Who Am I and What am I Doing?


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I truly thought that by 36 I would know what I wanted out of life and would be focusing on achieving very specific goals. Instead, as time goes on I feel less and less sure of my purpose, my goals are all over the place and I can’t shake the notion that time is running out. I feel like I have no idea who I am or what I am doing most of the time, which prevents me from doing much of anything at all… and then I worry even more about what I am not doing! I feel like the most inconsistent person in the world, and I don’t know how to fix it.

I want to be spontaneous. I want to come home after work and tell my boys to grab their shoes, hop in their seats and then drive until we find a beach or a meadow or a mountain. I want to explore until dark and not worry about bedtimes or messes or getting lost.

I love a plan. I research everything. I like to know where I am going and exactly how to get there. I want reservations, tickets, parking passes and directions to be prepaid, printed out and ready in hand when I leave for my destination. I love an itinerary and when things run on schedule. Lists are life.

I want four children. Just one more baby to make my heart and our family complete. I want to spend every waking moment engrossed in my children and their hobbies and learning processes. I want to marvel over baby toes, and sticky little hands, and sweet lispy language attempts. I want to laugh about crayoned walls and spaghetti faces. I want to calmly help clean up the cornstarch dumped behind the couch. I want to nurse babies and snuggle them all night. I want to give sink baths and take monthly photos documenting those amazing changes in the first year. I want to forever feel the tight grasp of pudgy arms around my neck and hear “Mama, I wub you.” I want to enjoy that beautiful round pregnant belly and experience the amazing rush of childbirth just once more.

I want calm and quiet and alone time. I want time for my hobbies and silence to process my thoughts. I want a clean house with a place for everything and everything in it’s place. I want a full night’s sleep and time to have my toenails done. I want my body to myself. I want to wear a dress without worrying about how I’ll breastfeed in it. I want to be free from car seats and Mother Goose Club and bouncy seats. I want to pee alone.

I want to be daring. I want to walk into a salon and tell the stylist to cut off all of my hair and dye it some vibrant shade of purple. I want to pierce some part of my face and get a tattoo. I want to embrace opportunities without worrying about the possible outcomes.

I love my hair long, medium brown, with blonde highlights, that’s as wild as I want to go. I want to be able to put it up if need be. I like that I am one of the few people I know without tattoos or piercings and I cannot imagine something I would have tattooed on me that I wouldn’t tire of in a few years.

I want to work out and lose weight. I want to feel good about my body and eat a clean organic diet. I want to wake up at 5:00 am to go for a jog and see definition in my arms. I want to be thin and tan and for people to not believe my age or the number of kids I have.

I want to eat pizza and ice cream and drink wine. I want to sleep in and enjoy lounging instead of moving all of the time. I want to be comfortable with my body no matter my size. I want to not give a shit about what other people think about how I look in a bathing suit.

I want to be proactive. I want to tear out the cupboards and counter in my kitchen and reconstruct the whole area. I want to sweat and labor. I want to build and learn as I go instead of worrying about doing everything perfectly.

I love when I feel confident in my abilities. I like to research a project thoroughly before diving in and know that it will turn out beautifully. The idea of wasting time and money on a project that may result in disaster sickens me. I only want to stand back and admire perfection.

I want to be cultured. I want to enter a restaurant with cuisine I would never think of trying and order without really knowing what I am ordering. I want to sample sauces and spices and dishes and not care if I like it.

I love having a great dining experience. Since I don’t get to go out often, I want to make sure I love what I eat when I do go out. I want to feel satisfied and comfortable when I leave and not regret spending a lot of money on an unenjoyable meal.

I want to live freely. I want to sleep under the stars and grow my own food and raise livestock. I want to fish and hunt and farm. I want honeybees and chickens and a cow. I want my hands and bare feet buried in the dirt. I want to smell like hay and sunshine.

I love convenience. I love meal planning and having exactly what I need on hand. I am so afraid of bugs, and I do not know if I have it in me to butcher a creature I have watched grow. I have so little free time to dedicate to animals and limited space to house them.

I want to create. I want to build furniture and throw pottery. I want to sew quilts and crochet mittens, hats, and blankets. I want to paint and sketch and draw.

I have so little free time.

I want to make music. I want to sing and write lyrics and play instruments. I want to pour my heart onto paper and turn poetry into song.

I have so little free time.

I want to write. I love blogging but I want to write books. I want to bring life to characters that readers will wish truly existed.

I have so little free time.

I want to have friends. I want to have lunch dates and book clubs and girls nights out. I want to do weekends away and have BBQs with other families. I want to have joint family vacations and go trick or treating together. I want to chat on the phone and stay up late giggling with a best girl friend.

I want to stay home. I want to spend every spare moment with my husband and kids without anyone intruding on our private time. I want to create this family bubble that no one can permeate. I don’t want to share our vacation and holiday time with anyone else because those moments are so precious and so rare. My husband is my best friend and he’s enough for me.

I want my sons to live fearlessly. I want them to trust humanity. I want them to embrace every opportunity for growth, change and travel that presents itself. I want them to feel confident in their abilities and to trust their instincts. I want to let them go and just know they will soar. I want them to embrace failure as well as success.

I want my sons to be careful. I have severe anxiety about them getting hurt or sick. I worry about broken bones, cuts, head injuries, infections, reactions, breathing problems, and neurological disorders. I worry about predators and negative influences. Drug addiction, car accidents, and drowning. I worry about their emotional and mental stability. I want to shield them from harm, protect them from the world’s evil, and hide them from danger. I don’t want them to struggle.

