Monday, December 30, 2013

picture perfect?

" Draw that yell out a little longer & keep your fist clenched like you want to hit me.  I'm just going to go grab my camera."  Said no mom ever.  I was feeling a little fake tonight about posting only adorable pictures of my adorable boys on instagram & facebook.  Any look at a pic and one would think they frolic through snow & are always near one another with loving & sweet smiles.  They could surmise that we spend time outdoors enjoying the beauty that abounds or that we whittle the days away at our local coffee shops.

But, of course we all know that social media only allows for a glimpse of real life.  It is almost impossible to share your life it it's entirety the good, the bad & the ugly.  There literally has never been one time during a tantrum or throw-down, by either of my boys, that I have paused & thought that I should document the moment.  Typically I would be A. ignoring them seeing if they could realize it is a "small" problem to be called a baby by your brother & that they could work it out amongst themselves.  B. Sending up a quick prayer & counting to 10 so that I don't also throw a tantrum or C. Referring, negotiating and/or playing the part of a judge.  (Also known as parenting.)

The moments that I do long to capture are when they are being sweet or having a lot of fun or enjoying a new experience.  Those moments are not always the norm.  They are fleeting & precious & I want to cherish them & have them be in our memories.  The other moments are not so sweet & happen fairly regularly so remembering them is not the problem.  The problem for me is that sometimes they cloud my memory causing me to have amnesia abut the great times.  Maybe it's just me, but do you ever have an awesome day with your kids & then the last few hours are less than awesome & then said less-than-awesome tries to take off with your earlier awesomeness & you are left feeling like the entire day was a total fail & you are full to the brim (or is it rim) with & coulda, woulda, shouldas? The tears & the tones of the end of the day try to tarnish the triumphs of earlier?

Hence why I think that often, we as moms, do take & share the tender & cute pics of our kids.  Not because we are trying to outdo someone else, not because we are superficial & only want to put our best faces out in cyberspace, but because we want to freeze that moment in time.  To treasure the look & surroundings of the moment so that we remember it isn't always hard or loud or whiny or messy.  Sometimes it is actually really great & enjoyable & we see the character of our kiddos & see that their hearts are growing & learning & we want to hold on to that.  We know the discouragement will creep in either prancing or pouncing on us eager to take away the glimpses of goodness we see in our kiddos.  We know that it is a tug-of-war to remember the good midst the not-so-good at the days end.  It can be a struggle to hold on to the awesome moments of our days, but those moments are ours for keeps.  We get to choose whether we give them up or hold them tight.  It is a good reminder for me the next time I wonder why someone always post's picture "perfect" shots of their family.  I get it.  They are holding on to the what is rightfully theirs & I am going to try to be thankful they are choosing to share a bit of their awesomeness with the rest of us.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

being known.

I am still reeling from the outpouring of love our family received the other day.  It brought me to my knees quite literally.  Weeping with snot all over my face.  I don't know who coined the term "ugly cry" but I am pretty sure that was what they were referring too.  It is like when you are so overcome with emotion you are crying & your nose is running all while you are maintaining something that resembles a smile. Not.Pretty.  But a real & raw response to the love that knocks you over.  The kind that can only be the hand of God working through others.  If you've ever experienced it for yourself you know what I am referring to & if not you can hope that one day you do.

My family has been living in lean financial times for what seems like forever.  Although I have vague memories of buying clothes I never wore & eating out all of the time so I know it couldn't have actually been  But 2009 was a long time ago & so much has transpired since then.  Jobs have been lost.  Houses have been lost.  Babies have been born. Bills have been juggled.  Moves have been made.  And that is just in our little family of four so you can imagine why it feels like it has been a lifetime ago.

As weary as it has been & although some days it may feel like it will always be as this we have experienced things that I can only imagine few do.  We have been provided for in such ways that certainly it comes from heaven above because no earthly math works that way.   We have had so many anonymous gifts that it is stunning to me to know that so many people act out of the prompts on their hearts to do something for others.  It is so encouraging & inspiring to hold everything we have with an open palm, because I, who always thought I was a fairly generous person, never knew generosity until this season.  I almost think it must take being on the humbling end of receiving to know what it truly means to give.

A tiny part of the above mentioned outpouring of love I believe is due to the fact that I  gave myself permission to admit that it was hard that it was always hard.  That the hours were short, the clothes were spent, the shoes were warn & the hearts were heavy.  Maybe it is just me, but although I love being real just as much as the next person, sometimes I find myself hesitating sharing what is going on because I fear that I will come across as a "complainer" or because of my pride.  I want to hide behind my "grateful heart is a happy heart" t-shirt & keep on keeping on, because I am living the hard I certainly don't want to hear myself talking about it or think about it anymore than necessary.  But can we just get over ourselves for a minute & realize that part of sharing about what is going on with us actually has nothing to do with us?  It is about the others. The people in our lives who love us & care for us & want to know us.  Don't we want to be known?  Don't people crave that acceptance to be known & valued by their people so much that they do all kind of crazy things to accomplish it when all that it really may take is by opening up & letting others see who we are & what we are going through?  The good, the bad & the ugly.  We weren't meant to live such individualistic lives behind locked doors & closed blinds.  We were meant to live in the open, on the porches, in community.  When we are behind the closed blinds who knows when we have a need & who is there to rejoice & celebrate with us when that time comes?  Is there anything better than sharing some fantastic news with someone & having them be as equally as excited about it for you as you are about it?  If we don't allow ourselves to share what could be a possibility then when that possibility  becomes a reality who is rejoicing along side you?!

I think sharing about what is truly going on with us good or bad is something we all get amnesia about (or maybe it's just me & this whole thing just got really awkward).  It is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life & give the rote answer that everything is "good" when someone asks.  We go through life coasting from one event or errand to the next without considering what the person in the car over is going through.  We forget that everyone has a story whether in their family, marriage, job or otherwise.  I find myself doing this with my own boys at times.  I know they are right there in front of me, but I don't always actually see them.  What a difference it would make if we were all to slow down just enough to start seeing those around us.  To consider the question before firing off the answer. To pause long enough to hear the answer after we have posed the question.  I think it does take courage to let others in.  It does take some bravery to remove the mask & share an honest truth.  But the thing it we aren't alone.  Everyone is going through something.  Everyone is having a struggle no matter what it may appear on their instagram or facebook accounts.  We can choose what we put out for people to see or hear.  But if we hold back not only are they missing out, but most likely we are too.  This time of year as so many search for something significant might one of the greatest gifts you give be a bit of yourself?


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Why is it even called potty training?  It should be called potty & poop on the floor week. Whatever you call it isn't not for the faint of heart.  Can you tell what we've been doing at our house the last few days?  Our youngest son turned 3 last month & up until this point we haven't tried potty training.  Like at all.  We knew early on that he did things only when he was good & ready to do them. This goes for crawling, rolling, walking, talking.  Seriously he didn't utter nary a word until we were at a well-check appointment & his pediatrician started mentioning speech therapy & how we should probably look in to it.  I kid you not he started to speak later that day.  I don't know if it is just because he works on his own time table or that he doesn't want to try something until he has mastered it, but we knew that if we tried to get out of diapers before he was ready to do it then we would be miserable.  And if you have potty trained before you know that you don't need to add anything else to the experience to make it more miserable.

Am I being too negative?  Nope.  Not unless  you enjoy setting a timer or asking a kiddo every 15 minutes if they need to go potty?  Like from the time their eyes pop open until their head hits the pillow again that night.  Do you get a thrill out of slipping in a puddle of pee that you forgot was still on the kitchen floor?  Do you enjoy running to the bathroom with a crying child in your outstretched arms who is soaking wet from the waist down socks included.  Perhaps you get a kick out of picking up pieces of poop that have fallen through your child's pant legs on to the living room floor?  Doesn't sound that fun to me yet I am choosing to live it, because that is what we do.  We help our kids learn how to move on to the next step in life even if that step is a slippery one.

And I know that he will eventually get it & that we will be done with diapers.  Hallelujah.   I know that it could be worse.  Really it could be. Our oldest son would just stop playing long enough to say "there is some poop over there by the train table that needs to be picked up, mom." Awesome.   I know that most kids don't want to go to the  bathroom in their very cool Jake the Pirate undies.  I know that nothing is fun about your mom all up in your face all day asking if you" want to squeeze some potty out of your penis."  And yes I said that.  No one ever tells you you are going to say stuff like that when you are in your birthing class.  It is like all modesty has left the building.  Seriously we currently have our potty seat set up in the kitchen because it is more central to where we spend the majority of our time in the house.  There it sits and there he sits reading his pile of books while I do the dishes or whatever else needs to be done.  Classy. Convenient.

