45

I’m been writing little notes about turning 45  on ‘Canal Park Lodge’ mini paper for the past 36 hours. How I want to say that my life is better at this age without botox, or how I look better now than at 18, or how I’m so practical that I prefer a gift of fuzzy slippers over lace undies. On how I can still rock a bikini and appreciate a birthday morning spent in a hotel pool in Duluth instead of waking up next to my husband in a hotel on the Left Bank in Paris with my kids thousands of miles away.

birthday

But that is all bullshit.

 

Because my reality and my here and my now and my imaginary wants of life are all a blur right now as I hit nearly a mid-century. My reality still has three kids at home – three honestly very little kids without total freedom from college educations until I’m nearly dead and botox is clearly a moot point and a weekend in Paris is waiting in line behind mortgage payments, bathroom remodels, medical bills and finally those college educations.

 

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

 

But I hate my birthday.

 

There I said it. I feel so much better than I did 14 hours ago when I woke up and had to pretend, mainly to myself, that I was excited for the day. Because frankly the 146 messages on Facebook are the only thing that makes birthdays in 2013 exciting for me.

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(well and maybe dinner with my grandma)

Don’t get me wrong. I like a good hug and wish from my kids, and maybe a well thought out gift and plan from my husband….but it will never feel less awkward to celebrate my birthday.

 

I’m that one who is impossible to please as I ask for nothing yet expect something. Truly I’m the perfect Minnesota Mother Martyr who typically gets weepy by noon because I can already tell that this birthday is going to suck.

 

No cake, no presents, no dinner plan and it’s all I can do just to fold some laundry, clean up some cat puke and ask if I can boil somebody a meal of buttered noodles to take my mind off of it all.

 

And it’s not that I want to be spoiled. I just want somebody to really ‘get’ me.

 

And I worry for my daughters that they will never find that person who does.

 

Because honestly I don’t like fancy underwear, udon noodles or fruit mixed with my chocolate.  I don’t feel complicated, but maybe I am.

 

So tonight I didn’t feel like making my own last minute birthday dinner plans. Instead I let Jed get the kids take-out and I went to a friend’s house to have a glass(or two) or wine and cry a little and laugh a lot with a group of women who have turned 45 and have raised families, had careers, written novels and experienced good and bad birthdays also without botox.

 

And I came home feeling better than I have in a long time.

 

I love my family more than I could ever explain. They sustain me. They are me in so many ways. They are my 24/7 and my past and future and I cannot imagine love more than the love I have for them.

 

But today on my 45th birthday I needed a bunch of wise women to teach me that it’s okay to be where I am today – ‘just’ a mom in the trenches of making lunches and swimming at hotel pools on my birthday – and that Paris isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

 

So today I am going to take a deep breath and remember good and simple things still happened today. Things I want to fold up like a tiny piece of paper that I put in a pocket next to my heart. Tiny moments of my children’s very brief childhood that are indeed reminders that they are the most precious gifts that I have.

 

I will remember Eloise and Astrid with their heads pressed together on the panda pillow on Eloise’s bed. Eloise was reading a large and complicated chapter book to Astrid, and Astrid told her that the book was a bit boring without pictures. So Eloise had the two of them drawing pictures together at the end of each chapter. They illustrated five chapters together today. Astrid came downstairs and explained the whole book to me with her detailed drawings.

 

And during this time my Esther played The Price Is Right on the Wii. This deserves a post of its own – but let’s just say that kids these days are really missing out by not hanging out at their grandparent’s house and learning the value of a new washer and dryer set.

 

So now I sit content with an hour left in my birthday. I’m wearing my fuzzy slippers and very un-sexy underwear. My make-up is smeared and my hair in a ponytail. My husband snores from the couch, my kids are asleep, and the 10pm news is almost over.

 

And I am finally okay and tear-free on a day that brought me more emotions than I would like to admit. Mainly because soon I will be 45 years old and one day and the pressure to care what the day brings will be over.

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Eleven

She’s been exceptionally quiet lately. And she hates when you ask her what’s wrong.

 

Because nothing is apparently wrong. She’s just quiet. Reserved. Introspective. Thinking.

eloise-is-11

She is much like me(and her father at times), and can really go days without really talking much or seeking out the company of others.
And introvert maybe. Indeed.

 

Yet she is the best friend you will ever have. Loyal to the death, giving, loving, listening and being there.

eloise-birthday

As she also is with her sisters. She gives them time that we don’t expect of her or anyone really, as well as her patience and gift of looking outside of herself always for the needs of others.

 

My biggest worry for Eloise is that she won’t even someday(or now) take the time for herself completely selfishly nor ask for what she really wants.

 

Making Christmas lists are a chore for her and for many birthday parties she asks for donations for a cause rather than gifts.

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And she’s been unable to tell us what she really wants for her birthday this year. And I know this is part of the ‘really quiet’ week she has had. As I think she knows what she wants but it feels wrong, selfish, and silly to ask for something for herself. I know she wants a laptop so she doesn’t have to borrow mine daily anymore. She now needs to type and do research for school and I’ve let her set-up an email account. But she would never ask for one. Ever. Something that seems so big. Extravagant. Unnecessary. (In full disclosure she has asked to go to Paris, France for her 13th birthday – but considers it an education experience as he wants to go to the museums and work on her language skills. And maybe she is being kind and thoughtful asking years in advance so we can save up for the trip :).

