I’m A Work At Home Mom

Work At Home Mother’s Log – Day 10


I find it fitting that I’m typing this at 2:30pm – barely an hour before the older girls get home from school, and the youngest one home sick today – feverish and now napping next to me on the couch. How delightfully lazy she’s made day 10 for me. Day 10 of being home alone.


My youngest started full-day kindergarten 10 days ago. This day that we mothers at home think about – dream about – worry about – fret about – cry about – celebrate about.


As a work-at-home mother, this day meant that I could change my schedule for the better.


When I made the switch from working outside the home, to working at home – I promised myself to never hire a sitter. Ever. And if you think I’m kidding, I’m not. We’ve never had a sitter at home during the day, nor  had daycare – so scheduling work is at times – impossible. So I did what I could do – rising at 3:30am to work for a few hours and work-out before the kids were up, working during naps, working after the kids were in bed, working during that short hour or two during preschool.


Basically for the eight years that I’ve worked from home, I’ve worked with the assumption of interruption. From phone calls, to meetings, to reports, to work deadlines – I start/stop with the assumption that I will get interrupted every single time. So I would take work in small nibble-sized pieces – things I could finish in 30 seconds or five minutes, or I would hide in a closet or bathroom, or get my kids to stare at the TV for as long as possible. And yes, like many parents I’ve been on the most important phone call of my career while wiping a butt, or fixing a snack, or kissing a boo-boo, or emailing another parent to schedule a play-date.


But this is the life I wanted for the last eight years and I’m beyond grateful to be able to work from home, be the primary caregiver for my children, to save money on care, to make a good income, and to have this amazing flexibility. No matter how crazy almost every single day has been. No matter the few deadlines that I’ve missed, and no matter my lack of some of the projects and writing I’ve been able to take-on as I just could not do it all.


So 10 days ago everything changed.


Astrid started full-day kindergarten and my days from 8:30-3pm are free.






To work, to work-out, to run.


I had these huge plans for this month – how I would write, how I would finish some projects, how I would catch-up on my 1200 emails, how I would cook – maybe even organic.


But my brain will have none of it. After not being able to sit by myself in the quiet to do anything for more than minutes at a time – I find it nearly impossible to sit in my quiet office and really do work for hours. Or write for more than 20 minutes. Or to realize that I do not need to run anymore at 4am – that I could run at 9am and get better sleep.


I’ve become the most unproductive person in the world – just staring at the clock and waiting for interruptions that never come. Well – besides my work at home husband telling me that now we can also have sex at noon. BECAUSE WE CAN! Seriously, he needs an office job.


And I know I’ll get the hang of this – and figure out how to be productive on this new schedule that will last for the next 13 years or more. I have to.


But today I’m savoring my sick companion – home today and giving me a complete excuse to do nothing but rub her feet, kiss her head, and take a few naps, and let the work wait until Monday – when I will try this work at home without kids thing again.



Old Age

“Mommy, you’re going to be closer to 50 than 40 now.”


I don’t like that you’ve learned math.


“But 50 isn’t that old. I mean it’s not dead old.”


True. But it sounds kind of old.


“But it’s only halfway to 100. So think of all the numbers you still have left.”


They shouldn’t teach math in school.


“But I wish I was you instead of me.”


You want to be old?


“No, I just want to be old enough to do what I want all of the time.”


You still don’t get to do everything you want to do when you’re 50.


“Well what age do you get to do whatever you want?”


I don’t know. But I’ll let you know when I get there.


“Well, even if I don’t get to do whatever I want for a long time, I’d still rather be old than dead.”


Me too.


“But remember, almost 50 isn’t that old or close to dead, so you should just be happy you’re here.”


I am happy.


“I’m happy you’re here too. And I’ll still love you when you’re really old and when you’re really dead.”


Thank you.



Full Day Kindergarten

Two days.


Two days until it starts.


13 years of full school days.


We’ve had a good run.


I’ve had a child home with me most days for 12 years.


Until Monday.


Monday she starts full day kindergarten.


And my days are quiet from 8:30-3:30.


No more weekday trips to the zoo. The library. The coffee shop. The grocery store.




She’s ready.


I think I am too.


But I’m scared.


And so is she.


I’m not sure whether to celebrate.


Or mourn.


Or do a bit of both.


12 years of littles at home no more.


How To Survive The Zombie Apocalypse

Astrid wants to tell you that the worst part about having siblings that are a wee(a lot) older is that you have to worry about the zombie apocalypse. Most five year olds are worrying about whether or not Calliou will ever make it out of preschool, or whether or not their next meal will be nuggets or cheesy noodles, or if they will EVER figure out this whole shoe typing business. But Astrid has to worry about zombies.


