Great weekend, I think


I know I’ve written about this before (and banged my head on the wall over them about a million times,) but I’m hopeful that maybe doing it again may help me breath a little better then next two days.

I can’t possibly be the only person on the planet who envisions things as being amazing, perfect and blissful, shoving nearly all of my eggs in this vision basket and hoping for the best. Right? Tell me I’m not the only one …

This gal right here does this A LOT. I stay too busy most of the time, and my quality time with my boys — the husband, the biggest of my boys, included — is pretty limited. So when this time includes something more than the rote “getting everyone fed and snuggled into bed,” I get pretty excited.



Exhibit A:

A couple months ago I took a Friday off work when Miles had that day off school. I researched ahead of time what hours were open swim for the YMCA so all four of us could go swimming together. Afterward we’d go to Sam’s and get frozen yogurt. And then, depending on the level of nap need, we would go to the park. Perfect day, right? Kind of day that dreams are made out of for 4-year-old boys, right?

Apparently not this, not for this little boy.

At every turn I was struggling with Miles. There were so many tantrums, tears, protests.
About 20 minutes into the struggle to get the kid dressed into his swim trunks — and I should note, he WANTED to go swimming — I stood in the hallway in tears myself nearly shouting, “I just want to have a special day.” After finally getting him, the baby and myself dressed and the million necessary accessories packed, we piled into the car and headed toward the Y. There was more tears and protests when we pulled up to the Y because it was the “wrong” Y; he wanted to go to the other one (which didn’t have open swim, mind you.)

Finally in the pool things calmed down, we all had a good time. Leaving after two hours of swimming went surprisingly smooth with the promise of frozen yogurt. But once we arrived at Sam’s the outbursts continued. I can’t even pinpoint what started them, not because I can’t remember but because there was no real reason. But before we even made it into the story Michael and I turned to each other, once again my eyes filled with frustrated and sad tears, and decided we just needed to go home.

Spur of the moment Christmas trip.

My expectations were of this perfect day — sunshine, rainbows and ice cream. What could be better, right? But nothing went as expected. Looking back — several months later — I still can’t really pinpoint what happened to create the chaos. He’d gotten a good night’s sleep, he ate a good breakfast, he wasn’t sick. What I can pinpoint is that he’s four. Yep. That’s about all I have to say, AND I have to remind myself of this ALL the time. He’s still working on figuring out how to express his emotions, frustrations, feelings. Maybe he was just having a bad day; I have them too. But I’ve had the privilege of nearly 30 more years on this planet to figure out how to control, process and deal with that than he has.

So, with all that said … I’ve been spending the more responding to the standard, “What are you doing this weekend?” excitedly talking about my “perfect weekend.”

I know, I know, wanna laugh with me about that!

My expectation: Tonight we are all going to camp out on the living room floor in cozy jammies and watch “Polar Express” and drink cocoa and eat homemade cookies that Miles and I made a couple hours earlier. And then Saturday we are all going to giggle and smile and ride the “Polar Express” in French Lick.

It’s totally going to go just like that, right?

Germs seem to be winning the battle

By Michael Doyle

It’s 2 a.m., and I’m staring at the endless wall of cold medicines at the drugstore when I get a major sense of déjà vu.

Then I realize, it’s not déjà vu; I actually did do this before. It was probably about a month ago that I stood in this exact same spot in this exact same CVS, probably shuffling my feet while taking in the enormous variety of red, green, purple and blue syrupy, boozy bottles guaranteed both to taste terrible and knock you flat on your back for an evening of non-cough interrupted sleep.

I picked out a green one. The guy in the checkout line in front of me got red.

“You know they have the two-packs of this stuff,” the cashier quipped. “You want to go back? You look like you might need the two-pack.”

“Seemed like a jinx,” I told her. “I’m just gonna hope one is enough.”

At our house, cold season has been going on for a while now. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that young Miles started back to preschool in late August and the germs started taking over about a week later.