 

She’s probably the last of her friends to own a piece of technology and it doesn’t bother her. She has thousands of books and many American Girl dolls and enjoys the company of her little sisters.

 

But she’s 11 today. And caught between this world of childhood and becoming a teen.

 

With what I see is no real hurry to grow-up. And I am so thankful for that. For her.

straight-hair-eloise

Eloise is one of the smartest, most thoughtful, kind, loving, giving and beautiful people I’ve ever met. And yet I know she doesn’t think she is any of those things.

 

To her she is just a girl. Who happens to turn 11 today. And she’ll do it very, very quietly.

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Happy 11th Birthday, Eloise. My love, my daughter, my friend, my teacher, my first guide in this amazing journey of motherhood.

 

May all of your (very very very quiet) wishes come true. xoxoxo

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Four

I’ve been dreading this day for awhile now. Which is strange, as I’m not one of ‘those’ moms. I love watching my kids grow and change and learn and discover. I love the wonder that each year brings, just like we are standing on the edge of the teen years – and while I’m admittedly a bit scared, I’m also excited. I love life even more(and I never thought it would be possible) as my kids get older, because they can finally understand humor and sarcasm, the power of a well-timed punch line and that knock-knock jokes are ridiculous – and they can also make their own lunches and mop the floor without missing too many spots.

As kids get older they also read more interesting books – books that you can share, conversations become more adult-like, and they are welcome in all public places and have good manners. They also like to give you fashion advice and will quietly point out that piece of spinach in your teeth. They are truly like miniature girlfriends. Pocket friends that I can still put to bed early.

But this last Four has hit me hard.

 

You see, when they are three and under – they talk in that cute voice – comical almost and cannot pronounce all of their letters. It’s adorable. When they are three and under they have a bit of baby fat on their thighs and cheeks and the remnants of a toddler belly. They still cannot run very fast. When they are three and under, they still tuck neatly into your lap, can wrap around your hips when carried, and still need your assistance to get into the car.

But everything changes at four.

 

Their hair is suddenly long..and styled. Their words become clearer and sentences long and complex. Their vocabulary goes crazy and soon their sweet baby voice will be gone forever.

 

I’ll never hear again from one of my children “Mommy, I wuv you fowevah!” While they curl up on my lap with their blanket.

I mean sure we will snuggle and love, but their legs start falling over the edges of my lap and their baby fat has been replaced by angled joints that poke my ribs as we try to find that comfortable place that was like an easy puzzle put together just a few short months ago.

 

And this Summer, my Four will run fast down the sidewalks as she can nearly keep up with the big kids instead hanging back with the moms as we chat.

 

And I let her go.

It’s the same for all of us, even though I know I don’t want more babies and won’t have more babies – Four is letting go of all of that babyhood stuff and stages and I feel a catch in my throat when I think about the finality of it all.

 

So I think of the videos I need to capture – to hear that voice again when she is 15 and 25 and to see her three year old chubby cheeks and perfect line of baby teeth in her innocent big grin.

 

Because it’s ending here – this babyhood – and moving into big kid land with Four. How bittersweet is this age. Even though three was just yesterday, and Four is today, and more is yet to come – I find myself grasping to time with this last baby of mine, because truly – we all know there’s plenty of time to be a grown-up.

So I think I’m going to let her be a baby just a bit longer.

 

Because Four is really not all that big, right?

Happy Birthday, to my sweet baby girl. FOUR!

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Eight

This is the first picture of Esther that I posted on my blog nearly five years ago.

Five years ago, my three year old Esther loved dressing up in tutus and playing with toys. My Esther is eight today, and I’m happy to say that tutus and toys still occupy a big space in her life. As they should.

 

Esther is the epitome of innocence because I’m sorry, but eight is still rightfully deep in ‘little girl land.‘ Let her eat too much chocolate cake, have extra whipped cream on her cocoa, and invite her Polly Pockets to the coffee shop.

Esther is excited for her birthday. Not because she’s all that excited to turn eight – but because she likes a good celebration. You just have to go back and watch her enjoying her fifth birthday and you know pure joy.

 

Because if you haven’t noticed yet – Esther is a small package of huge joy.

 

And I worry for her. People who hold that much joy are easily hurt because they don’t believe bad things could ever happen. Their optimism is unending..until it’s not.

 

I admit I hold Esther with a little extra care than I do my other daughters as her reality is just different than that of her sisters. She requires a few extra hugs and snuggles and homemade cupcakes on her birthday as store-bought just isn’t ever right.

Esther is a light in this world that I hope shines bright for another 100 birthdays. Because her giggle should last through several lifetimes.

 

Sometimes I think that her giggle could help end all wars and help feed the world. It’s that powerful.

 

How do we bottle that?

 

How do we bottle that innocence of a child this pure and good and give a little to everyone.

Because if we did I know the world would be something so much brighter.

 

Bright like my eight year old with the light in her eyes that shows us that the future must be good.

 

It has to be.

For her.

 

Happy Birthday sweet Esther.

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This Is Childhood – Seven

Esther runs down the sidewalk towards me. Her ‘just off the bus’ look – disheveled braids, peanut butter dried on the side of her mouth, an off-center headband, a backpack sitting low and heavy off one shoulder, her skirt slightly turned to the side, the side-seam now showing in the front, worn-at-the-knees bright pink leggings, and her most noticeable attribute, a wide smile always on the verge of laughter as she lunges at me for a full-body hug and a kiss – including an “I love you mom!” for all the world to see and hear.

