Monday, December 23, 2013

A Not-So Picture Perfect Christmas

Every year when the holidays arrive we are immersed into a month of all things jolly. There’s the music, the movies, the decorations, the parties, the cards, the eggnog, the cookies, the cookies oh and the cookies! Out of all the things that let us know that yes it is almost time for the big fat jolly guy in the red suit to arrive; there is one that is by far my all -time favorite…the infamous Santa picture.  

Every year come December parents from near and far can be found breaking out into a sweat getting their cute little Johnny into his perfect little holiday outfit with a matching cap, or hoping and praying that little Sally doesn’t spit up all over her perfect little dress before they get to the front of the 5 ½ mile line at the mall.  We can be found bribing our kids to get along while we wait because “Santa is watching” for Pete’s sake HE’S RIGHT THERE! PLEASE STOP FIGHTING!!!  We spend more time prepping our children for these pictures than we spend prepping ourselves all week long. (Okay maybe that’s just me.)

After all the preparation and waiting on a never ending line many of these pictures don’t go the way we planned in our minds.  I will never forget when my now 5 year old was 17 months. I picked out a cute little outfit and dragged my husband with me for the Santa picture because I was determined to use it for our card that year. The picture I had in my head was my 17 month old sitting on Santa’s lap with a perfect little smile even if it meant me jumping up and down behind the camera trying to get him to laugh all while my husband just rolled his eyes at my insanity.  I was fine with that.

The only thing that went as planned was parking the car and walking into the building.  The rest went something like this:

Is that Santa?! This is awesome!


Okay so we are going to go over to the other side of this fence at some point? Hmm. Not sure about that.

Now please want ME to sit on HIS lap? And why is the girl behind me crying?

No seriously WHO IS THIS GUY?!!

Mom you look like an idiot stop jumping up and down and sticking your tongue out!

This is as good as it's going to get Mom & Dad. Let's go! End scene.

And so we left. Don't worry we treated the poor kid to an ice cream sundae afterwards and trust me he was smiling from ear to ear. I remember saying to my husband, well so much for a Santa picture for our card. He laughed and agreed that it hadn't gone the way we thought it would. Later that night we got home and as I looked over the pictures I couldn't help but start laughing. I decided to use the pictures for our card anyway and people absolutely loved it. I mean let's face it the holidays can get stressful, with all the shopping, the crazy family, and the running around it's hard sometimes to just sit back and smile. These pictures made us do just that. I know one day I will show them to my son and he will laugh. It's kind of like a childhood rite of passage. Every kid has to have some ridiculous picture with Santa for their photo book.  Clearly we can check that off the list.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Motherhood: A Day In The Life

It's Motherhood Monday. Today Jeanette of Mommy Needs A Martini is giving us a little glimpse into her daily (crazy) life. Jeanette is a full time mother of two and works outside the home. She coaches girls youth softball, is active in her church and enjoys spending time with her family. In her free time, Jeanette blogs about her adventures in motherhood and wonderfully hilarious crafting attempts (and fails) at Mommy Needs A Martini . You can also follow Jeannette on Facebook , or on Twitter and of course on Pinterest. I happen to know that Jeannette has an awesome relationship with her dad (and he's pretty damn funny) See here.

I’m three and a half years into this gig called Motherhood. In that time, I have learned that I have so much more to learn, but I’ve also learned that my patience and compassion levels have increased tenfold compared to pre-baby me. There are many times during our hectic days that I want nothing more than to curl up in a ball and hide in a closet. But there are many more times when I can’t get enough of the laughing and loving and memories being made.


A typical day in our house starts before the sun is up. You know what? I’ll just break it down for you:


530am – I wake up, rush to get ready, sometimes forgetting deodorant just so I can pee alone before the kids wake up.
545am – 3yo wakes up, usually singing loud for all to hear and waking everyone within 3 blocks of our house.
6am-630am – 3yo is dressed, hair done, baby doll dressed, some unknown crisis is dealt with and/or avoided, a new favorite cartoon is discovered, her shoes don’t match, her skirt isn’t princess-y enough and her hair is too tight. I eventually am able to divert with a snack while I wake up the 1yo.
630am-645am – 1yo is dressed, hair brushed, shoes on and she’s giggling. This is my brief moment of clarity for the day.
645am-700am – Daycare/Preschool drop-off. Hugs, kisses, tears, more hugs, being introduced to friends for the eleventy thousandth time, more kisses, waves through the window, promises are made to return with more hugs, teacher diversion successful, I exit stage left.
700am-730am – I drive to work in complete silence. Instead of crawling into a closet
730am-400pm – Work. Sometimes mind numbing, sometimes exciting. Mostly just work. And a paycheck.
415pm-445pm – I drive to daycare with the music at 11 and sing like a loon.
445pm-515pm – Daycare pick up. There is crying, some screaming, a lot of No’s being thrown around, a trip to the potty, a sudden switch to adorable as art work is proudly displayed, hugs and goodbyes to all the friends, a quick turn to Tantrum Town because, why not. Tears ensue over jacket requirements, or opening the door too quickly, or not walking slow enough or just because they feel like it.
515pm-6pm – I make a feeble attempt to wind the kids down, try to keep them engaged but not stimulated, sing songs and tell stories, they have afternoon snack while I make dinner, I feed the dogs, clean up from the morning rush, prepare for bath and bedtime, make lunches for the next day, try to accomplish some sort of cleaning (laundry, sweeping, dishes). All the while still singing so they don’t notice me searching for the nearest corner to hide.
6pm-630pm – We’re back in Tantrum Town.
630pm-7pm – Both kids have finally eaten dinner and are usually whining to be held, at the same time. Or they’re pooping, at the same time.
715pm -730pm – Mommy’s back. Daddy needs a break. No, I’m not kidding.
730pm-8pm – Bath and clean-up time.
8pm-930pm – The longest, most ridiculously painstaking bedtime routine in the history of all the lands takes place.
930pm-1015pm – Time to wash dishes (again), clean up toys (again), lay out clothes for the next day, prep dinner for the next day, make a list for tomorrow of things I forgot to do today. Sometimes I cry from exhaustion or frustration and let the running sink drown it out. Sometimes I giggle out loud and make my husband question my sanity.
1015pm-11pm – I fight to keep my eyes open so I can enjoy mindless social media time while watching mindless television.
11pm – I crash. HARD.

(Some, ok MOST, nights…)

2am – The 1yo is awake.

330am – The 3yo is awake.

4am – They’re both back to sleep.

530am – My alarm goes off. AGAIN.


After the tantrums and the whining and the begging and the pleading and after the praying for bedtime and hoping they sleep all night, I truly am amazed by how big my heart grew when my two little girls came into this world. Even if it’s a simple giggle or a tight hug around my leg or that last “I love you” of the day, it’s all worth it. Motherhood has been one (mis)adventure after another and I can’t wait for more.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ten Things I Learned During a Snowstorm

It’s December and I live in the Northeast so snow doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me from now until let’s say the end of March.  We had our first decent storm earlier this week and they are predicting another one coming in this weekend. No surprise after all it's not July. When the storm hit earlier in the week it was expected. We were told for days before that snow was coming.  I woke up that morning, made my coffee and turned on the news.  All I could think was am I the only one who heard snow was in the forecast?  Even the news anchors were acting like it was breaking news that white snowflakes were in fact dropping from the sky.  School was cancelled and here are ten things I learned about people during a snowstorm that day.

1.       No one has a snow shovel.  Seriously no one has one. So everyone rushes to the nearest Home Depot and everyone buys at least 5 causing them to run out within mere minutes.

2.       The media thinks it is news that no one has a shovel so they interview every Tom, Dick & Sally who are in the parking lot leaving with their five shovels.  Oh and there is always some idiot in the background on his cell phone waving to his friends.  “No I didn’t get my shovel they were all gone but can you see me bro? Yeah that’s me!”

3.       Every household in the eye of the storm is out of milk, bread and eggs. The grocery stores are packed with people buying all three of these items.  I can only assume that there is some secret ritual of making French toast for your entire neighborhood during a snow storm and no one has shared this with me.

4.       Facebook is filled with status updates about the snow.  Sally: OMG it’s totally snowing you guys.  Tom: Crap it’s flipping snowing the ride into work should be a real pain in the ass. Jessie: Yay snow! Linda: I’m nice and cozy in my house and getting ready to make French toast.  John: No one knows how to drive in the snow. This sucks! Cousin Jimmy: Snow DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s a whole day filled with status updates that revolve solely around the snow.

5.       After all the status updates come the pictures. (I’m guilty of this myself) Kids in the snow, dogs in the snow, Grandma in the snow, rulers on the deck in the snow, and of course just the snow with the caption “beautiful” or “It’s really coming down now."   


6.       Kids all want to play in the snow and I relearned that it takes approximately 6 hours 10 minutes and 43 seconds to get them and you dressed properly to go play.

7.       Kids get out into the snow and complain within mere minutes that they have to pee and they are cold.

8.       Parents scream OH NO! We are staying out here if it kills us. I am literally sweating from trying to get you guys dressed so you are going to play and have fun while you do it.