This is an exciting time when every success gets applause & candy & there are stickers & it is so great.  Why would any kid in their right mind want to rush this process along?  He is smart.  He sees his brother goes to the bathroom day in & day out without any fanfare.  He realizes the accolades come to a stop at some point so why not take advantage of the candy before bedtime & the hanging out naked in the kitchen reading books phase?

I know that this is just one of the many phases of raising kiddos that the days are long, but the weeks are short.  I know that he will spend more time in life out of diapers then he ever did in them.  I also am pretty sure that he won't ever thank his father & I for the time & effort & cleaning products we put into potty training him.  I don't believe American Greetings makes that card.  So for now I am thankful that today's "training" is over, that we didn't have any accidents in public & that even though I sent him to church in a pink pull-up he still loves me.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Oh, how I love words.  I always have.  I believe it started early for me as I had a brief run as a spelling bee competitor.  Yes, you read that right.  Competitor not champion.  My run ran out early at Trentwood Elementary.  I wish I remembered the word I misspelled that ended it all for me.  Now even I almost can't believe that I was in a few different spelling bees as I am the one when writing, typing, texting who calls across the house to my husband "How do you spell spectacular?"  I am so thankful to now have a grown-up phone ( I was one of the last people I knew without a smart phone until just the other day after loosing an hour of life at the Verizon mall kiosk) with spell check! I am pretty sure it is going to change my life.

I have also always loved putting words to paper.  I was the little kid who spent summers sending in poems & short stories to Highlights Magazine. I remember typing away at my sister's electric typewriter (which was her luxury purchase back in the 80's when my dad won the lottery & they gave each of us kids a small portion to do with what we wanted) I just loved hearing the whir of her typewriter start up & the loud tapping noise it would make as  you selected each letter.  I was so thrilled when she finally let me start using it a few years later.  Some of the shine was gone but that machine still (literally) hummed. I remember spending later summers working on my "Great American Novel".  Creative writing was always my favorite class in school & at one point after high school graduation I had a writing assignment with a golf magazine.  That is when I realized that unless it is something I am passionate about the words don't' come.  Alas, my writing career came to an early retirement.

Reading words has to be one of my favorite ways to interact with them.  I have devoured books every since the Sweet Valley High days (I can't be the only elementary school girl who LOVED those twins)  & have continued gobbling them right up to now when I read things like Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See & Dr. Seuss to  my tiny people.  Nothing thrilled me more when my eldest son started having the reading bug. He was so excited about getting his library card & having the ability to be able to select & check-out his very own books.  I am thinking that my younger son may not share our enthusiasm for all things written.  I was trying to motivate him with rewards for potty-training & even told him he could even get his very own library card if he would.just.go.on.the.potty.  Turns out for that 3-year-old the library card was not the way to his heart (shocking).  Looks like the way to his heart is paved by chocolate chips.  

The spoken word is a little more elusive to me.  It isn't that I have a lack of words to say (just ask my husband) it is more like words that come out of my mouth are sometimes shrouded in mystery. I don't always know where they have come from where they are headed.  Maybe it is just me, but sometimes I wish I could delete words that I have just said kind of like how you can delete your status update on Facebook.  If you are my friend on Facebook you are aware that I don't' have much of a filter.  I like to endearingly call it "keeping it real" but to be honest pretty much any emotion or thought that I have near a computer just pops out.  I am so incredibly thankful that the only social networking that was around when I was a teenager was my parents rotary phone, because that would have been a disaster to share a permanent record of my teenage drama with the world.  

I have been more sensitive to the words I speak as I am realizing that my boys are going to be able to remember everything from this point on.  No longer can we laugh & say good thing he won't remember, because they.will.  Everything.  Isn't that a frightening thought?  Situations & exchanges that I have with my boys are something that they may someday share with their friends, kids, co-workers!  I was remembering that with fresh awareness the other day when I was forcing my child to take a shower so we could wash his hair with tea-tree shampoo the second he walked in the door from school since I had just learned that his school was having a lice outbreak.  For this first time elementary student mom the very thought  So what does any freaked out mom do, but throw their kid in the shower before he had a chance to even take his backpack off (not really that would be a little much) frantically scrubbing the thought of lice away.  He didn't & doesn't have it, but hearing it was in the same county as his precious head was enough to set-me off.  As we were both crying in the bathroom I was struck with the thought He is never going to forget this moment.  Yikes.  I so wish I could remember that each time I was about to open my mouth & let a sigh, a frustration or a nag out.

Words have the ability to be so encouraging & uplifting.  A kind word from  someone can change the entire course of your day.  Just as quickly a damaging word can give your shoulders a slump & have your giddy-up loose it's giddy.  Thinking about the "power" of words is nothing new to people.  I know this.  But, for me I think the thought of being mindful before I open my mouth is.  I have the verse from James about being "slow to speak" on a post-it & that is something I really want to practice. I want to model that for my boys. I want to be able to not say "No!" right away without really even hearing what they are asking.  I also want to model how with some words it is okay for them to come quickly. Words like "I'm sorry & please forgive me."  Those are words that I want people in my house to be able to say with quickness & with ease.  It's the other 20, 000 words a day that I say that I think I would be wise to speak at a little more of a leisurely pace.  A friend & I have " a thing" (all good friends should have a thing) where we try & count to 10 after the other person has finished their thought so we don't run the risk of interrupting them because we both have such fabulous things to say that often our words end up tumbling over one another.  Wouldn't it be great if we all started waiting 10 seconds before speaking, replying or scolding.   What if we really thought about what we were saying & the impact we wanted our words to have?  What if we took that few seconds to think about whether we wanted our words to give life to the other person or if what we were intending to say would have the opposite effect.  What if we took those moments to wonder what we would want to hear in that same situation?  Maybe it's just me but that " 10-second delay" sounds like one that may be well worth the wait.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


"What are you doing with what He gave you?"  That is the post-it note I see first thing when I awaken each day.  That is what I see when I am looking in my closet to figure out what to wear for the day.  It is one of the last things I see before my head hits the pillow at the end of the day.  It is something that I am constantly seeing, but I  am wondering lately do I really read it?  Absorb it?  Reflect on it?  Live it?  I initially wrote it down when I was reading a book by Francis Chan & he was challenging his readers to make the most of what they have been given.  To truly live & embrace life as the fleeting gift it is.  "Making the most of every opportunity."  Ephesians 5:16.  

Why is it so easy for me to get amnesia about how precious each moment I am given is?  Why is it that I don't truly grasp that this day could be my last?  It is like I get glimpses of that truth & then it gets further & further away lost in the sea of dishes, laundry & to-do lists.  I don't think I am the only one who forgets this certainty.  If others, myself included, lived like this was true we would spend less time on our phones & Facebook & more time living with the people right in front of us.  We would not be so quick to become unglued when our kiddos do something mildly irritating & completely age appropriate.  We wouldn't get so frazzled when we were in line for gas at Costco & you see the truck with Canadian plates pull out 3 gas containers out of the back that also need fuel & you regret not changing lanes when you had the chance.  Because now this means like an additional 10 minutes. In your car. Doing.nothing.  Oh, the agony!

In all seriousness though why does it take a senseless tragedy or a diagnosis to make me hug my boys a little tighter?   When I hear of devastating things that happen often my first thought it to shout " Eek!  Why did I just spend an hour watching Parenthood  on Hulu instead of reading my Bible or making snack bags for the homeless?!  Why did I send my son off to school with a snarl rather than a snuggle?  I tend to over think my past actions & wonder what in the world am I doing with my life?  I am a mom.  That is where I am at.  I am not able to go off & serve in Africa right now. I am not able to leave my family every night to go & seek out people on the street who may not have had a kind word said to them in days.  But, it is no excuse that I am a mom.  I have countless opportunities that I am accosted with each day that could be abundant & meaningful & could have the potential to be life altering.

 When a day goes from ordinary to tragic in the blink of an eye how do we live the rest of our days without taking them for granted?  And is it possible to live in such a way when such a tragedy hasn't befallen you?  Do the people that #yolo have it all figured out?  Is there some additive that I can put in my morning cup of coffee that will remind me throughout the day that I can invite the glorious into the mundane & make each day count even if it is full of errands & poopy diapers?  Can I have a "bad" mommy moment & choose to seek forgiveness from my tiny people & move on into a better moment without carrying the guilt & regret along with me?

Life is so hard. So messy & so short.  It is also so beautiful & full & lovely.  Sometimes there seems no way for my finite mind to comprehend how the two can coexist.  How can I teach my  children to embrace each day when I myself don't know how to go about it. I don't have all the answers, but I know that this life isn't a dress-rehearsal.  I also know that each moment of each day we are presented with a choice.  It is up to us what we do with those choices.  I am thankful that even when the choices we've made previously were shroud in the cloak of amnesia that it is never too late to start anew & make the most of the next opportunity we've been given.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Lock down.

