Category Archives: Preschoolers

Dad-o

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I happen to think that I picked one of the best men around to be the father of my children.

Side note: I happen to know tons of women who think they picked a pretty awesome guy to be the father of their children and that makes me really happy. I have a lot of gratitude about that, and I think it’s pretty cool that my friends have such great husbands.

Awesome dad exhibit 1: He jumped rope for them.

Awesome dad exhibit 1: He jumped rope for them.

Awesome dad exhibit 2: He wore these bunny ears while feeding the baby.

Awesome dad exhibit 2: He wore these bunny ears while feeding the baby.

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Awesome dad exhibit 3: Then he let the kids ride on him – which they do ALL. THE. TIME.

In addition to being an awesome father, my husband also made me feel pretty special on Mother’s Day. Special like, took all three kids to the grocery store on a Saturday morning so he could make me French toast. Then sending me off for a pedicure with strict instructions not to return for several hours. And when I did finally return, not only did he make me chocolate chip cookies, but he also made me scotcheroos. I’ve never, ever, ever had anyone make me chocolate chip cookies. I’m always the one making them for other people – usually my family – and I LOVE doing it. But I would often jokingly complain that no one ever made ME cookies. And then he did. His first time ever. And they were awesome.

So I knew that I wanted to make Husband feel really special on Father’s Day. And I did make him a favorite dessert and get him a cool T-shirt and some of his favorite snacks and a gift certificate for golf. BUT, my favorite parte was something the girls and I worked on over a month ago. I asked them all the reasons they loved their daddy, or things they wanted to thank daddy for, and this is what they came up with.

Daddy …

  1. I want to thank you for making our bunk beds. (Bean)
  2. I want to say thank you for helping me do my best each day. (Monkey)
  3. I want to say thank you for cleaning up our toys downstairs. (Bean)
  4. I want to thank you for getting out our playhouse. (Bean)
  5. I want to thank you for picking up all the sticks in our yard. (Monkey)
  6. I want to thank you for covering us back up with our blankets at night. (Bean)
  7. I want to thank you for making food for us when we’re sick. (Monkey)
  8. I want to thank you for the special Mother’s Day for Mommy. (Bean)
  9. I want to thank you for buying us toys. (Monkey)
  10. I want to thank you for building our wood playhouse. (Bean)
  11. I love it when you give us hugs and kisses at nighttime. (Monkey)
  12. I love it when you snuggle with me at nighttime. (Monkey and Bean)
  13. I love it when you wrestle with us. (Monkey)
  14. I love it when you eat at the table with us and we’re all together. (Bean)
  15. I love it when you give us rides on the lawnmower and let us steer. (Monkey)
  16. I love it when you push us high on the swings. (Bean)
  17. I love it when you help me ride my bike. (Monkey)
  18. I love it that you help me in swimming class. (Bean)
  19. I love it that you help me pick up the apples from the apple tree. (Monkey)
  20. I love it that you help me with puzzles. (Bean)
  21. I love it when you give us horsey back rides. (Monkey and Bean)
  22. I love it when you take our pictures. (Monkey and Bean)
  23. I love it when you give us a bath and you let us throw toys at you and squirt each other. (Monkey)
  24. I love it when you play hide and seek with us. (Bean)
  25. I love it when you hold us. (Monkey and Bean) 

Daddy, these are the reasons why we love you!

I also had the girls answer these fun questions about their daddy:

 

All About My Daddy

By Monkey (age 5) and Bean (age 3)

 

My daddy is 17 feet and 40 inches tall

He weighs 40 pounds

His hair color is brown

His eyes are blue

His favorite TV show is baseball

He likes to go to Qdoba

His favorite food is Hello Dolly bars

His favorite drink is soda

For fun he likes to play with us

I love it when my daddy gives us piggy back rides

My favorite thing about my daddy is when he plays outside with us

I ❤ MY DADDY

Father’s Day 2013

Husband they love you sooooo much. They adore you. You are so important to them and this family and I am so grateful to have you as my partner in the most important job of our lives.

xoxo

They will always be daddy's little girls.

They will always be daddy’s little girls.

