Like A Bad Line From Frozen

My hair – graying and thinning and splitting at the ends – gave me away last week. Well I thought it gave my age away – but instead my four year old helped me once again look on the brighter side and gave me pause like a bad line from the movie Frozen. “Mama, did Elsa freeze you?” And while that was a lovely thought – gray streaks caused by a princess – I had to instead tell her the truth that most of my gray can probably be directly attributed to her and her sisters. And sure, maybe my age.

 

So I tweeted our little conversation. And like anything Frozen related – people loved it. NickMom and HuffPo even included me in their funniest parental tweets last week.

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Which sure – fame and no fortune is fabulous – but what our little discussion did do was make me finally call my stylist and get an appointment THAT DAY! So now I’m no longer streaked with magic. Which is a win for this lady but a lose for the Astrid who now thinks that I’ve never met Elsa.

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Things that also happened last week – The Listen To Your Mother 2014 videos are NOW LIVE! Yes, you too can stay up four nights in a row living the magic from the LTYM stories. You will laugh and cry and nod and share.  And maybe also eat a Ho-Ho or two if you watch mine. (Wow I look so angry in the still frame…).

I also did a podcast for The Blogging Betties last week. I talked about blogging for a long time, how to recharge your writing, training for marathons, producing a LTYM show, and waved ‘hi’ to my stalker – who still reads me. “Hi hon!” I love what the Blogging Betties do – sharing tips, tricks and advice on how to manage a blog and social media. They are a kick-ass group of professional bloggers.

 

Also – my post – 12 signs you are in menopause struck a chord with many people. Many hot and bitchy people – my tribe. I love you. It was picked up my HuffPost 50 – which once you are on the HuffPost 50 site – well you are pretty much in menopause.

 

I’ll be offline much of the week as I’m visiting my parents and attending a work conference. I hope you are enjoying your summer.

 

And with that – I leave you with cat pictures.

cute-internet-cats

xo

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How To Prioritize

I ran-hobbled down the basement stairs and grabbed a load of laundry from the dryer and transferred the next load in before carrying the heavy pile of clean clothes back up the stairs. I was still in my running shoes and clothes with my fuel and water belt strapped around my waist. As I was walking in the back door from my 18 mile training run I realized that I had left a wet load of laundry sit all night.

 

Typically when I come in from my long training runs I slip my shoes off, unsnap my fuel belt, pour a big glass of water, and lean into the kitchen counter to catch my breath.

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But last week, catching my breath seemed nearly as impossible as a ‘spa day’ or ‘lunch with a girlfriend’ or ‘shopping for new spring sandals in Milan.’

 

Last week was one of those weeks when you look at the calendar on Sunday and scan your eyes to the next Sunday and just hope that you make it through and it all comes together. That you don’t forget a child somewhere, that your four year old doesn’t mind sitting for hours for days as you have to bring them for work hours, volunteer hours, class hours, that you don’t disappoint someone because you just could not do it all, and my personal pet-peeve  – that you are late.

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And somehow – at 4pm yesterday when I walked in the door from the last ‘thing’ that was expected of all of us – we survived the week. And the last thing I wanted to do(all week really) was open my computer. Instead last night I poured a large cup of coffee, piled the two kids that were home on my lap, put blanket after blanket on us, and I took a nap while they happily damaged their brains watching Sam & Cat episodes OnDemand. It was bliss.

 

May is hard(I know, not May yet), but this still counts. From recitals, end of school projects, field trips, cleaning, wardrobe transitioning, school carnivals, yard work  and cleaning-up crap from the snow, finalizing camps, my own things – Listen To Your Mother, work, writing, making sure there are groceries and toilet paper, marathon training – life is busier than usual and we are surviving week by week and day by day.

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And I need to look at my own priorities or nothing will get done that should get done.

1. Family – Jed and the kids and all the school needs. Also the cat. It’s Astrid’s last year at home before school. If that means I play animal bingo 453 times a day until September, well that will be my priority.

2. Home – food and toilet paper and vacuuming and making it a relatively nice place to inhabit. I find that if I let our home go – it messes with my mind and overall happiness. I want to be here. I want to exhale when I enter our place. Lately I just want to slam the door and find another house that feels better.

3. Work – many of you probably don’t know I have a full-time job because I keep it separate from my blog and writing. But I do. With real hours and money. This is getting busier and it is what helps us have fun things as well as food – and my focus MUST be here before the blog – so I kind of think my focus is changing a lot as I put not only my time but more of my heart in what’s important. We have some pretty aggressive financial goals this year and this is where my focus needs to be.

4. Me – what feeds me right now – marathon training. I’m running a lot – nearly 60 miles last week and this will hopefully continue as long as I’m healthy and injury free. Working on LTYM – working with other writers, sponsors and our charity to give back. Friends. I miss having time for friends.

5. Taking pictures – I have the heart and equipment to do more with this. I need to carve out time. I’ve been saying this for nearly five years – and each year I say “THIS is the year!” and it’s not.

6. The blog and social media – I will still write(on paper)(on a word document) and submit other places – but I’m not sure what I’m going to have time on a regular basis here when I look at everything that comes above it. And maybe all these beautiful things always did come above this – but I wasn’t aligned with my own priorities – so I have words here but a house that is uncomfortably messy and too many email apologies to others for not getting a project done.

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I want the luxury of hobbling in after a long run knowing it’s okay to just lean and breathe at the counter for a moment. I want less emergency-I forgot trips to the laundry room and less last minute cereal and milk meals because life is too busy to slow down and focus on what I really should be doing. And if that means more silence here – than I need to have peace with that. And after this week of waytoomuch – I do.

 

But right now I need to get off of here and find a good and easy Bavarian cream recipe because I promised to make homemade eclairs for Eloise’s class tomorrow. WHY?????

 

Do you ever think and change and tweak your priorities. What comes first for you right now?

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My Writing Process

A beautiful chain-letter of writing has been circling the internet for the past few months. Typically, I’m not a fan of memes or chain letters, and I’m certain I’ve brought bad luck upon my family for not forwarding recipes to my seven best friends, or deleting emails I was suppose to give to 10 amazing women in my life, or hurt my child somehow by not mailing a book or something to eight of her friends.

