Diary of a Working Mom

After being off for 8 months, I forgot how hectic life can be as a working mom. I’m not complaining (yet)–I’m laughing instead. 🙂 Here’s a snapshot of my day:

5:00am-alarm goes off. Accidentally snooze too long. Roll out of bed at 5:30 and hobble to shower after nursing stubborn baby who wasn’t ready to eat yet, but who was wide awake in his crib. Announce that I will start taking my showers at night. Drag husband and daughter out of bed at 6:00. Daughter pulls covers over head and insists she is not going to school today. Finish getting ready, gathering all of our stuff, and making bottles. Make it out the door at 6:45, thanks to my husband, who is helping straight from the shower wearing only a bath towel. Evie tells him he can’t come outside to put her in the car because he looks like a dork. I think he looks kind of hot.
7:00am-drop off kids at day care. More efficient operation than yesterday, as I know where each child goes in the morning–Eli goes to Evie’s teacher and Evie goes to the preschool breakfast room. Evie’s best friend (also 4 years old) insists she will open Evie’s yogurt for her as I set up Evie’s breakfast.
7:20am-roll into school with coffee and approximately 15 bags of teacher necessities in hand. Begin meetings. Meetings were productive and beneficial. Shout out to the school district for putting together a decent inservice.
Noon-enjoy lunch with colleagues at local Mexican restaurant. Yum. After today, there will be no more lunches off-campus. Head back to school to work in classroom, complete online training modules re: bloodborne pathogens, sexual harassment, and other fun things. Meet with special education supervisor and colleagues. Work in classroom some more.
3:45pm-leave school to pick up kids. Evie cries because she doesn’t want to go home. Eli was happy to see me, at least.
4:30-arrive home. Attempt to nurse baby after going all day without pumping–too many people in and out and no key yet to lock door so I can pump. I’m in pain. He doesn’t care–he’s not interested. Decide to pump instead. Realize I left pump at school. Evie chases dogs around house trying to get them to play with her in her room. They won’t cooperate, but one destroys a diaper he found in Eli’s trash can. Awesome. Evie comes downstairs in dress-up clothes and refuses to change to make a trip to the store. I have pictures to pick up and a few more teacher things to get. She goes in her princess costume.
5:30pm-enter dreaded big blue department store. Bad idea. The place is swarming with people stocking up on last minute school supplies. Make about 32 laps around the store searching for a fan and the photo center. Why isn’t the photo center in the same place in all dreaded big blue stores?? Evie falls asleep on toilet paper in back of cart and has meltdown when I wake her up to pay for it (after standing in line for 20 minutes).
7:00pm-come home to feed kids and begin bedtime routine. 4-year old refuses to eat her dinner (that I actually cooked). Dogs decide they can help her. She scolds them. I don’t get it–she doesn’t want it but doesn’t want to share. Remember to take out frozen breast milk and Evie’s lunch for tomorrow (success on both accounts). Feed baby. He cries between each bite because I’m not feeding him fast enough. Attempt to give him his evening meds. He takes the one he usually spits out without incident. The one he usually takes just fine comes spraying out of his mouth in all of its tar-colored, root-beer-flavored glory. Fail.
8:00pm-bath time, much later than I had planned. 4-year old demands a “shower bath.” After bathing the baby, I relent. Get baby in bed and go back to help Evie finish. Lean forward and bust the zipper on my shorts. Damn. I love these stupid shorts. 4-year old doesn’t want to cooperate at bedtime. I get her digital clock, which reads 8:31, and tell her she has until it reads 8:40 to finish getting ready for bed. She jumps on her bed instead–and flips backwards onto the hardwood floor. Wailing ensues and she tells me she needs to go to the “hopspital.” Manage to tuck her in and read story by 8:37. Lights out. Come downstairs to let dogs out. Sit with them outside so one doesn’t make a jailbreak. Get eaten alive by mosquitoes. Come inside to find Evie on the landing crying that she wants to be with me. Coaxing, bribing, and insisting doesn’t work. She will not go back to bed. Knock on the door. Dogs go nuts. I am wearing my shorts with the busted zipper. Thank God it’s a friend dropping off something I left at her house and checking in about school. She’s my workout buddy, but I haven’t made it to the Y for the last 2 days. Finally get Evie set up on the couch. Her a banging noise on dining room door. Investigate. Open door to an awful smell. It’s the dog’s breath. And she has a giant rock she managed to sneak inside, apparently to bang against the door. I detect another funky smell. The other dog has gas. His farts are rancid. Take dogs back outside because I enjoy being bitten by mosquitoes more than I enjoy cleaning up dog poop in the house. Dogs decide not to come inside. They want to chase each other instead.
9:26pm-realize I never did get around to any of that laundry I told my husband I would be working on. Dishes are still in the sink. Living room needs to be straightened up. Decide it won’t hurt anything if I skip my chores tonight, realizing I will regret that decision tomorrow. Think about what to wear for the first day of school. Make no decisions but determine that I have clean underwear. Think about my earlier declaration re: showering at night. Realize I was full of it. Prepare for bed. Alarm will be going off at 4:30am–must beat the morning rush of students.




