Saying Goodbye. Bang Bang Pop Pop.

Me, Sheppard, Roan, Anson + Smith

Me, Sheppard, Roan, Anson + Smith

I’m not so much a fade-to-black person as I am a cut-and-roll-the-swelling-anthem-and-credits kind of person. Even so, I’ve put off writing this post. This post where I say goodbye.

Smith, Roan, and Sheppard running the F Train to Coney Island

Smith, Roan, and Sheppard running the F Train to Coney Island

Pistols and Popcorn has done everything I needed it to do. I started it at a time where Roan and I had the majority of our time to ourselves. We shared our time with New York, letting her be the third-wheel in our adventures. I would plan things to do with him with writing about them in mind. I feel like it was a way to inject some adult conversation into our very child-centric days. And the way Pistols and Popcorn caught on totally blew my mind. These small entries about hanging with my kid – people care enough to read them?? Who knew?

Smitty, Shepz + Ro with Nathan's Famous.

Smitty, Shepz + Ro with Nathan’s Famous.

Over the years Pistols has helped me make decisions, lent me support, served as a sounding board, and sometimes helped me ride my high horse. Pistols propped me up and kept me wrapped up in my readers’ strength and support during some pretty hard times. It offered up interesting opportunities I never would have come across otherwise. It started friendships with people I have absolutely come to love. Most importantly, this place has served as a record of years of my family’s life.

Ro + Anson. This pose happens more and more often.

Ro + Anson. This pose happens more and more often.

And now it’s just time for me to say goodbye. Things in this life have changed, and I’m constantly grateful for the direction they keep moving in. I’ve been able to begin working with old friends, circling back to old talents. My free time now sends me on these ravenous scavenger hunts for all the right words for my new gig. I couldn’t be happier. I couldn’t be having any more fun. And these writing assignments are all during nap time, so I’m still loyal to the toddler park circuit,  being the mom who lets her kids climb up the down slide without an apology. Fear me.

Spiderman, Smitty, Sheppard, Spiderman, Roan.

Spiderman, Smitty, Sheppard, Spiderman, Roan.

I still have so many stories to tell. The twins, my Smitty + Shep, leave me full-to-the-eyeballs with stories on an hourly basis. But my Roan is getting older, and that is a thing I think about. I can no longer talk about everything he does and says with the abandon I used to, when he was a child. He is older. He deserves some privacy. And it just doesn’t feel right to be telling his stories anymore. And obviously, there is no way for me to talk about this family without including him.

Smitty + Me.

Smitty + Me.

I just see the signs, really. It’s time to say goodbye. The dumb luck part of it is that it’s ending in a Hollywood-happy way. Life is good. I have everything I ever wanted. I have way more than I ever hoped for. We are healthy, this family. We love each other in ridiculous amounts. We are stupid together and fight often and laugh and eat really good food. We have embarrassingly good friends. This is a nice place to leave it.

Thanks for being here. Thanks for your emails, comments and time. Thanks for sharing in this family and our weirdness. Bang pop.

Outwitted. Again.

Right, so we’ve switched to the toddler beds. The ugly plastic Buzz Lightyear ones instead of the sweet cool modern wooden ones because ROAN.

Smitty + Shepz couldn’t have been more excited. It was a party in the extreme the first night. Jumping, singing, jumping, dancing. Jumping. An impromptu rain splashing and puddle jump interlude in the backyard and then more jumping. When they went to sleep, they slept hard and happy. My boys knocked it outta the park on the first night.

This, I chalked up to my awesome job preparing them for the leap. I’d been talking to them about being good listeners, following rules, and most importantly not ever ever no never ever getting out of bed before the owl turns green. This is the owl. He turns the color green at a specified time. I’ve specified 6:45 AM  because sadly, that’s the latest I can push it.

Please work, Mr. Owl.

Please work, Mr. Owl.

We’re still working on obedience but I do know my boys understand the concept.