 

But this chain intrigued me. As a blogger(and a writer) I love to learn more about my favorite writers and how they write exactly – their process, what they are working on, how they write, why they write, and how the hell are they so damn brilliant when some days I truthfully would rather watch a marathon of made for Netflix series than to even open my computer. Do others ever feel that way?

 

So I’ve been reading about writing processes and learning a lot, nodding my head in ‘yeah I do that too’ and taking notes on some brilliant ideas that they have shared.

 

I was honored when Denise of Universal Grit asked me to share my writing process next. I met Denise through our essays for This Is Childhood. I’ve been honestly overwhelmed being grouped with these amazing women and writers as their words humble me yet push me to write more and better.

 

So with that – I give you my writing process:

1. What am I working on?

Sadly not much lately. After writing a lot over the past six months I honestly am very busy right now with my co-production/direction of the Listen To Your Mother Show in the Twin Cities. I am actually reading an original piece for the show – so I did write that! I also have several essays in draft form that I need to revisit when I have the time as they are topics I really want to explore more. I’m finding that right now this isn’t a great time to write – the kids are busy, work is busy, Jed is busy, Spring is busy – that writing for me has hit the back burner hard this season.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I consider myself a blogger more than a writer – but I hope I do a decent job with both? I don’t know. This question is hard because I don’t feel like I’m different or stand-out from others – but what I do write is real – it’s me – and it will always be more for me(and my kids) than for you. Is that weird?

3.  Why do I write what I do?

I started my blog because I wanted to capture moments of what our lives are right now. Right here. And as a way to make connections. I’ve always tried to be transparent in my writing – but it’s hard sometimes because of the feeling of being less-than or judged. My worst days are when my husband receives a phone call from a family member questioning me or my decision to write what I do. Like it’s not okay to be vulnerable. But I think we can’t be strong without being vulnerable. I hope through my writing that my daughters will see and know that it’s okay to share and just be themselves. Worrying about what other people think will always kill your creativity and joy.

IMG_4105-0014. How does my writing process work?

Ha! What’s that? My process goes something like this…pay very close attention here as you will learn to better your process…

4:45 come up with brilliant story idea while out running

5:15 return home and forget brilliant story idea

5:30 pour coffee and remember story idea

5:32 sit down to write but open facebook

6:15 still on facebook

6:25 oh…pinterest…instagram….twitter…

6:35 read other blogs. think that I’ll never write anything that great…

6:40 brilliant story idea is not so brilliant

6:45 wake-up kids

8:00 wave good-bye to two kids after the last hour of DOING ALL THE THINGS FOR THE KIDS

8:05 stare at third child who is staring back at you. tell her that mommy needs to write for awhile – so just go play.

8:15 realize child will not go play. plan something to do that will exhaust her so she takes an afternoon nap.

9:00 go to zoo. try to act like I love the zoo

12:00 lunch of mac-n-cheese eaten right off the plate of my child because she ate like four noodles and just lives off of air.

12:30 child settles down to rest/nap/watch a show/generally just let MOMMY WORK for two hours

12:35 sit down to write

12:40 open facebook

12:45 “Mommy I’m bored.”

12:50 close computer, snuggle with child, fall asleep

2:30 SHIT – the other kids are getting home soon

2:35-3:15 do ALLTHETHINGS FOR THE HOUSE – laundry, kitchen, sweeping, bathrooms, prep dinner

3:15 kids home – ALLTHEHOMEWORK

4:00 cook all the dinner

5:00 eat dinner

5:30 shuttle allthekids to alltheactivities

7:30 get home from alltheactivities

8:00 littlest bedtime late tonight because of alltheactivities

8:30 big kids bedtime

8:35 sit down to write amazing story that maybe really is still amazing

8:40 check facebook

8:45 fall asleep on the couch

fade to black…

Next week the writing process continues with my sisters from another mister. Since nepotism is alive and well in the blogging-world -I am asking Galit Breen and Vikki Reich to share their writing stories. I love them both so much that I could dedicate hundreds of blog posts just to them – if I ever found the time to write. But they both have inspired me – as mothers and as writers to dedicate time to both amazing crafts(motherhood and writing), and I hope we are old and cranky and still hanging out together when we are 85.

 

Be sure to check-out their posts next Monday, April 28th.

 

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10 Things To Do Instead Of Blogging

10 things I’ve done this week instead of blogging…

 

1. Drank my body weight in Prosecco at our Listen To Your Mother cast gathering, and laughed HARD with about 20 of the most amazing and talented women I’ve ever met. Prosecco wasn’t required to laugh so hard, but it makes my very introverted self talk to all of the people. listen-to-your-mother

2. Ate a peep cupcake. Or two. It’s Peep Week over at Vikki’s place and she merrily and kindly baked Peep cupcakes for my kids. So I ate them.

peeps

3. Astrid is on Spring Break so we went to the zoo to see the farm babies for Easter. It was 19 degrees, snowing and cold. I didn’t really take any pictures because I had decided to put my winter gear away – so I was hiking out there in a spring coat and no mittens and I lost feeling in all extremities. Also, I hadn’t been to the zoo during a weekday in years and it turns out everyone at the zoo on a Monday is four and under – which is just not an age group we associate with much anymore. I forgot how crazy two year olds are and why I don’t have one anymore and don’t want one anymore or why I’m not a preschool teacher. So then we went to the bar to be with older people. Okay, maybe not the bar..but Starbucks for a coffee and nice conversation. And then to the Minneapolis Institute of Art to look at paintings. Astrid needs to sit to “admire them fully” as she now says. It is nice and quiet there.

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4. Saw Muppets Most Wanted – WORST MOVIE EVER. Even worse than The Lego Movie. Astrid and I both fell asleep. When it was over Astrid even said “I’m so sorry mommy for making you go to this.”  I haven’t yet forgiven her.

