Where I Give 15 Fs About 2016

This morning I woke up the same way that I wake up every morning. The cat is licking my face as my alarm goes off. I wonder if she really thinks I’ll forget to Feed her. Have I ever Forgotten to Feed her? I Feed her and I make sure the coffee is ready and then I work-out. After my work-out I drink copious amounts of coffee as I watch the morning news. I catch up on Facebook and Instagram and email, and then I wait for the Family to wake.

Just hours into the New Year, 2016 Feels the same. The cat, the coffee, the news, the work-out and the being First up for like always a million mornings later. I like the comfort in the routine and Familiar. I am not beyond Feeling like a toddler in my need for the predictable. Yet I don’t want to get comfortable in other ways. I want to step out of my comfort(and honestly, control) zone to be better and experience new. Just don’t mess with the First hours of my morning.

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2015 brought some big changes in many areas – Friends, Family, Fitness, Finances…and honestly had me using the big F word more than usual. And if you know me and my love for the big F word – well, wow that’s kind of a big deal to use it even more.

 

I’m not making resolutions here, because eFF that – so instead I’m using 15 F words that will define my life living Forward in 2016.

 

Focus – Like how I started writing this blog post on New Year’s Day..and here it is Five days later and I’m Finally Finishing it. Yeah, I need to work on this one. This Focus of putting First things First and prioritizing and letting go of the crap that’s not important. But I won’t be able to really Focus until I Finish Breaking Bad. Check back with me in a Few days after I binge watch the Final two seasons. Just tell me that cute Jesse is okay.

Family – Numero uno. But I can’t do this until I get clear Focus, right. That’s why I have it listed as number two. Family First and always. I love my people and they need to know it more. I mean sure I clean the house and cook their meals and make sure they have Folders and clean clothes. And I give hugs and kisses and encouragement and love. But I need to be more present for them when we are together. Whether it’s the now old cliche of putting my phone down, or maybe even watching the Minions for the 153rd time.

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Fun – Which brings me to Fun. I’m the heavy in our Family. The enforcer of the chores and the discipline. I run a tight ship and have high expectations of everyone. This will not change. But I do promise to have more Fun this year and always. We can all wear dirty clothing for a day if it means a few hours of sledding. More yes and less no.

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Fitness – I qualified for the Boston Marathon and am running it in April. I’m currently in a boot – so no running which totally sucks, but I’m coming back even stronger than before…trust me. My Fitness goals in 2016 are to get back into running shape with overall health and Future in mind…strong core, strong body, good choices. And by the end of 2016 I want to be in even better overall health and in stronger shape than I am in now. My goal is to write more about my Fitness journey in 2016 too. Hold me to that one, okay?

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F(ph)otography – My camera has taken a bit of a hiatus in recent years. I’m giving myself the time to explore and get to know my Friend Canon again in 2016. I need to stop worrying about perfect and just shoot.

Food – I have always watched what I eat, but I’m bringing my Family more into this in 2016. In 2015 I started “new recipe” Wednesday with the family – I cooked something completely new each Wednesday, and it was a huge success(maybe I should’ve blogged about it), so 2016 is continuing that as well as Focusing on cutting out more sugar and meat and processed items from everything we eat.

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Future – No looking back this year. The best is yet to come. Let’s celebrate and make an impact where we can – in tomorrow…not yesterday.

Friends – This is a BIG one For me in 2016. The older I get the more I know how important true Friends are. Yet how difficult it is to Find Friends at this age. We aren’t having babies anymore, we aren’t in college anymore, and I don’t have a workplace that I go to where I’m heading out to lunches with adults. But it’s Finding those true and easy Friends – through school or activities or book clubs or Facebook…AND making the time to have coffee or wine or even a phone conversation. Let’s all make the time For Friends this year. Friends Feed our soul differently than work or Family. Let’s celebrate and make time for that.