She turns eight this week.

 

At seven she is as unique as her mismatched leggings and shoe choice; and as colorful and imaginative as her pink headband and her non-uniform braids.

 

She is seven. Yet her seven is nothing like her sister’s seven two short years ago. While I’ve now enjoyed nearly 730 days of ‘sevens’ in my house, there’s no stereotype I can share with you that perfectly captures this magical age.

 

It turns out that seven can be complicated.

For one child, seven is second grade, spending more times with friends, starting sleep-overs and giggling with girls in the lunchroom while declaring “boys are still quite stinky.”

 

For another, seven is second grade, not worrying about the other girls, including boys in her list of best friends, and never sitting in the same spot at lunch.

 

Seven for one can mean starting to care about what other people think, insisting on wearing the ‘right’ clothes(and starting to shop at Justice, dear God), listening to the ‘right’ music, and fretting about what ‘he said/she said’ while realizing there is drama in the real world, not just what you see on Dance Moms on Tuesday nights when your mom lets you stay up late to watch non-quality TV.

 

Because seven can mean a more liberal bedtime…and an appreciation of non-animated shows.

Or seven for the other can mean not having a care about those things, living with your head in the clouds of happy oblivion while wearing twirly skirts, tights, Mary Janes, big bows, and watching episode after episode of Doc McStuffins with your baby sister.

*******

Esther is snuggled in my arms. We are squished together on a chair. Just us, her blanket, four Pillow Pets and our cat. “Mom, do you think I’ll ever see a real unicorn, because that is my one big dream you know.” Esther says quietly as my lips meet her cheek. “I hope so Esther.” I say as I close my eyes and truly see her with the white unicorns in a green field with rainbows shining above her in the sky. “I dream of the land of unicorns where you will play one day. Anything is possible.”  Eloise, the former seven year old across the room interrupts us, “Mom, you’ve got to be kidding! Don’t encourage her!”

 

Because that first seven meant knowing all the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me.” While this seven means that you dance with your little sister in the living room during Yo Gabba Gabba and don’t mind anyone hearing you when you say you have a ‘party in your tummy…so yummy, so yummy!’

 

Seven for one questioned Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, if the world is really round, her bedtime, what was on her plate at dinner, why homework was really that important, the logic behind snow-pants when it was below zero, and the reason why my hair was turning grey.

 

Seven now means writing letters to Santa, drawing pictures for the Tooth Fairy, dancing with unicorns, dressing up as a Disney Princess, and using her Crayolas to color my hair pink and purple – because nothing is prettier than pink and purple…even when you are 44 it seems.

Seven the first time in this house meant moving up to more complicated chapter books; getting lost in Harry Potter or Anne of Green Gables under the covers in her room with a little bitty book light while she should have been sleeping.

 

While this seven is learning to appreciate a good non-fiction book, researching animals, the human body, the Presidents and the solar system, spouting random facts at the dinner table. Daily we ask her “How in the world did you know that?”

 

For one of my sevens – it was mastering the jump rope, hanging upside down on the monkey bars and easily getting her legs over on a cartwheel.

 

For my other – she’s given up on cartwheels(“They’re overrated!”), gets frustrated by the jump rope, finds herself separated from the group of girls in the neighborhood because she can’t physically keep up yet. She’ll be in the next yard over with the two and three year olds playing ‘Ring Around The Rosie’ and pushing them in swings.

******

I’m in the kitchen preparing dinner while my kids finish their homework at the table. Esther gets up, grabs an apron, while asking if I need help cooking. I give her some simple instructions and the ingredient list and she goes to work on the salad. I stop my work and notice how she doesn’t even need a stool to reach the counter anymore, how she can cut a carrot with the sharp knife, and how the mess of her salad preparation is so minimal compared to a year ago.

Both of my sevens could reach the glasses, pour their own milk, make their own snacks and even remember to clean-up after themselves. And both of my sevens remember to ask others if they also want something from the kitchen.

 

Both of my sevens liked playing with dolls and their little sister, noticed a friend who needed help and went to the aid of strangers, still slept with a blanket and vied for snuggles on the couch with me.

 

Because they were still only seven.

So if I may put an umbrella over seven, let me say that it’s one of my favorite years.  It’s the year that children become more coordinated with their bodies as they further develop their minds and gain an acute awareness of the world around them.

 

Sevens are on a never ending quest for more knowledge and skills.

 

Thus seven can be exhausting, and it makes you realize that very soon they will know more than you do, can do what you can do, and as they snuggle on your lap you notice their legs have turned long and lanky, their butts bony, and any ‘baby’ about your baby is officially leaving.

******

I’m folding laundry and Esther wraps her arms around me from behind. She gives me a hard squeeze and an “I love you mom.” I turn to return the hug and ask her what that was for. “Just because you are my mom and I like to hug you” she replies. I kiss the top of her head that now reaches high enough so I’m not even really bending down anymore and say jokingly “Promise me you’ll feel the same way this week once you turn eight, okay?” She giggles as she pulls away, “I’ve decided that I’ll never be too old to love you.”

I’m holding my seven year old to that promise.

******

Honored to have my turn in our ‘This Is Childhood‘ series. The This is Childhood writers are Aidan DonnelleyKristen Levithan, Nina Bazin, Galit Breen, Allison Slater Tate, Bethany MeyerTracy MorrisonAmanda Magee, Denise Ullem, and Lindsey Mead.

