Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Deadly Lion King

Despite being connected 24/7 and having a video camera available on my iPhone at every moment of the day, it always seems that there are moments that I would love to capture for all of eternity yet they sneak by.  Man, what I would give to have this moment on video to watch over and over again...

Let me set the scene.  Hudson is taking piano lessons at school and has been since February.  He's not a big fan of piano and getting him to practice at home is liking pulling teeth.  He has a recital coming up and we've been working on Ode to Joy with him.

The school had an informal showing for the parents.  I totally messed up and forgot to mark my calendar so I get a call at 5:37p asking if we are coming (the showing started at 5:30).  I hurry up, tell Hudson put on nicer clothes, throw Hayes in the stroller and make Hudson and Hadley run with me to school (only a block away).  We rush in and the other students have just finished their pieces, so Hudson is up.  In the rush to leave, I grabbed my camcorder (is that what they're still called?) since I knew my phone would run out of space.  Hudson stands up, says his name and the title of his pieces, plays, bows, and sit back down with the other students.  I got it all on tape right before the battery dies. At this point, the piano teacher asks the students if they have any other pieces they would like to share.  Three students raise their hands.  One of them is Hudson.  HUH??? My mind is racing to think what other pieces he might remember.  Since he hates to practice, nothing really comes to mind.  So....

The first student walks to the piano and introduces her piece.  She said she will now play Fur Elise and busts it out.  With no sheet music.  Beethoven.  I look over at the mom and smile.  She smiles back and said "I taught her that at home."

Okay, now I'm panicking a bit because what the F*&# is Hudson going to play.

Ms. Cassie, the teacher, asks for volunteers again, and again, Hudson raises his hand.  Another student is asked to come up.

The second student walks up and my mind is racing so I'm not sure what she says she's going to play. She sits there, with no sheet music, and plays this long, beautiful piece.  I watch her focus and count beats by nodding her head, pausing when appropriate.  Everyone claps.

Once again, Ms. Cassie asks if anyone has a piece they want to share.  Hudson walks up.  "Oh man, this is going to be epic" is what goes through my head.

Hudson says "My piece is called the Deadly Lion King". Ummmm, what is about to happen?

He sits down and starts to play on the low end of the piano and then the high.  Then a few notes on the low end and a few more on the high.  This goes on for what feels like 10 mins.   It's taking everything I have to not bust at the seams.

People clap, I'm cracking up, and Hudson is proud.

As we walk home, I ask him about his piece.  He tells me that the low notes were for the Daddy (he was Mufasa in the school play) and the high notes were for the Mommy. I complement him on his creativity and kick myself for not having this performance on video.  I still crack up every time I replay it in my mind. "My piece is called the Deadly Lion King". OMG, I love this kid.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

My heart is in the work.

Some days, parenting is just hard (okay, most days, parenting is hard).  The majority of the tough days come from a combination of whines, cries, defiance, and fitting everything in during a 24 hour period. But then there are the days like I had a few days ago.  The days when difficulty arises from our anxieties about parenthood, about our choices, our values, and our abilities to pass those on to our children.  I am a firm believer of trusting my gut, while at the same time being an intentional parent and not passive in my decision making. This approach requires a lot of work. I do my fair share of research on a topic, internalize and process what I learned, then make an informed decision based on what the "experts" say (the researchers and authors) and the true experts on our kids (me and Ryan).  I try to determine when there is hype and where there is validity. The perfect example is sleep training.  I've read the books. I've read the research.  I've listened to other's sob and success stories.  In the end, we had to go with our gut and choose what is right for us.

Despite all of my research and thought behind parenting, there's a fine line to walk.  You have to be mindful and not get swept up in things that may seem to matter, but really don't.  Your kid is saying his ABCs at 18m?  Great, but I'm okay if my kid isn't.  Your kid is reading at age 4? That's awesome, but it's not going to make me judge my kid if he/she isn't.  In fact, it seems that "kindergarten is the new first grade"; we are getting so caught up in the race to doing things earlier, faster, and better, that we often aren't thinking about the impacts this has on our children.

