Sunday, March 30, 2008

Thieves Among Us

Yesterday morning, Mike and I were handed a reminder of our parental duty via sledge hammer. After noticing a large, new container of candy in Riley’s pocket on Friday night, Mike asked both her and me where it came from. I knew nothing about it and though no direct response came from the suspect, somehow the idea surfaced that a neighbor had given it to her. She had just been in a couple of their houses that evening so it didn’t even dawn on us that it wasn’t a plausible answer.

The next morning, Logan, who had only overheard the previous night’s conversation, saw the candy in question sitting on the counter. She said, “Is that the candy you were talking about, Mom? I recognize where that’s from!”

“You do?” I cringed.

“Yep. It’s from Justice (a store). Riley was holding it and must have put it in her pocket when we were there last night!”

Yuck. I immediately don’t want to have this discussion, but know it needs to be done and Mike is at the gym. Mostly I don’t want to do it because Riley is tough – she quickly becomes very embarrassed when she is in trouble, rolls into a ball and doesn’t want to make eye contact. Even more reason for the conversation, I know. So I dive in.

I told her all the reasons why this was wrong: illegal, we have to pay for things in stores, it’s not right to take something that belongs to someone else, illegal, she asked me and I said, “no”, she could go to jail, illegal. For the most part, she listened intently. Then I dropped the bomb that really hit home for my get-it-over-with-like-band-aid-removal child. Since this was such a big deal, two more things were required: when Daddy got home, she would need to tell him everything, especially that she lied to him when asked about the candy. Also, she and I would go to the store when it opened and return the candy, and she would be telling the person there what had happened.

Riley does not like to feel foolish, be the center of a joke or feel embarrassed in any way. I feel bad for her and hope to help her get over these strong feelings; it’s almost painful to watch. I'm fairly certain this little hang up trickled down to her directly from me - I can relate. It’s not that she cries, she literally just can’t stand it. (Once again, I can relate!) To have to come clean, twice, was going to be a challenge.

Before Mike came home, Riley asked, “Mom, what’s jail like?” It was as if she was weighing her options between dealing with Daddy and returning the candy, or just taking her rightful punishment! Happy to have an ‘in’, I quickly made jail sound as terrible as I could (for a 4 year old). The words “like a cage” and “you can never come home while you have to stay there” seemed to make impact.

We struggled through Mike’s arrival and she, with much prodding and assistance, finally told him. All the while we reassured her that the truth is something she should always share with us and that nothing she could ever say or do would change how much we love her. She apologized, but it was clear that she wanted this whole line of business to be over with as soon as possible.

We went to the store to bring the candy back and the girl we returned it to exuded utter pity for my poor child – she might as well have said, “I’m so sorry your mean ogre mommy actually made you do this you cutie pie!” But she didn’t, she just let loose a big, “AWWWWWWWWWwwww!” further confusing the child. And I, a little uncomfortable myself, chuckled a bit through whatever I said to the clerk and on the way out, Riley was upset because I laughed at her. I explained that I wasn’t laughing at her, but I don’t even know if she heard or cared. Instead of responding, she said “Now can we buy those Nerds Mommy?”

“No!” I shouted back, shocked. This prompted another lecture about not being rewarded for poor choices and actions having consequences. And I really would have rather been laughing at her for asking!

I’ve got to admit, the whole thing left me feeling like a teenager trying to manage a situation that I was not quite ready for and later, I found out that Mike felt the same. When it’s Finn’s turn, we’ll be ready, but likely it will be some entirely new and outrageous stunt he’ll pull.

In the past I read that once you stop learning, you might as well stop living. When it comes to this job, it’s certain I’ll live forever!

Friday, March 28, 2008


I feel like a walking Nyquil commercial. Sniffling, Sneezing, Stuffy head, Fever. Add burning eyes, sore throat and headache and you’ve got it all. The only thing I want to do is rest. It’s been lovely to suffer through this kid-intense spring break managing all these symptoms and just dreaming of my bed. I had one night of 12 hours of sleep, followed by a completely sleepless one last night – go figure.