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Finances – Our BIG commitment for 2016. We made some huge Financial decisions in 2014 and 2015 – and now it’s time to continue moving Forward to ensure our Future retirement(EEK) as well as the kids’ Future is Funded. We will hold monthly Family Finance meetings and Focus on what’s important with our Finances. Full transparency as we move Forward is key.

(non)Fiction – I WILL write in 2016. It might not be here always, but I will write. I want to write a children’s book that I’ve had in draft for almost three years, and I will pitch some articles this year. I have Found that the less I write, the more scattered and unhappy my brain gets…so I need to do this. And I will.

Facebook – And all social media. I Find it can be such a time suck because I love to see you all – your Families, your pictures, your lives..and I love to support you all…but I need more balance here. I have already stepped away quite a bit and will continue to Focus my social media time better in 2016.

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Fly – We WILL take a Family vacation in 2016. We WILL continue to show our kids the world in 2016. We WILL Focus on our Finances better so this is our yearly goal as a Family – to invest in our Fun, our Future, and our global views moving Forward.

(give)Forward – I have applied for a local volunteer position and intend to dedicate more of my time in 2016 to giving Forward to others(more locally) in 2016. “No one has ever become poor by giving.” – Anne Frank.

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(my aging)Face – Hey, guess what? I’m 47..and will be 48 in 2016. This happens. Yet, I like my Face in the here and now. I do. I like the lines that have come with time and experience. Even the lines on my arms and tummy – YES that happens too dear young people. But I love it. My Face scared me when I was 41-43 because I saw the changes from 37-39..but now, I think it’s kind of awesome. I don’t need to get carded. I can be somebody’s mom, and I can be old enough to be somebody’s mom in college, and I can be old enough to be your mom, or your grandma…and I’m totally zen with all of that. I take care of my body – good Food and Fitness..and well For my Face…not all the thousand dollar lotions in the world can stop time nor do I want to pay for treatments or surgeries or any of that Fake stuff. I own this Face and I love it – wrinkles, age spots, and randoms hairs and all. Also, wearing reading glasses on a date is incredibly sexy.

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F*ucks – And as with my Face..I just can’t give any F*ucks anymore with any bullshit. “I want real. I want true. If you don’t like me that’s on you.” – Tracy Morrison, 2016.

 

Happy 2016, my Friends. The best is yet to come.

“There is no passion to be Found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living” – Nelson Mandela

 

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How To Get Your Kids Into The Holiday Spirit!

I’ve been doing this parenting thing for 13 year now, which makes me quite the expert. I laugh as I type this because we all know that parenting is basically making things up as we go along while we hope the kids don’t catch on to our big charade. Or maybe I just don’t know what I’m doing. Please don’t tell my kids.

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The holidays always highlight the biggest flaws in my parenting, when this should be the time for me to really shine. I mean how can decking the halls, cookie decorating, shopping, listening to holiday music, and visiting Santa become bad parenting moments.

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It’s because they are never perfect. And nothing shines a spotlight on parenting imperfection like the holidays. The stress, the pressure, the events, the busyness, the food, the lack of time – many parents reach their breaking points. My breaking point comes in small doses that I put into the loving way I talk to my kids.

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Here are 10 things to say to kids this month to really get them into the Holiday Spirit! It’s worked for us! No stress here at all…nope, no stress…

  1. Get out of bed NOW! We have to be first in line to see Santa or we are not going at ALL! You will never see Santa again. It’s either first or NOTHING!
  2. Stop touching your sister or Santa will leave nothing for you! COAL! COAL! Do you like coal???
  3. Oh great, the frosting is now brown, it’s like you HATE CHRISTMAS.
  4. NO COOKIES FOR YOU!
  5. The heavy ornaments go on the top of the tree, the light ornaments on the bottom. How many times do I have to say this? You don’t deserve to decorate the tree EVER!
  6. Just pretend to hang the ornaments on the tree so I can get the picture. You’re standing in the wrong place. THIS IS STAGED DAMMIT! DON’T MOVE!
  7. THE ELF WILL DIE IF YOU TOUCH HIM! DID YOU TOUCH THE ELF???
  8. No presents for you!
  9. Oh sure, eat all the chocolate while kids everywhere are starving. It’s like we are made of chocolate now.
  10. This is not suppose to be fun – it’s just a picture for Instagram! You’re a child – do you not understand a game of pretend?

