister's hand.} Is. {Raegan, stop.  Brynn, go sit on that bench.  Raegan, stop.}  The. Title? {Raega! Stop!}"
A.L.: "Mommy's Little Monster."
PHM: "You're shitting me, right?"
A.L.: "Uh...no, Ma'am.  It says 'overdue' right here."
PHM: "I mean the title.  Mommy's Little Monster?  Is this some sort of joke?"

unearthed from behind our 'shoe bench'...which  is also where we keep our library bag...

Apparently, it wasn't.

Oh.  And you might be wondering what that light green box was right above the book in that picture?  {or, maybe you didn't notice and now you're scrolling back to look}.

That, my friends, is serenity in the form of a half dozen sweet treats.

It's not what you're thinking.  I did not reward the misbehavior of Mommy's Little Monster with cupcakes.  The reward was actually for me.  A sugar-filled badge that gave me a few moments of calmness and composure.

A cupcake for a tantrum you ask?  Trust me, if that were the case, I'd go through at least a dozen and a half. By Wednesday.

No, no.  The cupcakes came as a result of not only the library debacle, but the events leading up to the library, as well as the {continued and just as unfortunate} events that occurred after the library.

I could write it all out for you here, but honestly, it's probably just as effective in bulleted points as it would have been in long-winded, sarcastic, satirical fashion.

~we wound up having lunch with daddy {woohoo!} at Burger King {not my first choice...but the less waiting time, the better}
~ordered food for children {surprisingly accurately} in the midst of a barrage of "Mommmms", whines, skirt tugs {at least it wasn't 'lifts'!}, demands for chocolate-milk-orange-soda-apple-fries-cheeseburger-but-no-pickles.
~specify my order to have 'no mayonnaise' {not really an 'issue'...but, as I'm sure you can imagine, this point will be revisited again}.
~Gavin's order filled incorrectly, manager attempts to argue with Randy over what was clearly stated on the receipt, and tries to charge him for the change.
~Raegan does not follow our family rule of 'don't tip, just sip' with her container of milk, thus spilling chocolate milk on her dress.
~open my sandwich to find, you guessed it, mayonnaise.  Return to counter to have manager attempt to argue with me, telling me that it isn't mayonnaise and that I should have asked for 'no mayonnaise'.  I {calmly} explain that I did ask for 'no mayonnaise', and then asked if it wasn't mayonnaise, what was that on the top of my sandwich bun {what little appetite I had was practically diminished at this point}
~find a hair.  A. HAIR. poking through the breading of Raegan's chicken nugget.  {vom}.  Upon inspection to make sure I was in fact seeing what I was seeing, drop the hairy nugget only to have it land on the last few bites of my {mayonnaise-free, but not frustration-free} sandwich. {appetite vanished, stomach churning}
~visit the counter yet again, only to have the manager attempt to argue with me yet again.  She denies responsibility and passes blame onto the company {whom she represents, by the way}, stating the hair was there when they processed the chicken nuggets {pang of internal mommy guilt for the word 'processed'...we should have just gone home after the library}.  So, I return to family, baffled at the manager's inability to attempt to right even one situation in this debacle of a dining experience.
~while lifting Raegan down from her seat, she karate kicks in a sporadic fashion, knocking over her container of chocolate milk.  That wasn't empty.  That is now pooling under my legs after having landed on my thighs but failing to be absorbed by my standard uniform of yoga pants or jeans, because for whatever crazy reason that morning, I decided to wear that freaking.denim.skirt.
~after having saying goodbye to Randy and practically begging him to allow me to swap places with him for the remainder of the afternoon, we head toward home.  Raegan begins wailing, shrieking for milk, and showing no signs of relenting.  Any and every red light and I drove toward the highway found the 'just right timing', further prolonging the torture.
~and then, the railroad gates closed.

So...you can see why I veered off the highway and headed to Gigi's for a sweet bite of serenity.

When we finally arrived back home, I requested 30 minutes of 'quiet' time, for everyone to be in their own space, no talking, no fighting, no being around each other.  I tried to use that time to gain perspective, even though I couldn't help but think that this might have all been avoided had the pool been opened.  Regardless, I tried to widen my lens to see the day differently.  I decided to write it off as a humorous slew of events that would make a funny story for my kids to read one day {or, for you to read today}.  I realized that the opinion of the people in the library did not matter, what mattered is my kids were at the library and were learning and were having fun {loud fun, but still.}.  I recognized that the lesson to be learned from the manager at lunch was to make sure my kids know how to own up to mistakes and apologize for things that go wrong, even if they're not the direct reason, but are somehow affiliated with the faux pas.  And I even gave thanks to the train that prolonged our journey home, because it gave me a few moments to clear my head before getting onto a highway with my three most precious gifts buckled in the back.

With a fresh perspective on my day, I was able to call the kids back into the kitchen for a cupcake snack.  Instead of honing in on crumbs and frosting and messy faces, my perspective allowed me to actually see my kids enjoy the cupcakes.

And enjoy they did.

Brynnie and her Scarlett's Red Velvet

Gavin and his Orange Dreamsicle

Cherry Limeade for Mommy's Little Monster

the look of sweet satisfaction

taste test of the frosting

she's one happy girl!

he finished his cupcake shortly after this :)

unprompted hilarity.  all day, every day.  {you've just got to look for it}

top down...

bottoms up!

a tiny dot of frosting hangs from a hair in front of her left eye.
{at least the hair wasn't in the cupcake like it was the chicken nugget!}

one of mommy's 2 cupcakes {two...don't judge, you would have done the same}