GoldieBlox Empowers Girls Everywhere – Giveaway! #GirlsNeedGoldie

We have had our share of tears over the years. Not sad, feelings hurt kind of tears. Or Mom just can’t do it all and I sit in a puddle in the corner kind of tears. Or toddler doesn’t get her way kind of tears. Or Dad feels left out because he didn’t get new shoes too kind of tears. Although all of those kinds of tears have happened.


No, the biggest reason for tears in our household are those of frustration. Tears of failure. Tears of being even too afraid to try. And I’ll tell you right now that no amount of saying to my children “You can do it!” – is going to make them really just try something again that they’ve failed at or were to afraid to try in the first place.


And I get it. I have 45+ years of experience overcoming some of my own fears and failures. I still get a bit white-knuckled in the winter when the roads are horrible. I still go immediately back to that night that I rolled my car into a ditch while driving in a snowstorm. It took me years to gain back the confidence that I was not a failure at Winter driving – and to know that I could do it again.


One of the fun things about our new house is that we have a zipline in our backyard. I know, right? And the count stood upon moving in that one daughter wanted to do it right away, one wanted to but was a little scared, and one said that there was no way in heck she was going down it. And unfortunately, the one who was timid about it failed in her first, second, and even third attempt to do it on her own and land. Tears, crying, and giving up were her mantra for days, until one day she just did it. And while yes I was proud of her for making it down the zipline on her own – I was more proud of her for getting back out there and continuing to try even after failing.


Did you know that more girls are afraid of failure than boys? Which is one of the reasons that girls give up on STEM related activities so much sooner. Yet failure is learned and not inherited. What every engineer will tell you though, is that failure is what leads to innovation.


That’s why I want to introduce you to GoldieBlox – it gives girls the tools that they need to build and create amazing things – and has character driven stories that keeps them engaged. They believe there are millions of girls out there who are engineers, they just might not know it yet. GoldieBlox is empowering girls everywhere to stay and grow in STEM and challenge themselves while having fun and being creative.


By tapping into girls’ strong verbal skills, our story + construction set bolsters confidence in spatial skills while giving young inventors the tools they need to build and create amazing things.

In a world where men largely outnumber women in science, technology, engineering and math, girls lose interest in these subjects as early as age 8. Construction toys develop an early interest in these subjects, but for over a hundred years, they’ve been considered “boys’ toys.” GoldieBlox is determined to change the equation. We aim to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers.

What we believe is so important in this space are role models — characters that are cool, interesting, smart, and relatable. We’re so glad to have organizations like Techbridge, Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, and the Society of Women Engineers for their work in providing role models and support for women in STEM. We hope that Goldie and her friends provide a vital way to see all the different things that girls can be, and are inspiring examples for girls and boys alike.


Ironically enough – my girls were sent the GoldieBlox Zipline Action Figure(GO ZIPLINES!) and the Builder’s Survival Kit. So here’s the deal – my girls ages 12,10 and 5 worked on both of these together for THREE STRAIGHT DAYS making different things and story lines. We did not travel anywhere for Spring Break – so their GoldieBox packs were AMAZING to have during this time. They ziplined all over the house and had so much fun. And I did not hear them once they were so engaged and having fun. AND they could do it all on their own. We need more of these is all that I know! I really cannot rave enough about the creativity and working together that came from Goldie. Check out this amazing video!

WIN your own GoldieBlox Action Figure(zipline) and Builder’s Survival Kit! (USA only)


Just share in the comments – share a personal story of yours when you’ve failed yet did not give up. And then use the Rafflecopter to complete your entry!
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And get building!


Even if you don’t win the giveaway – or cannot wait to get to know Goldie on your own – my readers can enjoy 20% off on all your purchases through April 5th at GoldieBlox using code Spring2015-797dac67


This post was sponsored by The Motherhood and GoldieBlox, but all words and content and opinions are my own.


Moving Day

I’ve lived in 22 homes or apartments(not counting the times squatting with friends for short stints when all of my belongings could fit inside my cheap compact car circa 1987), five states, two countries, with a handful of mortgages, and even a monthly rent payment of $53.85 when it was split four ways.


In each new place there was furniture to be arranged, bathroom schedules to make(except the few glorious times I lived alone and peed with the door open and took long showers), and an acclimation period as I became familiar with my new surroundings, the best route to the grocery stores, a new coffee shop, a shy hello to meeting new neighbors.


We moved every few years when I was little. My dad was in sales, and then my step-dad managed retail stores – so the expectation was a new move, territory, store to keep things fresh, get more experience, get promoted. I never questioned this. The packing up, the long drive to the new home, the unpacking, the meeting new friends. Yet, as an introvert, I still remember my first interactions in the new towns. I remember the neighborhood kids that surrounded the moving van when it arrived. Being the new kids always was a mixture of feeling cool and feeling out of place. I remember walking into the first day of 7th grade at my new school and town and being introduced “As the new student.” My eyes fixed somewhere between their staring eyes and the floor as I took my seat in the front. I could hear whispers that week “That’s the new girl,” as I walked the halls trying to find my classrooms. I was intriguing and it was always a strange, scary, yet satisfying feeling to be just a little different for awhile.


I continued moving after high school. I left home just days after graduation and moved colleges, apartments, boyfriends, and towns over the next several years as I earned my degree. And it was no surprise to me or my family when I accepted a job across the country and packed up early for my new adventure, missing even my college graduation ceremony.


This was my life for 34 years – until we had our own family, and we moved to St. Paul, and to our house, and it stuck. It stuck hard. It was comfortable and easy. Coffee shop – there, and grocery store – here, and friends – easy, and neighbors – lovely, and schools – fine, and furniture – old, and everything – normal. I’d be lying if I said that Jed and I sometimes don’t look at each other and wonder what happened. I mean the kid part – AMAZING, but the stagnation – well STAGNATING.


