Monday, June 28, 2010

The Hangover: My Edition

Here we are in kid-free bliss.

Chicago rocked.

The rehearsal dinner rocked.  The after bar rocked.  The wedding rocked.  The trolley rocked.  Brian's best man toast rocked.  The band literally rocked.  It all totally rocked.

You know how you plan an event?  You plan for months and months.  You have brand new outfits to wear.  Fun snacks to eat.  Pretty painted toe and fingers.  A fresh haircut.

Then it comes and it goes and it's never as fun as the planning.

That didn't happen.

It was more fun than I could have ever expected and then some.

I have one complaint:  Why, oh, why must the Chicago bars be open until 5 a.m.?

The kids are back and I'm so glad.  The reuniting today was priceless.  But my legs hurt from dancing.  My feet hurt from heels.  My throat hurts from laughing.  My eyes hurt from not sleeping.  My liver hurts from drinking.

But I don't think anything hurts more than our credit card.  Oooh baby.  Looks like we'll be staying in for the next five years.  Thank you City of Chicago for your 10% sales tax.  At that rate you should just call it a tip.  But you're still one of my favorite cities so I'll let it slide.

A quick story about seeing the kids for the first time today and then off to bed to catch up on 48 hours of lost sleep.

I met my mom at a mall to trade back kids and cars today.  When William saw me he ran clear across the parking lot screaming: "MOMMY! MOMMY!"

We hugged.  We kissed.

But when I went in to take Lucy from my mom's arms she turned away from me and gave me a scowl.  She was mad that I left her!  I took her anyway and then she wrapped her little arms around me.  Every so often she would lean back to peek at my face.  "Is it really you?" she seemed to be asking.  Then she would giggle as if to say, "Just kidding, I'm not really that mad at you."

After the mall we swung by Brian's office so he could see the kids as well.  Once again William ran to him screaming: "DADDY! DADDY!"

But Lucy, oh how she loves that daddy of hers.  She pushed herself out of my arms and immediately held them up to Brian.  She was hyperventilating and laughing all at the same time.  She pushed her big brother out of the way so she could get better dibs.

We had ourselves a little moment right there in the lobby of his office.  A few welled up eyes and all.

Our family's back together.  Even if some of us are hurting like the dickens.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On Being Away

"I can't wait to just sit next to you on the plane."

That's what Brian and I told one another in preparation for our Chicago trip this weekend.  It was probably said in the heat of the moment.  At the dinner table when everyone was screaming for something.  Dessert.  More milk.  A bath.  Bed.  I want to tell you something.  I WANT TO TELL YOU SOMETHING NOW.  Are you listening, mommy?  Mommy?  MOMMY?!

It's Wednesday afternoon and the kids are already gone.  They're living the dream life at Camp Grandma's for a long, long weekend.

I was slightly relieved when Lucy pooped just as I was getting her into her carseat for my brother to drive them away.

I brought her back in the house for a change and quiet one-on-one time.

"Mommy's going to miss you SO much," I said.

She looked at me with those quizzical eyes and babbled something back in Chinese or Japanese or Mandarin.  And my heart ached.  A lot.

It's the first time I've ever been away from her overnight since she was born.  Fourteen months of her and I waking up and going to bed just a stone's throw apart.

I'm not the kind of mother who looks for opportunities to get away.  I'm not the kind of person who needs a ton of alone time.  I like my family and I like when we are all together in one complete unit.

But when situations present themselves, such as a family wedding in downtown Chicago in which it would be near impossible to bring any of the kids, well, I see it as a little nudge.

Work on my marriage.  Have fun.  Sleep in.  Stay out late.  Maybe have a  glass of wine, or two, or four.

It's good to revive the part of me that used to be carefree and not thinking about the next meal or if it's getting close to naptime or if I have enough diapers to make it through the week.

Mornings will be hard.  Thinking of them with their sleep-kissed faces when they are most snuggable.  What did they dream about? What are they having for breakfast?  Are there smiles?  Are there tears?

And then there's the nights.  When I'll be alone with my thoughts, cuddled up against my love in the dark and thinking of my babies snuggled in their beds and sleeping soundly so far away.

Those will be the hard times.  But besides that I'll have plenty of distractions to keep me focused on my number one goal: To have fun.

And when I return, well, we all know that's the best part of any vacation.  Sleeping in your own bed.  Eating your own food.  Getting ready in your own bathroom.  And being refreshed.  So refreshed that I'll actually be excited to be a 24/7 mom again.

Signing out of Bloggyland for a bit.  See you when I return!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Life With Lucy: In Two Photos

"I don't WANNA do 'so big'!"