Ryan and I discuss our thoughts and goals for raising our children and then base our actions on all of this.  As you can imagine, it's work.  A lot of it.  When approaching all of parenting this way, it's near impossible to fit everything in.  Some things slide.  The other day was just a reminder for me that I was slipping and needed to get my feet back on the ground and get back to work.

I don't think Andrew Carnegie had parenting in mind when he said "my heart is in the work", but there isn't a role that fits that quote better than the work of being a parent.  My heart is in it, fully dedicated and committed.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sometimes you just get it right.

Living in a world of excess, I often struggle with how my kids will learn gratitude.  I don't give in to every request, but more often than not, my kids just get things because they can.  Maybe it's the $3 Mario minifigure that Hudson requests when we are at Target, or it's the $10 marker set that I pick up for Hadley just because I know she likes to color.  Not because it's their birthdays or Christmas.  But just because...well...why not?  It's easy to justify by thinking "eh, it's the same price as a cup of Starbucks and it will make them so (temporarily) happy".  I'm trying to be more mindful of this and constantly talking about how much the kids have to be grateful for.  While it's easy to give material examples to satisfy their need for concrete reasoning, I often wonder if I'm cutting them short by not discussing the more abstract "things" to be thankful for.  Either way, I'm trying harder and harder to implement a sense of gratitude.  One way I've been doing this is in their nightly prayers.

We have a routine of saying prayers like this:
"Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
That angels watch me through the night
Until I wake in the morning light.
Dear God, Thank you so much for this wonderful day. Today we....  And now we're getting ready to go night night.  We pray for all of our friends and family like Mom Mom and Pop Pop, Grami and Pappy, Uncle Kevin and Colleen, Uncle Bobby and Baby Riley, and Uncle Joey. We pray for Mommy, and Daddy, and Hudson, and Hadley, and Hayes, and Ruby.  We pray for all of our friends and teachers in Baltimore and all of our friends and teachers in New Jersey.  We pray that we have a great night's sleep and a wonderful day tomorrow. Amen."

At the end of the summary of our day, I've been asking the kids what they were thankful for that day.  On the first night, Hadley thinks for a minute and says "You.  I'm thankful for you." (I'm tearing up just typing that).  Then she continues "Actually I'm thankful for our whole family.  Daddy and Hayes and Hudson too".  "Wow", I tell her.  "Hadley, that is a wonderful thing to be thankful for".  Not to be outdone, Hudson hears the praise I'm giving her and says "I have a good one too.  I'm thankful for Old Pap."  My grandfather, "Old Pap", passed away in November.  (Someone please hand my mom a tissue.).

Wow, I thought, wow.  Maybe I'm doing something right.


So, I started this post a few days ago and didn't get to finish.  Last night, we went through the same routine.  Again, when asked what she was thankful, Hadley pointed to me. "Awww, thanks Had.  I'm thankful for you too".  But then she starting shaking her head.  She does this thing where she doesn't want to talk so instead does a series of grunts and noises to try to make a point.  She grabs my necklace and says "ehhh".  "My necklace?  You're thankful for my necklace?"  "UMM HUH!!" Then my rings she grabs "ehhh".  "And you're thankful for my rings?"  Nodding happily, "UH HUH!!"
Okay so maybe we have to work on the material possession thing.  She did say she was thankful for me before she said she was thankful for diamonds....

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The consequences of an unattended toddler

Remember in my last blog post how I said that I couldn't take my eyes off of Hayes?  Let me show you why...
On Friday morning, I took him upstairs so that I could get dressed and he got into my perfumes.  He smelled like a mixture of every scent possible. Then he refused to take his morning nap which is when I usually make breakfast and have coffee.  Since he didn't want to sleep, I had to go out on a limb and focus on cooking and not on Hayes.  This is what happens:
Hayes decided to get the party started a little early and dump a full bottle of vodka on his feet and the floor.  The mixture of the perfume and the vodka now made Hayes smell like he was working the late shift at the Hustler club.
Yes, Hayes.  I was looking longingly at the bottle at this point as well.  It was 9:40am.