And it’s strange to me that our own kids have always known only one home. So it’s with this knowledge that I’m trying to understand their own worries about moving this month. New neighborhood, new friends, maybe new schools, new rooms, and new schedules. What I see as a breath of fresh air and something new and exciting for our family – they see as something uncomfortable, and unknown. I tell them that standing still, while yes is quite strong and peaceful – it also causes stiff joints and boredom. And that our home doesn’t make us a family, the people inside of it do – and that is not changing. Unless of course they convince us to get a dog. The adventures never end.


Have you moved around a lot, or have you stayed put for most of your life?


We are currently neck deep in selling our home, buying our home, packing our home, and staging our home, and trying to make our lives feel “normal” while do so. The best way to help you through the stress of moving is to hire an agent you can count on and be your expert on selling your home quickly for a great price, finding you a home in your right neighborhood, and maybe providing a little marriage counseling when you don’t agree on everything. We are thrilled to have Brady Kroll of Edina Realty as a sponsor for the Listen To Your Mother Show – Twin Cities this year. If you have any buying or selling needs, or would love to talk to a local agent – please check out Brady’s webpage for more information.


Learning To Ski

I have snapshots of memories the winter I learned to ski. Like many memories from early childhood I only remember pieces from the stories of that time. Those pieces and pictures come together to form what I think happened, while I’m quite sure there is some important information missing or an error in the sequence of events. Yet these snapshots of the winter I learned to ski, the winter I turned 5, are still developed in living color in my mind.


I picture my dad putting on my ski boots. I remember how they felt foreign and big and not meant for humans. I remember my skis – short and without edges – the only thing available in 1973 for kids that had tiny feet.  A vague memory of Cookie Monster comes up when I think back to that winter. Yes, a man dressed up as Cookie Monster skiing too. I remember the ice on the hill as the temps were for sure well below zero in Minnesota. The wind was strong, my toes were cold after just one run, and the ice made me fall, slide, and tumble down the hill. Who wouldn’t tumble and slide because of the ice and the skis without edges. I remember sliding down the hill with my skis flying off and my face catching the ice. My dad bought me real gold earrings for my birthday. These earrings were little pairs of crossed skis – my favorite present for turning 5 – and those keepsakes were ripped clean out of my ears on the way down the hill.


But still I skied.


I skied even after falling off a chairlift. Losing skis off of the lift. Dozens of poles. A few mittens. A hat. My pride. And my courage. I skied after getting dragged up on the hill by a rope-tow because I was too afraid to let go. I skied after falling off the t-bar when I was too little to realize not to sit on the darn thing. I skied after experiencing vertigo at altitude. When my dad broke his shoulder while skiing one day. Also slicing his leg open. I skied even after the lift stopped for hours that one day and I about peed my pants as I watched more adventurous(stupid) people jump from the lift.


I skied after friends’ lost loved ones to ski accidents.


I skied even though I’m not a great skier. And may never be one. And that’s okay.


For me it’s the time on the mountain(or hill here in Minnesota), enjoying the fresh air, the beautiful scenery, the peace from the solitude yet you are never really alone, and the joy on nearly every face you see on each run. I ski for the pink cheeks, the brighter eyes, and the stories at the end of the long day. I ski to be with friends and family and to indulge in eating french fries and drinking hot chocolate without apology. I ski in wonder watching the adventurous, watching the experts, watching the ones that take great dares as well as the ones that are barely three feet tall and are taking their first run. My favorite skiing view will always be the snake of littles winding their way down the bunny hill.


Yet I stopped skiing when I became a mother. I’m not sure if it was because of time, expense, or fear of injury – or maybe a mix of those things – but I’ve stayed off the mountain. I’ve watched instead as Jed has taken the girls skiing. I’ve listened to their stories as they laughed and smiled. I’ve kissed their pink cheeks and wiped their noses that run from the cold. I’ve packed bags, found mittens, and mended ski pants. As I’ve only watched.


But something about watching our last 5 year old hit and enjoy the slopes made we want to join in the fun again. My equipment is old – at least 20 years old – before shaped skis or even comfortable boots it seems. So it was donated and I got outfitted again. Last week I joined my girls on the mountain(okay – hill). My anxiety was high – and not just because I hadn’t skied in years, but because I was doing it alone as Jed was out of town. The anxiety of carrying all of the skis, the poles, the goggles, the helmets, the boots, the mittens and coats – and then getting it all on them, and then getting them out on the hill, and then managing different ski levels – well it seemed exhausting and impossible.


However my anxiety was unwarranted. What Jed failed to tell me was that the two older girls didn’t need any help. Or me really. They carried their own equipment to the chalet, procured their own tickets, put on their own boots, remembered their own mittens, stashed their bags, asked me for $20 for some food, and took off to ski with friends and told me they’d text me their whereabouts and meet up with me in two hours. WHAT THE WHAT?? And two hours later, they had the pink cheeks, the brighter eyes, the stories and the laughter as they ate fries and drank hot chocolate at the table with their friends next to mine. Before I could say much more – they left again – off to ski and make their own snapshots of this winter of their childhood.


So I stuck close to Astrid, as she still needed help with boots, help with the lift, help getting up at times, and hey, she still likes hanging with me..and needs me to buy her food. And I’m going to soak up this time with her as I know now we are only four to five years away before she leaves me to ski with friends instead. But whether she skis with me or not – I will still ski…because last week I remembered why I learned so many years ago and how now I never want to forget that girl who liked making new memories.



Not A Bah Humbug Month

We aren’t decorating for Christmas this year. With the house for sale, the impending move, ornaments deep in storage somewhere, and just a general feeling of discontent, different priorities, and overwhelming to-do lists – well the decorations can hide in a box in their unknown location this year. The girls have been told to expect little to open this year – the house, their new rooms, and the new space will be present enough. Sure, I plan to dig out the stockings for some Christmas morning surprises. But there won’t be packages stacked in front of a tree or toys to play with after breakfast. We will pretend that we are traveling. But without the traveling. Christmas day this year will be a day perhaps of skiing and Chinese food and time together. Present enough.