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5. Running. I’m in full-on marathon training right now. Getting up at 3:30 again to do some long runs(18-20 miles) and frankly this makes me nap most of the day. My legs are working a lot more than my mind and my fingers these days.

 

6. Watching the final Dance Moms episode before the “Moms Tell All” next week! Oh Abby – this season has been a HUGE train wreck. I just don’t even know where to start. When not watching Dance Moms – I am at dance. All three girls are dancing a lot this year and loving it. I used to bring work with me to do while they were in class – now I bring a coffee and People magazine BECAUSE I CAN.

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7. Buying all of the Easter candy. I just realized yesterday that Easter is this weekend! Hopefully our egg hunt won’t be in the snow. Hopefully I won’t eat all of the chocolate before Saturday night and then have to go back out to buy more.

 

8. Texting my mother. Seriously, someone from my mom’s cell phone texted me with a “Hi.” And I was all like “Who is this and what did you do with my mother??” She’s still resistant to the whole thing – but I think she’ll like it. She just needs a better phone because she cannot see our emojis on her 1978 brick phone.

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9. Browsing Petfinder looking for a cat friend for Truffle. I know we don’t really need another cat..but we WANT another cat. Maybe 50 more cats. In the meantime I just go look at the hundreds in our area that need homes and cry a little. The other four people in this home are pushing for a dog. I don’t want a dog because I’m the one home all day and just really don’t want to have that responsibility, and I can’t keep this house clean as it is. However, I said “Sure, we can get a dog as soon as the four of you pick up after yourselves every single day for six months, don’t moan when I give you chores, and take over the bathroom cleaning.” Since none of this has been done since my announcement this week – I’m assuming we will get a dog oh in about NEVER. But it’s not my fault.

 

10. Filing taxes. Being self-employed is all unicorns, rainbows, and good wine until tax day.

 

What have you been up to? I’ve missed you.

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Six Years Of Blogging And Now A Book

My six year blogging anniversary passed quietly last week. Celebrating my six year ‘blogiversary’ is kind of like how I handled my 45th birthday – locked in the bathroom alone with a glass of red and a dark chocolate bar as I pondered what I’ve really accomplished.

 

I started my blog as a blog. It had five readers and I shared silly, daily stories of my girls and cats. It grew to something a little bit more as I shared stories of loss and hope and I found my voice in humor.

 

After six years of blogging – fame and fortune have not come my way – except for that one viral post that made me step back and be quite comfortable really without fame and fortune.

 

Actually, blogging has given me something much better than fame and fortune – it’s given me friends and the ability to be fearless.

 

And blogging has made me become a writer.

 

Six years ago – or even three years ago I would never say “I’m a writer.” Me, who went to school for business and engineering and took many math and economics classes, and took only speech and debate as my required and very painful English class.

 

I wasn’t always adverse to English classes. I was a voracious reader as a child and kept a journal since I was eight years old. During high school I filled notebooks with poems about asshole guys ,and I submitted short stories to magazine contests.

 

Until that year of AP English when my teacher sucked all the joy out of reading, appreciating good literature, and creative writing. I sat in the back of the class refusing to participate, listen or engage. I wanted every book to burned, every piece of paper to be shredded, and every English class in the world to cease immediately. That’s how much she made me hate literature and the beauty and power of words.

 

I was an A+ student and near the top of my class, and I still smile when I see that string of Ds on my report card from that year of AP English.

 

However, I still remember the one and only assignment I completed for her. The assignment was to write a personal essay about a difficult time in our lives. At first I resisted – because completing an assignment for her was like cleaning my room when my mom asked me to. I was 17 and liked to push her buttons just like any adult who told me what to do. I told her that I had nothing to write about and did not turn in my assignment. I still remember her coming over to my desk, kneeling down to be eye to eye with me, and saying “I’m giving you 24 hours to turn something in. Just try doing this – not for me – but for you. Don’t make me fail you because you’ve failed yourself.”

 

That evening I sat in my room with some nameless punk music blaring and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote about something very personal until my hand hurt and tears smeared the ink on my papers. I turned that first draft as my final paper into her that next day. The pages that were frayed, smudged, and with some margins filled in with edits – just like my life at the time. Imperfect and feeling still so incomplete.

 

Two days later she passed our essays back to us. I expected my usual ‘D’ as I did appreciate her effort to not fail me in her class, as god knows she wanted to see me again next year even less than I wanted to see her.

 

But instead there was a big red ‘A’ on the top of the page. Along with a note “Tracy, see what you can do when you write from your heart.”

 

And I find that still today – the best writing comes from my heart – and no, it won’t be with the best grammar or spelling, but it will always be me.

 

Which is why I’m thrilled to announce today that my words are in a book.

 

A little over a year ago, two amazing women came up with a writing series called “This Is Childhood.” They invited eight of us to join them to celebrate each year from age one to age 10.

 

I wrote about seven. My Esther at seven.

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Well Brain Child Magazine picked up our series of essays and has published them in a journal that launches today. This journal includes not only our essays of childhood, but also provides pages for parents to write their own thoughts as their children experience the joy (and the hard) of just being kids. It gives parents a place to write from their heart. Which is where all of our best writing comes from.

 

However, for me, being included in this book is just the frosting on the cake. The cake is made up of many layers of love from getting to know the nine other authors and moms. Over the past year they’ve become friends, mentors, and women I admire more than anything. They are brave, beautiful, and giving. I’m so grateful that blogging has given me the gift of incredibly talented ‘writerly’ friends, who don’t think my words aren’t worth publishing because I am ‘just a blogger.’

This Is Childhood cover

I stand among greatness my friends…

 

So thank you Allison – whom I’ve know the longest – for your friendship, your support in this endeavor, your brilliant writing, and the daily laughs and tears we have in this strange on-line space.

 

Lindsey, whose writing makes me want to write more. Her honestly and emotional availability and wisdom and talent come through in everything she writes. I’ve loved getting to know her and her beautiful family more.

