Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Morning In The Green Boogers & Oatmeal Life

The most common things that come out of my mouth every weekday between 6:27 a.m. and 9 a.m.:

"It's not time to wake up yet... shhhhh!"
"We have 3 more minutes before it's wake-up time."
"If you are in Mommy and Daddy's bed, you have to be quiet."
"Ouch! Go play in your bedroom with sissy... quietly."
"No, you may not have a Fiber One bar."
"Eat your breakfast."
"No... you've had enough Wild Kratts.  Time to get ready for the day."
"Yes... it's school day."
"Oh, I know!  It's horrible. You'll survive." 
"Please get dressed."
"You have to get dressed before Mommy finishes her coffee... or Mommy picks out your outfit."
"Good job getting dressed.  Now, let's try it with the underwear under the pants."
"You look so nice! Thank you for getting dressed on your own."
"No, you cannot wear that.  It's dirty/you wore it yesterday/it's too cold outside for that."
"Did you remember underwear?"
"Did you flush?"
"Wash your hands."
"Hold on one sec... I'll be right there to wipe your bummy!"
"Don't forget to put on your socks."
"Please put on your shoes."
"Nope... wrong feet. Try again, sweetie."
"Where is your coat?"
"Because I said so."
"Stop asking why... just do it."
"Are you kidding me?"
"Stop teasing your sister."
"You can't have mac & cheese for breakfast."
"Please sit on your bummy."
"You do that again, Mommy takes your blankie/teddy bear."
"Don't carry the cat upside down by his tail!"
"Would you like ME to carry YOU that way?"
"You're missing the point."
"Come get your vitamins."
"You get what you get... and you don't throw a fit."
"Deal with it, kiddo."
"No, you can't have gummy bears for breakfast."
"Please go get in the car."
"Because I said so!"
"Brushing your hair does NOT hurt."
"Yes... if you want long hair like Rapunzel you have to stop sucking your thumb and eat your veggies."
"If you want a french braid, you have to sit still."
"You can't ask for a french braid when we're already 10 minutes late!"
"You said you wanted a french braid.  THIS is a french braid!"
"I think what you meant to say was 'thank you'."
"No... I'm done doing hair for a while until you can remember to be grateful."
"You're fine."
"Shake it off."
"You can have Cheerios... or Cheerios."
"We're out of oatmeal."
"We're also out of pancakes."
"No... those are Mommy's special fatty pancakes with whip cream.  No, you may not have them."
"Yes... you may have bacon."
"You wanted toast... that IS toast!"
"It's not nice to steal food off of anyone's plate.  EAT YOUR OWN BREAKFAST."
"The last time I got to eat all my food off my own plate was before you were born, you know that, right?"
"Next time you get out of your seat, that means you're done eating and we give Daddy-monster your breakfast."
"Go get in the car."
"Worry about yourself, please."
"No more tattling!"
"No, you can't take that toy with you."
"Because teacher will take it away."
"Because I said so."
"Where is your blankie?"
"Why are your pants on backwards?"
"Why in the world would you take your shoes off IN THE CAR ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL?"
"If you want second breakfast at school, you better hurry!"
"We're totally late... let's move!"
"I'm sorry... I don't know where the Frozen CD is."
"Stop sticking your tongue out."
"You think I can't see you?"
"Yes, I DO have eyes in the back of my head."
"Yes... I DO know everything.  Because I eat my vegetables."
"Because I said so!"
"I love you."
"What do you mean you need something for show and share?"

And that, my friends, is more words than I speak in an entire day at work.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Bird and Bean's Guide to Waking Up Mommy

Now that the girls are a little older now, I've taken the opportunity to indulge in a hobby that I never had time for when they were babies:  Sleeping In.

Until at least 7 a.m.

Because I'm a rebel that way.

The girls still aren't old enough to tell time, and honestly, I don't think they would give a rat's ass if they could... so they still come into the room at exactly 6:27 a.m. every morning.  Usually it's The Bird first... followed by The Bean about seven minutes later.  The bed's a little tall, so The Bean needs some help getting up. I have perfected lifting her up and over my body to the middle of the bed without opening my eyes.  I can tuck her in with my hands behind my back so I don't really even have to move from the fetal position.

This of course, causes my rib to pop out... but for a few extra minutes of shut eye?  TOTALLY WORTH IT.

You have to give these girls credit... after years of training, they've finally learned to be quiet (mostly) while they are in our bed in the early morning hours.  Usually, we get 22 minutes of additional sleeping time before the nonsense begins. But when it begins, it escalates quickly.

And so I give you:

The Bird and Bean's Guide to Waking Up Mommy 
1) Snuggle up to her and run my big toe toenail along her back or butt.
2) Ask for a Fiber One bar
3) Lick her shoulder
4) Start poking/scratching/biting sister until she cries.
5) Ask for a Fiber One bar, again. 
6) Sit on her head.
7) Ask if today is a school day.  If it is, respond with "Awww... I don't wanna go to school!"  If it isn't, respond with "Yay!  Can we watch Wild Kratts???!"
8) "I'm hungry!!!"
9) Jimmy-leg it until Mommy freaks out and tells you to stop - for the love of God - STOP moving your leg.
10) Jump up and down on the bed.
11) If Daddy's still in bed, "accidentally" land on his privates after jumping on the bed.
12) "Accidentally" dig your elbow into Mommy's bobos while trying to get more comfortable.
13) Ask for a Fiber One bar.  Again.  In case she's changed her mind.
14) Straddle Mommy like a horse and ask:  "Is it time to get up yet?" 43 times.
15) "I have to go potty.... and need you to wipe my bummy."
16) Bring the cat into bed and let him sit on Mommy's head.
17) Toot and then laugh about it... which makes your sissy toot.  Lather, rinse, repeat. 
18) "Can we watch Rudolf?"
19) "I tink I'm sick... can we watch Frosty and da Gwinch?"
20) Pick your nose and then ask Mommy to take the giant green booger on your finger.
21) Start fighting with sissy over who is breathing more air in the room.
22) Start crying because your nose/ear/eye ball/pinky/hair hurts.
23) Slam the door to your room repeatedly.
24) If that doesn't work, slam sissy's fingers in your door. Repeatedly.
25) Open up Mommy's eyes with your finger, and peak in with a concerned look.  If she has slept through all of the above nonsense, you need to confirm she's actually alive.
26) When she does finally wake up, ask her about the Fiber One Bar situation.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

And That's How She Became A Vegetarian

While on a family outing last night (read:  a trip to Costco), The Bird asked approximately 2 million questions, because WHY and WHY NOT? 

The questions ranged from why we were there yet again, to how come we aren't buying this, or that, or this, or that, or DIS, or DAT??!?!?  (The answer is because until she starts working and earning her keep, Mommy calls the shots and no, we do not need a $175 giant teddy bear.  She already has 175 $1 teddy bears and I think that's sufficient.) 

She, of course, is not one to let a simple shoot down of her dreams of owning the giant teddy bear deter her from asking more questions that demand a response... which leads me to forget the one thing I came to Costco for.  (Usually a year's worth of toilet paper or a day's worth of pumpkin seed bark.)

"What's that?"
"Can I see?"
"Sure... see how they're not broken?  Let's just put them back so they don't break."
"Okay.  What's that?"
"Why did you get salad?"
"Because I like salad."
"But why do you like salad?"
"Because it's yummy!"
"That's weird.  What's that?"
"That's steak."
"What's steak?"
"It's beef."
"What's beef?"
"It's, um... cow."
"I know.  It's yummy."
"Yea!  How do you get the cow into our cart?"
"Well... I buy it here... from the store."
"But how does the store get the cow?"
"Well... they get it from the farmer."
"But HOW does it get so small so we can buy it?"

At this point, I'm frantically looking around for anything to distract her... where is that damn giant teddy bear?  Maybe a sample cookie?  Anything????  But we were un the checkout line and people were lining up behind us... and I sensed that more than a couple strangers were enjoying our little show and were anxious to see how I would handle the situation.  The Bird loves cow on her plate.  And she also loves cow in the field. I just don't think she's ever made the connection, ya know?.

And am I ready to do that to her on a November night, over eggs and salad and steak, in the middle of the checkout line at Costco? No.  Because I already made her wear tennis shoes instead of sandals, so I've hit my Ruined Her Life quota for the day.

So, I did the next best thing.

"You know what, sweetie?  I bet Daddy can answer this for you."
"Ok!  Daddy, how do they get the cow to the store?"

And without missing a beat, the love of my life jumped in.  Head first.

"Well, you see, the cow lives on the farm, right?"

"Right, well, there's a man that is a lot like grandpa.  He's a farmer..."
 "Be careful, babe...."
"Hey!  I got this.  I GOT THIS!"  He looked at me with waaaay more self-assurance than any parent should ever have... and then turned back to The Bird.  

"Okay..." as I looked around nervously and smile at the other shoppers who were trying to pretend they're not eavesdropping.