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Gratitude

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For me and many people, the month of November is a time to reflect on what we’re thankful for. A time to count the blessings that have been bestowed upon us over the last year. Something about THANKS-givin’ (as my friends from the South would say) does that to a person.

There are moments, okay some whole days, where I’m just so frustrated with my kids’ belligerent behavior, sassy attitudes, the mess, the lack of organization, the mounds of laundry and the overall list of things to do.

And then I remember the premise of a book that my BFF recommended, which is, this is the life I asked for. This is the life I wanted. I wanted a house I could call my own. I wanted a big yard with room to run. I wanted a husband and children. I wanted a family. And I got it. AND, those things come at a cost — yard work, lawn mowing, home improvements, spending money, and oh yeah, RAISING kids.

Kitchen table or craft table? Don't forget the baby and its bottles!

Two coats, four gloves, two pairs of boots, a backpack, a scarf, a hat and a piece of play broccoli!

Books, books, babies, books, baby clothes, books.

Just more typical mess.

For the past 12 months when I feel like I’ve reached my limit I try to remember to take a breath, pause and remember that this is what I wanted. And I’m grateful.

I am thankful for:

  • Girls pulling each other’s hair
  • Girls pushing and hitting each other (usually the small one hitting the big one)
  • Girls pile driving one another (usually the big one pile driving the small one)
  • Girls fighting over toys
  • Girls shrieking, screaming and making the most annoying mouth noises (gah, where do they learn that!??)
  • Girls invading each other’s personal space
  • Cleaning food off the floor after EV-ERY meal (uugh, I think this is my most hated parenting task)
  • The utter disaster of my living room
  • The utter disaster of my older daughter’s room
  • The mad rush of getting two lazily playing, daydreaming girls dressed, fed and out the door on time
  • The annoyance of realizing you bought the next season’s clothes in the wrong size (Why didn’t I anticipate Bean would be in 3T winter clothes when she’s been in 2T since last spring!!?) — and then having to switch over her entire wardrobe. Again.

I am thankful for all of these things because they mean that I have two healthy children and a happy home. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by the minutia; by things that don’t really matter. But when I do that, I lose sight of that fact that all of these things mean that I have what is most important to me.

And I am grateful.

Overheard

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I keep a running document of all the funny things Monkey has said. This is what she said when she was two. The following conversations took place in our house in 2011.

Monkey: “Mama, you’re not daddy’s wife.”

Me: “I’m not? What am I?”

Monkey: “You’re a mama.”

Me: “I know, but I’m not daddy’s mama.”

Husband: “Yaaaaaaay.”

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Monkey: “Mom, where do sandwiches grow?”

Me: “Oh! Well, great question. Let me tell you.” (I then proceed to take her through the steps of how we plant wheat, it grows, we harvest it and use it to make bread. I also explain how tomatoes and lettuce grow, we get milk from cows, which we use to make cheese, and ham comes from a pig.)

Monkey: “Mom, where do cups grow?”

Me: “Cups don’t grow from anything honey. They’re made of plastic, which is a chemical.”

Monkey: “Mom, where do carrots grow?”

Me: “Carrots grow in the ground like lettuce and tomatoes.”

Monkey: “Mom, where does nice grow?”

Me: (thinking “Aww, what a sweet question.”) Looking at her sweetly I answer, “In your heart,” and then take a big drink of milk.

Monkey pauses, looking a little confused about how nice grows in her heart, although I thought my response was appropriate because it’s kind of an abstract thought. Meanwhile, Husband has a mouthful of sandwich and can’t speak. When I look up from my plate I notice he’s looking at me with furrowed eyebrows and kind of grunting and pointing at the table. I look down and see a knife.

OH! Where do KNIVES grow from?

I start laughing so hard that I’m snorting and choking on my milk. I can’t breathe. I get up from the table and run to the sink to spit out my milk.

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Me: “Oh buckets.”

Monkey: (excitedly) “Mom! Bucket and fuck it rhyme!”

Me: “Umm, yep. They sure do. Let’s not say that to anyone else, okay?”

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Monkey: “The mama bird doesn’t like womans.”

Me: “What? Womans is not a word.”

Monkey: “Yes it is. The mama bird doesn’t like womans.”

Me: “You mean women? Women is the word we say when we mean more than one woman.”