And so… if I seem distracted or frustrated…this is why. These thoughts are on a constant loop playing in my mind. If I contradict myself from time to time and confuse you… this is why. I am a living, breathing, walking, and talking contradiction. I confuse myself. I take peace only in knowing that I cannot be the only one… Right?



Happy 2nd Birthday Clark!


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Dear Clark,

You are TWO! I absolutely cannot believe how fast time has flown. You are still a tiny baby in my mind but before my eyes you are growing into such a big boy. I’ve tried hard to hold you tight and keep you my baby… and you are having none of it. Thanks to your brothers, you are fiercely independent and want to make your own decisions and venture off with the big kids. You have little fear but thankfully, (for me and my anxious heart) enough caution to keep you from being too wild and reckless.


You still LOVE music and at most times you are dancing or singing. You know all of the words to the Mother Goose Club songs and some other favorites like The Hot Dog Dance. You always want to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Mother Goose Club, but will give most tv shows and movies a chance.


You like dinosaurs, animals and making animal sounds. You love pointing out colors and you recognize numbers 1-10! You are doing so well with counting and the alphabet it amazes me. You also love talking and are a little shy with strangers but mostly in the smiling and flirting way. McGillicutty is your very best friend and you spend time every single night cuddling and laying with her. You let her lick you and she lets you climb all over her. You two seem to have a special bond! You love cookies and chocolate, pickles and mustard. You are not a big fan of vegetables or most things crunchy. We are still battling your food allergies and you have started to question why you can’t have certain treats. I try to keep egg-free alternatives around so you don’t miss out on treats your brothers get.


As sweet as you are, you DO have a temper! When you get angry you do it in a big, loud way. You are deeply hurt by small injustices and have a hard time getting over disappointments. Your brothers can be your best friends or your biggest annoyances depending on the day. You love to boss them around and tattle on them and they are pretty accepting of your attitude even though they don’t tolerate that behavior from each other. You are so smart and you have an amazing sense of humor.


I also think you know how unbelievably cute you are and you use it to wrap us all around your tiny fingers. Clark, you have such special place in our family. You are content and silly and hilarious to watch and listen to. You bring us all so much joy, I simply cannot imagine our lives without you. I can’t wait to continue to watch you grow. I hope this year is full of wonder and excitement, health and happiness for you my sweet Mishkee-Bishkee, ClarkyBoo.

I love you so much,



My Fabulous Skin Care Routine


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I am a member of a bunch of different groups on Facebook. Some are for parenting, some for lifestyle choices, some for hobbies. Today in one of my groups, someone posted the following question:

What is your skin care routine?

After taking a moment to remember what the phrase, “skin care” means, I literally laughed out loud at the thought of my “routine.”

I read one or two comments about scrubs, toners, creams, steams and oils before stopping because it took everything in me to not answer her question with brutal honesty and ruin what will probably turn out to be a wonderfully informative thread.
The good news for me, is that you all come here willingly and not so much to seek advice, but more to laugh at me with me. So, I want to share my “Skin Care Routine” with you all instead of with those lovely women who have daily, weekly and monthly facial routines incorporating twenty seven products.



  • Wash with whatever soap is in the shower – could be Everyone Soap, could be Irish Spring, could be the tiny sample bottle of face wash from Ipsy that I would never actually buy full-sized. Sometimes, there is no soap at all and I have to scream for someone to bring it to me from the kitchen sink where one of my boys last got a bath.
  • Wash rapidly and furiously with my hands because chances are, I have forgotten to grab a  washcloth and I am also running late.
  • Upon exiting the shower, I vigorously rub my face dry with my bath towel, effectively smearing the eyeliner and mascara that I put on three days ago, all over the place. This is make-up that has slowly been coming off over the last three showers since I do not own an appropriate make-up remover, and wouldn’t remember to use it if I did.
  • I wipe off the smears of make-up with a bit of coconut oil, so any remaining gunk is confined to my lids and lashes. Days one and two post application, this gives the illusion that I have applied new make-up, just in lighter and smudgier amounts than previous days. By day four, all of the residual eye make up is gone, leaving me clean faced for the next two days until I get fancy again on the weekend.


After working all day, I return home and proceed to layer on the following products, in any given order:

  • Sweat
  • Various moisturizing, sometimes too-hot cooking oils, straight from the pan
  • Aromatic garlic and or pasta steam
  • Spritzes and splashes of multiple condiments
  • Applesauce and or yogurt from the baby’s hands
  • Spittle and cough spray from any number of my children who simply refuse to cover their mouths
  • Snot from a perfectly timed child sneeze
  • Dish soap, laundry soap or hand soap bubbles from my own hands while I attempt to push hair off of my face while washing things (other than my face)


  • Commit fifteen minutes to doing a real hair-line to neck make-up job, and then marvel at how lovely I can be when I have a tiny amount of time and give a tiny amount of shit.
  • Slather coconut oil all over face, neck and chest in the attempt to heal numerous gouges and scratch marks from Razor Claws, AKA my one year old.
  • Pluck random (and very sexy) facial hairs that show up on my upper lip, neck and chin.
  • Take note of how red my face gets while angry, sad, or after drinking two glasses of wine.



  • Examine and despair over the size of my pores
  • Ponder and then stress over the dry bumpy patches on my cheeks (Skin cancer? Eczema? Allergic reaction to cooking oils?)
  • Pull my skin all around in an attempt to smooth out the wrinkles around my eyes and mouth and forehead
  • Declare war and attempt to pick and pop every blemish or bump I see or imagine
  • Estimate how many years it will be before I have time for an actual skin care routine, and wonder if seventy is too old to start?



