Thursday, December 27, 2007

Naked Barbies and Other Things

After a long holiday hiatus, I return to ask the question, “Why must Barbie always be naked?” I couldn’t be less of a Barbie mom, but I have the two most Barbie-loving kids on the planet. They can’t get enough and play with them constantly. I’m embarrassed to say we probably have twenty (most of them naked Barbie herself) all over the house. Well, I think the insanity of too many gifts again this year has finally pushed me over the edge; we need to sort, store, donate and throw away around here! My big plan began yesterday when I retrieved one of those big plastic bins from our basement and filled it with the new Barbie stuff and any other stray parts I saw. Yes, it will likely be full of Barbie stuff – I am hoping it will close.

Because of the multiple Christmas bags full of goodies and the unending amount of boxes requiring my attention to open, that’s as far as I got. I went from this pile to that one, trying to sort recycling from trash, to not lose pieces in the process and slowly, to get things put away. As the day trudged on, I became more frustrated even with Santa’s gifts and wondered about the significance of it all. I mean, my kids did a great job of feeling and expressing thanks for everything they received, especially Logan, she’s the perfect age and personality for it all this year. A little shy, a little greedy, super thankful, very excited and most of all, she's a true believer in the magic of it all. Every time she opened a gift and thanked the gift-giver I felt extremely proud of her. Riley kept up with the “thank you’s” as well, but they were, more... well, four year old “thank you’s”; obligations not-so-filled with heartfelt gratitude. Finn is not even worth mentioning and rightly so, at 19 months, he can’t even begin to grasp much more than the word he’s so fond of: MORE!

It all just made me wonder about what kind of job I am doing to make sure that they experience and feel gratitude for all the things they have. We are not rich, not quite comfortable, but they have so much in so many ways. I try everyday to experience gratitude for the small and big things in my life, but it is easy to get sidetracked, especially in the midst of the holiday craziness. I am also a terrible liar, totally unable to fake that I like a gift no matter how hard I try. I am so glad that focusing on gratitude, not on the gift, is working for me. I am thrilled at the thought behind it all; instead of wishing for something more thoughtful, or more “right” (these feelings are usually reserved for husband gifts unfortunately), I’m just plain grateful. (Hey, I’m just being honest – we’ve all felt that stuff, right?) I’m no where near perfect, but still a forward moving work in progress. I hope that it is rubbing off where it counts most, on the three little people who could avoid ever feeling that gift-involved frustration. Based on how Logan did, I’d say she’s got it, her daddy always has and I bet she gets it from him. As for the other two, I think they’ll get it too.

So they received far more than they needed this year, like lots of kids. It’s okay, it’s Christmas. So many of those gifts came from those seeking out the joy of giving, and they got that joy, so I need not feel guilty. And we’ll continue to give back in little ways whenever we can. We’ll focus on the feelings and not on the things. And, as we embark into 2008, we’ll try to remain filled with gratitude to the bone for all that we have been blessed with.

Monday, December 17, 2007

HO HO HO (or is it HA HA HA?)

It was supposed to be a perfect weekend of holiday bliss, kicked off with a trek to the tree farm to cut down our tree and ending with us all basking in the glory of its perfect beauty after our annual trip to Santa’s house. Of course, life got in the way and actually made for a very typical weekend of a house full of young kids, sugared up and anxiously anticipating the arrival of the big man himself. To top it off, our yearly onslaught of houseguests begins on Tuesday and ends January 4th, only to be followed by what seems to be a month long celebration of three out of our five birthdays that same month. Yes, it couldn’t be a busier time of year, but that’s just the way it is and we love it!

Mike and I actually got out on Friday night to celebrate a wonderful friend’s reception of his Master’s degree – Michael Strode, we’re so proud of you! It was great and a nice departure from our regular Friday night. On Saturday, we were up early and out the door (in a hurried rush even though I woke with plenty of time) and slightly late to the tree lot. The girls were fired up and bickering within minutes and I was frustrated by the fifteen extra trips I had to make into the house for forgotten items. Mike joked, “Ah yes, the holidays, what could be better?” He was right. We all lightened up and turned up the carols.

We wandered for too long in the frigid temps, but ended up with a monster of a tree and a little boy who was shocked that we had kept him and his tiny appendages freezing for so long. Finn cried the whole way back to the car as I yelled, “Just take that one!” and then told the girls to “Go watch daddy cut the tree down.” It was a far cry from my imagination of the event; all of us standing in a cheerful circle around daddy and the tree and merrily yelling “Timber!” We barely squeaked out a family picture before the tree guys shook and bailed it and we were off.

It snowed, or iced, the whole way home and the tree was covered. We enjoyed a fun lunch with good friends and after hours of waiting for our tree to thaw we started to decorate just in time for Finn to wake up. This was a challenge, but made easier by the fact that he just loved it even though his curious fingers could not stay away. The girls did an amazing job decorating this year; I think I only rearranged one ornament to save a weak branch. It’s a gorgeous tree; a little top heavy with ornaments to keep the toddler away, but gorgeous just the same.

Sunday started great for me with a breakfast out with friends. I met Mike and the kids at Santa’s house and the wait wasn’t too long. As we waited at the door, next to go in, Finn poked his finger in my already assaulted camera and damaged it beyond repair. Nothing like adding that expense this week – but I certainly don’t see anyway around it! Logan and Riley decided at the last minute to ask for American Girl dolls – of course Santa completed shopping at least a month ago, so some last minute purchases were made after arriving home. To boot, Logan asked Santa for one of his reindeer’s bells and he said “No”, can you believe it? He told her that he was asked so often for bells that the presents weren’t getting built and that he just couldn’t do it and did she understand. We felt terrible for her, but I actually think she did understand. I can assure you that Santa has in his possession one last bell to leave for Logan.

To my relief, I managed to sneak away in the afternoon to grocery shop alone, what could be better? Well, five minutes into the store, the fire alarm went off and continued to blare at unimaginable and inhumane levels my entire trip. It was so loud it actually made you nauseous and there were screaming, scared kids everywhere. They announced that there was a short in the system and to keep shopping. Ah, to shop alone…..

All in all, it was really a great weekend. We did all that important stuff and were lucky enough to even have our moms join us for the Santa visit. We got some alone time, some one-on-one time, we love our tree and our kids are happy. All this other stuff is, well…. funny! We ended our day picking up Grammy and GiGi and taking them to see the most amazing house with Christmas lights set to music. It was the perfect Christmas weekend.

Now I’m off to buy a camera….

Friday, December 14, 2007

Little Artists

For someone who loves to paint, I hate to let my kids do it. This is crazy, I know, but it’s just such a mess and I can’t handle it. The thought of pastel colors all over my floors and little finger prints on tables, walls and countertops, makes me cringe. Sadly, I think I only pull out the water colors a few times a year and maybe the real stuff only once. Could I be more of a scrooge? Yesterday was the day that I decided to soften and really pulled out the stops. I grabbed my huge container of like, one hundred different acrylic paints and all the supplies and gave Logan and Riley each their own canvas. Although I had a few momentary breakdowns as paint slid between the floorboards, we all survived, the girls had a great time and we have some killer artwork to boot!

The whole time we painted, Logan repeated, “I just want to know why we have not done this before!” Riley was in her own world of free style painting, creating a very cool, autumnal-colored abstract that I would love to hang up in the house. Logan meticulously painted a beautiful summer scene, so grown up and reminiscent of something that I would have done at her age. I love it and want it, but she plans to give it away.

It was a great afternoon and although it was a lot of running around, catching drips, wiping hands and brush washing, it was totally worth it. (Maybe next time I won’t make a batch of Christmas cookies and begin my own painting for a friend’s new baby girl at the same time!) The best part is that the girls got the chance to have fun creating something totally unique that they are insanely proud of – they were bursting at the seams to show daddy after work. At this moment, I vow to loosen up and let their creative juices flow more often!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Can I get a side of ranch?

