Costco Nap


As I carried my big boy around Costco and pushed the empty cart, I mentally prepared myself for somebody to make a comment about him being too big for me to carry around. Because sadly, it’s happened many times before.  I awkwardly reached for a pineapple and some mangoes and then I felt his weight change. He got heavier. I knew he had fallen asleep but I couldn’t see his face. I started to notice people kindly waiting for me to push my shopping cart past or smiling as they saw my fast-asleep long-legged four year old boy.

On a Monday, like today, I might respond to someone’s unsolicited comment by saying, “he’s been missing me at work all weekend and this is how I know it…he asked for me to hold him.” I know that I don’t need to provide an explanation to anybody, much less a complete stranger, of why I carry my child who is no longer a baby, who has working legs. I carry him most Tuesday through Fridays, too. I carry him because he politely asks me (most times) in the sweetest voice, “Mama, could you hold me?” He used to demand, “hold you, me.” I carry him because today, I’m strong enough to carry him. I carry him because I love him and he loves me. Because I love to hold him and he loves for me to hold him. I carry him because I held several babies and toddlers at work this weekend and it made me miss my own kids that aren’t babies or toddlers anymore. Those are a few of the reasons why I do it.

And if you truly wanted an ear full, I would tell you that I believe that too many parents want their kids to grow up. Too fast. They want them to do too much before they’re ready or big enough, physically or emotionally. I would tell you that growing up has it’s limited perks and that once you leave childhood, early or later, it’s hard to go back. And it’s hard to make up for lost time as a parent. Practically impossible. I would tell you that I will never regret holding my kids longer or carrying them asleep on my shoulder, as I awkwardly shop for groceries. Honestly, there’s a pretty selfish reason too. I don’t think they will ask me to carry them much longer. It feels pretty good to be important, needed and loved on by these incredibly beautiful children. And I don’t worry that my teenage sons will ask to be held so they can take a nap on my shoulder on a future Costco run. I do worry that they may be lifting more and more food into my cart. That they will help unload.

When I pushed my cart to the checkout line, a woman behind me saw me hold my big sleeping child wrapped around my hips the best that I could manage him while unloading my groceries. She thoughtfully asked me how she could help me. I nearly cried when she said, “I remember those days.” Because it’s Monday and I saw the look in her eyes. And she didn’t tell me he was to big to carry around. She got it. She understood. And that meant the world to me, especially on a Monday.

Green Eyes


Someday you will not be near me. Someday you will cry and I will not be there to hear you, to see your face turn splotchy or watch as your tears slide down your cheeks. I will not be there to witness your gigantic bright brown eyes as they turn to the beautiful mossy green when they fill with the hurt, frustration, sadness or painful tears that change them. I won’t be close enough to witness your enormous eyelashes cling together from sopping up a tear here or there as you blink, plead through labored breaths and say, “I don’t want to be “it.” Or “Why do I always have to be thiwd(third)?”

This pains me to think about because as much as I hate to see you cry, I always want to be there for you. Always, as in forever. Like I have always been with you. And you have always been with me. Through everything. I want to hold you, carry you, hug you and look you in the eye and help you understand life’s frustrations, both the big hard-to-comprehend ones and the tiny, yet completely unfair ones.

I never realized that sadness could be so beautiful until I looked into your eyes that day. You came running over, then stood in front of me with your body slouched over, crying with your head pressed up against that giant tree. You looked so small. Again. The sun must have hit your face perfectly. And that’s when I saw your big tears transform the color of your eyes. They did the beautiful color changing trick, in a dramatic way, a way that I had never seen before. I think I will hold that picture of you in my heart forever. Your dark brown eyes turned green. See-through-green, like the moss growing above the tree trunk that cradled your head, only a million times more beautiful. I knew your brown eyes always had green in them, like mine, but with your head rested up against that tree, I stood trying to comfort you mesmerized.

You hate when your brothers run after only you and tag you in the game of “hide and seek.” You hate to be “it.” You’re a little scared to count by yourself. It seems unfair. Because they’re older, taller and quicker than you right now. Because you are third. Please don’t hurry, slow down. Don’t grow up so fast, my sweet youngest boy.