"Stop it!"

"Right now!"

"I'm serious!"

"I said STOP IT!"

"Oh wait.  Is it time to eat?"

One Of Those Kind Of Days

**Note: This picture was actually taken last week.  But the weather is just as toasty and we did the same thing today so it still counts.

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Best Season

We are all dressed and ready for the day by 9 a.m.

We go to the park, one, two, sometimes three times a day.

I leave my camera at home.  Live in the moment.  Not stress about the perfect capture.

On most days his bike clocks more than two miles.

I say yes when he asks to go to the far park.

I blow up his swimming pool on the sunny days.

And set up the sprinkler too.

"Is this an obstacle course?" He asks, excitedly.

"Yes," I say.

I let him eat cherries right out of the bowl and hardly get upset when the juice dribbles down his chin and stains his t-shirt.

We go to the library when it rains to search for Nate the Great books.

Naps are hit or miss.

Bedtimes might go into the 9 o'clock hour.

I make easy dinners.  Pasta.  Pizza.  Anything on the grill.

I make brownie sundaes for dessert almost every night.

Or instead we walk to the ice cream store after baths.

I don't worry as much about the floor's dirt or the fingerprints on the windows.

The laundry gets done once a week instead of twice or thrice.

I use my television only to play the Party Hits music channel.

And we dance.

I pay no attention to my DVR.  Or my computer. [Sorry!]

It's summer after all.

I think I'm a better mom in the summer.  I think my kids would agree.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

If I Had A Million Dollars...

I'd buy this.

Oh to dream.  Especially on a beautiful June day such as this.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Do you ever take a break in the action of life and suddenly think to yourself, "Holy crap!  I have a three-and-a-half-year-old!"

Sometimes it feels like kids grow a snail's pace.  But then a week flies by and it feels like they've made giant leaps in things that should take months of practice.

"Mommy, I want to go ride my bike."

That's how last week started out.

"Umm, what?  I mean, er, OK!  Go get dressed then!"

We have been trying for-ev-ah to get William to ride the bike we got him for his birthday.  The birthday that was seven months ago.  After countless attempts at trying to get him to catch on to the concept of pedaling he was approaching a conclusion of a parent's worst nightmare.  He was giving up.

"I can't do it, mommy."

"Maybe when I'm four I'll ride a bike."

Not wanting to be those kind of parents, we didn't push the issue further and there the bike sat, all lonely and such in the back of the garage.

So you can imagine my surprise last week when, during a break in our rainy weather, William asked, out of the blue, if he could please go ride his bike.  When I told him he needed to get dressed first he marched into his room, picked out his own clothes (that matched, by the way!) and proceeded to dress himself in two minutes flat.  A record for Master William, my friends.  And a true demonstration of just how bad he wanted to get out there and ride his bike.

I buckled his helmet and in no time he was off, pedaling like an old pro, pushing those legs up the hills and pressing the breaks at all the right places.  I was stunned.  It was like he's been doing this all his life.

You can imagine how excited this little boy was to show his daddy when he got home.  And you can imagine how his daddy felt when he saw his son pedal up and down our block without one single problem or complaint.

After dinner that evening, on account of good behavior and his new found love of biking, we all walked to the ice cream store.  Well, two of us walked.  One rode in her stroller.  The other rode his bike.  The whole way.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


If you ever happen upon my little Lucy she may throw you this look.

But then she'll go right back to this.

And then back to her scowl again.

We don't know why she does it.  She's a happy little girl.  I guess she just wants to let you know, she has opinions.  And, like any woman, she can go from happy to crabby in the blink of an eye.  "Just try me!" She seems to be saying.

And then there's this guy.  Mr. PermaSmileyPants

Rarely can you tick this guy off.  I told him to give me his angry face.

All he could muster up was a couple of hands on his hips.  Didn't even bother wiping that smile off his face.

"No, I mean your really, really angry face," I said.

"Like this?" he asked.

Oh yeah, buddy.  Totally frightening.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Blueberry Situation

It rained today.  A lot.  All day.

So instead of the end-of-the-year picnic our Early Childhood class had planned, we went to open gym.  Shot some basketball.  Pushed around some scooters.  Showed my kids a thing or two around a hulahoop.

After that we went to Trader Joe's.

I love Trader Joe's for many, many reasons.  But there are also a few things I don't like.

1.  Their portion sizes are often too small for my family of four.
2.  Their shopping carts are too small to corral both my kids.
3.  The produce section is too narrow and is often a traffic jam of people desperate for organic berries.

The good still far outweighs the bad so there I found myself, as I do almost every week, with both kids, one in the cart and one walking.

