Our household has reached a number of milestones lately, as we round the corner to Miss Red’s birthday.

1. No more diapers.

We are diaper-free at our house. We are not accident-free, but she now only occasionally wears Pull-Ups at night. This might not seem like a big deal, but after being done with formula, diapers were like the last thing you always *had* to have, and something that is a huge expense. While I’m on this, can I complain at how gendered Pull-Ups are? The options are pink or blue. Pink has princesses on it. We are a princess-free zone for as long as possible. The blue option has a car on it. Cars won. The first time Miss Red put them on, she said, “Oh, look, a car!”

Please don’t tell me that girls naturally like princesses and boys like cars. You are right. And wrong. So much of what kids play with is what we, as parents, give them, because of what is available. Miss Red plays with cars, trains, jumps off furniture and has a baby doll. The same as the other kids in her former daycare. So is it too much to ask that Pull-Ups be made in yellow or green? Why does a receptacle for bodily fluids have to be gendered?

CH and Miss Red at the Madison Children's Museum

2. No more booster seat.

Miss Red eschewed her booster seat at the kitchen table. “I want a grown up seat,” she declared. So down it went.

3. Retro TV

Crazy east side parent that I am, we don’t allow Miss Red to watch network TV. We don’t have cable. We do let her watch DVDs. Thanks to one of her best buddies, Little A, she is enthralled with Scooby Doo. I loved Scooby Doo when I was a child, and I nearly remember each episode she watches. It’s nice to have a show on that doesn’t make me want to stab my eyes out, like, oh, Dora the Explorer.

4. Love

CH and I recently celebrated our dating anniversary. Yes, we acknowledge that date. Eleven years of being together. One-third of my life. Somewhat significant since we met while co-workers at Borders Bookstore, and the next day they announced their liquidation. Upon the news, I said to CH, “does this mean we will liquidate our relationship?” “Yes,” was his response. Instead, we went to dinner at Nostrano to jointly celebrate that milestone and his birthday.

What about you? Any milestones lately?

– MD


The Summer of Us

Dear Iris,

What a summer. Since May, it’s been you and me. I had high hopes for this summer, and to be perfectly honest, it’s been a lot harder than I expected. I think we’ve done pretty well, considering. The basement was finished, disrupting our routine and our space, and kicking us out of the house for days at a time. I’m pregnant with your baby sister, which has been hard on both of us. I can’t carry you around as much as you’d like, it’s hard for me to get down on the floor to play with you. I’m exhausted all the time, my patience is running on empty, and well, you’re two. Two is a rough age for everyone. I’m learning as we go to be a stay at home mom and I’ve stumbled at times. It’s been hard to be outside because I am always hot. Oh, and we just experienced the worst heatwave in something like 20 years.

I know you probably won’t remember much that happened this summer, but I think we’ve had some pretty good times. We had lots of play dates with friends. Your tantrums over not wanting to share your trains were epic, funny at times and frankly, mortifying at others. We spent a day at the beach. We spent a night at a hotel and you were thrilled that we all shared a great big bed. We took walks and swam in the pool.

We “played trains” for hours and hours and HOURS. You fell in love with your new playroom. You got a big girl bed and you picked out polka dot sheets and your “big girl circles blanket.”

We rode on a train!

We went to a baseball game.

We went to a carnival, and you rode cars and monkeys and horses and your favorite – the big slide.

We ate ice cream and gelato. Lots of it.

We laughed a lot and we cried a lot – both of us. The summer has been a roller coaster, and we rode it with gusto.

But the summer’s not over yet, kiddo. Still to come? We’re going to install new carpet, get a new roof, and oh, we’re going to have a baby.

We’ve talked a lot about your baby sister. You’ve put your hands on my belly and felt her move. You’ve been genuinely interested in her. It melts my heart when you talk about her.