Because somehow her sisters have convinced her that the zombie apocalypse is real. And coming soon.


zombie-apocalypseSo now Astrid tells me daily about the ways she will overcome the zombie apocalypse. This is what I love about this child. I do believe her older sisters will either just try to hide behind us, or play dead, or just give up while screaming…but Astrid might just be the one of us to survive.


Some of her plans involve ways to fight back – maybe water balloons filled with peanut butter so they get stuck when they are running after her.


Some of her plans involve “friendly” sisterhood type ideas – like sacrificing her sisters so she can get away.


And some of her plans involve flight. She thinks if she can get on a plane to Singapore she’ll be far enough to get away and make a better a plan to escape the zombies forever.


And her last plan is to just become a zombie and then she won’t have anything to worry about. She’s asked me to become a zombie with her.


I’m not sure what the best plan of action is during the zombie apocalypse, but I do know that I want to be nice to Astrid because she might just be my only hope of survival.



The Countries Of North America

Our kids all attended a different kindergarten. Typically a family just sends their kids down the block to the neighborhood school – and their kids all attend the same school, and many times have the same teacher.


We evidently like to shake things up or treat our kids like little science experiments. Or maybe we live in a big city and our kids just didn’t get into the same schools. BINGO!


Eloise went to a small Catholic school for kindergarten because we did not get into a public school on our choice list. It was fine. Safe. And just fine. She was bored, but she loved her teacher. And made a point to cry almost every Wednesday because of Mass. We moved her to a public school for first grade.


Esther went to a Montessori school for kindergarten. We loved it. She loved it. Sometimes I still regret moving her to be at the same school as her big sister. Montessori was Esther’s style.


Astrid is going to a public charter school for kindergarten. It’s a Classical Academy. And in the early years they focus on grammar and a core basis of knowledge. So these littles have a lot of information coming at them at a very young age – based upon the research that little kids can memorize like crazy(and yes, they are also learning Latin) – so they use songs and other mnemonic tools to teach facts.


After only a few months of school Astrid knows her months, days, continents, and now almost every country on those continents, animals, species, all the bones in her body, and just a crazy amount of things. As well as doing math that my older girls were doing in first grade, and her reading is just exploding.


AND – she’s having fun and doesn’t feel overwhelmed and loves school.


I’m not an educator. I gauge my kids based on how happy they are at school, if they enjoy their friends, and if they want to get up and get back to school the next day.


There are so many ways to teach – and I’m not an expert.


But dang she’s cute when she sings the countries of North America song.


Pretty sure I’m not biased.


Kindergarten – whether for us it’s been a classical environment, Montessori, or Parochial – certainly isn’t the kindergarten of my youth with just letters, coloring, naps, snacks, and storytime.


Scenes From Halloween


Eloise put her costume together about two hours before we headed out for the evening. She wanted to be a Diva Cat(which is better than a Diva Cup- trust me – don’t Google it) – which is basically a cat with attitude. I told her that she would have NO problem with the attitude part. She rolled her eyes at me. “SEE!” I said.


Then she proceeded to go in my closet to find her outfit. “Whatcha doin’?” I inquired. “Finding black stuff to be a black diva cat – and you almost only wear black – so I’m sure I’ll find something.” She replied. I told her to just stay out of my underwear drawer because I keep my unmentionables among other things in there.


She came out of my closet wearing my black leggings, my black fleece sweatshirt, my black and white striped socks, my sparkle running skirt, and my black motorcycle boots. AND THEY ALL FIT. LIKE NOT ALL THAT BIG FIT. And I was like “Whoa, since when can you wear ladies clothing and size 9 boots?”


She then grabbed some cat ears and a tail from a few Halloweens ago – drew some whiskers and a nose, applied some fake eyelashes..and BAM – Diva Cat. Complete with free attitude.


Astrid wanted to be Olaf. She’s wanted to be Olaf since the first time she saw Frozen. She’s not a princess girl – has never dressed up as a princess – doesn’t love anything to do with princesses…but SNOWMEN – she loves snowmen. She got the store-bought costume this year.


She even said “Hi, I’m Olaf and I like warm hugs” as she set off trick or treating. And sometimes would even add “WATCH OUT FOR MY BUTT!”


I love my little girl and her love of butt jokes. Maybe I’m biased, but there’s not a cuter Olaf anywhere.


Esther wanted to be Astrid. Not her sister Astrid, but Astrid from How To Train Your Dragon.


