the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Early birds

I have mentioned before that Marlo has an internal clock that goes off at exactly 5:30AM every morning, never a minute before, never a minute after. Here’s where I could refer to her as a turd, but hey, that’s pretty damn consistent. A good quality in a human being. Add that to her other amazing qualities – 1) thinks farts are funny, and 2) understands that whiskey made outside of Kentucky cannot technically be referred to as bourbon — and you’ve got yourself right there a kid who is going to kill it in wood shop.

Because of this I’ve had to sacrifice (willingly) the ability to stay awake past 9PM, 9:30PM at the latest. And last week after attending the opening social at Alt Summit, only to return home a few minutes before midnight, I was like, dude, if I wake up and suddenly I’m a pumpkin, I want you to send a mean email to my fairy godmother and end it with a hearty UNFOLLOW!

That was the latest I had stayed up in a hundred years, and the following morning hit me in the face like the back of a frying pan. Mainly because my days are now a dead run from 5AM until my head hits the pillow at night with no breaks anywhere whatsoever. And I can handle this pace as long as I’ve got at least eight hours of sleep in my fuel tank. Yes, eight. I know that some of you are rolling your eyes because you eat people like me for breakfast, the one that you’re having after only 15 minutes of sleep, and that’s after four straight days of no sleep at all while running the government of a small country. You win.

Having said all this, I really cherish the time we spend together in those first quiet moments of the day, and it is these moments that were much of the motivation behind wanting another kid. Because OMG BABY. Marlo is a full on baby now. She is erupting with personality, one that resembles a sine curve, really soft and mellow all the way to DID I SAY YOU COULD LEAVE THE ROOM, WOMAN? I DIDN’T THINK SO.

And because she wakes up so early, we get to spend about an hour together, the three of us in bed, until Marlo has had about enough. She’ll grant us that hour, make it seem as if all our funny faces and voices are the reason she wanted to get up, but then she starts contorting her body in any way she can so that she can get a good look at the door. Because The Second Act is bound to come in at any moment, and if Leta sleeps in an extra minute or two Marlo will shoot toward the opposite end of that curve and it’s all WHERE ARE MY DAMN WAFFLE FRIES.

When Leta does stumble in, blear-eyed and hair a flame of tangles, she doesn’t say hello to us or even acknowledge our existence. It’s MARIO! MARIO! MARIO! and she hops up in bed so that her nose is touching Marlo’s forehead. Marlo’s reaction is so violent that you might think something was wrong. In fact, you might believe she was dying. Because she starts to hyperventilate and smack herself in the knees while simultaneously squawking like a chicken being tased in a bathtub.

Those two kids adore each other. And I’m not going to get all sappy on you, but the magnitude of it fills the room every morning. It is giant, mammoth, knock-you-over electrifying. And Jon and I deliberately remind ourselves to stop and soak it in, to be present for it, to push away the thoughts of the dead run ahead of us and admire the magnificence that is our children. Ok, I lied. I just got all sappy on you. MINUS TEN POINTS FOR ME.

  • Melodiofme

    2010/01/26 at 11:12 am


  • PunkinP

    2010/01/26 at 11:19 am

    Are those peace symbols on her jammies? Kewl!

  • WarsawMommy

    2010/01/26 at 11:19 am

    That is lovely…. a really touching image of a family. And I hope you and Jon will remember these moments when they are ready to kill each other over a lip gloss. Tell them this story and I bet they won’t believe it.

  • leafgirl

    2010/01/26 at 11:20 am

    I’m picturing the cookie monster, but instead of cookie, cookie, COOKIE its camera, camera, CAMERA!

    And aren’t sisters the best.

  • eleanorstrousers

    2010/01/26 at 11:25 am

    Oy. My aching uterus. Which now requires not one, but two, babies.

  • Teres42

    2010/01/26 at 11:30 am

    This reminds me of how my mom said my brother and I were as kids. I would be in the car seat when we would go to pick him up at the babysitter’s house (there is a three year difference) and mom said as I would throw a fit and start kicking my feet like a helicopter as soon as we rounded the corner. She said I looked up to him like no other which I find amusing since I’m 28 and still do to this day.