We’ve started talking more about “experiences” rather than “things” – and how we’d rather save for vacations, ski days, parties, concerts, volunteering days, and giving to others than making lists of things that will just end of packed up again one day so we can move, or de-clutter, or dig out of the daily madness of the collections we all manage to build. How do we teach them to focus on people and feelings and experiences over owning more.


It’s an easy conversation though really – our kids hadn’t even made a list yet this year. And when Astrid talked to Santa this weekend she told him that she wanted food for everyone, but maybe a few new jars of Play-Doh because hers dried up. Esther asked for more friends. And Eloise just smiled and told him she was “all good” and was just standing up there to make her baby sister happy.


“All good.”


I want to say that more. I want to teach that more. How to make sure everyone is “all good” this year in whatever that means – economically, in their relationships, mental states.


December is hard. Memories of lost loved ones come back hard in too many reminders. Family so far away missed just a smidge more. Financial hard-aches grow. People are rushed and busy.


I’ve asked the girls that instead of gifts maybe we can do some simple parties or crafts with some friends this year. Have some girls over for tea or a movie or to make blankets for the animal shelter or to shop for Toys For Tots.


Experiences making memories for a lifetime. We don’t need a tree and ornaments to make that happen or to help us produce Christmas joy.


We were invited to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving. We were sitting and eating and laughing in the mix of 20+ people – grandparents, friends, neighbors, in-laws, cousins, and strangers. No one needed a “card” to belong. No one worried that they were spending the day with “this” family vs. “that” family. No one was excluded. Everyone – not related – or related just enjoyed a day of Thanksgiving and holiday.


I talked to my kids after that day and told them that no matter what – NEVER exclude anyone in their lives. NEVER think well we can’t invite them because we are invited them instead. NEVER let anyone sit home alone on a holiday. NEVER play favorites. And NEVER be selfish enough to think that a holiday is an invite only occasion.


I learn daily from the lessons I try to model and teach my own kids. And our friend’s Thanksgiving was no exception of a lesson teaching me that I can do so much better too.


And when one day we leave this life, it won’t be the things we own or the tree we put up that will mean something – it will be the people we loved and loved us back, the hands we touched, and experiences we shared, and the life that was lived well. It will be the conversation with Santa, and not that the damn Elf on the Shelf was moved every morning.


December can be hard. I say we stop making it hard and just think about how we can make it easier and more joyful for everyone. Lovers and strangers alike.



The End of #Nablopomo

Mon dieu – seriously if that wasn’t the longest yet the shortest 30 days of my life, I don’t know what was.


The longest because I *had* to write everyday for my commitment to NaBloPoMo. And the shortest because I cannot believe the things that happened in 30 days.


On November 1st at 11:48am we bought a new to us home.


And last week we put our home on the market.


And in between – for almost three straight weeks I packed. And packed. And packed some more. Clearing our home of probably 4/5ths of what we own – every toy, every piece of china, every wine glass(yes, a plastic kid glass from Ikea works just fine with wine thankyouverymuch), our books(MOM – WHERE ARE MY BOOKS!?!?!?!?), our clothing, shoes, family pictures, albums(Yes, we still have some of those), office papers, excess furniture, and allthestuffedanimals known to man.


We cleaned until our hands were raw, fingers numb, and eyes burning from fumes.


And during this time we had birthdays and conferences and plays and games and the most crazy school schedule ever. Oh, and Jed was gone for 11 days.


Life is busy – and I’ve finally accepted the busy – and that maybe this is just the way it will be for the next 13 years. My mother laughs at me because it seems we just cannot stand still.


So maybe that’s what I need to focus on after the holidays and our move – standing still for a few minutes each day.


And with all three kids now in school all day – maybe that’s just what I’ll do from 10am until 10:05 or so.


We will see how that goes.


As I know one thing I won’t be doing every single day in December is blogging.


Bring on December – it’s time to relax.


Said no one. Ever.



The Ease Of Privilege

My plan last night was to keep the TV turned off, twitter shutdown, Facebook off, and make everyone just read a book.


Because I wanted to live for a night of sweet and privileged denial.


Because I already knew what the outcome would be.


Let’s just go ahead and say that we all did. Because you did. You knew.


And I could so easily just hide here in my white house with my white daughters and my white husband. Damn, even my white cat.


We can pretend as long as we want to pretend.


Because we can.


And we can pretend and hide. And I can sit here and say I just didn’t want to hear the outcome because I didn’t even want to take the pain of the mothers who grieve for their sons who are shot. Who are killed. Who are targeted. Who are wronged. Who have to teach their kids how exactly to talk and act around police – if that really even matters – because they want to see their children come home safely every single day. Because they HAVE to worry. Every single day. Hell, I can even ignore that my fellow moms get targeted just for being black. Yeah, I can ignore that as I act on my privilege.


But instead I turned on the TV, opened up my computer, and sat next to my children and watched, listened, and talked.


And what struck me last night was the twitter feed – and this from Karen.


And you know what – it is uncomfortable to talk about it. Because while I feel like we are doing everything right to raise the next generation of loving, equality seeking, and working together children – I still wonder if I’m saying the right things, or doing the right things, or doing enough. Because holy hell why is this still the reality of 2014.


And you probably just have to sit down at your family Thanksgiving this week and listen – to know HOW and WHY it’s still going on.


How completely sad. AND WRONG.


So my words might be wrong. And my actions not enough. But I am present and active and vocal and I’m saying that until everyone owns up and says that dammit – it is about race, and sits down and talks about it – well there is nowhere we can really go with this.


As my dear friend Rox said last night…

“Race is sadly that huge elephant in the room that everyone tip toes around. Well for every person with a little hue in their skin, race is a topic. Race is a reminder. Race is the hot button issue. And race is a primary reason why Ferguson is prime time news right now. And the moment when we all stop tip toeing around it, is the moment when true dialogue and hopefully a better understanding will start to take place.”