We made the whole thing – sewed the felt and leather skirt, took one of my t-shirts and made it to fit her, made the shoulder armor and the headband, and she wore my fur boot covers over her UGGs. But the biggest thing we did was make the spikes and skulls to adorn her skirt. We had fun with model magic and some paint. I think they turned out pretty good.


She loved her handmade costume. I’m saving it for Astrid to wear. The real Astrid – not the dragon trainer.


Was Halloween really two weeks ago? And I’m just now posting.



Time Flies

It’s been a busy Fall. Even Astrid is feeling overwhelmed with too much to do and too little time. And I think that starting kindergarten has made her realize that we have to prioritize things. In the lazy days of preschool we had lots of downtime and fun time. Now our lives are scheduled. If we aren’t heading to an activity, we are running errands, or making lists. Sometimes she will whisper to me “I just miss snuggling with nothing to do.” And then all of a sudden it’s bedtime and we didn’t do anything meaningful just for us.


I hate that she’s thinking about how we seem to have so little time to just “be” lately. Five year olds shouldn’t worry so. But this too shall pass I keep saying. Will the busy end? Or is this just the tip of the iceberg that is bringing us down into a spiral of busy with three kids getting older?


“Mommy..” Astrid says to me from the back of the van. “Time just passes so quickly these days.”


Oh honey, just wait until you are old like me. Time passes so fast you just cannot believe the ticking by of days and weeks and years. Enjoy your time now when time goes more slowly.


“It doesn’t seem slowly though, Mommy. Like the yesterday before yesterday seems like years ago already. And the tomorrow after tomorrow will be here too soonly.” She says with a hint of concern and worry that should not exist at her age.


Oh Love, don’t worry about the tomorrow after tomorrow. Just enjoy today.


“I just want it all to go more slower. But it’s just so fast these days.” She almost whispers this as she glances out the window.


I know. It’s too fast.


“I bet when you’re dead though time moves like so so so so slowly. So I don’t want time to be that slow. Like dead slow. I want alive slow. Not dead slow. Do you know what dead time slow would be like. Like it would be today forever. Today forever would be worse than the tomorrow after tomorrow after tomorrow after tomorrow coming today before I’d even get to enjoy today. Whew. Time is so weird. Now my head hurts. I suppose that’s going to make my day just go so fast too.”



On Getting The Behavior You Want…

It was the day after I returned from Haiti. I was tired and the morning routine that I had basically created for our family seemed foreign and off. So I sat at the table drinking coffee in the morning darkness of this cool Fall Minnesota day. Astrid sat across the dining room table from me. She was writing “words” and scribbles on a piece of paper. Next to each “sentence” were two boxes and above the row of boxes she wrote the words “yes” and “no.”


“Whatcha doing?” I asked quietly.


“I’m making a quiz for you to take this morning.” She said with her eyes and hands still busy with her task.


“A quiz? That should be interesting.” I responded with a bit of a giggle.


“You need to take this seriously.” She said as she looked up at me with sad eyes. “Okay, I’m done. So let’s start. You need to answer yes or no to the following questions.”


She began..”Will you snuggle with me before school today, yes or no?”


“Yes – of course I will.” I replied. She made a little check mark in the “yes” box next to that question. And she continued on with questions that I easily said yes to. “Will you make me a special breakfast, will you help me make my bed, will you do your special piggies in my hair, will you pick me up from school, will we eat lunch together, will you bring me to dance tonight, will you be there for dinner, will you help me shower and brush my teeth, will you read me a story, will you help me with homework, will you tuck me in bed, and maybe will you snuggle in bed with me for a few minutes?” Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes…and easy quiz went on.


But then came the last question. And Astrid paused for a moment before she asked me. I wondered if she was considering just skipping that one, or that maybe she didn’t like what the answer would be so it was hard for her to even voice it.


“Will you promise to never leave me again, Mama.” She asked in almost a whisper as she looked up at me with her messy morning hair that covered her eyes.




“I can’t say yes to that, Love.” I said. Wondering if I sounded too brutal and firm and mean, having just returned from two weeks away. Wondering if it would be better to just lie and say that of course I’d never leave her again.


But I can’t do that to my children. A lie and a promise I’d have to break would be more devastating than teaching them the resilience of knowing the truth. And that sad things will happen to all of us. And just because I’m gone for a few weeks doesn’t mean that I don’t love her or think of her or carry her in my heart. Loving and missing someone so much that it hurts is part of the human experience. And it’s okay to be sad.


“I’ll have to leave you sometimes, Astrid. You know that. Just like sometimes you and your sisters leave me – for school and for friends and for camp. But it doesn’t mean we are not still a family even though we are not together. I love you no matter where I am and I will always be ‘here'( I point to our hearts) for you. But yes, sometimes mommy leaves. But I come back.” I say this as I stand and go to pick her up, but she pushes me away and tells me that she needs to be alone for a minute.


