My glorious 10-day vacation on Cape Cod is coming to a close, and so out of habit or obligation, I’ve spent most of the day thinking about my life direction.

Life planning used to be just about me. Then it was about me and my husband. Now it’s about  me, my husband, our two boys, and possibly another child, who knows.

Perhaps to help me wrap my head around where my life is heading before I even make any plans, I have this compulsive habit of charting out my children’s ages/stages by year.

For example,

2011 Judah turns 2, Isaiah 3.5, me 35

2012 Judah turns 3, Isaiah 4.5, me 36

2013 Judah turns 4, Isaiah 5.5. Isaiah starts kindergarten. Me 37 (last year to have another baby?)

2014 Judah turns 5 (starts kindergarten?), Isaiah 6.5 in 1st grade, Me 38

2026 Isaiah graduates from high school (ahhh that’s a little better–nice and far away)

And so on.

Seeing my life through this lens, a few things surface.

  • My god, how quickly it really is going to go by. I mean, kindergarten? First grade??
  • I probably have two years or less to decide if we’ll have a third child. Not necessarily based on ability but personal preference.
  • How will my work schedule change when my children are in school? If I have a third child? And how does that affect the career choices I need to make now? Work more? Work less?
  • What kind of milestones do Ian and I want to hit before the kids start school?
  • Do I want to get a Ph.D.? If so, when? And in what?

The boys will wake up from their naps soon. We’ll go down to the water and collect hermit crabs and snails. I’ll have one of my last Sankaty Light Lagers of the summer.

And all of this will have to wait until another day.


Image from jackmck54

It’s almost time for our annual summer vacation on Cape Cod. Every year we thank our lucky stars (and our good friend Nina Max) that we get to go to this little piece of paradise yet again—10 cottages owned by one family tucked away on a little island.

The kids run free from house to house (usually sans clothes), pick raspberries, and busy themselves with vintage toys like this one while the grown ups practice out-doing each other as we trade nights cooking for 20.

I’ve given myself the week to pack in hopes of warding off that “oh my god we’re going away for 10 days what have I forgotten” bit. (So cliche, such a downer).

I’m also remembering what packing was like last year, which included the breast pump, bottles, baby food, baby spoons, and the big ass Exersaucer, something we decided our pre-crawler really couldn’t live without. Packing seems a whole lot less overwhelming this year (it also helps that I’m not in the middle of a postpartum breakdown, ahem).

Since we’re staying in a cottage with a full kitchen, I’ve been putting pantry items aside and keeping it all together in one of these clear plastic bins, like so:

(I keep the top locked on it to ward off curious little fingers.)

Last year I also brought a clear plastic shoe box (if you don’t own a whole case of these from the Container Store yet, you don’t know what you’re missing) with “junk drawer” type stuff. The best thing about these shoe bins is that little kids can’t open them, so that’s where I stashed things like scissors, post-its, a Sharpie, extra Ziplocks, and kid medicine.

This might seem like overkill, but when you are staying in a house for 10 days, you’d be surprised how often you need a Post-it. How else are your fellow cottagers supposed to find out who is hosting cocktail hour, and when not to knock because babies are sleeping? Sending DMs via Twitter is so not Cape.

As for toys, I’ll be packing a backpack for each kid and filling it full of their favorite toys and organic junk food bribes for the car ride. I’m also bringing one small bin with art supplies, Legos, some small toys, and a few books.

For kid clothes, one great piece of advice I read somewhere is to only pack for 5 days, even if you are staying longer. (Of course, with toddlers, each day involves at least 3 changes of clothes…) Packing for 5 days assumes your vacation spot has laundry facilities. Does anyone with more than one kid vacation anywhere without laundry facilities? We sure don’t.

And finally, there’s the stuff to do before we leave list. Somehow this cutesy summer printable from Wonderful Joy Ahead makes it more like a vacation countdown than a boring to-do list.

So that’s what I’ve got. What are your tricks for getting off to vacation stress-free?


In the midst of a really bad storm, you can be so focused on trying to remain calm and get everybody through it alive that it’s not until well after the storm has passed that you think–holy shit! How did I survive that? That’s exactly how I feel about the two under two years.

The Hardest Things About Having 2 Under 2

1. If you had a C-section, you can’t pick up your toddler for six weeks. And we’re not just talking about fun romps around the house. We’re talking about getting them out of daycare and into the car, carrying them up and down the stairs, lifting them onto the changing table, and putting them in their crib. Obviously you are going to have to pick up your toddler. But not without some shooting abdominal pains and fears of something really horrible happening to your midsection.