Shutting down in silence and being comfortable that “Well, we don’t feel that way!” or “This doesn’t affect me or my kids!” IS WRONG.


It’s time to speak up, act boldly, and make a change for everyone.


Stop the silence and talk about that elephant in the room. No one is immune.



A Clean Home Is A Happy Home

I find it ironic that I’ve chosen to blog each day in November as we are getting our house on the market and moving. We had the offer on our new home accepted on November 1st – and that’s when I started blogging again. For the past two weeks we’ve been packing up, cleaning and staging our current house to get it for sale this week.


10 years of living is overwhelming.


But we’ve made it through and our house will be for sale within about 36 hours.


As I’ve thrown and donated and cleared and packed away – I’ve lectured the girls(and maybe Jed) about how I can’t do this all by myself – this cleaning thing. And sure, they currently have chores – but I need a little more deep cleaning and picking up going on. And I also need less stuff coming into the house. Fewer stuffed animals. Less ponytail holders. Dollar store crap is not allowed. Papers recycled at school. Or if they fell compelled to bring the crap in – then they need to find an organized spot to put it. Preferably in their rooms.


I don’t want to hire a cleaning lady when I know as a family we can keep a house clean. But it’s hard to clean when our stuff is everywhere.


I think we just need to force some habits – like putting your backpack where it goes, hanging your clothes right when they are clean, wiping out the sink after you brush, and please stop putting your coats on the dining room chairs.


I don’t want to apologize for the state of our home when guests stop by. Sure, I want it lived in – but I’m just so sick of the clutter.


I’ve felt healthier in the past two weeks than I have in a long time. I feel lighter and freer and happier.


Clutter for me is heavy and wrong and weighs on me.


I hope this is only the beginning of our family working together towards a cleaner future. And I hope my kids realize that the yelling is less when there’s less crap laying around to bitch about.


How do you manage the clutter?


Mixify – 5 Tips For A Healthy Balance – $100 Visa GC Giveaway!

This year is such a transition year for us. Middle school and friends and independence are daily words and daily life, and as our daughters are getting older, doing more outside activities, and gaining more independence – I find that I’m not with them as much. As a mother, this is strange. Where at one point I was making breakfasts, packing lunches, and preparing meals – now I find my tweens in the kitchen pouring their own cereal, packing their lunches, and I’m handing them ten dollars to grab something for dinner at a restaurant near their dance studio. Don’t get me wrong – sometimes I LOVE not being a short-order chef for everyone, but this transition to them being responsible for their own nutrition is scary.

Scary why?


Because I want them to make the right choices for themselves.  I hope we’ve set them up for success in choosing healthy foods and drinks by modeling good nutrition at home. But still… the temptations… and choices… and freedom. I can’t blame them for grabbing a bag of chips with their sandwich even though we may not eat them at home. But I want them eating healthy, making good choices, and staying strong. Also, my kids are active – they dance several nights per week, do gymnastics, we bike as a family, and run together, and they play outside with friends almost every day – so I want to make sure they are getting enough to eat too – and learn how to balance those two. my-mixify

5 tips to help your kids stay healthy and make good choices:

1. Make sure physical activity is part of their everyday – and YOURS. Model the importance of staying active. Find activities your kids enjoy – or even just make time for a family walk or bike ride. Staying active now will translate to a healthier activity level as a teen and an adult.  

2. Don’t focus on NOT eating or drinking things – but focus on making good choices. You want your kids to have a GOOD relationship with food – so discuss the importance of eating and staying healthy and how everyone needs to eat and drink to stay healthy.  

3. Model your own good eating and drinking behavior – making wise choices. And talk about it. Keep all lines of communication and positive influence open.  

4. Snacks are okay -and welcome! Teach balance- not taboo! We love a good treat – and, yes, you have to eat your carrots – but ice cream on Saturday night? – Bring it!  

5. Prepare meals and shop as a family when you can – this is the best way to make choices together and teach them how to shop for the best items for nourishment – and getting kids involved early is the best way to have long-term influences as they establish their own balance in what they eat.


By keeping the lines of communication open, giving your kids some great choices and independence, and laying the foundation for activity and healthy eating – finding balance between their own physical activity and what they eat and drink will be so much easier for everyone. it-is-about-balance “Coke, Dr. Pepper, and Pepsi understand that getting a balanced mix of foods, drinks, and physical activities for your family isn’t always easy. That’s why they’re coming together for the first time ever to talk to teens about balancing what they eat and drink with what they do. With tools to help teens get active and information to help them think about when they’ve had too much, or maybe when it’s time for a treat – America’s beverage companies are supporting our efforts to find a balanced mix that works for our families.”   Mixify was co-created by parents and teens to provide resources to fit balance into our daily lives. You can find out more at Delivering Choices and at My Mixify.   You can also check-out MyMixify on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  


We are also giving away a $100 VISA Gift Card!

All you have to do is comment on this post by answering this question – What tips do you have to keep your family balanced?

Sweepstakes Rules:

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  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 11/13/14 – 12/24/14.

Be sure to visit the American Beverage Association brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ posts!


The Anniversary

My parents celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary today. (STILL today for a just a few more hours..). 38 years you say – some strange math to have an almost 46 year old daughter. But that’s what I like about 2014. Unless you are over 40, this probably didn’t even cross your mind. Families these days are not the families of the 1940s. They are beautifully diverse. The definition of family in my vocabulary includes love and safety. That’s about all I need.


But as a seven year old girl – whose parents had recently divorced. I’ll admit right now that I was less than thrilled when my mom told me she was marrying Jack. At seven I didn’t understand that he wasn’t coming in to replace my dad, or to take away my mom’s love for me, or to change our lives even more than I could handle at the time. And I still remember that conversation on our living room couch. Our living room with shag carpeting, orange curtains, and blue flocked wallpaper. I remember my mother telling me that she loved him and that we would love him too. And that he would never replace my dad.