 

Galit, my Minnesota sister and a ‘co-bringer’ of Listen To Your Mother to our fair state. We’ve become close, forever friends, and her writing will always inspire me to be more. I do not have the words to express my love for her. Also, she’s made me ‘almost’ like dogs.

 

Nina, another Minnesota friend. I’ve admired Nina’s writing for years, but now we are ‘in real life’ friends and I am forever grateful for her talents, kindness, honesty, and advice.

 

Denise  – whom I met through the ‘This Is Childhood’ series, and I am overwhelmed by her writing experiences and talents, and would follow her writing to the ends of the earth if she’d let me..in a non-stalkerish way of course.

 

Aidan – another mom of three girls and a truly beautiful soul. I admit to reading her blog archives because she is a master at her craft and deserves to be published everywhere. I’m honored to have my words close to hers. Also, I want to live in Manhattan.

 

Kristen’s writing inspires me, makes me think, and makes me want to hug her daily for asking the hard questions in a beautiful way. Her heart comes through in her essays in a way I can only dream of doing.

 

Bethany makes me laugh and cry and share with every word she writes. Her talents are immense and she almost..almost..makes me want to have a house full of boys. Almost. I find myself nodding along with her essays and wishing we could take a long run together. There would be so much laughter that just writing about that run makes me want to hop on a plane and show-up on her doorstep in a sparkly running tutu.

 

Amanda. Oh Amanda. Don’t tell her but I want to be her neighbor. I have these strange dreams of living next door to her, our six girls playing in the yard, our husbands enjoying a few beers together, while I run my fingers through her hair. OMG, I mean while we discuss life and writing, everything because I think we’re meant to be friends forever, and her words have forever changed me.

 

No matter what happens with  my writing and my blog. Whether I am published again, or I take my blog down before the 7th anniversary – I will always be grateful to count these women(and many others) as friends who’ve inspired me, challenged me, laughed and cried with me, and celebrated good things like being published in a book. SERIOUSLY GUYS, WE ARE IN A BOOK!

 

Buy it.

 

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About That Blogging Every Day

In case you missed it. I did not blog this weekend. And here after I promised you that I would blog each and every day in 2014.

 

our house

But here’s the thing. Esther turned nine on Friday and the thought of burying her birthday, her face, her joyful jumps and a celebration of her just seemed so wrong.

 

And while we did fun things and had a lovely weekend – there was nothing I wanted to write or post or capture that trumped our celebration of Esther.

 

How could I bury this on my little blog? And yes friends in Florida, this is the road in front of our home from November til March. Pavement is an urban legend.

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So I did not write this weekend. I wanted Esther front and center for as long as possible. It seemed like the right thing to do.

 

I’ve enjoyed blogging every day for the past two months. And yes, I made it for exactly two months. It’s given me the motivation to really write every day, to get my camera out more, and to dig deeper for stories for share. The exercise of blogging every day has been amazing.

 

But it’s also hurt me. Because of the burying of posts. Some posts, some writing, some photos – but most importantly – some people deserve a heck of a lot more than 24 hours.

 

So as I sat down to write on Saturday, all I did instead was stare at Esther’s sweet and joyful face at the top of the page, and I stopped typing and just took her in. And let her stay there. She needed a longer celebration and nothing I would write could outweigh her coming into our lives nine years ago. A three week early surprise of laboring all night, a placental abruption, an emergency ride to the hospital, to a c-section before I could barely get undressed, to a chubby and healthy baby girl in my arms.

 

And with Esther, and then Astrid’s miraculous arrival almost five years later making us the family that we are… well keeping my computer closed and just enjoying the five of us in our house during this(hopefully) very very cold last weekend of below zero temperature seemed like the right thing to do.

 

Blogging every day has given me the discipline to write more and realize that I do have stories worth telling. But living every day has given me the grace to know when it’s better to just let our stories happen while keeping my hands busy wrapped around my children instead of typing on a page.

 

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More Cat In The Hat

We have a crazy weekend – but I still need to blog every day – so I’m going to delight you with more pictures of Truffle in his beret. He’s saying “Bonjour.” Or “Fuck you.” I’m not exactly sure which…

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…so I’m grateful for the following things…

- That cats cannot talk

-That American Girl Doll clothing fits our cat perfectly

-That our cat is super nice

-That our cat is also super forgiving and doesn’t kill us in our sleep

-That he will sit still for pictures

-That he loves treats

-That I talk about how busy we are but I still find time to dress-up my cat

-That we have a cat

-That Jed doesn’t think I’m a crazy cat lady when I put a beret on our cat

-That berets exist

 

Happy Caturday!

 

Do you dress-up your pets? Please tell me yes. Or tell Jed yes. Or just lie to me.

 

 

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Well THAT Was An Interesting Week

Well I’ve had an interesting week. One I’ve been trying to write about, but the words seem to fail me. Or they are just wrong. Or not as meaningful or deep as they are suppose to be. So I walk away from the internet and start putting hats on my cat. I’m not even kidding.

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This week I’ve had bad words thrown at me and good words offered to me with incredible kindness. I’ve had letters full of ugliness and letters from strangers saying “me too” and “thank you for speaking up for us.”  Some strangers were 15 and some were 50.

 

I’ve had friends write posts about their struggles – and the silent struggles of moms just like us.

 

And it’s time that we aren’t quiet anymore. Or ashamed. Or just a statistic that we brush under the carpet and pretend that what we experience doesn’t exist.

 

I’ve heard radio stations talk about ME – when they think that I’m not listening or didn’t bother to do their homework to find out that maybe I’m in their backyard and they could CALL ME to discuss. Or maybe they’re afraid I’d come whack them with the pillow.

 

And the thing about everyone thinking they now know you because of your 800 words that went around the world – it takes what you feel and say when you felt strong enough to voice it, and it takes every layer of skin off of your body and leaves you naked and bleeding and exposed, and you spend awhile hunkered down thinking you may never get up again and maybe you should not have sent those words out – but sometime at about day three, you get up and get dressed and your heart grows about three sizes because of the people who matter, and you come out on the other side feeling even stronger than you did when you first wrote those words. And you think of about 2000 more words that you want to write because you were right to say those words. And no one can take your voice away. Also you write run-on sentences.