I have officially entered into lock down mode.  So sorry, but no I can not watch your kids. Sorry, but no I can not go out to coffee one night this week.  Haven't you heard?  Levi is about to start all day every day kindergarten and life as I know it is about to come to change.  Any normalcy that I can cling to I am a clinging to.  Life is shifting & will forever change & I don't have any way to prepare for it other than go into lock down mode.  May not be the healthiest way to deal with rapidly approaching change, but whateves it's how I roll.

I did the same thing when we were about to welcome our second son into our family.  The bonus of having a scheduled c-section is that you know when & where you are going to meet your kiddo for the first time so leading up to said time you are able to somewhat "prepare" or lock down depending on your preference.  I was able to hold on to the last bit of family of threesome as I could before we officially became a foursome.

Earlier in life I went in to lock down before we moved across the country. I visited my favorite restaurants, saw the peeps I saw on a regular basis.  Cherishing the every day.  The norm.  Not necessarily on a weepy good-bye tour, but soaking in the moments that made up my life.  Doesn't mean I still didn't have to pack boxes or talk with my realtor, but it did mean that those preparations we had to make to accommodate the change didn't get to steal any moments away from my time remaining in my current season.

The thing is later this week when every day all day begins everything is going to change.  Our weekends, our weeks, our days, our mornings & our nights.  Nap times for Lukie will be cut short to go to school, mornings will be rushed to go to school, bedtime will be earlier so we can go to school.  So instead of filling up these final days with grand adventures to say farewell & rather than have practice days of timing how quickly junior can get up & dressed & out the door with my stop watch I prefer to stay in pj's until 10, watch a movie & enjoy one another.  I don't want to commit to doing anything other than that.  Hence the lock down.

Lock down mode could also be seen as burying my head in the sand, not "preparing" enough, denial, or what have you, but whatever name you put to it let it be known that I am preparing for the change the only way I know how.  By savoring the norm, soaking in the every day & slowly saying good-bye to a season that I have cherished. One that has had it's fill of difficulties, arguments & negotiating,  But it has also had it's fill of throwing rocks into the ocean, meandering walks down the trail, getting to go to the library or park whenever it struck our fancy & lots & lots of laughter. Alas, lock down it is.  Committing this past season to memory & enjoying what bit of it we have left.

Friday, August 23, 2013


I didn't even see it coming. It hit me like a freight train.  Not one lumbering around the bend, but one going full speed ahead & hitting head on.  I took my eldest to a jump-start day at his elementary school today.  It was a three hour day to get the kindergarten students, teachers & I assume maybe most of all the parents a little taste of what was to come once all day every day school actually starts in a couple of weeks.

My lil' guy was so excited as we walked up the street to the school.  He had been ready to go since he bounced out of bed earlier that morning.  I on the other hand experienced a few tears at the prospect.  They didnt' really take me by surprise & they were brief & proud of what a big little boy he is becoming.

Once we entered the school he started to show some apprehension.  We were greeted at the door right away by a friendly & very loud woman.  His answers to her questions were so quiet.  Oh no I began to think.  He doesn't want to be here. He is scared .  But he followed her to the check in spot & quietly took it all in.   The rooms, the various hallways, the other kiddos clinging on to their parents hands.  If you knew him you would not be surprised that he took it all in quietly.  That is how he rolls.  When he was tiny we would venture out to new playgrounds & I had would have to hold myself  back from pushing him forward to the toys.  He would prefer to soak it all in from the edge of the wood chips, thank you very much.  He did the same thing at the beach the first few times years.  Play in the lake?  No, thank you.  Holding his ground there on the edge of the sand where he  could still see the path back to where the car is parked was just fine & dandy for him.

We got him checked in & made our way into a room filling with some kiddos his size.  There were a few tables almost full & a couple of empty ones.  He chose to sit at an empty table.  He looked so tiny & so timid & so uncertain.  I explained to him how his brother & I were going to go & was he ready to have an awesome day & see us later?  "Not yet" came the quiet words.  Punch me in the gut & hold back the tears, because that is what it felt like when his answer made it's way to my ears & my heart.  So we looked at a book together for a moment until he spotted a friend he knew from preschool.  I saw his face light up & knew he would be fine.  He said bye with a quick glance  & that was it.  His brother & I came to the spot where we had parked the stroller & as he got situated in his seat w/his various transformers & decepticons (that is boy talk for toys) that had come along for the 2 block ride a teacher smiled at me.  And.I.Lost.It.  I said is it okay that I want to cry?  She gave me the sweetest, it looks like this is your first time doing this smile, & proceeded to tell me of her own gushing experience with her little guy.  I thanked her for her kindness & got out to the street & that was when the above mentioned train hit me.

I felt a sense of immediate & powerful loss.  I had not expected it nor did I really understand it at that point.  But, it was real & raw loss & I ached.  My boy.  My can-raise-my-blood-pressure-like-no-one- else-boy.  My first born who has morning breath like a dragon, but I don't care because that is the only time he wants to cuddle boy.  He was sitting in that building getting further & further behind me & that was where I knew he needed to be, but I couldn't see straight for how much it hurt to walk away from him.

The entire day I was an on & off again mess.  By that I mean that I cried all day long.  Later in the day he was talking about how awesome school was, how he wanted to stay forever & how he couldn't wait to go back.  That made me cry too.  Seriously?  I know that is the best case scenario.  I want him to like it.  Right away.  I don't want him to be sad or to miss me (doesn't look like that is going to be a problem), but it just tore me up inside to hear him going on & on about how great it was.  He has been my buddy & companion for the last almost 6 years.  We have done everything together.  He was almost 3 when his little brother was born so there was a lot of time spent in that three years of togetherness.  There are not very many memories I have in the last few years that he wasn't in.  And here he is now planning on making a lot of new memories.  Ones that I will not be in.  I know he is ready, I know he needs the challenge & I know that for our family having him in public school kindergarten is the right decision.

I didn't' anticipate the loss nor could I have prepared for it.  It is impossible to be totally prepared for something you have never experienced before. Just like have a baby.  Or having a second.  There is just no way to be totally prepared.  My husband was kind of at a loss to know what to do with me. He suggested I phone a  friend & talk it through with her.  He didn't want to risk me getting mad at him, because he couldn't identify what I was going through (smart man).  But, as I told him, just because it was unexpected & it feels so lousy right now doesn't mean it is wrong to feel this way.   I just need to sit on it for a few & then I know that I will move on from it & get excited to go grocery shopping with just one kiddo or only have to pay for one childcare at the gym or get to be closer buddies with my other fella.  But as far as today goes it is okay to be sad.  To hold on to it a bit before the new season we are in starts to bloom.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

upside down.

Do you ever have those days when it's just not working for you? The parenting that is.  Tried & true methods that have always worked in days past fall flat. You are in a quandary as to what to try next, because  That pretty much sums up my day.  And when I have upside down days like these I often get down on myself.  It must be due to something I am doing or not doing.  Why am I not doing a good job as my kiddos mom?   Why won't they listen to me?  That's it.  I need to be more authoritative.   No I need to be more loving.  Why is today so hard?  What am I doing wrong?

It began with me taking my boys to the Country Club.  Never would have ever dreamed of writing such a thing much less actually doing it.  But, in our town word on the street is that is where you take your kiddos if you want them to learn how to swim.  So you go to the country club for 30 min each day for two weeks & apparently their magic waters & instructors turn your little ones into fish!  I sat by a mom today who said she had tried swimming lessons for her 6-year-old 3 different times elsewhere & they could never get her to put her head under water.  At the country club she got in the pool & Bam! put her head under water & came out smiling.

I was hoping the same magic would befall us as my son wanted nothing to do with it.  In fact last night when I asked him how he felt about it he gave it two thumbs down.  Literally.  He took both of his tiny thumbs & pointed them downward towards the floor.  At that point mama started to get a little worried since the payment had already been signed, sealed & delivered so I sat quietly, not wanting to freak him out with my frantic questioning, & gave my husband the eyebrow trying to get him to say something manly & encouraging to the downcast lad to get him hyped up about the COUNTRY CLUB LE$$on$!

Morning approached & as we entered the pool area we saw a few familiar faces.  He found out he would be in class with one of his life long pals & I could see the tension releasing from his shoulders a bit.  Fast forward 5 minutes & Bam! he was loving it! Magic water indeed.

Then it happened.  Time to go.  I had given a 5-minute warning.  Said warning expired so I gently let him know it was time to roll.  Everything that if I had my parent handbook would have instructed me to do given the circumstance.  Except that it didn't work.  His reply was simply "No."  What?!  Who's kid is this?  I told him again (assuming he had water in his ears) & he again stood his ground that he didn't want to go, thank you very much.  I was kind of in shock, because this isn't his typical response & because we were at the country club & because other people were watching & because I got it. I would rather be swimming & laughing with my friends instead of going grocery shopping, but sorry buddy mama has to do what mama has to do & at 5 sometimes you are just along for the ride.