My Missing Baby


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It happened again the other night as I was nursing Grant. He is almost three years old now but still so much in need of nursing at the end of the day. He needs the connection, the closeness, the time when he and I are just he and I, when he doesn’t have to share me with anyone. I don’t mind and enjoy having a moment of calm with him too, but that night while he drowsily had “muckosh,” I was distracted by this… feeling.

The feeling is always the same. Sometimes it arrives in the middle of chaos, other times in the center of calm. A stomach flip, a skipped heart beat and then a brief moment of panic before I realize I’m searching for someone who doesn’t exist. I am searching for my baby.

Not my third son, my sweet Clarky Boo. He is usually right in front of me, playing on the floor or clutching the furniture as he walks around it. Sometimes he is yelling or laughing or tackling his brother. Mostly he is being held, nursed, kissed and snuggled.

Not my middle son, as Grant is always front and center; telling me about his day, wanting to play “kick” or asking to help with housework. Or, as he was the other evening, in my arms having milk.

It isn’t that I’m searching for my big guy. My Truman-Boy is usually in the same room as I, watching a show or chattering on about any number of things. He might be dancing, laughing or negotiating a deal for more screen time.

No one is missing, the other night they were all right in front of me. I looked from one to the other, all three of my boys accounted for and had to again remind myself that this was it. They were here and they are our all. There is no other baby to find. There is no one to search for. My brain and home and arms usually feel full… but it feels like someone is missing from my heart.

Since bringing Clark home from the hospital I have had a number of moments when I am questioning the whereabouts of my other baby. It makes me uncomfortable and it makes me wonder if I’m going crazy. It also makes me wonder if this feeling is a calling. A subconscious reminder that there is someone else meant to join our family, meant to make us complete. Mike would – and does – say no. He feels done, his ideal family is complete. I have always said I wanted four children and he has never agreed. He only ever wanted two, so we compromised on three. But… now I want to call our deal off and go back to my original plan. When I originally said I wanted four kids, so many people told me, “Just wait until you have one!” Well, I wanted four after Truman was born. And I still did after I had two and after three, I even thought the desire for four would disappear… but wanting four babies has never gone away. As crazy as my kids can be and as sleep deprived and as busy as I am, there is nowhere I would rather be than with my children. I adore them. I love spending time with them, I love caring for them, teaching them, talking to them, and all of the work everyone said it would be, it is… and it feels like work I want to do.

There are a million reasons why we shouldn’t have another baby. I know those reasons and I ponder them constantly. We aren’t especially young. We aren’t wealthy. We both work full time. Our kids are busy and close in age. We have “tempted fate” three times and been incredibly blessed with healthy children, healthy pregnancies and safe deliveries. It is hard to travel with many children, you need more space, bigger cars, and they want expensive things as they grow.

I believe that we aren’t especially old. That we are healthy and healthy pregnancies don’t just run out, and healthy children aren’t the exception to the rule. We aren’t poor or unable to provide for our family, and we have plenty of room to make budget cuts. We have careers and we manage our work-home balance well. We are able to use clothing, toys and baby gear over and over again. We already drive vans, and there is a lot to be said for children learning to share bedrooms and belongings. Kids will certainly want expensive things and they do not have to, nor should they get everything that they want. I love my children endlessly. I enjoy parenting in all of it’s crazy, messy, frustrating glory more than I’ve enjoyed anything else in my life. Ultimately, I do not believe anyone regrets having another child… but plenty of people regret not having another child. I don’t know if I will always feel this longing, but I certainly don’t want longing to turn into regret.

So, here I stand with three beautiful healthy boys, a wonderful husband who is fulfilled and done… and a nagging empty corner of my heart that won’t let me get rid of the baby clothes in the garage. I think about our baby’s name. I think about whether we will find out the sex. I dream about a fourth boy and imagine which of his brothers he would likely pair up with. I dream about a little girl with three big brothers and whether that would drive her to be the ultimate girly-girl or more of the Tom-Boy type. I feel as if I’m awaiting a visitor, counting down the days until s/he arrives. All the while, searching as if he or she is already here…

Things I Hate


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Breaking in new shoes – It doesn’t matter what kind of shoe it is, my feet will suffer for the first 10 times I wear them.

Untucked sheets – I despise a rat’s nest pile of sheets and blankets on my bed. In a perfect world, my Mom would drive to my house every night and securely tuck me into bed as tight as possible like she did when I was a child, and I would sleep so, so beautifully. I realize that this is not only impossible but would also be extremely unsettling for everyone involved, so I am only going to ask that the top sheet be tucked in at the bottom of the bed. Not even the side! (I would prefer a nice hospital corner, but I can live without it.) Just the bottom, just to keep it straight, just to keep it from wrapping itself around my legs and getting tangled all over. Just so I don’t wake up freezing with a tiny fraction of my body covered by a corner – A CORNER! A DIAGONAL! – piece of random sheet while the rest is shoved under and around my husband’s trunk and limbs. Is that so hard? Is it? Michael, I am asking you, is that so hard?

Being asked for advice and then the person does the exact opposite of what you advised. 

Snobbiness – Look, you are a human being. I don’t care how beautiful you are, how educated you are or how much money you have. You still eat, breathe, fart and poop. I bet you have picked your nose, and slipped on the ice, and fallen up a flight of stairs. You are not perfectly amazing all of the fucking time. Don’t try to pretend that you are above all of the rest of us “other” human beings. You may be privileged, but that only means that you should be MORE humble, more understanding, more grateful and a lot less assholey.

When people have strong opinions about issues that will never impact them and that they have no experience with.