"So, the farmer - someone a lot like grandpa - comes up to the cow in the field... and KILLS it and SLICES it into small pieces with a KNIFE!  And then the store buys it and then we buy it from the store and eat it....."

And I don't know what else was said because I FELL OVER DEAD RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE COSTCO CHECKOUT LINE.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The B-Word

The Bird recently asked for a Barbie for her upcoming 5th birthday.

First, let me thank all of my friends and the day care for exposing her to the B-Word.  No... not THAT B-Word.  I would prefer that B-Word to the B-A-R-B-I-E-Word.

Back before I had kids,  I swore that Barbie would never enter my home.  I believe that I have referred to it on more than on occasion as "The Eating Disorder Doll"... and vowed never to let it cross the threshold of my house.

But, when your almost-5-year-old looks up at you with wide, innocent eyes and desperately whispers:  "I want a Barbie doll... because I've never had a Barbie doll... and all my friends have Barbie dolls... so can I please have a Barbie?  Please, please, please?"  Well, now you feel like a Grinch.

It's hard balancing feminism with raising a little girl who, if she could, would like to grow up to be a Butterfly Princess that could fly and go to dance class and wear a crown of jewels and have pretty rings and necklaces and pink hair with sparkles AND WEAR HIGH HEELS!!!  (happy screech!!!)

So.  God... she has a sense of humor, no?  

Yep.  I'm a Grinch.  The Grinch Who Stole Barbie.  And yes... I may have gone too far with the No Barbies Rule.  And yes... I may not completely understand The Bird and her need to make everything princess-y.  And honestly?  I need to be better at that.  I need to let her be the little girl she wants to be and not impose my view of the world on her... the one in which I expect her to fly her feminist flag high and question authority and patriarchy.  Because she's just a little kid and she should just be allowed to be in that moment.

So...I get that.  I get that I'm 37-years-old and NEED TO DEAL WITH MY SH*T and not force it on my kindergartner.  It's just hard... way harder than I expected it to be.

Luckily, Mattel has found a way to soothe my feminist ire and STILL take money from my grubby hands via their new line: Career Barbie!!  Props to my girlfriend who pointed this out to me when I lamented how I could see the Barbie train coming and was powerless to stop it.

A quick Amazon search of Career Barbie turned up a few gems. You guys.  YOU. GUYS.  I don't know whether to be delighted at the possibilities... or dead inside.  Because while the powers that be have been shamed into trying... they're definitely trying... to step into the modern day, my ears are still bleeding. 

So, seeing that I have nothing better to do, let's discuss the concepts in the Career Barbie line:

1)  Actress Barbie
Do I really need to say anything about this?  Okay, fine.  See, the thing is there are some amazing actresses.  The ones that make you want to go see a film because you know they'll blow your mind.  And the funny thing is, NONE OF THEM LOOK LIKE THIS.   The ones who aren't so amazing... yes, they often look like this.  They're the ones who have to have guardianships placed on them and say they're not a feminist... because they don't hate men.... but women should definitely have social, economic and political equality.  See?  Ears bleeding.

2) Astronaut Barbie
This one... I'm okay with.  Not sure why they have to vomit pink at every turn, but you do you, Mattel.  Good job.

3) Soccer Barbie
So, listen.  I'm an athlete and am a huge advocate of women's athletics and what it means for the development of girls and women.  However, this is just not cutting it.  I mean, despite the fact that this outfit exactly matches The Bird's soccer uniform's color-scheme (not even joking), there are some issues here.

#1 - How many girls do YOU know that wear tight shirts and shorts to play soccer?  None.  That's volleyball.  Get it right. 
#2 -  And how many of them have perfectly coiffed hair?  NONE.  Which leads us to:
#3 - Her teeny-tiny feet that are so small there's no way she can kick a soccer ball effectively, or even be able to stand properly.
#4 -  Of course, since her knees don't bend, this is all a mute point.

Seriously... if we're going to promote sports via a Barbie doll, let's make it realistic.  How about a Million Dollar Baby Barbie Doll?  Looks like crap most of the time, doesn't comb her hair eats leftover food at the diner when no one is looking and hasn't showered in days... but can throw a mean left hook and knock you flat on your ass.  YOU GUYS!!  I would buy that doll in a heartbeat... hell, The Bean could be the model for that doll.

4) Baker Barbie

When I first looked at this one, I got a craving for some Pepto.  But other than that, I wasn't too bothered.  Until I looked at her shoes.  Really?  No.  No career woman I know would wear those kinds of shoes to work.  Well... one career woman, but Mattel hasn't officially created a Stripper  Barbie (although seriously... if they make one, it better come with a pole and I'm totally going to buy it).

But, I digress.  Besides the lack of comfort and impracticality of wearing these things in a kitchen, I'd be willing to bet that Baker Barbie will eventually end up with plantar fasciitis and a neuroma.  Those shoes are NOT her best friend. Why not a Cat Cora/Iron Chef Barbie??  I guarantee she's wearing running shoes.

5) Doctor Barbie
I actually was okay with this one... but then my friend who is an actual doctor pointed out that doctors?  THEY DON'T WEAR SHORT SKIRTS LIKE THAT TO WORK.   I know... I KNOW!  How in the world will we make Doctor Barbie about her looks versus her career if we don't emphasize her legs and the place where her vagina would be if she had one?

6) Nurse Barbie
This is one of the few that I can get behind, as I've actually seen a lot of nurses dressed similarly.  She does look incredibly unsoiled for a nurse, though.  Maybe they should add some vomit to her shoes.  Which by the way, should be Crocs, not heels.

7) Pediatrician Barbie
Again with the shoes.  And also... the tiny wrists that couldn't hold a baby if her life depended on it.  Nevermind giving a screaming baby a shot.  NEXT!!

8) Skier Barbie
I hope she freezes to death with those tight pants and no gloves, hat or goggles.  But... other than that, she's fine.  Except her hair should be in a pony tail and if she's wearing those tight pants, at some point her knees are gonna have to bend, otherwise her dreams of competitive skiing are over.

9) Teacher Barbie

Look how put together Teacher Barbie is?  She obviously teaches young children who are totally paying attention and listening to her at all times. Luckily, it appears that she only has the one student, which is super realistic.  This is her thinking to herself: "I need to figure out how to change out of these God-forsaken tight pants so I can actually move around my classroom and help my one student."  Someone needs to explain to this Barbie about budget cuts and America's educational priorities so that she knows that she's going to be teaching 40 kids in her classroom tomorrow... because they've cut the music and arts programs.

10)  Detective Barbie
THIS IS NOT DETECTIVE OLIVIA BENSON AND I REFUSE TO ACCEPT ANYTHING LESS THAN DETECTIVE OLIVIA BENSON.  By the way, Detective Benson wouldn't be caught dead in tight pants, boots, a walkie-talkie and a side ponytail.

11) Entrepreneur Barbie
So, now that I've offended everyone about Career Barbie - and possibly their professions - let's talk about Entrepreneur Barbie.  Which I think should be re-named to Working Mom Barbie... with a few changes.

1) Long skirt.  Working moms use this trick to cover up the fact that they haven't shaved since 2009.
2) Outfit should be wrinkled... not offensively so, but enough so that you can tell she had to pull them out of the dryer and hope a little Downy Wrinkle Release would do it's job in the five minutes she had before she had to walk out the door.  
3) Overflowing purse that contains all the staples of a Working Mom Barbies life, like:
  • 3 tubes of lip balm
  • 4 tubes of lip gloss
  • a pair of sunglasses for each kid... which they refuse to wear
  • one kid sock
  • 43 cents in change
  • Dora The Explorer goggles... broken
  • pebbles that her children stuck in her purse for safe keeping.
  • 3 Costco receipts
  • 10 dental floss sticks
  • sunblock stick
  • a swim diaper, despite the fact her kids are way past diapers
  • half-eaten granola bar that she never had time to finish
  • business cards
  • necklaces
  • Pez dispenser with no candy
  • dried up pens
  • hair clips
  • pigeon feather that her children stuck in her purse for safe keeping
  • hair pick
  • an Oregon Ducks whistle... because that makes sense
  • sticker earrings... that her children stuck in her purse for safe keeping
  • assorted items of useless garbage... that her children stuck in her purse for safe keeping
  • this wine cork that she keeps because of OH SO MANY REASONS

  • All of which are covered in melted chocolate from those espresso beans she accidentally spilled in her purse and never got around to finding before they melted in the sun when she left her purse in the car.  Along with her keys.
4)  A suspicious stain on her shirt that she thought about changing before work but decided, HEY!  THIS IS ME AND WE MADE IT THROUGH BREAKFAST WITH JUST A FEW MISHAPS (including this maple syrup/milk/bacon grease stain on my shirt).  Everyone else can just deal!!!

5) Let's be real with the makeup.  Like Working Mom Barbie has time for that? She doesn't.  She had to settle a fight between the kids about where they should wipe the booger they just pulled out of their respective noses, which took up all of the "putting on her face" time she had allotted for herself.