So. Nap time. First one ever in the Buzz Lightyear Abominations which they love, and I knew it was going to be tough. I was prepared. I sat by the door for about an hour, coming in with swift and heavy-voiced judgment each time one of the boys got out of bed. Each time I handed out a verbal mean-voiced “Get back into bed right now I mean it and stay in bed, stay in bed!” Shep would put his palms to the ceiling and assure me, “I’m trying!” Thassrite. I used my mean voice. Even though he’s trying. Respect that.

Finally they were both asleep, and I congratulated myself on a job well done. Upstairs I got busy doing all the things that need to be done in this superspecial 3-hour time allotment I have, which now I only had 2 hours of. No problem.

With my heart warming up towards the beds now stuffed with delicious toddlers in them, I grabbed my phone to snap a picture. I super-Mom-stealthed my way into their room, which sat there with two empty beds.

Really guys?

I looked around. Zero toddlers. In the closet. Zero toddlers. Roan’s room. Zero toddlers. I mean. COME ON.

Knowing I would have to admit submission and tap out of this round of sleep wars if what I suspected was true, I slowly opened the door to the back yard. The back yard which held two very naughty twin toddlers, riding their tricycles with the smuggest and happiest grins on their faces.

“It’s ok mama” Smith offered.

“I’m trying!” Shep assured me.

Which I now am somewhat dubious about believing the sincerity of.

Truth Hurts, And it is Also Ugly

It’s usually at the very last moment, with a toddler, that you’re willing to make a big change in their life. You’ve finally figured a few things out: what + when they’ll eat, what freaks them out, and what makes them laugh like they’re drunk on breast milk again. And more, ever-so-more, more more more importantly, how to help them go to and stay asleep.

I’ve been lucky with the young twin dudes. We went all-in with sleep training and it paid off in spades. They’ve slept through the night since they were around six months old, and have been taking three-hour naps until…

…they realized they could escape their tiny prison-cribs.

It had to come some day but I wasn’t totally ready to accept this was happening. The final straw was little Mr. Smitty crawling up the stairs during nap time, meowing like a kitten saying, “Smith is in bed! I am a kittty cat!” Really? Subterfuge (albeit not very good) at this age? I guess you’ve earned the right to lose the crib.

I’d skip the toddler bed except that the space we have lends itself to small beds right now. So I started researching and pricing them out and found two little beds I thought would be cute and were really affordable. They were modern and sleek, furniture I’d buy on a bigger scale for myself. I clicked “buy” and was excited to share with Roan what was going down.

Cute. Sleek. Modern. SOLD!

Cute. Sleek. Modern. SOLD!

Roan’s looked at me with a shake of his head and a come-to-Jesus tone, asking, “Mom, who are these beds for? YOU or THEM?”

“Them?”

“Riiiight. So this is a big change for them. It needs to feel positive. They are not going to be excited about these beds. ”

“They’re not? They’re not.”

And Roan, after about an hour of counseling his parents, won the round of design vs. abomination with these two beds ordered, and the other two cancelled:

Plastic, themed out the yin-yang, ridiculous, and OURS.

Plastic, themed out the yin-yang, ridiculous, and OURS.

I only regret that Roan didn’t have Roan advocating for him as a toddler.

 

Much Too Big For This House

There are some things that cannot be described with a text narrative. One of those things is how Smitty + Sheppard react to Alice in Wonderland. Specifically, the scene where Alice gets, in the words of the boys, “much too big, much too big, much too big.”

Facebook Weirdo Claims My Kids. Bah.

My 3 sons. MINE.

My 3 sons. MINE.