I’m sure it’s uncomfortable for the little ones. But they can shrug it off a little better, it seems — wipe your nose on your sleeve and get on with the business of being a kid. For all the confluence of green goop always pooling around Miles’ nostrils, you won’t ever hear him talk about feeling “sick.” And even Owen, who just turned a year old, seems to take it in stride. His poor raw, red and crusty little nose doesn’t really seem to deter him from his daily routine of household exploration (AKA destruction) and dog-tail chasing.

For me, though, it’s another story. I already have such chronic sinus and allergy problems that getting a full-blown cold on top of that is just about all my immune system can take. I feel feverish and get chills, my throat hurts, my body aches and get a heavy hacking cough that always seems to linger for weeks. By the end of the day, I’m a disaster, all used up by 7 p.m. or so, which just so happens to be my bedtime for most of the last week.

And what’s worse is, right when you think you’re starting to get better, it comes back on you full force.

I don’t know if we’re just passing the same set of germs back and forth among each other or if there are new invaders constantly making their way into the house.

It certainly can’t help that we’re all in close quarters, breathing and recirculating each other’s germs constantly. My guess is if you had a microscope the place would look like a bacteria’s dream come true, complete with a little bacteria Statue of Liberty right outside the front door:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses of germs, waiting to break free.”

Surely this whole season of germ-giving will come to an end soon enough. In the meantime, we will continue to live in a world where there are too many boogers and not enough Kleenexes.

From swaddling clothes to waddling in blink of an eye

It’s hard to believe, but my baby boy is already 1.


It seems like just yesterday we were bringing him home from the hospital in the tiniest little giraffe-print outfit, loving every minute of the experience and wondering just what in the heck we were going to do with two kids.


Now, I look up from my easy chair to see Owen flailing his way across the living room in that way that newly-walking toddlers have, hellbent on destruction — gotta knock all the DVDs off the shelf, then dig in the recycling bin, then a leisurely stop at the kitchen cabinets because that shaker of cinnamon isn’t just going to spread itself all over the floor on its own, mom.

And guess what, a year later Michael and I still wonder — at least several times a week — what the heck we are going to do with two kids.


Owen has always been a happy soul. There was nary a cry for the first several months, or at least that is how I remember it. I’m sure there was fussing here or there, but when I think back to those first few months with Miles, who’s temperament is much different from his baby brother’s, I know just how easy I have had it this go-round. The nights were sleepless — aren’t they always — but the middle of the night nursing and snuggle sessions were filled with giggles instead of cries. That was quite a relief — since his older brother Miles posed more difficulties in that area as a baby.

Looking back I wonder if the difference was in the babies, or instead in the mama who was much more relaxed and confident the second time around.


Baby O, as we often refer to him, and I have spent thousands of hours over the past year in my dad’s old green chair I inherited. That’s my “nursing” chair. While I struggled with breast-feeding Miles, Owen and I have had a healthy breast-feeding relationship since Day 1 that is still going strong. And as any breast-feeding mom will tell you, that stuff can cure all the world’s ills. And I have loved every minute of it.

Well, maybe not so much all the biting, but other than that it’s been an amazing experience.


The interesting thing about raising babies is not how much work it is — the lack of sleep, the constant messiness or any of that stuff. Instead, it is how quickly you integrate all of those things into your daily life. It becomes the norm.

What once seemed like a huge mess on the living room floor now gets a weak shrug: “Meh, I’ll pick it up tomorrow, maybe.”


When in reality tomorrow will be gymnastics or we’ll decide to spend the evening at the park or going to cMoe — there’s always something and it is most assuredly more fun and valuable than a tidy floor.

There was a time when five hours of sleep would’ve left me staggering through the day, ordering the bucket-sized iced coffee (with sugar-free vanilla flavoring) just to keep my eyes open until lunch time. Now, five hours of sleep is practically a dream come true.
None of these are complaints, of course — it just goes to show you how your priorities, and life, change.