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Double Digits

I asked Eloise for a hug goodbye when I dropped her at a slumber party last night. I asked her for this hug especially because when she wakes up, not in our home, on December 2nd today and turns 10, well I won’t be there to hug her and tell her happy birthday.

She did not give me that hug. She rolled her eyes at me and said “Oh Mom, really.” And then she turned back to her friends and they started giggling about something that I had no clue about, so I just said goodbye to the parents, turned my back and walked out the door.

 

Now don’t think that Eloise was rude for not giving me that hug. Eloise is not my hugger. Not my cuddler. Not my lover. She’s one of the most kind and generous and lovely kids I know but she’s not known for her displays of affection. She wasn’t a baby who wanted that human touch, she wasn’t a lap sitter and didn’t love to be carried places. She slept best in her swing or in her bed…not in my arms or a sling. She ducks when I go to wrap my arms around her and if I put my hand gently on her back she usually doesn’t hesitate to remove it. But she reciprocates ‘I love yous’ and lets her baby sister on her lap and will always carry her everywhere she so desires.

So what I’m trying to say here is that Eloise is her own person and I respect that. When I thought about what I would write that would capture my feelings about having a 10 year old, or what I think it’s like being 10, or what I think a 10 year old should know…well it seemed trite and forced and admittedly just wrong, because honestly the biggest thing I want you to know about a 10 year old is that they are their own person, with their own desires, likes, wants, emotions, bodies and minds. And I have no need to put words into what I want my 10 year old to know except I want her to know that I love her. Without fail. 24 hours a day. With or without hugs.

 

Instead. I want you to truly just know Eloise. I asked Eloise if she wanted to write something here about turning 10 or if there was something she wanted you to know specifically about her that would truly tell you who she is.

 

And she said “I want them to know about my favorite books and authors because I think that truly tells a lot about a person.”  So she made me this list and told me that this was all you needed to know.

 

She is also a girl of very few words, will never seek to be the center of attention and you will rarely find her without her nose in a book. Also, she wear a panda hat as much as she can.

 

And then I cried. I actually felt sorry for myself because this 10 year old girl is already so much more than I was at 10. This girl here. She’s the one who in second grade returned to me all of my Judy Blume books, my Nancy Drew books, my Little House On The Prairie books, my Anne of Green Gables, and my Secret Gardens and told me that she read them all and they were just kind of ‘meh.’  So I boxed my childhood back up and put it back into the attic. I packed away my childhood of books that I had held onto for 35 years convinced that I would share them with my daughter and together we would have this moment that I created in my mind.

 

I found out that day that moments cannot be created and staged. My 10 year old, my eldest, my girl that made me a mother has taught me that moments are what happen when you are just living life and truly listening to your children. They are not made from reading Blubber for the 455th time and convincing your child why they should appreciate it too.

 

Without further ado – Eloise’s lists…

Favorite Books:

Series of Unfortunate Events series
Because of Winn Dixie
The Tale of Despereaux
The Tiger Rising
The Magicians Elephant
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
The Hunger Games trilogy
Island of the Blue Dolphin
Princess Academy
In Search of Mockingbird
In a Heartbeat
The Mysterious Benedict Society
Rules for Secret Keeping
Allie Finkel’s Rules for Girls series
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

 

Favorite Authors(Including poets):

Shel Silverstein
Lemony Snicket
Kate DiCamillo
Brian Selznick
Suzanne Collins
Scott O’Dell
Shannon Hale
Douglas Florian
Loretta Ellsworth
Michael Scott
Meg Cabot
Lauren Barnholdt

(Then I had to go Google half of these….Go ahead..I know you are now doing it too. I’ll wait…)

Happy Birthday Eloise. You are easily one of the most special people in all the world. And you are not just special because you’re my daughter and I cannot help but feel this way about you. You are special because you are just so simply and beautifully Eloise. Oh, and you are 10! 10!!!

 

Love you for always,

Mom

Oh..and a little 49 second clip of the new 10 year old. She would love for you to take the time to watch and to wish her a Happy Birthday. Thank you!

 

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A Simple Scheme..

Pssst…

 

I have a secret to tell you.

If you have older kids and their younger sibling is having a birthday soon…..

 

DO NOT LET THEM HELP PLAN THE PARTY.

I happen to ask them what Astrid would like for her birthday….and they casually mentioned that she would love a Pillow Racer and a bubble machine.

THE THREE YEAR OLD HAS NOT PLAYED WITH THESE ITEMS BECAUSE SHE CANNOT GET THEM AWAY FROM HER BIG SISTERS.

 

So I told the big sisters that I would be happy to buy them their own Pillow Racers for Christmas this year, but oh no..no, they said “oh we are too old for Pillow Racers!”

SO WHY ARE THEY RIDING THEIR SISTER’S PILLOW RACER ALL DAY?

Won’t they be surprised when they open Pillow Racers this December…while their friends are opening iPhones and iPads.

THE JOKE IS ON THEM!

*****

Linking up with wordful Wednesday.

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65

I’ll never forget what my mom said to me when I told her that I was pregnant with Astrid “Oh my word that is funny – just think – when I was 39 both you are your brother were out of the house already and here you are at 40 and just having a baby. Oh thank God that wasn’t me!”

 

And then we both laughed hysterically. But really it was funny. All of it.