Since I didn't want to be that one mom who yelled at her son at the country club I did the next "logical" thing I took his little brother & we said goodbye & walked away.  Only big brother didn't get the memo that he was supposed to clamor out & follow after me at that point.  When I looked back he was having a fantastic time with his friends.  Swimming & laughing & not caring how he would get home.  Or who would towel him off or where his mama would go.  He was just in the moment.  Which I suppose is a great lesson to glean from him if I weren't irritated at the time that it was looking like I was going to have to jump into the pool to get him out.  That is fine when they are little & won't come down the slide at the park & you have to climb up to get them.  Not so fine when they are huge & in a body of water & you are fully dressed. I calmly walked over to the pool, bent down & asked him again to get out.  "No."  Seriously?!  I said he was choosing to be disobedient & that if he didn't get out he would get a consequence.  He got out.  Hurray!!  No idea what consequence he would have gotten so I am super thankful that he got out & that I didn't have to get in.

Later that day we had a repeat performance in the back yard.  When neighbors on both sides of us (who don't have kids) got to have a little show as he was running from me as I asked him to come here & talk to me about how he was not so nicely treating his brother.  Awesome.

Why is it that they act this way in public anyways?  That makes it so much worse.  The thing is though that today I am giving myself some grace.  So we had an upside down day.  I am choosing not to believe that based on this I am a bad mama or that I have a bad kiddo on my hands.  I am choosing to believe that we were off & hopefully we can learn & move on so we won't have any more repeat performance tomorrow.  I am choosing to believe that it doesn't mean whatever methods we have been using must be thrown out & we have to begin again.  It means this mothering gig has some ups & some downs.  It means not all any days will be flawless. It means sometimes you have an audience when disciplining your kid & you still have to carry on.   And it means if showing up truly is half of the battle than I already know I am doing something right.  Because I'll be here tomorrow when they wake up with their boy dragon breath breathing all up in my face.  Blankie imprints on their cheeks.  And we will start again.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Dear Time,

Please slow down.  You are kind of rushing me.  Today was a big day for me.  Maybe a little too much transpired all in one day.  In the future perhaps you could take it a little easier on me.  Baby steps would be much appreciated.

Not only did my 5 and a half (never mention just that he is just 5 in his presence unless you want to get an ear full ) year old get to go to a drop off birthday party today (Oh, really?  No parents need stay?  Um...AWESOME!)  But, then I waited up until 10:30 pm for him to come home.  I was tired long before then as it was past my bedtime.  But.He.Was.Out.  With his dad & cousins, fishing, but none the less he was out. I am so not ready to go to bed before my kids yet.  I mean, how does that even happen for the first time?  Nope.  Not going to do it.  Not yet anyways.   We also chose today to take some donations of the last of our little boy toys. No more giant push trucks. No more little books about shapes.  No more race cars that play music.  No sir. We are in to hot wheels, legos, superheroes & transformers, thank you very much.

So you see, time.  I am well aware that Time Keeps on slippin',slippin', slippin' Into the future, but is there anyway you could make oh, I don't know say the tantrums go faster, but the events and/or milestones slow down a little?  I think I have already been pretty clear on my thoughts about Kindergarten rapidly approaching ( 37 days!) so give a gal a break.   May these last few weeks of glorious summer slow.  May each day be savored & each moment a memory made.  Because frankly the thought of what all comes next the driving, the dating & the curfews all makes me want to throw up a little.  So I would like to hold onto my snuggles, sound effects, foot races & living room talent shows just a bit longer.


A mama who just realized her first born is not so little anymore.  Bittersweet, Time.  Bittersweet.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

play date.

Today I met some girlfriends & their kiddos at the park so we could chat watch our kids have a great play date.  If we are going to keep it real then shall I be so bold to say that play dates aren't really for the kiddos at all, but rather for the mamas & the papas.  Sure, it can get energy out & get them socialized, but then both of those things really benefit me.  The play date is an opportunity to chat, to lament, to encourage , to connect & to laugh. Sometimes I have let a play date go on too long because I was having such a good time & didn't want it to end.  Meanwhile Junior was having a major meltdown, because either I missed snack time due to having such great conversation wtih.a.grown.up. or they were tired of the other kiddos taking their toys or what have you. Leaving the play date sometimes can mean going home to do the dishes or put the laundry away (which is it just me or does anyone else like to put laundry away in different stages?  First I like to get it out of the dryer.  Then later I may fold it.  Even later I I actually put it all away.  I feel more in control that way I guess.  Ain't no dryer buzzer going to be the boss of me.  The crazy thing is that I am pretty sure given all of the different steps I take to put it away just creates more work for me, but whateves.)  Leaving the play date also means possibly spending the  remainder of the day talking only of Bob the Builder & dump trucks. Unless you have girls then I have no idea what you talk about.

I don't know any different.  I have been having play dates with other mamas & their kiddos since my first born could barley hold up his head.  You know the ones. When all of the first time moms have their babes laying next to each other on blankets & we try to take pictures of them all & have fun talking about how is going to marry who.  Until one baby spits up & then one gets hungry & we aren't able to finish a sentence, but still we keep talking.  We may have looked a little haggard & had hair that didn't know the last time it had been washed, but we were together.  Sharing our ups & downs & doing life side by side.

Maybe it's just me, but I've noticed the thing about play dates, especially ones with many people or people I don't know or in public popular play date locales can sometimes be breeding grounds for me to have judgmental thoughts.  Just today I found myself tossing some judgmental thoughts around in my head directed toward the other parents at the playground.  How is it that I think I know what they should be or shouldn't be doing with their kids when I don't know them. Like at all. I don't know where they came from or where they are headed.  For all I know the dad who's son somehow got back behind the construction fence where the dump trucks & diggers loomed could have not been tracking on his kids for a variety of reasons.  Maybe he was out of work so even though he was at the park with his kids he was really at the unemployment office or an interview in his head.  Maybe his wife was sick. Maybe he is a single dad who is overwhelmed & needs some help. Oh my goodness.  Maybe he wasn't even their dad!  Was he the sitter, the uncle, the friend?! Whatever the reason I am sorry dude at the park.  Sorry that in my head I was thinking that my kid would have never gotten that far.  Sorry I was thinking that I knew any better or could do anything any different.

It is good for me to remember that everyone has a story. That most parents are the same in that they are just trying to stay afloat.  It is the times that I am not being mindful of my thoughts that the judgmental ones creep in.  It sounds a little much to say I have to think about what I am thinking about.  But, I do.  If I don't they will go all willy-nilly on me & end up somewhere I have no business being.  I too am trying to stay afloat as a parent & my thoughts running wild speculating why that mom let her kiddo act like that or why they didn't act a different way really does nothing to help me stay afloat.  It actually would set me adrift more than anything & being lost at sea while trying to be a mama to my boys sounds a little like um..impossible.  So today was a good for me to reset my thoughts & to remind myself that instead of internally criticizing the other parents I should be looking at them as my allies.  Because we are all in this together.  We, together, are raising the next generation.  And that sounds like something that needs all hands on deck.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


The details are hazy as I was in a new mama induced fog, but I do remember hearing "Breast is Best!" over & over & over.  That is all fine & dandy if said breast is doing it's job, but if you happen to have one on strike & it doesn't feel like providing nutrition & substance for your baby or perhaps it does, but is kind of a slacker in the production department or better yet perhaps it does & with decent output, but there just aren't the nutrients in the milk that the little ones need to thrive then the breast isn't the best.

 I can remember the lactation consultants & their pressing desire for me to.try.harder.  To pump more.  To eat certain foods.  To try a nipple shield (that was a fumbling catastrophe).  To sleep with baby skin on skin.  To relax.  To rest.  To go with the flow (ha!couldn't help it).  And I get it. It was their job & their passion to unite me & my babe in nursing victory.  My pediatrician was the same way.  She wanted me to do more. To come to the office every other day to get my little one weighed.  Oh, the pressure.  She remains our pediatrician today and at the time of my firstborn she hadn't yet had her own 2 kiddos.  AMAZING how her outlook softened once she had her own little ones.  Isn't there some rule that no man or woman whom hath never had child is not allowed to be a lactation consultant or consult on those matters in general.