Baseball on TV – I love going to games, hate watching them at home.

Air travel – Hello anxiety!

Reckless or risky driving – It just isn’t fun for me. Not in any vessel, car, boat, snowmobile… no. I do not want to slide around, spin in circles, jump things. No thank you.

Blind compliance – Ask questions. Research. Look at all sides. Don’t be a sheep.

Obnoxious drunks in public (in private settings I’m far more tolerant.)

Worrying – I am super good at this one. Especially at night, especially about unlikely health situations concerning my kids. Like my latest obsession over dry-drowning. Which brings me to…

The fact that my mind jumps immediately to worst case scenario – I cannot believe that Truman’s slight cough and low grade fever may just be a virus. Instead, I convince myself that he is absolutely dry drowning from his swimming experience 36 hours prior to the onset of symptoms and proceed to stay up all night watching him breathe and furiously Googling the likelihood that this is in fact the case.

Crying when I’m actually angry – I have done this for my whole life and have yet to figure out how to be pissed off without also being really sad.

Racism, sexism, inequality etc. – It all just sucks and if you are part of this problem, please stop.

When adults make fun of or dismiss kids’ feelings – They are brand new to this whole life thing. Can we give them a few years to figure shit out? I mean, I’m 35 and still can’t make heads or tails out of most of my emotions, why would a 5 year old be able to?

Know-it-alls and One uppers – Shut. Up.

Towels mixed with clothes in the washer – My husband can attest to the fact that this sends me into an absolute rage.

The “Pill for Everything” mindset – Medication has it’s place, but not everything calls for meds. Really. I promise.

Mommy War bullshit – Gross. Do you. I’ll do me.

Having to go to the store after you are already home for the night – This is the worst.

Bras – No, this is actually the worst.

Greed – Look, at some point enough should be enough. If you already own 1,000 luxury cars, do you really need 6,000 more? When you think about the fact that 1 Bentley costs around $300,000 which is about 6 times what the average American makes in an entire year, the mere idea of someone having 7,000 of them while people in the world literally die of starvation turns my stomach. Yes, it is your money, yes you can do with it what you want… but just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

People who refuse to apologize – You know you were a dick. Say you’re sorry.

A day of shopping when NOTHING fits – Or it fits but is horribly priced. Or it fits and is on sale but it is the last one and has a hole in it. Or it fits, is inexpensive, in perfect condition and you realize that you forgot all methods of payment at home.

Spilling shit on my shirt – and this happens almost every day.

Car trouble – The. Worst.

Things I Love


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I find that once in awhile it is necessary to write down all of the wonderful little things in life that make us happy. It should go without saying that I love my husband, children and family more than anything in the universe; they are the big loves of my life. But there are a lot of little things that have the power to make my day. Things that bring me joy, satisfaction, give me the warm fuzzies. I want to talk about those things! This is certainly an incomplete list and one that is ever changing, but for today, here a few things that I love.

Big Families – Seriously, if I could afford 8 kids (and had a willing husband) I would have them. I am so intrigued by the inner workings of big families. The relationships, the names, the personalities. Tell me all about it. How is there space? Time? Money? My mom had seven siblings and there are 19 cousins as a result. I love it. So fascinating!

Listening to my sons talk – to me, to each other, to themselves. Their little voices and thoughts on the world are so precious to me.

Watching my sons interact with each other – I am so curious to see what bonds form between them. Whom will be closer to whom, who will butt heads… I seriously can’t wait.

Movies with a ton of characters that all end up crossing paths or impacting each other in some way. (Crash is a favorite because of this very thing!)


Real encounters with spirits or unexplained happenstances – Please tell me all about the creepy stuff!

Falling asleep in the arms of the person I love.

Cold sheets, cold pillow.

Waking up thinking it is later than it is and then finding out that I have way longer to sleep. (Yeeeesssss)

Road trips.

The ocean: the smell, the sound, the taste, swimming in it, watching the movement.

A really good cookie.

Milk drunk sleepy-smiles of my babies.

Watching my kids meet milestones and grasp a concept – I call it “The Light Bulb Moment” when something just clicks. Suddenly, they go from not being able to do something to doing it with ease.

My husband’s laugh – the honest, uncontrollable one. Makes me laugh along with him every time.

The look in Mike’s eyes when he genuinely admires something or someone.

Having zero balances on all of our bills.

Catching a fish.

Singing around a campfire with my Dad.

Making lists and then crossing things off of the lists. (Love! So satisfying!)

True crime stories – The gory details, back story and motive; just all of it. Recently I was introduced to My Favorite Murder by a friend and I am OBSESSED. I feel like these girls made this podcast just for me. (I know that sounds incredibly narcissistic.)

Birth and all of it’s surprises and intensity – I love everything about it and not only mine, but others’ birth stories as well. It is the most natural yet miraculous occurrence in this world.

Two lines on a pregnancy test –  It doesn’t even have to be mine! It is just so exciting! I think it is because I saw so many negative tests during our trying to conceive years that a positive is still new and unexpected in my mind. I am also a fan of welcome surprise pregnancies. (Unwelcome surprise pregnancies can be traumatic and I feel sad for everyone involved in that case.)

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This is my happiest day.

Blank paper – empty journals, new notebooks, sketch pads

An ink pen that writes smooth, bold, and dark – Pilot G2 0.7 point are my favorite.

Bags – Gift, paper, thick plastic (Love you Aldi!) I can find a ton of uses for a good bag.

The complexities of nature vs. nurture and how childhood shapes adulthood.

Personality tests and types, things that affect personality like trauma, culture, family and birth order. (I am an INFJ – Advocate. Take the test!)