Yesterday, in the car, you asked me,

“Why did I gwow up third?”

I answered, “You were in my belly third.”

Then you added in your precious, figuring out-the-world voice, “Because it was so warm in there and I wanted to stay in there.”

It was too precious to correct you. You are my third child. My third son. You possess so many breathtakingly beautiful characteristics that impact the world for good. I hope one day when you cry without me there that you will always remember how important you are and that you will always, always carry my love with you in those beautiful brown eyes. And in the green eyes too. But most importantly, stored up inside that tiny mighty heart of yours.

Letting Go


From an early age in life, we crave a bit of control. Control over a toy or our parents. Or a sibling. Control over what food we want to eat. Or not eat. Control over what ridiculous clothes we want to wear. “What? A swimsuit doesn’t look good with tights under it?” As we grow older, we strive to control bigger things. Situations. Our work environment. Our home environment. Our spouses. And oftentimes, our children.

I have found that sometimes God chooses the most inopportune times to show us that we are not in as much control as we may think. I have a chronic illness that has wrecked my plans on too many occasions to count. It’s a pretty helpless feeling when the world outside of your bathroom or hospital room continues on. Without you. I have had to learn to let go. Of what was supposed to be, but now will not be. I try and just remind myself to focus on the next breath. The next minute. The next step. Not tomorrow or next week. Definitely not next year. Just the moment right in front of me. This can be difficult with three little ones outside of the door. Waiting on me.

It’s a lesson that I quickly forget when I recover. It’s one of the hardest parts of having something always, something that never goes away. It’s an illusion to try and control something like a chronic illness. I think it is a practice that has helped me let go of certain struggles as a parent. I have three boys that help remind me on a daily basis that my plans may differ greatly from God’s plans for me and my family. I think God intends for this to take some of the weight off of us. Just wait. Stop worrying. He’s got this. He’s got you.

1 Corinthians 2:9

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Maybe he hopes we will let go and let him help take some of the pressure off. The pressure we put on ourselves to do a million things a day and raise loving, compassionate, generous, caring, honest, and kind-hearted children.

The other night I was in pain and I couldn’t help put my children to bed. I hate when I can’t be the mom I want to be because of my disease. Doing it all. One of my seven year old boys came in to my room and said, “Mom, can I get you some water?” Of course. And maybe some toilet paper for my tears. My heart nearly exploded because of his unprompted kindness. And compassion. And patience with me. Then one of my other sons asked, “Mom, can I hold your hand?” Suddenly, I didn’t feel like such a burden. Suddenly, I could let go to realize the power in my sons’ tender hearts and love-filled actions trumped any of my shortcomings as a mother.

God worked through my two sons to lighten my load.

We can never predict the good that God will bring out of situations where we lack control. Situations where we feel overwhelmed. Situations where we feel unprepared for what’s before us. God looks out for us and constantly surrounds us with his grace and love. Sometimes the greatest lessons will come out of the mouths of the most innocent and dependent ones in our house. God works in mysterious ways. We have to let go of the control sometimes to humbly learn that there are much bigger plans in store for us. Plans we can’t begin to fathom. Because we love God. And he loves us more.

Third Nipple


A few of my friends in high school used to say that they really wanted to see me drunk. Sounds a bit like they weren’t the best friends, slightly awful, in thirty something year old hindsight. Though, I actually think they meant it as a compliment. The implication was that if I was as crazy and weird and unfiltered as I was sober, how much more entertaining would I be under the influence of some wine coolers? Maybe some weed? I’ve generally felt like alcohol really just made my routine, normal conversations and behaviors a little more socially acceptable. I tend to talk too much, share too much, say inappropriate things and do impulsive things, regardless of if I’m completely sober or a little tipsy.

Sometimes, I do have extrovert’s remorse. When I reflect back on a conversation and replay it in my head, I think, “Whoops. Maybe that was awkward (for them) Maybe I shouldn’t have shared so much.” And….it’s too late. It’s hard to shove those runaway words back in. I’ve gotten to be pretty good at apologizing for my wreckless talking. Buckle up. It’s the lead footed, swirving all over the place kind of conversation. Curb checking? Most likely. Maybe my friends just thought it was the one and half beers talking. Because who really talks about having a third nipple as a child?

