His Favorite Sleep Stories Have One Thing In Common

Most people call them dreams but Wyatt calls them sleep stories. Stories that happen while you are sleeping – Wyatt is very literal.

After months of sleeping all night every night and occasionally sleeping until 7:30 on the weekends, Wyatt started waking up at night again. Last week he was up 3 nights in a 5 day stretch. Each night he came in the room, climbed in bed with me and immediately went back to sleep. After one of those nights I asked him why he was coming to see me tonight and this is what he said. “There was a scary spider in my sleep story and I wanted it to go away so I had to open my eyes. And when I opened my eyes I was still scared so I had to run to you fast so I wouldn’t be scared any more.”

This evening I decided to rest with Wyatt while he fell asleep and he wanted a story. I didn’t feel like getting a book so I made up a story – Once upon a time there was a little boy named Wyatt… At the end he asked for another one and I told him it was his turn to tell me a story. He started slowly and talked about Wyatt and Mama going somewhere fun and continued to tell more stories about Wyatt and Mama and then finally he said “my favorite sleep story is when Mama and Wyatt went to the store and bought Legos and then went home and played with them.”

Real or imagined Wyatt’s favorite sleep stories are his ideal life - Wyatt and Mama spending time together and doing fun things. After the final story my sweet boy snuggled close and drifted off to sleep.

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Sometimes the Differences Jump Out

This year Juliana, Ruslan and Wyatt have a similar schedule – they get on the bus together each morning and come home together each afternoon, they play similar games, they watch a lot of the same shows, and they are all in that true “kid stage” of life (Kindergarten-4th grade). There lives are very similar despite the 3-1/2 years between them and I would like to enjoy this short time period before Juliana makes the jump to middle school and the tween years.

Every once in a while I am reminded of the age gap and it is always something that jumps out at me. We bought Lego Advent calendars for them this year: Ruslan – City Legos, Juliana – Lego Friends, and Wyatt – Star Wars Legos. On school days they rush in the door, and as soon as they put their lunch boxes in the kitchen they run to open the calendar door for that day. After a week I noticed a big difference in their calendars.


Juliana’s calendar looks like it has been barely touched. Each day she carefully opens the door, builds the Lego set for that day, returns the Lego creation to the spot, and closes the door. She has plans for the scene that she is going to create when all of the pieces are complete.


The boys rip the doors open (sometimes damaging another door in the process), remove the bag of Legos, tear the door from their calendar, build the Lego set for the day, and then play with the Legos and wander off with some.

lego-calendars3Moments like this remind me that Juliana is a 9-yr old girl and Ruslan and Wyatt are 5-yr old boys.

Sharing the Warmth

At 6:45 each weekday morning, I go into the boys room to get them ready for school and they are usually sound asleep. If they hear me come in the room, they borough deep under their blankets in the hopes that I will wake their brother first. Then one day I went into their room and Ruslan’s bed was empty. The comforter and sheet were pulled back and his blankies and Brownie monkey were missing. My first thought was that he had woken early and snuck downstairs as he is often the first one to wake up in the morning. Then I looked at Wyatt and Ruslan was there as well. He had dragged his blankets and snuggled close to Wyatt.

This has happened a few times and in one particularly cold week, I found Ruslan in Wyatt’s bed almost every morning. I think that Ruslan is waking up with no covers (as often happens with active sleepers) and he decides to climb into bed with Wyatt. I am curious to see if the trend continues. Wyatt seems oblivious to Ruslan’s presence until he is fully awake. Either way it is really cute when I find them together and it makes it even more difficult to wake them up.

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Thanksgiving Mornings

Every year I procrastinate, where are we eating on Thanksgiving? There is never a clear answer because nothing feels right. It’s been 13 years since my Grandmother sold the house in Erie and I haven’t spent a Thanksgiving there in twenty years, but when I think of where I am supposed to be on Thanksgiving, that’s the place. Growing up we spent Thanksgiving in Erie. We would stay at my Grandparent’s house (my Dad’s parents) – my brother and I would sleep in the L-shaped bedroom upstairs – the few nights of our childhood that we shared a room.

Thanksgiving morning I remember being the first one awake with Grandma Lois. She would be up early getting the turkey in the oven and I would come downstairs and talk to her while she cooked. Then she would make breakfast for me and I would eat it at a TV table while we watched the parade. Thanksgiving mornings are my strongest childhood memories of Grandma Lois.

We would eat two big meals - the first at my Grandparent’s house and the second on my Grandma Julie’s house. It was a day filled with family, some of whom we only saw on that one day of the year.

Tomorrow we will eat Thanksgiving in our home and our children will be able to eat with both sets of their Grandparents and I hope that they are building their own Thanksgiving memories.