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All of those long nights, messy floors and bite marks are completely worth it when I see that beautiful little face each morning, smiling that cute gaptoothed smile of his, wrapping his arms around me and delicately placing his head on my shoulder when I lift him out of the crib. I am reminded, once again, that I am doing exactly what I was meant to do with my life. This little boy — along with his big brother — has made me the happiest mom in the world.

Happy birthday, Owen.

o8 o7 o6

Wrong way to save money

One day a couple of weeks ago, my 4-year-old son Miles walks up to me with one of those sad, puppy-dog expressions on his face.
It was just then I realized that the house had been a little too quiet for a little too long that afternoon.
“D-d-dad,” he said meekly, with tears welling up in his eyes, “I made a mistake.”
Understand, Miles is an extremely energetic, strong-willed kid; spirited is what my wife calls it. He doesn’t talk quietly about anything, and he certainly doesn’t admit to doing anything wrong. I started having a mild freak-out.
“What is it? Is everything OK?”
“Uh, I think I swallowed a nickel.”
“You think you swallowed a nickel? What does that mean? You either swallowed a nickel or you didn’t.”
“Yeah, I swallowed the nickel. I don’t know why. … Dad, I feel a little sick.”
I am pretty proud of the way we handled it.
We figured out that his “sick” feeling was just anxiety. I calmed him down and did a little research on the Internet. Abbey called our pediatrician. The nickel should, she explained, “turn up” within a week or so. If it didn’t, we would have to have a doctor extract it.
The prescription: Make sure he gets lots of liquids and fiber. I don’t think I have to spell out the implications for anybody reading this.
Unfortunately, I did have to do just that for the nickel-eater. And it just so happens that, being the typical 4-year-old boy, that particular bodily function is one of his very favorite subjects.
“OK Miles, here’s the deal.”
“Yeah, dad?”
“We’re gonna have to watch out the next few days for that nickel to come out.”
“It’s going to come out? Where?”
Sigh. I can’t believe I’m having this conversation right now.
“It’s going to come out in your poops.”
Of course, a fit of laughter ensued.
“The nickel’s going to come out of my butt! Hahahaha!!”
He literally rolled around on the floor laughing. His laughter is contagious, and despite myself, I got the giggles too.
“Hey dad?”
“Yeah, what’s up?”
“How are you going to find the nickel?”
“Well, first thing I’m going to do is go to Rural King and buy the best metal detector they have.”
Fast-forward to the next day, and I’m on my hands and knees on the floor, poking around a pile of you know what with a plastic fork. Who knew metal detectors were so pricey?
Eventually, mom retrieved the treasure. Of course, she got it on her first attempt. In the meantime, I had been forced to repeat this rather odious task three more times that week before her first attempt.
“I don’t think so … Wait! Here it is!!” she crowed triumphantly from the bathroom. “Thank goodness we don’t have to take him to the doctor.”
So, we’re five cents richer. Sort of. We have saved the nickel and are accepting ideas on how best to “preserve” it for posterity’s sake.
I just hope he doesn’t ever decide to reinvest in that particular savings plan.
Michael Doyle is a stay at home dad to Miles, 4, and Owen, 1, and married to Features Editor Abbey Doyle. He also is a freelance reporter. You can read more about the Doyle’s parenting adventures at their blog, A Parently Obvious at

Happy birthday Miles


All children are blessings, even the ones we aren’t expecting and at first weren’t necessarily planning for. But I’m pretty sure on this day four years ago, my Miles was an extra special blessing bringing joy at a time for my family that was filled with grief and sadness.

I was about four months pregnant with Miles when my dad passed away. While we knew my dad’s death was inevitable — the terminal cancer diagnosis made that pretty clear — none of us ever expected it would come as quickly as it did. The diagnosis came weeks before Michael and I married — March of 2009. Doctors told us that if he did nothing he’d have about a year, but my dad fought like hell, and we didn’t even get that full year.