Apparently, this typsy extrovert does.

My friends told me I should blog about it. My third nipple. It’s as if I can hear the echoes, “if your friend jumped off of a bridge, would you do it?” No. Of course not. But if they dared me to jump off of that same bridge, I probably would. Who can resist a dare? Here it is. It’s just writing. Most people know I had a third nipple. What if my brief third nipple blog would help another feel less alone? The mystery is uncovered. Revealed. Kind of. I used to be like Chandler Bing. I was one of the one in fifty women. That’s right. Who knew? One in fifty women. (Google search)

Supernumerary nipple awareness blog coming at you.

I was born with a third nipple. Don’t let your mind go to weird third nipple land. It looked more like a birthmark. You can google it. Well, not mine. You will most likely see a hairy chested man with a tiny third nipple. Did you know that some third nipples could be in random places on the body? Mine wasn’t that cool, it was just under another one of my nipples. I didn’t do anything crazy and get my little third nipple pierced as a teen or anything. Unfortunately, I actually got it removed during one of my surgeries for Crohn’s disease. My surgeon noticed it which seemed a bit awkward for my nineteen year old self. What was he doing up there? He casually asked if I wanted him to remove it during my next surgery. It was like a three for one surgery deal. It may have been the surgery they were fixing my gut, removing some staples from my knee and oh, yeah, removing my third titty. RIP, third titty boom, because that’s what we called them as kids.

It really is a funny story. A bit of my birth story. Two parents anxiously awaiting the arrival of their fourth (and most precious) child. Watching “I Love Lucy.” Then, boom. Go time! Birth time. “Waaah. Waaaaaah. Hello, world.”As my mom and dad wait to hear the report from my kind doctor on how I looked.  “She perfect….only she has a supernumerary nipple.” What the…..? And cue my father’s response, “She’s got a triple tit?” Cut the supernumerary crap. Welcome to the world, little one, with three nipples. Did you know Marky Mark also had three nipples? And Carrie Underwood? Yeah, I Googled it. Turns out, three’s not such an exclusive crowd.

My bathtub routine growing up entailed me being called, “Triple Titty” by my older sisters. What was worse than the extra body part name-calling was that I usually had to sit in the back of the pink tub. You know, where all of the leftover cold water hung out. It sounds cruel. And it kind of was. Though I survived. I’m sure my big sisters were probably just jealous that I had an extra nipple. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

In hindsight, maybe God knew what He was doing. He knew I might need it in the future. And maybe I shouldn’t have let my colo-rectal surgeon remove it. How could I have ever known? Free will happens. Good one, God.

My first pregnancy and the second ultrasound revealed twins. Say what?! Fast forward to postpartum. As it turns out, it was easier taking care of twins when they were inside of my uterus. They needed to eat. A lot.  And it was hard and demanding work breastfeeding tiny twins with just two nipples. Real hard. Maybe that third tiny titty would have come in handy. As the lactation nurse so eloquently stated, “your anatomy is just not matching up with theirs.” Really? Surely there is a Hallmark card you could have given me to soften the blow. Hello, remorse accompanied by the new mother’s inferiority complex tears. Unofficial diagnosis…Supernumerary surgery removal remorse. It’s kind of like I’ve had breast reduction surgery. Which seems odd considering the size of my other two assets.

Oh my. Just know, dear friends, that no, it was not the alcohol talking. Unless that makes you feel better about me. I have a problem. An over-sharing. Over-talking. Over-bonding problem. And well, an over cooking food problem too. I may burn something like your reuben sandwich, whether I have had the beer or not. That toast gets me nearly every time.

If you don’t come back to our house, I won’t take it personally. Really, I get it. I have a hard enough time understanding myself sometimes. And I’ve lived with myself for well, thirty six years. “Why would you say that, Amelia?” I semi-embarass myself on a regular basis. But I’m used to it. Thankfully, my husband usually has had more to drink than me. Tank sevened. And he thinks I’m funny. And my kids are still a bit young to be too embarrassed by what I say. Or write. So that’s good.




Paper or Plastic?