 

So today – I talked to people. I had a radio interview on our Top 40 station this morning - KDWB. It’s my kids’ favorite station and now I’ve probably ruined it for them because they interviewed THEIR MOTHER! It was not a great interview as it was at 7:15am and we were having a burnt waffle/lost hair bow/I need help with my homework/WHERE’S MY BOOT/Mommy I can’t find any undies kind of morning and on our way to missing the bus.

 

And then this afternoon I was on HuffPost Live, which was super fun and I met some great co-panelist. It was kind of awkward to do though as when you’re talking the screen goes white so I never knew where to look because there were no people to look at. Next time I have to remember to just stare at the white and pretend there are people.

And my internet stalker is back. Have I told you about my stalker. Well that’s a very long story for another day…

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Happy, Shiny Things NOW!

I’m blogging every single day in 2014 so I have to post today. But the internet has blown up, and I’m working all day, and my brain is not processing things well enough for me to make a coherent sentence. Maybe ever again.

 

But I’m touched by all of the wonderful people in the world. And am grateful that we all don’t agree with each other. Because it keeps life interesting. Even when grown-ups call you names. I cannot imagine calling another grown-up a name. And my kids would be in some serious trouble if they ever called anyone a bad name. And they are children.

 

But I guess this means I will never learning. Because some of the names I had to look up. Some were juvenile. Thank goodness as I’ve heard them. And some made me snort. Like terrorist. I hope my kids never feel like they can sit behind a screen and judge others that they really don’t know. Or even judge others that they do know. Or forget that most(almost all) of the time it’s best to just click away. And be respectful. Because we are all humans with feelings. And while we all have the right to be heard. We don’t have to ever choose to be unkind. And we will never, ever choose to be terrorists. I mean sometimes I think my cat might be a terrorist because he looks guilty – A LOT. But I’m not 100% sure about my theory. But I truly believe and KNOW that almost all the world is good. People are good.

 

So today – for my 32nd post of the year – ONE MONTH DOWN, ELEVEN TO GO – I’m posting a picture of Jed and Astrid on a motorcycle. Jed’s dream is to get motorcycles with sidecars for both of us so we can take the kids around the world before they maybe don’t like us anymore.

motorcycle-sidecar

And truthfully right now that sounds pretty damn good.

 

Shiny, happy, terrorist-free Saturday, my friends and foes!

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So Much To Talk About This Week!

It’s suppose to be -24 on Monday morning. Actual temperature. Windchill will be about -786. Totally tolerable in my humble opinion and school should go on as planned. But I’m already preparing for another ‘snow day‘ and having the kids at home. Which is why I am still considering dropping them at Galit’s house.

 

Or I could just stay home and look at my daughter’s beautiful face.

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Jed and I(okay, maybe I’m still bitchy) are having a tough week. I would like to blame it on 1. Sure, maybe I’m bitchy and 2. One toilet in the house and 3. We’ve spent way too much time indoors this winter. Because COLD! We need more tolerable snow days to get outside and play. 4. Also, I might be bitchy because one toilet, the cold, too much time indoors. So I’m trying not to let it bother me and to accept his compliments even when I’m feeling gross and stinky.

 

I wrote an essay this week about one of the houses I lived in when I was little. It’s strange, the details you remember about a house from when you were only five years old. Sometimes I wonder what my kids will remember about the houses of their lives. And about how much this current house means to them – the only home Esther and Astrid have known. When I get mad at our house for being broken or old and too small-ish – I need to remember that children don’t care about any of that. It’s the people inside the house that matter.

 

But Eloise will probably only remember that we never let her have a guinea pig.

 

Since it’s the season to stay in – we are reading a lot. I just finished one of my dear friend’s books. Jennie – from A Lady In France just published her first book. It’s a stunning memoir of her incredible and extraordinary life spent all over the world, and her journey of faith. I yearn for the day when I can sit down with her in her home in France and have her tell me the stories of her life. I love Jennie dearly – and now her book has made me even closer to her.  Maybe I’m peeking in her kitchen window right now.

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You need a copy of her book – maybe two or three. A Lady in France is available on Amazon in paperback or for your Kindle.

 

And if you are looking to work on your photography this year – I highly recommend following along Alison and Greta’s 52 week #ThroughTheLensThursday project. They are fun and easy weekly prompts and you can join in anytime!

 

One more thing – my friend Alexandra has published a beautiful and important piece on the Huffington Post about How Our Society Raises Young Boys. I suggest popping over there today.

 

AND one more week to submit your stories on motherhood for our Twin Cities Listen To Your Mother Show. We would be honored if you shared your words with us. xo

 

Happy Saturday!

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Why I’m Blogging Every Single Day In 2014

I’m sorry.

 

That I’m probably driving you crazy.

 

If you subscribe to my blog you are probably unsubscribing BECAUSE SO MANY EMAILS. AND THINGS TO READ.

 

And for that I am sorry.

 

But I have decided to blog every day in 2014. I’ve been afraid to write this. Say this aloud. Or even whisper it in a friend’s ear. Or even think it inside of my own head. Because of possible and easy failure.

 

But there, it’s out there. I’m blogging every day in 2014. 365 posts.

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Some long, some short, some stories, some pictures. But it’s doubtful you will get recipes or craft ideas. If you start seeing craft ideas you know I’ve lost my mind and it’s time to stage an intervention and tell me to stop blogging completely. Take away my computer and my glue gun. Also if I start talking about Pinterest. Don’t let me talk about Pinterest. But just to make you crazy I’m including a pinnable image in this post.  Because I CAN!

 

Some things you will find boring. Silly. Why is she even filling space with this drivel?! And some I hope will be decent writing. Very decent. Good even. Share-worthy even. Because that’s mainly why I’m doing this. Just like photography – to take great pictures you first need to take more pictures..and I firmly believe that to become a better writer – well, you need to write more.

 

And in 2014 I’m doing both. So why not use my little blog to write and share pictures and stories with you all -  and at times just bore the crap out of you.