We wanted a child badly but wouldn’t have gotten started on our quest to have one so quickly in normal circumstances. But I wanted to give my dad the gift of being a grandfather, and I wanted the joy of seeing my dad be the amazing, loving grandparent I knew he would be. Those last five months of my pregnancy both crawled and zoomed by. I didn’t have much energy to focus on it really as much of my world was wrapped up in the loss of my dad.

When the big delivery day came I was a bundle of emotions. Most of them were happy but a part of me was afraid of what it would feel like when Miles was finally here. It was yet another huge part of my life that I would have to experience without my dad. Would it still be happy? Could I let myself feel the sheer and blinding joy that comes with welcoming a child into the world?

When I heard that first shrill cry from my baby I knew the answer — YES! I cried and cried and cried. But those tears were happy. I was so overwhelmed with love and a sudden purpose that I felt like I would explode. Of course there was grief there. I wanted my dad so badly to be there. But those feelings were right there along with the joy and happy not overshadowing them.


And my little guy, I can’t begin to describe what he’s given me and the rest of my family. He gave us all a reason to laugh and be happy again. He was our new focus. Of course we still grieved by dad, heck we still do today. I’m crying right now in grief. But I see so much of my dad in this kid it is scary.

Fourth of July parade in Vincennes in 2013

Beyond the love and joy he’s brought to me (and the rest of us) he’s taught me a lot about myself and life. He’s taught me that things don’t always go as planned, to find joy in the simple things, what a coal tinder is, how much fun a mud puddle can be, patience and a million other things.

Today this blessing turns four.

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I love you to pluto and back.

Kiddie ride coward

By Michael Doyle

Dad quickly regretted the spinning on the turkey tilt o' whirl.

Dad quickly regretted the spinning on the turkey tilt o’ whirl.

Amusement park rides are not my thing.

Whether it’s the heights, the spinning or the knowledge that
5 million people have ridden this thing before and that one faulty part or incorrectly installed bolt could mean sudden, fiery death — a family trip to the amusement park has always been, for me, an exercise in creative excuse-making.
“Well, somebody needs to hold your purse, let me do it” … “No, you go ahead, I really want to get a better look at the landscaping over here” … “No, I didn’t find the bathroom with the longest line on purpose, they’re all really long” … “Oh, does that poor woman need CPR? I’d better go help!”
Unfortunately, Miles has inherited his mother’s devil-may-care attitude about these things, and I can’t get out of all of them.
It occurred to me what a total coward I am on the Eagle Flight ride at Holiday World. Classified by the park as a “mild” ride with a 36-inch height requirement — that’s right, it’s basically a kiddie ride — I spent most of the three minutes or so trying to think about baseball, my mom’s crawfish étouffée or that season three episode of “Knight Rider” — anything, anything at all that kept my attention away from the absolutely terrifying scene unfolding in front of me.

Dad made mom ride the roller coaster. Even the kiddie coaster is a little too much.

Dad made mom ride the roller coaster. Even the kiddie coaster is a little too much.

What little I chose to take in only confirmed my fears as the two daredevils in the eagle in front of Miles and me were twisting their rudder every which way, flipping and turning all over the place at breakneck speed at this death-defying height.
“Can I turn it, Dad?” Miles said. “I want to turn it!”
“No, absolutely not!”
Of course, he grabbed it anyway, sending us into a slightly higher arc than the safe, steady track I had kept us on this whole time. That was almost enough for me to yell out to the ride operator “I want off!”
I somehow managed to avoid anything else for the rest of the day — with one tactful U-turn on the stairs of a water slide that just got a little too tall — until it was time to leave.
Miles wanted to ride the kiddie roller coaster one more time, something I was obviously not keen to do. Fortunately, on the way there, we passed the raging rapids ride — we had already gone on this four times that day — and that did not escape young Miles’ notice.

“Oh dad, I like this one! Can we do it again?”

Yes! There was hope.