And I respect that. It’s hard to understand something that you don’t like without the benefit of experience or age.


Parenting is hard and beautiful, and having pieces of your heart running around on the outside of your body causes emotions that one cannot describe unless you experience it. And I think we all start with a goal to parent somewhere between telling kids to “suck it up” and “let me do everything for you” as we find our comfortable boundaries.


In our home we’ve set expectations for our kids very high, we’ve set clear boundaries, we have clear follow-through on rules, and we live as a family with a mutual respect for all. I think this clear path from the beginnings of our parenting journey 12 years ago has made life very easy for us. We have “good” kids that are good to others and we’ve never had to break up a sibling fight, give a punishment or time-out, or any other typical kid ‘infraction’ you can think of. Maybe we’re lucky and our kids have very even temperaments or maybe we did some things right, or maybe a little bit of both.


And we’ve done this without any parenting books. I’ll admit I’m not a fan – but also have never felt the need to seek advice. And when my dear friend Dr. G first asked if I would read her effective parenting book, I at first thought “Nah, I really don’t need that.” But I’m glad I told her to send it over anyway.


Because her book is more like a fun and practical conversation with her over coffee. She doesn’t come off in a way that “she knows your children best” – her theory is that WE all know OUR own children best and are the experts of our own family..and then lays the groundwork for raising smart, respectful, and resilient kids. I found myself nodding over and over again as I read each section as Deborah and I agree so much on the basics for getting good behavior. Because we need to all remember – we aren’t raising children, we are raising adults that we want to hang-out with, and that are productive and socially aware and giving and respectful…so we are giving them the skills they need to then raise the next generation.


Dr. G focuses on three main points – Respect, Responsibility, and Resilience. I love this so much – because THIS is how our family lives each day. With mutural respect for each other and our world, with everyone pulling their weight and giving, and with honesty and tools to be resilient because not everything is going to go your way and that bad things happen….and that’s okay.


Reading her book brought a smile on my face as I thought about the conversation with Astrid last week. That I know she’s resilient enough to know the truth that mommy will have to leave her again and again. And that she will be okay. Even if it means it might take her awhile to give me that hug to let me know that she gets why I have to go.


Dr. G’s book “Get The Behavior You Want, Without Being The Parent You Hate” is available to purchase now. And truly – I cannot recommend it enough. Great tips for living with the “3 R’s” for all ages. I know I’ll be referencing this book more as we hit the teen years!


You can also follow Dr. G on Twitter and Facebook and on her website  and on her YouTube channel for daily awesome parenting tips.


I was not paid for this review and all words, opinions, and parenting wins and failures are truly my own. xo






I planned to write this post last night, or very early this morning before she woke-up. But life got busy and I haven’t had time to really sit down to write in weeks. I was going to go on and on about Five and how she’s oh-so-Five…or maybe how I’m not quite ready for Five…or maybe talk about how big Five is…or maybe even talk about what she’s doing that is so special at Five. But none of that matters really, because what she reminded me today was that she is writing her own story each and every single day with her own experiences, words, and love of life.


If I had written about her last night I would’ve missed talking about how she woke up this morning. “Mom, look at my toes peeking out lower than my blankies. I think I’ve grown just overnight just like that!” She almost screamed when I went in to wake her. “Measure me right away Mommy so we can see that I’m really now big because I’m Five.”


Quickly followed by a quick snuggle on my lap with tears of “Mommy, I don’t want to be Five because soon I will have to leave you forever. If I stay four we will always be together. I don’t want to get big.”


But then she later tells me not to hold her hand down the steps to dance class because she’s big enough to go anywhere without holding hands. She then pushes doors open that seemed so heavy just a day ago exclaiming “See how strong am I now? It’s because I’m Five.”


And then there’s the mouth. Not from a sweet Five year old – but a teenager that came to reside in her body today. Telling me that she needs to wear a character shirt(Oh Dear God) instead of the (NICER) outfit that I picked out the day before, because now that she’s Five  – she can wear what she wants and when she wants. And if that means wearing a shirt from Target every day for the rest of her life – WELL SHE CAN DAMMIT!


Okay, she didn’t say dammit – but I’m kind of expecting it to come out of her mouth tomorrow.


And at one point today she rolled her eyes at me when I asked if she needed to help with something, and then she sighed and said “Mother, really.”


Her sisters just laughed. And I told her that I was letting it slide today, but tomorrow she’d be in trouble for talking to me like that.


And she had a beautiful day turning Five with friends, family, gifts, and cupcakes.