2. You can’t nurse your newborn without worrying your 16-month old is going to fling himself into the fireplace to get your attention. This is a rational fear because it’s what your toddler threatens to do every time his arch enemy finally gets a good latch.

3. Your toddler is still too young to be left in a room alone. But he can’t sit still. If you are nursing, you will rarely have the luxury of doing it sitting down.

Isaiah, the day we brought his newborn brother home
Isaiah, the day we brought his newborn brother home

4. There is a high possibility that you will open the front door with one boob hanging out of your nursing tank.

5. Your toddler has not yet learned how to wait for anything, especially food. Meals are prepared under a blizzard of wails. And when your newborn starts eating solid food, you have to feed it to him. Every single spoonful. Which means the days of feeding the toddler cheese chunks while you shove some organic “chickn” nuggets into the oven are over. You are strapped to your newborn’s highchair, so you better have dinner ready for your toddler, too.

6. You live on a diet of Cheerios, “chickn” nuggets, apple sauce and beer. No wonder you look like shit.

7. Your newborn thinks his Earth’s Best Split Pea Soup puree tastes fine straight from the fridge. Because that’s all he knows. You will carry immense guilt for this.

8. The aftermath of every meal will make you want to cry. Except you’re too exhausted to cry.

9. You will not have time to fix yourself a glass of water. Which is probably good since going to the bathroom is also out of the question. (Especially when your only bathroom is on the second floor.)

10. A young toddler may or may not have the attention span to watch more than five minutes of television. This young toddler may also be unsteady on his feet and runs a reasonable risk of emergency-room grade damage to himself at every corner.

11. Meanwhile, your newborn does not take to the bouncy seat, swing, or other expensive vibrating contraption happily. He may tolerate it for a couple of minutes. Then he’ll be demonstrating the strength of his lungs.

12. There’s nothing like a screaming newborn to put your toddler in the mood to destroy something.

13. Getting in and out of the car, especially in the winter, is enough to give any sleep-deprived mother agoraphobia. Unfortunately, staying at home with two young children all day, no matter how tired you are, is probably the very worst move you can make.

14. Getting into the house, especially when that involves scaling 20 steep and narrow stairs, is the bane of your existence. Each week is a new tactic. Most fail. Once you finally move to a new house, you almost wish you had video of those afternoons so you could cry for yourself.

15. The biggest goal of every weekend is getting both kids to sleep at the same time. It rarely happens, so you and your husband fall into a pattern of tag-team napping, all day long. This goes on for months.

16. Despite all of this, your husband still expects “the good stuff.” He will not get “the good stuff” and probably not “the mediocre stuff” either.

17. You wonder if having twins would have been easier because at least then people would drop off hot covered dishes and make sympathetic remarks at the grocery store. (Who am I kidding. I don’t take both of them to the grocery store.)

18. When other moms of toddlers ask what it’s like having two under two because they are thinking of getting pregnant again, you launch into an incoherent monologue about the stairs, the godforsaken stairs. Those moms avoid you.

19. Living in sickening fear that your toddler will kill the newborn. You see the news headlines: “Toddler climbs into crib and suffocates newborn.” “Toddler strikes newborn on head with Toy Story sippy cup.” “Toddler feeds organic hot dog to newborn, who chokes while mother is in upstairs bathroom.” You realize you probably need professional help

20. The heart-aching love you have for both of them as you grasp on to their last hints of baby-ness, forgetting all but #20 of the hardest things about having 2 under 2.

Aside from the fact that the list below contains more books than I’ve read in the past three years put together (assuming parenting manuals don’t count), here’s my (aspirational) list of summer reads. I’d love to add more fiction, so if you have recommendations, post ’em.

For a perspective check

What We Have: A Family’s Inspiring Story About Love, Loss, and Survival by Amy Boesky

No Biking in the House Without a Helmet by Melissa Fay Greene

For mom-provement

Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic UPDATE: Scary spanking references and way too Godly for me. Thankfully Kindle accepts returns.

Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Becky A. Bailey

For business inspiration

Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements by Robbin Phillips

The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

For Reading Out Loud During Long Car Trips (And trying not to wake the kids from hyperventilation laughter)

The Internet is a Playground: Irreverent Correspondences of an Evil Online Genius by David Thorne