I’ve written before that my parents did a lot of things right when it came to their divorce – how they still showed mutual respect for each other, never talked about each other in a bad way in front of us, selflessly let us decide where we wanted to spend our time, and when they were together  – they were friendly and cordial – and put us first. Always.


And what I quickly found out as Jack also became my dad – was that he wasn’t there to take anything away from my dad or to replace him – no, he was there to just give us even more love. Here was another person who would now love us like a father – and like his own kids. Now who doesn’t appreciate even more people to love them? And it wasn’t just him. It was his extended family. Now we had more aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins. I’ve never considered anyone a ‘step’ – just family.


For 38 years we’ve just had a bigger family. And more love. Because my mom married Jack.


I see them now – still so in love. In fact they went out to dinner last week and a young and newly engaged couple at the table next to them paid for their dinner because they found them so endearing and in love with each other and hope that they still find themselves so outwardly in love in nearly 40 years.


I hope you both had an amazing day. And I’m glad you told that little seven year old that things would work out just fine.


Because damn they sure did.


Love you guys.



Happy 70th Birthday, Dad!

So maybe I was a little bit selfish for getting mad when my dad moved to St. Paul. I mean I love being near my dad – but when he left Montana to be HERE by US – well he ruined a perfectly good(amazing) and cheap(free) vacation spot for us. “Oh Dad, why would you leave Montana? You’ve been there for so long and it’s home to you. And so beautiful. And there’s skiing…and we like to come visit…”


So maybe I pouted for a year or two because of the loss of our vacation spot. But that quickly went away as I got used to having my dad living nearby. And I totally understood why he did it – to watch his granddaughter(not plural then) grow up.


And now selfishly I don’t ever want my dad to leave. He’s a hands-on grandpa – diapers and babysitting, trips to the park and helping with carpool. Spoiling the girls with little surprises, and now with tickets to professional hockey.


And there’s a rarely a Saturday without a non-fat latte delivery from my dad for me.


I never grew-up with grandparents near – but still have amazing memories of visits together. So I’m frankly verklempt about the magical relationship our girls have with my dad….their Papa Aubie.


And I appreciate his patience and love for me as I’ve transitioned as a mother and how my time is now spent. Our mornings long ago of golf and tennis have now morphed into something completely different. For that I sometimes regret – but what I love the most about him is that he would never question my choices or challenge my decisions. There’s no one in my life as supportive, understanding, non-judgmental, and willing to just give me a place to lean if needed than my dad.
Everyone should have such a person in their lives.


And I’m forever grateful that he’s here. Close by.


Love you, Dad! Happy 70th. xoxo




So Much Stuff To Move

Another mom at my daughter’s voice lesson picked a large piece of fuzz out of my hair as we stood outside the classroom waiting for our kids to finish. I don’t know this mom. The music studio is quiet and not very welcoming of conversations or talking in the hallways while lessons are happening. So instead we just smile, or show our resting bitchy faces, or nod, or now pick fuzz out of another mom’s hair.


Embarrassed but pleased she did it, I whispered “Thank you, I’ve been cleaning and packing my basement all day.” And I looked down at the rest of me – in sweatpants and a t-shirt and UGGs – and I wiped off the layer of dust covering my clothing.


We are moving.

The home we are leaving

The home we are leaving

And I’ve spent two full days in my basement yet feel like I haven’t made a dent. We need to stage the house for selling – and in doing this we need to clean and pack up as much as the ‘non-essential’ items that we can. And we have about seven days to get this done. Three floors of 10 years of life. Three floors of bringing two babies home here. Three floors of creating our full family.


And the AMOUNT OF STUFF is overwhelming. And I think about how good I am at throwing crap away. I mean I throw EVERYTHING away. Each child only has a small bin of ‘art’ and ‘school’ and ‘memory’ stuff that we’ve kept. I keep about three items for each of them per year. We purge closets each season. I donate. I consign. I toss. I box up books that are no longer age relevant, and I give away movies as my kids outgrow them. I TOSS SHIT. I DONATE SHIT. Weekly.


And yet, my god the stuff in our house. I’ve filled a full room floor to ceiling with donation items. Games and puzzles and linens and kitchen stuff. I’m hauling things to my minivan and will make numerous trips. I’ve piled bigger, more valuable, but I’m too lazy to sell items to the alley for the ‘pickers’ – the changing table that we never used as I preferred the floor or the bed, the easel, the toy horse, the last of the large plastic kid crap, a chair that I never loved. I’ve filled bags of clothing and pjs that are still in great shape to donate, and I’m making the girls try on every pair(450 give or take) of shoes that we own and making them choose their favorite five pairs. And then I get all depressed about the excess of our society and all the things we have to have and then I just want to sell everything and maybe our home will seem larger.


Where does it all come from. Do we need 16 board games that we rarely play? 25 shirts to choose from? A fondue pot? Seven frying pans? I started going through kitchen crap and was all of a sudden keeping all of the crap – thinking that ‘maybe’ we will use it again. Like the waffle iron. But then I set a rule – if I hadn’t used it in a year – GONE. I filled two huge boxes. I hope I don’t regret donating that Christmas stocking cookie cutter.


I do all of this alone – when the kids are at school because I know if they were home – they’d be all “OH we love that!” and “Don’t toss that!” and then we’d get in a big fight because IT ALL HAS TO GO. I don’t care about your love of Sequence Jr that we haven’t played for FOUR YEARS DAMMIT. And tomorrow I’m going to tackle their stuffed animal collection. This will be tough for me as I brought my entire stuffed animal collection to college. But I never had 42 stuffed dogs. AND THEY DO.


So if I seem dirty, and dusty, and a bit frazzled over the next week, just know that I’m busy dusting off our old life, donating excess, and making room for many more memories.



Building Sandcastles

My tears surprise me almost as much as my view of the turquoise blue waters of the Pacific Ocean that continue on forever beyond the islands that dot the bay.