“Mommy, how old will I be tomorrow when I wake up?” She asked as I tucked her in tonight, ending Her day.


“Five still, sweetie. But Five and one day.”


“So even bigger?” She asked. “It just keeps happening doesn’t it. I’m not sure it will ever stop.”


“Nope, you’ll get bigger every day until one day you’ll be bigger than me.”


“Wow, well I’ll be sure to tuck you in bed when that happens, okay Mommy.”


Happy Five, Astrid. You brighten our days every day and every night just because you’re you.



Ready For Kindergarten

My daughter’s preschool career ends in six short weeks as this fall she will enter kindergarten. Yet this morning I still carefully unzipped and slid her jacket from her arms and hung it on her hook that has a cute little peeling bunny label on it. I put her lunch in her basket that she can easily reach, and then she sat down on the bench waiting. I bent down to her so we were eye to eye and I kissed her nose – twice – as I gently removed her boots and smelled her toes and laughed as she asked if they were super stinky this morning. I placed her boots in her spot beneath the bench and then slid her shoes on her, folding the velcro over the top with an extra pat and then one more kiss to her nose before we both stood up.


She grabbed my hand – her right into my left – and we skipped into her classroom together. She sat down at the art table to make me a card. She makes me a card every day. Typically a rainbow and a sun with some flowers. We stand together in the center of the picture – one tall and brunette and one small and blond. And we are both smiling. I kiss her goodbye as she is just beginning the orange stripe of the rainbow and tell her to have an amazing morning. She kisses me back and hugs me tight and tells me that she loves me so much that some days it physically hurts her.


She is nearly five and starting kindergarten soon, and yes I’m the mom who still helps her with her coat and shoes, and walks her into class each day and waits until she gets settled before I leave.


And I feel no guilt for babying her just a little longer. Especially knowing I am not the same mom as I was when my oldest was finishing her preschool career. Back then I did what you were suppose to do to get them ready for kindergarten – I taught her to tie her shoes, zip her coat, and the flip method for getting her coat on and over her head properly. She got dressed each morning independently, and I walked several paces behind her as we entered preschool, and watched her find her own hook, take off her jacket, change her shoes, and run into the classroom after a quick kiss and hug in the hall. After all, in a few short months I’d be putting her on a bus and she’d have to survive on her own.


I must get her ready.


This time I don’t care. And no, I don’t plan on sending this child to her kindergarten teacher as a baby lost in the woods looking for someone to wipe her butt. We’ve got that covered.


What I’ve found instead is that she is ready for kindergarten without me having to put so much outward effort on making her independent. While I’ve never actually shown her how to zip, she knows how. I can take her boots on and off her for weeks – but when we’re running behind and I ask her to put her boots on – she knows how.


I believe in independence, free-range, and my children learning how to make their own choices.


But I also believe that helping her with her coat and boots for a few more months until I’m not allowed to anymore is okay too. Maybe it’s more for me than for her. And if she ever asks to ‘do it herself’ I gladly step aside. But for now, it gives me time to steal more kisses and hugs and enjoy this short time we have together before she’s off to school forever.


You may calling it ‘babying’ her, but I just call it ‘time.’ Because as every mother knows, there’s never enough time to enjoy them while they are little and draw you holding hands under a rainbow filled sky.



How To Become A Yeti

I’m going to talk about winter again. Go ahead and click-away – but you know you really want to read more about it because it’s really all we talk about now. We talk about it with our stylists, our mail carriers, our grocery baggers, our neighbors, strangers on the street that you are pushing out of snowbanks, bank tellers, UPS drivers, the cashier at Target, every parent at preschool, the teenager down the block who never smiles anyway, and my mother – because she’s in Arizona for the winter and I kind of don’t like her anymore.


Also, I’ve worn a hat, mittens, wool socks, fleece pajama bottoms, three cardigans, a scarf, and possibly a winter coat on since November. In my house. We keep the house at about 57 degrees so it warrants inside hat wearing to keep the heating bills down.


At any rate – what happens when you are toe to top of head covered, you forget you have a body under there. Also you become a Yeti.


Because Yetis are hardy. And hairy.


Things I haven’t done since November.

First let’s reminisce about what I looked like last November. Also, let’s reminisce about the sun.


I haven’t:

-cut my hair

-colored my hair

-styled my hair

-looked at my feet – you don’t even want to know what’s going on with my feet right now

-paid attention to my hands. My nails are all broken off from the dry cold, and my skin in cracking. Enough said.