Monkey: “No, not women. Womans.”

Me: “No, womans is not a word. (pauses) Wait, do you mean humans?”

Monkey: “YES! HUMANS!” (as if she’d been saying that all along.)

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Monkey: “Mimi you need to settle down.”

Mimi (my mom): “Why?

Monkey: “Because you’re acting like my mom — laughing and being loud.”

Later when I asked Monkey why Mimi was like me she said, “Because she was getting wound up.”

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Monkey: “I’m going to sleep with my eyes open so I can see my dreams.”

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Monkey: “You have marks on your belly.”

Me: “Yeah, that’s from you. Thanks a lot.”

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Monkey: “Mom, when you were a boy you liked peppers and onions, right?”

Me: “Well, I was never a boy.”

Husband: “Thank goodness for that.”

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Monkey: “I want a dog.”

Husband: “When you’re older.”

Monkey: “I’m older now! I want a dog when I’m older. And a brother!”

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Monkey (throwing open the door, walking in from the garage and shouting): “Where-is-my-MOTHER?”

Husband: “Oh yeah, she’s in rare form today.”

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Monkey: “Bean, what did you give me? It’s my birthday today.”

Bean: (incoherent babbling)

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Monkey: “Daddy, where’s my right nose hole?”

Husband: “Nose hole? You mean nostril.”

Monkey: “Nostril?”

Husband: “Yeah, they’re nostrils.”

Monkey: “Daddy, do you have nose holes?”

Husband: “Yes, but they’re called  nostrils.”

Monkey (considers this): “Mommy has nostrils, daddy has nostrils, I have nostrils, Bean has nostrils (repeat for every single person she knows).

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Monkey (holding up four fingers): “Mom, this is how old I am, right?”

Me: “No, that’s how old you’ll be on your next birthday.”

Monkey: “YEAH, and then I’ll be able to drive a CAR!”

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Monkey: “When Bean gets to be a big girl we can drive a car together!”

Me: “God help me.”

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Monkey: “I didn’t hear that because I took my listening ears off.”

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Monkey: “When I grow up, I’ll be able to carry a baby everywhere all by myself. I’ll be able to change diapers with Bean’s wipes. I’ll be able to open the gate and open doors. I’ll be able to do everything.”

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Monkey: “When I grow up I’ll be able to drive a car, a truck, an airplane and a helicopter!”

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Monkey: “When I’m a mommy, I can get Bean out of her crib all by myself.”

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Monkey: “Before I have a baby, I’ll have to get married, because I can’t have a baby without a daddy, right?

Me: “Ding, ding, ding, ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.”

Monkey: “At my wedding I’m going to have a flower girl. I wonder who it will be. Because it won’t be my kid.”

Me: “Nope. It sure won’t.”

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Monkey: “This is my baby. She was just born. She was just in my belly.”

Me: (quickly changing the subject so that she doesn’t start asking questions about THAT)

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I can’t wait to see what Bean comes up with.

I See You

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I’ve realized in the last few weeks that I’m experiencing a transformation. Before my mom identity was one of “mom to toddler,” and now it’s being transformed to a mom of a preschooler. I’m responsible for new things now. Like getting my child to and from school on time, checking her backpack, reading school papers, signing permission slips, sending in field trip money, remembering a show and tell item, and helping with craft projects.

Last week I didn’t remember the show and tell until we were almost walking out the door and then in panic called Husband and said, “Quick! What can Monkey bring that starts with the letter “L??” My mind had gone completely blank. Wanna know what we decided? A lunchbox. How lame. But she didn’t seem to mind. It was only after I left that Husband called back to say that we could have grabbed her lovey or her mama lion that she sleeps with every night. Whoops!

There are just so many new things to think about and remember. Like I need to remember to replace the pair of socks that stays in her backpack because she wore them for gym class last week and now they need to be washed.

And I don’t think the transformation is unique to me. I think Monkey is undergoing one too. It might be partially her age (3.5), but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’re suddenly experiencing a lot more defiance, hyper behavior, and MAJOR attitude. She’s been shouting a lot and purposely throwing extended temper tantrums about the most mundane things (it’s so painfully obvious that she’s not that upset about something, but that she’s going to make herself continue to fake cry, shriek and moan if it kills her).