 

But I promise to never share crafts.

 

Maybe one or two recipes because I’m desperate. But never a craft.

 

And maybe to fill the space on a Saturday I will have to recap what I’ve written that week. Or maybe this will allow you to just read me once per week and you can stop hating me for blogging every single ding-dong day in 2014.

 

So here’s what’s going down…

 

I told you about the Happy Wives Club’s new book being released – and this was a perfect follow-up for my  on being vulnerable that was also  syndicated on BlogHer and now published on The Huffington Post. 

 

I’ve started Tumblr-ing about Po the Panda with Eloise.  If you like Pandas – follow us there. If you don’t like pandas, well we are no longer friends. Unfollow.

 

We have put out our annual call of submissions for Listen To Your Mother – Twin Cities. We want your words!

 

I’m trying to enjoy the messy corners of our lives..and appreciate the clutter and the people who hang so near to me.

 

And how to survive cold weather running and that I’m thankful it was cold enough to do the “throw boiling water in the air to turn it to vapor” trick!

 

And finally - Astrid’s eyelids are not orange.

 

So that, in a nutshell, is why I’ve been writing so much lately. May I call it writing and not blogging? Maybe a mix of both.

 

Only 354 posts to go….

** Taking inspiration from the blogging every.single.day  in 2013 superstar Casey from Life With Roozie.

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I’ll Tumblr 4 Ya

Eloise and I have set-up a Tumblr account. Some of you(Mom) are probably now asking “What’s a tumbr account?” And my response to that is “I really have no clue!” Really I don’t. But it seems to be some place where you can just set up an account and then post pictures or short stories or something. It’s like “quick blogging” or something like that. And then you can follow and comment on other tumblr accounts.

 

Or maybe tumblr is nothing like that and I don’t know what I’m doing. Yes, this is probably what the real story is. I have no idea what tumblr is. But I’m using it anyway. Kind of like my iPhone that I only text, take pictures, and email on. Turns out there are these things called apps though that I know nothing about. Jed likes to lecture me about how I don’t use my technology to it’s full capabilities. To which I respond “huh?”

 

So we are on tumblr. And again I don’t know what it is. But there are people who post adorable and hilarious cat pictures…so truly it doesn’t matter what tumblr is as long as there are cute cat pictures! Also, does tumblr know that tumblr is spelled incorrectly? Or is it spelled wrong on purpose and it stands for something? These are things that I ponder as I post pictures of pandas.

 

Because THAT is why we have a tumblr account.

 

PANDAS!

 

Specially Po The Giant Panda that I cannot stop blogging about. So now I’m going to stop blogging about him and tumblr him instead. Is that a verb? I dunno.

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Eloise and I have set-up this Tumblr(is tumblr suppose to have a capital ‘T’?) account where we will post daily pictures and short blurbs about The Life Of Po The Panda.  I think you can follow us or like us there or something. Maybe you can’t. I really don’t know. But pandas make life better – so you need to follow us to improve your life.

 

Eloise just wanted to post cute pictures of Po in our home. But I want to take him places and take pictures out and about to post. Like to Target or out for coffee..and I was all like “Isn’t that a great idea, Eloise! Let’s take Po places!” and in typical tween fashion, Eloise said “Um, okay but you can just do that without me there…”

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She is so not fun. How is that embarrassing? I mean it’s a giant panda. Who would laugh about a giant panda at Target? No one I say!

 

So follow or like us or ignore us or tumblr with us. Or just sing the new Culture Club tune “I’ll tumblr 4 ya” with me every time you go on tumblr.

 

Or do nothing. Just nothing. Because you hate pandas. Don’t be a panda-hater. Tumblr with us.

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Breaking News

“Dude, the lady who just blew by us is like older than my f*ck*ng mom!!!”

 

That’s what I heard at about mile 11 when I did blow by two young and adorable men who were hurting by that time as they went out too fast.

 

And I should’ve turned around and yelled “DAMN STRAIGHT – EAT MY DUST BOYS!” But I just giggled and kept on sprinting.

 

I ran a half-marathon on Saturday but have no idea what my real time was as there was a chip failure which has caused about 7000 people to be pretty bummed out. But based on my finish time and how long it took me to cross the start – I think I did about a 1:54 – which is acceptable but not a PR for me. Well, a PR since I hit 40 years old – but back in my early 30s I could do a 1:42. I had also forgotten how easy a half feels after a full. I started out slow and comfortable and wisely lined up with the 9:30 people and had a very fun race. But by mile 8 I was bored and had a lot left in me so I sped up. And by mile 10 I passed the 2 hour pacer pack and did yell at the pacer holding the sign that he better not catch me. And I kept increasing my speed and passed the 1:55 pacer by mile 12. And also several young men in their 20s. Also I passed six Supermen, four pigs, 15 Waldos, and a few zombies.

 

Did I mention I was also running in costume? Watching nearly 7000 adults wearing Halloween costumes while running 13 miles is bound to bring a smile to the crowds along the way.

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But I was still bummed out that these young men saw me as older than their mom. I assume this means I will never get carded again.  But 12 hours later and some good lighting(DARK) and lots of make-up and a few glasses of wine can make you look pretty much okay. And everyone is smiling at a wedding. And I don’t mind looking like a mom in a nice dress. I mean, at least I don’t have a gray beard.

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(A night out to celebrate Vikki and Luisa’s wedding!)

But after a night of looking pretty and not feeling so mom-like but actually young and fun-like(even though getting home by 11pm sounds awesome no matter what), when you have to wake at 5am the next morning to be on the news and you have to be in make-up and a dress that looks pressed – well things go downhill pretty quickly.

 

Here’s a segment I did for a local news station here VERY EARLY ON SUNDAY MORNING. Watch with a friend and make it a drinking game. Drink when I say the word “SUPER!” and I promise you’ll be drunk before my 4 minute segment is over.

 

SUPER!

