Tiny Toes


You toddle over to me and reach your arms up. You don’t want anything in particular. Just to be held by me. To be near me.

I pick you up and plop you on my lap and when I look down I see your little feet resting against my legs.

Dimpled toes, arches still forming, ten extra-long digits just like my own. 

I trace my fingers through your wisps of baby hair and wonder where these feet will take you one day. What will you see and who will you meet? What thresholds will you cross, mountains will you climb, dreams will you chase? 

One day I will send you off into the world and you will stand on your own two feet. But, today? Today, I get to hold these tiny toes in my lap. 

When your kid needs surgery


img_2927.jpegOn Monday Laine is having surgery for an epigastric hernia repair.

I noticed a bump above her belly button after her bath in early December and it hadn’t been there the night before.

She had also been having a few bouts each day where she would arch her back and cry like she was in pain, so when this bump popped up I was pretty worried.

After I got her to bed I did what every good millennial parent does—consulted Dr. Google–and read that based on the bump’s location and when it appeared, it was likely an epigastric hernia and would need surgery to be resolved.

We got her into the pediatrician the next day and the provider said it was an umbilical hernia and that it would go away on its own. I delicately pushed back—”Really? That’s reassuring because I was doing a little research last night and from what I read I thought it was an epigastric hernia and those require surgery.”

She brought in another doctor to take a look.

“That’s definitely not an umbilical hernia but it is a ventral hernia. We’ll refer you on to surgery.”

We saw a pediatric surgeon near where we live and he and his resident both confirmed it was an epigastric hernia but told Levi and I it could go away on its own. This was contrary to what Levi and I had read, but he was a surgeon—a specialist—standing right in front of us, so it was easy to nod along.

I left relieved and Levi left frustrated. Back to Dr. Google we went and we found countless children’s hospital websites stating epigastric hernias do not go away on their own and need surgery for repair.

We headed down to Nationwide Children’s for a second opinion and the surgeon confirmed it was an epigastric hernia and needed surgery to be resolved. Our experience at Nationwide Children’s was night-and-day from our prior consult. This surgeon sat down in the exam room and talked with me. He listened intently and even drew a sketch on the exam table paper of Laine’s abdominal muscles, the location of her hernia, the size of the incision for the surgery, and explained all pros and cons and steps involved. I can comfortably say I have confidence in this surgeon and his plan.

We scheduled the surgery and up until this point I’ve blocked out the thought of it, but as we get closer and closer, I’ve become more stressed and more anxious.

A week after Garrett turned two he had surgery to have tubes put in his ears, so within a nine-month period both of our kids will have had general anesthesia and a surgical procedure.

I keep telling myself that these are manageable issues and the severity is minor—that this isn’t open heart surgery or brain surgery or an organ transplant or something that takes hours and is life-threatening. And we recognize how extremely fortunate we are and are grateful for it.

But when it comes down to it, there is still a stranger taking your baby out of your arms and walking away with them down a fluorescent-lit hallway. Your child is still put on an operating table in a room full of masked strangers and given general anesthesia.

Levi and I know that Garrett getting tubes is one of the best decisions we’ve made as parents. He spent 18 months with frequent ear infection and persistent fluid and as soon as he got the tubes he spent six months free of ear infections and his vocabulary took off.

So, with all the doctors we’ve seen, research we’ve done, and knowledge we’ve gained, I’m telling myself that it is better for Laine to have the hernia repaired now, before it gets larger and would require a bigger incision, more stitches, and potentially even mesh to repair.

And all of this is one of the trickier parts of parenthood. The weighing of the pros and cons and being the ones to ultimately decide what to do for these tiny people who are unable to know or decide for themselves. And at the end of the day, all we can do is try our best to figure out the situation, push back, get the second opinion, and advocate for our kids.


No Resolutions

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Last December I was six weeks postpartum and had a one-year-old who was on his seventh ear infection and I thought it would be a good idea to attempt a Whole 30 in January.

A year later, the only reason I can fathom I’d even entertain this idea–let alone be fully invested in it–is the lethal combination of postpartum hormones and sleep deprivation I was experiencing at the time.

There are good times and bad times to implement extreme changes in diet. For me, having a six-week-old and a one-year-old was not a good time. And I can honestly say I’m not foreseeing a good time—ever—to elect to restrict my diet to that degree.

I made it sixteen days into Whole 30 when I called Levi bawling and told him to bring home Bob Evan’s chicken noodle soup, mashed potatoes, and a bottle of wine.

God bless him.

We’ve reached that time of the year again when people are writing their lists of resolutions and picking their word for the year and I can honestly say I’m so over it.

No resolutions for me in 2019.

Ironically enough, my decision to do so is somewhat related to my Whole 30 attempt. I went to the library last December to pick up a Whole 30 cook book (sweet potato and avocado that, Melissa Hartwig. No royalty money from me) and while I was there I saw a flyer for a writing contest.

I typed up an essay in between bottle feedings and diaper changes and sent it in.

While I only made it through 16 days of Whole 30, I was a finalist in the writing contest and received some prize money. Dave Barry read my essay (he won a Pulitzer Prize so you could say he’s kind of a big deal) and I attended the conference affiliated with the contest and met some inspiring writers.

It’s great to have goals and to work towards something. But, it’s often the things that happen when we’re in pursuit of other ventures that impact us the most.

So, in 2019 I will continue to strive towards things that are important to me, but I’m not intentionally chasing a lifestyle change and I’m not going to measure my success on the completion of a list of objective topics. I’m simply going to live, be open to what’s ahead, and embrace opportunities as they come.