Fresh contact lenses.

Wearing new clothes for the first time.

Looking at a situation from all sides and finding that my initial impression may be wrong.

Sharks and shark attack stories – I know that sounds awful, but God… I love ’em! I don’t want anyone to be eaten or attacked. I am just super interested in why this happens and it is simply thrilling how something so terrifying is lurking just below the surface of the most beautiful place on Earth.



When you like everything you bring into the dressing room and have a hard time deciding what to buy. (It’s a good problem to have.)

Piping hot coffee with the perfect cream to coffee ratio.

Being on time (Sadly, I rarely am.)

Soft, sweet baby-fat rolls.


Seriously. I can’t.

Dressing up – Dresses, jewelry, make-up. Love the process from start to finish. Unfortunately, I do not have much reason to get dressed up often. I may start throwing galas in my living room though. You’re invited if you also live an unglamorous life and have the desire to get fancy with nowhere to go. Text me.

Lounge wear – Leggings and tanks are my life. (I’m all about the extremes in apparel. Give me pjs or give me ball gowns. Jeans are not exciting at all.)

Happy First Birthday Clark!


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Dear Clark James, Clarky Boo-Boo, Clarko, Clarka, Mischko-Bishko, Clarko-Busko-Cutey-Cuesko,

You are 1! I truly cannot believe how fast this year has gone by. It feels like a month ago that I was begging you to get out of my belly and into my arms. From that day on I have lived in awe of you my amazing little son. (How I ever became so blessed to have three perfect sons, I will never know.) As surprised as I was to know you were coming, I also feel like you’ve always been here. Like you have always been part of our family and always existed in my heart. When you joined our family, it was such a natural step in our lives. No one skipped a beat! It felt like welcoming home a missing piece!


You have brought us such unimaginable joy this year Clark. You are sweet, good natured and funny. You make the best faces and your smile lights up the whole room. Your laughter is infectious, and you find the strangest things funny. Mainly, your big brothers! Truman and Grant love you so very much. They love to dote on you, they try anything to make you happy when you are crying and they love to make you giggle. You do have a temper though, and you like to yell and shout orders at all of us. (Must be that bright red hair!

Clark, you have a musical gift that I cannot wait to watch blossom. I have never seen a baby move and sing to music at such a young age before you. It can be the softest song mixed into background noise and your ears will find it. You move side to side, front to back, and raise your arms as if you are opening your heart to the sound. You “oooo aaaa” along with me when I sing to you and often times get snippets of the melody just right! By the time you were 7 or 8 months old, you would feel music so intensely at times it brought you to tears. It makes me so happy and so excited to know that you have a love for music and I hope it stays with you.

You are so smart and wise Clark. You study and watch so intently, as if you are searching every person’s soul and deciding for yourself how to interact with them. You are leery of some, flirty with others, shy with some and silly and outgoing with others still. Your big brown eyes are warm and knowing and staring into them makes me feel like you have a story to tell and wisdom to share. You repeat words readily and understand so many phrases already. I cannot wait to hear your thoughts on the world.

We love to watch you on the move. Your army crawl is absolutely amazing, probably the fastest I’ve seen a baby move on all fours. You can crawl the “right” way but it seems to slow you down so you prefer the army crawl method, pushing off of the floor with your toes and wiggling that fabulous chubby booty with lightening speed. Only this last week or two before your birthday are you showing interest in standing and honestly, that is fine with me. I know enough by now that once you can walk, you won’t want to snuggle as much, and I can stand to wait a little longer for that.

Clarko, you are a Momma’s Boy through and through. You cry when I walk out of a room, you want me to hold you and cuddle you every minute and you sleep snuggled up to me every night. This too will change as you get older so I am savoring it now, though not much work is getting done while you are awake!

You have never slept in a crib. You slept in your rock and play next to my bed or in my bed since day 1 and I have no idea how I will go about transferring you to a bed now. I can’t imagine not watching your back rise and fall as you soundly sleep or seeing your wide sleepy smile as soon as I open my eyes in the morning.

This year has also been tough since you spent so much of it coughing! It seems you have a little touch of asthma and a few food allergies working against you. We are working on treating and fixing the problem and it is my hope that you will outgrow all of this and grow strong and uninhibited by any condition or limitation. So far, none of it has slowed you down even when it has brought me to my knees with fear and worry. You have remained happy and smiling through coughs and breathing problems and allergy tests and medications. You are so strong and patient.

Clark, when I think of your future, I see only beauty. I am looking forward to watching you grow, listening as your thoughts become words and following along as your crawling turns to running. You are a cherished and treasured boy, Clark James Yeoman. Your family loves you beyond measure and we always will. On your first birthday my sweet baby, Mommy wishes you the best that life has to offer. I wish you love and good health, adventure and laughter, friendship and good fortune, and above all else, happiness. A lifetime of happiness.


I love you more than words could ever describe,


Go With Your Gut: Clark’s Never Ending Cough.


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Clark has a cough. Not a little cough. Like a seal barking, tight sounding, horrible cough that has made him wheezy and out of breath. He is raspy and congested and sometimes has runny eyes and a stuffy nose. Oh, and did I mention that Clark has had this cough since NOVEMBER? Yes, that’s right. Clark, my 10 month old, has had this horrible cough for 6 months. 60% of his life. Seems crazy right? Yes, I think so too.

Back in November, I thought he must be getting a cold. So did urgent care when they gave him steroids and gave me a list of things to do to help him get over it. We did steam and cool mist, we suctioned his nose and kept his head elevated while sleeping. I asked some of my natural parenting groups for advice and we rubbed on GOOT (Look that up, it does help some coughs!) I took mega doses of vitamin C in the hope that it would transfer through my milk and I tried some elderberry tincture. Everything seemed to help a little and then not really at all and the cough came back.