I guess that we’re a ranch family. What I mean is we like it on our salads, our nuggets, our fries and thanks to an old friend from Tampa, even our pizza. Finn recently discovered the stuff and likes to dip anything in it and suck the ranch off. He really has no interest in any food other than “noo noo’s” a.k.a. noodles, so the “dipper” doesn’t matter. I’ve often thought that he would just prefer a bowl of ranch with a spoon in lieu of the healthy choices I offer him daily. I’m pretty sure that I’m right.

I was in the laundry room for two minutes, trying to change a load while listening to Logan try to pair down her birthday party list in order to have it at Libby Lu (this will inevitably end up in its own post as I am not sure what the ethics are for birthday party invites – all I know is that a Libby Lu party for 12 is out of the question right now!) Anyway, all of a sudden Logan says, “Finn!” And then “Oh no! Mom, I don’t even want to tell you what he did!” I don’t know what I really thought as I poked my head around the corner; it just wasn’t what I saw.

During my few minutes with the laundry, Finn had managed to climb into the garbage can and retrieve one of the girl’s chicken nugget boxes which had one whole side filled with ranch. I have no idea how he did it, but he must have been spinning around because not only did he get it all over himself, but all over a good 6 square foot section of the kitchen floor. After that, he apparently thought it best to pop the open box on his face, where it still was, ranch dripping out from under it.

My first instinct was, well, not the appropriate one. On second thought, I grabbed my camera and captured a few shots. He was totally crying since I’m sure it didn’t feel good in his eyes. I wiped him clean and started in on the floor. Let me just say that I cleaned this same floor on my hands and knees only two hours earlier, using the very last of my ridiculously expensive, but totally worth it, hardwood floor cleaner. The ranch left a lovely and stinky white film on my recently, and momentarily spotless floor.

Sometimes you just want to scream.

Thank God it was naptime and I scooped Finn up, changed his ultra-smelly clothes and gave his face and hands a really good wash. The kicker is he apparently has some kind of skin allergy to ranch dressing. Everywhere it touched his skin, there was a raised pink welt. I quickly grabbed my camera to capture this as well, but realized that during the time I cleaned the floor, Finn had broken the lens on my camera rendering it useless. (Temporarily, I hope.)

What can I do? How can I even be angry? I am fighting a losing battle day-by-day, but hopefully winning in the long term. Anyway, I think I am cured of my own ranch addiction.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mad Mom

I’m ticked. I will be spending my afternoon (and probably at least one more) correcting a situation that never needed to happen. Not to mention, this situation directly affects one of my kids, so I am fuming about it!

A couple of months ago, Logan had a dentist appointment and I’m sorry to say, after her first set of x-rays, they found FOUR cavities. (UGH.) In the midst of my debilitating guilt, I managed to make the call to our new dentist to schedule her appointments. The place was impressive; totally state-of-the-art and they seemed great, planning on doing it over two appointments so that the experience was a good as it could be for her. We went for appointment number one and, after a mix up on the paperwork about which teeth should be filled was corrected (because I noticed the price they were charging me was not what they had quoted me on the phone) she did great. Afterward, the dentist came out and said he ran short on time and only got one filling done (thankfully without Novocain) and four sealants. She’d need to return in a few weeks to get three more fillings. It would take an hour.

So, three weeks later, we trekked back to the dentist on a crisp Saturday morning. Logan, a total trooper about the whole thing, said she was nervous, but went willingly. They got her right in and much to my surprise, the dentist came out twenty minutes later and announced she had to have Novocain this time, but she was all done. I said, “So you did all three then?” He said, “No, she only had one.” I reminded him of our discussion weeks prior and he said he needed to check the chart. As I listened, he and his assistant counted six cavities while looking at the x-rays.

I was becoming more and more agitated by the second and in lieu of causing a scene, I quickly developed my red blotchy read-me-like-a-book rash on my neck and face. I was trying to be cool and not scare Logan, but I needed an explanation. After several other clarifications and confirmations, the dentist now declared that Logan had five cavities and one that he would watch. I was exhausted from the back and forth of it all, and since she was numb, I allowed them to fill two others that were in the same area. They said they needed twenty minutes and after another hour they brought her out. I was furious. All said and done she was in the chair for an hour and forty minutes at five years old. She was beat.

Of course they apologized about the SCHEDULING CONFLICT and nothing else. They almost didn’t let me leave without scheduling her next fillings. I have no idea how many cavities she had or has had filled and I feel totally taken advantage of. When I picked up her records to go for a second opinion from our former far away dentist, they not only gave me a hard time and tried to make me pay $25, but they handed me a print out that they use that clearly states how much benefit she has remaining for the year. I can’t help but fear that the office used that information when determining how many fillings she needed. I hope that she did not receive any that weren’t necessary!

And thanks to all their mix ups, intentional or not, I will spend the day waking up my baby from his nap to drag all three kids an hour away to sit quietly (yeah right) in our old dentist’s office. Worse, my poor five year old will have to spend more time in the chair. I am a totally unsatisfied customer and will never set foot in Wheatland Dental, state-of-the-art or not, ever again.

UPDATE: We did see our old dentist who unfortunately let us know that she only really needed one filling in his opinion. He said that the four she did receive were on baby teeth, thankfully. And in no uncertain terms he let us know that we should not go back. UGH!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Puffy Coats

Man do I love the first real snowfall of the season. We were all so excited to see the white stuff coming down on Tuesday night; the girls because they knew they’d get to wear those new snow boots and play in it and Mike and I because we were experiencing our first winter wonderland in our new home. Seeing those giant blowing flakes against that wide clear night sky was pretty cool. I love the way the snow lines the trees leaving them all glistening in the moonlight. It was pretty much beautiful.

The next morning, we bundled up especially well for the two minute ride to school. With Logan in her leopard accessories, Riley in her hot pink boots with flashing lights and both of them in their “puffy coats”, we set out. I can’t tell you how much I love those puffy coats! I see them both standing in line as I wait to pick them up from school each day in those coats. All toasty and warm with their hats and scarves peeking from beneath their hoods, their mittens a bit too big and hanging off their little hands. They both have these rosy red cheeks and bright blue excited eyes, making the package of their cuteness complete. It brings a fast true smile to my face every single day.

I guess I like them so much because, when wrapped up in those ridiculous get ups, my kids are just little kids; it’s undeniable. They can’t do the latest “shake-your-booty” move or talk about Hannah Montana or the fact that I won’t buy them Bratz dolls. They aren’t annoyed with each other or fighting, picking up Finn or trying to be older than they are. They just are these tiny little people, all bundled up, so stuffed into their puffy coats and waiting for their mommy. I love looking at and enjoying them from afar and relishing the last few moments of watching them before our afternoon craziness begins. Yes, I love those coats and the kids inside.

I have a puffy coat. Although it keeps me incredibly warm, it fails to bring me the same joy – I mostly just wonder how much like a giant marshmallow I actually look. Guess I opt for functionality over fashion most days!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Joy of a Boy

Let me start by saying that we were not the couple that got pregnant a third time only with hopes to have a boy. We didn’t care at all. As Finn’s due date drew close, I just knew I’d be a mom of three girls. When he arrived with all his little male parts, I was pretty much shocked but instantly knew he was meant to be a part of my life. I love that I have been given the blessing of raising both a boy and girls, but can honestly say that I would have considered it a blessing however it panned out. So, I have a boy….

There are numerous things that Finn does that the girls would have never even thought to do. He runs straight away from me whenever we are in public, he eats everything in sight (see October’s “Gotta Light?”), he climbs to unimaginable heights and he continually destroys anything in his reach on purpose, and then laughs. He is an enigma to me, that’s for sure. His latest trick has left me the most perplexed…. Constantly screaming the word “OWWWW!” whenever I touch him. (When he doesn’t want me to.) This is fine at home as I’m sure you can imagine, but in public, well…. I’m sure you can imagine.