So, I started to clean up the vodka, leaving Hayes unattended once again.  As I threw away the last paper towel, I started to look for him and couldn't find him.  Because he decided to go INSIDE of my coat closet. 

I did a better job of monitoring him until that dreaded moment came: I had to go to the bathroom.  I'm always stuck in a conundrum here, weighing my options.  Do I bring him in the bathroom with me, knowing that he will take the plunger, wave it around the room, throw a tantrum when I take it away, then get up and climb onto the stool in front of the sink to grab and squeeze toothpaste?  Or do I just leave the door open and hope for the best?  I opted for #2.  It got really quiet.....

He found a pacifier and climbed up the steps onto Hudson's bed.  I could not believe it and told him "no Hayes, it's not safe to go up there!!!".  He smiled and crouched down on the bed, so that I couldn't see him.  "No", now that the meaning is understood, has started to elicit that type of response - let me look really cute and sorta hide so she can't be mad at me.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Things To Not Forget: TTNF

So the blur of November and December has passed, and wait, it looks like January is gone too.  Having three kids' birthdays within 6 weeks of each other, sandwiched between Thanksgiving and Christmas, along with a Type A birthday-momzilla is not a good combo.  I had a first birthday party to plan in another state.  And those who know me well know that the Prichard family motto is "Go big or go home".  I had been pinning things for Hayes's monster birthday party for months while at the same time going on a creative binge of all things Lego for Hudson's 6th birthday.  Between the hand made minifig chocolates and gummies, the personalized Lego coloring sheets, and every possible monster-themed item known to man for Hayes's party, I was spent.  My poor middle child, who already gets the short end of my attention stick, was given the unfortunate position of having a birthday after the boys and right before Christmas.  She didn't have a theme in mind, so she ended up with a pre-packaged party at a bounce house and was no less happy for it.  I had every intention of an awesome blog post of each of their parties, partly because I wanted to have a record of the day and partly because I was proud of all my hard work, but it seems silly at this point, so I won't look behind and just keep on truckin' forward.

I've been thinking about this blog for days (weeks?) now and have been wanting to write, but I've been struggling with the time.  Hayes hasn't been taking naps in solid chunks (waking after 30-40 mins, yet still tired, so I have to hold him in order for him to get in another 30-40 mins).  When he's awake, my eyes are fixated on him. His newfound mobility has left me on high alert all day long.  In one day a few weeks ago, he managed to fall down the stairs, open a bottle of kids' nail polish and eat the brush, eat hand sanitizer, eat hand you see the trend here?  I can't take my eyes off of him.  So forget about sitting down at my desk and focusing on coherent words.  Not. Happening.

That leaves post-bedtime.  I would love to hear how other moms' nights go, but this is what mine looks like.
5p - scrambling to finish dinner and get it to the whining, hungry kids
5:30p - give dinner to the kids
5:45p - Ryan gets home, changes, and scarfs down some food
6:15p - Ryan gets Hayes into the bath, I eat cold food while standing and cleaning the kitchen
6:45p - Do the Hayes handoff back to me.  Good night kisses for brother and sister
7p - Nursing Hayes in the dark, checking email and Facebook
7:30p - Hayes is asleep in his crib and I sneak back downstairs to find the kids and Ryan sitting on the couch or getting out of the bath, urging them to brush their teeth
7:45p - still waiting for teeth to be brushed while listening to every excuse possible
8p - Ryan and Hadley are reading books on the bottom bunk and me and Hudson reading on the top
8:20p - I leave Hudson to read alone for a little bit while Ryan lays with Hadley. I either finish cleaning the kitchen or take a shower
9p - Finish shower/ get dressed.  Start to clean up the rest of the house
9:30p - Look at the clock and curse at the fact that there is still stuff everywhere.  How am I not done cleaning yet?!?
9:45p - Time to relax! At least until Hayes wakes up in 45 minutes.