I’m a pretty optimistic person, the kind that doesn’t really sweat the “what if’s” in every circumstance. So while I know that my kids’ pics could be seen by bazillions of people, I also know that they probably won’t be, because there is so much information, so many images, so many people out there also adding to the noise of the internet that I stand out very little. I’m cool with that. I don’t want to be famous. I don’t want to worry about public opinion. I write because I’d like my sons to be able to check out their childhoods online. Really, that’s it. If it’s helpful to anyone else, that’s a huge plus. If it’s funny to other people, a big ego boost. But my drive is to do this for my family. It’s our journal.

But my zen approach to this was tested about two weeks ago, when I received this email:

 I thought you might want to know that someone on FB has stolen a bunch of picture of your twins and is passing them off as his adopted twins “Levi and Louis”. I don’t know for what purpose since the profile is mostly private, but you can see the profile here in case you want to report it:
https://www.facebook.com/craig.l.james.98

 

Ruh-Roh.

I thought maybe it was some weird scam or prank or trick, but it wasn’t. Some guy has a Facebook profile, with pictures of Smith and Sheppard in a photo album, posing as his adopted twin boys.

Creeper Creepy McCreepster

Creeper Creepy McCreepster

Immediately I went into combat mode and was going to find him, and….say something really mean! ha. Ok, my combat mode isn’t all that fierce. I did all the things a person can do to try to report it, all with no results. The pictures are still up, and he has not responded to my requests to take them down. Facebook has denied all my attempts to shut his account down. I’ve messaged his friends, with no response.

And you know what?

I figured out it didn’t matter, actually. I mean, it’s creepy as creepy can be. I can’t figure out why he would do it, but then again there’s a lot of stuff on the planet I cannot figure out. So I’ve added it to the things I do not understand. It’s kind of a big list.

A few friends have suggested I try to be more private with my pictures, that I be more careful about what I write. It would probably be a good idea, but that’s not the way I roll. I’m as careful and protective as I can be in this world, without caving to anxiety over the stuff I can’t control. I love sharing my boys with my online friends and family. I learn from telling our stories. And I have just recently started visiting older stories with Roan – ones we had both forgotten. The stories have pictures of us together, growing up and changing. They are here, on my site. On our family’s site. It’s valuable to me, in a way that could never be captured any way else.

I mean, how could I stop posting stuff like this? It’s too much. Must share.

Straw glasses. Classic.

Straw glasses. Classic.

Smitty + Shep in their finest Appaman duds.

Smitty + Shep in their finest Appaman duds.

 

 

Space to Breathe

I realized something yesterday. That at about 2 years, 4 months and 15 days after my twins were born, a thing happened. A cloud passed, light was let in, and warmth radiated a bit more comfortably from the planet. This all happened yesterday.

Sheppard. Chopper. Who's Bad?

Sheppard. Chopper. Who’s Bad?

Yesterday our family decided to fire up a chocolate fountain that was gifted to Anson from a recent photo shoot he worked on for West Elm. We stocked the house with pretzels, potato chips, pound cake, strawberries, whipped cream, shortbread cookies, Peeps, and marshmallows. Then we called in the troops: the neighborhood boys are girls, their parents, and a cat called Chuck Norris. Our maiden voyage with the chocolate fountain yielded somewhat lumpy chocolate results but it was gobbled up nonetheless. After a ridiculous amount of sugar, we all went into our backyard for an hour or so, then moved to the front to play “Kick the Can”.

Sheppard and Smith played with their friend Leela, riding bikes/trikes/scooters/anything with wheels up and down the street. Roan, Sachin, and their dads ran around the block hiding, running everywhere, ambushing the can for bragging rights. I watched my little ones talk to delivery guys, and then try to keep up with the bigger girls.

I watched them.

I stood back and got to see them interact in the world without holding my hand, or being held by me. They were confident and happy, being little adventurer pirates up and down the block. They played and went fast then slow, fell down then shouted, “I’M OK!” triumphantly. And that’s when it smacked me right in the kisser: these boys, all of my three boys are at amazingly fun ages.