 

My mother and I really don’t have a lot in common. She’s short. I’m not. She’s the oldest of seven and loves all babies. I’m the youngest of two and only like my own babies. She cannot bake. I can. She thinks Monet is just a costume jewelry brand. I know he’s more than that. She loves short hair. I love long hair.  She worked outside of the home. I stay home. She irons. I own an iron. Maybe. She bought it for me. It stays in the box until she visits.  She likes small towns. I like big cities. She had her babies in her early 20′s. I did not.

 

The list goes on.

 

Which is probably why she’s my best friend. It’s also probably why I was a complete asshole to her during my high school years.  But why, by the time I was 20, I realized what an amazing women she is and I’m glad I got to know her again – as a person and a woman rather than just as a mother.  Because she’s so much more.

 

And if I hadn’t stepped back in I would’ve missed a whole lot of laughter.

 

Because if there’s one thing we have in common – it’s our sense of humor. My god my mother is funny. And most of all – she can laugh at herself. Oh can she laugh at herself.   Every week there is something we are giggling about on the phone. If I hear or want to share something funny – she’s the first person I call because I want to hear her laugh.

 

I hope I can teach this to my kids – to not take themselves so seriously because really humans are hilarious.

My mom sent me this email a few months ago…as a prime example of her self-deprecation…

OMG let me tell you about making rice krispie treats:  I REALLY NEED TO DO A COOKING AND BAKING SHOW:)

Sunday I thought to myself – I have marshmallows and rice krispies, I think I’ll make some bars.  That WAS MY FIRST MISTAKE!
I took out my glass bowl, the butter and the marshmallows.  Then I figured I could put them in the microwave to melt them faster – right????  Have you ever put a peep in the microwave?  OMG these things were huge and of course going over the bowl.  I stopped the microwave and took out a pan for the stove – do you know that once you have nuked the hell out of marshmallows you CAN NOT melt them in a pan?  Those things become tough balls of goo!  After bouncing them around in the pans for what seemed FOREVER – I concluded that all the mushing, stuffing, bouncing and piercing was not going to work.  As is common with my attempting to bake I walked over to the garbage – oh yeah – and dumped them in the trash.  This truly had me laughing remembering how 38 years ago I tried making these things for a cookie exchange after my “real cookies” also didn’t turn out.  Although I didn’t have a microwave back then once I put them in the pan and they set I couldn’t get them out of the pan or cut them!  It all went in the trash.  So what have I learned from this?  I  know that I will not live another 38 years to ever attempt this again!  Thanks for the recipe though:)

 

And you’ve read her thoughts on the iPad.

 

I love her for these things. For her beautiful imperfections. For her beautiful laugh. For her big hugs that come from her tiny body. For her unending kindness and laughter.

 

I don’t need a mom to remember who wore a crisp apron, or baked the perfect cookie, or laid out the perfect table. I don’t need a mother who made my beds, or kept the perfect garden, or always had fresh flowers on the table.  I don’t think kids care about that stuff. Kids care about the quality time you spend, the hugs you give, the love you share, and the laughter that fills a house with joy.

 

Which makes my mother just about perfect(except for the short hair thing).

 

Happy Birthday, Mom. I’m so lucky that you’re mine.

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A Very Foofa Birthday Party

Astrid turned three like a gazillion years ago(okay maybe just two weeks ago which is like a gazillion years in blog years) and just yesterday my mother and Mark both yelled at me for not yet posting pictures of her party. So here goes. I know – pins and needles, right?
Astrid requested a Foofa birthday party. If you don’t know what a Foofa is – she’s the pink daisy/garden character from Yo Gabba Gabba. And if you don’t know what Yo Gabba Gabba is – well that means you haven’t smoke dope in about 10 years AND you don’t have a child under the age of 6.   I happen to love Yo Gabba Gabba mainly because I think DJ Lance Rock is hot and not because I’m still into recreational drugs. Unless you count non-organic fruit snacks in that category – then yes, I’m high when I watch the show.

 

Here’s a Foofa to look at for your enjoyment.

 

My issue with having a Foofa themed party though was that I secretly(okay it’s not really a secret) despise character things – you won’t find my kids in character clothing nor eating a character cake in my home.  I know – call me cranky mother of the year here – but I believe it’s possible to do things tastefully and revolving around the theme your child wants without actually having eyeballs on their cake. Because really, who wants to EAT Foofa. In fact maybe I’ll make a character shirt that reads “Love your characters – don’t eat them” – right?

 

So instead of an ‘official Foofa birthday party’ we had a ‘Foofa Inspired’ birthday party and everyone seemed happy. Especially Foofa since we didn’t eat her.

I made Foofa Birthday Party Hats by covering regular party hats(I used ones that had Gabba colors on them so you could still see them through the pink) with pink fabric. I then hot-glued white ribbon and white daisies on them to make them looks like Foofa. These are super easy to make.

Instead of a Foofa cake with eyeballs – I made Foofa Inspired Birthday Cupcakes which are vanilla cupcakes in flower wrappers that I topped with pink butter-cream frosting and a candy daisy, and then I decorated the serving plate with real daisies. Astrid loved them!

My favorite pink Foofa waiting for her guests to arrive.

The rest of the party came together with pink and white tablecloths, flowers and balloons. Pink daisy wrapped presents, pink sprinkled homemade donuts and of course sweet sisters dressed in pink who would do anything to make their baby sister’s birthday absolutely perfect.