I try to keep my sobs buried inside, but as my hands dig deeper into the sand, my cries grow as my sandcastle turrets are formed.

I wipe my eyes with the back of my arms as my hands become caked with shells and wet sand. Salt coats my face from the tears, the water, and the wind at the beach. If someone comes upon me – my tears can easily be blamed on the beach conditions and not on mine.

Who cries on a beach in Costa Rica – a beach filled with sunshine, crushed shells, bronzed and happy vacationers, a melting pina colada resting in the sand near my hip, and an ocean that beckons happiness with waves that lap at my toes like a a playful tickle almost demanding complete bliss to anyone who comes near.

I do.

I spend hours on my creation. My crude castle is built with the only tools I have – my hands, some shells, my heart and soul, and the memories of the sandcastle that we built together last year on a beach about 80 kilometers south of where I now sit.

I dig deep to bring up the wet sand and I create large wells and moats around the buildings. My plan of one or two simple and quick buildings turns to eight and soon a small city. Some are taller than others, but all have the finishing touch that she taught me to add – rows of shells top the building like the frosting on a cake to declare the completion. I pick her favorite colored shells – in hues of yellow and orange as I play the child that I miss so much.

As I cry remembering her last lisped filled words before I flew to Costa Rica this time without her.

“Mommy, all I want you to do is build a sandcastle for me and send me a picture.”

The sand takes the imprint of my foot – my present, but leaves a deeper one of what I’ve left behind. Just months ago the waves crashed on 50 toes as five bodies browned in the hot sun. Three children’s gleeful voices rang loud at the sight of howling monkeys and horses on the beach. We ate outside as a family in the early dark nights listening to the waves and animals in the damp Costa Rican air together.

But now I’m alone.

Vacationing in a new place as a family is like sharing the very best secrets together. Memories and places and times and experiences that can be told to others but can never really be understood. We can share in great detail about our day riding horses through the jungles and galloping on the beach. But unless you were there, you will never know or remember the joy on our faces, the small moments of conversation and discoveries, the smell of the salt air mixed with the wet horse hair, or how the local lunch tasted of newness and goodness like no other lunch will ever taste. Like this is a secret society of discovery or a club that only allows you in half way without whispering the password of our family.

And now I feel like I am betraying our family trust by heading to our secret club without my people. Can I enjoy the beach and beauty of this country fully without whispering to them about my experiences. Am I cheating on our memories.

This is how it is within a family. Shared secrets and dances and lives all intertwined together with a lock to keep others out of our most sacred moments together.

And family travel builds this club house even stronger like the largest scavenger hunt where we all learn and win. Discovering new together is a bond that holds like no other. And why Costa Rica will always be “ours” and never just mine or theirs no matter how many times we go together or alone. And I know that many other places will be the same. From the corners of the Earth to the coffee shop we all share down the street.


So I don’t stop my tears as I step back and admire my love work in the sand. But I do smile as I kneel down to take the picture she requested. Making sure I include the ocean beyond the yellow colored shells that I so carefully picked out just for her.

And I close my eyes and easily bring back the memories of building sandcastles together where I can almost feel her small hands touching mine in the sand, and I know there are many more for us to build together.

Memories and sandcastles.



Family Running Fun And Color Vibe Run Giveaway by Tum-E Yummies!

(Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Tum-E Yummies(Tum-E Yummies are a fruit flavored drink, a great treat for kids!) Our favorite flavor is Greentastic Apple by the way…) – but all words and opinions are mine)


I’ve been running as exercise for about 23 years(I was 2 when I started obviously) – and during that time I’ve had years of running just for exercise, years of running and training for races, years of running while pregnant(10 miles the day I gave birth to my oldest), and a little time off here and there for recovery and injury.


But I am a runner. I own that.


And if you were to ask my kids what their mom does – or something about their mom – they would most likely say “My mom is a runner.”


Which is probably why – after stops and starts and tries with all three kids in different sports – baseball, soccer, and the like…they all have taken an interest in running. And I’m glad that my first baby gear purchase was  jogging stroller.


I love that running is an easy family activity -here are some tips on how and why you can get your family involved in running together!


1. Start immediately – buy that jogging stroller! You can buy new -but there are MANY to be found used online or at consignment shops. I bought a Kelty when our oldest was born and loved it. I started her in the stroller when she was about six months old and we ran happily until she started preschool. My next jogger was a B.O.B – which I adored and used with my youngest for about four years until I just sold it to my neighbor. Best investment ever!


2. Kids make the best spectators. Get their interest in running peaked by watching races together(even the races that you are not running) – watching the elite runners go by is nothing but mind-blowing and inspiring – and also cheering on those near the back of the pack – watching their will to finish is tear-jerking awesome. Who doesn’t want to run after watching a race. It’s pure emotion, adrenaline, and love for the human spirit.


3. Get those running shoes ready! Invest in good shoes for those little kid feet just like you do for yours! Take them shopping with you for running shoes and get them fitted too. Sure, shoes are not cheap – but compared to other sports – when pretty much shoes are your only ‘gear’ purchase – um – it’s a huge cost savings! My kids love to go running shoes shopping with me!


4. Make time to run with your kids. I mean sure – you need to get those eight miles of hills in, or that tempo run, or that 20 miler on a Saturday – and yes, you just want that time to be ALONE sometimes. So still do that! And then head back out on another run with your kids. I started doing this a few years ago with my oldest daughter – I’d wake her up after my run and we’d head out again together.


5. Explain the benefits are being healthy and moving your body and being strong. Running isn’t about weight – it’s about a healthy and strong lifestyle. Running as a family gives your kids the foundation of exercise and health they need to promote a lifelong healthy lifestyle. Make running and all exercise part of a just normal daily lifestyle!


6. Make the runs fun – or make a game out of it! “Hey, race you to the tree!” Or give them little fun goals or prizes – or even set-up a scavenger hunt during your run. Maybe treat them to a night run with glow sticks and flashlights one evening! Run trails in the woods instead of taking a hike. Change up your routes. Explore a new city! Running is fun!


