A Comparison

Pre-Child Weekday Morning:

Roll out of bed after hitting snooze multiple times.


Get dressed.

Drive through Starbucks.

Go to work.

Post-Child Weekday Morning:

Get out of bed on time so you can shower before wife leaves for work.

Make child’s breakfast so that it’s waiting for her because otherwise she will be a hangry monster.

Pour coffee.

Sit down to drink coffee at the exact moment that you hear child singing through the baby monitor.


Put down coffee.

Pause for a moment outside of child’s door and take a deep breath.

Wonder whether you will be greeted with a smile or an angry scream. Odds are 75/25 in favor of the scream.

Open door, make eye contact with child and chirp, “Good morning sunshine!”

Turn off sound machine and open window shade as child decides whether she is happy to see you or not.

Child is not happy to see you.

Commence screaming.

Child demands bottle.

Explain that it’s not time for a bottle.

Child demands bottle more loudly.

Offer breakfast instead of a bottle.

Child throws herself on the floor, kicking and screaming BOTTLE!

Surrender. It’s too early for this fight.

Run to the kitchen and make the damn bottle while child stands there screaming MILK MILK MILK MILK!

Take bottle and child to couch.

Turn on Sesame Street.

But not that Sesame Street.

Not that one either, apparently.

Or that one.

Search through queue of 99,999,999,999 episodes of Sesame Street to find the one with Snuffy.

Sit in peace for 5 minutes while child is lulled into blissful submission by Snuffy and bottle.

Bottle is empty.

More bottle?

Offer breakfast instead.


Offer pancakes enthusiastically.


Dogs start barking like crazy.

Barking escalates child’s screams for more bottle.

Nanny enters the house.


Child runs screaming NO NANNY NO NANNY NO NANNY.

Yell at dogs to SHUT UP.

Apologize to nanny.

Add a few ounces of milk to bottle.

Hold crying child.

Attempt to extricate yourself from crying child’s grasp a dozen times so you can get dressed for work.

Fail a dozen times.

Offer for crying child to accompany you to the bedroom to get dressed.

Offer declined.

Enhance bedroom offer with promises of bed bouncing.

No monkeys wish to jump on the bed this morning.

Wonder whether they will fire you on a Friday or wait until after the long weekend.


Sing along to Sesame Street songs you have heard ten thousand times with fake enthusiasm.

Notice that child has been still and quiet in your lap for ten minutes or so.

Take a deep breath and gently remove child from lap.

Dart into bedroom and hurry to throw on clothes.

Grab phone and coffee, kiss child on forehead, wish nanny luck, and run out the door before child can realize what’s happening.

Get in car.

Finally take a sip of (cold) coffee.


Make mental note to buy lotto ticket.

Decide that when you win, you will quit your job but keep your nanny.

How Charlotte Is


A few weeks ago, Catch took Charlotte to one of her YMCA classes for the first time. As the kids sat in a circle with their parents and sang songs, Charlotte ran around like a wild animal. Catch tried to control her, and one of the other moms said, “Oh, Charlotte is always like this—sitting still just isn’t her thing.”

And there, summed up in a single sentence by a perfect stranger is the core of my daughter. Sitting still just isn’t her thing.

Charlotte needs a lot. Constantly. She does not stop. She challenges every rule. She requires near-constant input. She is fearless and curious and that combination is often dangerous and/or destructive.

Her emotions are larger than life. When she is happy, you feel her joy all the way to your bones. When she is angry, she is a force to be reckoned with. When she is sad, even the dogs plead with us to make it better.

Our daughter is light and sound and speed. There is no calm before her storm.

For a while, we lived in a little bubble where we believed that this must just be the norm. She’s a kid. Kids are crazy. Ours is no exception. It wasn’t until we started spending more time around kids her age in a group setting that we realized that she’s actually a bit more than the norm.

Yesterday when I drove our nanny home, she told me about Charlotte’s day. They were in one of her YMCA classes, and she was hugging the baby brother of one of her friends. He’s a little over a year old. It turns out that her hug was just a bit too enthusiastic, and they both toppled over onto the (padded) floor. The nannies rushed in to get them both upright, and no harm was done, but our nanny looked up and saw that the mom of one of the other kids was glaring at her and Charlotte. She sort of laughed it off as she re-told the story and said, “She’s new to the class so she just doesn’t know how Charlotte is!”