6) Working Mom Barbie should have her sunglasses on her head haphazardly, a coffee in one hand, her purse slung over her arm and one child holding on to the coffee hand's pinkie finger, while holding the other child's hand.  Working Mom Barbie decides who gets to hold her pinkie based on who she thinks is less likely to dart out into traffic that day. 

Look, if Mattel really wanted to inspire girls, they would try to make these career dolls more realistic.  Not just pick a career and then pink it up.  That being said, I recently purchased Entrepreneur Barbie and a Mermaid Barbie because the 5YO... she's allowed to be a kid.  She has her entire life to question what she's being marketed and why.

And I hope she will.  I really hope she will.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Home Sweet Home

Nine months ago, Benny and I took the girls skiing for the second time.


Because we're good parents like that.... living in an outdoor mecca with three ski resorts within 30 minutes of our home and we go skiing a total of two times. We put the kiddos in lessons and had a fun day of skiing.  After lessons were over, we skied a few times down the bunny hill with the girls, before The Bean lost her ski while we were riding the lift.  I had to carry her down in my arms - demonstrating all kinds of athleticism and strength that I didn't know I still possessed -  and we decided that it was time to call it good and head home.

On the way to the car, we ran into a friend who had put his house on the market back in September.  The price at the time was a leetle (read:  COMPLETELY) out of our price range.  So, despite the fact that I've coveted that house for oh... 10 years, or so... we didn't even bother looking.  What would the point have been?  BEHOLD!  EVERYTHING YOU WILL NEVER HAVE BECAUSE YOU WORK IN ATHLETICS AND YOUR HUSBAND PLAYS WITH FISH!
No thank you. 

So, when we asked him who bought his house, he mentioned that it was still up for sale and that they had reduced the price.

I looked at Benny.  Benny looked at me.  And because we've been married FOREVER we both knew what the other was thinking.

"We better call Rob."

Rob Moser is our friend who also happens to kick ass in the real estate biz.  He's with Equity Real Estate and I cannot say enough about the work he did for us in this process.  He answered every call and text immediately with customer service second-to-none.  His background in construction helped us determine issues we may not have noticed otherwise, and also help brainstorm solutions to issues that we wouldn't have thought of and would have likely passed on the house because of.  He sat with us in the house at noon in mid-February as we went through the pro's and the con's of 1) buying the house, 2) taking on a bigger mortgage, 3) fixing the house and 4) selling our house. He never pressured and was able to help us work through our concerns on our own... with professional feedback and advice.  Also?  He's easy on the eyes and that's super important for Benny.

Anyway, I recommend Rob to anyone who is looking to buy or sell.  And yes, I know a lot of people in the real estate business.  They're my friends and neighbors and occasional shoulder to cry on. And yes, I know that they are very good at what they do.  This is not a comment on them.  This is a comment on Rob, whom I have known for a long time AND who does The Crossfit with me.  It was Rob's wife, who helped me realize that I was stronger than I thought I was.  It is she who is partially responsible for my 301 dead lift a few months ago after she texted me in the middle of the night and threw down the gauntlet by telling me that she had lifted 290 to my 285.  So... you know... I owed them both one.

So, this house... it's absolutely our dream. It has everything we've ever wanted in a home. Indoor-outdoor living, wide-open living and kitchen areas, main floor laundry, an actual pantry, bigger bedrooms, master bathroom, pseudo walk-in closets and the view?  KILLER. It also has a garage which we've never had and was never really on our list of wants but hey, I won't kick it out of bed, you know?  The previous owners had opened up the living area by taking out a couple of walls and adding a master bathroom/closet.  They also added a beautiful little porch area in the front where we can enjoy the view in comfort. It's heaven. 

Those were the pro's.  Those were the things that just made my soul sing.

The con's... well, they were pretty big.  For one, the previous, previous, previous owners - the ones who had invited me into their home originally which began my obsession with the house 10 years ago - had installed some really nice features. The kitchen was updated and they had a pizza oven in the atrium.  Ten years ago, that's all I needed in my life.  An oven specifically for pizza.  A previous owner to them had enclosed the back porch for more living area, and added the garage.  I'm not sure which owners added the bar tile roof, but yea... it has a bar tile roof. But all of those elements, while nice, were done incorrectly, which caused some serious foundation issues that showed up via cracks in the ceiling of the atrium, and on the wall of the garage.  The doors that lead to the backyard from the atrium have been so affected by the settling and water damage from poor gutter installation that they were difficult to close and open.  We knew that we were going to have to fix the entire back wall of the atrium because the footings were not done correctly.  And I don't know much about construction, but it sounded like that was kind of a big deal.  The new bar tile roof was placed on top of the two previous layers of roof, which overloaded the structural capacity of the house which was built in the 50's and wasn't capable of handling that much weight... so much so that the roof trusses in the garage had buckled, causing the roof to sag in the middle.  

So said the structural engineer that we had come out and look at it.  At least, that's what Benny tells me he said.  All I heard was "Cha-Ching!" We found out later from other real estate agents that they had never been in the house, but had been directing their clients away from the house because of its problems. We won't even talk about the water issues around the perimeter of the house... mostly because the "Cha-Ching!" above is going to cut into my maple whiskey supply significantly and I don't want to even think about the water drainage issues on top of it.

For a while, I was convinced that we were going to pass on it.  I didn't want to get into a money pit and you know... foundation problems?  Not. Interested.

But at the end of the day, we decided we would be able to make enough out of the sale of our old home to pay for the most necessary fixes of the new home.  The fixes that would make it safe for our kids. Honestly, it's not sexy... fixing a foundation and a roof.  Sexy would be updating a kitchen or a bathroom but those things have already been done... and beautifully done.  So... whaddayagonnado?

Really, the only things we needed to do prior to moving in was paint the girls rooms.  I tried to talk The Bird into a purple and green room.  She insisted on pink.  So, I convinced her to let me do it purple and pink... so that my eyes didn't bleed every time I went in there.  Of course, The Bean would need something just as special.  I tried the purple and green line on her, but she insisted on orange.  Which... NO.  So, The Bean has the same colors as The Bird and she seems perfectly fine with it.  Both of their rooms are soooo much bigger than their previous rooms.  And The Bean finally has a closet... which she doesn't use because, as we have established, she only wants to wear shorts and short sweeves.  She has no use for dresses or shoes other than her pink sneakers.

The best part?  The girls have their own bathroom that's PINK!... and they love it.  Which means the Mommy and Daddy have THEIR own bathroom that's NOT pink and OMG, we've never had our own bathroom.  At the old house, Benny used to have to go downstairs so he could shower and blow his nose without waking up the girls.  And me... well, I've never had a legitimate shower that didn't have a curtain on it so I'm super pumped.  I'm not super pumped about keeping the glass clean, but I suppose it's part of growing up.  Double sinks in the bathroom mean that Benny and I have finally become that couple that brushes their teeth together. That only took 11 years.

Our new home has so many unique features, including an exhaust system, hardwood floors, low voltage lighting from The Land Before Time and so much storage I don't know what to do with it all.  Seriously... we've gone from a house with little-to-no storage ANYWHERE to a house that has so many shelves, cupboards, nooks and crannies that I could accidentally put something somewhere and NEVER find it again.   Like my children, for instance.   

Rob did an amazing job of showing our house and after just a month, we had it under contract. I always thought that I would be super sentimental and sad to leave our old house.  We really did plan on living there for our entire life because we had a killer mortgage and we loved the neighborhood.  In the rush to get moved into the new house, I didn't have much time to reminisce.  But, during the cleanup and staging of the old house, I had the chance to walk through and think about what that house has meant to us.  I'd lived in that house for over 14 years and had a specific memories for each room.  Hazel's bedroom was where I spent my first nights as a new mama...  The corner in the living room is where Millie first rolled over in her gym...  My bedroom where the cat brought in a live bird and played with it while I slept... Millie's bedroom where she managed to poop on the door from 7 feet away on the changing table... The laundry room which used to be a kitchen/laundry room for our tenants...  The garden that I gave up on because I was tired of fighting crab grass... "Nights of Thurnder" in the basement where we had friends come over to play quarters in on my grandmas old table with the orange swivel chairs (pre-kids)... The kitchen that flooded when I was 8 months pregnant with The Bean and gave me no end to the already significant heart burn... The driveway where both girls spent hours drawing with chalk... The basement that Benny remodeled by himself in time for The Bird's birth... The sidewalk in front of the house where they learned to ride their bikes...  The great room that Benny created by knocking down walls and surprising me after work... The teeny-tiny pantry that we could just never keep organized... The wall decals that I had lovingly put up in both girls rooms before they were born - the ones that I couldn't bring myself to take down when we moved because it was just too hard.

Yea, well... now here come the tears.