9.       Kids think playing means make giant snowballs and throw them in one another’s face which will result in crying and actually heading inside.

10.   It takes another 6 hours and 15 minutes to undress from playing in the snow and suddenly you realize maybe all those people buying shovels are doing it to avoid this fiasco.

Well more snow is on the way and I’m pretty sure we are out of shovels, eggs, milk, and bread so I think I will volunteer to get those this time and my husband can get the kids ready to go out and play.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Motherhood Monday-The Trouble With Three

My guest blogger for today's Motherhood Monday is Sharon Marie of Finding Vanilla Octopus. It's funny how fitting this post is for me today. I currently have two boys but I've been thinking a lot lately about adding a third. Sharon had me laughing and definitely gave me a lot to think about. Three kids is no joke! (Wait or is it?) I think she wraps this post up beautifully and I have to agree the ride might be crazy but the company is fabulous. Sharon is a stay-at-home mom and referee to three babies, all under the age of three. She tries to cram in blogging time as best she can in the midst of the chaos, for love of writing and the opportunity to share her amateur photography attempts.  You can learn more about Sharon on Facebook, Twitter and of course over on her blog, Finding Vanilla Octopus.

Over the years, I've run across the Jim Gaffigan bit about having four children in various forms:

"If you want to know what it's like to have a fourth [baby] just imagine you're drowning... and then someone hands you a baby."

The first time I heard it, being a mother of one, I chuckled. By the second time, I was a mother of two (under two) and I still chuckled, but I also started to really understand.

Now, I'm clocking in at three and I get it. I get it every day. I may only have three to Jim's four, (and in no way can I imagine four right now) but there's a palpable dynamic that changes when the children suddenly outnumber the parents.

In my situation, add to that the fact that my third came on the tails of my second, so I can now boast a crew of not just three children, but three babies- essentially- all under the age of three. As a result, I often wonder if many of my struggles are unique to my particular situation. I can't speak for the experience of wider-spaced siblings, as I only know what I've lived.

I can attest that there are some pretty hefty challenges that come with the territory.

  1. I can't get dressed until I've dressed three people before me. My oldest can pull on a shirt and pants by herself, but still needs assistance with style-planning, amongst other things. Ditto for mealtimes and bedtime.   
  2. Diaper changes are a multi-occasion, multi-person daily event (especially when your     oldest, who's technically old enough to train, remains too defiant to actually do so).   
  3. Somebody is always teething (often, two at once).
  4. It's impossible to line up everyone's nap times, and subsequently- impossible to plan around them if we go out anywhere.
  5. Varying sizes are a concern when the play gets a little rough.
  6. I'm locked in a continuous, rotating cycle of transitions to independence.
  7. It's impossible to explain the logic behind age-appropriate discipline tactics to a toddler.    

Those last two points are perhaps the most difficult to cope with at times. It's hard to fully rejoice in the fact that my oldest can now be left alone in a safe room for a couple of minutes at a time when my middle child has attained a dynamic mix of height, curiosity, and mischief-making capability at the same time. When the littlest one needs to be removed from the room for a nap, knowing that the biggest one will be okay for the five to ten minutes it will take me to put the baby down doesn't stop me needing to make other plans for the middle.

Then, there are the similarly-themed mealtime challenges. My life should be so much simpler now that Middle child can fully feed himself, and even (mostly) handle utensils. However, now the baby is old enough for solids, so I'm finding that I've got a new hand waiting for me to take hold of as I try to manage a decent meal for myself. On top of that, Middle's got a talent for coming up with new and fascinating ways to half-consume, half-play with food, which my oldest is still young enough to find amusing and inspiring. It's tough to get her to stop the antics, however, when her younger sibling is not yet old enough to be consistently discouraged effectively.

Bad habits get passed back and forth like stubborn viruses on a regular basis around here.

However, the chaos is not without great beauty. I could never trade the bonds I see being formed between my near-triplet cherubs for a more sanity-saving attempt at age-spacing; could never possibly replicate the joy I see my children bring to each other on a daily basis, whom they will never remember being without; could never imagine any of them being any different, or their relationships to each other being any different, than they are right now.

One day, when I'm on the other side of all of the crazy, I will realize this more fully, appreciate it far more gracefully. For now, I simply cling to the abstract notion of it as I desperately hang on for the ride.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Parenting Through All Ages

It's Motherhood Monday. Today Jessica of  The Domestic Pirate joins us with the reality of raising kids of all ages. It's not always easy to parent kids in multiple stages but it's part of motherhood and Jessica is in the thick of it.