Of course, the sicko factor has not bought me any perks. While I dote all over my kids when they’re under the weather, my obvious weakness only brings about louder noises, more bickering and crazier stunts by Finn, leaving me zeroed out when it comes to patience. It’s just not right that us moms don’t get the same treatment when our super-immune systems finally break down and catch the goods that our kids bring in the door. I mean, you’d think that when I’m sick I shouldn’t have to eat lunch standing at the kitchen counter while fielding at least 15 requests for other food, clean ups, different colored-straws and to hear tattling. Shouldn’t my dizzy, full head and aching joints buy me one peaceful meal? To top it off, last night was a bath night. I was so tired I threw them all in together with hopes I would be sitting down sooner to watch a movie with them. This three-in-one move just doesn’t work anymore. Finn and Riley fought for the end and Logan shivered, but of course no one was willing to get out when they were done.

This all came after FIVE – which I can’t believe is possible – milk spills during dinner. Ugh. And then Mike came home, unusually late, with all the beginning symptoms of this wonderful little bug, just in time for the weekend. I can tell it’s going to be a great one. And by the way, all the little carriers are just fine. Oh well, guess that’s parenthood for you.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tattle Tale Land

We have taken up residence in a new home, Tattle Tale Land. It wasn’t a difficult move, no major packing to do or change of address forms to complete. It actually occurred magically over night and I woke one morning to find that my sweet little girls now look for any and every reason to find fault with each other and, most importantly, report it to me as soon as possible.

Now, I believe that there is a time and place for tattling, like when someone has hurt someone badly, is bleeding, someone has used hurtful words to wound another or when anyone under the age of seven has left the house unattended and unannounced. But all this useless information that I am now privy to on a daily basis has left me exhausted! I hear about every nudge or bump, each funny face and look, absolutely all forms of perceived injustice in our 3000 square foot radius. The girls even meticulously keep a running tally of Finn’s offenses, as if I needed more information on those!

It is difficult for me to plan my attack against this most irritating behavior. I have tried not reacting, sometimes not even acknowledging the tattling (after announcing “I will no longer be responding to these things you are telling me about each other!”) I certainly don’t want to hurt their feelings by having them think that I am ignoring them. And the last thing I want is to discourage them from coming to us in times of real need, because unfortunately, I know those times will arrive, like it or not.

It’s funny; Logan and Riley are the best of friends as well, play together so nicely at times and are staunch supporters of each other almost all the time. I guess this is all just about them laying the groundwork for their own boundaries and individuality, and creating a space where they can say “I don’t like that,” even though they currently need my backing to follow through. But I don’t tell the manager at the grocery store when someone takes the last box of Cheerios or report line-cutting to the cashier. That’s not how it works in the real world, so that’s not how it’s going to work here. Plus, I think drawing a line in the sand for what types of complaints will be reviewed by me will hopefully get them to stop sweating the small stuff and learn to roll with life a little bit.

This is a difficult plan to manage for a notorious small stuff sweater like me, but I have come a long way in correcting myself since my motherhood gig began and I hope I can help them to cure those tendencies now and not get caught up in little things that just don’t matter. I’d much rather have them learn how to really find joy in life and focus on that in lieu of worrying about every little thing. So, we’re working on it. And they’ll get it. As long as we keep trying to lead by example. Until they do though, I’ll just keep on riding the waves and steering our boat back on course.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Again, Finn.

The thrill of all this writing, for a little money, is way too cool. But there is one big downfall, the end of my daily or every-other-day blogs. At this point, I am doing my writing, about eight pieces a month, with all but four requiring multiple source interviews, at night, on weekends and during the occasional nap of Finn’s. I hate writing during the day, because the girls get the shaft. I am definitely at max capacity for working this way and have begun the process of trying to find a wonderful at home day care in my neighborhood where Finn could spend a few hours a week. I hate to do it, but it’s only a few hours and it would lighten the load so much. Plus, Mike wouldn’t have to walk in from a hard day’s work twice a week and immediately shift into super dad – taking over dinner mid-serve – at the most difficult and crazy kid-time of day. Believe me, doing it this way is worth it, but it would be great to have it continue to ease into our lives instead of it getting challenging too soon.

But this blog thing is driving me crazy! I miss it so much and just can’t seem to find the time to get it on the priority list. It’s such an amazing outlet, such a creative release for me; I just need to get it back on my radar screen. Plus, it seems when I let too much time pass between posts, they all seem to be about the CENTER OF OUR UNIVERSE right now, Finn. Not that he isn’t one of our centers, but zooming the camera out to the one week view seems to only allow for Finn’s “big disasters or triumphs” of the week.