How Charlotte is.

I feel like my heart broke a little bit right then.

Most days, I consider how Charlotte is to be a compliment because how Charlotte is is fucking incredible. But right now, we’re struggling with her, and all of a sudden, how Charlotte is feels like some kind of a red flag. It feels like people are saying, “Your kid is… different.” Right now, different does not feel like a compliment. Different feels like, “Holy crap, people—get a handle on your kid before this whole place goes up in flames!”

Confession: Catch and I can barely handle our child these days. This morning I broke down in tears as she screamed and threw her body around the house in a tantrum so violent that she sliced her toe open. I was late for work and panicked because I am on thin ice at work. I cannot afford to be late. Again. Right then, I really needed to not be sitting on my living room floor wiping away my daughter’s fountain of snot and tears with my t-shirt.

She wouldn’t let me put a bandage on her bleeding toe. No amount of rocking or singing or Elmo or pancakes was calming her. The nanny couldn’t even look in her direction without escalating things. She stood just outside the door, peeking in every so often to make eye contact with me and raise an eyebrow as a silent “How can I help you right now?”

When all of the bodily fluids had slowed to a minimum, and Charlotte sat still on my lap hiccupping the last sobs away, our nanny looked at me and said, “You’re doing such a great job.”

I know she meant it, but all I could think was that if this was me doing a great job—late for work, still in my pajamas, covered in bodily fluids, longing for my cup of now-cold coffee, holding a child who was staring at both the television AND the iPad—well, if that’s “great” then someone has obviously lowered the bar.

That’s par for the course these days. Things really started to escalate about two weeks ago, and we tried to explain it away, but it’s just getting worse. I even took her to the doctor on Monday morning because I was convinced something must be wrong.

I called Catch when I was finally on my way to work this morning and tearfully asked her what happened to our little girl. Her storm used to be like April showers and suddenly it’s more like a hurricane. All we can do is batten down the hatches and shield ourselves from the worst of it.

There are lots of words thrown about in parenting circles when you’re talking about a kid like this—more and spirited come to mind most readily. She is certainly both of those things, and she always has been. Up until now we’ve managed just fine, but today we are filling queues with books and articles because we’re at a loss. For the first time, we’re feeling like we need more help than Google and mom groups can provide.

Wish us luck.

Stuff… and some pictures

Mother’s Day feels like a lifetime ago. It was lovely, though. We spent the day at home—just the three of us. We celebrated Catch’s birthday. We cooked. We cleaned. We napped. We ended the weekend feeling rested and relaxed.

Since then, this week has been full of tantrums (screaming—so much screaming), sleepless nights, long, intense work hours, and frantic calls to try to rearrange childcare courtesy of emergency meetings and grounded airplanes.

We’ve had a lot going on. The biggest thing involves some good friends and I really can’t share the details, but it is crazy hard (more for my wife than for me) and complicated and hit everyone involved like an out of control freight train.

Today, as I was sitting at work feeling like an anxious wreck, our nanny texted me a picture of Charlotte holding hands with another little girl. It was followed later by a message letting us know that Charlotte had learned how to say the other girl’s name (Leona) and that she was so tired by the time they got home from the Y today, she looked up from her lunch and said, “Ready for nap.” Who is this child?

This little girl keeps me grounded.

Other happenings:

We have about two weeks left with our nanny and I am in denial about it. I really love our nanny. Charlotte really loves our nanny. We all agree (even the nanny) that this is the right thing for Charlotte, and yet I just hate that we have to let her go. She asked me if she could give my number to another family for a reference, which YES, OF COURSE… but also… NO. She’s MINE. You can’t have her. Sigh. More on that coming later, I suppose.

Catch and I are going to a Dodgers game on Saturday night. I gave her tickets for her birthday/Mother’s Day. It’ll be our first date night in quite a while. We’ve earned it!

My birthday is coming up in a few weeks. I’m taking the day off from work and we’re once again ditching the kiddo so we can spend the day in central coast wine country at our favorite winery (with a likely stop in Solvang for pastries). I can’t wait. It has been WAY too long. I am counting the days.