  • d3 voiceworks

    2010/01/26 at 11:31 am

    battery pack, shmattery shmack. give me the damn thing that you’re pointing at me.

    so cute! nearly as cute as my lio (10 mos, 3 wks). his sister adores him, too! same age diff as leta and mario.

  • jilllovesbacon

    2010/01/26 at 11:32 am

    This melts me. I’ve never felt the urge to have a child (much to the disappointment of my friends and family) but your videos and stories make me momentarily question that decision.

  • intheleftlane

    2010/01/26 at 11:33 am

    Marlo is a-freaking-dorable. Does she share her waffle fries?

  • CreatureofHabit

    2010/01/26 at 11:34 am

    I love this post – it hits home!

    My sister and I have been this way forever – they will be best buds. There will be some ups and downs once puberty hits (perhaps even a fist fight), but that love will grow and NOTHING will ever undo it. They are adorable!

  • zerpdog

    2010/01/26 at 11:38 am

    My daughter used to be thrilled every morning to see her little brother after he came home from the hospital. In fact she insisted taking a picture with him each morning. I have hundreds of pictures of them from all those mornings. Then when he turned 1 yr all bets were off. Once he could get into her things she no longer thought the world of him. Hope that doesn’t happen to you. Now my guys are 11 and 9 and there is little to no affection between them. A few days after my mother passed away she did tell him she loved him before bed and I thought I was dance all night long. But that was 3 weeks ago and nothing since.

  • mommaruthsays

    2010/01/26 at 11:39 am


    She is the cutest.

  • mommaruthsays

    2010/01/26 at 11:40 am

    Oh, and Leta too!

    Can’t forget the original cuteness!


    2010/01/26 at 11:40 am

    i love when you get sappy. your letters to leta are the whole reason i started reading your blog! i have a five month old and im seconding the OMG BABY.

  • rosieblankenship

    2010/01/26 at 11:40 am

    Heather – it’s very cool to hear how much in love you are with your kids! I hear you on the sleep front – the world has no idea of the pain it has avoided because I insist on sleeping 8 hours.

  • badgermeg

    2010/01/26 at 11:43 am

    Does Leta call Marlo “Mario” or is that a typo?

  • moveyourasana

    2010/01/26 at 11:47 am

    love it, those are the kind of moments i try to remember when my older 3 want to kill each other.

  • amie

    2010/01/26 at 11:49 am

    I want to tell you how cute this is but I am just so damn jealous that Marlo sleeps through until 5:00 AM while my 16 month old still wakes every two hours at best that I just want to cry instead.

  • mamatabea

    2010/01/26 at 11:51 am

    what’s wrong with sappy? 100 extra points…

  • Autumn Knapp

    2010/01/26 at 11:54 am

    LOL, “chicken being tased in a bathtub”!

    You are going to have SO much fun watching your girls grow together. My boys are 2 and 3 and it’s a blast watching them become good friends. And I’m an early bird too. My husband and I MUST HAVE 8 hours of sleep to function well, and so we have to be in bed by 9:30pm, so we can wake up at 5:30am and actually get things done before the boys wake up at 6:30. Some people think we’re a little odd for going to bed so early, but it works for us.

  • TexasKatie

    2010/01/26 at 11:58 am

    My ovaries just exploded.

  • kristanhoffman

    2010/01/26 at 11:58 am

    Nah, +10 for being funny, another +10 for video, and another +10 (times a trillion) for sharing your wonderful family moments with us. 🙂

  • jeninseattle

    2010/01/26 at 12:01 pm

    Actually, whiskey made outside of Kentucky cannot *legally* be called bourbon 🙂

  • jonapops

    2010/01/26 at 12:05 pm

    Thanks for this. You find so much joy in your children it makes me more excited about having my first one. I’ve been so sick AND my dissertation is due in three weeks. So excited is not something I am right now about being pregnant but this helps. Thanks again.

  • thecakemama

    2010/01/26 at 12:09 pm

    My daughters are six years apart. For a while I really worried about the age gap, until my youngest was about six months old. From that point on they entertained each other. Now they are almost 2 & 8 and play together constantly. Granted, there are more “Mom, she’s bothering me” moments, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.