The kids enjoyed running through the house after we had moved out.  We had concerns that maybe it would be traumatizing for them to go into the house and not see anything in it... not their beds or their dressers.  But I think that they enjoy their new larger bedrooms so much more that it didn't bother them in the least. And they liked the echos they made in the now eerily empty house.  I think I was most bothered by the fact that we had to leave the tree that we planted when Hazel was born.  But still... other than a little wistfulness at a less complicated life that we no longer have, I didn't get too upset.

Until we sold the house and I drove by and saw the people who bought it moving in.  As if they just had every right to park in MY DRIVEWAY and put their furniture in MY HOME.  I found out later that they were repainting every room and I started to hyperventilate.  Why in the world would they do that?  THAT HOUSE IF EFFING BEAUTIFUL!  

Yea... so, I may have been a leetle more attached to it than I realized.  

But seriously... how will they ever comprehend just how special that house is? Will they know of the memories that were made there??  The laughter, the tears, the joy, the sadness... but mostly the love?

I don't know the family that moved into our old house, but I hope that they can feel the love that those walls contained for us.  And more importantly, I hope that they make their own memories filled with joy, laughter and love.

Even with new paint on the walls.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Doing The Best I Can

When I got to work today, I turned off the car and sat in the parking lot... mentally calculating how many arguments I had already been in that day.

Fifteen.  Fifteen arguments between 6:45 and 8:30 this morning.  And that just sucks.  Even worse, the arguments were between me and two little girls that just recently stopped pooping their pants.  For the most part.  

Even worse than that?  I'm not sure that I, at 37, won any of the arguments.  Sure, sure... raising kids is not about winning or losing.  EXCEPT THAT IT IS.  And anyone who wants to argue that point with me can go ahead and bring it.  I'm already at 15 arguments today.  What's a few more?

To say that this morning was not my best parenting moment is putting it lightly.  I mean, I didn't yell.  And I didn't scream... but was there joy?  Was there peace?  NO.  But there was me impatiently explaining for the fifth time this morning that it's raining outside so tennis shoes are required because I'm tired of hearing about your feet getting wet in your sandals.  And also? You already have a sore throat and I don't need to roll the dice on you getting sicker.  And also?  Pants and long sleeves will not kill you.  I know you think they will, but no one has ever died from pants and long sleeves instead of shorts and short sleeves or a dress.  NO. ONE.  Unless it's the mother who just said screw it and drove off a cliff after the umpteenth argument about it.  And no... see, I've already played that game with you about wearing what you want and suffering the consequences.  You know who suffered the consequences when you were cold?  ME.  I had to listen to the whining and crying about you being cold... and yet, here we are.  Fighting about this. Again.  Because contrary to what everyone says will happen if I try this little parenting trick on you, NEITHER OF YOU HAVE LEARNED.  So, I've now taken the choice out of your hands.  Because I'm tired of it.  There's going to be tears and a fight anyway, may as well do it while we're at least warm and dry.  And no... you asked for oatmeal.  That's oatmeal.  I don't care if it's in the wrong bowl.  Eat it.  You! Please. Sit. Down. and eat your breakfast before blood starts coming out of my eyes.  No!  I already told're wearing tennis shoes today.  Because your other shoes gave you an owie on your toe.  And  it's raining outside.  No.  You cannot have Mommy's breakfast.  BECAUSE THE LAST TIME YOU HAD SOME OF MOMMY'S BREAKFAST, YOU DIDN'T LIKE IT AND SPIT IT OUT... BACK INTO MOMMY'S BOWL.  Just eat your own breakfast please!!  It's fine that you don't have the same cup as your sissy.  YOU WILL SURVIVE.  Yes.  We have to brush your hair.  Because we haven't brushed it in 4 days and people will start to talk. No.  You cannot have fruit treats right now.  We only have fruit treats in the morning when we're camping.  No!  You cannot take your play computer to school.  Leave it here please.  Because I said so.  Oh! You don't want to go to school?  That's SHOCKING.  Please get in the car.  I don't care who gets in first, one of you get in, the other one follow! We don't have the Frozen CD in the car right now (because I hid it for my sanity). I'm sorry.  I'M SORRY.  That's life.  We have a gazillion other songs, let's try one of those.  No.  I'm sorry you don't like it, but that doesn't mean you get to scream the whole way to drown it out.

And that was my morning.  So, when I pulled into the parking lot at work, I was more than a little frazzled and disappointed in what the morning had been.  So often I find myself sitting alone - either in the car or on the toilet... JUST KIDDING!  I never get to sit alone on the toilet! - and thinking about what kind of mother I had envisioned myself to be... back when I didn't have kids.  And it's just not meshing with my reality.  And honestly... that's a huge, depressing bummer.  The kind of bummer that leaves you sitting in your car in an empty parking lot and getting teary-eyed because SHIT.  This sucks. I suck.  The whole world just SUCKS.

That's when my girl, Tracy Chapman, joined me in the car.  She put her arm around me with a few versus and let me know... this is okay.  You're doing okay.  You're doing the best you can.  And at this point in your life, that's okay.

Well, actually what she said was:

"At this point in my life, I've done so many things wrong.... don't know if I can do right. Put your trust in me... hope I won't let you down. Give me a chance... I'll try. See it's been a hard road, the road I'm traveling on.  If I take your hand, I might lead you down the path to ruin.  Had a hard life... I'm just saying it so you'll understand. Right now, right now, I'm doing the best I can. At this point in my life, although I've mostly walked in the shadows... I'm still searching for the light. Won't you put your faith in me, we both know that's what matters. If you give me a chance, I'll try. You see I've been climbing stairs, but mostly stumbling down. I've been reaching high always losing ground.  You see I've conquered hills but I still have mountains to climb. And right now right now I'm doing the best I can. At this point in my life."

And if that's not a parenting motto that everyone need to sing to themselves once a day... maybe in an empty parking lot when they finally have a moment to themselves, I don't know what is.  At the very least, it's the soundtrack to my life, right now.  Which is good because we all need a good soundtrack to get us through the day.

So, tonight... we try again. 

I try to find the joy that was missing this morning.

 I remember that it's a journey.

I remember that my children... they're also doing the best they can.

At this point in their lives. 


Monday, July 21, 2014

Thirty-One Things I'm Going To Do To My Children When They Are Grown... As Payback

I have been inspired by this guy who wrote about his top 10 things he wanted to do when his kids were older to get back at the nonsense they pulled as kids.  And I was all:  Only 10?  I have 10 per day.  So, in no particular order, I give you:

Thirty-One Things I'm Going To Do To My Children When They Are Grown... As Payback

1 - Stomp around in my high heels on their nice wood floor.  At 6 a.m.

2 - If The Bean serves me anything other than Mac & Cheese, declare loudly that "I don't wike dat!" and refuse to touch it.

3 - Insist that The Bird french braid my hair and if it isn't perfect, melt into a puddle in the middle of the bathroom.

4 - Climb into bed with The Bean and ask if I can have a Fiber One bar.  Bring said bar back to the bed and proceed to eat it... dropping chocolate and granola all over her and rubbing it into the sheets.

5 - Go up to The Bird's neighbors and tell them that I didn't wipe... because I drip dry.   

6 - Insist on wearing my finest dress for a trip to Home Depot with The Bird.

7 - Call little old ladies poopy-face at the market and then laugh hysterically.

8 -When The Bird asks how my day was, answer with:  "Arrrghh! You asked me that YESTERDAY and I ALREADY told you!!"

9 - Insist that The Bird warm up my ice cream by blowing on it... because it's too cold in my mouth.

10 - Poop in my bed and fall asleep next to it.

11 - Take a dry-erase marker to The Bean's friend's pretty white door.

12 - Grab The Bean's breasts in front of her friends and scream:  "Bobo's!  Bobo's!"

13 - Sit on The Bean's lap... and toot.  At will.  Repeatedly.

14 - Make both girls push me in the toy carts at the market and drag my hands along the floor the entire time.  And then proceed to suck my thumb.

15 - Lick the floor at a BBQ joint... in front of their friends

16 - Mention loudly that the gentleman sitting across from me at the pool is old... because he doesn't have hair.

17 - Exclaim to The Bean that the guy sitting at the table next to us isn't a boy because he has long hair. 

18 - Eat all of The Bean's food.  Every time she tries to eat.

19 - Insist on smelling all of The Bird's drinks.

20 - When I think they're not looking, drop all of my peas on the floor and then call the dog over.

21 - Run at the pool after being told to walk, slip and fall on my butt... and then cry for 2 hours.

22 -Come out of a public bathroom with a handful of paper towels and insist that I carry them around the rest of the day.  Because they are my FAVORITE things ever.

23 - Go into The Bean's bedroom at 3 a.m. and insist she give me cookies.

24 - Say the words:  "Did not! Did, too!" 83 times in a row until both girl's ears bleed.

25 - Insist on wearing flip flops in the winter, and stockings and closed-toe shoes in the summer.

26 - Throw up all over The Bean on the last night of vacation.