Clark coughed through the holidays and the doctor decided to try a round of antibiotics. Against my better judgement I allowed it, desperate for the cough to end. I asked her if it could be a reaction to something in his environment. She said, “No, it is just a viral thing, but this has been going on a long time so I want to make sure it doesn’t turn into a bacterial infection.” Ten days later, the cough was gone. Three days later it was back. I will never forget the morning I ran from the bedroom to the living room with my baby in my arms, frantically trying to help him catch his breath, unsure what to do or how to help but unable to just sit there while he coughed so hard he turned purple and shook. I tried to pat his back, suction his mouth… He finally gasped for air and then lay on my chest exhausted while I cried inconsolably.


The first weekend the cough scared me.

So, we went back to the doctor in January. Mike took him since I had to work and they called me from the room so I could ask our doctor questions. He showed her a video of Clark’s belly and chest retracting while he wheezed the night before in the steamy bathroom. This time she tested him for RSV and whooping cough, influenza and the common cold. The common cold came back positive. More mist, more steam, more steroids. The cough stayed.

In February we saw another doctor in the practice because our regular doctor was off. I asked if she thought he could have an allergy to something. She kind of rolled her eyes and said, “No, no, no. He has a virus. Babies get tons of viruses. He puts his hands in his mouth all of the time! This is just having kids in daycare.” And I don’t completely disagree! My other two kids are in daycare. They get colds and viruses all of the time… but this was different. None of my babies had been this sick, ever. Besides, they weren’t coming down with this neverending virus and they can’t keep their hands off of Clark! We left that day with a prescription for “Give it time.”  More sleepless nights and missed work and so much fear. I began dreading the evenings. I was anxious and sick with worry and couldn’t stop staring at Clark even when he was sleeping peacefully. We would have good nights and bad nights, but the cough wasn’t going away. He had more scary fits where his whole body would stiffen and shake while he hacked and turned colors. I felt like no one was taking us seriously.

In March, tired of seeing us I am sure, our doctor decided to try breathing treatments every four hours and another dose of steroids until the cough went away. We did that for almost two weeks and his cough loosened and the treatments seemed to help the wheezing and raspy breathing at night! We moved into a different house and though he would cough once in awhile, it wasn’t horrible sounding like it had been for months. A record 18 days went by without a nerve wracking night of staring at my son as he worked to breathe, wondering if we’d end up in the ER. We celebrated, imagining that it was something in the other house and crossed our fingers that the cough was gone for good. And then… the cough came back.

I scheduled another appointment with our doctor to have her listen to his lungs but I also decided enough was enough and I called an allergist. I no longer believed, and hadn’t for awhile, that this was due to a virus. I really felt that there was an underlying issue. Either an environmental allergy or a anatomical issue with his throat or airways. It just seemed impossible that he could have a virus for six months straight with no fever and remain in wonderful spirits. I let her know at the appointment and she said she felt that that was an appropriate decision at this point.

We continued with the breathing treatments and waited for the allergist appointment. His cough followed the same pattern as always: Terrible and tight for 2-3 days. Terrible but looser for 2-3 days. Less frequent and looser for 2-3 days. Repeat. Two days before his appointment he woke up at 4:00 am with croup again and was congested, stuffy and watery eyed the next day. When we finally went into the allergist’s office, you could hear the mucous rattling in his chest. I explained all of the details to the allergist and he agreed that it sounded like a reaction to something. He decided to do allergy skin testing for 20 common allergens. I held Clark on my lap on the table while the nurse poked his back. He looked surprised and sad but only cried for a minute before his attention returned to the loud crinkly paper on the exam table.


About 5 minutes after the pokes.

After 15 minutes there were 2 welts out of 20 showing a reaction on Clark’s back. It wasn’t dog, cat or grass like I would have bet my life on though. It was eggs. Egg white and egg yolk. It was like one of those cartoon lightbulbs flipped on in my head. I breastfeed. I eat eggs. In baked goods, on their own, and mostly on weekends… when Clark ends up restarting his entire cough and wheeze cycle. Sunday nights and Monday mornings have always been the worst. Probably because we go out to breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings and I enjoy eggs and bacon or an omelet! Clark had previously broken out in hives when I gave him scrambled egg so I stopped. I never imagined that he would react to eggs through me.

The doctor came back into the room and said, “Well, that will do it! Clark has a serious allergy to eggs.” I explained that I breastfeed and he smiled and said, “Yeah, no eggs for you either. He probably became sensitized through your milk and then reacted himself when you fed him eggs directly.” I was surprised to find that a food allergy would create the kind of respiratory symptoms that Clark has experienced and the Doctor said in children that it is definitely possible, though skin reactions for food allergies are more common. So, Clark is on a daily dose of Zyrtec and we are both on an egg-free diet. We will see the allergist again in a month and he hopes that Clark will be symptom free by that time as it takes a couple of weeks for the egg protein to be completely out of our bodies. We discussed a few other things such as Clark having enlarged tonsils and that he may end up with an asthma diagnosis later on. But for now, he is confident that we can get this cough under control and hopefully make my sweet baby feel better!


Food allergies are dumb, but I’m super cute!

So, parents! Be an advocate for your child. If something doesn’t feel right, investigate it even if the doctor disagrees with you. I wish I would have gone with my gut months ago and had him see the allergist. I could have saved him so much suffering and myself a lot of worry!