To keep William from running off and eating some piece of enticing fruit I try to keep him interested in the shopping experience.

"How many bananas do you think we should get?"
"Would you rather have pineapple or some oranges?"
"Can you go throw this napkin away for me over there?"
"I need you to get me one bag of peas, please."

Today I asked for his help with the blueberries.

"We need two cartons of blueberries," I said.

"These ones, mommy?"

"Yep, those are the ones! Can you put them in the cart for me?"


But remember, he's a little boy.  And little boys have to be rough with everything.  It's in their nature.  They can't help it.  So he couldn't just gently, ever so carefully, place them in the cart.  He had to hold both cartons of blueberries over his head and then throw them into the cart.

So you can see where this is going.  Of course, one of the cartons popped open and suddenly it was a blueberry free-for-all in the produce section at the Trader Joe's in St. Paul, Minnesota.

"Oh mommy, I am so sorry!"

And he really meant it.

There's the fight of flight response.  But I think moms have the sigh or cry response.

I chose to sigh.

"It's OK, honey.  It was an accident.  But we have to clean them up now."

So there we were in that congested produce aisle on our hands and knees picking up every stray blueberry and putting it back in the carton that was fated for the garbage can.

William, of course, could not overcome the temptation of his favorite fruit and had to taste a few even after I warned him of the dirt and disgust associated with that behavior.  Lucy, spying her brother sneaking a treat, began to fervently clap her hands, her sign for more food please.

I began to feel myself sweat.  The nervous, embarrassed kind of sweat.  More people were coming now.  More people who wanted produce.  More people looking down at me, figuratively and literally.

One mom with a couple of kids in tow strolled by and commented to her children, "Look at what a good job that little boy is doing at picking up all those blueberries."

I looked up and we shared a smile.

"Same thing happened to me last week!" She said.

I started to feel better.  I mean, at least we weren't those people who make a big mess and then just walk away for everyone else to get sticky shoes.

But every party has to have a pooper.  Even at Trader Joe's.

An elderly woman was coming straight for the section we were crowding.  So I stood up from my blueberry-picking to try to move my cart to give her better access.

She didn't look at me.  But when she spoke it was like she wanted me to hear but she also wanted me to think she didn't want me to hear.

"Somebody's got problems..."

Only she said in a sing-songy, condescending voice like Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Parada.

"Somebooooody's got proooooob-lems..."

I looked her straight in the eye.  I almost said something.  But then didn't.  She never even glanced at me.  She just walked away.

In that moment I chose the better path.  The path to keep doing the right thing even though it was embarrassing and condescending.

Not one person stopped to help me today except that mother who offered me a kind word.  Not even a Trader Joe's employee.  When we were finished picking up every last blueberry I put them on the bottom of the cart and disposed of them myself as we left the store.

I hope the next time I witness an accident I'll be someone who stoops to offer help.  I hope William will jump in to offer a hand.  And maybe you, after reading this, might feel compelled to help too.  We've all been there.  I don't know why we pretend we haven't when it happens to someone else.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I Still Like You

Do you ever feel like women are uber competitive with one another?  I always thought that was a male thing.  And maybe it is.  But it seems women hold grudges against one another while the boys will compete and get over it a minute later.

And once you become a mother, well that's when the real claws come out.  I think most of it stems from misconception or misunderstanding.

So often we like to put each other in two groups no matter what the topic might be.  Natural birth versus epidurals.  Breastfeeding on one side and formula-feeding on the other.  Stay-at-home over here and working moms over there.  Fat, thin. Homeschool, out-of-home school.  Public school, private school.

I'm going to call a spade a spade here and say we all work hard at some things and we all take the easy road on other things.  And you know what?  There's no shame in that.

Here are the things that I work really hard on.  They didn't/don't come easy.


It hurts.  Sometimes a lot.  It's time-consuming.  And contrary to what all the parenting books might say, most of the time it doesn't come naturally.  I had to work really hard at it.  I had to let go of resentment toward my husband for not having the biological parts to help me out.  I lost a lot of sleep.  I couldn't ever spend a couple hours way in the beginning.  And I could never spend a night away for a whole year.

If you chose not to breastfeed, found it too difficult to breastfeed or couldn't breastfeed, I still like you.  I still think you're a pretty rockin' mama.  But please don't assume that my decision to breastfeed was an easy one.

Staying At Home

I miss my work friends.  I miss the downtown atmosphere.  I miss my high heels and working clothes.  I miss adult conversations and getting accolades for my efforts in landing a new client or impressing a big one.