Not only was nursing for me. All of the "trying harder" sucked all the joy out of me.  I had no sweet moments bonding with my babe.  It was all work all the time. I literally would cringe when he would cry, because I knew that meant having to try yet again. Did I mention that he was born by emergency c-section & the first 11 days of his life were spent living at the hospital?  Going through the ordeal of nursing not working atop of being so mentally & physically exhausted most likely didn't help matters.  Like at.all. There were times in the middle of the night when my husband would say "I think he is hungry" and I literally wanted to hide under the covers or run away.  Poor little fella cried day & night & night & day.  Because he.was.starving.  Because I had too much guilt to try something different.  Because I had never heard before that sometimes nursing doesn't work.  Because no one suggested maybe I had done all I could do as a nursing mother & that it was perhaps time to not throw in the towel, but to try a different towel.  I can remember sobbing on the phone to my sister. Saying "Isn't that what I was intended to do?  Isn't that how God made a way for my baby to eat? Isn't breast best?"  Then she wisely said " That is what formula is intended to do too.  That is why it exists.  To.feed.babies."

For me I would have much rather breast fed.  It isn't like formula feeding is all that convenient.  There is the formula to measure, the water to warm or chill, washing the bottles over & over & over.  Not to mention finiding just the right bottle & nipple combination.  And making sure you move up a size as your baby grows.  The cost of it alone is enough to make most people not want to use formula.

Once I actually made the decision to go forward with formula my pediatrician was 100% behind me supplying me with samples & bottles & support.  She had mentioned that my son wasn't growing eyelashes nor did he really have tears when he cried so the little amount of milk he was getting wasn't doing it's job.  Upon hearing that I knew I had made the right decision for me & my babe & our family.  I only triumphantly nursed my son for 3 weeks & quit cold turkey (ouch!  cabbage really does help, but make sure it stays cold.  You don't want warm cabbage on your boob.  Trust me) & he immediately started gaining weight, crying less, growing eyelashes & sleeping better.  Which meant I was able to begin getting to know him & falling for him bit by bit.

You would think that I would have learned my lesson & went straight to formula with my second born. Nope.  I am stubborn.  Tried nursing again.  It didn't work.  Again.  All of the same results too.  Miserable mom, starving baby, nipple shield falling on the ground during the dark of the night.  The one thing that was different was that my pediatrician had then had a child of her own by then so she immediately said it was up to me.  We tried for 2 intense & very difficult weeks to make the breast best for us when it became apparent that I was living a ground-hog dayish life we switched to formula & all was well & peaceful.

I know now what I didn't know prior to having kids.  That all births & babies are different.  All mamas & their bodies are different too.  Each family gets to make the decision about how they provide the nutrients their little ones need to flourish by whatever means works best for them.  Isn't that fantastic?  So why do we try so hard to push our agendas or thoughts or convictions onto other mamas?  Especially when they are in the midst of the toughest & most exhausting phase of their lives?  I know that everyone shows their support & love & compassion for others in their own unique way.  I also know that at no high school graduation have I ever attended do the graduating class members have to answer if they were breast fed or bottle bed before receiving their diploma.  And at no time  no where has any mama ever receive a gold star for avoiding the bottle.  Not even when my son signed up to play Tee Ball did his coach ask which way he got his milk as a babe.  The thing is that in the moment it was one of the largest looming & daunting decisions I have ever had to make.  But, since making that decision I haven't once looked back & wished I had made it differently.  I am just thankful that my boys grew into such resilient & strong & healthy fellas.  I am also thankful that they were young enough so that they won't remember me walking around the house with cabbage sticking out of my shirt.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Do you ever wonder if mamas who have come & gone before us fretted if they were doing a good job or not raising their little ones or if our era is one of the first to do so?  We who have so much available to us to assist us in parenting. The technology & it's wealth of information, the experts, the freedom we have as women to be so independent  & to model so much for our daughters & sons.  The gadgets like bottle warmers & wipe warmers. The baby carriers so our hands can still be free instead of always having to set a crying baby down or cradle them or have them on our hips when a different need or duty arises  .The dad's who are more hand's on then men before them. Which I don't know about y'all, but I am so thankful for my man who could always swaddle our babes better than me with his eyes closed & still is the preferred bath giver to the boys in our house.  Might have something to do with the fact that he may or may not encourage a squall to take place in the tub.  I tend to be a little more businesslike & like to focus on the task at hand.  Who needs fun?  Let's just wash up & get clean. Writing that I admit his way is better, but boys just seem better at making big splashes.

I was reading Little House In The Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the other night & was struck how she purposefully mentioned how After the day's work is done that their mama would play with them & that if their papa happened to come home early he would be able to play with them.  It made me think, because so often I feel bad if I put my kiddos on hold so I can do the dishes or put a load in the washer or do some other necessary, but not fun, household task.  I know raising kiddos in 2013 is an entirely different ball game than it was back in The Big Woods of Wisconsin so many years ago, but I can't help but wonder if I have gotten to involved in entertaining my boys?  Granted playing with them & entertaining them are two different things. Even Laura's mama & papa played with her & her sisters.  But so often I put guilt on myself for tending to the things that need tending to. I am fairly sure my Grammy never felt this way as she shooed my mom & her sister out of the house for the day.  I know for a fact she would either leave them at home sleeping while she ran to the grocery store or leave them in the car.  Even as recent as when my husband was a child he & his brothers would be sent out side not to return until a meal time.

I have never really thought I entertain my boys too much.  They are both naturally inclined to play by themselves & with one another really well so I have always thought we were good in the hood.  It made playing games or pretend or playing catch with them really fun, because they weren't always asking me throughout the entire day to do something with them.

Then It happened.  Yard work day. My husband & I decided to dedicate a Saturday to yard work.  We wouldn't make any other plans & our hope (ha!) was to get a lot accomplished while the boys frolicked outside in the fresh air for the entire day. Well, I guess the boys didn't get the memo, because they were none to pleased to spend said day frolicking outside.  Initially they were pumped to help dad gather pruned grape vines & apple tree branches, but that only lasted a short while.  Then the whining & questioning began.  "Where are we going today?  When can we go in?  Can we watch a movie?  I don't wanna be outside anymore?  What is there to do?"  And that went on & on as you may imagine for a good chunk of time.  That is when it hit me.  My kids are too entertained!  Maybe not directly by my husband & I, but also by our culture & it's fast paced ways & by always being on the go & always having a schedule to keep.  I spent countless Saturdays at the house while I was growing up so my parents could work in the yard.  It was more of a novelty for us to go somewhere than it was to spend the entire day at home.

So we decided  to sell everything & move to the wood of Wisconsin in search of a slower & simpler lifestyle.  But that plan only lasted a few minutes, because we remembered we lived in the Midwest once-upon-a-time & the only thing that goes on in Wisconsin woods these days are competitions of driving snowmobiles over lakes & mosquitoes.  Lots & lots of mosquitoes. So then what to do?  How to maintain the tricky balance of being a grown up & doing grown up things & also fostering independent play & ideas in our kiddos so that one day when they go off into the real world they will be able to flourish & frolic & not need their mama to tell them what to do on their day off? I didn't have any timely epiphanies to accompany the realization that my kiddos live a fast paced life style that demands their attention & makes slower days more difficult to navigate, but I am hoping that by being mindful of that it will help me in weighing what we commit to doing, what activities they are signed up for & the overall pace that we set for our days.

Would love to hear what works for your family as you maintain the balance of schedule in your days, weeks & months.

Monday, July 15, 2013


Thankful the boys are in bed & the house is quiet for the first time I know everyone says these times "fly" by, but sometimes these days can drag on & on & on.

It was another one of "those" days.  I guess we are going for some sort of wildly unreasonable record?  Any who there were points in the day when I was like "Really" are we going there?  A tantrum. How original.  Do I really need to get frustrated over this...oops to late.  Must be the summer heat or the kids who are running low on sleep or the fact that I had an epiphany that I am too hard on my eldest so then of course the day is shot with all kinds of opportunities of refinement.

Dinner didn't work.  It was something I could make it my sleep & it didn'  This I realized at 6 pm.  Husband was working late & mama & her kiddos were hungry. One was crying in the living room "!"  (I think we have a future drama star on our hands.)  So, when a tiny person suggested we go get McDonald's I was surprisingly quick to agree.  Now, it isn't that we don't eat out ever we just try not to & if we do we try not to do fast food.  Mostly it is all budget related, but hey, the elder tiny person turns 5 1/2 tomorrow so how better to celebrate then with a cardboard box full of grease & plastic?!  Couldn't find their shoes. Didn't care. Went without.  Decided to use the drive-thru.  At said drive-thru happy meal fell to the ground in the hand-off between 16-year-old sweet girl & myself.  The frizzy & flustered mama.  Once we returned home with retrieved happy meal, minus a few fries, my soda spilled out over the entire table.  Kiddos were much too engrossed in their grease & plastic to do much more than scream about their drinks & now would their chocolate milk spill as well?  FYI.  That wasn't helpful.  Like not really at all.