Happy Foofa Birthday, sweet Astrid. May you always have a daisy up on your head because who doesn’t smile when they see a daisy on someone’s head.

 

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Project 365 week 21 – The Beavers, Braces and Birthdays Edition

May is busy. Every May I wonder how we will get through it all. If you don’t have school age kids yet, you might be wondering what I am talking about…so oh just wait. May is December on steroids.

 

But it’s a good busy. The busy May is full of happy things – end of school parties, field trips, graduations, Spring sports, recitals, concerts, award ceremonies, teacher gifts and recognitions, finalizing Summer plans – vacations and camps and the like.

 

School is out in exactly nine days and then we can all breathe a bit easier again.

 

Do you have a crazy May?

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Thus, we had a busy week again – the highlight was my dear friend Kristi’s 50th birthday. Her husband threw her a surprise party which was absolutely fantastic!  There should be more surprise parties in our lives, yes?  Do you like surprises?

 

Astrid has been potty trained for quite awhile now and I just finally blogged about it. I wasn’t sure if I was even going to mention it because nothing says ‘mom blogger’ like a potty post, you know?

 

We are trying to figure out how to afford a Disney World Vacation.  This was until we had Eloise’s first orthodontic appointment on Thursday and any plans to actually leave our home for a vacation might be tabled until 2024. But that is another post for another time. Seriously, beauty and braces are expensive!!!

 

I have to find a new Starbucks to visit as Astrid now hit-on the cute Barista with her beautiful beaver story and we can never show our faces(or our beavers) there again.

 

Do you have anything exciting planned for the weekend?  We are going to Valley Fair tomorrow – our first time as a family to an amusement park. I hope someone goes on the big roller coasters with me!!!

 

Have a great holiday weekend.

xo

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How to Have a Successful Bowling Party…

1.  Rent out one of the oldest alleys in your town.

2. Husband realizes that his old alley doesn’t have computerized scoring. Has no idea how to score bowling. Oh those snobby New Englanders who attended the opera whilst us hearty Midwesterners were either getting lucky in the back of an Oldsmobile or bowling. Or possibly both.

3. Hire two year old to score bowling.

4. Everyone ties with a 59! Prizes for all.

5. Make sure all lanes have bumpers. No gutter-balls increase everyone’s enjoyment. Even mine.

6.  Invite 10 people that you like. And make sure those 10 people like to get a 59 when they bowl.

7. Let the older kids have their own lane and their own score-keeper because they want MORE than a 59. Because they are old and cool. And Midwestern.

8. Bring homemade cupcakes.

9. And enjoy the cards your friends made for you even more than the gifts.

10. Hug your best friend a lot. And congratulate her on her awesome score of 59!

Go forth and bowl my friends.

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Seven

Esther came into this world very suddenly.  The last thing I remember before her birth was yelling at my doctor that I WILL HAVE THIS CHILD NATURALLY and my doctor yelling back to me IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A CHILD AT ALL YOU WILL LISTEN TO ME.

And with a quick IV and a scalpel..voila.

 

Queen Esther.

 

Thank god my doctor was a bitch, because I needed that.

I remember being worried that Esther would be a colicky baby like her sister because of her dramatic entrance into this world.

 

I could not have been more wrong.

 

I have little memory of Esther’s baby years because all I recall is her sitting there, somewhere, anywhere. Happy. Silent. Content.

There was no need for a sling, carrier, backpack, swing, bouncer. This baby just sat there. Laid there. Happy. Quiet.

 

An amazing trait for a baby.

 

And a toddler.

 

And a preschooler.

 

Yet a difficult trait when they become emotionally aware and present and worried when they reach grade-school and you’ve become so used to them being your easy one for so long.

That sometimes I worry that I’m not doing right by Esther because she needs me now yet I’m so used to her needing really nothing except a snuggle and some fruit while I run around being everything to her sisters.

 

And I see this girl. This middle child. This gorgeous girl who still asks for so little. And I worry that she will feel like she did feel less. Got less.

 

Which is hard because I want so much for her.  And I hope she knows that she is a miracle. And a beauty. And the most magical thing in my life.

 

The girl who dreams of unicorns.

The depth of her beauty and feeling is something I will never understand and sometimes I feel like I need to push her to do more because everyone should know the wonder of my Esther.

 

And deeply all I wish for my middle child is that ALL of her dreams come true and damned if I won’t spend the rest of my life trying to make sure that happens.  Because this child deserves more than complete happiness.
Happy Birthday to my sweet Esther.

 

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Astrid Two and a Half…

There was a time that I chronicled every month of Astrid’s young life.  Some of my favorites are here and here. I cannot believe how bald that child was.

(awesomely exposed snow picture with no editing.ahem.if I do say so myself)

And since monthly updates now seem ridiculous I thought it was okay just this once to document what she is doing as today she is fully two and a half.

 

Likes:  Sushi, cats, books, games, CANDYLAND – ONE MORE TIME MAMA! Trains, cars, buses, Zambonis(OBSESSED WITH THEM), hair bows, marshmallows, hats, gymnastics, her thumb, music, layering sweaters(okay, I like them maybe more),lettuce, talking to ‘Ben’ the dog on my iPhone, D’amico’s penne pasta, pushing shopping carts, going down slides, DOING EVERYTHING MYSELF MAMA!, ignoring strangers who talk to her, painting, trying my coffee, baking, singing, Little People, sisters, Katy Perry.