I miss the extra money.  The $150 dinners.  The new clothes whenever I want them.  The trips to wherever I want to go.  The never having to worry about the next paycheck.

I drive a used car and my husband drives a beater.  We live in a house that we dreamed about and saved for for years.  My kids wear hand-me-downs or eBay's latest steal.  They receive toys twice a year; birthdays and Christmas and that's it.  Seriously.  We don't have yard toys besides a beach ball from the dollar store.  Instead of buying books we have a library card.  We certainly don't have a membership to the Children's Museum and I couldn't tell you the last movie I saw in the theater.

I'm not lucky to be able to stay at home.  I chose to stay at home.  If I sat down to do the math it would probably say I can't afford to stay at home.

If you work outside that home, I still like you.  In fact, on some days I'm probably jealous of you.  You can indulge in a few of the extras even if they are small.  You can receive praise for completing a project.  I'm still here wiping noses and bums.  But please don't think I'm lucky to be able to stay home.  I made the choice and I'm still making the difficult choices every single day.


I know that I'm on the thin side of things.  I know that this is, in part, thanks to some pretty good genes.  But you know what?  I also am very conscious about the things I put in my body and the way I maintain my body.  And that doesn't come easy.

I eat three meals a day.  Sometimes I snack sometimes I don't.  Most of the time there is little to no junk food in the house.  I rarely buy boxed crackers, bags of potato chips or packaged cookies.  I don't have a candy dish.  I do store a bag of Dove Dark Chocolates in the pantry because I read dark chocolate is better for you.  If I eat a cookie or a brownie or a piece of cake, it's because I made it from scratch.

The only drive-thru we frequent belongs to Dairy Queen.  It's my weakness and I'll allow myself that without feeling guilty.

I never buy white bread.  Or any boxed dinner with the name "Helper" on it.  We rarely even crack a box with the word "Kraft" on top.  And there's definitely no Ramen in sight.  I only buy the whole wheat pasta.  I serve meat for dinner only once per week.  But I make dinner and we sit down as a family seven nights a week almost without exception.  I always have three or four different kinds of fruit on hand.  I never buy the sugared yogurt and we only have sugared cereal when Brian's been to the grocery store.  Count Chocula?  Yuck!

I'm not a regular exerciser.  I admit it.  But if that scale tips five pounds in the wrong direction you can bet your house I'll get my butt in motion.  I practice yoga two or three times a week every week.  Sometimes I get into a running groove.  Sometimes not.  I walk with the kids to the park or to the river almost every day.  I try to choose the stairs over the elevator.  And sometimes I opt for the furthest parking spot in an effort to get my heart racing.

If you're not thin, I still like you.  Some of my bestest friends are overweight and I still think they're some of the coolest people on the planet.  I'm thin, yes.  But I do make a conscious effort to keep it that way and many times it's not an easy road.

I'm not superwoman.  I don't have it all figured out.  And many times I, like you, take the easy road.

I know that I'll never homeschool my kids.  I don't have the patience or the will to get all that done in a day.  Sometimes I wish I could.  But most times I'm satisfied I'm taking the easy way.  I admire those that priortize their time better than I to homeschool their kids.  But I hope you'll still like me if my kids go to a regular school.

Sometimes I let my baby cry.  Sometimes I just need a break.  I've tried everything.  I don't know what she wants.  And I just want a moment to myself.  So I let her cry.

I can't cosleep with my babies.  I've tried.  I can't find that REM cycle.  I miss the alone time with my husband.  I want my own space.

I find it honorable that some mothers can be there for their babies every waking (or sleeping!) moment.  I'm not that mother.  But I hope you'll still like me anyway.

I let my kids watch TV.  Some days they watch too much.  Some days they watch a few minutes.  Some days they watch none at all.  Are they ruined for life?  I hope not.

If you can turn the TV off altogether I admire your ability to handle the commotion and the questions and the disturbances.  I know I use it as a babysitter to get everything else done.  But I hope you'll still like me.

I hope someday that mothers will be a united front.  Together.  Without judgment.  I want to try to like all mothers no matter their choices.  And in return, I hope they like me for or regardless of all mine.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Unfortunately, Fortunately

Unfortunately many great big, old Elm trees in our neighborhood have been stricken by Elm's disease and have received a removal notice from the city.

Fortunately we don't have any Elm trees on our property.

Unfortunately our neighbors across the alley have five.  All diseased.

Fortunately I have a little boy who thinks big trucks are high class entertainment.
Unfortunately we have this rather large prickly bush on the side of garage.
Fortunately I didn't cut it down before spring came.  Look what I would have missed out on!

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