Yet at school her teacher gives me glowing reviews. She says that Monkey is really “with it,” she does a great job helping and she was even picked to be the line leader. 😉 And she loves it! Loves all of it! After her first day she said she wanted to go to school every day.

I think she’s trying to grapple with her newfound responsibilities too. She’s learning how to conduct herself in a social setting. She’s learning to do things that she’s never had to do before; rules that she’s never had to follow. And it’s hard.

I think that’s why she’s getting home and losing her sh*t. She just can’t hold it all together for that long!

Even though Monkey has always been high energy, for a fleeting moment I was afraid that all of her super hyper activity was a sign that she was ADHD. But I don’t think that’s really it. I think she’s just learning how to navigate this next phase in her life, and sometimes that manifests itself in some super psycho behavior. There’s nothing that makes you feel like a terrible parent more than a child who suddenly acts like a first-rate brat.

It seems to be getting easier. Yesterday we played with her dolls on the floor and I marveled at her. I saw her. I saw what she was becoming. Thoughtful, studious, and gaining a better grasp on her world and how it works, day by day. Self-assured, opinionated and independent.

I wanted to be playful and she was serious. I wanted to goof around and she chastised me. I put a fake grass skirt on my head and pretended it was a wig. She asked me to take it off. I wanted to drive the car through the house. She told me that we can’t drive cars through houses. I had to play the way she wanted to play. I had to follow her rules.

“Mama, please don’t do that now.”

“Mama, don’t lay down and play. Sit up.”

“Mama, they’re not going to eat lunch now, they’re going to take a nap.”

I see you.

I see what you’re becoming. I like it.

I see what I’m becoming. And I like it too.

We’ll try to weather the next phase as gracefully as we can.




And So It Begins

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Shining a Light

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Reading everyone’s comments on my post yesterday made me a little emotional. In a good way. It was so affirming for me.

As I had hoped, getting all our thoughts, fears and concerns written out instead of stuck in our heads, shined a light on our situation and we realized that we probably had the decision made all along — but on those super tough parenting days when no one is listening, everyone is purposely being naughty, the kitchen floor looks like there’s been a food fight, the crying and whining won’t stop and no one’s going to bed easily — you look at each other and go “We must be effing crazy to even consider this.”

But as my friend Anna, summed it up: “If your heart tells you that you have more love to give, then everything else will just fall into place.”

And as several of you said, “You will not regret it, but probably would if you didn’t.”

A few other key takeaways for me:

Whether you’re going from zero children to one, or one to two, or any number, you have concerns about “will we be able to handle it mentally and financially.”

Well, duh. I hadn’t thought of that before, but that’s so true! These are the same questions we ask ourselves when we’re considering any big life change — buying a house, changing jobs, having kids.

It’s the fear that holds us back. The fear of the unknown. You get comfortable with the ways things are, and change is risky.

But as another friend said, “As a mother you can adjust to ANYTHING. Especially for the sake of your kids.”

Amen. Eventually, caring for three kids would become a routine and there would be nothing scary about it. We would adapt.

And finally, I had never heard anyone say that the “KNEW” when they were done, but apparently people feel that way just like others intuitively know when they’re not done. And we definitely don’t feel like we “know” we’re done.

Thank you to the many of you who said “God will provide.” It’s comforting to know that other people believe this too.

I encourage anyone who’s having this discussion in their household to read all of the comments. Also, a mom-of-three friend sent me a list of very thought provoking questions. I honestly appreciated so much her taking the time to help me think through some very realistic scenarios. I thought about my responses, and I’m including the questions here in case it helps someone else decide:

