The Great Escape

Do you ever have one of those moments where you stop and think, "Did that really just happen?  Really?"

One of those moments when you wonder if you're in a TV sitcom and basically the whole world forgot to tell you?

That feels like my life more often than not.

Especially last night.  And I've been told that I owe the world a blog with the details that surround this little Facebook post from 2:30 this morning.

I'm pretty sure that when Jason answered his cell phone at 1:30 AM, the last thing he was expecting me to say on the other end was "Come hold the baby so I can catch the hamster."
Posted by Ashley Harris on Sunday, October 25, 2015

It all started at midnight when I got up with the baby.  I'm not sure what's going on but this kid has gone from sleeping through the night with no problems (as long as he's not teething, congested, or dealing with an earache) to being up every two hours.  Last night was my night to get up first so I got up with him at 10:30 briefly and then again at midnight.  This one was not brief.  By 1:30 AM I had rocked the baby to sleep and laid him down four times.  And all four times he immediately woke up.  So I'm nearing my wits end when I hear what I suspect is my husband creeping down the hall.  Except he's being MUCH quieter than normal.  And except he never showed up.  So I continued to rock.  And then I heard footsteps in the hall again.  Much lighter this time so I wondered if it was Ty trying to keep from waking his brother.

The only problem with either scenario is that neither of my boys are this quiet.  And neither boy showed up at the door.  So, again, I continue to rock.

And then I heard a sound that I became all too familiar with last fall.  We had rodents of some sort that moved into the attic during the cold months last year.  Apparently when you keep gerbil food in the attic and the rodents looking for a warm place to bed down for the winter, your attic gets 5 star reviews from local pests.  I cringed as I heard what was obviously a rodent, whether squirrel or rat or whatever.  And then it dawned on me that the noise wasn't coming from above me, it was much nearer to the ground.

Obviously they must be in the walls because Link, the cat, is not a good host to any other type of animal in his home.  Which is why our recent addition, Sebastian, is kept behind closed doors when we're not home in a room that the cat is not allowed to go into.

But then I heard it again and it very distinctly sounded like it was coming from under the twin bed in Beckett's room.

I slowly crept up out of the rocking chair with the baby still in my arms and turned the flashlight on my cell phone on so that I could peek under the bed.

And then I saw them.

Two little eyes.

They stopped and looked at me.

"Well crud," I thought to myself.  My night just got a whole lot more complicated.  And it was much bigger than a small little field mouse that I would have considered the lesser of evils.  Obviously this was a rat.

And then it stood up on its back legs and I realized it wasn't a rat, and it wasn't just any rodent.  It was Sebastian.

"Double crud," I thought.  Letting the cat solve the problem obviously wasn't going to be a solution.  I would have to catch it.

I held the my phone with the light still on the hamster (who was doing a fantastic "deer in the headlights" impersonation) and dialed up The Husband.

"Hey Baby," he answered, "what's wrong?"

"I need you to come hold the baby so I can catch the hamster."

"Wait, what?" he responded.

I didn't know how to be clearer.  "I need you to come hold the baby so I can catch the hamster."

A minute later he came in the baby's room to find me crouched on the floor with the baby in my arms and my cell phone aimed under the bed.

"Take him in the living room and close the door," I told him.  I had this.  I knew I had this.  I've caught many a rodent in my day.  But I was sure hoping it wouldn't take an hour.  Fortunately, I had a terrified little hamster in my hands in just a matter of about five minutes.  And a wide-awake baby back in my arms in less than ten.

When I went to return Sebastian to his cage (which was on the top of a chest of drawers) I found the door to the cage wide open.  Either we have a Hamster Houdini on our hands or we have a little boy that wasn't careful to make sure the cage wasn't latched well.

Back into the cage he went and back to the rocking chair I went.

Finally at close to 2:30 I was able to get the baby to go to sleep and stay asleep.  But by that time my brain was wide awake.  I got back in the bed and my husband looked at me as if he was trying to decide if the whole hamster thing had been a dream.  I chatted away, speculating as to if the cage wasn't shut at all or if the latch just didn't get secured well.  The more I thought of it, and the more I heard Link's little jingle bell zooming around the room, the more I began to worry.  A cat is not a merciful creature when it has a live toy to play with.  They are also not worried about mess, either.  So I started worrying about how I was going to secure the cage.

I finally decided that if I had a clasp, I could put it around the door and the cage so that if it came unlatched, it couldn't swing open to allow the hamster out.  But where would I get one of those at almost 3:00 a.m.

And then I thought of the dog leash.  So up I was, and out to the garage I went.  I had just seen the leash a few days ago so I knew it was out there somewhere.  After searching everywhere I could, I snuck back into the house.