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Okay, I need some stress relief. Let’s just look at cat and Christmas tree pictures…

 

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Five For Friday

I’m just sharing five Instagrams for this Friday. I thought I would have more time to write today, but instead we were crazy busy and this is the first time I’ve even opened my laptop.

 

I hope you all enjoyed time with family and friends yesterday and today.

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  1. We celebrated the last day of school before break with a big coffee! She likes coffee. I like that she likes coffee. Maybe she will never grow because of the coffee. Maybe she’ll be my baby forever.
  2. A little yoga after my run on Wednesday morning. Seriously perfect sunrise. I was nice to run when it wasn’t pitch black.
  3. Thanksgiving family selfie. Beautiful snowy day!
  4. My first run this year with icy roads. I love and hate the snow and ice. It’s beautiful but makes for a difficult run.
  5. We went to the MOA for Black Friday. Eloise turns 13 in 5 days so she got to pick out a few things for her birthday. We had such a blast. I am NEVER a Black Friday shopper – but this was worth it. Just me and Eloise and her friend. We laughed for hours.

Happy Friday Friends. xoxoxo

 

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Monday

My dad and I spent the day in Duluth. My grandma is still kicking. Well, not really kicking…but still here with us. She’s been in hospice for two weeks and has surprised everyone. Well, she has surprised everyone that doesn’t know her well.

 

She’s too stubborn to die. The doctors had given her days just two weeks ago. Now they aren’t sure when she will slip away. But she’s failing. She hasn’t really eaten or drank in almost a month. Is DNR and doesn’t wake-up much.

 

But she smiled when I talked to her today. I spent the day beside her and watched The Price Is Right, The Young And The Restless, and Dr. Phil.

 

It was a good day. Even with bad TV.

 

Besides spending more time with my grandma, it was a bonus to spent five hours in the car with my dad. It’s not often that we get that kind of time to just chat. We talked about old times and good times and kid times, and we drank a lot of coffee. We always drink coffee together.

 

It was a good Monday.

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The AMAs

I’m sitting here with my three kids(and my two cats) watching the American Music Awards. Jed is in the other room watching Fargo or something. He doesn’t love pop and current culture. But ask him about Dave Matthews – he is your man! Although he is learning to Whip and Nae Nae…okay, not really. Please don’t ask him to Whip and Nae Nae. Mom, I’ll wait while you Google Whip and Nae Nae.

 

My girls are spending their time either sitting and singing and talking about which artists they love, or  jumping up and lunging towards the TV as their favorite artists perform. Astrid’s now gone to bed. I’m debating on if it’s a good idea to let the other two stay up until 10pm until this is over. I think they should. They’ll remember this one time on a Sunday night.

 

I wonder if they will remember watching this with me 30 years from now. Will they be 40ish watching with their own kids talking about how One Direction played a new song or that Ariana Grande was amazing. What will their Nae Nae be? Will they tell their kids that the music was better back in the teens or that new artists totally ripped off Rhianna, just like I’m pretty sure 5 Seconds Of Summer just played a Duran Duran song.

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I made my parents watch the AMAs with me back in the mid-1980s. My parents were not exactly relevant nor pop culture educated at the time. They still loved the hits from the 50s and 60s and felt comfortable and happy in their old music bubble. They didn’t understand my love for Boy George and Culture Club, my 80s punk, Billy Idol, or my need to wear pink eye shadow striped across my temple or streaks in my hair. I still remember jumping up and down and lunging at the TV and dancing when my favorite bands came on. My parents sat back in their recliners – my step dad with a smoke and my mom with a cup of Constant Comment tea – and smiled while shaking their heads. They didn’t get my obsession with the popular music of the day, but they respected me enough as a teenager to give me the latitude to like what I liked. Just like I don’t judge a little One Direction love going on here these days.