27 - Scream that The Bird never lets me make the rules for ANYTHING.... because she wouldn't let me wear my super fancy dress to bed.

28 - Pick my nose and then go up to The Bean and hand it to her.  Do the same to The Bird 30 seconds later.

29 - Go into The Bird's bedroom at 6 a.m. and ask if I can do chores and sweep the floor.

30 - Freak out because I don't like the song we are listening to in the car, and scream louder than the song so that no one can enjoy it.

31 - Break into The Bird's makeup bag and put her mascara... on my cheeks.  

And that's July's list.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Even though I have a solid four years of parenting under my belt, I have yet to come anywhere close to expert status.  I always secretly giggle when my girlfriends ask me for parenting advice because OMG... you must be desperate if you're asking me.  Did you know that my girls think that drip drying is an acceptable form of hygiene?

Seriously....I'm 37 with two kids and still have no idea what the hell I'm doing most days.  But, hey the kids are still alive and they're happy at least 49 percent of the time, so I'm either doing something right or just know how to polish a turd when I see it.  For example, did you know that there are children out there in the world who don't know the genius of hot dogs in their Mac & Cheese.... because their mothers feed them vegetables and other unprocessed foods?  I feel bad for those kids... I really do. 

And, yes... I tend to brag up my parenting swagger by letting my Facebook friends know that my child used the term "F*ck *t" and that I will soon be teaching her the other F-word:  F*m*n*sm.

But the truth is, I still need help every now and then.  That's where you come in.

You... reading this bit of nonsense right now and chuckling about what it must be like to have me as a mother.  You... the one who NEVER leaves a comment because you don't want to mess with your "lurker" status.  You... the one who comes up to me on the street and says:  "Hey-o!  Loved your post about your little girl pooping in bed and sleeping next to it!"

YOU.  Pony up, sweetheart.  We need all hands on deck for this one.

On the way home from school a couple of weeks ago, The Bird mentioned that a little boy in her class punched her in the stomach.  Since, I hadn't received a note and The Bird has been known to leave out pertinent facts (not on purpose, just because she's 4), I talked with the teacher about in the next day.  Turns out, she had been punched, but the teacher on duty was a sub and hadn't thought to write a note to explain what happened.  This particular little boy... Oy.  Vey.  It didn't surprise me that he was the culprit.  But, it seemed like an isolated incident and it was handled by the teacher and the executive director of the center, so I didn't worry too much about it. 

Cut to Thursday when I got a note from the teacher stating that The Bird had been punched in the stomach by another little boy (we'll call him Jerkface because HE IS), and well... two times in two weeks and Mama is NOT pleased. 

"So, why did he punch you in the stomach?"
"Because he was killing an earwig and I kept telling him not to kill it and he didn't like what I was saying so he punched me in the stomach!"
"Yes... it made me cry."

"Did you tell teacher?"
"What did she do?"

"She made him go sit on this beach towel."

Just as a point of reference, if you ever hear me saying "Hmmmmm...", you should probably back away slowly.  Because when I say "Hmmmmm..."  that means I'm about to say or do something that could prevent me from ever holding public office. In the past, "Hmmmmm" has immediately preceded the following statements:

- This bar will never even notice if we take this glass home with us.  Look how pretty it is!
- What's the harm in saran wrapping those cars together?
- I say we drink some more margarita's.
- That weirdly shaped apple looks like a butt.  I'm going to take a picture and post it online.
- There's a real genius to Baby Got Back.  
- Let's go up to the most conservative boy in school and grind on him at the school dance while "Shoop" is playing.  Bonus points because he's the principal's son.
- You know what... that Spanish teacher is about to have a nervous breakdown.  We should TOTALLY set her desk on fire.

 This particular "Hmmmmm..."  immediately preceded me asking:

"Bird... are you bigger than Jerkface?"
"Yes... why?"
"He punches you again, you push him down and stand over him like you're freakin' Lara Croft and tell him to NEVER touch you again.  And if he tries to stand up, you step on him and tell him to stay down or you will END him."
"Just wondering."

I went for a swim that night and had a long talk with myself about advocating violence against a 4-year-old.  It wasn't my best moment as a mother human being, I admit it.  But I never actually said those words out loud to her.  Partly because you don't teach that violence isn't acceptable.... by advocating violence.  But mostly because I knew if I did and the teacher asked her why she pushed him down, she would totally rat me out. 

The overall problem as I see it is NOT that the boy punched her.  It's about how she is expected to react to being punched that bothers me.  I'm all for non-violence and no hitting and using our words and walking away, but what if that doesn't work?  What if you're now a target and a victim?  There are many things I expect my girls to be.  A victim is nowhere on that list.  There is a fine line between teaching your daughter to stand up for herself and advocating violence... and it's not an easy line to walk.

I struggle with the idea that the teacher has to handle the situation, when my daughter could and should be the one to handle it. We should be teaching our children - especially our daughters - that they should have an expectation of how others treat them.  And sure... I get that he's 4.  And his parents haven't taught him better.  And he has three older brothers and that's just how they are... rough and tumble. I get it.  But, why is that an excuse to physically harm my daughter and she not be able to do anything about it other than cry and run to teacher?  Why in society do we teach our girls to let someone else handle it?  What is wrong with telling her to stand up for herself when someone hurts her?  This little boy may never change, but I don't believe the right answer for my daughter is just to avoid him. I suspect that would make it worse and that's not how real life works.  And I wonder if parents of little boys would tell their sons to let teacher handle it if their son was the one who received the punch... or two punches in two weeks. Or... if perhaps they would tell him what I wanted to tell The Bird:  Anyone punches you, you push them down and make sure they know that YOU are not to be messed with. Capisce?

Of course, if she handles it on her own, she runs the risk of getting a rep. Which is sad.  It just seems as though we are teaching our girls that they need to have someone else stand up for them, fight their fights and deal with their issues.  Which makes the feminist in me bleed from her ears.  We should expect more from our daughters than running to tell teacher if someone hurts them. We should empower them the way our sons are empowered. I certainly don't want her in a fight, but I sure as hell want her to know how to defend herself in a fight if need be.

Again, I'm not advocating violence, per se.  But it seems like if they're both 4-years-old, it's a fair fight.  And if he's smaller than her and she puts him in his place, maybe he'll be better at picking his fights.  And if The Bird learns how to stand up for herself now, and not be cowed by someone else who is willing to hit her because he can get away with it (because, honestly... at the end of the day, he had to go to timeout?  please.  he learned NOTHING from that.  and he'll do it again), then maybe she'll know how to stand up for herself when someone else tries to hurt her.  Maybe in a year.  Maybe in high school.  But she'll know that she deserves to be treated with more respect.  Will inaction on this lead her to believe that if someone doesn't like what she's saying or doing, it's okay for them to hit her?


We don't hit in our home.  That's not how we communicate.  We use our words and/or have a meltdown and have to go to our bedroom and cry it out.

But enough of how I communicate....

I'm sure there are some parents out there reading this thinking:  "Dude... chill out, Mama.  It was just a punch and it's part of growing up."  And trust me, I've wrestled with the idea that maybe I've let this get me too worked up.  But what I see is more than a punch.  So much more.

When I spoke with one of the wonderful women who run the day care about this, she asked what I would do if I saw a little boy punch one of my girls on the playground.  Would I run up to them and stop it and comfort my daughter?  Or would I be okay with her slugging him back?  It's possible she now thinks less of me because I responded that I'd let them fight it out.  At least for a little bit.  But I've always been a little more fight, less flight.

How would you advise your child in a similar situation?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Keep Wunning!

My favorite event in Ogden is the Ogden Marathon.  It's a time when the whole community comes together and rallies to create a simply spectacular event and vibe that you won't find anywhere else.  It's something that would be impossible to replicate elsewhere and it's one of the many things I love about this town and its people.

The amount of volunteers that turn out to help put this on is staggering.  Upwards of 1,400 men, women and children volunteered this year...this is in addition to the GOAL Foundation staff and board that work so hard to put on this incredible event year after year.  Because of everyone's dedication, little old Ogden boasts one of the top marathons in the country, hosting over 5,000 racers this year alone competed in the marathon, half-marathon and 5K races.  And even though I have a hate-hate relationship with running, I am uber proud of my town for doing this... and doing it so well.

Benny and I have been volunteering or running in the Ogden Marathon in some capacity for the last 10 years.  These days, Benny serves on the Board of the GOAL Foundation so he's busy all day race day, working in the canyon, helping with medical issues and aid stations.  I usually work at the expo the Friday before the race because race day for me is all about the kiddos now.  But, pre-kids, I was able to participate so much more.  Back in 2004, we rode our bikes downtown at 3 a.m. to help load buses... and if you really want to get the vibe of the event and its participants, helping load buses is the way to do it. The trepidation and excitement of the runners at that time of day makes the air crackle with excitement.  They're tired, but they're so excited to finally be at Zero Days Left Till The Ogden Marathon.  All of the training they've put in has led up to this one moment. Getting on that bus is the last step in the lead up to race-day.  It's the last time to back out.  Because once you go up that mountain... the only way back down is by self-propulsion.  Putting one foot in front of the other.  It's you and the road... and a few thousand other runners who had the same idea as you. 