“Sure, we can go on the raft again, but your mom’s waiting for us. We can only do one ride — raft or roller coaster. You pick.”
“Raft!!” he said.
Relief washed over me in a wave, no less tangible than the buckets of water that would soon be deposited on top of us as we traversed those rapids one more time. Did I mind getting wet all over again? Not one tiny bit.
So this trip was not exactly a dazzling display of courage on my part. It’s OK, I can live with that — because despite my cowardice, we actually did have fun. I might even look forward to going back next year.
Maybe by then, I’ll be ready for one of the big kid rides.

The only stationary spot on the merry-go-round is what the Doyle boys chose.

The only stationary spot on the merry-go-round is what the Doyle boys chose.

No one can rain on my parade

A couple of times a week I throw myself a parade in my own head, seriously. It’s not that I don’t get praise from my husband or other friends and family, but life is so challenging that sometimes I feel like I’ve earned it — that little brain parade.

Being a working mom is not easy. I’m blessed beyond measure that I have a supportive husband who will pick up nearly any of the traditional “mom” pieces that are dropped in the wake of my insane overscheduled life. But even with that, it can be rough.

So when I’m able to work a nine-hour day, come home, nurse my son and get a meal — from scratch mind you — on the table for my family of four before 6:30 p.m., I think I’ve earned a parade!

I know, I know — it’s not very realistic for me to expect the marching band to be on standby for when I pull one of those stellar, magical, all the pieces fell into place nights off. Instead of expecting tractors, waving fair queens and a steady drum beat in my living room, I envision them in my head. I see the flags spinning in the air, the tinsel hanging from the float dragging on the concrete and the candy flying through the air.

“Momma, what’s wrong?” Miles asks as we are sitting at the dinner table, and I’m zoned out for my brief parade bliss.

“Oh, nothing honey,” I say while helping Owen grasp another handful of the avocado he’s eating, or more realistically smearing all over every surface within reach. “I’m just thinking about something.”

I smile as the horses trot by (the unofficial end to every parade, because, well you know why.)

Another recent parade happened when I took both boys to church — by MYSELF — last week. I have this mom of two thing down pat when I’m in my own territory — I’m a pro on my own turf. But every time I go anywhere, even just the grocery store, with both of them by myself, I feel like I’ve earned a parade. Running into the gas station to grab a Diet Coke with both in tow — that’s just a little mini parade, probably just a few kids on bikes.

Going into the grocery store to get milk and eggs, that parade is a little bigger because I probably had to wrestle away a loaf of bread from the baby at least a few times and keep Miles from dropping the eggs as he “helped me” put the items on the conveyor belt. The store to get chicken feed, that’s a little more challenging because we are now balancing the baby, a 50-plus pound bag of food and a little boy who wants nothing more than to touch ALL of the baby chicks in the store. I do have the added bonus of the popcorn bribery there, though.

Because, cute kids

But taking both boys to church, alone, that’s right up there with the Rose Bowl Parade, it’s not quite Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; but it’s still quite the feat — at least it is in my head.

At church you have to employ a whole new set of mom skills because quiet is of the essence. And quiet for an energetic nearly 4-year-old and almost 8-month-old is not always the easiest of tasks. Most Sundays we have a man-on-man defense approach, but sometimes the assigned player (one of our children) changes. So this two-on-one stuff was tricky. You know what though, I did it. There were zero outbursts, just a few non-whispering moments, some redecorating of the pew and a few little excited baby shouts. I didn’t get any cross looks from the pastor or fellow congregants. So on my drive home from church — yep, you guessed it — I was envisioning a big old parade, thrown just in my honor.

I’m sure many of you are reading this thinking, “Hurmph, parade for taking two kids to church? I’ve brought my quintuplets and pet lion to the pope’s inauguration. And that was just another Tuesday!”

My response, “You are amazing!” But you know what, I also think you are amazing if you are a mom of one and you take your kid to church and he screams his fool head off. Because I’ve been there (not at church, thankfully, but at plenty of grocery stores!)
Being a mom (and dad!) is hard work. Being a parent while working, staying at home or as an astronaut — all of it is a great accomplishment.