It’s About Her – Why I Stopped Watching the NFL

At 1:00 today, I was prepping dinner and the kids were playing. The TV wasn’t on even though the Steelers game had just started. We stopped watching NFL games in our house this season. It’s refreshing to no longer plan our day around football. An hour of the game was spent at the park this afternoon – it was sunny and warm enough to be outside without a coat. The kids played at the playground while I got some exercise and on several occasions Ruslan chased me through the field. Our time was much better spent outside than in front of the TV.


The only thing that has been difficult about not watching NFL games has been my regular football chats with my Dad. I started watching football with my dad at a very young age; I have always been a football fan. My dad and I have always talked about football together.

When the Ray Rice story hit the media this summer, I told my dad that I was considering not watching any NFL games. I couldn’t support the NFL when it was clear to me that they had no respect for women. We talked about the allegations and what I heard from my dad included a good dose of victim blaming because that’s the story he was hearing in the media. By the time the video came out, he was hearing more facts and was shocked at the statistics on domestic abuse.

At that point I realized that my dad probably had no idea about how difficult my first marriage was, after all I did a great job of keeping those details to myself. I was embarrassed and miserable – being yelled at everyday, having things thrown at you, and being made to feel worthless - these are not the stories that you want to tell your friends and family. One day stands out among the others, an occasion that made me realize I couldn’t stay with my ex-husband anymore. He brought a dozen roses home for me one day which was a huge surprise. My immediate response wasn’t appreciative enough so he took them away, told me that I didn’t deserve them, and snapped them in half.

By the time we separated, I didn’t recognize myself and it took me a long time to rebuild my self-esteem. I was lucky. I had a good job. I stayed home on a random weekday and called my mom. I told her that I needed to move in with them and I packed my bags. It was hard to admit that I had screwed up, that I had made a bad choice, that I couldn’t make my marriage work. But I had options and I realized that I needed to get out before things got worse. Many women don’t have those options and when an organization like the NFL doesn’t make a clear statement, the abusers are validated.


But why stop watching NFL games? What does it really accomplish? Aside from not buying Steelers merchandise, there is no real impact to the NFL.

Like so many other decisions Juliana, Ruslan and Wyatt influence most of the choices that I make.

Juliana knows that both Scott and I were previously married and she’s old enough to ask questions. Why didn’t you want to stay married to that other man? How did you know that you didn’t want to stay married anymore? I keep the answers simple – he wasn’t nice to mommy, he didn’t respect me, he made me sad. She asks me why I would marry someone who wasn’t nice to me and we talk about respect and making good choices about the people that we choose to spend our time with.

Juliana has started to echo these conversations when she talks about getting married – instead of saying that she wants to marry someone who is rich or is really cute, she tells me that she wants to marry someone who makes her happy and treats her with respect.

I want to be a good example to them. I want to help them avoid the bad choices that I’ve made in my life and learn from my mistakes. I want them to believe in themselves and be confident in who they are. I want them to make decisions based on their belief system. I want to raise children who will stand up to bullies and support those who are not as strong.

I want them to grow up free to be who they are.

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Recently the boys have been more double trouble than double the fun. When they are together, they are loud and wild and get each other more and more wound up until someone gets hurt. Yesterday the boys were playing loudly in their room when Ruslan started to cry. I went upstairs and Ruslan told . . . → Read More: Teamwork

Ruslan 5.5


Ruslan at 5-1/2 continues to be full of energy. He goes from sound asleep to wide awake – loud and in constant motion. He runs, he yells, he climbs – he thinks that he is invincible. Railings are for sliding down, the back of the couch and his headboard make perfect balance beams, he . . . → Read More: Ruslan 5.5

They Walked Up the Steps Hand in Hand


My babies started Kindergarten this year and it is already 20% over.

The boys are 5-1/2 today.

Juliana is a third grader – real, big kid school.

Juliana turns 9 tomorrow. Time is moving much too quickly right now.


When it was time to get on the bus on the first day of . . . → Read More: They Walked Up the Steps Hand in Hand

Festivals are More Fun with Friends


For the past 3 years we have made a fall date to go to a local farm with friends. These 3 have posed for silly pictures.

 Went on hay rides.

 Ran through the corn maze.

 And climbed on the old truck.

This year I brought the boys along for the fun and we managed . . . → Read More: Festivals are More Fun with Friends

I Can Still Hold Them Both in My Arms


Today is the last day that the boys will spend in the childcare program where they have spent the past five years. In August 2009, when the boys were 16 weeks old, the childcare program that Juliana attended started an infant program. That program opened with 3 babies – Ruslan, Wyatt and Finnegan. With the . . . → Read More: I Can Still Hold Them Both in My Arms