Brotherly Love

The other night Ben and I were putting Junior to bed as Erin was working late. We splashed in the bath then picked out Junior’s fuzzy “per’damnies” as Ben likes to call them when he gets lazy about his pronunciation. Next we heated up the milk or rather the “moo” that Junior asked for, accompanied by the sign for “more.” Somewhere in the midst of that my heart melted when Ben said,

“Can I feed him his bottle, I want to cuddle.”

We are certainly all about the Love in our house. Erin and I knew going into this that we wanted our kids to develop and enjoy a sibling relationship but saying that is easy, waiting for it happen requires time. I think it started when Ben realized he finally had a playmate other than Erin and I. They could have their own clubs, their own games, their own secrets, even if Junior’s are still babble that sounds like “goo ba do du boo bah.” He always has an opinion.

And so we got the “moo” from the fridge and filled the bottle while Junior was wiggling on the kitchen floor saying “up, up, up”. We heated up the milk and took it to the bedroom. Ben climbed into the rocking chair and I popped Junior with his already dwindling milk onto his lap. Junior flopped back against his brother and contentedly sipped away.

That was it, that was the moment that I knew what Erin and I hoped for had occurred. The individual desire of our children to want to be with each other separate from our needs and wishes, and to have real comfort and affection for one another. They really are siblings and it is so comforting to know that no matter how life changes in the future they have developed that bond.

As a widowed mother it makes me feel so much more secure when there are other people around to support my son. I know that of course it is not just me, that I have tons of family on my and my late wife’s side that adore my son and would never let anything happen to him. However this is the everyday love, the love that wakes you up in the morning and wraps its arms around you before you have even gotten out of your per’damnies.

It is the love that is there when you have had a shit day and all you want around you are your people to talk about it, to hold you and reaffirm that they are there for you no matter what, day in and day out. It is our new-traditional, totally supportive, come what may love. I need a tissue…

Fashioning Families Launch Season Two!

Two badass moms, two ginger boys, two indifferent/insistent pets and now two seasons of our podcast Fashioning Families! I guess good things really do come in pairs. So over the last year this is how life has rolled out. Junior is walking and Ben never stops talking. They have finally realized that the other is a verifiable playmate and now the ruckus never stops.

Ben has become the CEO of the distinguished organization, KMH (Kid Monster Hunters). VP Junior suddenly has important responsibilities and paperwork, since he learned to use a crayon. Junior has also learned to take his socks and pants off every time we turn around.

Junior has also learned the meaning of gentle and our cat has learned to be graceful about being petted, even if he still disdains Junior when he crawls into the cat bed with him and rolls around. The dog is a little pissed with all the chaos even if she likes going to the park with the boys. She is is sure grateful for Ben, her walker extraordinaire!

Kelly rolls up her carpet when Junior is at the dinner table and they all expect that Junior will need a bite of everyones ice cream afterwards. Erin has transitioned to a life of carting Junior to daycare.

We have all suffered the plagues that both kids bring home. At last count, at least three bouts of cold for all, one bout of pink eye for Ben and Kelly and one Norwalk like curse for her, Junior and Ben. Now we are just waiting for the locusts.

Kelly’s hands are getting used to doing reflexology three days a week and writing her fingertips off. Erin and Kelly are both trying out intermittent fasting and would be really doing well if Kelly would just stop baking.

And now at long last Erin and Kelly have streaked through dinner times, bath times and bedtimes to get some recording time in to bring you Fashioning Families Season Two. Now you will get to hear double the laughs, double the groans, double the insanity and certainly double the love!

Check out the whole gang here!

For Fuck-Sake Salad

We all need a loving kick in the pants sometimes. A little while ago there was a particularly difficult week concerning Ben. Eventually I just sent him down to Erin because I couldn’t deal anymore. He had not been helpful cleaning up the living room. I asked him to clean his room and when I checked on him he was playing. When I went back twice he was still playing. That was when I lost it, then he told me that I didn’t do anything and that he was “doing my dirty work.” Yeah I was done. 

Once those emotional hooks get in there is no room for patience or calm. It didn’t help that this week we had to reprimand him for rough-housing with the baby and making some very unsafe choices. We had a talk about thinking through things. Then Erin caught him taking a pair of gardening sheers to the hall carpet…yeah. It was consequence city.

After the “dirty work” day Erin sat me down and started a difficult conversation. She was actually making some helpful suggestions of things she used to try and keep her own household from overwhelming her. I just felt a lot of shame and frustration and came away feeling pretty shitty about myself. I didn’t sleep that night and it took some time to process, but in hindsight those helpful suggestions were just what I needed. 