Storytime Pioneers


After being waitlisted twice we got a call this past Saturday morning from the local library to let us know we had made it in to Storytime. A spot had opened up in the “Tales for Twos” Tuesday at 10:15 a.m. session.


We were out of town this past weekend and yesterday was a Monday of all Mondays, so it wasn’t until 10 p.m. last night that it dawned on me that the first Storytime of this session falls on Halloween week.

When we lived in Centerville, kids would wear their Halloween costumes to Storytime.

I had no idea whether or not they did that in Hudson.

I sent an email to the library at 10 p.m. hoping someone might answer off hours. Unfortunately, for me, the library doesn’t follow the same rules as corporate America and the email went unanswered throughout the night and early morning.

I didn’t want the kids to miss out if they were the only ones not dressed up and I also didn’t want to be the only mom who brought her kids to Storytime in full costume.

I opted to embrace the Halloween spirit and dress them up. We wheeled up to the library parking lot and I immediately saw one mom carrying her two-year-old daughter into the library wearing normal clothes.

Oh boy.

I went through the extreme work-out that is putting an independent 11-month-old into a chest carrier and having a two-year-old hold your hand while marching through a parking lot and juggling a diaper bag.

Was there a sign-in for Storytime here? Name tags? What room was it held in?

I talked to a children’s librarian to find out and I simultaneously scanned the room to costume check. It didn’t take long for me to notice that none of the other kids were dressed up.

Not a one.

There was one little girl who had a pumpkin cape on over normal clothes, but it was soon removed, whether by her or her mother, I didn’t see.

So, we funneled into the Storytime room with the twenty-or-so other kids and moms and grandparents and Garrett and Laine and I settled onto the carpet (meaning, all of our belongings got thrown into a giant pile beside us and I continuously pulled Laine back to our undesignated area while Garrett insisted on standing up).

There was singing and a book about pumpkins and shaky eggs and bubbles and Garrett and Laine had a lot of fun.

I was initially going to write despite being dressed up as Lightening McQueen and Batgirl, Garrett and Laine had a lot of fun.

But really, because they were dressed up as Lightening McQueen and Batgirl, I think they had even more fun.

To be honest, Laine is still too young to care, but Garrett loves his Lightening McQueen outfit and another little boy came up to him and thought it was the coolest and Garrett was so proud.

They are only little once and I know the magic that comes with being little and the holidays is limited. I see now that it shouldn’t have mattered to me if they were the only ones dressed up or not.

It doesn’t matter what other people think, what matters is if the kids are happy.

What matters is if the kids are having fun.

Welcome to the neighborhood


We were in our last house just over three years. Not a long time by any means but long enough to see other families come and go.

The neighborhood we lived in was a mixture of empty nesters and young families—homes turning over as older couples helped their grown children move out and younger couples welcomed babies of their own.

Only after moving to Hudson have I realized how differently I wish I had welcomed new neighbors.

When we lived in Centerville and new neighbors arrived, I assumed they were moving from within the area (like we had) or had moved because they had family nearby. I figured they already had connections and knew where the good pizza places were.

We’d introduce ourselves to new neighbors when we bumped into them on a walk or while the kids were outside playing. We’d make small talk and tell them welcome to the neighborhood.

Being on the other side of this situation has flipped my perspective and changed how I will greet new neighbors in the future.

We moved to Hudson at the end of July and by the end of August we had yet to meet any young families. I was feeling particularly sorry for myself one morning, thinking about all the good friends we’d left behind, and as the kids and I left for a walk I said a quick prayer for more opportunities to feel connected to this area.

About ten minutes into our walk I saw two moms in a backyard with a playset. A cozy coupe sat on the driveway and toddlers ran around.

Well, this is it,” I thought. A big, “Here ya go. Here are some young families. Quit feeling sorry for yourself,” sign.

But the moms couldn’t see me from the street, so in order to meet them, I’d have to go up and introduce ourselves.

I know most of the time golden tickets don’t just fall into laps. You have to meet those chance moments and prayer requests halfway. So, with a racing heart and sweaty palms, I turned the stroller up a stranger’s driveway and marched to the top with the kids.

“Hello!,” I called out. They said hi, smiled, and walked over. “We just moved in and I thought I’d introduce ourselves.”

They were nice and have kids around the same ages as Garrett and Laine. We made small talk and when my kids started to get antsy in the stroller I knew it was time for us to keep moving. They both told me welcome to the neighborhood and we said goodbye.

As I walked away I was wishing they had given me their phone numbers or asked me for mine. I had already rolled up into their yard and crashed their playdate, I wasn’t about to ask for their numbers too.

Desperate new neighbor here! We know NO ONE within a two-hour radius. Give me your phone numbers. Let’s be best friends.

 So, the kids and I kept walking with no way to get in touch with these people, aside from showing up at their doorstep uninvited (again).

That was a month and a half ago. I haven’t seen either of those ladies or their kids since.

We’ve been pushing forward and grabbing hold of new opportunities and meeting other young families, but it is a continual effort of putting ourselves out there. Despite the challenge of starting over in a new community with young kids, I am grateful for the shift in perspective this move has provided.

The house next door to us has been for sale since we’ve moved in and I’ve been praying that a nice, young family will move in. (And that they will have kids the same ages as Garrett and Laine, will love sports, enjoy a strong drink, not be offended by the occasional swear word, and know how to play euchre like good Midwesterners. Bonus points if one of their families has a lake or beach house they like to invite new friends to. Speak it into existence). 

While I don’t know who will move into that house, I do know whenever they show up I’m not going to wait to bump into them to say hello. I’m going to walk over and ring their doorbell, take them some banana bread or cookies, leave my name and phone number on a post-it, and only then will I say welcome to the neighborhood.