I haven’t taken a single picture since Sunday night, but I will share what I have from last week and the weekend.

May 5 – Painting in the back yard.


May 6 – A Saturday evening out back. 100days-May6

May 7 – Checking out the giant river otters at the LA Zoo.100days-May7

May 8 – We turned her crib into a ball pit. She had fun for a bit, but getting those damn balls out of there was a pain. Never again.100days-May8

May 9 – Emptying her laundry hamper before bed. You’d think she was looking for something, but I’m pretty sure she just wanted to make a mess.100days-May9

May 11 – The other mama was working late, so we went for a walk through the neighborhood by ourselves. When we walk the dogs, this is a 20 minute walk. Alone with Charlotte, it was over an hour.100days-May11DSC_0068

May 12 – Ready for bed, but not ready for bed.100days-May12

May 13 – Celebrating Mother’s Day at Grammy’s house. Corn on the cob is her favorite.100days-May13

May 14 – It was the end of the day. After dinner but before mud pie and birthday candles. I’m still in my pajamas, but I decided we needed to remember this day so I set the timer on the camera. 100days-May14

Mother’s Day

My mom texted me a few weeks ago and told me flat out that she wants an oven thermometer for Mother’s Day.

I hadn’t actually planned on getting my mom a Mother’s Day gift. I figured a card and maybe a painting by Charlotte would suffice. It’s not as if an oven thermometer is going to break the bank—I mean seriously, as gift requests go, this one is ridiculously simplistic and is already sitting in my guest room awaiting a gift bag, but still. She expects a gift, and so she will get her oven thermometer.

But for me?

All I want for Mother’s Day is my little girl. I want to spend the day kissing her head and singing along to her silly songs and basking in her toddler glow.

Throughout all of the years of will we/won’t we negotiations, all of the pregnancy tests and needles and fertility-related debt, all I wanted was to be a mom. I wanted to be a part of this club. I wanted in on this Hallmark holiday. Charlotte gave me that gift, and I have not taken it for granted for one second of one day. She has filled every space that was left in my heart.

I hope she never feels the need to buy me an oven thermometer. I hope she will always just let me use this day to kiss her head and tell her over and over again that she is the greatest gift I have ever been given.

Nothing can top you, my sweet little girl. Nothing in the world.

I Should’ve Listened

We went to the family dinner. 

They brought everyone’s food. Except Charlotte’s. 

She reached her breaking point right as my boss was seated at the table next to us. 

My fucking boss, guys. I’m not even kidding. My. Boss. Have I mentioned how shaky things are for me at work lately? They are. This is not the time I need to be sitting next to my boss. 

Charlotte melted down. Like epic meltdown. Hyperventilating, kicking, beating her head into me, screaming herself hoarse…

It sucked. I mean, I got her outside FAST so boss didn’t see the worst of it, but still…

My boss. My fucking boss. 

We are never leaving the house again. 

WHY DID I NOT LISTEN TO MYSELF????? WHY???????????????

Going Out

I have a family that likes to go out to eat. My mom works her ass off all day, and while she can cook and is not bad at it, she often just doesn’t. That puts her and my dad in restaurants quite a bit and we often get invited.

I also have a local aunt, uncle and two cousins. When there’s a birthday, we tend to head to a restaurant. There’s not so many of us that the group is unmanageable, and we all live sort of on opposite ends of things, so it’s easier to just pick a restaurant and meet in the middle after we all get off of work.

This has been our thing for years. Years and years.

Enter Charlotte.

My cousins are adults and don’t have kids, so it’s been a long time since there were any little ones in this part of my family. I hate to say it, but Charlotte really complicates things for us.

We don’t have the kind of kid you want to take to a restaurant. We have the kind of kid who is incapable of sitting for longer than it takes to eat a few bites of some kind of chicken. She also does not do restaurant high chairs, so we have to sit in a booth and someone has to try to contain her. When it’s just us and my parents, my dad will inhale his dinner and then take her outside to play.

There’s nothing wrong with Charlotte. She is just 21 months old. She has the attention span of a mosquito, the energy of a Red Bull factory, and the grace of a stampede of buffalo.