Yes, that’s me with my child in the grocery store. You hear the “Owww!” and wonder, “Is that his mommy? What’s she doing to him?” You even go in for a closer peek and give me a pitied look when you realize he’s the one in control of the situation. I feel terrible for him and for how I appear, but I trudge on through and keep doing whatever I’m doing; wiping his messy face or hands, taking away a choking hazard, moving him from an unsafe location or carrying him across the parking lot. All the while, the “Owww’s” follow us wherever we go! On top of all his other illustrious acts, this fully exhausts me by the end of my day and I can’t wait for bedtime. And then, as soon as he’s down, I miss him.

Because you see, Finn has some very endearing qualities as well. He is more attached to me than I ever could’ve imagined and even cries when I go to the bathroom. He loves to be held and when I hold him he plays with my hair and whispers “Mommy” over and over. He is so cuddly and will actually sit in my lap and watch at least part of a movie which is pretty impressive at 18 months. He goes to bed like a champ, happily trotting up the stairs, picking a book and saying “Nigh, nigh.” He has the deepest blue eyes you’ve ever seen and I’ll cry the day those white curls turn dark. He is so in love with his teddy bears that when a dear friend brought over her 18 month old daughter, he held all three of his favorites in a death grip for hours until she left. He does a head bob when he dances, loves to spin and get dizzy. And when you drive him around to see Christmas lights, he screams “WOW!” over and over. It’s adorable.

So Finn is new territory for me and a learning experience every single day. Even with all his boy craziness, his sweetness outweighs his “Ow’s” by far. I guess they’re the price I pay for the cuddles and the hair playing. Someday soon, he’ll grow up and things will change. I’ll miss it all as we move onto to new things. So for now, say “ow” Finn, say “ow.”

Thursday, November 29, 2007

We Got Elfed!!

Seriously, this is the best 10 minutes I've ever spent! Follow the direct link below....

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Our sunrise in the backyard this morning....

How cool to wake up to this. The colors were amazing... I love living here!

The House of I Love You's

Almost every night after my kids go to bed, I begin the ritual of cleaning up the place. Sure, I have basically cleaned all day, but now is the time for getting the last of the clutter into its chosen resting place and doing the most guilt-ridden deed: tossing some of the day’s or week’s artwork.

I have always hated this job which can be understood by my possesion of two enormous plastic bins full of every piece of art ever accomplished. The bins are currently sitting in our office as a constant reminder to me that I must go through them and purge. Weekly, Mike asks if he can take them down to the basement and I say, “No” for fear that I will never do what needs to be done.

And now, things have gotten worse. Logan is writing like crazy, in her tiny little adorable print. My countless pictures of rainbows and flowers have morphed into “I love you’s” (always with a backwards “y”) and they are everywhere. I am having a terrible time throwing any of them away and I am just not sure how to go about it. We’ve all been caught in the act recycling some random coloring book page that we were sure didn’t matter, but when does an “I love you” not matter? Each one of them is so endearing and sweet and full of, well, love, that I think, for now, my pile will grow. There will undoubtedly come a time when I am begging for those sweet words to come from her lips, so while they're pouring out of her fingertips….. I just may collect them all!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Spread Some Cheer

Will someone please explain this scenario to me?

I am driving in the morning with a minivan full of kids. We’re on a road inside a strip mall and waiting to turn left into where else? You guessed it, Starbucks parking lot. I am in the left of two lanes. All of a sudden, an obnoxious man in a very expensive luxury vehicle lays on the horn behind me. I am waiting there because there is oncoming traffic in the lane I need to cross, but I’m sure I didn’t need to tell you that. He could go around me, but won’t and apparently does not see the other lane next to us both. So instead, he blares and beeps and makes a huge scene out of a mom and her three kids under 5, trying to safely get everyone around town and get the blood flowing with a little caffeine.

What was this guy, and all the other guys like him trying to accomplish? I couldn’t help but think that this was a true sign of the season at hand – it’s like a buzz you can feel in the air – stress levels and blood pressures are rising. I’m sure that guy wasn’t a bad guy, I’m sure if confronted with the chubby youthful cheeks and baby blues of my three kids, he would have felt pretty stupid indeed. Hopefully he would’ve mostly felt the need to chill out, take a breath, to not be in such a terrible hurry.

I kind of hope he figured it out on his own, you know? I am not immune to the stresses of the season and have had my own lapses in judgment. On Black Friday, without thinking, I grabbed my cold cuppa joe and dumped out of my door in a parking lot and was instantly ashamed. Some poor person pulled in after me and probably stepped right in the puddle. Ugh. It seriously was on my mind for the next couple of hours. I won’t be doing that again.

So here’s to remembering to slow down this season, to give everyone a smile, to let them cut in front of you in line or on the road. Here’s to making the holidays merry for everyone and spreading some cheer as far as it can go.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Ahhhh, the holiday season has begun! I’m happy to report that my shopping is 99% done – I think that I am getting better at this every year. I love to get out and enjoy the hustle and bustle and festivity of the stores just before the holidays, as long as my lot has already been purchased. Happily, I only need some toy dinosaurs, snow cone syrup and something for my father-in-law, my biggest annual challenge. It will happen though, with the perfect investigative work of my wonderful mother-in-law, Mary. I can’t wait to get her suggestions so that I can complete the task at hand.

In a nutshell, we had a great Thanksgiving. The girls and Finn were dressed up in adorable outfits and so excited to have the family over for a party. I know that it’s a little hard for them at times, unfortunately, they don’t have any cousins yet and I know they wish they did. (This is certainly not a problem that I have the solution for though!) As I looked around the table of adults that were present and enjoying themselves, I felt a touch of sadness. Maybe this is the case for every family at times, but as I thought about each one of them, I realized that every one of us is dealing with a problem that is bigger than the everyday ones we all face; some long term in their nature, some scary, some with great health concerns, some facing the holidays with loneliness, and some going back to a place they thought they left behind long ago.

I felt bad. I thought about giving a toast alluding to what I was thinking about, but then changed my mind – my thoughts just weren’t well – thought out. And the last thing I wanted to do was let my kids know that there was anything sad about their day. Rather quickly, my thoughts transformed themselves to a better place and here’s where that place is: gratitude.

I am sad that we are all going through so much. It does not seem fair. But this is what being an adult is all about and all of these unique and wonderful people are surviving and persevering and making the best of it. I think the good time they appeared to be having was the real deal. I know that it was for me. I currently have some health issues that I am dealing with and I was tired from all the preparations, but I was enjoying myself and so thrilled to be hosting everyone in our new home. We all have our challenges, that is for sure. But it seems that we are up to them. We are grateful for the family that we have that came together as one amidst a whole lot of troubles. We found relief and humor and love in each other’s presence and there are not many things better than that.

So this year, I am thankful for my family – the immediate one for sure – but the extended one too. Whatever form or shape we may be in, whatever challenge we face, I am thankful to be in this life with all of them, whatever comes our way. Anyway, I just know there are better days ahead for one and all.

And by the way, the food was great, if I do say so myself!

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hi My Name is Molly....

…and I think I may have a problem.

I have to give credit where credit is due. I am addicted to something and as much as I hate to admit it, I must: I love High School Musical!

I swear, I could let the girls play it all day long (but I don’t – I swear!) Finn dances like a mad man to it and actually requests it by saying “Whoa, whoa, whoa” and mimicking one of the songs. The girls think it’s the bomb as well, but I am pretty sure that it’s me who likes it best of all.