Jessica is The Domestic Pirate, Renn Faire Privateer Gone Mom.  She started blogging in 2011 as an outlet for Post Partum Depression, but came back into her spazzy, wenchy Pirate self upon the epiphany that she didn't need to mold herself after anyone else.  She posts about whatever tickles her fancy though empowerment and acceptance are where she feels she really hits her stride.  She is wife to the Captain, mom to the 4 Cabin Kids, and is convinced that the dough is always better than the cookie.  Aside from her blog, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


Now that we have a newborn again, my focus has been on making the house baby friendly.  Mostly, that means getting rid of/avoiding things that aren't safe for baby or could potentially be too loud or disruptive.

But there's an inherent problem with that...

I have more than just a baby.

I have a 2 year old boy that copies everything his 4 year old brother does.

I have a 4 year old boy that likes making loud, wet shooting noises and crashing cars into everything.

I have a 7 year old girl that's getting into beads and likes toys with tiny pieces.

The 2 year old doesn't understand how to be quiet.

The 4 year old understands, but doesn't have to capacity to remain quiet.

The 7 year old just won't be quiet.

2 year old needs attention and help with everything.

4 year old is mostly self-entertaining, but still needs help with a few things.

7 year old can take care of herself, but insists on faking that she can't.

I have to admit, my favorite stage is the baby stage.  Once they hit 2 and want to communicate but don't have the capacity yet, I start getting frustrated.  Once they hit 4 and start forming their own opinions and voicing them, I start getting annoyed.  Once they hit 7, apparently, they become know-it-alls and I can't freaking stand them.  And I'm dealing with it all at once.  Of course I love them all, and most of the time they really aren't bad, but we all know there are days when you just wish a circus would come through and trade you a monkey for them.

So, how do we proceed?

I need to relearn parenting.  I've been so focused on remembering the baby stuff, that I'm forgetting how important these other ages are.

I need to remember that watching a 2 year old get excited about learning something new is amazing.

I need to remember that helping a 4 year old learn how to get dressed on his own is building a foundation of self-confidence he'll need later in life.

I need to remember how hard it was to be 7, watching your younger siblings consistently get more attention than you, and embrace the growing girl child as she is, for her self-esteem depends on it.

It's time for me to stop running my house to accommodate the needs of an infant and start functioning as a parent of multiple ages.


But I will never stop insisting that they let me snuggle them like the babies they will always be in my heart.



Monday, November 25, 2013

8 Years Ago Today

It's Motherhood Monday. Today Jen Kehl of My Skewed View joins us with what I think is a perfect post for the week of Thanksgiving. We don't all become mothers in the same way, but the love we feel sure is the same...unconditional and never ending. We are forever thankful for that love.
Jen Kehl is a mom, writer, homeschooler, maven of music, self-proclaimed sensory processing disorder expert, food allergy pro, photographer, controller of chaos, John Cusack aficionado and all around interesting person who refuses to put herself into any one category (because that's boring).  Jen Kehl shares what is important to her in the blog My Skewed View, Tweets about pyromania and other antics on Twitter and for things about antics that are more than 140 characters look for her on Facebook. She also shares her love for music at Raised On The Radio.

Blistering heat. Like nothing. Not like back when I lived in the armpit desert that was Mesa, Arizona. This is oppressive, heavy, impossible to move. This is Plano, Texas.
Unpacking a car full of too much. Too many diapers, too many onesies, too much baby stuff. But how could I know?
In two days our baby boy will be born. In two days plus two more we will have to bring him to this hotel room, with all of this stuff, live here for two weeks. With no one to help. No one.
A combination of nerves and more nerves have made me the skinniest I’ve ever been. I will be the envy of all new moms when I get home. They will say, “Wow! He’s only 3 weeks old? You look amazing!” If only you knew. The innocent things people say.

8 years ago today. 8 years ago – my boy – my gift from God: My gift, through the most amazing woman ever, came into this world.
We were all so scared, we were all there for each other. We were scared.
Who knew where things would go? How could we know we would all be one big family?
He didn’t want to make his arrival on August 9, 2005, but he had no choice. And so one emergency cesarean later and my beautiful boy was in this world.
I didn’t come to motherhood like so many. I came through phone calls, letters, visits. I came through the glass window, watching, heart racing, scared. But my heart was exploding. Exploding with love for a baby boy I had dreamt about, a baby boy God promised me, a baby boy on the other side of that glass. I wanted to hold him and comfort him. I needed to remind myself he wouldn’t remember the prick on the heel the cold of the scale. I watched, I waited, they gave me the look and he was mine.
We met in a hospital room, you were so teeny tiny and despite reading every book on the planet about babies and parenting for the last 10 months to simulate pregnancy, I was not prepared.
Once they handed you to me, I never put you down. Only when they made us go home at night. I worried for you so much that I couldn’t sleep or eat. Had I given birth to you I wouldn’t have slept at all I am sure. As soon as we were allowed back in, I went to the nursery where we had matching bracelets. And you were in my arms again.
I loved you so much. I thought my heart would explode. I was a bundle of raw nerves and love. I held you in my arms every minute. The nurse often offered to take you to the nursery for your nap. I refused. I loved you too much. I was afraid it was too good to be true. I wanted you to know I would never leave you.
Now you are 8. You are 8 today and you made a wish on your impromptu birthday cupcake that your mommy and poppy would always love you. You don’t know what to do when I cry tears of joy, so I didn’t do it today.
I hugged you and I told you your mommy and poppy would always love you, we would love you forever. In classic Isaiah fashion, you told me you saw a movie called Love and Death where the parents stopped loving their boy.
Not EVER I said. Not ever.