Going to a restaurant with her is Not. Fun.

Tonight, my family is getting together for my cousin’s birthday. I really want to go. We hardly ever get to see them all, and I would love for them to be able to spend some time with Charlotte. But that means taking Charlotte to a restaurant close to the cusp of bedtime. And there will be a group of us, so things will take a while. Also, my dad will not be there to entertain her, and much as my mom and my aunt try, they’re not him. It’s just not ideal. At all.

Catch doesn’t think we should go, and my gut says she’s right. Hell, my brain even says she’s right. I think everyone within a 100-mile radius heard her hour-long tantrum last night and that’s par for the course the last few days. Who in their right mind takes a kid who is that grouchy (teething) to a freaking restaurant? No one.

But I’m sad, because it’s family. And this is what we do. I love them, and I want to share this little girl with them, but I also don’t need to subject everyone to my kicking, screaming, food throwing, out of control, teething toddler. Catch and I do not need the stress or the judgement of people who a) don’t have kids or b) haven’t had a two year old in 3 decades.

It sucks.



I wrote this yesterday and I never had a chance to post it, but I also can’t bring myself to delete it.

It’s Monday.

My house is a mess.


My coffee got cold.

The nanny had to text us to ask where Charlotte’s tennis shoes are.

I panicked for a minute because it’s entirely possible that all of her sneakers are in the back seat of my car, which is as much of a disaster as my house, but then I remembered that there’s a pair on the bathroom counter. Because that’s where shoes go. See item 2 above.

I found out that Charlotte’s new school never cashed our deposit check in March, and I failed to account for that in my checking account balance which is a major OUCH.


I managed to catch the crock pot before it fell on my head AND to not fall when I missed a step getting down from the stepladder after retrieving the damn thing.

Said crock pot now holds the contents of tonight’s dinner, so I don’t have to think about it when I get home.

I got to leave my whiny, screamy, teething child with the nanny (ask me how sad I was to leave this morning), and enough time has gone by now that I actually miss my little pancake monster.

I cannot stop laughing at this video.

I am only 3 hours away from having a vodka tonic in hand.


Piecing Together Sleep

Sleep is a beautiful thing… when you’re getting some. We went so long without adequate sleep that even the most well-meaning mention of the word throws sparks that set off my anxiety like fireworks.

Going through Charlotte’s baby things for the consignment sale helped me realize how many things we have purchased for the sake of sleep: the Dock-A-Tot, Magic Sleep Suit, sleep sacks and swaddles galore, rock & play, pack & play, mattress for the pack & play, pacifiers—so many pacifiers, a different set of bottles just in case gas was a culprit, sound machine, Wubanubs, mesh bumpers, night time gripe water, blackout curtains, nursery-safe space heater, sleep training books… I could probably go on all day.

Point being: sleep is priceless. When you are in the throes of extreme sleep deprivation, you will gladly spend all of the money you don’t have if the latest sleep thing holds any promise of getting you some damn sleep.

I do not regret that our retirement date has been pushed back five years because of all of the money we spent on baby sleep paraphernalia. We always dreamed of spending our retirement years in the National Parks, but I’m pretty sure after 45 there won’t be any of those left, so whatever. We’ll just keep working.

I didn’t really come here to say any of that. What I came here to say is that things are better these days. As Charlotte approaches her second birthday, we are approaching our second anniversary as sleep-obsessed parental units, and I feel like we’ve learned some things.

I only get up with her once most nights. Once! It’s either sometime around midnight, or it’s sometime around 3 am. Some nights, I get up with her twice. That happened once this week.

None of that is very remarkable, but do you know what is remarkable?

She has slept through the night 4 times in the last 2 weeks. There were even a couple of times in the preceding weeks that she slept through the night. It’s like a thing now. Sometimes my kid sleeps through the night. I have NEVER been able to say that. EVER.  This is BIG. YUGE, even. (Clearly I have politics on my brain, but that is major progress because I HAVE A BRAIN AGAIN.)

This all started around Spring Break when we were going going going non-stop. We were wearing her the hell out. We’d be out having fun and we’d say screw bedtime and keep her up 30-60 minutes late. Or we’d push her nap so late that we had to do a later bedtime.