Let me just say that with six years under my belt, I officially hate children’s television. I can’t even bear to watch anything animated with the possible exception of something just released from the theaters. But even then, I can only watch it ONCE. And we all know how often that happens. I don’t care to see or hear the same episodes of Arthur or Curious George or to watch the Disney princesses navigate through their tragic lives to their happy endings one more time! If, for whatever reason, I am forced to sit while one of these shows is on, I stare at the wall and think, about anything else I can think of!

And then came my savior – a new, non-animated, real, mostly cheesy, I’ll admit, story similar to Grease but much more Disney squeaky clean. I love this movie! The music just makes me happy, I love knowing all of the words to all the sappy little high school angst-filled songs and love that my kids love it to.

At some point on most days we watch part of the movie. On those days you can find me jamming out to any of the given songs – I can’t even tell you which one is my favorite since I like them all so much! I guess those songs make me remember those days in high school, the good and the bad and revel in the fact that I am no longer there. Anything that can make you rock out while putting away dishes and changing loads of laundry is a very good thing.

I am serious though, it really may be a problem. Last week, the girls and I spent a good hour replaying the end song, “We’re All in This Together” over and over so we could learn the dance moves. I’m not as quick of a study as I was back in my cheerleading days, but I am getting it, the girls are totally into it and most importantly, we’re having fun! What could be better?

By the way, Mike could not hate it any more. Just goes to show you who has the good taste around here!! :-)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bizarre Love Triangle

Okay, so if I had imagined it, which I have not, I would have guessed I’d be writing this post in ten to fifteen years. It seems that we have a little love bug on our hands with Miss Riley. Apparently, there was a classroom romance in the works between two of her classmates and all of a sudden, she’s gotten in the middle of it!

The teacher told me that she has never experienced this boyfriend/girlfriend stuff in a 3 year old classroom before. She wanted me to know about it, just in case Riley said anything. She has mentioned this little guy’s name before, but I thought nothing of it – of course! I guess the first little girlfriend has lost her spot with Mr. Casanova, who is now going around telling everyone that Riley is his girlfriend. Girlfriend number one is totally devastated and cries all through school! Now the poor teacher has been forced to separate the boys and girls so that she doesn’t have to deal with the emotion of it all in the classroom – can you even believe it?

Riley overheard her teacher telling me this at school pick up today, so I felt that I should say something. I just told her that she is much too little to have a boyfriend. I said that she can be friends with everyone, including boys, but cannot call anyone her “boyfriend” for many years. She said, “Okay Mommy.” It seems like it’s no big deal to her.

On the way home, I called Mike to let him know, with a chuckle, that I got my blog material for the day. After some needed clarification, I told him the story. Surprisingly he just said, “Hmmmm.”

And then, “So I guess I’ll have to buy my gun earlier than expected, huh?”

The teenage years seem very scary indeed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

On Second Thought...

I feel that my children have seriously doubted my words and my abilities lately. I mean, what’s the deal? I don’t lead them into life’s situations unprepared, things always get done in time and we’ve only been late to school once this year. (For anyone who read Silver Lining, you know why!) Apparently though, that’s not good enough for them and I have been given the Spanish Inquisition about all sorts of matters this week.

Riley is obsessed with Santa Claus and has asked more questions in the last week than I could have imagined. I don’t think that anyone has said anything though-provoking about the jolly old man to her; I just think she thinks about things differently than her siblings. I’ve been asked, “How does he get down the chimney?” “Are you sure he’s going to fit?” “What if people don’t have a chimney?” and finally, “How does he really know what we want?” Quite frankly, I am worn out on the topic and feel that my answers are showing some serious wear and tear. I wish her three year-old curiosity would be squashed already. I need a break!

Meanwhile Logan is questioning everything I do when we go out. “Do I really need this coat?” “Are you sure that I am supposed to bring this tote bag to Daisies?” “What I mean Mommy, is did they actually tell you to have me bring my tote bag?” “Did you remember to sign and return my report card in my folder?” I can’t get a breather around here! As I laughed at her questions on the way to Daisies today, I realized that maybe I am the one teaching them to be so inquisitive.

There is no doubt that I thought the same way about Santa. If there is another way to look at something, I will undoubtedly think of it to confuse myself, if for no other reason. And as far as doing what I am supposed to do and being prepared, I am always striving for and wondering if I am on target. I am also sure that I am too obviously frustrated at times when I’m not hitting my mark. I guess it’s what they see in me and not what I try to teach them that they are learning from.

Time for a change. No more second-guessing, out loud. Calm responses only for things like being late for school. No doubting the reality of things unless they are absurd. There is nothing like being a kid and no need for any stress in their lives that doesn’t need to be there.

I have to admit though, it’s all pretty cute. Just the fact that Logan is at a point that she actually worried as to whether or not her mom would set her up to look silly was pretty cute. Yep, they’re getting older, but young enough that hopefully, a change in my tune will result in a change in theirs.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Ten years ago today was quite a day.

In a tiny church in Oak Brook I married my soul mate. That little church was packed from door-to-altar with loved ones from all walks of our lives, from near and far. I still remember standing in the doorway to the church, right before the ceremony, with so many tears in my eyes that I couldn’t see a thing. I was terrified to blink because, coming from someone who rarely cries, either the flood gates would open and/or I’d end up looking like Tammy Faye Baker. I didn’t blink.

Soon the tears subsided, my focus came back and I saw only one thing: Mike at the end of the aisle, waiting. There was nothing less than everything I wanted and needed in that very moment, in his look, and I’ll never forget either. The details of that day were lost almost instantly amidst the exciting frenzy of all that had to be done. The constant hum of the love between us and of those that surrounded us, along with the anticipation of all that lied ahead is a feeling that will never go away.

Our decade together has brought us down many paths. There have been major challenges and tiny ones, scary times and the normal struggles that we all face. But mostly there have been triumphs, accomplishments, joy and three particular miracles that have joined Mike and me in a way that we can never share with any other soul. Three amazing little beings have been placed in our care, loans from above that have opened our hearts to depths unimaginable.

We are better people than we were ten years ago, that’s for sure. We have had more life and experience than we wanted at times, but we are making it. We have a little rust and a few dings to prove our mileage. But we are strong. And with each passing day, we are meeting our challenges, striving for more and living a great life together. We are chosen partners in a life full of possibility.

I am a lucky woman, there is just no doubt. More importantly, I am a grateful woman. This wonderful man took me for better or worse and he has proven it on both accounts. I love him more than I could ever hope to put into words.

On the back page of our wedding program, in tiny print on the bottom of the page, these words were written:

“One sweet dream came true today…”

And it did. Ten years ago today.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

360 Degrees

I heard a phrase on Oprah the other day that literally kept me up last night and then had me thinking again early this morning. The phrase is 360° Life. It was coined by this magazine mogul, Lisa Black, who runs a seriously successful publishing empire and has a book out called Basic Black. It’s all about being a true success in your life – your whole life. Anyway, I loved her idea of remembering to have a 360° Life, because so many of us seem to forget to do that. We’re either burying our selves in work trying to make our way in careers, striving for that perfect life for our children at home, or for the growing majority, we're doing both. Whatever our path, we’re so wiped out at the end of the day that all we can bear is a little TV and as much sleep as possible. That’s where we begin to fail ourselves.

There is no doubt that I am doing the job that I want to do right now. For me, I just want to be the one here with my kids during the day, so we’re living tightly in order to make it happen right now. Even though my husband doesn’t always get this feeling at dinnertime, most days really are great. (They all have their challenges though, too, and right now I have to say that I remember the work force to be less challenging!) On weekends, which are chock full of all other types of responsibilities, there just doesn’t seem to be a break anywhere in sight. If Mike has other things going on, which he has every right to; my chief complaint is that there is no variation in my life. How many weekends is this going to come up before I just plain do something about it?