7. Enter the kids in fun run or local kid events. Many marathons have family fun runs the day before the marathon. Go as a family and cheer them on!


8. Enter a race together! Some of the best races these days are races that involve COLOR! These races not only are fun to run – BUT are fun to prepare for. Have you heard of the Color Vibe Race? The Color VibeTM race brings you the ultimate experience in colorful family fun! The Color VibeTM is a color blast 5K that is all about having fun and getting covered from top to bottom with splashes of color as you race your way to the finish line.  The kids not only love to run an easy and colorful 5K – but they love to get prepared! We’ve purchased neon tutus, boas, headbands and fun laces to match so we are colorful even before we get splashed! I love the creative outfits at the run!


Do you have any other tips to get the whole family running together?


Leave your comment below for a chance to WIN TWO(2) tickets to our area Color Vibe run on September 13th! It’s happening in St. Cloud, MN! So comment to win your tickets(and remember kids 12 and under are free with an adult ticket – so your 2 free will get a family of 4 on the course!)

  • Tum-E Yummies will have a booth set up at the Color Vibe race where participants can try the different Tum-E Yummies flavors and get a free car seat protector to prevent any of the color from the race from transferring to the car. – this is awesome!
  • The winner of the giveaway will receive Tum-E Yummies in addition to the two tickets to the Color Vibe race!!!!

Tum-E Yummies

Come join us in a few weeks!


(Prize will be in the form of a coupon code for registration. Contest closes on 9/6.)


The Blank Page

I’ve started and deleted and stared for days now. Trying to document a conversation or something that happened or a funny story. Most of the time I get distracted by work emails or a snack that needs to be made or a hairball that our new cat coughed up. And the rest of the time I don’t even open my laptop. In fact this past weekend I left my laptop at home. Just like a did the weekend before. And the weekend before that I was at home – but never opened it.


I still enjoyed snippets of life and love and family and conversation on Facebook – but haven’t read blogs for weeks. And I’ve started feeling almost selfish for ‘making’ you read my stories, my conversations, my thoughts…because I’d rather you work on your tan or hit the beach or take a bike ride and not worry about me.

Family Picture - Watch out for the penguin.

Family Picture – Watch out for the penguin.

It’s weird how I can thrive off relationships but then get to a point of exhaustion when I just need to focus on what’s right here and touchable. My work is very busy – work that I LOVE and am more inspired by than ever before when I see the good this company does in the world. My kids are just the right kind of busy and I feel the need to be with them and near them, but just as an observer in a way as they play and enjoy a lazy summer together without early wake-ups or routines. My family room is filled with Calico Critters and My Little Ponys and Lego Friends and they play for hours. Or I find one of my girls reading alone on the porch. They’ve reached that age where they can run off down the block with friends, make their own lunches, and empty the dishwasher without a reminder.


I’m spending more time in a quiet and restful state when I’m home – and besides our family room – the house is clean and  I’ve read eight books since mid-June and delight in losing myself in a story almost feeling like I’m a high school girl again and I believe that fiction can come to life. And I’m running daily and using that time to push myself HARD and really feel what great things a body can do if you just don’t sit back and go with the flow.


I’m happy.


And I don’t want to do it all. My life is so beautifully boring right now and I’ve found no greater joy really. We’ve spent more time with family and we’ve laughed so hard.


Jed said to me last night when he made a joke and I laughed my deep laugh that actually makes me sound like my brother “There’s nothing hotter than listening to you laugh.”


Good things are coming – I can feel it. Until then and September and The Busy – I’m just going to work on what feels right, parallel my kids’ joy in the ordinary, and fill my bedside table with more books.


And of course run like the wind(my own definition of wind).


Linking up with Heather.


On Bicycles, Pajamas And #blogher14 #VOTY

I’ve spent four of the last seven days without even opening my computer. Any social media or chatting has been done from my phone, and I’d even say that my phone has been out less than usual.


I’m blaming this current freedom from electronics on the weather. We Minnesotans blame everything on the weather. Sometime we blame things on Republicans..but mainly we blame them on the weather. Or because I’m playing badminton in my backyard and I ROCK THAT SHIT! My kids have yet to beat me!


Because it’s beautiful outside this week – 70s and sunshine and there are even leaves on the trees.


My kids are overly busy with end of school activities, dance rehearsals, projects, play-dates. We’re busy shopping for summer wardrobes, putting screens in the windows, sweeping off the patio, and chasing the cat back into the house because even he wants the outside world.


And I don’t have a anti-glare screen thingy for my computer – so it’s useless to me outside.




And it’s where I want to be. I want to enjoy this time out with my kids before the heat of the summer arrives and the mosquitoes try to eat us alive. I want picnics and bike rides and naps in a chair outside.


Astrid and I took a long bike ride yesterday. She sings in the trailer as we ride along. But if she’s quiet – make sure not to talk to her because as she tells me “Don’t interrupt my thoughts.”


I am working with Pedal Minnesota as an Ambassador this summer to spread the love of biking to moms, parents and families – and to encourage everyone to go out enjoy the best there is to see and experience it on Two Wheels. I’m so excited to bring you information about biking and gear over the next few months!


Do you bike as a family? What are your biggest joys or challenges when riding as a family?


Astrid has Pajama Day at school today. I don’t understand pajama day. I don’t understand wearing pajamas out of the house. So yesterday we went to Target to buy new pajamas for today. Because NEW pjs are okay – used pjs that you’ve slept in, in your bed – not okay. It really skeeves me out and I thought that maybe I was alone in this thinking that pajama day in used pajamas is just gross – but it turns out I AM NOT ALONE with my thoughts. This Facebook discussion really surprised me.


What’s your say – do you like pj day? Do you buy your kids new pjs to participate? Do you think I’m weird and need counseling?