Happy Birthday Baby Boy….

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ten Reasons You Will Never Sleep Like You Did Before Kids

The other day as I stood bleary eyed watching my coffee brew  I drifted off into a daydream. I started remembering the mornings before kids. The get up on your own time Saturday mornings, the roll over at 9am on a rainy Sunday and wake up feeling completely rested.  They say your brain doesn’t function properly if you don’t get enough sleep. Well I can tell you my brain hasn’t functioned properly in 5 years, 5 months, 8 days and 10 hours. As I came out of my daydream I realized just how poorly my brain was functioning as I watched my coffee brew all over the counter and onto the floor because I never put the mug under it.

  If you have ever been in a conversation with a group of parents you have probably had a conversation based solely around the topic of sleep. As parents it seems to be the thing we all obsess over the most. We talk about how tired we are, how little the baby slept the night before, how the older kid was up with a stomach ache and the middle kid was up from a bad dream. We ask each other about it. How old was little Johnny when he slept through the night? What time do your kids get up in the morning? Is it still dark? Does Suzy try to sleep in your bed ever? It seems that once you become a parent the nights of long, beautiful, uninterrupted sleep are long gone but are they really? Yes, YES THEY ARE so grab some coffee (don’t forget the cup) and read the ten reasons you will never sleep like you did before you had kids.  


1.      You brought home a beautiful newborn. They are trying to make up for nine months of being in utero. They don’t want to sleep in fear that they will miss something earth shattering. When they realize nothing exciting is happening at 3am they will decide they will be the excitement. Thank God for 3am Law and Order reruns.

2.      Your adorable baby is desperately trying to crawl. Did you know that reaching a milestone like this can cause your FINALLY SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT baby to wake up crying, frequently throughout the night? Yeah I didn’t either until my Dr. told me that’s why he was waking up.  Apparently I have over achievers who are still trying to accomplish things in their sleep.  I may have spent the whole next day showing him how to crawl so we could jump up and down, applaud like raging lunatics and hopefully get some sleep that night.

3.      Teething. I’m telling you I have never thought teeth with more overrated than I do now. I watched my kids eat food with just their gums and I’m pretty convinced we don’t really need teeth.  I mainly feel this way because I want to sleep and teething gets in the way.

4.      Leaky Diapers. There is nothing worse than waking up to a crying baby or toddler only to walk into the room at 3am and get hit in the face with the smell of urine. It’s 3 am and you now have to change your baby’s diaper and the crib sheet which is essentially like wrestling an alligator in a small cage. Trust me the alligator wins every single time.

5.      Colds. I don’t know about you guys but when I’m sick all I want to do is SLEEP. When my kids are sick though all they want to do is get up all night long.  I inevitably wind up sick when they are better. I mean of course I’m sick I got a total of 3.2 hours of sleep in one whole week. I also look 10 years older.

6.      Monsters are under the bed. Well if we’re being honest the monsters are in the bed but you have to check under the bed and in the closet to convince them that it is all clear and they can safely close their eyes for the next 8-10 hours, which they apparently hear as minutes and will call for you to tell you that.

7.      They need water. I don’t know what my kids are doing in their sleep to work up such a thirst but I’m starting to suspect they do some type of sleep aerobics.

8.      They heard something, and you are not allowed to leave their room until you decipher exactly what that something was. Just blame the dog and call it a night.

9.      You are foolishly in the soundest of sleeps only to wake up to a kid 2 inches from your face. It only takes one time of this happening for you to sleep with one eye opened for the rest of your existence.

10.  Kids have endless energy. Those mornings of easing into the day have been replaced with waking up like a shot out of a cannon.