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Get Involved – Johnson & Johnson Care To Recycle Program

It’s easy as we cook each day – use a can of soup, a jar of peanut butter, a bottle of oil – and when they are empty we rinse them in the sink and sort into our recycling center in kitchen. The kids have known how to do this since they could walk and talk and sort blocks. Recycling in the kitchen is just a given in our home -and in most homes in the nation. Kids also recycle at school – sorting their trays after lunch and putting paper in the correct bin to be recycled in the classroom.

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But what about in the bathroom – the empty toilet paper rolls, the soap boxes, the bottles of shampoos and body wash? Some jaw-dropping statistics on how we do not treat bathroom recyclables that same as we do in the kitchen…

**Currently in the United States, 7 out of 10 Americans say they consistently recycle. However, only 1 in 5 Americans consistently recycle in the bathroom. Many consumers don’t even realize that most products commonly used in the bathroom can be recycled.

**This can have a major impact on the environment: Each year, Americans throw away enough 15-oz. shampoo bottles to fill 1,164 football fields—that’s more than 18,000 tons of plastic ending up in landfills.
[Read more...]

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Shhh…I’m Listening

Just Write

 

She jumps around when we walk now – over sidewalk cracks and leaves and branches and probably imaginary hurdles. But she never lets go of my hand. My arms shakes erratically up and down as we stroll but I cannot imagine the alternative which is too still for me to take.

 

Typically as she jumps and walks, she also talks. Or rambles on. She notes nature and dogs passing by or sometimes tells me a story about preschool or shares a personal details of our home life that I didn’t know she quite grasped until it’s voiced. And then I worry about what she shares at school.

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But yesterday she said to me “Mommy, do you know what I love the most about trees?”

 

“Trees?” I asked as again she pulled on my arm as she hurdled over a branch and then a crack and then bent down to inspect a very red leaf. She decided to bring it home and glue it into her notebook.

 

“Yes, trees.” She replied quite certain that I needed to know more about this love for trees. “I love trees because they are such good listeners. When I talk to them they stand tall and still and never move away. Trees are very, very still.”

 

And at that moment she let go of my hand and quite literally went and hugged the closest tree and rubbed her tiny, smooth hands over the rough and damp bark of the old ash tree.

 

As I stood, unmoving, and watched her I wondered if she was implying something. Was I ‘not a tree.’ Was I ‘not still enough.’ Or ‘not tall enough.’ And did I ‘move away’ when she talk.

 

Was I too busy to really listen. Because sometimes she says to me “Mommy, no I want your eyes on me when I’m showing you something so I know you really see me.” Does that mean that sometimes she knows my ears don’t really hear everything.

 

Does she know that sometimes she shares a story while I’m unloading the dishwasher and my “How nice!” and “What a great story.” and “I love that.” are just page fillers to make it seem like I’ve heard it all. Because can I really hear it all? And was I just fooling myself to think that kids really don’t know that we don’t pay attention all of the time? Was I failing in my continuous movement of not taking it all in.

 

And I wondered how I could be more like a tree for her. Can I plant my feet firmly on the floor in front of her to let her know I am strong and tall for her and still. So still. To always hear everything she has to say. Because if she has to say it, well it must be important.

 

As this is coming from someone who says very little. Having trained myself to only speak if it’s of the utmost importance – almost emergency like and even in an emergency I wonder if I could shout as I would hate to bother people. And with my quiet nature – I listen a lot. So it shocks me to hear that maybe I still don’t listen enough.

 

And maybe her comment has nothing to do with me. Maybe she just likes trees and sometimes just needs a strong, still, tall tree to talk to.

 

Don’t we all.

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“You’re A Work Outside The Home Dad? What DO You Do All Day?”

It’s happened twice this week, and they were both men. They ought to have bigger balls than that, but men – you know men – they never know better. You know, because they are men.

 

Yesterday, as I was exiting the yoga studio and a man approached me.

 

“Tracy, How are your kids?”

 

“Great! Doing great – as you can see because they are surrounding me right now!”

 

“Awesome, How about your husband? I suppose he didn’t even take off work for their births, amiright?”

 

“Well he does have a stressful job, and you know, the kids are annoying. And going to work is awesome if that’s what you mean?”

 

“Oh fun! Must be nice not to have to actually care for your children. Like ever!”

 

“Fun? He has to go to work everyday to support our family. So not always fun.”

 

This yoga–stay-at-home-dad questioning my husbands commitment to our family was quite presumptuous and a few other big words that I’d have to look up.

 

The other encounter happened this morning at baby story time. And it was all nice and pleasant as we sang “Head and shoulders knees and toes” but then this dad in a silly graphic t-shirt  just attacked me:

 

“So your husband doesn’t spend anytime with the kids now,eh?”

 

“Doesn’t spend ‘anytime?’ Well, sure he’s busy at work – you know paying for food, but he can be flexible with his hours too because office jobs are kind of a joke.”

 

“Yeah, I just cannot imagine not being at home. I mean what if he misses their first steps. The daddy guilt. My god! What does he do all day without the kids?”

 

“Do? You mean besides having time to stop for a coffee before work, read the paper, hang out at a desk and check his fantasy football stats and hang-out on Facebook all day because he works outside of the home?”

 

“Oh yeah sure – being away from the kids all day is such.hard.work. As if.”

 

“Well look at us – sitting here acting like our kids really care about this shit. I’m sure my husband would just once love to attend story time. But you know, Facebook and sports and long lunches!”

 

The conversation ended before the goodbye song started.

 

Look, I don’t want to rag on men who work inside the home. I understand many of them are forced into it because they made a decision as a family that this situation worked for them. And I know most stay at home dads aren’t assholes or dress like college kids – like these two jerks that I’m talking about behind their backs instead of just laughing about what crap the Daddy-Wars are over a good latte at Starbucks while our kids misbehave.

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But I just can’t sing David Gray’s Babylon and be all happy right now.  I want to have more daddy wars, because I bought a soapbox. Also, I’m a woman, so I want to talk about the daddy wars. Maybe there aren’t really any daddy wars and I’m just making it up for page views. Daddy Wars.