-shaved my legs or armpits

-if fact, paid attention to any hair on my body

-did you know that body hair is warm when you grow it out

-and it doesn’t bother anyone when you’re wearing at least five layers at all times

-and don’t even try to get fresh and remove my fleece pajama pants because 1. It’s effing cold and 2. You don’t even want to know what’s growing under there.

-and wow how pedicure/manicure/waxing services must have a huge boom in in business in Minnesota once the temps rise above freezing. Yeti waxing specials everywhere!


But we have a wedding to attend soon – so besides thinking about having to shave my legs and maybe actually buy a razor, I also finally got a cut and color.


But then I still had to leave the salon with a hat on. Because Minnesota. And -12. So no one saw my hair. So this is all you will see of my new cut.


I feel better. Just don’t look below the top of my head. Because the Yeti is still in there.


And I think I need to take things slow – not to overwhelm this winter body. Also shaving sounds cold.


Next week LEG SHAVING.


The week after ARMPIT SHAVING.


Maybe then some pedicure action.


Who knows how crazy I’ll go after that.


All I know is that no one wants a Yeti at their wedding. Unless you’re a Yeti. Then you want alltheyetis. YETIWEDDINGS! New Minnesota Winter Business!


When I do have to leave the house – I do get dressed sometimes….


This week I wore my Matilda Jane Ruffle Pants – YOU NEED THESE. They are the like yoga/sweatpants with style. I get stopped no less than four times at the grocery store every time I wear these. Trust me. I’ve styled them with with Nine West motorcycle boots, a Gap cami tank and a gray Dove sweater – also from Matilda Jane. Scarf old – Target maybe? (Please note this was also pre-haircut – so awful pony…sorry.)


Astrid is wearing the Ice Cream Social skirt from Matilda Jane, a souvenir tee from Albuquerque, and leggings from Target. She wore this to preschool for the morning and then hung out with Yeti-Mom for the afternoon.


How’s your Yeti-ness treating you this winter? Make me feel better and tell me you don’t shave either….Or just lie to me.



When I Grow Up..

Many of Astrid’s classmates said that they want to be doctors or lawyers or teachers or firefighters.


Some even writers, dancers, singers, or artists.


When I was four, I wanted to work at Dairy Queen.


Turns out Astrid’s career aspirations are even bigger than mine were.



All I can say is “Yay to unlimited chips, guacamole, and margaritas! Mommy doesn’t really need you to buy her a retirement home.”


What did you want to grow-up to ‘be’ when you were four?


A Little More Conversation

My Valentine’s Day was spent with my constant companion.


She’s pretty sweet and honestly a wonderful date. I told her she could pick anywhere to go for a special treat, and she picked Starbucks. She wanted a ‘coffee’ and a cake pop and a chocolate croissant for later. And she didn’t want to take anything to go, no she insisted that we sat and had our treat.


We sat on the tall stools that line the window. She wanted to watch the people go by and honestly I think she just likes being up high.


She ate her pink cake pop quickly, wiped her mouth, swept the crumbs on the table onto a napkin and then said “So.”


So? I replied.


“Let’s have some conversation. What do you want to talk about, Mama?”


Conversation? That sounds lovely. I want to talk about what we should see when we visit Washington DC next month. Will we see the pandas?


So we talked about Washington DC and how after the pandas she wants to go to the White House but hopes she doesn’t meet Barack Obama because he’s a guy – and she’d rather meet a woman. And asked how instead we could meet Michelle. After the pandas of course. And after we had exercised as much conversation about DC as we could, I asked her what she now wanted to talk about.


“Triangles.” She said. Then she turned around on her stool and found all of the triangles in the coffee shop. Then rectangles. Then squares. Then circles. And your cup is not a circle -even though I tried to pass it off as one. “No Mama, that’s a cylinder. Let me show you the difference so you don’t get it wrong next time.”


We had conversation for about an hour. No phones, no internet, no TV, no laundry, no chores, no work, no other people. Just two people having a conversation.


And I’d forgotten how beautiful it is to just sit in a coffee shop with a friend and immerse myself into the spoken words of another person. How great things happen at coffee shops and astounding creativity. How I can spend hours and days and weeks in my home with this amazing little curious person but still not pause long enough to really talk to her.


Pause long enough to find out there are 47 triangles to be found in our neighborhood Starbucks.


I think we need more coffee dates.


How To Make A Vivienne Westwood Hat And Be Happy

I may have mentioned once or twice the magic that is made at our preschool. Each week the kids learn a new song, and that songs becomes their ‘heading home’ song and it also becomes forever ingrained in their hearts as memories are made like lyrics to paper. These songs are not sung by Raffi or The Wiggles or even the fabulous Laurie Berkner. No these are songs by Bob Marley, Shakira, Michael Franti, The Beatles, Katy Perry and more.