Smitty and Shepz no longer have to watch kids play while they squirm in my arms. They don’t have to stay right in front of me, at an arm’s reach. They are brave enough and capable enough to go down the block. They have been told that Superman does not want them to go into the street without an adult so they do not go into the street without an adult. They attack each other and then work it out. And Roan. He proudly has the ability to walk three blocks away from home, crossing two streets, with enough money in his hand to grab some drinks for everyone. On his own. Yesterday he confidently led his two friends on this journey.

They returned somewhat more grown up.

So telling, this picture.

So telling, this picture.

I do love the time in life when a baby needs me for everything. But it is exhausting and it is more than exhausting when there are two. I am ready for these guys to play in this world. Under a careful and watchful eye, mind you. But still – out of reach. I welcome their independence and am so proud of each of my three sons that they yearn for it as well. Their safe feeling in this world, the trust they have for it, is my biggest source of pride. And their ability to navigate it, even in these most basic ways creates a little more breathing space for me. This is a happy time.

Friday Night Party

Friday night, and the bass is turned up loud. Old school speakers thumping House, heavily influenced from Chicago, and the crowd is jumping. Literally, jumping. As a siren squeals in the song, voices start mimicking the sound and it’s almost too much….until the breakdown. All eyes turn towards the disco ball in the corner, reflecting a clean white light and creating irresistible reflective bubbles all around the dark room. A sweet-faced boy with killer moves and an obviously cared-about look smiles at me and offers me a lollipop. It’s my third of the night, but I take it anyway. After all, it’s the weekend. And I wouldn’t want to turn him down.

Casa Call Club on a Friday night.

Casa Call Club on a Friday night.

Two more boys, shirtless, run around maniacally chasing each other. Laughing and dancing, like they’ve been waiting for this night all week. Without a thought as to who is watching them, they sing along with the song, “I Love Yoooooooo”, louder and louder. They don’t stop until one falls down clutching his belly from laughing too hard and rolling around on the cushions on the floor. Also, he is wearing no pants. Neither is the other boy for that matter. There is a lollipop stuck to the cheek of his bum.

On the list. Knows the DJ.

On the list. Knows the DJ.

A handsome man stands next to me in the doorway where I’ve been watching the party with a beer in my hand. He clicks my drink with his, throws his arm around my shoulder and whispers into my ear, “Did you ever imagine? When we met that this would happen?”

Masking tape streamers. Dad's fun idea/safety hazard.

Masking tape streamers. Dad’s fun idea/safety hazard.

Nope I didn’t. When I met him in a nightclub fourteen years ago, I had no idea we could create this chaotic hysterical awesome party family together. Our Friday nights are spent in much the same atmosphere they were back then. Music, dancing, celebrating the end of the week. The nights end earlier, with less regret but usually more broken things and bubble bath water splashed everywhere. I feel bad for anyone who feels that having a family is boring or holds them back. The family is the party. Masking tape streamers, an awesome playlist, and kids who can step one two – coolest Friday nights on Earth.

Done Breastfeeding

If you don’t want to talk about my breasts, you’ve come to the wrong post, buddy.

My sons have all been natural-born suckers. Through no valiant or hyper-vigilant effort of my own, I have been a breastfeeder for the masses, or so it seems. I mean, breastfeeding two kids at once for two years? Massive. But it really hasn’t felt hard or difficult or anything other than normal. Feeding Roan was the same way. He was happy to breastfeed or bottle feed or just eat. And he drifted between all three mediums until he decided not to, and that was that. Around age two years and a few months, he was done breastfeeding and told me so.

Smitty and Shepz have been champion breastfeeders. And until one week ago today, I was still breastfeeding them at night, right before bed. It was easy and sweet, a chance for the three of us to cuddle up and be quiet. They would always hold hands, and Smitty would do a bit of intermittent verbal free association during the process, kind of giving an overview of how his day played out for him. “Smishie fall down. Roro School. Sheppy not share. Mama hide. Fast car. Special Snack.” Sort of an end-of-day highlight reel, in-between gulps of milk.