That is when this sleeping through the night phenomenon started. When we pushed our kid past the brink of exhaustion. That’s contrary to every sleep book ever written, I think.

On Thursday, she did two classes at the YMCA with our nanny. She had an average nap, then they played outside in the heat (90+) off and on until we got home from work. We went out for dinner with my parents and my dad took her outside and let her run and run and run for a good half hour while my mom, Catch and I finished our second round of margaritas. We got home around normal bedtime. When we pulled into the driveway, Charlotte asked for a walk. We needed to walk the dogs anyway, so we said screw bedtime and we all went for a walk. Charlotte was probably in bed about 30-40 minutes past her usual bedtime, and she was BEAT.

She slept through the night. (And so did I, thanks to those 2 margaritas!)

Obviously, days like that are not the norm. We cannot make Thursday into a Groundhog Day scenario. What we can do is move her bedtime once and for all.

Charlotte Louise, step right up—you’ve won a later bedtime!

Now, obviously, this kid’s sleep patterns are a fragile thing. This may not be the answer. She could start working on a tooth or catch a cold or we could travel across time zones and all will be lost. I have hope, though. I don’t expect that sleeping through the night is ever going to be the norm for her, but I would sure love to be able to join the ranks of moms whose kids sleep through the night occasionally. After close to 2 years of this shit, I deserve that promotion. Quick–someone order me some new mom cards!

Photo A Sometimes Project: Days I’m Too Lazy to Count

The last few weeks have been kind of rough due to some work stress. I haven’t been spending nearly as much time with my camera. I’ve missed a lot of days. Still, I am loving this project. It is a fantastic outlet for me and it’s forced me to get to know my camera better. I can’t even remember the last time I put it in any kind of auto mode.

So as I said in my photo post a few weeks ago, I’m going to keep at it—with realistic expectations. Here are last week’s photos along with this week’s.

April 22: Sharing a smoothie with moms. She stole a strawberry from the garden–the evidence is right there on her chin.


April 23:  The pool was a bit cold for her liking (and mine!) but she sure enjoyed floating with her WayJoe.


April 24:  Sorry, Roly. I don’t think she’s going to share that strawberry. That she stole. Again. Despite the little fence we put up.


April 25: Sesame noodles are her jam.


April 27: Betcha didn’t know that unicorns and hound dogs are BFFs.


April 29:  Rolling in Opa’s freshly laid sod.


April 30: Poolside on her Oma’s 60th birthday. Her suit matches Oma’s chair.


May 1: Mama sprayed her with the hose because she was throwing the rocks from our orange tree into her water table.


May 2: Oh hi moon!


That Consignment Sale – Was it Worth it?

We went to a consignment sale in March and it prompted us to decide that it’s time to part with Charlotte’s baby items and outgrown clothing. A few weeks later, I signed us up as consignors at a gigantic kids consignment sale out here. They take about 650 consignors and it’s held in an empty Costco warehouse.

About an hour later, the email arrived confirming our participation and providing instructions for preparing our items for the sale. I started to have regrets before I was halfway through that email.

So. Many. Rules.

Every item had to be entered into their inventory/tagging system. Tags had to be printed through the system on specific paper and then cut out and affixed to clothes with a tag gun. The tags also had to be in specific locations on the items. Then the items had to be placed just so on wire hangers and secured with safety pins as-needed. Then, hangers needed to be marked somehow so that it would be easier to find our unsold items at the end of the sale.

And that was just the clothes. Toys, books, and baby gear all had their own rules for tagging and preparation.

The email was loooooong. There were accompanying videos to watch. It was information overload.

I started to panic because we had a lot of stuff to sell. Babies amass an incredible amount of shit in their first year. This was going to be a huge undertaking.

Here’s what we needed to start prepping our stuff:

  • Hangers – 99 Cents store
  • Safety pins – 99 Cents store
  • Tag gun – Amazon
  • Neon colored zip ties – Amazon
  • Packing tape – Amazon
  • Cardstock paper – stole from work
  • Bandages for all of the times I stabbed myself with the tag gun – Medicine Cabinet
  • Rubber bands to group sizes together – stole from work
  • Scotch tape for taping tags to books – stole from work
  • Lysol wipes for cleaning – already on hand

We didn’t keep very good track of what we spent on supplies, but I’d guess it was around $50 when all was said and done. There are ways to spend less—especially if you plan better and don’t need hangers rightthissecond.