In 2005, we spent the day picking up the discarded clothes along the course while cheering on the runners and making sure the aid stations were stocked appropriately.  In 2006, we got to help with the finish line by giving out water and medals to the finishers... and I WAS HOOKED.  This was absolutely the coolest thing I'd ever been a part of. 

All of these experiences are why I decided to add running a marathon to my bucket list. Seeing the people getting on those buses or crossing that line - some who were fit, some who were not, but all who were completely excited and proud of themselves - inspired me.  So, in 2007, I ran the marathon.  It's a beautiful course and I was so excited to do it that one time.  Because I'm older now.  And wiser.  And I now learn from my mistakes.

Me running a marathon?  Mistake. A mistake that ended with me sitting in a bathtub full of ice and cursing my legs for being.  Me sitting at the finish line, cheering on the runners while eating ice cream?  THAT'S HOW WE DO.

After I had The Bird, I ran the half-marathon in 2010, which was so much better for me and my legs... and one day, I'll do it again because it was a wonderful experience.  There were no tears and no ice was needed.  But, I got pregnant with The Bean like the next day, so I'm just playing the odds right now.  Every year I haven't run the half marathon, I haven't gotten pregnant.  I'd be a fool to ignore that data.

This year, my sister was running the half, so I took the girls down to watch her finish.  It was a geeeeorgeous day in O-Town.  One that made you happy to be alive, even if you were sweating down the back of your shirt while cheering on perfect strangers and wondering where in the world your sister was... before realizing that you had missed her crossing the line 30 minutes before.  Because you're just really good at telling time.

This year was also the first year that we felt confident enough to let both girls run in the KidsK.  This is such an amazing event for young kids to be a part of, that really ties in so well with the fitness priority of Ogden.  The organizers of this particular part of the day were fantastic and it's apparent that they really love the children of this town and the idea of creating a building block of health and wellness for them at an early age.

Both girls and their friend TK did the requisite stretching and warming up before the start of the race.  I had made it clear that The Bird was supposed to stay with TK who I knew was going to want to stretch his legs and win the whole thing....  but I thought I had pounded it into both of their heads that YOU NEVER LEAVE A MAN BEHIND.  So, that was Phase I of The Plan.

Phase II of the plan included TK's mom waiting and catching the kids at the finish line, while Phase III of The Plan had me batting cleanup on the course as I was running with The Bean... in case someone got left behind or pulled a hammy.

The Plan was solid.

The Plan fell apart immediately.

TK was gone before I even crossed the start line with The Bean. I'm pretty sure he won the whole thing.  The Bird was left running with some random kid by herself, but refused to come back and run with me and The Bean.  She didn't look upset and was so excited to be a part of the race, that I just tried to keep an eye on her, while making sure The Bean didn't get run over by the strollers behind us. Luckily, Benny was able to put his race day responsibilities on hold for 15 minutes and showed up just when I lost sight of The Bird. After giving me our requisite: "No matter what happens, you STAY ALIVE!! I will find you!" look, he took off and was able to find her and cross the line with her, which she thought was just the greatest thing since princess dresses.   

The Bean, who has never been a follower in her short life, actually bought into the idea of running with all of the other kids.  I tried to carry her at one point, and she insisted on walking/running on her own... which came as a shock to me.  The entire race was a mixture of her running and then stopping to look around her and then walking... at which time I would remind her to "Keep running!"  Halfway through the race, I figured out that I could walk as fast as she was running, so I started walking next to her.  And then this little girl who has more attitude than should be legally allowed at 3-years-old looked up at me, squinted her eyes and yelled:  "KEEP WUNNING, MAMA!!"

This girl is going to be the death of me.

As we crossed the finish line, I scooped her up and we gave high-fives to all of the volunteers waiting for the kids to cross.  Many of whom were friends and were thrilled to see The Bean crossing that line... while also probably wondering why I was in khaki shorts and Keen's.  BECAUSE I TOTALLY PLAN AHEAD, THAT'S WHY.

This is how you raise kids in Ogden, Utah.  You do it with your community and its people that share your values and philosophy of life.  The ones who know your kids by name and who you know would protect them and corral them at the finish line until you got there.  The ones who want to create a beautiful world for all of our children to grow up in, and they do so by their words and deeds.

I had a friend ask me the other day if I would ever consider moving if it meant making more money and having more influence in my chosen career.  The answer is no.  Which goes against everything I learned reading Lean In.  I know.... I'm a disgrace to working women everywhere.  But, there's more to life than work.  I don't need a lot.  I just need... enough.  Enough time.... enough love... enough energy... enough joy... enough laughter... and enough money to help teach my girls how to take care of our world and our community.  Just... enough.  I can figure it out from there.  Because enough to me includes living in a place where the town rallies to show the world what we're capable of.  Where success is not measured by how much money you make, but how you have helped your community. Where the mayor voluntarily bikes to work every day for an entire year to set an example for the people and the children of his city. 

That's living.     

That's where I want to live and grow my family.

It's where my family will keep wunning.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

Mother's Day dawned yesterday with cah-rappy weather and grumpy kiddos who had gone to bed too late the night before and who were also all sorts of cabin-fevered.  Initially, we had planned on taking them on a bike ride along the Ogden River during a break in the storm, but it was just too damn cold and the one thing I won't tolerate on Mother's Day is being cold.  So, we ended up taking them over for a play date while my girlfriend and I went to get pedicures and left the kiddos with their dads.  Spending time with the kids on Mother's Day? I mean.. who does THAT?

For dinner that night, I threw on some leftover taco soup.  You know... the one the kids loved on Saturday but suddenly loathe on Sunday?  That one.  Don't like leftovers?  Tough.  It's Mother's Day... and I'm not supposed to do anything on Mother's Day.  I think it's a law or something.  So, taco soup it is!  And also, if there's one day in the year that you DON'T  tell our mom that you "don't wike dat!" while pushing away the homemade food she's lovingly put in front of you, IT'S MOTHER'S DAY.  Brat.

After that epic success, we decided that the only way to salvage the day was a trip to get ice cream at Burch Creek Mercantile.  We didn't tell the kiddos where we were going so that we could surprise them.  Think about that for a minute.  On Mother's Day, we go out of our way to surprise our kids.  And it's not just Mother's Day.  Last year for Father's Day, both girls got new bikes.  We're doing this wrong, I know.  But I'm not sure how we get back on track with this nonsense.

So, yea...we wanted to surprise them.  But it's also true that we kept the surprise from them because we've been to this rodeo before and wanted to make sure we had all the facts before we told them to avoid hysterics and a meltdown.  (And then there was the worry that THEY would be upset.)  But mostly it was to surprise them on my special day.

Of course, the Mercantile was closed.  Because, you know... karma.  For those of you not in the know, a spring Sunday in Utah + kids + raining = misery.  To add to the misery and also get our ice cream, we decided to go to McDonald's.  Which is where a little part of me died.

As we sat in the drive-thru, I thought about what I always envisioned Mother's Day being... and how I never thought it would include a trip to McDonald's for ice cream to quell the beasts (she said lovingly in between refereeing their fighting) in the backseat.  I asked Benny to remind the kiddo's why we were getting ice cream because I may have threatened them with no food for the rest of the night if they didn't eat their dinner.  And yea, they didn't eat their dinner... BUT WHO WANTS ICE CREAM?  

Tiger Mom I am not.  But at least I get ice cream.

Because he's a good man, he reminded them without rolling his eyes.  And did so as as he was being handed their ice cream cones through the service window.

"Alright kids. Do you know why we're getting ice cream?  It's Mother's Day!  It's Mommy's special day so we're getting something special!"

I didn't even have the energy to look horrified as the McDonald's worker raiser her eyebrows and smirked.  I imagine she was thinking:  "Yea, you're one special mama to get McDonald's on your special day.  What are you going to get for your birthday?  A root canal?" 

So, I gave her my best:  "HEY!  THIS WHOLE THING WAS MY IDEA!" look.  And then threw the $4 for my Mother's Day treat at her and had Benny peel out.

While the kids were happily slurping their cone and The Bean was eating the paper with the cone, we headed up to Ogden Valley for a nice family drive.  It's beautiful in Ogden this time of year, but particularly so in Ogden Valley, where everything is green and the surrounding mountains stretch into the sky like they're just waking up from a long nap.  Those mountains... they make me jealous with their long naps.

Everything was going great... both girls were happy from their sugar high and Benny and I were able to have a conversation about the Ogden Marathon that is happening next week, and my one experience in running it many moons ago.

"This spot right here... this is where the wheels fell off."
"Mile 18?  That's pretty early in the race for the wheels to fall off, babe. "
"Yea?  Well, you can just go ahead and suck it."