It would seem that I’m one of those ladies who really really really believes in breastfeeding for ages but I’m not. It’s just been the easiest thing for me and my boys, the right way for us to go about what we do. But I figured out that now we’re at a stage where it’s just going to be harder and harder to take it away and I’m thinking these two are not going to call it off anytime soon. So. I decided to break it off, quick and clean last Friday night when Roan and I spent the night away. That was the first night they went to bed without me.

It went smoothly, couldn’t have been better. But the next night when I was back, but not offering it up? Not as smooth. I had a big plan as I often times do. Just replace the breastfeeding session with a reading session. Something they love and can look forward to. Something special and cozy, filled with love and attention. And with Anson, Roan, Smitty, Shepz and me piled on the bed reading Goodnight Moon and The Big Red Barn, I thought about how easy this transition is. Until we put them to bed and they were all, “What. The. What?”

And there was a bit of crying and I felt sad. I felt really sad. They haven’t cried when going to bed for over a year. I thought about how lame it was for me to stop, because really it wasn’t putting me out at all, and they liked it and what was the downside again? Hmmmmmm. But I am a woman of strong intent and even when logic fails if I’ve made a decision I stick with it. This is why I ran several businesses successfully which should absolutely not have succeeded. Because I’m stubborn like whoa.

So the next night was better and the night after that the best. They’re into the new groove, it’s a good routine we have now. I now remember that I stopped because I cannot breastfeed them forever, I stopped because at some point I have to. They even joke about not nursing, asking for it and then quickly saying, “Noooooo!” in a funny joking way, like they had asked me to travel to the moon with no pants on, and obviously they would wear pants because the moon is cold.

I suppose there are upsides to this now. I can spend nights away, babysitters can come and put these boys to bed. But just as I miss those quiet times from years ago with Roan cuddled up tight in my arms, I already miss these two bigger and bigger boys sandwiching me and holding hands. Parenthood is a funny thing. It’s the best the worst the happiest and the saddest. And the fastest. That’s the hardest part. Too fast.

One More Reason I am Screwed

 

Winter love

Winter love

Anson left town early this morning. He said goodbye to Roan and me at 5 AM, and as Roan moved into my bed, shed a few tears and cuddled up under the blankets with me for another hour we even fell asleep before it was time to start the real morning. A few pop-tarts, a prepared lunch and two cups of coffee later, all the boys were set and happy, dressed and warm. Roan went off to school and I endeavored to create the cleanest home possible.

There’s just a thing in me that loves to clean when Anson leaves. Probably part coping mechanism and part busy work, I change all the bedding, clean all the bathrooms, mop the floors and wipe the surfaces. It’s usually a treacherous trick to do it when Smitty + Shepz are around because they love to “help”. Obviously because they are two, the most alluring job has something to do with the toilet, the blue stuff and a stick to stir it around. But today I found myself on a lucky streak with them both mesmerized by Toy Story on the TV, nestled into the couch.

Eyes on two at a time

Eyes on two at a time

Because I was going to have the vacuum on, I deadbolted the front and back door. I didn’t want them learning how to open doors and travel into Mother Brooklyn’s arms at the exact moment I was vacuuming their room, now, right? I was feeling confident that they’d be safe for the 5 minutes it would take me to get the downstairs floors finished. So finish I did, then flew up the stairs to check on them.

And there was only one. Sheppard was sitting on the couch, with Roan’s shoes on, a Batman mask, a diaper and nothing else. That’s normal. But Smitty? No Smitty. I walked into the kitchen. No Smitty. The bathroom, no Smitty. Down the stairs no Smitty, Roan’s room no Smitty, my room no Smitty, the twins’ room, no Smitty their closet no Smitty. Bathroom again, no. Stairs again, (but faster), no. Other bathroom no. Kitchen, no! Family room no, no no no no anywhere. I checked the door to make sure it was still locked though I could see the deadbolt was still thrown. It made no sense. This boy was gone. I couldn’t hear him, and Sheppard was laughing at me saying “Where’s Smith?!?!” like it was a game. Soon I was interjecting many of these: @$# @#$% @$#%, and that game just got funnier for Shepz.