  1. School — this includes homework AND seeing their performances. School plays during the day time, concerts at night. Homework with three kids!
  2. Don’t worry about the money. That’ll come and you’ll find a way.
  3. Vehicles — eventually you will need a new vehicle. Someone is going to want a friend to come along. Be prepared.
  4. Uh, plain and simple. The amount of work doesn’t double when you go from one to two. It increases exponentially. LOL. And that is NOT a joke. But the JOY increases exponentially, too.
  5. Babysitters — it is WAY harder to find someone to watch three kids. Even grandparents, not that they don’t love the kids, but it can be overwhelming with so many. You can always find two sitters, but then you worry if one cancels, who is the backup, who goes where … etc. This is easier as they get older.
  6. Sicknesses — a third child is a fifth person to be bringing germs into the house, which is another vehicle for illnesses. More doctor bills, more time off work, etc.
  7. Think of the WORST DAY EVER POSSIBLE with having three kids (short of any life threatening things). Someone is begging to go for a bike ride, but hasn’t done her homework, someone has the flu, and baby three is ripping apart books. Your husband is late at work, no mothers can come over, and you have a long list of work to get done (still make dinner, clean up after the kids, basically do everything on your own). On this worst day (and it’s likely to happen many times over and over again), do you think it would cross your mind that you might wish you didn’t have the third baby. I could tell you my answer, but you need to figure it out for yourself.
  8. There are moms of multiples who have successfully raised well adjusted, happy kids into adulthood. It is possible for you to do it, too!
  9. Your world will be turned upside down, sideways to the left, to the right, back upright, to the left, upside down, right side up, to the right, to the slight left, spun a few times if you have a third. But it did that after the second, and it did that after the first. You’ve been there before. You can do it again.

Thank you for your affirmations, your encouragement and your positive thoughts.

Thank you for helping my brain understand what my heart already knew.

Unfinished

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I guess it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to many people who know us, since we’ve been blathering about it and asking family members and friends for opinions, but Husband and I are considering having a third (and final) baby.

We pretty much always thought we would have a third baby, but thought it would be prudent to reserve final judgment until we actually had one baby. And one baby was so fantastic (and in hindsight, so easy with a 2:1 ratio), that we went ahead and got pregnant again when Monkey was 13 months old. Our goal was to have our kids about two years apart. Aaand we succeeded (21.5 months apart).

Bean is just over 18 months old now, and to realize that I was six-ish months pregnant when Monkey was that age, is jaw-dropping to me. Because man, two kids is a whole boatload more work than one.

But, obviously I wouldn’t have known that. And honestly, I wouldn’t change it either. They have a super close bond and I think they’ll be the best of friends.

However, when Bean turned one in February, I was VERY CERTAIN that I would not be getting pregnant the next month. We decided that if we were going to have another baby, we wanted them to be a little more than two years apart.

Well, guess what folks. The time is nigh.

Husband and I have been throwing this question around for the last three months.

Should we have another baby?

Here’s the big picture. I don’t feel done. WE don’t feel done. I didn’t feel like my last pregnancy was my last. I guess I knew it could be. But I didn’t think it would be.

When we think about what our family will look like in 10 years, 20 years — our adult children coming home, all of us sitting around the table on Thanksgiving —  two people does not seem like enough. Both Husband and I have large extended families — his mom has six siblings and my mom has eight! We revel in those large family gatherings with aunts and uncles everywhere, loads of cousins and now our cousins’ children running and screeching about. It’s chaos.

And believe me, I don’t want six children of my own. But two? Two doesn’t seem like enough. Three kids though? Three kids bring the possibility of three spouses and maybe even six grandchildren. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Affecting me more in the present is that when I look at friends’ pictures of their three kids — when I see those three faces, I think “I want that.”

On top of that, we’re fairly certain that we would regret not having a third baby. I actually have several friends and acquaintances who have told me that they regretted not having another baby (whether that was baby #3 or #4). Which motivates me to think, “Go for it.” Yet, don’t you think they made the decision they did because it was best for them at the time?

Or maybe they were slightly paralyzed by the indecision that we seem to find ourselves in.

The trouble is, that the day-to-day details of existing, can be hard. Not every day, although we do seem to be going through a tough couple of weeks.

Bean is at a hard age right now. She is super challenging. She presses all my buttons. But, I keep reminding myself that even if I got pregnant in the next 2-4 months, maybe longer (although probably not because that’s always been a blessing of mine), she would be at least 2.5 years old. And that’s actually a pretty manageable age, considering that she’ll be really verbal by then. Our experience with Monkey was that once she hit the two-year mark her tantrums dramatically diminished because she could communicate what she wanted, and we were able to reason with her (as in, STOP RUNNING CIRLCES AROUND PARKED CARS, because IT IS DANGEROUS).