(Believe me, it’s mostly disasters.) But seriously, here’s my week in snippets, starting Monday, St. Patrick’s Day: Finn removes diaper and pees in bed, Finn spills special Lucky Charms breakfast ALL OVER floor, Finn dumps yogurt drink all over dog, Finn cries in gym nursery (my one escape) and we have to leave, I find Finn with an empty Tylenol canister from a bag I used SEVEN years ago (I don’t even know where he found it), I call poison control center not knowing if he ate any pills – I’m sure, after two Finn-related calls, I now have some kind of record there.

This is an account of Monday, March 17th, between the hours of 8 and 11 am, and there are countless details of those three hours that I have omitted. I’m sure you understand how, with my adorable Tasmanian devil, there is almost no time for Logan and Riley, or Mike and me to even participate in this life, let alone my blog. Hence the need for my return to more frequent posting. Not only do my two (crazy wonderful due to their brotherly rival) girls deserve center stage every once in awhile, but I can’t risk the little man developing a complex from the constant stream of motherly frustration (always coated in loads of motherly love, of course) filling these therapeutic ‘pages’.

No, I won’t really give you my whole week in review, I think you get the idea. And to his Dennis the Menace credit, I have to tell you how the week ended. In the midst of a house guest, egg hunts, a great party and more Easter candy than kids can actually eat, our little 22 month old tornado pooped on the potty. Talk about a triumph! It was glorious and all of us immediate family members were there to celebrate and cheer him on. I was two seconds behind him as he barreled down the hall and hopped in our bed, where he promptly finished his business and went potty.

So in the midst of our party, I was washing all of our bedding. That little guy just has to put his special touch on everything!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

60 Years Young!

Today my mom turns 60 years old!

What an awesome milestone. There couldn’t be a better mom out there – she has done more for me and my siblings over the years than you could possibly imagine, and although life has not always been easy, she has persevered, finding good in every way possible. She is a hot mama with sharp style and listening skills and empathy beyond compare. I don’t know another person so willing to help out – in particular baby-sit our kids at the drop of a hat and consider it an honor! (Seriously, I thought this would eventually wear off!)

She is pretty much a selfless person, always shooting for the stars when it comes to her family. Her unwavering view of the way life should be keeps positive outlooks alive in the dimmest moments. She has helped all of us over a hump at times in our lives and would do so time and time again.

My mom is a “Grammy extraordinaire.” She knows our kids inside and out and they couldn’t love her anymore. Her arrival at our home results in enormous outbursts of joy from each of them. She has survived long car trips with them in tow (like to Disney) and remained unscathed, when Mike and I needed a vacation to recuperate. Her patience with them is second-to-none and I so appreciate that when mine has worn thin. Her endless creativity makes for ingenious games on the fly or turns a clean up into a celebration. She is inspiring, to say the least. She is everything to my kids – and me too.

So I challenge my mom, my most loyal reader. As you turn sixty today – turn the page. Start a new and most exciting chapter of your life. From now on, discover all the amazing and unique things about you that you have put on the back burner while taking care of others for so long. Read great books, take dance lessons and art classes, and explore the world for yourself. There is so much to be uncovered that you deserve to see – now is the time.

Happy Birthday to my fabulous Mom!

Cute Things Finn Says

I couldn’t help but write what is surely more of a baby book entry than a blog post. (Who am I kidding about finding the time to write in baby books anyway?) After all, this is first and foremost our family chronicles and Finn’s current favorite sayings deserve a place in time for sure. As he becomes more and more verbal, it’s funny to see how he remains to be ‘a whole new world’ for us daily. Here are my favorites:

Oh Man!
He knows exactly how to use this phrase, which is one that I tend to use myself. He says it when it something spills, when he takes his diaper off during a nap or when he pretends to just realize that he’s made a mess by sneaking into my bathroom and pumping all of my lotion on the rug and rubbing it all over our glass shower doors. He also does not know how to use it, for example, he is very fond of his yet to be used potty seat. He walks around with it, wearing it as a hat or sticks his whole face inside and yells, “Oh man!”