Shortly after soda was cleaned up & all other drinks were accounted for I said that I wanted a do-over.  Then I had to explain what  do-over meant.  Then I had to answer if I meant an entire day do-over or just a dinner do-over or what?  Specifics were needed & I was getting pretty sure I shouldn't have muttered the whole do-over portion aloud when suddenly my eldest said "But, if we had a do-over we wouldn't have these happy meals."  So true wise one.  Not that I am all that excited about the meal, but I do love that he looked for the brightest spot of his day & noted that he would miss it if it hadn't been there.  How many days do I pass though wishing that it was over or that it hadn't happened at all. How many do-overs do I crave for?  What would happen if instead of tallying up all the moments of "couldn't have gotten any worse" I instead reflected back on my day to find that one bright spot.  And if the day was really that horrific with the tiny people & there are no bright spots to be found perhaps at least I could find a glimmer?  A twinkle?  A glimpse?  Not gonna lie not sure if all days have the a twinkle in them or not, but I don't  imagine any harm would come from searching for one.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Do you ever have one of those days when you come down on your kiddo  Maybe you are cranky or they are cranky so you are all out of sorts.  Maybe you get upset that he wasn't being kind? Which is it just me or do you ever say "Be.Kind!" In a not-so-kind gritted teeth sort of way?  My favorite was when my husband was working nights & sleeping days. I would yell at the kids all of the time to "Be Quiet Daddy is sleeping!".  Oops not anymore he isn't mama.

Whatever the reason the day just went with me be entirely too hard on my tiny person & it took me until the end of the day to realize it.  After he was asleep I peeked in his room to catch a glimpse of him & what I saw brought me to tears. He was sprawled out. The covers had been thrown off. His t-shirt was all twisted & his belly button was getting some air.  And at first glance it hit me.  I am too hard on him.  Dear Lord, why do I expect so much out of him?  He is so precious & I at times disregard or wave that preciousness away because he didn't do, act, or say what I wanted him to.  But, seeing him all sprawled out & at ease I saw the little guy he was.  He is a child. He is 5. He can't tie his shoes, nor is he that great of a nose blower (we are working on it), he needs his mama.  He needs my comfort, my grace, my love & my understanding.

Why is it that I expect so much from a 5-year-old?  Why do I think he should have all the answers, have the correct emotions at the correct time?  Why am I agitated when he asks me question after question after question?  Why am I surprised that he gets cranky when he is hungry or that he whines constantly sometimes?  Doesn't that just come with the territory of having a 5-year-old? I don't expect that I should have it all together all the time so why do I get upset or frustrated or disappointed when my child doesn't?

It is so boggling to me that at times I expect that my 5-year-old should act like a 10-year-old.  Why is that?  I don't expect that my accountant should know how to fix my clogged sink, nor do I expect my mail carrier to pick up the trash.  He is 5 & should be allowed to do & say & act in 5-year-old sorts of ways.  My kiddos is a work in progress.  Just like me. And he needs me to give him grace & room to make the mistakes. To repeat the process until he gets it down.  He needs to be allowed to get it wrong so that when he finally gets it right we will be able to celebrate!  He needs to start learning how to tie his shoes instead of me always doing it for him because it is faster.  Goodness someday I hope to report he has got that down, but the thing is I haven't even given him the opportunity to triumph with his shoes.  I don't want one more mundane task to tie me down.  I don't want to take the extra few minutes before we have to leave the house to allow him to not get it.

Who do I think I am?  What astounding thing do I have to rush off to that I don't "have" time to sit with my boy & teach him the bunny ears or are they loops?  What has gotten into me that a day spent answering questions to a mind that is craving all things knowledge is enough to shorten my fuse?  Why do I get amnesia about such things & constantly need to be re-calibrated to what is truly of great significance?

Whatever the reason I am just thankful that tomorrow I can begin anew.  That there will be plenty more "opportunities" to try again.  I am also thankful for velcro shoes.  You know.  Just in case.

"The mission of motherhood requires grit.  It requires perseverance.  And often that means years of repetitions and mundane tasks, years of repeating yourself, years of wondering whether anything you do or say makes a difference. It's no short term process."  Sally Clarkson.

Monday, July 8, 2013

keep on keeping on.

We have a program on our computer that when certain questionable sites are visited (sometimes it is by mistake y'all) a picture of tea & kittens pops up onto the screen. And the kittens are purrty cute (see what I did there?) It is there to safeguard us from seeing content that isn't beneficial for our peepers to soak in.

Lately I have been thinking how awesome it would be if something would pop out of my mouth just as I was getting ready to yell or say something in an ugly tone or something that I would end up regretting saying to my boys.  Not necessarily have a kitten pop out, because that would be strange on a lot of different levels, but maybe a little banner for me to read that says " Happy.Happy.Happy. You longed for these kiddos.  Some people would like nothing more than to have a child to be exasperated at.  Love well.  Yell less."  Or maybe it could just be a recording of my sugary sweet voice saying "Mommy loves you"  whatever it would be that would be so terrific to have something immediate & without thought to safeguard me from saying something that isn't beneficial for their ears to soak in.  Sometimes it can make a gal weary to be thinking so much about what to think about & what to talk about.

In other news  last night was the 3rd night in a row we dined out al fresco.  There is just something about eating dinner outside in our little hideaway patio that makes everything taste better.  My man even brought out the boom box he just made out of a tool box, old car stereo & part of a computer & we had some instant ambiance.  Even though things taste better out there the boys haven't gotten the memo that the patio is my happy place & could they please leave their bad manners at the edge of the yard?!  There is still whining & negotiating about bites that takes place so even though our location has changed the circumstances have remained the same.

Isn't that they way with us though?  We expect that if we change the venue the circumstances ought to have also changed or at least got lost along the way.  Like if we move to a different state or house our marriage will finally be 'better"  or if I can just get that new job with the higher paying salary then I will be content.  Or what about when my kids get out of diapers & are more self-sufficient then I will have more time for myself"(Ha!) I can't the only one that fell for that last one.

Alas, for me,  changes like that sometimes do temporarily mask the circumstances enough that it seems as though they are no longer a concern to me.  This is not long lasting though & it always serves to remind me how I need to keep on keeping on regardless of the locale.  Sigh...I guess the same goes for my boys & the ever present need to "parent" them regardless if it is summer, dinner on the patio or just  plain wearisome.  I may not be seeing fruit from the consistent guiding yet, but I am hopeful that it will come.  Just as I am hopeful that one day I won't need to tell my adult sons how many bites of their dinner they need to eat so they can be excused from the table.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


My man is uber talented.  He is  He made the curtains for our first house, he is our family barber, mine included except for those few years he stopped due to a "crying episode" I may or may not have had after checking out my new doo in the mirror prior to a good wash & styling, he can build just about anything including shelves, mantles, a boom box out of a few spare parts in the garage & he has even worked on a few bridges in his time.  He can paint beautifully, has a natural eye for photography (even photographed newborns professionally for a time), diagnosis & repairs our cars after a quick peek at YouTube...basically if the man wants to do something or have something he will just teach himself right quick & then like MacGyver it is done.

I on the other hand must have been absent the day common sense & household duties were being handed out, because I've had about zero knowledge in that department.  I could go on adventures hitch hiking & staying in hostels by myself without hesitation, I could manage a successful business & staff, but ask me how to do laundry, or how to separate egg whites, or what to do with certain cleaning products, or ask me how the goverement system was set up & I was at a loss.  He has seriously asked me how I survived in the years I lived on my own before meeting him.  Not asking in any sort of egotistical manner just frankly curious how I made it.  Admittedly I have wondered the same since that was in the time before Google.  I have been known to Google just about anything. But there is no shame for me, because even the time I googled 'How to hard boil an egg' their were pages of people who'd asked that same question prior to me. One of God's greatest gifts to me is knowing from the beginning that Royce & I would end up together. He knew we needed each other.  We'll I needed Royce & he is just better off for having me around

To this day I don't wash my whites & colors separately.  And as far as  my fitted sheets go they just  kind of get rolled up into a ball & stuffed into the linen closet quickly before they spill out.  I ask my husband so many "how comes" & "how to" questions it is amazing he still comes home after work.

There have been times throughout the years that I have thought my lack of knowledge in such things as endearing. Other times I have been frustrated by it, but have thought 'Oh, well that's just me".  But, then the unthinkable happened.  Royce started working all.the.time.  He would be gone nights & days & days & nights.  We barley saw him for 9 months because he was either sleeping or working.  That is when mama had to put her big girl pants on.

I realized fairly quickly that if the car needed an oil change I was going to need to get it taken care of.  If the light above the garage was out & I wanted it to shine again at night I was going to need to shimmy up the ladder & change it myself.  If I wanted the Christmas tree out of the living room I was going to need to dismantle it & take it out.  If there was a parade or event or get together that my boys wanted to experience I got us there.