There is usually either mischief or sadness.

There is usually either mischief or sadness.

So. A few things ran through my head. Someone has obviously climbed through the window, taken Smith, and left. I am going to have to call someone for help soon. Or could I just wait…? For him to show up? No! He’s two! I am the dumbest mother in the world. How can I lose my child in my home while the doors are locked? This doesn’t make sense. Check all the cabinets. Maybe he climbed up and into one? In desperation, I finally asked Sheppard slowly and deliberately, “Where. Is. Smith?”

To which he answered, “Poop.”

And then finally, I heard a tiny whisper from downstairs. One that said, “Mama. No. Mama. No.”

I flew down the stairs and called for Smitty to hear, “Mama. No!” again. In Roan’s room, in Roan’s closet, hidden under a pile of clothes . Sheesh. He was hiding from me. And Sheppard wasn’t wrong. He was pooping. And he wanted privacy. He really wanted to poop in his diaper, in his brother’s closet, under a pile of clothes, without his mother witnessing it.

Imagine if he knew I was sharing this with the world.

Probably for the best if Roan doesn't hear about this story. I believe the smell will be gone by the time he gets home.

Probably for the best if Roan doesn’t hear about this story. I believe the smell will be gone by the time he gets home.

Anyway. It’s interesting how long it takes my heart to go back to normal. I felt literally like I had run ten miles. The boys have no idea how their little impish senses of humor are going to age their mother. I am just saying this – from now on there will be stakes and leashes every time I leave the room. Or perhaps I will just continue to be at the mercy of two devilish saucy children. Heh, who am I fooling? Make that three. I am screwed.

 

Burning It Down

So. I started thinking about shutting Pistols + Popcorn down. Nothing has happened that I’m unhappy with, but there are a few things that bug me. Mostly all the PR pitches I get. Now, I could come across as self-important by saying that – I mean it comes across as sort of…”Oh, look at me I’m so important that all these companies want to partner up with me! ME! Yes, M-E!”

"Hey Pistols? Yeh, it's Popcorn..."

"Oi! I told you not to call me here!"

But it’s not like that. I know that all the corporations in the world have figured out that word-of-mouth is the best bet for their advertising dollar, and what’s more word-of-mouth than a Mommy Blog? Trusted and true. So they go after us, even if their product has nothing to do with our audience. It’s obvious that they don’t read the blog, most of the time, and then this sort of yucky “We LOVE what you do you will LOVE what we do and your readers will be GRATEFUL for the introduction” type of thing I keep getting. That’s probably why it grosses me out. I just don’t want to use my sons and our stories to sell stuff. That’s not why you stick with me, that’s not what you’re here for. And that’s definitely not why I’m here. Each email I get asking me to do it makes me a little more aware of all the advertising happening here, on the sidelines, and I’m just not down with it anymore.

What will we do without the millions of dollars of revenue she made?

I want to keep writing, and I want to keep it real. So I’m turning this into a commerce-free site, starting next week. I’m going to redesign this site (and when I say “I’m going to” obviously I mean “Anson is going to”) and reclaim all the real estate that has belonged to advertisers and big ultra-business. I’m burning it down to the ground where it’s just me and mine. And all of my readers are invited to hang with us, here in the ashes.

I suppose we will live off of juice sippy cups and love

I think I’m going to enjoy this place a lot more. Hopefully you will too. I will not accept anything to review, unless it’s a service actually provided by a friend, or a reader. Someone who really actually is invested here and wants to share something with me. And something I would actually talk about with friends. So pardon the quiet for just a little while, and come back in a few. Hopefully you’ll like what you see.