As you can see, there's not much time carved out to blog.  I could start at 10p (like tonight), but my brain is usually fried and I just want to drink wine and watch TV with Ryan (this is usually my first chance to talk with him without constant interruptions) or jump in bed and read a little.

Anyways, that was a VERY longwinded way to say I'm still trying to figure out how to fit blogging into my life.  There are so many things that I want to remember about being a mom.  I see this as a place to store that.  Sorta like a never ending baby book.  A place to share all of those things that the kids do or say that don't have a pre-designated space in a dusty book that I barely open anyways.  I spent my shower trying to think of a good acronym for those quotes/moments and the best I could come up with is TTNF - "Things To Not Forget".  I hope to make quick updates tagged TTNF so that I can go back and read these things and smile at the memory.

Today, Hudson gave me a perfect example of a TTNF post.  Hadley had ballet today, so it was just me and Hudson (and Hayes) walking home from school.  This was our conversation:
Me: How was your day?
Hudson: Good.  There's a girl, Aliza, in my class and she wants to marry me.  [This was said right as we passed another mom.  She put her hand over her mouth to hide her giggle as I smile].
Me: Oh, wow! Why does she want to marry you?
Hudson: Because I'm nice to her. Mom, can you come to pick me up a little later tomorrow [School ends at 3:15p and I got there around 3:05p today]
Me: Sure.  Why do you want me to come later?
Hudson: So that I can spend time with her (referring to Aliza).

I was loving this conversation and tried to extend it, but Hudson didn't have much more to say.  Later, we got into the house and he said "Mom, can you remind me to talk with Aliza tomorrow?  I need to talk to her about this."

I am still smiling thinking about this.  What struck me so much and made me so happy was the innocence with which he spoke. It was so nonchalant.  "Yeah, there's a girl who wants to marry me."  It was said the same way he would talk about how his friends gave each other ninja names.  It was such a stark contrast to hear him talk about something so mature like that.  It made me realize that he's growing up.  That kids are starting to talk about adult things.  And that one day, in the near future, he will be giddy and shy and bashful talking about girls with me.  So I just relished in the moment and am happy relive it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Hudson turned 6 years old today.  There's something different about this birthday. Maybe it's the lanky body that barely fits on my lap.  Maybe it's Hudson's blossoming literacy.  Maybe it's the fact that I now have to shop in the Boys' Department in clothing stores.  For some reason, today feels strangely sad.  Six no longer means baby or toddler, even though Hudson will always be my first "baby".

There have been many days, and many, MANY nights, when I have wished for him to grow up.  Times when I prayed he would start to do things by himself.  When will he put on his own clothes?  When will he go to sleep by himself? When will he stay in his bed all night? As all of these life skills are mastered, I'm seeing less of my little boy who needs me and more of the independent boy I dreamed he would be.

Throughout these six years, Hudson and I have walked hand in hand throughout parenting.  Without a manual, I learned to trust my gut and listen to his cues.  He has guided me. There have been many times when I doubted my decisions and the paths that we chose.  Today, he gave me a sign that we were doing just fine. We had his traditional Montessori birthday celebration at school.  We talked about each year of Hudson's life.  When we got to year six, his teacher looked at him and asked "Hudson, what is it that you like to do now that you're six?".  I waited for the expected answer, that he likes to play with Legos or likes to watch football.  Instead, Hudson replied "I like to play with my Dad.  And my baby. And my sister".  In that moment, as I beamed and blinked back tears, I knew we have done something right.