Two Years Later


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This weekend marked two whole years since we made the big journey back to Michigan from Nevada. I remember being worried about regretting our decision and expressed the concern that I may never really feel “home.” Well, the verdict is in… Turns out, you really can’t go home again. You can only go back to the place you once called home and try to make it home once more.


Two years ago we were on our way to Michigan!

That is what we’ve tried to do and what we are still trying to do. Our life in Michigan is completely different from our life in Nevada. It is also completely different from our previous life in Michigan. While we were away, everything changed. People changed, places changed… we changed. We were exposed to different people, different mindsets, different cultures and we became… different. We were also away for 8 years, which is a fairly significant blip on life’s timeline, and in that time we grew up a lot. We left at 25 and 26 years old, unmarried, carefree and adventurous. In the time we were away we got married and had children and our central focus shifted from the broad outside world and the people in it, to our intimate inside world; our largest priority became our children and our family unit. We returned to Michigan at 33 and 34 with two kids in tow. Of course things changed. I feel the two years I’ve spent back in the Midwest has changed me even more. Though, we all morph into new and different people bit by bit, every single day, don’t we?


Our trip this year was to Northern Michigan to visit family

In two years, we’ve lost friends and we’ve gained friends. We’ve lost family, we’ve gained family. We created a beautiful third son. We’ve been incredibly blessed with stable jobs. We have had some really fantastic moments and some really devastating ones. If I said this journey has been horrible, I’d be lying. If I said it has been wonderful… I’d be lying. The question is; was it worth it? Was it worth leaving a place we loved to return to a place we had purposely left years before?

And my answer is… Yes. Because the good times have been so fantastically good. My children have gotten to play with their cousins much more often than they would have had we stayed in Las Vegas. To hear Truman name his cousins one by one (all 13 first cousins plus MY cousins’ children!) and tell me which ones he wants to play with next or which one is his “best friend” is priceless. Grant loves his aunts and uncles with a fierceness that I know he never would if he was to only see them once a year. Our nieces and nephews are amazing little people and we love watching them grow. Our parents have had the opportunity to watch their grandsons grow in person instead of only online. We have gotten to spend much more time with Ma (GG) who is our only remaining grandparent, my boys’ only great grandparent. We have traveled to Cleveland, Toronto, and Northern Michigan a number of times. None of those trips, or very few of those trips would have possible.

We still have moments of intense longing for our previous life. Moments where we desperately miss our friends. Moments that we wonder, “What if we hadn’t left?” When thinking about the things I dislike about living here, I have asked myself; “Have things changed that much, or is this how it has always been and I just never saw it before now?” I think we maybe expected to pick up right where we left off. We expected this place to stay the same while we had run off to change. We thought we could just “come home.” But we couldn’t. And that’s ok. Our relocation hasn’t been anything like we thought it would be. But you know what? This is life! This crazy, beautiful, confusing, surprising and maddening journey we call life. Regardless of the experience, we are in fact, “home.” Now we have to focus on making it “Ours.”

Clark’s Birth Story


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Clark James Yeoman is born! As many of you already know, he was born at 41 weeks 1 day. That was about 2 weeks after I began complaining about him not being born yet. The end of this pregnancy was rough. I was hot, huge and tired. Everything south of my belly button was achy and hurting, my feet and ankles were swollen and I had to pee every three minutes. I wasn’t sleeping well and the kids were too busy for me to keep up with. I was worried about what would happen with the kids when I did go into labor and until my Mom came to stay with us I was terrified that I’d have to bring the kids to the hospital or bother my friend, who generously offered to baby-sit in such a situation, in the middle of the night. I was also really emotional about this probably being my last baby and for what ever reason, had a little bit of crazy anxiety about dying in childbirth. So… yes, fun all around.

Three days after my 40 week appointment, I had to have an ultrasound and NST (Non-Stress Test) at the hospital. They wanted to check Clark’s status and make sure my fluid levels were still looking good. He sounded perfect on the monitor and was moving around a lot still. My amniotic fluid was fine and there was no reason to induce which was fine by me. After being induced with Truman and having a labor that did not go according to plan, I have never wanted to experience an induction again. I left the hospital confident that I would go into labor on my own in the next day or two. But an entire week went by and I was back at the doctor, six days after my due date and baby was no closer to joining us. One of my midwives swept my membranes and said that if baby didn’t come on his own, we should probably induce on Sunday. She also wanted me to go to the hospital on Friday for another ultrasound and another NST. I left the office near tears, uncomfortable and disappointed.


The next morning, Mike and I went out to breakfast and discussed our options. Sunday was going to be a really terrible day to have our baby. Mike had already begun his two week parental leave since we had been so sure Clark was coming soon. If Clark was born on Sunday, I wouldn’t be out of the hospital until Tuesday and Mike would only have until Wednesday home with us. On top of that, my Mom had to leave by Sunday to return to work, so she wouldn’t be around to watch the kids or see the new baby. I really didn’t want to be induced at all but if it was going to happen anyway, I’d rather sooner than later. We decided to call the midwife and see if we could just come in and be induced the next day. I left a message with the nurse and waited. My midwife Hillary called me back and we discussed my feelings and concerns. She assured me that an induction this time around would not be traumatic like my first one was. I was already dilated, effaced and being my third baby, it should be much shorter and less stressful. We agreed to meet at the hospital the next morning but she offered to sweep membranes again that afternoon just to try one last time to get labor going. I saw her at 1:45 on Tuesday and she swept my membranes for the third time. I had contractions for the rest of the day and that entire evening but they did not get stronger and more regular. By midnight they stopped and I went to sleep.