"Jason," I whispered.

"What is it?" he asked groggily.

"Where's the dog leash?"

"What?"  He was still groggy.

"Where's the dog leash?" I repeated.

"Why do you need the dog leash?" he asked.

"For the hamster."

He almost questioned it again.  Either he was too tired or he realized who he was talking to, he climbed out of bed and went out to the garage and retrieved the leash for me.  I then took it to Ty's room where I secured the gate closed.

I finally made it back to sleep at around 3:30.  And soon-after Jason was getting up with the baby.  Fortunately for him, his shift is never quite as exciting as mine.  But hey, I guess we at least got a story out of it.

Sebastian and The Great Escape.

#BeckettDean | Seven Months

I have completely and utterly failed as a Pinterest Mom.

I'm sure that's not surprise to those of you who actually know me.  I'm not one of those showcase moms whose pictures of her children are always these perfectly staged little masterpieces with unique backgrounds, perfect lighting, and no spitup or drool in sight.  That is not my life and I'll never pretend that it is.

In fact, in most of my pictures you can see stacks of laundry or random miscellany that needs to be put away.  That's about as mindful as I get when it comes to the pictures I take and post.  "If I shoot from this angle, you can't see that we haven't put laundry away in three days." 

That's my life. That's how we roll.

Which is probably why I am so terrible at taking the monthly pictures with the stickers.  There's just SO much that goes into them.  First, you have to find a space in your house that is clean.  Or you have to clear a space so that it at least appears that way.  Then you have to catch the baby at the right time of day and in the right mood.  Preferably after a nap but before a bottle (thus helping with the spit-up issue).  Then you've got to figure out how to set up the picture.  What do you want for a background, is the lighting tolerable, and how far back do I have to sit before I'm not casting a shadow on him?

And at 7 months, you throw into the mix the fact that the baby is no longer under any illusions that the sticker is just a part of his shirt.  To him it's a rare delicacy that must be sampled and gnawed on.  Except that you can't let him gnaw on it because it takes about 150 pictures to get 2-3 decent shots where there are no shadows and as little blurring as possible.  So you have to repeatedly take the sticker away, but you can't do it in a way that would make him mad because in the ideal picture you'd have a smile that showcased all four of his little teeth.

Oh yeah, and it's also helpful if he's looking at you.  And not licking the refrigerator.

So that was fun.

Which was when I went to tweak the brightness & contrast on the photos, I just decided to run a few effects on them to punch them up because (to me) there was a lot of humor in trying to get the pictures...and for memory's sake, I think it should show that.

So without further adieu, my 7 month old (for a few more days at least) little monkey.

30 Day Challenge | Abs

I finally reached that point.  It's been more than 7 months since I had the baby and while I've technically lost all of my baby weight...I am certainly not in the shape that I need to be in to wear my pre-baby clothes.  And even pre-baby, there were many items in my closet that I wasn't in good enough shape to wear without being self-conscious.

Last week I decided that I needed to challenge myself.  I wandered over to to see what they had and sent some to my husband for his input.  I was at a tossup between the 30 day Abs Challenge and the 30 day Ab & Squat Challenge; the husband recommended I start with what I was most unhappy with, so the ab challenge it was.

Last week I started the challenge and The Husband decided that he'd do it along with me since he's been dropping weight like it's something he just does for a hobby.  Days one and two were so simple that I did them once in the morning and once in the evening.  On day three I made the mistake of checking out what I was working towards.

If you think you might do one of these challenges, I wouldn't recommend looking at Day 30 until you're on Day 29.  Just don't do that to yourself.  Don't even look at it now.  I know you want to, but it's a disaster waiting to happen and you'll just give up on the whole thing altogether.  

Don't.  Do.  It.


But I did.  The only saving grace was that Day 4 was a rest day.  And the fact that The Husband was doing the challenge along with me and my competitiveness won't let me quit it while he perseveres on and continues to get his body in better shape than mine is in.

Smart guy, he knew what he was doing when he "just decided" to participate along with me.

Today, we're on Day 7.  I'm both looking forward to it and not looking forward to it.  Following Day 7 is rest day, so that's nice.  But the thing I like about this challenge is that if I can push through the sit-ups, I feel like the rest of the exercise is a downhill coast.  I can't do very many situps, but I can handle the crunches and the leg raises and the planks.  So when I start to struggle with the sit-ups, I first remember what I went through while getting dressed that morning (and yesterday was a particularly bad day in the getting dressed department), and then I remember that once I'm done with the sit-ups, I'm basically done with the worst part of the workout (in my opinion.)

I've not seen any physical benefits from the challenge yet, I'm still at the same weight and fitting all my clothes in the same way, but one week isn't really a point in which I would start to see progress.  I consider this the warm-up period.  I think I will take some pictures tonight so that I can compare them to Day 30.