  • TempestBeauty

    2010/01/26 at 12:11 pm

    This totally made me cry. I love your video, and Leta is amazing. AMAZING. Thank you for sharing.

  • My Baby Sweetenss

    2010/01/26 at 12:18 pm

    ooh – I kind of love the hippy peace sign jammies!

    Mine’s alarm seems to be set for 7:17 currently. Not 7:16. Not 7:18. 7:17 exactly. This is mommy’s girl – I totally follow the logic of I need to get up between 7:15 and 7:20, I’m not going to set my alarm for 7:15 when I could sleep 2 more minutes.

    Of course she’s also back to having an alarm set for just before 4, so don’t be too jealous of our “late” mornings.

  • jen.yaya

    2010/01/26 at 12:21 pm

    I think this post is awesome and it’s a great reminder to enjoy life while it’s actually happening and damn your kids are gorgeous… blah blah blah.

    But mostly, I wanted to tell you that I find those boots Chuck is wearing to be KICK FREAKING ASS. WANT!

  • Bored Housewife

    2010/01/26 at 12:25 pm

    I’m sure you’ve read this comment a thousand times, but IT GOES SO FAST! But my eight year-old still thinks farts are funny, so its all good.

  • Sassafras Mama

    2010/01/26 at 12:35 pm

    A world that offers that sort of happiness can’t be all bad. Thanks for sharing.

  • mybottlesup

    2010/01/26 at 12:41 pm

    this is not helping my current symptoms of baby-bug dissipate. should i take matters into my own hands, pull out my IUD, “forget” to tell my husband and find myself to be with child, i blame marlo.

    you understand of course.

  • SuzieQ1

    2010/01/26 at 12:44 pm

    This is what keeps the world on it’s axis!!

  • Bargain Junkie

    2010/01/26 at 12:44 pm

    When my son, Jonathan, was little, he used to ask me why he didn’t have any brothers or sisters, and I would say, “We didn’t have other children because we got the one I wanted.” This was almost true. Yes, Jonathan is my favorite person in the world but I would also have liked to have a little girl.

    The problem was that kids cost money. They demand things like college, and haircuts, and shoes. Jonathan got married last year, and I finally have the daughter I always dreamed of – and she’s already been paid for!

  • shellydk

    2010/01/26 at 12:48 pm

    Second kids are such a gift! I thought the second was just to translate the parents later in life, but we experience these moments as well. Last night by daughter strummed a ‘Happy Birthday’ song to my son on her guitar. I’m glad you’re enjoying them!

  • DiaryofaNewMom

    2010/01/26 at 12:58 pm

    My condolences. I’ve got a 5:30 a.m. riser, too. Sometimes 5:45 if we’re lucky. The worst is when he wakes his older brother. But it’s hard to be mad at someone in footy pajamas who’s grinning like a maniac w/ his 4 teeth. How I long for those 9/hr-a-night sleep fests I used to have, though…

  • AndreaP

    2010/01/26 at 1:00 pm

    She is so wonderful. What a fabulous way to spend your morning.

    Where did you get the amazing pajamas that Marlo is wearing? I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. Would like to get some for my baby girl.

  • The Dalai Mama

    2010/01/26 at 1:12 pm

    Isn’t it awesome. We have one child who is both a night owl and an early riser–we have her trained that at 5–freaking–am she can climb into our bed and And she does now until 7:30 usually–which is good for my hubby as I leave for the gym at 5:45 am. I can’t remember what 8 hours of sleep feels like. MMMM….

    My son and daughter react to each other with that wild, innocent love for each other and it is awesome.