When is a dining experience more than a dining experience? When you dine at Chuck’s Last Stop: An American Grill.

When we first pulled up, I have to admit–I was a little unsure. The place was empty. But Trip Advisor rated it as THE number one place to eat in Fort Myers Beach. And we had rockstar parking. We were staying.

Upon entering, again, I was a bit unsure. But that lasted about two seconds. We were seated by a warm and friendly server, and then greeted by not one, but two Chucks. The first Chuck we met was the manager. Very friendly. He doted on our children like they were his own. He stopped as often as he could as he buzzed around from table to table, and I could hear him directing the rest of the staff–he is a savvy businessman, no doubt. Per his direction, each patron was treated royally and made to feel special.

We also had the pleasure of meeting the other Chuck–the owner. An unassuming and quiet man. He blends in with the crowd until he comes to your table to greet you personally and thank you for giving his restaurant a chance. He was gracious, hospitable, and humble. He was even kind enough to pose for a picture with Milton! (If you’ve followed our story on Facebook, you know that Milton is Eli’s monkey blanket that went everywhere with him at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital…find me on Facebook–Stephanie Dann–to see Milton’s album and many other things I don’t post here.) And after we explained a little bit about Eli’s history, Chuck asked if we had a website and if he could post a picture with Milton on the restaurant’s website! I felt quite honored!

Here’s Milton posing in the restaurant


And here he is with Chuck, the restaurant’s owner.


Of course, I can’t forget our server or our food. Let me tell you about our server first–Leah. She went out of her way to make sure we were taken care of, paying special attention to our kids. She thanked us repeatedly while she was serving us–not a typical experience for me. She made some special arrangements for our food and made sure we were completely satisfied. She had plenty to say to our kids and treated us like she’d known us forever.

And the food–it. was. delicious. We started with the volcano-something-or-others. So. Yummy. My husband had the catch of the day, my daughter had the kids’ pizza (which was like gourmet pizza for kids), and I had the pepper chicken. Everything was fantastic. My Caesar salad was the best I’ve ever had ANYWHERE. Even if the service was terrible (which it wasn’t), I would go back just for the yummy food.

We were flattered beyond flattered while we were there. They definitely know how to lay it on thick. And from a business perspective, that works wonders. From the customer’s perspective, that works too–they seemed to be genuine and sincere.

So, how does this relate to Down syndrome? Well, despite sharing some information about Eli’s history, we never made mention of his Ds. But we received many lovely compliments on both of our kids. Sometimes I wonder if people know by looking at him. I didn’t mention it, but when Eli is being showered with affection, when we walk past people to hear, “Oh, look at the baby! He is so cute!”–that’s when I want to shout from the rooftops: “He is so cute! And he has Down syndrome! This is Down syndrome, and Down syndrome is beautiful!”

Anyway, the fact this place is called “Chuck’s” was icing on the cake for our lovely experience. My grandfather–one of my favorite people ever–was Chuck. I’ve often wondered what he would think of my kids, especially Eli. I think Eli would have been his little buddy. And getting so much attention from not one, but two Chucks felt kind of like my grandfather was smiling down on us to say he approves.

If you’re in the area, be sure to eat there! Thank you to everyone at Chuck’s for a wonderful dinner! It was worth every penny.

Peace on Earth

Right now, I am in heaven. The sun is just coming up and my little one has scooted himself as close as he possibly can to me and curled into my side to sleep and make adorable baby noises. My bigger one is on the other side of the bed. She’s just flipped around from the upside-down-pose she assumed for most of the night. And she is pressed as close to her daddy as possible, right up against his back, and she doesn’t seem to mind–she’s just happy to feel the security of someone else close by. She sleeps peacefully, breathes heavily. My husband snores lightly. I take all this in, again and again. Never forget this moment, I tell myself. Thank you, God, for this, I pray silently.

There is thunder. It rumbles as the dark clouds hang over the water. The sky is painted gray and black and navy. It is peppered by flashes of lightning. The water is dark but calm. The terra cotta roof is a contrast to the gloomy sky. But I don’t mind–there is peace, even in the looming storm.

I think about getting up to have my coffee on the lanai, to watch for birds and dolphins, to gaze for miles upon the water and be rocked by the sound of the gentle waves and the rolling thunder. But I don’t want to leave my post. If I move, this moment will be over. I will no longer feel my son’s warm little body pressed against mine, hear his soft baby breaths, and smell his sweet baby smell. If I move, I won’t be watching my daughter’s little mouth twitch as she sleeps. I won’t see her pull every blanket to her as she slumbers, completely unaware that she has left the rest of us with a chill.

I will stay right here and enjoy the light that is spilling through the windows, despite the storm outside, and casting shadows on my slumbering family. How am I so blessed? I wonder. Why me? Why do I get to have such a wonderful life? Yes, I will enjoy this scene for at least a little while longer. And I will embrace the storm. I will not wish it away in favor of sunshine. Because the storm and the peace exist together. The storm does not have to interrupt my good life. It can make it richer. It can keep me inside longer to enjoy my family. I think about the obvious metaphor. I smile.

What a wonderful time I’m having. And there is still more to come.