I've decided that after this challenge I'll do another one.  It'll be a good way to get myself into the shape I feel I need to be in, especially through the winter months when it's all too tempting to just sit on the couch and enjoy a book in my fleece footie PJs.

If you're interested in joining in, check back in a few weeks and I'll try to post what my next challenge will be.  We can do it together!  (I'm also game for suggestions, so check out and let me know where you'd like to see some results for yourself!)

What do you do when you're at the end of your rope?

The last few days have been trying. As a mom, as a wife, as an individual.

And I'm sure if Beckett could talk, he would agree that they were especially difficult as a baby, too. 

Last night, after three nights of little-to-no sleep and three days of having another body physically attached to mine, I felt like I was at the end of my rope.  This precious, wonderful little baby was fighting an ear infection and all he wanted was his Mama to make it better.  And Mama was at the point that all she wanted was a good night's sleep in her own bed without anyone touching her.

I was laying in bed listening to Jason try to get Beckett to sleep (for the fourth time) through the baby monitor and I was crying as I typed the following Facebook Status.

These babies will never understand the sacrifices of a mom. We give up our hearts for them the second we know they...
Posted by Ashley Harris on Monday, October 19, 2015

I was physically and emotionally exhausted.  My shoulders, back, and neck were killing me from three days and three nights of sleep loss and stress. And I knew I was looking down the barrel of a fourth night. I had already put him down twice and Jason had put him down once. Each time he woke up almost instantly, even though he had been snoring heavily only moments before. The only thing I could think to do was to cry.

And then I felt bad for crying, because I was also so grateful. Sure, he'd been fussy and clingy, but he was clinging to me. When he would throw his head back in tears, he would then turn his face to me and curl up into me because he knew I would hold him and comfort him. This wasn't his 'normal', this wasn't how it would always be, this was just how it is for now. And then I thought about it from his little perspective. For as tired and torn down as I felt, I can only imagine what he must have been feeling. At least I knew what was wrong with him, at least I knew there was an end in sight. Realizing that made it a little easier for me to tug on my big girl panties.

The last few days have been trying. Last night was no better than the three before it. I was and am at the end of my rope. But I realized last night that when you get to the end of your rope, you have two choices. Let go, or tie a knot.

It's easier to hang in there if you tie a knot.


Our family got one family member bigger last night.

Ty's school is participating in #onebookonedistrict, where grades K-5th are all reading The World According to Humphrey, a cute little book about a Hamster who finds new friends and adventures as the class pet in Room 26.

Just as every other child in our school district has been doing, Ty has been asking for a pet hamster since the day we started this book.  And last night I let him spend some of his birthday money to get one.  We already had the cage, the ball, the food bowl, and the water bottle.  We just needed some fresh food and a hamster.  So, on the way home from our search for the perfect pumpkin for his storybook pumpkin project, we came home with a hamster instead of a pumpkin.

Funny how that works, right?  My husband thought it was especially funny....

On the way home, Ty and I were discussing names.  His initial choices were Blake or Fiona, but he really liked Sebastian an Amadeus which were the names of some beagles that he had when he was younger.  He dismissed them, though, because we'd already used them.

"Why not name it Sebastian or Amadeus?" I asked him, "If you loved them, what better honor could you give them than to name another pet after them?".

I guess Ty thought it was a 'one and done' kind of thing.  A name could only ever be used once, which is a good rule when naming children but didn't seem overly necessary to me with pets whose timelines didn't overlap.

"Which one was the one that barked all night long and kept me awake?" Ty asked me.

"That was Amadeus." I told him.

"Okay," he responded, "Sebastian it is!"

We got Sebastian home and got the old gerbil cage out of the attic and cleaned it out, added some fresh bedding, fresh water, and a bowl-full of food.  When his home was finally clean and ready, Ty introduced Sebastian to his new home.

He quickly climbed up into the enclosure at the top of his cage and then down to his food bowl and water bottle.  After a few minutes, he discovered his wheel and went for a quick spin.

We put the cat away (no worries, the cat isn't allowed in the boys rooms so Sebastian should be safe in Ty's room as long as he doesn't become an escape-artist like Humphrey!) and put his cage in the living room so that we could watch him for a little bit.

At bedtime, we moved him to the top of the chest of drawers in Ty's room, which is where his cage will likely stay.

This morning Ty came into the bathroom, acting a little more tired than usual.

"How did Sebastian do last night?" I asked him.

"We should have named him Amadeus," Ty told me, sleepily.

Apparently his new hamster was a 'little rat' that spent the evening celebrating his new home on his new wheel!

And so begins the adventure!