Last week the song, the video, the dance, and the message was Happy by Pharrell Williams.  It’s been with us since watching Despicable Me 2 this Summer – and now it’s forever with us.

And who doesn’t want to be happy? And if you need 24 hour of Happy- Pharrell can get that for you too…And I DARE you not to clap along.


But just listening, dancing and singing along wasn’t enough for Astrid.


“Mommy, but I need to look like Pharrell. I need his hat! I can’t do the dance properly without the hat.”



The hat. Oh Astrid, Mommy doesn’t do crafts nor have several gazillion dollars to buy the hat.


“I know you can do it, Mommy.”


Oh the trust of children.


So I summoned up my little bit of craft knowledge – which is basically from watching my mother-in-law play with my kids, because SHE is amazing and creative – but sadly 2000 miles away. And something she loves to do is make paper bag hats. Someday I will write a post about these lovely hats with flowers that are proper enough for an adult tea party. You will be impressed.


So I quickly fashioned a Pharrell Williams via Vivienne Westwood hat out of a grocery bag for Astrid to wear.


The girl has barely taken it off and cannot stop smiling. And I admit I did a quick and shoddy job – but Astrid is four and to her the hat is perfect. And Mommy made it.


A few simple steps – turn a standard grocery bag inside out and trim to height and shape it how you want it. Draw and cut-out a cardboard ring that will fit well around your child’s head. Glue or staple the bag to the ring.


Give to child. They will freak from excitement.


Wear and dance.


And she did…

Now just try NOT to be HAPPY!



Speaking of last minute crafts – do you have your Valentine’s done yet? I’ve got my easy personal photo Valentines on The Twin Cities Mom Blog. It’s not too late to get those done!


What Do You Learn In Preschool

I vaguely remember preschool. I remember it was in a church basement; Lutheran, even though we were Catholic. And my teacher wore her hair high up on her head in curls that were neatly pinned like flowers. She also wore a tan, ribbed turtleneck top, a huge smile, and sensible shoes most days. I remember playing with various toys, reading books, signing songs, and learning the importance of sitting quietly on a carpet as we all faced the teacher. My teacher, in 1972, wore a miniskirt as she sat on a chair facing us. We could spy her undies every day. We loved her. And her undies and how they made us giggle.


Preschool was a place to go and socialize with other kids, a place where you learned a little body control and how to listen to a teacher, and a foundation for getting you ready for your adventure to bigger and better learning.


Preschool should be magical. It should be a place where unicorns graze in rainbow colored fields under a jelly bean sky. Preschool teachers I believe are hatched from pastel colored eggs that have been dipped in fairy dust before being carried down to earth by white swans wearing tutus.


This is how I want my daughters to feel when they go off to preschool. I want them to feel like they are wrapped up in magic at every turn.


And we’ve found that spot with our preschool.


Don’t laugh at me, but I have tears running down my face a I type this. And when Astrid’s teacher hugged me hello this morning I cried then too. Just feeling her warmth and by knowing how safe and happy Astrid is there. Each day her teacher hugs or touches me and tells me words that are reaffirming. “We love Astrid so much. She’s a delight. She makes my heart happy. Her smile lights up a room. She’s a lovely friend. I don’t want her to ever go to kindergarten…”


And I cry again. I’ve warned them that I plan to just come and sit in the classroom next year for a few hours even though Astrid will not be there. Because I need more unicorns and fairy dust in my life. Everyone should have a place that makes you feel this good.


Astrid’s school focuses a lot on music and art. Each ‘lesson’ or monthly plan is about a band or artist. They’ve studied The Beatles, Bob Marley, Michael Franti, Taj Mahal, Claude Monet and more. They learn all of the songs or paintings, have dance parties, and explore the places and cultures where the artists are from. This is her preschool curriculum, and I melt over it each day I enter that happy place to drop her off. And I linger longer there than I have at any other school.


We’ve spent months singing along with Astrid as she continues to appreciate the arts at home – and teach us what she has learned. And I love it so hard that no one is pushing phonics or math or early reading books on this child. This child with a song in her heart.


Her favorite song from the year is Cakewalk Into Town by Taj Mahal… and she sang a few versus for us. And I think if we all listen and watch this just a few more times, well no one will get the blues ever again.


Guaranteed unicorns, rainbows, swans and jelly beans if you watch this….

What do you love about your child’s preschool?



Astrid and I were watching a goodnight show on TV the other night. There is this giant stuffed star(seriously, you watch this show don’t you?) that goes to sleep in a hammock each night. Typically I don’t really watch this show. She enjoys her 15 minutes of it before we read books for bed and it gives me 15 minutes to try to get past level 125 of Candy Crush(How do you get past level 125?).