I want to be a responsible human being. I grocery shop a lot. Too much. When I make it to the front of the check-out line and the cashier asks, “Paper or plastic?” I want paper, usually. It feels more “Whole Foodsy.” I really wish I would bring several of the many reusable bags I have at home. However, that would require me to think ahead, a more premeditated grocery shopping trip. Forget about it. Yet, it would make me feel less destructive to the earth. I take certain earthly responsibilities very seriously. For instance, I have started cutting the plastic eight pack Sprite rings at work because someone posted a picture outside of the refrigerator of a sea turtle swimming or trying to with the plastic wrapped around it’s leg. Apparently, scare tactics work well on me. Unfortunately, much like my tendency to routinely take the last piece of toilet paper, I seem to always take the last Sprite at work, leaving the plastic ring screaming at me or maybe it’s the turtle. I can’t feel responsible for that sea turtle’s life of overcoming tortured leg adversity. I can almost hear him, looking down at the foreign non-ocean related thingamabob around his leg, “Why me, God? Why me?” Not on my watch, Mr. Sea turtle. I will carry the plastic rings around in my scrub pants all shift, if I have to, before cutting the rings apart. Multiple times into multiple pieces.

I’m pretty certain the bagger guy gave me a sort of “are you fuckin’ kidding me?” look when I requested paper bags. I may have overreacted in my head but still, I didn’t want to ruin his day, so I said, “Maybe you could use both. I have a lot of drinks.” Like he cares about all those Gatorades. Indecisive much? I don’t think that my new decision helped ameliorate his unhappy disposition. I probably made it worse requesting two kinds of bags. Who do I think I am? Next, the cashier lady chimed in, maybe to help me feel empowered as a grocery shopper or a woman. She said, “Honey, you get whatever you want.” How kind. Thanks. Maybe she knew that her co-worker’s attitude had bullied my overly sensitive thoughts. She seemed pretty intuitive. And spunky. She even had a mini-rant after she charged me double for the yogurt. Since it was over $3, she put her light on, she needed the manager’s code. After he came over, she let me know how ridiculous it was that she needed a manager to let her undelete items over $3. I agreed with her. I didn’t want to not agree with her. She told me she rings up stuff twice a lot. Maybe she’s got fast hands, like “supa fast,” as my four year old would say.

After I loaded my paper and plastic bags into my van, I wanted to just sit in the parking lot for a minute. Because I could. I needed to pause. I had been going non-stop all day. Get the kids to school. Do laundry. Do dishes. Take the recycling. Drop another kid off at school. Grocery shop. Then, stop. Time out.

Later in the day, my husband told me to hurry and come outside. He thought he had found something I would want to see. He was right. From outside of our garage window, I peered in to see a butterfly flying spastically, bumping into the window over and over again. It’s wings, were black with bright orange splotches on the tips. But when it’s wings were closed, it looked more like a moth. Either way, I wanted to help free it from inside of the garage. It looked pitiful repeatedly flying into the tricky glass pane. How confusing for a simple moth-butterfly to understand. I trapped the moth in my son’s insect catching box. I wasn’t sure if I had hurt it’s wings or not. I felt bad so I asked my husband if I should get the moth-er-fly one of our sweaters to eat. Moths love our sweaters. He did not think this was a good idea. I wasn’t going to give him a brand new sweater, just one of the ones that a few of his cousins or friends had already feasted on. Forget about it. I won’t give it a sweater, I said. I will just go try and let it go outside. I showed our boys, they weren’t that interested, probably because it was more moth than butterfly. And because they were watching the boob tube.


I layed down outside next to my moth-er-fly. I tried to shelter him a bit from the crazy winds knocking his wings back and forth. He probably hadn’t experienced these winds before living in our garage. I thought I may have done some wing damage in attempting to free him from the garage. I watched the moth-er-fly play dead for a while. Maybe he was shy or pissed that I rescued him. I got a bit bored, so I looked up into the sky and you will never believe what I saw stuck in a tree.

A damn plastic grocery sack.