I am definitely a self-helper, constantly thinking about and striving to make my family members’ lives and my own better, fuller, more abundant. I can get on a roll and talk and write about it really well, but it’s the long term follow through that seems to have escaped me. But now I’ve got this new perspective from this idea of the 360° Life, which is helping me focus not only on all my responsibilities, but my passions, my plans for me, my happiness – and not only that happiness that is derived from all the wonderful people in my life – but the joy that I am solely responsible for placing in my own heart.

I know that I have done those closest to me a disservice by leaving myself in the dust for most of my married life. It’s happened naturally and I don’t think it could be more common for us moms. It’s what we do and in today’s world it happens with such frenzy we don’t even see ourselves taking our place on the back burner of life. It just happens, if we let it.

So I won’t. As far as my kids go, I will find good in more diaper changes, grit my teeth through the constant milk spills, strive to never say a shameful thing “just because I’m tired” and above all, say “yes” to playing more often. For my husband, well, I guess I could say the same things! We need to make the time for our marriage plain and simple. For me, I will follow my passions and be passionate about what I am so blessed to have. I will stop thinking about what I would love to obtain someday and focus on loving what I already have. I will do things that feed me too and focus on every single aspect of my 360° Life and I know life will just flow and absolutely anything will be possible.

Actually it already is.

Monday, November 5, 2007


There’s nothing like a good hoof in the ear, followed by a trip to the ER to get your weekend going. Apparently (I was vacuuming) Riley was somehow attacked by her Belle Horsey on Friday morning. She had a huge gash on her tiny ear and we went to the walk-in clinic to have it stitched on the advice of our pediatrician. (They thought it was a good option since Riley is scared of hospitals.) I won’t be going back.

I got there with all three in tow and waited in the cramped waiting room with more germs than you could imagine. I was very worried when they handed me a pager and then surprised when we were called in rather quickly. Riley was mid-chorus of “I don’t want stitches!” when we were taken into the room. The doctor took one look at her ear and told me that she would most likely need surgery by a plastic surgeon that same day and that I need to get her to the ER. Awesome. The nurse added, “And mom needs some help today!” No kidding.

On the way to the hospital, I made arrangements for my mom to leave work and pick up Logan and Finn at the hospital and for Mike to take the rest of the day off. We all met there and went in the ER. Immediately the story changed and they said they could stitch her. They were shocked that the walk-in clinic had even uttered the word “surgery.” We were totally thankful that no anesthesia would be necessary; that certainly seemed very scary, but would have been easier! Riley did great and amidst terror and being held down, she managed to hold herself together enough to avoid the papoose. I was glad, after experiencing that thing firsthand as a kid, I was so hoping we could circumvent it for her. We left, four hours after we initially left home, with four stitches in her right ear, a stuffed unicorn, a cherry Popsicle and a Tootsie Roll.

Within minutes of arriving home following a happy meal pickup, she was back to normal, but swooning from all the attention. The neighborhood kids came to check on her, family and friends called and I’m sure Daddy and I let her know numerous times how proud we were of her. She was proud of herself, too, and rightly so. She’s a tough little cookie, that’s for sure. And a lucky one too – I am so relieved that our induction into the stitches club was something so minor!

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Aftermath

I was upstairs getting dressed this morning and laughing out loud about yesterday’s post. (Dream Halloween – what a joke!) I don’t even know how I willed that out of my fingers based on the “day after” that I was having. Man did I pay the price.

It should have been a good day, we had our fence installed. As the wife of a perpetual and talented do-it-yourselfer, there is just a wondrous feeling that comes over me when we occasionally have the opportunity to pay someone else to do a big project around our house. Even though the money is going out the window, I feel the direct correlation between the time the other people are spending on the project and the time that Mike won’t have to spend. Anyway, the fence is a good thing.

The kids were so tired. We had to get up and follow the school routine which makes me wish for future weekend Halloween’s only. Finn and Riley did great while Logan was at school, but when we picked her up, all hell broke loose.

Logan got in the car saying, no whining, “I’m too hungry!” over and over. She refused to buckle into her car seat because I didn’t bring her a snack. I finally got her in and she pouted loudly all the way home. The two girls tested the waters the rest of the day by saying “no” right to my face, continually picking up their screeching brother by the neck and bickering with each other as much as possible. They’d come up for water, or should I say – candy – every once in awhile and because I was nursing my own Halloween “hangover”, I’d usually say yes. I want that candy out of the house as soon as possible!

Poor Mike came in at 6 PM to find me doing whatever I could to hold it together, and I did, but I was spent. I literally felt abused by these overtired, ghoulish little sugar monsters who had beat me up all day. I should have just let it all go, but true to form, I tried to reason with my little beasts and all it got me was asleep on the couch by 8:45 PM. And did I mention that they all have colds? Oh well, I guess it’s only once a year, so it’s worth it. Or wait, maybe it’s twice…. The holidays are right around the corner!

Once again, Happy Halloween 2007 – ugh!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dream Halloween

What a great Halloween! After a whirlwind morning of driving here, there and everywhere for this and that parade and a million little errands, we met up with neighbors and ventured out to trick or treat for the first time in our new ‘hood. It seemed that every little person we met along the way joined our clan until we took up half a block! It was sunny and chilly, but we couldn’t complain. I swear, it was like the Halloween of my dreams, with more kids and costumes and decorations than you can imagine! The kids had so much fun – it was like being in the presence of joy for three straight hours.

A new neighbor who doesn’t even have kids got in on the action and generously put up a giant Halloween-themed jumpy thing in their yard (they own the company, got to make a note of that!) All the trick or treators got to hop in and jump to their hearts’ content. It was nothing short of an awesome day for the single digits around here.

We ended the night with a spooky dinner by candlelight. We had goblin brain casserole (chicken and noodles), Frankenstein’s eyeballs (brussel sprouts), monster mush (applesauce) and vampire cocktail (berry juice). It was a completely fulfilling memory – how about that!?!

Hope you enjoy the collage of our cool cowgirl, beautiful fairy and curious monkey. The monkey protested a bit at the onset, but came around as soon as he figured he could suck M&M juice through the wrapper. Actually he hung out in the stroller for the duration, which was a blessing indeed.

Happy Halloween 2007!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Club

The tooth fairy has visited! After three long and very loose weeks, Logan’s first tooth has fallen out. One of her classmates informed her that she is now a member of the “tooth club.” She asked me when they meet and what that really means. I ended up going down the road of some long and winding discussion of milestones and being at certain points in your life when I really should have just said, “Thursdays.” I feel like time is all of a sudden flying for her. Changes are happening everyday and she is growing up in her looks, her experiences and her understanding of the world around her. I am thrilled and excited and love the person that she’s growing into more and more each day. But I miss her a little bit too, her thumb-sucking, her silly questions, her baby face. I miss before-her-tooth-club-membership Logan….. but I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Go Take a Hot Shower!

Is there anything better than an uninterrupted hot shower?

I was just getting dressed (and yes, it is 2 PM and I have already done the morning routine, dropped off and picked up two kids from two schools, been to Costco, recycled my grocery bags, returned and exchanged items at two separate stores, made and cleaned up lunch and managed a playdoh accident.) Anyway, as I dressed I felt this overwhelming sense of gratitude for the long, uninterrupted, both-legs shaved, hot shower I had just experienced. I think it’s like meditation for me; it’s certainly just as rare as meditation!

Seriously though, think about it. Eyes closed now and imagine the rush of a shower with great water pressure above you. The temperature is perfect; just before ‘blazing’ for me. The running water is the only sound you hear and you start to zone out and relax. Miraculously, there are no little people around for the moment. Thoughts come clearly and actually are completed before being replaced by new ones. Ideas even arrive, unexpectedly; rewards for this peaceful time alone. You smell the soap, even venture to use the expensive exfoliator that you rarely ever think about. You’re graced with the 1-3 minutes of conditioner time and as if it can’t get any better, you’re able to completely rinse off before, oh so sadly, turning the dial to “OFF.”