You had to know that this would make my list. But it’s funny how he uses it. Since he has begun to experience new found freedom beyond the baby gates, I frequently run to check on him upstairs. All I have to do to find him is say “Finn?” and he quickly responds by yelling, “No!” Do you think he considers me a buzz-kill or what?

Baby, No!
This one worries me. Since I truly believe that kids do what you do more than do what you say, I wonder where this is coming from. Yes, it is certain that I constantly am having to tell Finn “no” due to his fingers entering wall sockets, chairs being pushed to the stovetop or his cute little bod walking across our dining room table. But I don’t say, “Baby, no!” Anyway, he constantly does that when talking to his teddy bears or even sometimes other kids at his little gymnastics class. It’s kind of embarrassing. Especially when combined with his newly acquired (light) pushing other kids habit. Proud moments, proud moments.

It’s been an interesting experience to be out and about and have people mention my newspaper column to me. Amazing does not even begin to describe how I feel when someone tells me that I brought them to tears or captured something so well. That’s all I could have ever hoped for with this column and it’s pretty cool. I guess it’s a good thing that the people that may read my column are also seeing me run around after a baby saying “no” who is pushing other kids and then, when they fall, saying “Oh man!” At least they’ll get a good view of my human side…. And they definitely won’t think that I make stuff up!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Car Pantry

There is something that would make my life easier at this point in time. It is a ‘car pantry.’ I am so tired of preparing snacks to take on outings I could lose it. I have tried, according to the best advice, to stop the snacking, to not allow food in the car, to only allow snacks at certain times during the day, but it just won’t stick. My kids are hungry at all times of the day and there is nothing I can do to change that.

Finn requires at least four snacks for a given two hour period. This means that running a few minutes late in the morning could have disastrous results for the tardiness section of Logan’s report card. He won’t eat all the snacks, he is just incredibly picky and if I don’t provide him with some choices, the errands that I run will be miserable (for me) to say the least. So I pack them; fruit chews, granola bars, cheezits and maybe raisins, only to most likely be caught with a child screaming in the aisles for yogurt.

And then there are my girls, who usually eat two bowls of cereal or servings of pancakes and fruit for breakfast, but thunder into my car after school begging for food. It’s as if they can’t survive for ten minutes, so now I am packing “pick up” snacks, just to get them home! Of course, their likes and dislikes change faster that I can keep up, so by the third attempt at a favorite snack, I get shot down and have to listen to complaints and groans of hunger all the way home. It’s amazing to me, all three of my kids can hold their bladders a hundred times longer than their daddy, but they can’t wait ten seconds to get home for a snack!

Don’t even get me started on my car!! It is such a mess I can’t even keep up. I try to enforce clean-up rules, but inevitably things get forgotten in the hustle and bustle of our days. The other day I could stand it no more; I pulled into a gas station to vacuum. It took me two stations to find one that had a vacuum, ten minutes to clean out the trash and another five to maneuver off and untangle the vacuum hose that the thoughtful chap before me left lying all over the ground. When I finally got in the right spot and was ready to go, Finn was screaming and there was a coin jammed in the quarter slot. UGH! Did I mention that it was 18ยบ? It still needs to be vacuumed.

Well, I guess the car pantry wouldn’t make the mess any less present, but it would save me several minutes a day – even more if you think about not having to unload certain snack foods into the house after grocery shopping. It would be cool, maybe a little hatch door with all the favorite snacks in there; I’d be Johnny-on-the-spot with their choice du jour. But for now, I’ll keep packing them up – what choice do I have?

I just have one request. If you’re ever using a vacuum cleaner at a gas station, please wind up the hose and if the machine breaks, let the attendant know so that he can hang a sign. You’ll be saving a mom like me a whole lot of time and frustration when all she wants to do is clean up her ‘snack mess’.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about guilt. Everyday, I feel it; I’m letting someone down in some way by my limited abilities that prevent me from accomplishing everything that I set out to do. At night, after the bewitching hour that my kids go through, I am so physically exhausted that all I can do is veg out on the couch and hope they’ll watch American Idol with me and just relax. Usually they dance and want me to dance and tell tales of what it will be like when they go to American Idol. They want to know if I’ll drop them off, come home and watch them on TV and then return to greet them outside the audition doors to celebrate “Going to Hollywood Baby!” On the best nights, they’re completely enthralled in it, with Logan making elaborate tallies of who they’ll vote for (every contestant, every time) for both her and Riley. It’s pretty cute. All the while I am so grateful for the chance to sit that only comes after Finn retires.