The next morning, we took the boys to daycare and grabbed breakfast. I was a little nervous but still ready for our baby to join us. We checked in at St. John Hospital in Detroit and went through all of the paperwork with the intake nurse. I was shown to my room which was huge and very nice. At 9:15 am I changed, met the nurse and got an IV started. Hillary arrived and said she thought I may be able to avoid Pitocin. She wanted to break my water and just see how things went. Avoiding Pitocin sounded great to me and also meant I wouldn’t have to have continuous monitoring so I could move more freely.

At 12:48 Hillary broke my water. Not a whole lot came out but I started having contractions right away. I sat on the birthing ball through a few contractions and after the third one I felt a huge gush and the rest of the water spilled all over the floor, the ball, and my nurse’s shoes. We all had a laugh and Hillary recommended that I start walking. Mike and I took a lap around the labor and delivery floor. I had to stop for contractions that were getting more and more intense. After three laps I started getting very hot. The pain was getting difficult to manage quietly and I decided to go to my room. I stood and rocked. I moaned. I tried to breathe. I usually do not like anyone touching me during labor but Hillary squeezed my hips as I contracted and that pressure felt so good I wanted to hug her. She taught Mike how to do the same and he helped me through the next few contractions. I had to pee and while going, I realized that sitting on the toilet felt pretty comfortable, so I decided to hang out there for a little while. After laboring on the toilet for three or four contractions, Hillary appeared before me.

“Annie, you are starting to make sounds like you want to push.” I was shocked. It couldn’t be time to push yet! I hadn’t been in labor that long and things hadn’t gotten to a point where I was in unbearable pain.

“I am?” I asked.

Hillary smiled and nodded. In her quiet and oh-so-soothing voice, she replied, “Yes, you are definitely sounding like that. So. You can deliver in the bed, on your hands and knees, standing… you can even deliver right here in the bathroom. But you cannot deliver the baby on the toilet. So, if you are ready I want you to move off of the toilet.” It was the last thing I wanted to do but I didn’t want to deliver on the toilet either. I decided to move to the bed. I labored on my hands and knees. Contractions were barely a minute apart and I couldn’t get ahead of the pain. I growled. I yelled. I screamed. Hillary asked if I needed to push and I was so shocked that she asked instead of telling me that I could or telling me that I couldn’t, that for a second I wasn’t really sure if I had to push or not! By the next contraction I had my answer. I had to push.

It was like a switch flipped in my brain. I remember it with Grant’s birth, also un-medicated, also intense. It is as if I turn from woman to beast. There is no other time in my life that I have felt so other-worldly. Like I am in a zone where only I and this yet to be met child exist. Where my body, my soul and something deep and primal and… animalistic are working without the help of my conscious mind. I don’t know if all women feel it, but I really hope they do because it is such an incredible, super-human experience.

I pushed and pushed hard. I pushed correctly, effectively and unlike my last two babies who came out in less than 10 pushes. Clark didn’t feel like he was budging at all. I remember looking at my hands on the bed and seeing the veins bulging, wondering for a second if I was going to push the IV needle right out of the back of my hand. I felt like I was getting nowhere, despite all of the encouragement from Mike, Hillary and the nurse. I decided to switch positions and asked to go on my back. As soon as I rolled over, I knew I didn’t want to be there. Mike grabbed my leg and so did the nurse and I felt like they were going to pull me apart. The angle was weird, I couldn’t get any kind of counter pressure and I was angry about it. I asked them to let go and grabbed my own thighs, pushing as hard as I could. Clark’s heart rate started to drop. Hillary had me turn onto my side and keep pushing. She told me I needed to get him out and to push harder than I ever had before. I was so tired but I pushed again and again. I flipped back to my hands and knees and was so hot and sweaty, I ripped my gown off. Unbeknownst to me, completely naked and lost in labor-land, Clark’s heart rate had gone missing, they were placing an internal monitor and they weren’t completely sure if I could push his head out. Hillary had called in backup. Mike told me later about the whispering, the phone call, the rushing in of two doctors and three nurses, the talk of moving fast and making decisions. I heard whispers, but far off. Like whispering in a dream, not quite real and nothing I could concentrate on long enough to grasp what was really happening. And suddenly I knew he was coming. That intense pressure turned to intense burning and for the first time I was completely sure he would arrive. I know there were cheers and I know there was encouragement, but I swear I felt underwater. My body, my spirit, this baby… that was all.

It was 3:12 pm, only 2 hours and 24 minutes after my water broke that I felt his head leave my body, the rest of him following seconds later. Suddenly, his face appeared in front of mine. This big, beautiful, round and purple baby was looking up at me as I crouched over him, shaking and exhausted but more proud of myself than I have ever been. I brought him to my chest and sat back on my heels, Hillary and Mike and our nurse helping me turn over and sit back. The nurses were anxious to listen to him, to check and make sure he was breathing and healthy. He was crying and perfect. I held him until his cord stopped pulsing, Mike cut it and they took him to check him out. I had a few minor tears that needed stitches but felt great. By the time I looked around the room, all of the “extras” had cleared out. I never would have known about all of the scary drama had Mike not told me. Clark returned to my arms in minutes, his Apgar scores were 9, 9. He latched on and nursed. We spent over an hour skin to skin and Mike left to get my parents and the boys. While he was gone, the nurses measured Clark and told me this big round baby was 8 pounds 15 ounces and 21 inches long. I got cleaned up, Clark was swaddled and we were left alone. I snuggled my beautiful third son until his brothers and grandparents came to meet him. Birth. It never gets less miraculous.


(And only 6 months after his arrival I found the time to complete his birth story!)