I had a funny conversation with another mom this week about the sad state of affairs when it comes to us moms being able to close the bathroom door during the day. That last sad bit of privacy is sacrificed during these glorious early childhood days. I regretfully admitted that I am so accustomed to leaving the door open that I sometimes do it even when I don’t have to! I miss shutting that door and need to grant myself the privilege more often! But for as much as I want that door closed, I’d leave it open forever to be granted the shower I had today every once in awhile – there’s nothing like it.

Thanks kids!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I’ve been thinking a lot about the girls and their relationship lately. It is so real right now; they can go from 0 to 60 in a second, from best friends to the worst enemies. This is all usually over Barbie’s purse or whether or not they think it’s appropriate that they both request the same things from Santa. (Unfortunately for Santa, that’s just the way it will be this year!) I see both extreme adoration and intense competition between them, both of which seem to be in operation at healthy levels for now. They protect each other and worry about each other and then easily shove each other out of the way at soccer, right after cheering the other on. I’m sure that’s what sisters do.

Unfortunate circumstances in my own life have left me unable to use my own relationship with my sister as an example to my girls, so I am winging it. I try to encourage all the good stuff, ignore the harmless and do away with the bad. I am hopelessly attempting to teach the meaning of “ignore.” I reward their good deeds and my heart flips when they tell me they did something nice for each other. I’m no dummy, most of that is in hopes of a reward from me, but they are still “getting it” a little, day by day.

After school drop off, Riley goes through a period of sadness when Logan gets out of the car. It’s always a mad rush: she unbuckles, Riley begs for a kiss and hug, Logan says she doesn’t have time, I tell her to do it anyway. Then I ask for my kiss, tell her I love her, Finn starts yelling “Bye!” at the top of his lungs and she’s off. The whole way through the parking lot Riley and Finn are continuing their goodbyes. Today, Riley asked a last minute question of Logan that got lost in the shuffle. She was so dejected. I tried to explain that Logan was in such a rush that she had to go and that it would be the same with her someday and Finn would be left waiting. And then they’ll all go and I’ll say, “Where did they all go?”

Now I’m feeling sad.

But, as usual, I was saved from my impending funk by three-year old conversation. Riley told me she planned to marry Briggs, the seven year old son my wonderful friend, Tiffany.

“You do?” I asked, thinking that it was so funny to even hear her say this.

“I do!” She announced. “So Logan better not be!”

Sisters ‘til the end!

Monday, October 22, 2007


I read an article the other day where a woman was describing the kind of love that she grew up with in her family. In it, she talks candidly about how deep, easy and true their love was for each other. They cherished the time they had together and were vital components of each other’s lives. The author specifically talks about one vacation, where after a long day her entire family ends up on the beach with a bonfire. The kids are in their early twenties at this point and they are telling stories and laughing so hard that they’re crying. Smack in the middle of the laughter-through-tears, the mom raises her glass and says, “Here’s to us! We love each other and we know it!”

I was immediately affected by this story. All I could think is “This is all that I want!” I mean, if we could raise our kids to feel that kind of love, warmth and security and to always want to come home as young adults, I can’t tell you how happy I would be. If we could give our children the gift of knowing a healthy, fun-loving and supportive marriage; a true partnership, they could travel so much further in their own relationships. The moments we spend laughing as a family are so treasured and are far too few. As my kids grow and I see their personalities develop, I want to know them more and more. I can’t imagine anything more satisfying for that mom on the beach… or for me.

The article wasn’t about family life as much as it was about losing a loved one. Six months after the scene on the beach, the son was killed in a plane crash while serving in the military. The family suffered through the details and traditions and then, as hard as it was, pulled themselves back together and moved on in his name. They say that they were able to do that because of the love in which they rooted their family. The love really is enough to get us through anything, big or little or unfathomable.

For whatever reason, it’s been a stressful week but these thoughts about love have helped me end it on a good note. As my days with my kids fill with the joys of early childhood and a good dose of parental frustration – enough to leave me a lump on the couch by 8:30 pm - I will focus on the love, the laughs, and the sweetness of these fleeting moments. I will teach my kids to sink deep into the love from their daddy and me and have that same kind of love for each other. I will make their home a place to be themselves, be happy, feel safe and be loved. And the love will carry us all… through everything.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Out in the middle of.... somewhere special!

I can’t tell you how many people thought we were nuts packing up and moving even farther from the city and the rat race. A friend asked me today if I really like it out here and I couldn’t help but answer with a resounding “Yes!” The fact is that I wholeheartedly do.

When we contracted to build our new house, I must admit that I wasn’t 100% sure of our decision. I knew and supported all of our reasons for the change, but my heart was far from in it. Thankfully, the seven months we waited for completion of the house were just what I needed to start laying roots here in Oswego and really start to love it. From the beginning, Mike and I were hooked on coming out at least once a week to look at the empty lot, drive around the town and investigate. Our excitement grew tenfold when they dug the hole for our foundation – now we really had something to sink our teeth into! All of a sudden we were on our way out to look twice a week, sometimes packing the kids into the car at their normal bedtime because we couldn’t wait another day to check the progress. By the time our closing date came around, we really liked the house and neighborhood and were falling in love with the surrounding area as well.

It didn’t take long after moving in to start to feel like home here. Mike and I have both commented on how there is just a good feeling in our house; how it feels like it is totally meant to be. I’m thinking that’s a good sign considering we don’t have a speck of paint on the walls yet. I remember one early day sitting on the front porch after a long walk and catching the sunset for the first time. I was literally moved to tears while realizing how blessed I was to be able to see this sunset every day that I live here. I’ve seen a lot of sunsets, especially during the five years that Mike and I lived in Florida, but the sky just seems bigger here. And more colorful. And totally breathtaking.

I drove to the dentist on Saturday and made a wrong turn. I found myself cruising down a road that seemed to be getting smaller and smaller. It was filled with homes that could have been in any regular neighborhood, except they all had fields full of grazing horses. This is pretty much my idea of heaven. (I know, low expectations!) But really for me, there’s nothing better than rolling hills of cornfields and trees interspersed with horse farms. Once again, this wonderful little place called Oswego moved me to tears.

I just love it here and am so thankful that we were given the forethought to consider making our life here. I love the people, the schools, the progression and the landscape of this beautiful town. I am so blessed to be one of its residents and so grateful that our children have this wonderful place in which to root and grow. All I’ve got to figure out now is what type of fertilizer to use!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

"Mommy I gotta tell you sumpin'"

Riley is such a cool little person. She is tough, almost never lets a tear show unless she is emotionally hurt. Once she was riding her scooter up and down a neighbor’s driveway with lots of big kids. I cringed each time she went down, but hesitated to stop her. At one point, she wiped out and slid, face-down, the remainder of the driveway. She stood up, a fresh strawberry the size of Chicago on her cheek. Her shoulder matched. All we ever saw was the slightest quiver of her lip, but she was right back on her scooter immediately.

The fact that she is so tough is in such perfect balance with how sweet she is. She operates from such a sound and matter-of-fact place that she can be really calming to be around. She does not have big reactions, so there is never any doubt that you know when she is truly happy, sad, excited, or meaning what she says. Although I wonder about how much she thinks about things (this is a problem I have!) I don’t worry about how she feels about things. She tells it like it is.

I got to thinking about her personality this week because of this one little thing that she does that I can’t really figure out. Anytime during the day or night, in the car or at a concert or smack in the middle of a play date, Riley says, “Mommy I gotta tell you sumpin’.” It’s really a question that she has for me or daddy, not that it matters. It never changes – never varies. “What was your favorite thing at Disney?”