Basically it amounted to, if there’s something you can do now and get it over with; Do it! That way when you come back to the kitchen or bathroom or pile of laundry you won’t feel shitty about the fact that it wasn’t done. Things like put the lid back on the peanut butter and put it into the cupboard, wash the dishes in the sink and make sure all the food is put away.  Erin’s golden moment was when she said something like, I’m not saying this because you did anything wrong, I am saying this because I want things to be easier for you. Then she smiled and yelled “for fuck-sake put yourself first!” 

So now when I think about the things I need to do, I think of them as an act of self-care, for fuck-sakes. I thought about it this morning as I was cleaning the kitchen and chopping some forgotten fruit. I was making a fruit salad to take care of myself and you can too. Try my recipe I will call this creation the….

For Fuck-Sake Fruit Salad

1 lime

1 orange

1 grapefruit 

1-2 Granny Smith apples

1 cup strawberries 

1 cup blueberries 

1 cup raspberries 

1 peach

Hand full of fresh basil leaves 

Squeeze the juice of two limes into a sealable bowl or Tupperware. Then slice orange and grapefruit and squeeze a little of the juice into the bowl. Cut out sections and add them. Slice Granny Smith apples and add with any fruit that happen to be hanging around. Add basil leaves, seal container and shake, shake señora! Refrigerate and toss before serving!

I particularly thought of myself as I washed the grapes and sliced them cleanly down the middle. I wasn’t going to but then I thought they look pretty and I’m doing this for me…for fuck-sake

And you know it, it feels good! 

Time To Get a Watch!

To those who love and adore me it is no secret, I am not so good at minding the time. It was actually the bane of my late wife’s existence. I guess it doesn’t help that I didn’t have watch…until now. Then comes Christmas 2018 and Erin’s bid to try and keep Ben and I to a schedule. Erin is also a non-time-minder by her own admission, so it was an easier pill to swallow.

Erin was obliged to mind time for professional purposes, and now I don’t wonder why there is a clock in every room of her apartment…even the bathroom. To me this lends credence to the old adage “she can be taught.” Time management has changed in our co-habited house, not just because her gift to me was a Garmin watch, but also because it was her gift to Ben as well.

I have issues with my wrists so I’ve have never worn anything more than an ultra-light bracelet. Perhaps it was also my stubborn streak to avoid time minding… But now with this fancy watch that keeps me on schedule and counts my steps, time has become my friend!

As a family with Garmin watches we can participate in step challenges. With the kids watch Ben can earn “coins” towards rewards for chores on an app . Until he lost the watch and my mother and I spent three days after Christmas trying to help him find it… It eventually surfaced a few weeks later.

Erin and I designed a schedule for the mornings in 15 min increments which I can now monitor, and we have not been late this semester once!

Now I don’t have to be afraid that time has escaped me, I can just tip my wrist for an instant reminder. This allows me to relax during my daily activities. Since this little gadget is waterproof I don’t have to struggle minding the time for myself, even in the bathroom. So Erin as well as Kara was right, it was time to get a watch, and now there is someone on the other side of the pearly gates of heaven doing a happy dance! Love you babe, but don’t be so smug…lol.

Swimming With the Stars

Hi All, Kelly here,

There are benchmarks when you arrive at something and the situation suddenly feels more significant than the literal interpretation. Ever since those hours in swimming lessons Ben has become a diving, fluttering machine. So when we head down to Regent Park Community pool its a real treat. The water slide doesn’t hurt either. However this was not just any old buoyant family outing.

Erin healed up from from the cesarean business (feeling so much sympathy for that) and she wanted to take Junior swimming. It was a painful ordeal for Erin to abstain from the lake in August during our cottage trip, so she was raring to go. I was sure Junior would love it as he has a laugh and a half at bath time, creating a small tsunami in the baby tub.

At first he was not convinced about the cold air and the the loud echoing room, but as soon as he hit the water he pretty much lost his mind with excitement. As Ben dove for rings floating up and down like a wounded fish and Junior was splashing and swooshing, that is when Erin thought she recognized someone in the pool. She couldn’t place them at first until she, The Walking Dead fan, knew where she was from. Just like that we were swimming with the stars!

The beautiful actress in question was ogling Junior in his cuteness and we chatted with her while her family swam around us. Under her gaze I felt even more like a family unit. It was a peaceful feeling and everyone’s joy just accentuated that.

As Erin went to throw rings for Ben, I got Junior and we puttered around the pool, swishing his little legs in my current. Making faces and over exaggerated moves my little star fish rewarded me with the quintessential wide smile and infectious giggle. That’s when I felt it, my heart melted.

I know it was our intention to “fashion” our own family but suddenly, emotionally it felt like we actually had. I love Junior, he feels like mine just as Erin feels like Ben is hers. They are ours and being there together cemented a beautiful feeling between us. This is what our boys will know, two parent figures who love and support them, a wide community of family and friends and a home that feels…like home.

Now it’s you turn: so you tell us, we love stories at Fashioning Families. What have been your most memorable family times?