The truth is, I can’t fully prepare you for what life will be like when your baby sister comes. Because honestly, I don’t know. When you came into our lives, we were wholly unprepared for the life force that was you. When baby sister comes, our family will change and our home will change. We will go from a threesome to a family of four. We will have to renegotiate who we are – to each other and to our newest member. It will be hard for you because you will not be our only baby anymore. It will be hard for me because I will need to figure out how to give you both what you want, what you need and what you deserve while still making time for myself and for your daddy. We’ll all learn by trial and error and it won’t always be pretty. But we’re family, and family is complicated and messy and imperfect. It’s also safe and comforting and warm. And tied up in all that complication will be even more love in a house that is already bursting at the seams with it.

Iris, you’re going to be a big sister! That’s a big, important job. I don’t know how to be a big sister. I don’t know what it’s like. I’m a little sister, so I won’t totally know how you feel when your baby sister comes into our lives or when she gets bigger and wants to play with your toys and borrow your clothes and bug you when you’re with your friends. Life won’t always seem fair as you blaze the trail of being our firstborn. I won’t always do or say the right thing. I won’t always have the answer. In fact, I’ll probably have fewer answers than I’ll want to admit.

I do know that I’ll always make time for you. I’ll try my hardest to be sensitive to you, your things and your space. I hope you will understand that she’s going to adore you, even as she’s driving you bananas (and she will). I hope you are friends. I hope you’re kind to each other. I hope you are allies. I hope that many, many years from now, you get together as old ladies and reminisce about life with daddy and me. I hope you laugh and smile when you think of the years that we all lived together as a family.

I hope you always know that no matter what your baby sister does or who she is, you are loved as much – and more – than ever. She will never take your place in my heart and in our family. Once upon a time, you saved me. No one can ever take that away from you. No one can ever take that away from us.

Life is about to change in a big way. For all of us. But we have each other and we all have so much love to give. It’s going to be great.

Hold onto your hat, little girl.

With love,


What Do You Remember?

I have a decent memory. Better at some things – names and faces, not so great at other things – card games and jokes. But I’m missing a lot of my childhood. Don’t worry – nothing Terrible happened – more like lots of little unfortunate things, but I do]]><![CDATA[n't have a ton of memories or nuanced photo images from my childhood, probably because I was moved around a lot before I was 10.

I barely remember kindergarten. Forget first grade, except for one memory of cleaning erasers. Second grade? The Challenger explosion and a very kind teacher, Miss Waldo, who came to my ballet recital. Third grade? More memories for sure. But what comes before school are a handful of very, very sad memories.

One happy one –  a birthday, when my parents were still together, and I didn’t want to eat a hot dog. Thinking they would be mad that I wouldn’t eat it, they smiled and told me it was OK, my dad’s arm around my mom’s shoulder. I must have been four, in our house on Jenifer St.

When I was pregnant I was often wracked with anxiety as to what memories I would make for my future child. The sex of my baby unknown, but going by the fond name of Cheeto (thanks to my BFF, who when she looked up what a fetus looked like at the scant weeks pregnant I was when I told her, said, “Oh, it looks like a Cheeto!”). Would Cheeto remember that I planned on reading books to s/he each night? Or would Cheeto remember something small, like an imaginary time I lost my temper and raised my voice? Or would Cheeto only remember a distant parent who preferred reading or watching TV, similar to some of my experiences? What memories would this baby have?

Believe me, those anxieties haven’t left. Miss Red is turning the page on 3, and I daily, yes, daily, wonder what memories she will have. Will they be of the cookies and smoothies she gets from our local coffee shops? Conquering the playground? Or when, last night, frustrated that she left her room for the fifth time to pretend to use the potty and it was 9 p.m., spoke louder to her than I had in her whole life, her little chin held firmly in my hand?

What she remembers matters a great deal to me. It matters not because I think it marks what kind of parent I am, but because I know how it forms her future. It matters because her memories will make her who she is, even if they plant only a small kernel. Her memories matter because I hope she never, ever, has mine.

– MD

Home is Here, There and Everywhere

I’m so excited to share this guest post with you. Written by my Best Friend. – MD

Being a stay at home mom is hard work.

Not that I expected it to be easy, but I never imagined that I would feel so lonely and isolated. Things have been made more challenging this week by a profound feeling of home sickness. I have begun to wonder if we made the right choice to live so far away from family. I can’t help but feel jealous when I talk to other mommas who are on the way to drop their kids off at their parents’ house. Or when I see three generations out having lunch together. I hate that Lily won’t really know her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Holidays feel incomplete here, despite the family of friends we have created. And 5 months into my second pregnancy, the lack of a support system feels like an empty hole and I am not sure how to fill it.