This started five months ago in May just after we took our first trip to Disney. I had worried so that Riley wouldn’t be able to remember any of it since she was only three and a half. But I think the fact that it comes up multiple times a day will certainly help those memories endure!

“Hmmm. I think lunch at Cinderella’s castle” is my usual answer, although I vary it to save my own sanity from answering the same question over and over. This morning I said, “I think Woody’s Round Up, how ‘bout you?” She immediately called me out for changing my stock answer but accepted it when I said that she changes hers from time to time, too. Today, hers was “buying the sprayer things.”

A dear friend recently said that I was so patient since I am willing to answer this question multiple times a day without going crazy. Believe me; I have my moments all the time. But I suppose this question helps her somehow keep that grounded state she carries so well. Maybe she hears, “I’m right here for you Riley” or “It’s okay, close your baby blues and drift off, I’ll keep watch” or “I love you my sweet baby girl and I always will.”

Whatever she hears, I’ll keep saying it until she asks for the last time. I suppose that day is coming soon… she is growing fast. I guess it will be up to me then….

“Riley, I gotta tell you sumpin’. I love you sweet baby girl and I always will.”

Monday, October 8, 2007

Rock On Sisters!

This weekend we traveled to Iowa City to stay with our wonderful friends who live there. Together we went to see a Ralph's World concert and the girls could not have had a better time. Between the three rockin' moms that went, we had a gaggle of five girls by our sides. When Ralph hit the stage, they were all up and dancing and kept going for the whole show. For me, it was one of those moments in parenthood that are so far and few between. You know, the kind where you're almost completely overwhelmed with joy watching your kids experience something amazing and so utterly grateful that you have been able to provide them with that experience. Man do I want more of these moments!

It wasn't that it was something over-the-top or really expensive, it was just a concert. But it was a ROCK concert and felt like one, too. I thought Riley would jump out of her skin when she realized how close we were to the stage. Then Ralph announced that all the kids could dance in the mash pit, so us moms tagged along. Even though I was kneeling along side the stage and not head-banging, it still felt like the real deal. It didn't matter that the subjects of Ralph's songs range from happy lemons to hootenannies, it was just plain fun.

For the last two songs, we were all invited on stage and Logan, Riley and I gladly joined the band along with tons of other eager participants. The music was blaring right along with their precious smiles, their eyes were wide and you could just tell they were soaking it all in. (I was too, it's not everyday I get this opportunity!) I twirled them around and around to the music and couldn't help but think how fast time is flying, how good I have it and how moments like these really make your life.

So thanks, Ralph, for your rockin' songs about puppy dogs, green gorillas and mommies needing coffee. Thanks for singing right to our kids and making them feel like they were the only ones out there. Thanks for your jokes and the occasional adult humor you pepper throughout the show. Thanks for some pretty awesome memories from the mash pit!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Gotta Light?

I should have taken it as a sign as to how my week would end when Finn mastered both the knowledge and usage of the words "no" and "mine" this week. But even with those accomplishments under his belt, Finn still blew me out of the water Thursday. There is no way to adequately introduce this latest Finnism, I just need to put it out there.

He ate a light bulb.

Yes, you are reading those words. Aren't they ridiculous?

I was folding laundry RIGHT NEXT TO HIM and looked down to see a perplexed look on his chubby face. As he chewed, he looked at me as if to say, "Why did you give me such yucky food?" His lips were dripping a bright ruby red. I looked at his hand and in it he held the base of a Halloween flash light, and still screwed into it, was the base of a light bulb, a jagged edge of glass and the inside wire. A moment ago, the bulb was flashing and the switch still sat in the "on" position. Beat. Beat. Beat.

In an instant, I scooped him up and rushed him to the sink. With one hand, I tried to pry his little jaw open and get the remaining glass out. He bit me several times while screaming and slithering and doing his best to get away. I grabbed the phone with the other hand to call the doctor. Mike walked in the middle of this display and could not believe his ears when I told him what happened. Logan and Riley sat intently watching Arthur through this entire event, I don't think they looked over once. Actually, I don't even know if they are aware of what he did!

Needless to say, Katie the receptionist and Karen the nurse had never fielded this type of situation before; both of them coined it their "first." I am so happy that we could supply this "first" for them. After some discussion, they decided that he need not be checked out, that since it was JUST a flashlight bulb, he'd probably be fine. What a relief!?!

I'm sure that my mother-of-the-year award is justifiably delayed. This surely will remain one of my least proud parental moments. I can't imagine what this means for Finn and his future. Or maybe what it means for mine! He scares me.... he really scares me!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Goodbye Old Friend

Wonders really never cease. It blows my mind to even be able to write this, but after nearly six years of constant companionship, my oldest daughter has given up her thumb. We've been gently suggesting it since the age of three, but as our suggestions began, so did the continuity of her sucking. So we backed off, only to try on and off over the next three years. Last week, Logan's teacher asked if we were working on it. I said "Yes! For three years!" She mentioned how bad it has been for kids over the years with the teasing that goes along with habits like this and that she hated to see it happen to Logan. I don't know if we sensed that Logan was also ready or what, but we ordered some miracle paint-on deterrent online. On Friday, I announced that Saturday night we'd have a goodbye party for Logan's thumb and our applications would begin Sunday morning. Well, Logan surprised us by asking for it first thing on Saturday and she has never turned back. I have not seen her thumb near her mouth since applying that first stroke of surprising serum.

I am so happy for her and I know how proud of herself she is. This is a huge accomplishment! She probably had her thumb in her mouth 80% of the day and all night long. I can't even believe that she has been able to sleep through the night! Anyway, as happy as I am about how easily she managed this hurdle, it's a little bittersweet for sure. I remember the excitement her daddy and I felt over having a thumb-sucker (I can't tell you how much trouble I had keeping track of pacifiers in those early months), the relief we felt as she held, in her own hand, the key to self-soothe and sleep well and the gratitude we experienced that her wonderful pal helped her to recover from "owies" and hurt feelings faster than our too-adult-style words ever could. I have noticed a few more middle of the night visits and definitely more drama than usual; she has got to be feeling this drastic change. I have no doubt her thumb will be missed by us all.

So adios little thumb. I'll miss all your talents, but I am sure that you have much more to offer Logan with your new found freedom. I envision a future very bright for you both full of crayons, driving, kite flying, sports of all sorts, sewing, painting and cartwheels. We are eternally grateful for all that you have given to Logan and us these past six years, but most notably for the confidence you helped instill in her by loosening your hold. If there's just one more request I could bestow on you - no future hitchhiking please!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Silver Lining

To my amazing three,

Life is funny – so funny that it occurred to me today that a day – almost any day in my chaotic life as your stay at home mom, might be worth jotting down. I told your Daddy today that I will be getting some kind of crown or saint ship after this whopper. Really though, it’s just another day in the life!

I awake to the sound of crying at 2:30 am, whimpering really, but it quickly grows into the real deal. Daddy and I find Riley in her bed, covered in vomit and diarrhea. The head cold that I have been nursing for a few days makes me groggy enough to need time to process before springing into action. Within seconds, I emerge from my stupor and have Riley in the tub, and Daddy has the thankless job of stripping the bedding and cleaning it – not fun. Between the two of us, we have Riley and her room back together in about 20 minutes – not bad. Once we make it back to bed, my head cold has turned into a sinus headache and there’s no turning back. After trying to sleep for more than an hour, I finally reach for the Sudafed, knowing that it will add clouds to my early morning hours, but I opt for sleep nonetheless. I drift off around 4 am, and wake to the sound of Finn crying, persistently, at 5:20. No one needs to know what I really am thinking at this moment. All I can tell you is that I pray, try positive thinking and beg the law of attraction into action all at once and to no avail. He is up.