Then the girls go to bed and the guilt immediately hits me. “Did I do enough, did I remember to practice reading or play math games with Logan? Did I spend enough one-on-one time with Riley? Did Finn see me as anything else but the giant person preventing him from doing everything he wants to do all day?” For as much as I need the break when they go to sleep, I wish they were still up so that I could give them the extra love and attention and time that were lost to the necessities of the day.

A wonderful friend of mine is going through a hard time with an infant that won’t take a bottle. It’s a struggle, she wants to continue nursing without a doubt, but inevitable situations arise that require her to leave the house. She works, but returns home every two hours to nurse her baby. She recently attended the funeral services for a very close friend's mom, but had no choice but to bring her daughter out on a frigid Chicago day. All the people around her, friends, family and medical professionals, tell her to go away for the weekend and starve the baby, leaving her no option but the bottle. And she just can’t do it. Even though she feels she wants to get out alone for more than two hours, she feels too guilty about an ounce of her daughter’s suffering being caused by her decisions.

I had the same problem with Riley, who NEVER took a bottle once in 13 months, so I can relate. When talking with my friend the other night, I completely empathized. It is such a hard place to be – wanting more than anything to create a perfect world for your child, but feeling the twinges of the need to take care of yourself, too. At the end of our conversation, I told her that I thought this feeling would never end, that it must just be part of being a mom. The feeling is always there, it just morphs to fit into new situations. It is a hard job on so many levels. You want to be everything to so many people in your life, but in the end I think that you can only do it if you are true to yourself as well.

I have had a crazy week with writing assignments and had to do several phone interviews that I did not expect. All the while I was hoping (because that’s all that I can do) that my kids – read “Finn” – would cooperate so that I could perform them uninterrupted and well. This is a tall order, but they are almost complete and I think I came off sounding somewhat professional. I found myself getting so worked up in knots, wanting to yell at the kids, wishing I had some time alone. As soon as I took a step back and realized that the details of this day wouldn’t matter down the line, it was easier. I got through it and got back to my full-time gig as mom. Not without guilt mind you - it will always be there – possibly making me a better mom, reminding me of what’s important and how quickly this will all fly by.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


It has been a busy, but very cool week for me personally. I feel so incredibly blessed by the writing work that has quickly found me, in such a short time. At this point, all I know is that I am for sure supposed to be on this road, at this time – too many signs are telling me so. My first published work that isn’t membership based went to print this week – it was a couple of tiny articles in a local publication. It would have been exciting to me, even if no one I knew saw it, but they did and they called, and emailed and even sent flowers. It was pretty cool.

I’m really good at exaggerating things a bit when it fits or minimizing others. I guess I need to entertain those minimizing thoughts for a moment. The fact is that this all was a little embarrassing, too. I’m not sure what it is that makes us all a little ashamed when we achieve some type of personal success, but I have felt that this week, too. I mean we are talking about two little blurbs in a not well-known magazine, that I didn’t get that much money for – see that’s how I rationalize it in my head. And then there’s the other voice that says simply, “That is YOUR name in print! That is SO cool!” And the fact that so many family members and friends are so happy for me is pretty neat too – everybody needs to feel that every once in awhile. And it also feels great to have this minuscule facet of my life that is just mine, to investigate, play around with and improve upon. It won’t effect anyone else, but me – and compared to the rest of my life (which I would never trade for anything by the way), that is kind of a relief.

If I can keep this going and growing slowly while continuing to manage everything the same at home (with the exception of a cleaning service and the occasional afternoon babysitter which I will splurge on as soon as I make a little more money), I can already see that this will be my dream job. I feel so lucky to have found it. I feel so honored that my family and friends directed me here; not giving up after so many years. I am grateful beyond words that I have a husband who’s been willing to support pretty much anything I’ve wanted to do since we’ve been together and kids that can will at least try to be quiet if I take the rare, but occasionally necessary five minute call during the day. I don’t know…. This feels pretty good!