Here’s the big BUT.

BUT, are we underestimating how hard it will be and how much work it will be?

Are we underestimating the expense? I doubt that we would be able to pull off half of two kids’ college educations, much less three.

I tend to be more of the romantic mindset of “we’ll figure it out.” And so does Husband. Is that foolhardy? In situations past, we’ve made cuts when we needed to make cuts. But there are certain things that are very important to Husband and me — we want to take biannual family vacations with our kids. We want the road trip experience to South Dakota and Washington D.C. We want the annual trip to the water park or the state fair. We want to go to Disney (not multiple times, but at least once). Will we price ourselves out of these things, leaving us and our kids disappointed?

Normally I’m a “gut” decision maker. My gut says, “Do it.”

It’s my head that’s screwing everything up.

Primarily my head is asking me, “It’s really hard at times right now. Can you really handle it? Are there things you’re not considering?”

I want to be the best mom I can be, or at least “good enough” most of the time. I don’t want to be overwhelmed and stressed the majority of the time. I don’t want frustration and anger to dominate my interactions with my kids.

Am I capable? I don’t want to short change my kids.

This is a bigger decision than I thought it would be.

I want to trust my instincts, but I’m afraid of not thoroughly thinking it through.

I know we could wait longer until Bean is even more independent. I know that technically, we don’t have to make this decision right now. But I’m going to be 33 this year, and 35 is considered “advanced maternal age.” So if you want to get technical, we really don’t have that much more time.

More importantly, our personal choice is that we don’t want to wait much longer.

Primarily, because life is getting to a pretty nice stage right now. We have some freedoms. Monkey is starting pre-school next week and then next fall she’ll be in half-day Kindergarten every day. She no longer needs a nap. Bean only takes one nap a day, there are no bottles, and soon enough we’ll be diaper free. To have several more years of increasing “freedoms” to go places and do more things, without having to worry about the kid-missed-a-nap-meltdown, will make it really tough to start over again.

We don’t want to get too far away from the 3 a.m. feedings, diaper blowouts, pooping in the bathtub, food-throwing stage.

So for us personally, we don’t want to wait much longer.

My actions have not demonstrated my indecision:

  • Three months ago I bought Woombies when they were featured on a mom bargains Web site (and ironically, they’re on sale again today) — I figured that if we didn’t have another baby that I could always give them to someone as a baby shower gift.
  • I’ve been researching how we could fit three car seats in our sedan because we can’t afford a new vehicle, and I almost bought a narrow booster seat that would make the configuration work (I think) — I rationalized that we’ll need a booster for Monkey anyway. I stopped short only because it’s money that we don’t need to spend right now since she’s at least a year out from needing it.
  • I haven’t wanted to part with any of my baby clothes, maternity clothes or baby gear (and actually have been asking for things back).

My gut is saying yes.

Are there things we’re not considering? Can we handle it?

I want my brain to say yes.

For the last several months I have been asking a lot of my mom-of-three friends to give me the good, the bad and the ugly (THANK YOU!). I’ve even been asking perfect strangers for their thoughts.

And I have been praying, asking God to open my heart to the right decision.

So this is one of those opportunities for you to go ahead and give me your advice, because I’m actively soliciting it! What do you think? Are you or have you struggled with this decision? What did you end up deciding?

As a side note, two other big pros are that the girls are extremely nurturing and I think they would love another (REAL LIVE) baby. They already fight like cats and dogs over the baby dolls. Also, we have an absolutely awesome childcare situation since my mother-in-law watches the girls and has said that she would be willing to take on another baby. Although, we better just triple check that 😉

Feel free to weigh in.

I should also note that it’s rather uncharacteristic of me to so publicly talk about our reproductive intentions since this has always been something we reserved to very close friends and family members. While I’m pretty open about sharing my thoughts and feelings, and asking questions, the whole “having kids” thing wasn’t something I liked to share with just anyone. In part we kept it private because we struggled with miscarriages. For some reason, maybe because we have two kids already and it would be okay if we couldn’t have anymore, I’m feeling more open about it. More likely because I’m tired of having an internal debate and I need to get my feelings OUT. (Don’t worry, Husband gave me the ok)