So 5 years, 5 months, 8 days and 10 hours into this whole parenthood thing I have finally accepted that I will never sleep like I did oh say 7 years ago. I have also become pretty good at knowing what the necessities are for surviving; coffee, coffee, and more coffee.  I’m also secretly planning my revenge for when my boys are teenagers (can you say trumpets at 6am)  so that keeps me going all while continuing to hunt down the person who first said “I slept like a baby last night.” Because they either a) were an idiot, b) never met a baby c)  have a baby that needs to teach every other baby on the planet how to sleep. If I find them I will let you know. Until then stay strong my friends.

Monday, November 18, 2013

This Is Motherhood

This week NotSoSuperMom is joining us with her take on Motherhood, She was the mother of two and was surprised to find out she would be the mother of three. In her own words her blog is "a not so prolific blog about whatever I feel like, regarding my not-so-super and totally self-deprecating parenting." She's pretty super if you ask me, and I'm sure you will agree. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter and of course read more on her blog Confessions of a (Not-So) Super Mom.

This is Motherhood.

The other night I was getting The Geel into her pajamas when she grabbed a comb and insisted on combing my hair.  I sat obediently on the floor and watched her concentrated expression as she tried to "tame my tresses," which are so short she basically just kept shoving the comb into my hair, twisting it around and yanking it straight up.  I just stared at her face and a million thoughts ran through my head:  how I hadn't really wanted her, how I had to teach myself to stop thinking about what should have been, how I tell her constantly "I love you" in what began as an effort to convince myself that I really felt it MORE THAN I felt like we made a huge mistake, how I can't imagine my life without her even though that was not the case for a long time, how she is SO sweet and loving and clever and embodies joy.  Every.  Day.  I found myself crying.

I cried that cry that comes over you when you feel the unbridled and overwhelming love of parenthood.  I cried that there were days that I denied myself that feeling for her and I cried that I can finally; honestly say that I no longer think about the life we would be living without her.  Somewhere along the line, I have discovered that there is no "we" or "us" without her.

Now, I don't mean to cheapen this moment, because it was (for me) somewhat profound.  I had spent a lot of days thinking about the things we would be doing if The Geel wasn't here; and to be still for a moment, watching her just be and realizing that I couldn't remember the last time I'd had those thoughts, was a pretty big moment for me.  But the reason the title of this post came to mind was what happened in the next moment.

I wiped my eyes, took the comb from her and pulled her to me to hug and squeeze this beautiful little creature that had just unwittingly overwhelmed me.  And then I was unwittingly overwhelmed by something entirely different:  the stench emanating from her rear.  While it was obvious what the issue was, it occurred to me that while I was basking in this motherly glow, crying simultaneously with small regret and great joy, that my gorgeous, wonderful, joyous baby girl was simultaneously combing my hair and dropping a deuce.  I found myself laughing.

For The Geel, it was just another moment in her day filled with snacks and sippy cups, whining and tears, toys and baby dolls, giggles and silliness, and many, many hugs and kisses.  Nothing profound or momentous for her--just something to do, something to explore.  A comb.  Mommy's hair.  Another dirty diaper along the way.  Babyhood.

And so this is motherhood:  Overwhelmed by something profound, then the moment passes.  Overwhelmed by something so much more pedestrian but requiring no less attention--and as that moment passed I was simply thankful that I had stopped to let her comb my hair before I had changed her diaper and put on her pajamas.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Time To Give Thanks

It’s November and while I am not a big fan of Daylight Savings Time (please kids stop waking up an hour too early!!), the trees becoming completely bare, and the temperatures inevitably becoming cooler by the day; it is the month that brings my all-time favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.  Sure I am a fan of the all mighty Christmas season but there is just something about Thanksgiving that has always made me happy.

Perhaps it is the simplicity of the meaning behind Thanksgiving, or maybe it’s the way it brings family together, and of course the delicious meal we share with said family is a pretty great part of it too. Whatever it is, I know that Thanksgiving is nothing if it’s not about traditions. Everyone has their own traditions when it comes to celebrating Thanksgiving. Ever since my first son was born I have been making cinnamon buns on Thanksgiving morning. My husband builds a fire, and we watch the Macy’s Parade. I love everything about that morning.  It is our time to press the pause button on this crazy life and enjoy quality family time.

 My family started a tradition years ago of going around the table each year and stating exactly what it is we are thankful for. The table has grown over the years which of course in and of itself is something to be thankful for. Each year there is always someone who makes us cry, makes us laugh, or announces something amazing. Some of us are long winded (raising my hand in the corner) and some of us are short, sweet and to the point. We eat, we laugh, we take pictures that we will look back on one day, and we enjoy being together. We go home full, tired and even more thankful than we were that morning.  I feel lucky every year that my 87 year old Grandmother is there. She is able to share in a meal not only with her children and grandchildren but with her great grandchildren as well.