  • dittoditto

    2010/01/26 at 1:19 pm

    My little sister and I were very similar in age difference to your girls. It’s a lovely age difference. I was old enough to understand who she was and absolutely adore her when she was born; I called her “my baby” and talked in a high little voice to her and played “mommy” with her. I was one of the only people that could make her laugh. As she grew up, we weren’t so far apart that we couldn’t play together. Sure, I got bossy from time to time, but she totally looked up to me so she didn’t mind doing whatever I said. When she was 3 and I was 7 or 8 we’d spend hours playing barbies, dolls, building forts, etc. As we got older, we were far enough apart in age that we didn’t fight over friends, clothes, boys, or other things sisters close in age get witchy about (My two best friends were only a year apart and believe me, they FOUGHT all through high school), but we were close enough to still be able to bond as sisters, play games together, etc. And now that she’s approaching her 20’s, our age difference is becoming almost negligible. We’re evening out 🙂

    I have heard so many parents say they want to have kids in rapid fashion (less than 2 years apart) so that their kids will grow up close, always have someone to play with, etc., but I personally wouldn’t mind an age difference of four years or more. It must be so nice to have the older one well out of diapers and able to understand the arrival of their little sibling when it happens (and maybe even be wishing for it, as they’re starting to get more independent and sick of all the extra parental attention-I know I was!) Oh, my sister and I still fought (mostly about her sneaking in my room and reading my diary or playing with my toys when she wasn’t supposed to) but we were NEVER competitive. Being perpetually in 2 different stages of life made it so that we were always experiencing different things and never felt the need to outdo each other. It was a nice way to grow up, and I hope the same for your girls.

  • nut_meg

    2010/01/26 at 1:23 pm

    Yes, what you said – stopping and taking it all in, being present, ALL OF THAT.

    My boys are 6 years, and 7 months. I am an avid reader and can relate to nearly every word you write.

    My oldest is equally enamored with my youngest as you have said Leta is with Marlo. What I am wondering now is … when will the shine wear off? Surely this happens? I don’t recall loving my siblings quite this much for quite so long. When does the throwdown begin?

    …not that I am waiting and wanting it, mind you.

  • Lauren From Texas

    2010/01/26 at 1:37 pm

    You let your BABY chew on BATTERIES?????


  • ckat22

    2010/01/26 at 2:06 pm

    ok. please do not misunderstand. i adore marlo. i really do! but i have to say – YAY! MORE LETA! i have missed that crazy (and crazy-smart) kid a lot lately … soo good to hear about (and see) her!

    thanks …

  • WanderingOne

    2010/01/26 at 2:08 pm

    Cherish that. They will start fighting like cats and dogs in no time at all. 😛

  • Shelly_b2

    2010/01/26 at 2:17 pm

    You are so awesome! Marlo is gorgeous-SO CUTE!!! I just wanted to tell you I love your writing and you make me laugh so hard 🙂 Keep up the good work!

  • Shelly_b2

    2010/01/26 at 2:22 pm

    Oh, and #40-Lauren is it? From Texas? More like twit from Texas, it’s a battery package! Did you see any actual BATTERIES in her mouth? Good grief.

  • kcbelles

    2010/01/26 at 2:27 pm

    Love the sap – keep it comin’, Heather. With babies, that’s so totally allowed.

    #33 – Bargain Junkie – loved your comment! “and she was already paid for!” Hilarious! I hope she appreciates a mother-in-law with a good attitude 🙂

  • carriecakes

    2010/01/26 at 2:31 pm

    Oh my goodness, Marlo is so adorable. I can really relate to what you are saying. We have a 5 1/2 year old son and a daughter who is just a couple of weeks younger than Marlo. It is completely awesome seeing them interact together! Makes all the craziness worth it! Oh, and my Josie’s internal alarm clock is 6am and I do not enjoy that one bit! But oh the precious smile when I go into her room in the morning, makes it a bit easier to take!

  • rrouse

    2010/01/26 at 2:38 pm

    Funny, I thought #40 Lauren was being totally sarcastic and #43 Shelly_b2 didn’t get it. I’d be interested to know who is right.

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the post.

  • SerenityNOW

    2010/01/26 at 2:41 pm

    She is a doll. A doll! I am doing that in my Grandma’s New Jersey accent.
    A daw-ohl!

  • MissCaron

    2010/01/26 at 2:46 pm

    OMG. I totally need at least 8 hours a night and people think I’m ridiculous. I’m soooo glad there is someone else out there who feels the same! Plus, Marlo is absolutely the cutest ever!!!

  • JanetP

    2010/01/26 at 2:47 pm

    Life is good!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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