Dislikes: When I’m on the computer, taking showers when the soap gets in her eyes, vacuum cleaners, bananas, chocolate ice cream, when her cats steal her toys, orange cheese, socks on when she sleeps, when I leave, sleds, going far away from home, when people talk to me, when someone sits on my lap that isn’t her, hot food.

I have to say I love this age. I love two year olds. It’s the three year olds that usually challenge my patience. So I know how much I need to enjoy the next six months.

 

Happy Half, Astrid.

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43

We were with family this past weekend and my sweet aunts were saying “it’s your birthday this week…how old are you going to be again?” And I said “43″ and then my 18 year old cousin said “oh god, I don’t ever want to be that old” to which we all answered “it’s better than the alternative.”

 

I’m not sure she is convinced.  But that is okay.

 

I remember being in college when my mom was 43 and thinking she was close to death..because my god. 43.

 

And do you know what was so awesome about my mom at this time – when I probably called her old and made fun of her not so tight skin and graying hair and stretch-marked belly – she never made fun of my spiral perm.

Because she was wise. Even though she was old.

 

And maybe she remembered what it was like being that young. Because it really wasn’t that long ago that she was fresh out of high school with big dreams …but oh wait. …my mom was 20 ..married and then had two babies by the time she was 21.

 

I had a cat and nearly a college degree..all with that spiral perm.

 

But I have to say my mom now has her sweet revenge as she can say “you know by the time I was 43 both my kids had moved out and were on their own…you are 43 with a two year old!” And then she laughs this weird evil laugh.

 

I kind of want to give her a spiral perm.

*****

There’s been this article flying around again “In Praise of Older Women” – that Andy Rooney did not write…Frank Kaiser did. And I have to say I don’t love it. At all. I don’t need some article to tell me how great being in my 40′s is. I especially don’t need a man telling me this.

 

And it’s hard to explain to an 18 year old how wonderful being in my 40′s is – especially when she is looking at my face. And gray hair.

 

But truthfully I know that I look and feel better now than I did 20 years ago.

 

So there.

 

And the only reassurance I need that everything is okay with the world and that I’m right where I’m suppose to be..even at my advanced age..with a two year old…

 

Is this.

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What Happened to MY FACE!

It’s my birthday tomorrow. I’m giving you notice so you can skip work and/or housewife type duties today and go buy me a present stat.

 

You’re welcome.

 

In honor of my birthday, I am also guest posting at my dear and gorgeous friend’s Cheryl’s place today.

(Aren’t we cute together)

I talk about how awesome it is turning “not in my 30′s” and how my “friends in their 30′s” better enjoy their youthful faces now and how also men in their 70′s now consider me a trophy wife. True story. Ask Molly. Or my friend Rachel(who doesn’t have a blog- seriously there are people without blogs..pray for them.)

 

Anyway – I would love a visit over to Cheryl’s place and a comment and some love and a latte(non-fat of course) and dark chocolate and a neck massage oh and only 18 more shopping hours until my birthday so scoot and buy me something sparkly.

 

Kisses.

t.

 

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Nine.

The weather is a welcome treat this week. Warm and little snow. 25 and we go outside easily without coats. Hats and mittens are yet to come out.

 

In 2002 the first week of December brought below zero temperatures.  Everyone who visited us during those five days in the hospital came in with red wind-burnt cheeks and their shoulders up bracing the cold and immediately mentioned how cold it was for so early in the year.

 

I glanced to the window and smiled not quite believing my luck to be holed up in a hospital with not quite five pounds of baby on my chest.

The week I became a mother.

 

Sometimes I think that Eloise was born an old lady. My real-life Benjamin Buttons.  I’ve heard it all in these nine years – “she’s an old soul” “she’s not a normal kid” “why doesn’t she just go play” “she’s an amazing big sister” “she must be a great help” “she’s the kid that teacher’s dream about”

 

Sometimes I wonder if it’s too much for her to bear..to be born without an ego.

I look at this girl- who everyone said to handle with care – who could not handle change – and who would worry about everything – who is so much like her father – and I see a young lady…YES a young lady… who is nothing like what people said – A girl who went to five different schools in five years, who handled the birth of two sisters, the move of a house, the funeral of grandparents, the making of new friends, and a clearly imperfect mother – and I see this girl who is ready for a beautiful life of her own.

 

I see this girl who in kindergarten took a scared new friend and held her hand and told her that everything would be fine and they would be best friends. This girl who always finds that kid on the playground who is sitting alone – and asks them to play.

I see this girl who has never fought with her sisters. Who has never fought another child for a toy. Who would never take something from someone – even as a two year old. Who will always let you go first.  Who will in a minute give-up her place in line. Who will drop everything she is doing if she hears her sister cry. Who will ask if I would like a coffee if she happens to be in the kitchen. And who will offer you the last cookie before taking it herself.

 

I see a girl who does not raise her hand in school – not because she doesn’t know the answer – but because to her it seems boastful. A girl that rarely talks about herself, but listens to what others have to say. I see a girl who rushes home from the bus so she can practice her piano for an hour – without me asking, but would probably not mention to you that she even plays. Very well.  I see a girl who immerses herself in a novel and yet takes the time to read picture books to her sister.  I see a girl whose best friend is her almost seven year old sister and sometimes they spoon when they sleep. They giggle in the shower.

 

This girl that I told when she was just three she needed to be more assertive and stand up for herself. Don’t be a doormat! Because her preschool teacher told me to. And this little girl looked up at me and said “why would I ever fight someone for something that clearly must mean more to them if they needed it so badly that they took it from my hands. It’s just a toy.”  We never had that discussion again.