"Oh... this part is brutal... but not as brutal as this part... or this part."
"You've only pointed out the flat parts of the course.  So, what you're saying is it's only brutal when you're not going downhill?"
"Yes. You don't need to sound so smug, by the way. I know my weaknesses.  Anything not downhill is one of them."

And so on.

And then The Bird threw my bike helmet at The Bean in the backseat and EVERYONE'S LIFE WAS RUINED. It's unfortunate because it was really just a slight misunderstanding... Bird-zo thought it would be funny.  The Beaner didn't.  So, her face melted off and we had to do some quick front-seat parenting.  Which basically means we took the helmet away and threatened to cancel Christmas... and order was restored.

Halfway down the canyon, The Bird started complaining (started?  or continued?  jury is still out... because she's got this thing about complaining... in that she's always. complaining. about something.) that her tummy hurt.  Not to be outdone, The Bean also started complaining that her tummy hurt and she was going to "frow up!".  Which caused The Bird to declare that she was going to "frow up first.  And Mommy... my tummy weally, weally hurts!"

And then Mommy, the voice of reason, declared that frowing up was not a competition and there would be no frowing up because that's just weak... and how disgraceful it is if they can't hold their ice cream.

See... we've also been to this particular rodeo and knew that there were two possibilities:  1) they're faking it because it was too quiet and there was a need to fill the silence or 2) crap. motion sickness.  

As a parent, there's no right way to play this as you're driving down a tight, windy canyon... other than just begging your child to hold on till we got out of the canyon and could pull over.  And, as is the norm for this type of situation, the "frow up" occurred right as we came around the last corner of the canyon.

And that was my Mother's Day.  How was yours?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

10 Things My Mom Taught Me

This post was written Wednesday... which is why the beginning of it is totally past tense.  Deal with it. 

Mother's Day is coming up. I'm reminded of this because the girls have apparently been making something at school for me.  And also practicing screaming HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! at the top of their lungs.  Every. Day.

They continually ask me if today is Mother's Day.  No? Is it tomorrow?  What about yesterday? Was it yesterday?  What about Wednesday? What about Tuesday? No?  WHEN IS IT, MOMMY? 

See, there's only two days of the week that they know.  Tuesday, which is Tumblebus Day at school.  And Wednesday, which is when they have gymnastics.  They don't know what Saturday or Sunday are... except that they know they don't have to go to school for two whole days and it's AMAZING. 

I'm not sure what I'm getting for Mother's Day from them... but with the buildup, we've been experiencing for the past two weeks, I expect it to be nothing short of a diamond tennis bracelet.  Or maybe a couple of rocks and a dandelion.  Which is pretty much the same thing in my world.

Now that I'm out of the baby-phase of parenting and am raising two very independent and opinionated kiddos, I often have chances to step back and look at my experience as a mother. Which leads to the daily question of whether or not I'm doing it right or if I'm just completely screwing my kids up.  I suspect it's the latter because this morning, The Bird tried to tell us that unless we gave her more Cheerios, she was going to keep crying.  It is clear to me that my consequences-based parenting is rubbing off on her the wrong way.

I think every mom goes through this self-doubt.  And those who say they don't are lying liars who lie.

I also think that whether we realize it or not, we are applying the lessons we were taught as children to our children.  The Good.  The Bad.  The Ugly. 

My mom and dad stopped by the house last night and dropped of a beautiful hanging basket for Mother's Day.  I felt bad because... well, yea... I haven't done any shopping for my mom for Mother's Day, yet.  Maybe by Saturday I'll get myself to the nursery and grab something she'd like.  But seriously.. Wednesday?  I don't operate that far in advance unless it's for chocolate.   So, for now, my Mother's Day gift to her is this:

10 Things My Mom Taught Me
1 - "If something is worth doing, it's worth doing well."
Work ethic is important to my mom and she has instilled that in her kids.  She preached it while we were picking worms in the alfalfa field waiting for the sun to come up so we could finally go home and get the mud out from under our fingertips.  And she preached it while we were roasting marshmallows over a campfire. In mom's mind, whether it's picking night crawlers to sell to fishermen, cleaning the bathtub, doing your homework or making the perfect s'more... don't waste your time. Do your absolute best and then move on to something bigger and better.  This may well be why when I suffer from writers block or if I'm not up to par on my writing I yell:  THIS IS CRAP! while deleting the file and starting over.  Or why I refuse to make the bed (because I don't think it's worth doing).  But it's also why I graduated from college, excel in a career and make a mean s'more. 

2 - "Stand tall and proud!  Tall is beautiful!"
This was little solace to a 5-8, 98 pound 5th grader who endured such horrific nicknames as Giraffe, Too Tall Paskins, Pencil Legs and Hey! How's The Weather Up There, Dork? But every time my mom saw me slump my shoulders in an effort to conform to the "normal-sized" world I was living in, she affirmed that tall was beautiful and I should never try to disguise it.  "Do you know how much I would give to have your height? All those people are just jealous of your height.  You're going to be able to do great things because of your height.  You're height will never hold you back.  Now, please grab that bowl up on the top shelf for me.  I can't reach."

3 - "We don't flip the bird. And if we do flip the bird, we DON'T flip the bird to the Bishop."
There were a couple of lessons here:  1) Choose your battles wisely. If you're going to flip the bird, do it slyly while pushing up your sunglasses or scratching your nose.  Anything else is just unladylike.  2) If you flip off a church leader - or anyone, really - church doctrine says you're required to clean the toilets for a month.

4 - "When someone says mean things about and to you, it says more about them than it ever will about you."
This little lesson got me through some ROUGH times in school.  This lesson taught me kindness because I remembered how those girls (it's always girls, isn't it?) made me feel with their words and actions.  Years later, I've had conversations with some of those girls and I found out that when those hurtful things were coming out of their mouths, they were going through some pretty rough times in their lives and they were acting out at the easiest target....  the freakishly tall, skinny girl with the big hair and lisp. 

5 - "Life isn't fair."
Sister got the last bean burrito?  So?  Put on your big girl panties and deal with it.  Horse buck you off and Dad made you get right back on that piece of crap?  Stop crying and deal.  You friend has prettier dresses than you do?  Maybe you should pick more worms so you can afford to buy a nice dress this year.
7 - "If a bird poops on your head, let it dry... then you can flick it off with less mess."
And yes... this was her advice to me on a family trip to Mexico 25 years ago when that happened outside a fast-food joint. And she was only 10% kidding. The point is, life can be messy.  Don't stress about it.  The poop will dry.  Life will go on.

8 - "You should have listened to me."
When I was about 4, I decided to walk down to the barn and play with the baby peacocks that had hatched a few weeks earlier.  Mom told me not to... and then watched as I disobeyed her and skipped down to the barn completely oblivious to the protective pea-hen that proceeded to swoop down from the rafters beat the living crap out of me with her wings, while scratching me with her talons.  I'm not sure how long the beat down lasted.  In my 4-year-old mind it was about at 30 minute brawl, but it was likely just a minute before I turned around and ran, sobbing, to the house... bleeding and covered in welts.  My mom merely glanced up from her Dr. Pepper she'd been sipping as she watched the battle unfold and said:  "Well... I told you so." and went back to her drink.  My mom... the antithesis of the helicopter parent.

When my girls freak out about something trivial, I think back to that day.  I GOT BEAT UP BY A FREAKIN' PEACOCK, GIRLS.  YOU CAN DEAL WITH YOUR PIGGY-TAILS NOT BEING PERFECTLY ALIGNED TODAY.

9 - "Stand up for yourself."
I was taught from a young age that I should be treated just like everyone else. No better.  No worse.   Just because I was a girl, didn't mean I couldn't do the same things boys did.  So... I ended up playing on a Jr. Jazz team full of boys, because there were no girls teams. BTW... feminism was not super popular in rural southeast Idaho in the 80's, which meant that the boys LOVED having me on their team.  Like most people, I endured a stupid amount of bullying all through grade school.  Big bangs and a lisp will do that to you.  But, as I gained confidence due to my abilities on the court, I learned how to stand up for myself. It's what I teach my daughters every day.  To be proud of who they are and not to let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do. 

10 - "Hi, Bored!  I'm Mommy!  Go outside and play!"
Bored?  Go outside and play!  Hungry?  You just ate two minutes ago.  Go outside and play!  Tired?  Go outside and play! For the love of Pete!  Go. Out. Side. And. Play.  Very little of my childhood was spent indoors.  We had exactly three channels when I was growing up, but we had about a gazillion animals... domesticated (even the cow that we kept as a pet when its mother rejected it) and those that maybe mom knocked out of tree or captured on the hill and decided to raise as pets. Iggy, Ziggy and Twiggy the magpies (yes, we had magpies and they were awesome.) and Rocky, our lice-covered yellow-bellied marmot.  Among several others.  The point is, we experienced life.  Barefoot and muddy for the most part.  And man, do we have some awesome memories of growing up.  I want the same for my girls... and with maybe the exception of early morning Saturday wake-ups and throwing on some Sesame Street so Mommy and Daddy can sleep in until a more appropriate hour, we don't let the girls watch too much TV.  We're truly pushing the No Child Left Inside philosophy... and it's one that I learned from my mom.  She was either fishing or golfing or gardening or knocking baby magpies out of their nests... not watching TV.  With the exception of Days of Our Lives.