Let me give you a little background information on Mr. Finn. He has had his own version of the flu for 10 days. He has woken up at 5 or 5:30 for three days in a row. He has extreme separation anxiety, even if I only leave the room, and climbs everything in sight. Today he actually hung from the “chandelier” above the kitchen table. He has taken to snickering at me when I say ‘no’ or pretty much anything else. His favorite word is “Mommy” but in a tone that sounds as if he is disgusted with my behavior. All this and he is insanely loveable and cute – but I still would rather we both be asleep at 5 AM! Before Daddy leaves he says, “You’re handling this remarkably well!” I don’t really have an answer.

And then there’s Miss Logan Little in her own first phase of defiance. She has been challenging me big time and for the first time over these last weeks. I have been working hard to show her where the line is crossed and what happens when it is, and I am totally spent. She has already turned the corner, but my resistance couldn’t be lower going into this sleep-deprived, bodily-fluid-filled day. UGH!

So here it is. Finn up and dressed demanding food and milk by 5:45 AM. Riley up and amidst the stomach flu is dressed in her Hawaiian luau dress from her 3rd birthday party and ready to go for the day by 6:30. She is begging me for water, then milk, then food. I slowly give in, I remember how that feels. That’s never really the case, right? Usually you can handle the food when you feel hungry, right? Not right. After several instances of diarrhea for Riley, Logan rises and is unusually cooperative (not a morning gal) and we seem to be better; almost on track. Finn eats breakfast #2 with Logan as Riley eats some dry cereal.

I see Riley beginning to fade, but she tells me she’s okay. We stumble into the car, get settled, check for all our needed items and head out for our .9 mile drive to school. Within one minute, I can see Riley turn green. “Are you going to throw up?” I ask. She shakes her head “yes” and covers her mouth with both hands, truly believing that she has a chance at holding it in! And it comes and comes and comes. Princess Drama in the seat next to Riley is losing it. Between her few consoling comments there is a lot of “Oh Man!” and “It’s so stinky!” and “It’s everywhere!” and “Will you PLEASE open some windows?” Poor Riley is feeling awful and full of you know what and Finn is laughing like he always does when he thinks that there’s something going on that he should be part of. I take a deep breath while thinking, “What the hell am I supposed to do? Logan is late – I can’t take Riley through the carpool line or into school like this.” I rush home, strip her down, wipe her off, replace her dress and throw a towel over the car seat. The law of attraction is once again summoned the whole way to school as I command someone I know be in the parking lot that can walk Logan into school. As we pull in, I see the last kid taken into school. Then we luck out! Our new neighbor is right there – next to my car – and she readily accepts the task of walking Logan in for me – whew!!!!

Back at home, Riley feels great and wants to ride her scooter in the driveway while I try and clean out the throw up without unbuckling Finn. This is very unpleasant, not because of the vomit, but because of the ear piercing taradactyl screams of the 16-month old forced to watch his sister on her scooter from the confines of his car seat. Neighbors are looking. I am thankful that I have a cold this week for the obvious reasons. Wish my ears were plugged, too.

After watering every inch of our new sod throughout the morning, washing all the bedding and soiled clothes from the night before and even vacuuming and washing the kitchen floor, it’s time to get Logan. (At this point, I must add that 2.5 hours for kindergarten is definitely not enough.) We have no groceries in the house – I was supposed to go this morning. Riley and Finn have asked me literally one hundred times for bananas and I promise to go right after we get Logan if Riley is feeling good. By the way, there is nothing better than the way Finn says “banana” – there is no way I can even do it justice to try and explain it. We’re off again and get Logan. She is the cutest thing I have ever laid eyes on standing in line sucking her thumb and yanking her dress up to touch her belly button. She still looks like a baby. Her face lights up like the sun when she sees us in the car – the same way my heart does when I see her there. As we race through carpool, Logan’s teacher mentions that a child vomited right in class today and we both declare that she is a sitting duck – so much for positive thinking!

I am tired and my eyes are burning. I totally forget about the grocery store and the bananas and therefore am asked 150 more times before dinner for a banana. I decide to let Finn out for some fresh air after lunch while the girls watch TV. It is a beautiful day and he is so cute – curls flying, dark blue eyes shining. By the time we make it outside I am unwinding and really enjoying myself. (Imagine the sound of screeching brakes right now…..) Riley is calling my name. I turn to find her outside, mid-driveway, standing with her legs apart having yet another intestinal incident. It seems endless and it sadly dawns on me to wonder which of my new neighbors are watching this domestic display. Once again, it takes my instincts a second or two to respond and once again, Finn is strapped into some device as I tackle the leftovers. Poor Riley, she’s a limp rag, but still in good spirits. Logan emerges from the garage in disbelief. I can’t help but laugh.

Finally I get Finn down to nap and decide it’s my time to shower. I am supposed to go to a landscaping class at the park district tonight in an effort to make time for myself, but my sinus headache is really bad and I hate the thought of leaving the kids in such dire straights all to Daddy when he is so tired, too. Man the shower feels great. It is burning hot, just the way I like it and the tension in my head starts to subside. I hear footsteps and look. It’s Riley again, hands over mouth. I can’t think of any other solution than to invite her into the shower. Actually, it was probably my best idea of the day – easiest clean up for sure. I wash her up for the umpteenth time and we all settle down to play a board game. I have no idea when the last time I actually dried my hair was. It’s okay. We have fun playing the game and I can really concentrate on the girls while Finn sleeps. Damn doorbell. Damn, but much loved, dog barks. A solicitor disguised as the landscaper that planted a tree for us yesterday is at the door and informs me that he can build us a patio on the side for a song. I thank him and tell him we don’t know what we are going to do out there yet. He reminds me to water my tree. Finn is screaming. Head is throbbing. I quickly cancel my landscaping class and go get Finn.

Halleluiah! Daddy comes home at 4:30 and I rush to the grocery store. Finn, in the midst of this separation anxiety stuff, screams almost the whole time I’m gone. Daddy is forced to find something for dinner before I get back, but no one really eats. It’s 6:30 and I bathe Finn. Riley runs in and vomits twice. This is not fair. Finn proudly demonstrates his knowledge of how to use a nail brush in the bathtub, his tiny foot raised high above the water, his chubby little hands working the brush around his toes. “Piggies!” he says in his garbled little baby voice. I call to Daddy to bring the camera up – I think the last picture I took of Finn in the tub was six months ago. Daddy so willingly complies and the batteries are dead. Oh well, at least I’ve committed the image to paper!

Finn is down, Riley settled and falling fast, Logan is almost through her nightly procrastination routine. I am barely hanging on and realize I have eaten a cheese stick and some potato chips today. I hear Daddy tell Logan we have to go because, “Mommy and Daddy haven’t eaten dinner yet!” She finally gives in and we come down, finish a quick house project, preheat the oven (thank God for Home Run Inn pizzas) and I walk the dog. It is a gorgeous night and there are million stars. I love that about being out in the “country”. There are a thousand crickets chirping. The marching band at the local high school is in full swing and its sounds are being carried to me on the wind. A neighbor is outside, in the dark, with his 2 and 3 year olds. I am glad our kids are sleeping.

We eat pizza, field phone calls and talk about the necessities; we’re both too tired for anything else. At ten (it’s amazing I even made it that long) I hand Daddy the clicker and head up. I check on the girls. Riley wakes up a bit and I fix her covers. She seems warm. I nudge Logan over from the edge, straighten her blanket and give her a kiss. I wouldn’t dare go in Finn’s room. I walk in our bedroom and there is the most incredible breeze coming in the windows. It almost knocks me over. I love sleeping in chilly rooms with tons of blankets. I’m smiling as I go through my bedtime routine and as I realize I need to write all this craziness down, I think, “What a perfect day.”

I am so blessed.