I couldn’t even believe my eyes. Seriously. Life is just too weird sometimes. The wind filled the grocery sack with it’s strong breeze over and over again but that grocery sack was wrapped around a few branches. It was stuck. Oh, great, is this some sort of a sign? I would have never noticed the plastic sack if I wasn’t waiting for my moth-er-fly to escape. I got to thinking scare tactic thoughts. Is that grocery sack going to suffocate some innocent bird flying through the air? Great. I didn’t recognize the label on the bag without my glasses. But it was stuck in our tree. I watched the plastic bag for a minute or so, then I looked back to check on my rescued insect.

I peeked in. Holy cow! The moth-er-fly nearly hit me in the face as it flew out into the breeze. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. It wasn’t like “Free Willy” at all. Just gone like a kite in the wind. Or a plastic bag in the wind. That gets stuck in a tree.

My husband is going to think I’m crazy when I ask him to help me get that plastic bag down. It’s up really high, like above the roof. Maybe I will be better in the future about taking my resuable grocery bags afterall. Or perhaps I will ask for “paper” with a new sense of assertiveness. I could tell this really long story to the bagger guy. Surely, it would help him understand how difficult it can be to answer a simple question, “paper or plastic?”

Grass Stains




As I pulled the wagon up the hill, holding my four year old, and carrying the portable soccer goals, one of my sons lagged behind, barely walking as he held his soccer ball in his hands. Everybody had low blood sugar. It was nearing dinnertime. I looked back and I noticed that my son was visibly upset, with his head looking downward, while his shoulders stooped. I stopped the wagon and saw his tears. I asked him why he was crying.

“He’s gooder than me.” The words sputtered out. “He’s gooder than me at soccer.”

There was something so painfully innocent, yet heartbreaking hearing the words escape through the gap of his missing front tooth. A beautiful seven year old boy with disheveled, sweaty blonde hair and one pant leg pulled up. I had just finished watching and playing soccer with my three boys. Throughout the games, I stopped and talked about the rules of soccer after several (overly) competitive bouts had landed one or two boys tangled up on the grass. It looked more like rugby or football. “You can’t elbow or tackle each other. You can use your shoulders. Soccer is a contact sport, which means you’re going to bump into each other, fall down and most likely get some bruises.” Their boney knees were covered in grass stains. I shuffled the teams around. My youngest boy happily played goalie, unaware or perhaps painfully aware, of the battle going on in front of him between his older two brothers.

Our walks home from the park tend to be the perfect time for talking about important issues like nature, bullying, death, or today, sibling rivalry. I talked to my boys about growing up with sisters. I talked about my older sister, specifically, and how great she was at basketball. Much better than me. She could score on any defender from any where on the court. I spent countless hours after practice in high school rebounding her free throws and three pointers. I talked to my boys about why I think I became such a good defender besides the fact that I was skinny as all get-out and I had to out-hustle all of the bigger girls. It was also because I grew up guarding my older sister. I think I should credit the majority of my skills to the fact that I usually had to guard “Miss Basketball(she literally was)” in driveway pick-up games and practices. And I had my own fair share of frustrating, tear-filled moments of my sister being “gooder than me.”

We talked about how different we all are from one another. We talked about how our weaknesses can help us get stronger if we don’t give up. That it’s okay to get upset, maybe sad or disappointed, but then we have to keep working hard to figure out how to be better. Or maybe different. I talked to my boys about how young they are, how they have so many things that they haven’t even tried yet. It’s these kind of moments, when I’m talking to my twin boys, that help me realize how important it is to not define ourselves by comparing our strengths, weaknesses, or capabilities to somebody else. Not even to our very own twin brother.

I know as a mother to three boys that I will be dealing with this battle for years to come. My husband and I work really hard not to label or predetermine the places or heights that our children will soar. But it’s a tricky business navigating the places we’ve never been or experienced through the eyes of a parent and vicariously through the lives of our children. We do the best we can with the knowledge and experiences we have, both good and bad, which sometimes feel inadequate. At the end of the day, the most important and truthful thing we usually have said all day is how very much we love them. That will be something that they will never ever have to doubt. No matter what. No matter how good they are at soccer, no matter how good they are at playing the drums, drawing, reading, riding a bike, or any other thing they try. They will always know they are loved beyond measure.