I just started to think how valuable it was for my boys to see that I could do things too.  Of course they knew I was the one who took care of the bills, I was the one who got the groceries, I was the one who meal planned & made sure we had adult & kid band-aids, but they hadn't ever really seen me get my hands "dirty" so to speak.  I remember my boys being so amazed that I changed the light bulb all by myself w/my tools & that I even climbed up the ladder.  This is no difficult task by any means, but previously it was outside of my comfort zone & I would have just asked Royce to take care of it when he had a minute.  Now that I am being more mindful if there is something that needs to be done like weed eating I don't need to ask him to take care of it, because that is something I am totally capable of taking care of myself.  And to me there really is nothing better than seeing those clean lines appear along side my driveway.

One thing that  I took away from our 9 months was that it is good for my tiny people to see that mom is a capable person. That mom doesn't always need Dad to take care of things for her although it is clear to us all that there are certain things that Dad is & will always be more equipped to take care of & that is good to for them to see as a male role model.  But, it is just as equally as important for them to see me as more than an owie kisser & meal maker.  Do tiny people who one day grow into adults base their own household divisions on what they observed as a child?  Do they view other women out in the world based on what the woman they were around most did?  I don't have a clue.  But, I do know that it feels pretty fantastic to accomplish something around the house & have my boys call me super mommy!

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Maybe it's just me, but I am sensing a new trend in blogs, books, society that moms are finally being able to say "This is hard!!" That they are able to embrace the season they are in with all it's difficulties & acknowledge that in isn't for the faint of heart.  Now when I say "new" trend give me some grace, because it is totally possible that moms have been saying that for years. I am typically a few steps behind.  Just ask my friends.  I didn't even know jeggings were a thing until they had already been a thing for about a year.

I spent years of my life not being mindful.  About anything.  Truly.  How else do you end up a 36- year-old woman with 5 tattoos that have no meaning at all.  I wish there was some back ground or deep significance to them as people always seem a bit disappointed when I simply shrug.

As I am trying to be more mindful especially in my parenting I am wondering if this trend to admit parenting is difficult & has really hard moments might sometimes go a little too far?  Don't get me wrong there is nothing more I need some days than to list off all of the reasons it has been a tough day & to have a friend say " I get it.  It is so hard."  I just wonder for myself does it matter that it's hard?  This is my calling to be a mama & it is also a choice I have made.  Otherwise my husband & I would still be living with our bad-selves eating out & sleeping in.

When I experience the witching hour (for us it is that time right before dinner) & I am fussing & fuming around the kitchen, because my tiny people are all up in my grill asking " what 's for dinner?  Is it the chicken I like?  I don't like chicken after all!" (all accompanied with some whining & foot stomping) do I give my family the feeling that they are a nuisance to me?   Through my sighs & exasperated answers?   Because making dinner can sometimes be trying at our house do I give the impression that I don't care if they eat a healthy or yummy dinner that I just want to get this task over with & move on to the next obligation?

Does it matter how many hours of sleep I didn't get?  Doesn't keeping track & sharing it kind of just make me more tired?  Does saying I am overwhelmed actually do anything to help me figure out what to do first?  Or does saying it just give me permission to feel like I am at a loss before I have even began?    I am trying to figure this out, because sometimes when I am preparing dinner & the hungry tiny people come at me I think to myself  'I can't handle this'  and in my attempt to be mindful of my thoughts I am wondering why?  Why can't I handle this?  I am their mom. If anyone can handle this it's me.  Give them a slice of cheese & a distraction & get on with it.  Put some music on & turn the kitchen into Funky town.  Prep dinner ahead when they are having their rest time to make it easier on all of us when we all turn into hungry monsters. For me it seems the longer I dwell on or talk about how my day with my kids was so exhausting or trying or maddening that those thoughts & feelings linger longer than they ought to.

I once read that you can't feel two emotions at the same time. That we are totally incapable of it.  And the author suggested replacing thoughts of frustration with thoughts of gratitude.  Even if you don't feel it just to throw up a "I'm so thankful my kids can communicate with me & tell me what they need"  even if it is right when I am in the middle of slicing & dicing veggies for dinner that may or may not get eaten all while having a screaming 2-year-old hanging on to my leg.  Maybe it is just tricking yourself into a different mentality, but I wonder if it matters?  As we are caring for & molding & nurturing these tiny little people so much depends on our thoughts & words.  We as moms seem to be the thermostat for the house.  Everyone else's temperature rises or falls depending on what we are set at.  So if we were able to think differently & talk differently maybe we would actually start to feel & live in that new way?  That would be a good trend!

I hope you can hear my heart on this.  I am not at all suggesting we all adopt Pollyanna attitudes.  I don't have it figured out at.all.  I would love to hear what you do to keep it real with out commiserating?  How are the ways you are mindful in your thoughts towards your kiddos helping in your actions towards them?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Do you ever have those moments when you are like 'I can't believe I just did that?'  Yeah me neither, but I have this "friend" who once was at a fancy schmancy nightclub/restaurant in Minneapolis & had to go number 2.  Surely I am not the only one this has happened to right? I mean could there be any worse timing for such a thing to happen?  Just wait it gets worse.  So my "friend" has been in the one stalled bathroom for some time when she begins to sense there may be a crowd waiting to use the restroom.  The knocking on the door & general female chatter was what gave it away.  The horrible thing was that the toilet go clogged. It.would.not.flush.  There was no plunger & it was getting more embarrassing the longer I my friend debated about what to do.  Finally after washing my hands (by this time the polite knocking & inquires on the door had turned into full on banging & yelling)  I tossed my hair  & made my grand exit saying to the million girls now waiting in line "Someone didn't flush." & I high-tailed it back to my table where I immediately downed the rest of whatever cocktail I was having to try & cool my blushing red cheeks.  Fast forward 5 minutes to when I catch a janitor with a mop & bucket heading into said restroom.  Seriously a 'I can't believe I just did that!!!' moment was cut short & I told my husband to pay the tab we HAD to leave pronto.  There was also the time in Saint Paul when I flooded my friend's one and only bathroom during a dinner party & her husband very humbly cleaned it all up as the rest of us sat downstairs pretending nothing was out of sorts.  I am thinking that  I wasn't getting enough fiber during that time in my life.  Or maybe too much fiber.  Whateves it is behind me.

All this to say as a mother don't we have so many "I can't believe I just did that" moments?  Whether it is changing a blow-out diaper in the back of your car when you only have 2 wipes left or going all mama bear on that little kid at the park that just hit your baby boy.  Okay maybe he was 3, but still that other kid had no right to hit him & since his mom was just texting seemed like someone should step in & do some parenting.  But, I shouldn't judge because I have also been that mom just sitting at the park, taking a breath, and texting a friend. Or spacing out mentally meal planning for the upcoming week.

I like the "I can't believe I just did that" moments my boys have.  When they don't even have to say it either & they just look at you to see if you just saw what they just did.  They are so exhilarated that they jumped from the big couch to the ottoman to the smaller couch with out falling into the hot lava below!  They search you out in a crowd at the field, because they can't believe they just hit the ball & got to run to first base at T-ball!  When they look at me to see if I saw how they just gave up the toy they were playing with just because they knew it would make their brother happy.

There are so many little moments that happen throughout the day that I could totally miss if I am not in the present.  If I am checking my phone, email, facebook, my whatever I may miss their looking up to see if I saw.  I may miss them search me out in a crowd just to make sure I am there & to get a reassuring smile.  By worrying about the moments to come or wishing  the one I am in away I may risk missing THE moment all together.  And although there are A LOT of moments that have happened in my life that I wouldn't have minded if they had never occurred at all these moments I am in now are not ones I want to miss & it would be a loss to me if they had never happened. So it is a good reminder for me to stay in the moment with my boys.  To be present.  To be engaged.  And to teach them to use just the right amount of toilet paper when they wipe.

Friday, June 28, 2013

grade k. ready or not.

Does it make me a lazy mom that I encourage my 5-year-old son to dress my 2-year-old son?  Lazy? I think more like ingenious even though it is so going to back fire on me come this fall when we enter the kindergarten zone.  Then I will be left at home with an almost 3-year-old & neither of us will know how to get him dressed!

I have a few more pressing concerns about kindergarten that I am focused on though so that can wait. It isn't my son I am worried about.  He is so ready for Grade K.  He is ready to learn & be challenged & he is so excited about the possibility of playing on a playground 5 days a week that he is besides himself with excitement.  No, my concerns are all about me.