And finally – this has been on my plate to talk about for weeks – but I’ve barely been on the computer, so I’m finally announcing it. But one of my pieces was selected as a BlogHer Voices Of The Year. 


Only 100 pieces were picked for VOTY out of thousands that were nominated. I am frankly overwhelmed. BlogHer is my favorite conference each year(one of my BlogHer Recaps here) – it’s inspiring and fabulous – but sadly I cannot attend this year – but the VOTY reception and reading is the highlight of the weekend. So many of my friends were also chosen and I cannot wait to see the videos of their readings.
I was selected for VOTY/PhOTY 2015
Anyway – click over to see them all – and then click over to read them all, because the talent and beauty from this blogging community  just continues to astound me.


Now go back out and enjoy this beautiful weather. Have a great weekend my friends.




How To Be A Flower Girl In 10 Easy Steps

Our daughters were completely over the moon excited to be included in their cousin’s wedding this past weekend. Being a flower girl is a very special honor and I know my girls will remember that day for the rest of their lives.


I was a flower girl in my aunt’s wedding. I had a yellow dress – which at three years old – wasn’t awesome – because everything had to be PINK for me at the time. PINK! But I remember standing in front of the church with my other aunts and feeling how special it was to be included, to be in a fancy dress just like the ladies, and to witness the wedding from the best seats in the house. And some 41 years later I still get to see my aunt and uncle as adorable together as they were when they were really still just kids themselves.


And now I like yellow.


Is your daughter going to be a flower girl soon? Wondering about all the details that need to be done before and during the big day? You’re in luck – here is How To Be A Flower Girl in Ten Easy Steps…


1. Buy dress. Not just any dress – but THE dress. This shopping experience will be something simpler than looking for your own wedding dress – but slightly harder than shopping for your prom dress. It will hopefully also be cheaper than both. Key things you need to shop for the dresses – parameters from bride, time, patient kids, a sense of humor, and a budget. Luckily, my girls love trying on dresses and we had a ball going to several bridal shops to try them all on. Also, the bride was easy and wanted something very traditional and simple – and the dress was found quickly. Furthermore, going to bridal stores is fun for the girls as we got to see so many excited brides as they found their own dresses. Honestly, we are ready to dress shop again. Bring on PROM in 2019!


2. The dress is just the start – now go shop for shoes and tights that work with the dress and match the wedding party. Remember to find shoes that match, that work with the bridal party, and that are COMFORTABLE and FIT. No one wants to see a Flower Girl literally go down while going down the aisle. Since we had flower girls that lived in different parts of the country – I suggest using a retailer that is nationwide to make this job easier. Zappos, Amazon, Macy’s and Nordstrom are great choices. We found our shoes and tights at Nordstrom. We also bought other more comfortable shoes for dancing!


3. Be prepared to WAIT. Once the girls are dressed – you will still need to wait for the bride, for pictures, for logistics, and for transportation. However, you cannot just throw Doritos at them and put them in front of the TV and let them roll around on the floor. Also, you don’t want them running around in halls or streets because tripping and bloody boo-boos are not so awesome just before the wedding and pictures. So prepare your kids for waiting and arm them with things to do that are clean, fun and relatively wrinkle-proof. We had some coloring tablets(NO MARKERS), brought books, watched movies, and of course chatted and played some games. Try to avoid the boredom. There will be boredom.


4. Don’t send them into battle hungry! Feed them before even if it seems weird to have a sandwich at 10am. Odds are if they have to be ready and dressed by 11am -another meal is not coming their way until after the ceremony and pictures – so in like FOREVER. And bring ‘clean’ snacks like crackers(non-cheesy), fruit snacks, and some nuts. I may have also fed them M&Ms one by one like they were little baby birds. Also – water only because nobody wants a fruit punch spill down the front of a dress right before it’s time to walk down the aisle.


5. Remind them that even though they are the CUTEST thing to ever walk the Earth – and sure quite possibly your four year old will steal the show – this day is still ALL ABOUT THE BRIDE. You will listen to the bride, you will not make this about you, you will let it be about the bride, you will love the bride, one day YOU will be the bride, you are there in service on the bride, you will not upstage the bride, etc all about the bride. And just watch their sweet faces as the bride enters the room in her dress and veil.


6. Plan for what to do at the church. Will it be a short ceremony and the Flower Girls will stand the whole, short time? Will they sit in the front row? Will the service be long? Make sure they know what the expectations are and prepare.


7. Prepare to be royalty – from Limo rides, to fancy dresses, and EVERYONE noticing YOU, and pictures like we are the paparazzi, and fancy drinks FINALLY at the end – ENJOY it. It’s like being a fairy princess for a day and maybe you won’t want to ever take that dress off!


8. Pictures! There will be PICTURES. So many pictures – from getting dressed, to seeing the bride, and the ceremony, and formal bridal party pictures, dancing pictures, reception pictures, staged pictures and casual moments captured. Prepare to be in hundreds of pictures. Enjoy it. Smile. I’ll feed you more M&Ms if you remember to smile and be an easy participant.


9. Be ready to PARTY! Maybe take a nap if possible(this goes for moms too), because the party will go late. Kick off your dressy shoes and DANCE ALL NIGHT. This is the part of the day you will remember. That day you got to down 10 Shirley Temples and dance for hours because everyone wants to dance with you. Conga lines and the Electric Slide will become part of your make-up during this special night. And just try to ignore all of the adults who’ve drank a wee bit of champagne and get a little too crazy during Shout!


10. Be thankful and be grateful. Being asked to be a Flower Girl is truly an honor and amazing gift. Save lots of kisses, hugs and thank yous for the couple that asked you to be part of their special day. They love you so much. Know that. Remember that. Remember this day. The day you were a princess. Forever.



Have you ever been a Flower Girl?


Our Flower Girl ‘What They Wore’ information – Flower Girl Dress in Ivory from US Angels, Kenneth Cole Shoes from Nordstrom, Tights from Nordstrom, sashes were custom made.


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.


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.