 

This conversation should not be necessary. Why are other men so angry that some men work outside the home to provide for their families and have time to themselves to get away from all of the toddler poop at home? I mean if they tried to spend time with fantasy football stuff at home or took a book to the bathroom, the wife would be bullshit. Are we really one of the first cultures in the world to fail to grasp the glory of not being home all day if you’re a man?

 

The men who completely immerse themselves in the job of working in an office, maybe as an accountant, should be put on a pedestal. We ought to admire them like we admire the men who go to hot yoga on Tuesday mornings. These men are doing something important and we depend on them doing it well so we can have awesome cartoons like Dilbert and bad boss jokes and people can invent things like cubicles. Also Dockers.

 

It’s true – being a working dad isn’t really like being a dad all day – because you don’t see your kids. But if your dad quit his role as an accountant, entire lives would be turn upside down; football chat-rooms would close, happy hour bars would suffer and the ripples of that tragedy would be felt for generations.

 

Yes, my husband is JUST an employee. JUST. He just puts food on the table and a roof over our heads and clothing is a nice bonus. Yes, he is just an employee. Which is sort of like watching a game on Sunday and saying “Hey, it’s just a ball.”

 

Of course not all men can be away from home full-time. It’s one thing to acknowledge that; it’s quite another to paint it as the ideal. It would be like saying children should spend more time with their fathers. This is madness. The more a dad can spend time at work, the better. And honestly, we’d like more expensive clothing.

 

Finally, it’s probably true to say that working outside the home dads have downtime. But let’s not fight about who is busier. Because sometimes I really like that my husband’s not hanging around the house all day asking what I’m doing. Because maybe the kids are watching Sprout and I’m on Facebook.

 

We get a lot of things wrong with our culture. But when all is said and done, and we crumbled into a bottomless pit of self-righteous goo when we point fingers and write blog posts that perpetuate the non-existent Daddy Wars, we are going to regret the way we treated the dads.

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This post is satire in response to a post that went viral last week about stay-at-home moms. So if you didn’t read that post(mom), you probably won’t get this post. So just think it’s funny, get the humor and share like a mofo.

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Old School Blogging – Five Favorite Blogs

I’ve been blogging for nearly six years – which is like 1200 years on the internet. My cat turns three tomorrow so I was just trying to find his approximate human age because my kids wanted to know and I didn’t have the heart to tell them that he’s actually like 30 – because when you are an eight year old girl – it’s really more fun to play with a 3 year old than a 30 year old man. Because a 30 year old who is not your dad is kind of creepy. Anyway, it just made me think of how to calculate internet years because technology moves so fast. Speaking of – did I tell you my mom joined Facebook? Thank god, as emailing her pictures was getting old. Especially since she doesn’t text. So pretty soon I assume she will set-up her own blog.

 

Oh my gosh – I was making cupcakes for the cat’s birthday – but if he’s really 30, will cupcakes be lame?

 

When I first started blogging – okay no..When I realized that I wasn’t the only blogger out there and found out that actual other blogs that existed.. AND found blogs that were better than mine(bitches), it made me want to do a few things…1. Quit blogging because everyone else was just too awesome, 2. Get to know them better and 3. Read them and share them and become BFFs!  Whenever someone asks me “What should I do when I start blogging if I want to grow my blog?” I say “Read other blogs and make friends!”

 

So that is why today, with my sweet friend Elaine from The Miss-Elaine-ous Life, we are celebrating other bloggers with “Old School Blogging!”  I am going to share five of my favorite blogs and we would love for you to do the same – write a post to share some blog love and come back here and link-up with us over the next week or so and find some more blogs to read, love, and perhaps stalk. No, don’t stalk – that’s creepy. Like old-man-cats.

 

Five Of My Favorite Blogs...and there are SOOO many more – but these are my can’t miss each day…

 

Kelcey of The Mama Bird Diaries.  Kelcey is my go-to blog for both humor and heart. What I love the most about Kelcey though is she takes the most ordinary part of a day and makes it into a fabulous, funny and story that you can relate to. That is what really good blogging is in my opinion…not a essay about a feeling or a theme that has been written a gazillion times – give me a snapshot into your day with such a brilliant spin that I check back tomorrow for more. Kelcey is brilliant..and also gorgeous..and an amazing mom of five kids.

 

Stacey of Any Mommy Out There. Oh Stacey. What can I say about Stacey…She’s the writer I will be in my next life. She also takes simple daily happenings and tells her stories with such prose that she makes me weep, laugh and cheer all in one paragraph. I admit that sometimes I just sit and refresh her blog hoping she writes something new – like 80 times per day. Also, we roomed together at BlogHer so I’ve seen her in her underwear and that wasn’t unpleasant. Hee.

 

Alison of Writing, Wishing. Oh Alison. I can’t cover Alison in just 2-3 sentences? I can’t. Alison is a talented storyteller, amazing mom, savvy businesswoman, one of the most supportive people on the internet, and…my friend. One of my dearest friends. I love her. And someday we will meet somewhere between Malaysia and Minnesota. If you read just one blog and get to know just one person in this crazy blogging space – make it Alison. Trust me on this one.

 

Michelle of Scenes From The Wild. I will always put Michelle on my list of favorite blogs. She was the first blog that I read – before I really even understood what a blog was..and I will always read her. Michelle is a gifted writer, photographer, mother, leader, has a brilliant mind and she makes me want to be a better person. She’s also gorgeous, has six amazing children, and she lives her faith every single day. I love her for everything she is and isn’t and I think that sometimes she loves me for being her very irreverent friend.

 

Vikki of Up Popped A Fox. Vikki and I met through Listen To Your Mother and I find we have a lot in common with our love of words, urban living, explicit lyrics, raising kids around the same age, and the same birth year. Vikki writes from her heart with a twist of humor and she keeps me coming back for more stories. Vikki is just real and she makes me think and laugh or cry in nearly every post. Also, she has great hair.

 

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And now it’s YOUR TURN! Write a post and give some love to five of your favorite blogs and come back and link-up with us as we do some Old School Blogging!

 






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