To me Thanksgiving is a day to think about others, to appreciate who you have not what you have. It is a day to reflect on the year behind us and look forward to the one ahead of us. It is a day to tell people you love them. It is a day to surround yourself with those you love, toast to each other and say thank you. It is a day to pull back the reigns, slow down, and enjoy the simple things like sharing a meal with loved ones. SCREEEEECH that’s the sound of big name retailers trying to put a stop to all of that tradition nonsense. I’m sure you are all aware that stores like Kmart, Target, Macy's, and Toys R’ US to name just a few all plan on opening on Thanksgiving. That’s right Thanksgiving, the day you are supposed to be thankful for what you have not go out and buy a bunch of crap you don’t need.

Not only does this anger me but it makes me sad. It makes me sad for the people who are employed by the companies, and it makes me sad that there are people who want to spend Thanksgiving night out at a store shopping. Listen I get the whole Black Friday thing, I don’t do it, but I get it. I know plenty of people who have made Black Friday a tradition with friends and loved ones. I know people who get every ounce of their holiday shopping done on that day and to them I say good for you. You got the sales you wanted and completed your shopping all in one day. I do not however get the need to go out on Thanksgiving Day and shop. I just don’t. If you watch all these big name retailers’ holiday commercials they don’t show consumers rushing off to their stores, no sir. They show families and friends gathered around beautifully decorated tables, eating and laughing. They show children playing a game of football in the yard and the family pet sniffing around the kitchen. They show everything they do not want you to actually be doing. Instead they want you to forget about all the traditions. They want you to tell Grandma you have to leave early. They want you to tell the kids Thanksgiving is over before it has even really begun. They want you to rush through your dinner so that you can be in their store spending your well earned money on a bunch of stuff that you don’t need.
The worst part is retailers treat us like we are a bunch of idiots. It's called Black Friday, not Black part of Thursday into Friday. They want you to believe that they are doing this for YOU. They are opening their stores because they care about YOU. They want YOU to get the best deals. They want YOU to get the hottest items, and if YOU don't come out right then and there well you can just forget it. These items will never be available as long as you live. They create a frenzy. They make people believe they need these things so badly that to stay home seems more ridiculous than heading out on a holiday, in the cold to wait on a line with 1500 people all wanting 1 of 400 televisions available. People fight over these things. They physically fight with one another. In the end the retailer doesn't care about YOU. The retailer cares about their bottom line.

Listen I may not know a whole hell of a lot but here are a few things I know for certain.  When your day comes and unfortunately it will come for all of us, no one will stand up at your funeral and say I remember that time he got such a great deal on a flat screen on Thanksgiving. Your obituary will not read survived by two IPods, one laptop, a flat screen and the best darn Blue Ray player this side of the Mississippi. It just won’t. Instead your life’s accomplishments will be listed, your surviving loved ones will be listed and in the end those accomplishments and people are our legacy. We can’t take all the other crap with us and it certainly won’t matter once you’re gone just how good the deal was on any of it.

The traditions you create now are the ones your children will remember for life. I’m not quite sure that you running off in a frenzy to get the best deals are the memories you want to give them. Maybe you eat early,  maybe you don’t have a very big family and your Thanksgiving is simple and by 4pm you have given all your thanks so going shopping doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. The thing is it is a big deal. It’s a big deal for the employee who had to skip making the two hour drive with her family to Aunt Betty’s because she wouldn’t make it back on time for work. It’s a big deal to the employee who isn’t sure if his wife will be around next Thanksgiving. It’s a big deal to the boy who is sitting home wishing his dad could have told stories by the fire like he did the year before. It’s a big deal, a much bigger deal than the one you are getting on your big ticket item.

You see there are so many better things to do on Thanksgiving night than shop. You could take your family to a shelter and help feed the homeless. You could go to the hospital and visit the children’s floor and bring a smile to all the kids faces. You could visit a nursing home and tell some jokes or sit with the old man in the corner and let him tell you all about Thanksgiving back in his day and how he had to walk 5 miles uphill in the snow to school. You can sit around in your favorite room, with your favorite people and laugh until you cry. You could do all of these things and at the end of the day you can look around, take a deep breath, and feel ever so Thankful.  In the end the retailers will all be there tomorrow.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mamas in Afghanistan. It Could Work