Hudson James, as you say goodbye to your toddler years and continue your journey through life, please know that I want nothing more than for you to share your kindness with the world. I see it everyday, from the way you tenderly watch after your brother and sister to the way you care for the other children in your classroom to the unprompted hugs and "I love you"s that you shower me with each day.  Every day, stories of evil and corruption flood my newsfeeds, leaving me questioning humanity. Instead of feeling discouraged, I think of you and how the kindness you bring to the world makes it a better place. I pray that your kind spirit is what leads you through life.  If there is one message I could give to you, it's that there is no amount of success, achievement, or accolades in this world that could replace your kindness.  Please don't ever lose it.

Happy birthday Hudson James.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Birth story and bittersweet birthdays

This post is brought to you by the letter B :)

One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog back up again was because I wanted to write down Hayes' birth story.  I like to remember every minor detail and had high hopes for recording them all here.  Then life happened.  I had a newborn. And two toddlers. And was moving.  The urgency to document the details got lost in the shuffle as did many of the details of that day. But here we are, one year later, and damn it, I will write this birth story!!!

The story actually starts on Sunday, November 4th.  Ryan's mom, Jan, was staying with us in Baltimore because Hurricane Sandy left her house without power and water.  She came down for heat, a shower, and a visit.  We spent the day in the house, watching football.  The Steelers were playing (they beat the Giants), but I was distracted.  I was in serious nesting mode: all day was spent cleaning, washing laundry, baking, and cooking.  Jan even made a comment that I should really take a break as I was on my (swollen) feet all day.

During this time, Ryan was traveling to NYC on the train multiple times each week.  He would leave at 6a and get home that evening at 8p.  That evening I asked when he thought he would stop traveling as my due date of November 15th was approaching.  He told me that he would stay in Baltimore starting on November 12th.

The next morning, Monday November 5th, Ryan did his usual 4:45a wake up to get to the 6:12a train.  I stayed in bed until it was time for me to get up for work which was just before 7am.  I walked into the bathroom and happened to take my cell phone with me so I could check the weather for the day.  As I was walking, I just felt a bit crampy and nauseous. I sat to go to the bathroom and and noticed that I had passed something (presumably the mucous plus).  At 6:54a, I texted Ryan that I thought he should head back to Baltimore.

I walked into Hudson's room where Jan was still sleeping.  I nudged her awake and said that I needed to go to the hospital.  At this point, I started to experience what I assumed were contractions (with Hudson and Hadley, I was induced so I only knew what pitocin contractions felt like).  I remember sitting on the stairs to our rooftop deck, in tons of pain.  Ryan's mom got me some orange juice.  I couldn't tell if I was going to throw up or pass out.  We began to call around the neighborhood to see who could watch Hudson and Hadley until our nanny arrived at 8a.  We finally got a hold of my dear friend, Jen.  She said that her or her husband would be right over.  I was somewhat hoping for her husband since he is a doctor and I wasn't sure I was going to make it.

Once Jen arrives and takes over, we get into my car. I know that I need to call my mom ASAP and tell her what's happening.  She was in Pittsburgh and wouldn't get to Baltimore for the birth, but I had to keep her posted on the details.  As we were driving, I would get a contraction and have to put the phone down while I clutched the door handle with white knuckles.  This was all a bit much for Jan, who was trying to figure out if she should ask for a police escort as we passed the police station.  The red lights in downtown Baltimore were not on our side that morning as it seemed like we stopped at each one.

We arrive at the hospital at 8am.  A police officer/guard/someone in uniform at the emergency entrance got me a wheel chair and pushed me in as Jan went to park the car.  It was a bit lonely to have to enter the hospital by myself, but the pain quickly made me forget any of that.

I was taken right into a triage room.  They did an exam and confirmed that I was indeed in labor (no kidding Sherlock).  I have no idea how far along I was because I couldn't hear anything over my moans.  Jan had parked and was with me now.  She said that Ryan was on his way.