But on this particular night I had gone through my five lives on Candy Crush quite quickly and found myself watching this Star go to sleep. And my goodness this big yellow star has HUGE, BRIGHT, ORANGE eyelids when he closes his eyes and drifts off to sleep.


So I said startled “Whoa, look at his huge orange eyelids. I had no idea!”


“Um, Mom he’s had those forever, don’t you watch?”




“Of course I watch – I just didn’t realize they were SOOO orange.” I said to cover my tracks. And then to be playful “They are super orange just like your eyelids, Astrid.”


“I don’t have orange eyelids.”


“How do you know since you’d be sleeping when they are closed, so you could not see them, so how would you ever know the color of your eyelids?” I challenged. “They are bright orange, trust me.”


“Well duh(she has tween sisters), Moommm, I just have to look in the mirror and close one eye while I leave the other eye open and then switch eyes. I will always know the color of my eyelids and they are currently not orange. Only stars have orange eyelids.”


I don’t like not being able to trick four year olds. It’s like she’s ripping me of my guaranteed rights as a mother.


I Believe In Magic

“Mommy, I think I’m ready to talk to Santa this year.” Astrid says very quietly one evening after dinner when all of us still gather around the dining room table doing homework, writing, paying bills, and if you are only four years old – coloring.


“I mean, I will talk to him – but I’ll be standing next to him. Not on his lap. I don’t want to touch him. But I’ll say hi maybe and tell him my name. I want to tell him that I only want a talking scale this year just like the one in Costa Rica so it will yell out “31.2 pounds” all day every day if I want it to. I need to tell him about the scale so I get it. That’s the only thing on my list.”


“Maybe it’s a good idea for all three of you to get your Santa lists ready!” I suggest after Astrid’s announcement that she is “Santa-talk ready” this year. “I’ll make reservations for us to visit him this Saturday.


Eloise looks up from her algebra – stopping mid-problem that has something to do with coefficients and rises and runs and things I no longer understand – and says “Yeah okay Mom, let me get right on that. Ha!”


“Ha!?!” I stand and hold my hands up to my heart as if shot and take a deep breath in before responding with a “Santa is watching and he heard what you just said!”


“Oh, okay Mom. Let me just get right to that list after I finish my algebra and type-up my endangered animal study paper….”


I look to Astrid and Esther who have already gotten out plain paper, red markers and stickers and are happily making Santa Lists.


And I sit back down hard as I realize she no longer believes. And the hurt takes me by surprise.


I mean she’s 11 and all – and maybe you’re thinking “Geesh, it’s about time!” Because maybe that’s what I was thinking a few years back when at eight and nine she still did believe while I figured the whole ‘Santa’ thing out by the time I was five.


I continue to sit quietly at the table and glance over my coffee and then I meet Eloise’s eyes. She gives me a quick, small knowing smile and wink before getting back to her work.


And I cannot help from almost crying as our eyes meet because I know she gets it. Because even though she may no longer believe in the actual Big Man himself, she still gets the magic of the season and the importance to not give her new found knowledge away to her little sisters.


Later that night she hands me her Santa List – which even starts with “Dear, Santa” and ends with “Love, Eloise” – and as she hands it over to me she says “You know just in case you’d like to know what’s on my list too.”


I smile as she walks away and heads up to bed.  I carefully unfold her letter and read the first two items on her list…


-I would like to raise at least $100 to adopt a Panda from WWF to help stop their endangerment.

-I would like Astrid to get the talking scale she wants


And I know that she still believes in magic because she continues to wish for very good things.



Do you have a Holiday outfit planned for your little girl for Christmas? I was thrilled to receive the Twinkle Party Dress and matching dress for Bitty Baby from American Girl to review.  Astrid pretty much doesn’t go anywhere without her ‘Baby Anna’ and now they can match when we have breakfast with Santa this weekend. And they can ask for the scale together! In fact Astrid has refused to take her party dress off for the past three days because she feels like a ‘special princess’ and has told me that ‘Baby Anna’ will never wear anything BUT her fancy red dress. So there you go. They love their matching dresses and I about died from the cute. I think Santa will be equally impressed this weekend and now we don’t have to stress about what to wear on Christmas eve.


If you haven’t purchased your Holiday Dress yet and you have a little one who loves AG – I for sure recommend these cute sets! I am a HUGE fan of American Girl as you know – for celebrating girls and sending a positive message to our kids…so having these special dresses for Astrid and ‘Baby Anna’ is just a bit of sweet icing on the cake for us.