We started by going through bin after bin of clothes. They had to be checked for stains, and sorted by season. (Note: it is surprising how things that you swear were not stained when you put them in that bin end up with stains. Especially breastmilk and formula—those stains get worse with time and heat.) This sale was only for spring/summer clothes. We also took this opportunity to set aside anything meaningful that we weren’t willing to part with.

From there, we worked out a system. I entered things into the inventory/tag system while Catch hung/pinned things on the hangers. We hung everything on a rack we use for drying our work clothes.

Once that part was done, we printed tags and broke out the tagging gun and packing tape. We had over 200 items to tag. It was intense. I lost count of the number of times the tag gun needle stabbed my finger. I wanted to throw it at the wall by the time we were done.

Shoes were cleaned and then tied together with zip ties, which worked out great.

Items with loose parts were either taped or zip tied together. I put some smaller items in a gallon size baggie sealed with packing tape.

We marked our hangers by taping a neon zip tie to the neck of the hanger with packing tape. It worked great! Most people tied ribbon or yarn to their hangers, so ours stood out well on the racks when I went to pick up our unsold stuff.

Batteries were checked. Plastic was wiped down. Clothes were grouped and rubber banded by size—and we would have had a ton more to sell but they limit 0-12 month sizes to 40 items per child, so we were very limited there.

We filled our entire Ford Flex with stuff to drop off. I have never seen our car so full. Not even when we go camping.

We arrived, checked in and borrowed a rolling clothing rack. We loaded up the rack and our collapsible wagon with stuff and then waited in line to have our items all checked. They went through everything. Clothes were checked for stains. Batteries were checked in toys.

Then we had the pleasure of taking our stuff and putting it where it belonged on the sale floor. We also had to set up items like the Pack n Play and the bouncer.

I cannot describe the relief I felt when we walked out of there. We were done. The prep for all of that stuff took hours and hours over two weeks. I was so tired of having it hanging over my head!

I could not believe how fast our things started selling. The first 2 days of the sale yielded the highest sales. By the end, we had sold 179 items. Our cut of the sales was $475.

At the end of the sale, I collected a few clothing items: a bouncy seat that I had put the wrong tag on so it was priced way too high, a single diaper cover (out of 8), a single pair of shoes (out of 16), a boppy that had somehow been damaged during the sale, a Baby Merlin Magic Sleep Suit, two brand new pairs of tights, an infant sun hat, and 3 books that I opted to donate instead of finding them.

I think two main factors played into our success with sales:

  • We priced to sell. Most of our larger items were within a close range of their counterparts, but items like our clothes and shoes were definitely on the lower end of the price spectrum. Most of our stuff was Carters or Old Navy. I could not BELIEVE the prices some of the other consignors were asking for this stuff. Ex: $9 for a sun-faded Old Navy swim coverup that I probably could have purchased brand new (on sale) for a similar price. Know your audience. Although it draws people from all over, this sale was located in a lower-income part of this city. We priced our items accordingly. Our goal was to get rid of things, not to recoup the entire expense of the item. There were some higher priced items that we opted to sell online beforehand so that we wouldn’t have to lose a percentage of the sale to the consignment people.
  • Our stuff looked really good. It stood out in the sea of stuff. Everything was in fantastic condition, and if it wasn’t, we didn’t bother trying to sell it.

Obviously, we are not consignment sale experts, but we sure learned a lot from this first experience and I thought it was worth sharing in case anyone is considering taking on a project like this. And believe me, it is a Project.

We will do this again in October to sell the fall/winter items, but I think we’d probably only do it every other year going forward. It is a lot of work, and the more you have to sell, the more worthwhile the effort seems.

I am including our Consignor Sold Items Report so you can see how we priced things in case you’re curious. I mean it when I say we priced to sell. These clothes were listed at prices I would have been thrilled to pay–and did pay for the couple of things I decided to purchase.