I was taken into a delivery room.  Jan was there.  I was really moaning now.  Just like the pregnant ladies in the movies.  I was lying on my right side, clutching onto the bedrail so tightly.  The nurse I had was not overly friendly and didn't seem too concerned about my state.  They called the anesthesiologist in to start the epidural.  I have no idea who was in my room.  I didn't care who heard me scream.  Ryan arrived at 8:45a, but I didn't see him as I couldn't even open my eyes.  Him and his mom were rushed out as they were about to begin the epidural.  They told me that they needed me to sit still and I couldn't promise that given the pain of the contractions.  This part is a bit blurry to me now, but I think that my blood pressure dropped or something happened that they couldn't do the epidural and were going to come back in a few minutes.  As they left, I was yelling that I needed to start pushing (it's true - you get an intense urge to just push).  I was still on my right side, paralyzed with pain.  The unfriendly nurse told me that I needed to open my legs if I was going to push but I told her that I couldn't and just hoped she lift my left leg for me.  They wanted me to roll to my back, but I couldn't. I continued to scream.  A doctor was pulled in.  I can't remember the details, but I don't think he was an OB.  I think he was an intern, or ER doc, or something.  But he was there at the time when a baby was coming and a doctor was needed! Some yelled "Go get her family!".  Ryan and Jan walked in just as Hayes was coming out.  I think I pushed twice and ta-da! It was 9:02am.

In the chaos of the delivery, no one yelled out what I had.  A few seconds later, Ryan told me we had a boy.

Hayes (at the time "Baby Prichard") was perfect.  Ryan and I bonded with him right away.  After an hour or so, Ryan and Jan went to get me some things at home, lunch, and birthday gifts for Hayes.  I was left alone with Hayes in our recovery room.  I vividly remember staring at him and thinking, "wow, you were just inside me.  You are the one who I have felt for months".  That feeling after delivery is just surreal.  Hayes and I just sat there, for hours.  No TV.  No visitors.  Just the two of us.

Ryan and his mom returned with food, Starbucks, clean clothes, and gifts.  Jan stayed with us for a few hours, but had to go home to spend the night with Hudson and Hadley after our nanny left at 5p.  Ryan and I spent the night watching MNF, election coverage (the presidential election was the next day), and trying to come up with a name.  Naming a child has to be one of life's most stressful decisions.  It's a lifelong decision for another person - talk about weight on your shoulders!  Ryan did what he does best: busted out dry erase markers and starting diagraming first and middle names on the dry erase board in my room.  Finally, by the next morning, Hayes Miller Prichard had his name.

Thinking back to that day makes it feel as if it were a lifetime ago.  And in some ways it was.  We were living in Baltimore.  We only had two children at home.  It was a different life from the one we're currently living.

First birthdays are always bittersweet.  It feels as though it's the first point when you truly say good bye to having a baby.  Teeth start to pop through. Wobbly standing gives way to wobbly walking.  It's possible to stop breastfeeding as we have reached our goal.  All signs of growing up.  And there are days when I want nothing more for him to grow up.  Days when I wish he could entertain himself long enough for me to cook dinner.  Days when I wish he would walk because he's too heavy to carry.  Days when I wish he would just use the potty because I can't change one.more.diaper.  And then you think of the loss of your baby.  The one who needs you for food.  The one who used to fit into those itty bitty sleepers. The one who cries when you walk away.  The one who can be calmed instantly by the warmth of your skin and the sound of your heart.

This first birthday is especially bittersweet for me as it's most likely my last.  It is marking not only the loss of "babyhood" for Hayes, but for me as a mother.  Reflecting back is leaving me with a mix of emotions.  It's hard to put into words or how to even wrap my head around it.  From the surprise of my pregnancy (and all of the emotions surrounding that), through Hayes' arrival, to the life changes that came with moving and staying home, I'm sitting here in a cloud of happiness, sadness, pride, and amazement.  I never saw my life taking all of these turns, but it seems that my road to happiness is a winding one.

Happy birthday Hayeser Laser.