I see this girl who now wants to spend more time with friends. Who likes to walk to the bus stop by herself and wants her own room. I see this girl who I bet – no I really know – that if for some horrible reason she had to solely take care of her two sisters for a week(never would it happen) but I bet you my life she could do it. I trust this girl. Sometimes I believe she is not really nine. I see this girl who instead of presents at her birthday party is asking her guests to bring toys to donate to Toys 4 Tots because she gets that there are others who would get nothing for Christmas if we don’t help.

 

And I see a girl who is ready for the next part of growing up.  The little girl years seem so easy now. The problems seem so silly really. I look at Astrid at two and sometimes I just laugh her issues off because I know – I see – “girlfriend – you are two – just wait until you are 12 – then I will pay attention to your issues.”

 

And I think about how wrapped up I probably was in Eloise’s two year old issues. And I feel bad for all firstborns and I hope they are a forgiving bunch – at least I know Eloise is.  I thank her for what she taught me so I am a better mom to her younger sisters.

 

Gone are the twirly dresses and bright mismatched colors of a little girls wardrobes. Gone are the pigtails. I now see this young lady who chooses clothes like mine, music like mine and straightens her hair.

 

And I truly don’t miss that little girl anymore. She’s is still there in the back of my mind, in the many photographs and occasionally I catch a glimpse when there’s a dance party in the living room and flour on her nose when baking with her sisters.   Why pine away for those years that have past when now I see before me this beautiful being who will one day very soon be an incredible woman living right here under my roof.

*******

So it’s in this note today I am formally apologizing to you Eloise because I fear I am going to mess this shit like totally up during the next four years. Puberty. Periods. Boobs. Hair. Shaving. Tampons. Boys.

There is like so much stuff that you need to know and I am just sorry that I’m feeling like an idiot right now thinking about it.  So forgive me while we stumble together.

 

And do me a huge favor and talk to your sisters about this kind of stuff when they reach that age – and I know you will do this – and probably push me out of the room and roll your eyes as you explain to them how badly I handled it. I can hear you now “let me handle this, Mom.” And I will walk out and cross myself as I thank heaven above for sending you my way.

 

Because what I love the most about you, Eloise…is that your heart is evidently too big for your tiny body because your ability to forgive and love unconditionally is beyond your years.

 

I just want you to stay sane, stay safe, stay smart and stay away from those stupid boys. Date a nice cello player. And while I will always, always be here for you – the wings you have grown my dear…well they suit you very well.

 

And it warms me every time I can still hug you against my chest and kiss your head because I know soon you will stand taller than me.

 

As I always knew you would.

 

Happy 9th Birthday, Sweet Eloise.

 

The world is so much better because you are here.

 

xoxo,

Mom

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And in case you need more – and want to see beauty grow  – Happy Eighth, Seventh, and Sixth

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Making a Family Connection..and a Birthday Wish

I never imagined having children. Sometimes I think that maybe I never did have them – maybe they had me because they are truly the right kids at the right time and they teach me something everyday. Who sent these beings to me? Do I owe you any money?

But when I first found out I was pregnant I admit I wanted girls. I had spent my whole life around boys – I only had a brother and I had ALL boy cousins -like 15 of them or something ridiculous(and awesome). I played a lot of touch football and Hot Wheel cars.  I spent my evenings at the baseball fields.

So I would dream about this girl baby I would have, and all of the girly things we would do and I would think of the perfect names.  BUT if she were to be a boy – he would still need a name and the only boys name I ever liked and would’ve loved to pass onto my son is

Aubie.

 

My dad’s name. I love his name. Strong. Unusual. Worth passing along. Strange I now sometimes wish I had given it to one of my girls as a middle name. Why didn’t I think of that. My dad has his father’s name.  I wish I would’ve carried it on.


Last weekend I took the girls up to Duluth for a family gathering. I hadn’t seen my dad’s family in almost six years. Silly really. Two hours away. It’s one of those things where you think you have so much time. But you really don’t.  My grandma(my dad’s mom) will be 88 in December. I need to see her more. Watching the girls fold into her warm embrace is something they need to feel more. How much longer will we have these four generations.

But it’s one of those things. You know how you are closer to the moms family than the dads family? I guess it is where the effort is made. You know what I mean? So I hadn’t seen my dad’s brothers in six years and yet they walked in and I made this weird connection with them from across the room because my god I look like them. I look like all of these people. I’ve never looked like my mom. And it was like I could see my future, my skin, my hair, my hands, my eyes, my voice..all of it wrapped up in these people..and it brought this strange calm that even though it had been way too long since I had seen them..that we were still family and had this amazing connection and always would. The hugs were warm and familiar. The conversation easy. The jokes the same. And funny.

Next time it won’t be so long.

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Anyway, this was just a lot of rambling to basically say – it’s my dad’s birthday today.  I’ve written about him here and here  and here. He’s a pretty amazing guy and sometimes I cannot believe how much he loves his daughter. I never feel quite that deserving.

 

It’s one of those things – you know shopping for a guy…you never know what to get him..so I would love it if you would leave a little love and comment wishing my dad(Aubie) a happy birthday today(November 8th). I mean you do only get to turn 67 once in your life.

 

Love you, Dad! I hope your day is fabulous..just like you. xoxo

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