Happy Mother's Day, mom!  Thanks for imparting your wisdom and -isms over the years.

(Also, I did in fact get a dandelion from The Bird for Mother's Day, and some rocks from The Bean.  It was a great morning.) 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Parenting A Princess

Those of you who read the blog regularly, know that I have daily battles with both girls about what they're going to wear.  I want to be clear that these battles have nothing to do with me needing to exert control over them at the micro-level.  I don't care if what they put on matches.  I mean... when they come out with a pink shirt, lime green leggings and an orange skirt, I don't bat an eye. The other day, The Bean came out with her swimsuit on top of her jeans and shirt and I was just:  "Okay!  Ready to go?" Because otherwise, I'd never leave the house.  And I get it... there's so few things that they have control over, why can't they dress themselves?  Fine.  I'll roll with the punches as long as the punches are appropriate and don't hurt anyone.

Which is why I haven't brushed The Bean's hair in about a week. 

The problem arises because The Bird insists on wearing dresses every. damn. day.  It doesn't matter if it's raining or snowing or her face is on fire.  She wants to wear a dress.   I've accommodated her obsession by setting up ground rules that if it's raining, snowing or is cold outside, she has to wear leggings and a long sleeved shirt under the dress.  She's been somewhat okay with this agreement, but every once in a while, the wheels would fall off and we have a knock-down, drag-out fight.  This is usually because the leggings she wants to wear are nowhere to be found and those are clearly the ONLY leggings that she will allow to be worn with that dress.  And no... she doesn't want to wear another dress.  She wants to wear THIS dress and only THIS dress.  When I innocently ask if I should just get rid of the other dresses if she's not going to wear them, her face does, in fact, go up in flames. And at this point, I'll acknowledge it's really my fault that our morning veered so far off the track.  Because I am a stupid, stupid woman who is just stupid with the stupid questions. 

To further ruin our mornings, I've also put stipulations about what types of dresses she can wear to school each day.  Meaning that the super, fancy dress used for school performances is not an every day school type of dress.  Which drives her nuts.  She wants to dress up to the nines all. the. live. long. day... week... month... year.

There is no stopping this obsession.  It's like me with chocolate.  Only more maddening because chocolate is amazing and her dresses are the bane of my existence.

But here's the real problem.  It's not that she's wearing dresses.  I can live with the wearing of the dresses.  One of the reasons I loved summer when the kiddos were younger was the ease in which I could throw them into a dress and just be on our way.  No muss, no fuss.  And yes, the argument could be made that I've brought this on myself. And that argument will end with my punching you in your solar plexus because I. KNOW!

So, no... it's not that she's wearing dresses.  It's her behavior when she's wearing the dresses that makes me want to  put my finger through my eye, into my brain and swirl it around.  I'm not a fan. I've noticed that when she gets to wear her fancy dresses, or really any of her dresses, she doesn't want to play outside.  She'll stay in her room and change into 15 different dresses TWICE until she finds one she likes and then come out for 30 seconds before going back in and changing.  She hardly ever goes outside to enjoy nature and... what the hell is that yellow thing in the sky?  The sun???  And if she does go outside, she doesn't play like a kid is supposed to play.  She sits there demurely and watches other kids play.  She has princessized herself to the point that she isn't being a kid.  She's being a lump on a log, looking down at the other kids playing while she sits on her throne and blows on her nails while demanding I go grab her a sippy cup because she's parched. This is how I imagine Paris Hilton was as a child.  And so help me, God... I am not raising a Paris Hilton.  Death first!

The attitude that comes out when she is in princess mode is absolutely unbearable.  Holy mother of a headless goat, is she out of control. Even when she's not actually in the dress, she still has this insolent, spoiled princess attitude and makes demands the likes of which I, the 37-year-old with a college degree and a career, cannot and WILL NOT abide by.  Anymore. Mostly because she didn't say please.  But also because contrary to her belief, I'm not her servant and she can go get the damn sippy cup herself.

It is fair to say that I have not handled this phase of her beautiful childhood well.  In fact, last month I caught myself asking her if her legs were broken and if that's why she couldn't go get the blanket on the other side of the room?  You know... where she put it 30 seconds ago.  Because that's the adult way to handle something with your 4-year-old:  Sarcasm.

I also refuse to do things for her that I know she can do.  Like brush her teeth, chew her food and swallow her water for her.  Over the last few months, I have threatened her with taking away her dresses in order for her to understand that the behavior is just not acceptable.  I always give her a "last warning" and then forget that I've given her a last warning before giving her another "last warning".  And another.  And another.  Until my child has figured out that I apparently don't have the balls to take away her dresses because I don't want to deal with the ensuing nuclear fall out.

But last week... last week I'd had enough. Full disclosure, I was not at the top of my game last week.  I had been traveling. I was tired. I was irritable.  So, my handling of the situation was less than desirable. I admit this. And I'm sharing it with you anyway. Because that's what bravery looks like in 2014.  

To set the scene, let me explain that The Bird has rather sensitive skin and from time to time, we have to put lotion on the back of her hands to prevent some pretty painful dry skin issues.  As I was putting her to bed, I broke out the lotion that we use and was taken aback when she flipped out.  Her Highness was having NONE of it.  I asked, begged, pleaded and cajoled her until the little timer in my brain - the one labeled 'I've Had Enough of This Shit' - went off.

And cue the excellent parenting in 3-2-1:

"Alright!  We can either put on the lotion and you keep your dresses...  Or, I take away the dresses and THEN I STILL PUT ON THE LOTION. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO?  EITHER WAY... YOU'RE GETTING LOTION!!!!"  

Sounds super Silence of the Lambs, doesn't it?

Given my previous history, it's no wonder she decided to take the risk that I wouldn't follow through.  Except... yea, I did.  I may have been overly dramatic as I grabbed her dresses out of the closet, tripping on her dolly stroller on the way out of her room and throwing them into my room.  I may have scared her as I picked up the dresses that fell out of the first load and threw them in my room with the rest of them.  But that was it.  I was done.  D-O-N-E. Done.

Of course, the consequence for my consequence was miserable for everyone.  She was heartbroken. I was a huffing, puffing monster angry over lotion.  LOTION. Yea, I was mad... but seeing my little girl so heartbroken?  Not my favorite memory.  I was Mother Gothel, Ursula the Sea Witch and Malificent all rolled into one.

It isn't my best look.

Once we had both calmed down, we had a heart-to-heart.  I explained to her that her behavior was no longer going to be tolerated.  I had to explain behavior and tolerated to her, so that took an additional LIFETIME, but we got there.  I then explained that she would get her dresses back.  Some day.  But she would have to earn those dresses. Meaning she needed to be on her best behavior.  She needed to do what I asked. She needed to be kind to her sister and be happy.  No more crying over what she wanted to wear in the morning. And then... well, then we'd see.

The next morning, she woke up and asked if she could have her dresses back.  Because she missed them.  Cue the clarification that being on your best behavior while you slept didn't count and she'd get her dresses back after she proved that she deserved her dresses.

That was a week ago.  And in that week... OMG has this child been the best kid ever. And not just because she's trying to get her dresses back.  She was playing like kids are supposed to do.  Climbing trees, riding her bike, getting dirty, picking up garter snakes, playing with the dog and her sister... all without worrying about getting her dress dirty or tearing the fabric when it got caught on a branch.  She even started wearing her sneakers again... without complaining. 

Is it bad that I like my kid better when she doesn't have dresses?  My mornings were amazing for an entire week (minus the meltdowns over the placement of her piggy-tails... but cutting her hair seems like it would be too traumatizing for both of us so we'll just have to figure something else out).  

I won't lie... I have considered NEVER giving her dresses back.  Again... not because I'm anti-dress.  I'm just anti-princess-attitude and I'm pro-mud-pies, pro-snake-wrangling, pro-scrape-your-knees, pro-run-through-the-sprinklers-fully-clothed, pro-climb-a-tree, pro-bike-riding and pro-Get-Out-And-Live.  All things that the princess wasn't doing.  Until last week.

Yesterday I got my Mother's Day gift from The Bird.  She made it at school and drew the pictures all by herself.  She was very proud of it.

As I read the story about why she loves me out loud, I almost choked on the third point.  I was further taken down a notch when she corrected what her lovely teacher had so clearly edited for my benefit:

"No mommy!  You take away my dresses and MAKE me go to sleep.  MAKE!"


The Bird got her dresses back today.

Because I think we have all learned our lesson.