Some days, phone calls and Skype don’t cut it. I want a hug from my Mom and lunch with my BFF (the one I’ve known since 4th grade). I realize a lot of these feelings come from being pregnant and hormonal. I’ve been in Portland for 8 years and it feels more like home than Wisconsin ever did.

The realization that I am never moving “home” seems to have sunk it. It’s getting harder to maintain long distance friendships and there is a growing disconnect between our lives. I have a hard time remembering my college girlfriends children’s names and ages. We talk less and less. I see my family twice a year, if I am lucky. This is the first time in 8 years that I won’t make it back for a visit.

I find the whole process bittersweet. I am so happy and grateful for my life, my daughter, my husband, my new home town. It is easy to romanticize what life could be if we moved back. I only remember the good things now.

But I do miss my family. I miss the friends who knew and loved me when I wore head gear and thought drinking out of plastic cup in a basement was cool.

– MN

I Want to Complain

I want to complain about being pregnant. My belly feels impossibly huge and I am getting more uncomfortable by the minute. I can’t bend at the waist or carry my toddler. I am starting to feel nauseous again, and I am always, always, ALWAYS hot. My back hurts, my hips hurt, and I get terrible headaches. I am so tired.

But I am incredibly lucky to be carrying this baby. I can’t wait to meet her. I love to feel her kick and squirm inside of me. If I’m totally honest, I’d never let someone else carry her for me. Right now, she is all mine. I know the pain of loss. I know the disappointment of trying month after month without success. I know the constant stress of going through pregnancy in a panic. And so far, things are going great. Time has flown. I still worry. And when I feel the first kick of the morning, I silently thank my baby girl for letting me know she’s okay. I am thankful and so happy that life led me to something I didn’t even know I needed.

I want to complain about being a stay at home mom. I’m hugely pregnant and even small tasks are tiring. I don’t get a day off. I need a break. It’s tedious. Sometimes I feel like the bad cop, correcting and saying “no” all day long. I’m exhausted. I work hard all day long, yet society at large doesn’t value what I do. I had no idea how difficult it would be.

But I am incredibly lucky to stay at home with my beautiful daughter. I get to hear all the hilarious things she says and the silly and wonderful songs she makes up all day long. I get to “play trains” – and even when I’m TIRED of playing trains, I could be doing a lot worse. We can stay in our jammies all day and not brush our hair. We can take walks on a Tuesday morning or go out for ice cream on a Thursday. We have play dates with friends. We can lounge around and read books or look for acorns in the yard or swim in the pool. We get to take naps every day. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever done, but it’s the most important job I’ll ever do. I am trying every single day to be better for my daughter.

I want to complain about finishing our basement. It’s taken weeks longer than planned. There were workers in our house for over a month, cramping our style and making me feel like I was in the way in my own home. There is dust everywhere and everything is out of place. It feels never-ending. It’s a giant, draining, messy pain in the ass.

But we are incredibly lucky to be able to make these changes to our home. We are doubling our living space. We are adding value to our house. We have worked hard through the years to have the means to make these much needed changes to our lives. We are turning our little house into a home and giving our whole family space to live and breathe and grow. So many families have to make due with so much less. We are incredibly fortunate to be able to create the space we need and want.

I am 30 weeks pregnant. I am a stay at home mom to my toddler. We are working to finish our basement.

It has been so much harder than I expected.

I wouldn’t change a thing.


Birth Story Recap

I want to start by thanking everyone for sharing their birth stories. You can read more here:

Mama HS shares Baby M’s Birth Story

Mama PSW shares Petra and Ben’s birth stories

Mama NG shares Isaac and Simon’s birth stories

Mama NVC shares E’s Adventure Into the World, which I should note is the second-most read post on the blog.

Oh, and what still remains the top-read post on this blog is Summer Pierre’s memoir-ific “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Birth Center.”

Next up will be Miss Red’s long-haul birth story. Look for it next week!

– MD

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