The thought of kindergarten looming at the end of summer is tainting my weeks of ice cream & beach days.  I literally can't escape it as the elementary school my son will be attending is at the end of our block so whenever I leave the house either by foot or by car I see it there all high & mighty with it's brick & mortar taunting me.  Saying "who does she think she is?  Is she really ready to be a mom of one of our students?  Does she really think she has prepared him enough for this?  Does she really think it is okay to send him here even though he can' t tie his own shoes?!  Does she think she can hang on our PTA?  Does she think she is smart enough or engaging enough to other kids to be a room mom?" (If they can even call it that anymore?)  All's  I know that if I am a room mom or, whatever it is, it will not be nearly as detrimental for my kiddo as it was for me the time my mom helped out.  5th grade, Mrs Wrights mom came for the day wearing the exact same sweatshirt I was wearing!  We were twinsies & I was mortified.  Safe to say I don't have many shirts with footballs or tractors on them so I think we are all good.

Maybe it's just me, but this new chapter of grade school seems so large & unknown.  We have had a lot of transition in the last few years & typically I roll with it & look forward to what it brings, but this one feels so different to me.  I feel like I am sending my son out in to the world & he is ready, but I am afraid I will find that I am unprepared.  Haven't started school shopping (when do you do that?), will the other kids know that he doesn't have a new lunch box?  Do I ever go & eat lunch with him?  What assemblies do parents actually go to?  What if it isn't casual chic to drop him off without showering & in sweats?  What if his new BFF's mom & I don't mesh?

I think a lot of it has to do with control (doesn't it always) & that up until now I have chosen where we go & when.  I have gotten to choose our church, our friends & our activities.  I have chosen whether I want to be uncomfortable or not. I have chosen the situations that my kids & I are exposed to.  Basically I have been living in a self-induced bubble & life there hasn't been too shabby.

But, now I have to choose to let go (just a tiny bit) & choose to trust.  Trust that I have done a good job at preparing him. Trust that he is a smart & determined fella & not only that he will be kind & tenderhearted to the other kids even if he is playing the bad guy at recess.  I am going to trust that there is a plan for this new season we will be entering into & I am also choosing to trust that I will adapt & grow in my new role as mom of elementary student extraordinaire.  So bring it brick & mortar.  I'll be seeing you in 67 days.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

a little bit better.

Maybe it's just me, but sometimes I don't know how I am going to make it through the day & then I look at the clock & think to myself." Oh, crap. It is only 9am".  Then I repeat that same thought at 1pm & 3pm & it used to always be all dinner long when my husband worked nights, but he is home for dinners now (yay!) and having another adult around at meal times makes a WORLD of difference.

These thoughts of "how am I possibly going to make it through the day" are often preceded by whining (from the tiny people not myself) or complaining or arguing all things/attitudes which make it really hard to be mindful of the fact that I love these 2 kiddos to the moon & back & am on a sacred journey of shaping their hearts & characters.  All that & it is only 9am?!  No CEO even has to deal with that much before their second cup of coffee.

I also have these "how am I going to make it" thoughts when I am using la toilette & my eldest is banging on the door about how badly he has to go poo & could I please hurry up?  Need I remind you we only have the one bathroom & who really likes to be rushed at such a time?  Especially when as most moms know that is our only quiet time during the day (if we are lucky & by that I mean if we remembered to lock the bathroom door).

The other day I had a total meltdown & said "I am going to get rid of all of the movies!!!"  which immediately brought on reactions that would have made one think there were no more ice cream cones or puppies or teddy bears anywhere on the planet.    Now that wasn't the brightest moment for me as I would never get rid of the boy's movies which are my sanity all very educational.  Later I thought "what am I a 5 year old?"  My 5 year old always throws out random things when he is frustrated too.  If he is upset that he hasn't mastered the pedal bike he will say things such as "I am never going to look at another bike again" and I think we all know not only would that be impossible living as we do in the Pacific Northwest, but also it is spoken out of pure annoyance at not getting the end result he wanted.  He also likes to try this when he is upset with my husband or I. The other day he threw out " You are not my dad anymore.  You are my cousin!"  Which in all fairness kind of back fired since the kid has a passel of cousins & adores them all.

So me throwing out the bit about the movies was just one of those statements that I threw out due to my annoyance at his attitude & wasn't really mindful about the situation at.all.  Had I taken a moment to step back & really see the situation for what it was I may have noticed that he was needing a snack. That his brother was getting all up in his space & what we needed was a distraction...we didn't need some off handed threat that wasn't going to be carried out & that actually just made the emotions all around more intensified & drew the whole ordeal out even longer than any of us wanted.  Way longer.

After we all calmed down  & had a snack (is that a theme with just us or what?)  we talked a lot about how we as people are imperfect & how we don't have to say the right things every time or always do the right thing, but one thing we have to do as our family is to always try to do a little better.  To always try to be patient & kind with one another.  We even shook on it so that seems pretty official & I am guessing parenting will be a breeze from here on out.

The great thing about the "how will I make it through the day" days is that they often have little moments of delight peppered in there that help make it to the next hour or even day (like an impromptu dance party in the living room).  This day had some sweet moments of just playing in the back yard.  Enjoying the sunshine & breeze as is flitted about.  We even had some good book time before bed when he crawled up into my lap with his 5 year old longish legs & arms & we cuddled as we read The Lorax for the 66,000 time.  It is like a little affirmation that things are ever changing even if we can't see it in the hard moments.  He is learning.  I am learning. Our hearts are changing.  And thankfully we will always get another opportunity to try and do a little bit better the next time.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Murphy's law is so not cool when it happens to things regarding mommy hood.  The ole' my angel is sleeping through the night bit is sure to stop that very evening after you exclaimed the words with glee.  The ole' isn't my junior playing so well with other kiddos ceases just as you think that thought & junior whacks someone on the head with a book.  Just today sitting at my kitchen table over a cup of (warm-hallelujah) coffee with a friend while the boys were watching a movie.  Because honestly how else do you get to have an uninterrupted conversation with a friend?  No shame.  We don't have tv, but you can be sure we have a dvd collection of movies for such a time as this.  I was advising my first time mom friend to not try so hard to get her sweet baby girl to take a nap.  To pick her battles & that it just isn't worth it if she has to try so hard to get her to nap.  But, that I was certainly happy my 2 year old had started taking naps again because that was such a gift.

Fast forward to napping.  In room screaming "All done sleeping" & he has been screaming that ever since he went in there.  Seriously how does that happen?  Do kiddos listen from afar & plot their attack of how they can best stick it to us with a surprise gotcha--I don't sleep anymore sucker!  It just isn't fair.  And, not matter how many times I have fallen for it I will fall for it again & again.  I have totally been that person thinking smugly about how well my eldest does at other people's homes only to have him throw the fit of all fits only moments later.  Or have heard myself saying oh, he does so great in the stroller he doesn't mind it at all only to then have to wrestle my son like he is a wet seal to try & get him contained in the stroller long enough to buckle him in.  You know when you are using one arm to kind of try to pin them down & the other to attempt to get the strap in all while blowing your sweaty hair out of your eyes & hoping the people around you have found themselves in similar situations & are looking at you with compassion & understanding rather than thinking of the  poor child to get such a crazy lady for a mom.

Perhaps it is just one big joke to keep us on our toes knowing that at any moment whatever we have so figured out about our kiddos could change suddenly & without warning. Maybe it is meant to keep us humble & to know that their reactions, character & even napping really don't have that much to do with whether we are doing a "good" job or not as their parent.  Maybe it is just a reminder (that I know I often need) that they are tiny, but they are people too.  They are living, breathing, thinking, growing, feeling people just like me.  Not only are  they are figuring different things out & feeling who knows how many emotions that are unidentifiable at all once all while there mom (yours truly) is yelling at them to clean up the legos & put their dirty underwear in the hamper instead of throwing it at their brother, but they are also trying to figure out Independence while under the control of their parents.  Like what if I were to give up a little bit of that control & actually let them figure something out on their own even if it wouldn't be as clean or quick as I would do it for them.

What if I did have them crack the eggs when we were making cookies & the egg did (gasp) fall  to the floor.  Well, I guess we would just have to clean it up & crack another egg.  News flash to myself sometimes I drop the egg too & at some point along the way I was taught that when you make a mess you clean it up.  But, how will my tiny people learn this if I clean up the mess for them or yell at them when the mess is made?

It is so hard to figure out what battles to pick or what or when or how to give up some of the control. One battle I have given up that was near & dear to my heart was socks with sandels.  What is a mom to do when her boys were born in the PNW & don't see the morale dilemma of it?  They just truly prefer it. But, if we don't learn when to give up some of the control then there is the chance that when we fast forward a few years down the road our kids will still be living in the basement asking us to make eggs for them for breakfast even though they are in their 20's & that just wouldn't be cool.  I would much rather have my adult sons come for a visit wearing socks & sandals than having to see them shuffle around the kitchen in their bathrobes day after day.  So, I am going to continue to try & embrace the independence they are craving & make sure to never buy them black socks.