Today is of course Motherhood Monday but it's also Veterans Day. We are lucky to have Vikki Claflin of Laugh Lines here sharing a wonderful story about her son Jake, and lets just say I can't think of a more fitting day for her to share it. This piece was originally posted on her blog back in July.
Vikki is an author, humor blogger, public speaker, and former newspaper columnist. She can be found in "Life Well Blogged, Parenting Gag Reels," available at Vikki has also been regularly featured on Erma Bombeck's Writer's Website, Better After 50 online magazine, and Generation Fabulous. Vikki writes, in comedic sit-com style, about coming to terms with middle age, and she laughs as hard as we do. So pour the wine, grab your Spanx, and check her out at Laugh Lines!
You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

As summer rolls forward, it seems everyone’s talking about family vacation plans, including plans to send young offspring off to theme parks, famous campgrounds, and animated wonderlands with grandparents, giving moms and dads much-needed breaks to be adult couples instead of parents for 2 blissful weeks out of the year.
When Jake was 6, we were living on Maui and my parents lived in Oregon. They called that summer and announced that they wanted to take Jake to Disneyland in California. After much discussion on the best way to get Jake to them, my mother informed me that she’d already called the airline, and they said Jake could fly without either parent, as an “unaccompanied minor.”
Say whut?
He’s 6, Mom. SIX. As in “years old.” Not only that, he was small. So I’m looking across the room at my small child, with his Hawaiian-style shaved head and little round glasses, looking like an adorable tiny Harry Potter, and she’s going on about him getting on a 747 by himself and flying to Portland.
“It’ll be fine,” she insisted. “They assign a flight attendant to him, and he’s never left alone. She’s responsible for him the entire way. Besides, it’s a direct flight. We’ll pick him up in Portland.”
After another several minutes of debate, with Jake jumping up and down, repeatedly and happily yelling “I’m going to Disneyland!! I’m going to Disneyland!!” I put down the paper bag I was wheezing into and agreed to hand over my child to some unknown flight attendant, trusting she wouldn’t inadvertently send him to Botswana, resulting in a massive, worldwide child-hunt, followed by a made-for-TV movie called “I Gave My Child to a Stranger and They Lost Him. Bad Mommy.”
Jake and I went to the airport, where I filled out the 8-page, triplicate forms, attached to copies of his birth certificate, my driver’s license, and a list of emergency contact names of every single person in 3 states and 2 countries that he was related to in any way. Jake was beside himself with excitement about traveling “all by himself,” and I was a teary mess. “Don’t worry,” the flight attendant smiled, “We haven’t lost one yet.” Yet?? OMG. Several minutes later, I put my only child on the plane and cried all the way home.
He had the time of his life.
Two weeks later, as I was anxiously waiting for my baby to get off the plane, armed with the 30 pieces of ID required to take a child out of the airport, I finally saw his smiling face, and the thought briefly crossed my mind that he looked older. More confident. More young boy than small child. But as I was trying to process the changes in my son (could this trip have actually been good for him??), I instinctively burst into relieved tears that he made it and was safely home where I could see him.
Completely oblivious to the commands of the attendants to “Stay behind the yellow line, ma’am. BEHIND THE YELLOW LINE,” I rushed forward, bent down and grabbed my child in a full-body mom-hug, crying uncontrollably, while assuring him he was missed every single day. (Yeah. It was every 6-year-old’s worst nightmare. Being mauled by your sobbing mother. In public. That would no doubt come up in his therapy years later, but I couldn’t stop myself. My baby was home.)
Usually, when you pick up an “unattended minor” at the airport, the ID requirements are intense. No simple driver’s license will do. The legal ramifications of letting someone walk out of the airport with the wrong child are the stuff zillion dollar settlements are made of, and the airlines are determined to avoid this mistake at all costs. So at the time of the ticket purchase, you’re given a list of paperwork they’ll need to see before any child is handed over to your custody.
As I reached into my purse for the required documents, the flight attendant just smiled and said, dryly, “And you must be the mother.” “Yes,” I sniffed, still clinging to my boy like a life raft. “Jake,” she asked, just to make sure, “Is this your mom?” Jake, sharing a glimpse of what was to become his trademark one-liner wit, looked up at her and said, “Well, she wouldn’t be my first choice, but yeah, she’s my mom.”
14 years later, Jake would be flying to Iraq, and we would relive this experience on a different level. We dropped him off, and I cried all the way home. When he arrived home a year later, safe and sound where I could see him, I cried again and mauled him in public. This time, he grinned and replied, “It’s okay, Mom. Go crazy.”
jake home
And so I’ve decided that children (no matter their age) should never be further away than you can drive to see them. It’s just too damn hard on their mamas. And when he gets redeployed, I’m going with him. But I’m not telling him just yet. I just might end up flying as an “unaccompanied mother.”