So I say we all deserve parades. If we are doing our best to keep our kids healthy, happy and safe, we should be dusting off the baton and whistle and should start leading some parades.

Mother’s Day and other disasters, by Michael Doyle


One of the things I love most about my wife is that she is a realist.
So when Mother’s Day came along, she understood that all those grand ideas about breakfast in bed, well-behaved children and being catered to all day long just weren’t going to happen with our two kids.
See, even on his calmest days, 3-year-old Miles is what they call a “spirited” child. On other days he is, as my Southern friends say, a “hot mess.”
Sure enough, things got off to a rough start, with Miles pitching a fit about his shoes and not wanting to go to church. Five minutes after coming downstairs, I already could tell this day was going to be a wild ride.
Sparing most of the gory details, we were a solid 10 minutes late for church, breakfast in bed was more along the lines of brunch at McDonald’s and my leisurely barbecue resulted in a grease fire that made our dinner less than great.
Owen, 7 months, was pretty chill the whole day, but even the most low-maintenance baby takes a lot of effort.
At the dinner table, Miles was in rare difficult form, sass-talking, arguing every little thing either of us said and refusing to eat just to spite us.

“He’s just like me … just like me,” Abbey would say through a mouthful of burned chicken, shaking her head with a half-smile of resignation on her face.
Nearing 7 o’clock, the one item on the agenda that she really wanted — a trip for frozen yogurt — seemed an impossible task.
But I was determined that this one thing was going to happen. I took Miles into his bedroom and gave him the longest caring-but-stern lecture of his young life about how he had hurt his mom’s feelings by misbehaving on Mother’s Day, how he was old enough to know right from wrong and how he should treat other people the way he wants to be treated.
It was my big dad moment, the kind of thing you only see on sitcoms.
Miraculously, it worked — for about 45 minutes. Fortunately, that was long enough to drive to the frozen yogurt place and eat our dessert in relative peace and calm.
It lasted until we were on our way out the door, when suddenly Miles let out every screech, howl, scream, kick and jump he had so dutifully been holding in, blazing a path of chaos out the front door and getting laughs from every single person there.
A mother and her teenage son were standing at the counter. I got the feeling she had been in our shoes a time or two.

“I remember those days,” she said, exchanging a bemused look with Abbey. “They go by too fast. Happy Mother’s Day.”
“Happy Mother’s Day to you, too,” Abbey said as we walked out the door — reminded, I think, that those little fleeting moments make all the difficult ones worthwhile.
Maybe we’ll try that breakfast in bed thing next year.

First time in a long time

My husband and I don’t get out a lot. Well I get out a fair amount and he gets out when I plan family “to dos,” but the two of us at the same time alone — nope. It pretty much doesn’t happen.

See, we can still have fun, even without the kids!

See, we can still have fun, even without the kids!

It hasn’t happened at all since the birth of our second child (who will be 8 months old in just a few weeks) until last night.

That’s sad. Seriously, I need to try to remedy that.

And when we finally get about 2.5 hours of us time what did we do — we talked about the kids. Yep, that’s exactly what we did. What’s wrong with us.

But in reality I know nothing is wrong with us. This is probably standard parent MO. Our world (most parents’ worlds) revolve around their kids. It’s not like we’ve gotten to the point where we have nothing else to talk about (at least I hope we haven’t) but those were the important, pressing things on our mind.

That’s OK. I’m OK with it. What I’m not as OK with is the fact that it took nearly eight months for us to get away just the two of us. When I hear other parents talk about “date night” once a week I know that that idea is seriously unrealistic for us. But we can do better than once every eight months.

How do you make solo parent time a priority? How do you make it less about the kids and more about the couple?

P.S. We were out doing a restaurant review of a fancy pants (and way out of our normal dining out) budget. It was pretty good,although Michael was a little disappointed with his $38 steak, yes, $38!!!