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 nothing.is.working.  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 mis.er.a.ble. 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 all.day. 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't.work.  This I realized at 6 pm.  Husband was working late & mama & her kiddos were hungry. One was crying in the living room " We.are.never.going.to.eat.dinner.again!"  (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 all.day.long?  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 a.maz.ing.  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.