 

For me music will always bridge the generations – I still appreciate the 40s Big Band music that my Grandparents’ played, the twist and shouts that my dad loved, the folk music from my mom(with some Beatles mixed in), my 80s punk and pop, and now I can Whip and Nae Nae like a boss.

 

I just hope my kids let me come to their house in the 2040s with their kids so we can watch the AMAs all together…and let me share some music to pass down to the next generation of music lovers while I sit back with a cup of tea and a smile.

 

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Five For Friday

I’m linking up with Angela again this Friday!

 

Five Instagrams For A Friday:

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  1. #prayforparis I took this shot of The Eiffel Tower on Valentine’s Day 1999
  2. We took a family hike on Sunday. It was 60 degrees in November in Minnesota – CRAZY!!
  3. Mad for Plaid! LOVING all of the Fall offerings from Aventura this season! Love being an ambassador for them. I have coupon codes too – so now is the time to shop!
  4. Physical Training is going well and I’m getting stronger and faster! LOVE my wrap from Momentum Jewelry – 26.2 #boston2016 here I come!
  5. The holiday line from Matilda Jane Clothing is just dreamy – and these girls aren’t too shabby either! And cooperating for Holiday pictures no less!

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Five Posts For A Friday:

A lot has changed and happened since I posted last Friday. The world weeps as extremists terrorize the innocent. We need to weep along with them, yet let them know that we are not afraid. And we must continue to help the innocent.

 

The world is suffering the worst refugee crises in decades. One mother writes here about why we must all help and why.

 

Angela wrote one of my favorite things this week – nighttime running safety. I’ve written how I am one of those who actually prefers not to be seen as I’m more afraid of being attacked than of being hit by a car – and run knowing that I yield and give vehicles the right of way. Now that we’ve moved out of the city though – it’s DARK out here and I’m running like a Glow-Worm to see and be seen. Love her tips.

 

My dear friend Jennie lives just outside of Paris. Her family is safe and I love what she wrote this week. We continue to send love to her, her family, and her friends.

 

My friend Arnebya is a true gem, a brilliant writer, and just all around kick-ass person. What she wrote here about searching for love as a young girl hit hard and close to home…and now as a parent..whew.

 

And the best news all week – drinking coffee makes you live longer! So I believe I will live to be 526.

 

Happy Friday!

 

 

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Sundays

I had a hard time liking my family today. It can be hard to admit that sometimes. That no matter how much you love your family, sometimes…my god…

 

My husband frustrated me with his continued passive aggressive comments…and the dining room ceiling that is still not done.

 

My oldest for being OMG.SO.13. Seriously.

 

My middle for being lazy with her homework.

 

My youngest for whining more than she should.

 

One cat puked. Twice

 

The other cat bit my ankle. Four times.

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And yet – it was 60 degrees in a November, so we took a family hike to try to clear our minds and frustrations and attitudes.

 

And then I tried to take a 20 minute nap. But the cat wouldn’t get off me. He’s my least favorite today.

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I love my family. My family loves me. And I know there are days they don’t like me. Just like today they really got on my last nerve.

 

Tomorrow is thankfully another day.

 

It’s okay to be honest. Life isn’t Instagram-Perfect.

 

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Cousins And Coffee

The post will be short tonight as I’ve spent the day driving four hours to Duluth and back to say goodbye to my Grandma. Her 92nd birthday is just over a month away. She’s lived a long life. But I hate when people say that. What life is ever long enough? Maybe her best years were still to come. I don’t know.

 

All I know is I don’t want my death to feel like weak coffee, worn furniture, a cramped room, hushed voices, and visits with cousins that I only see when someone is dying. I’m thinking I want some stupid expensive red wine for everyone to share(or maybe some margaritas), mod and colorful furniture, loud voices with laughter, and cousins who make sure they see each other several times a year. In fact I want these cousins to see each other so much that they know pet names and favorite movies and have inside jokes.

 

I don’t know. I’m glad I went and had weak coffee and sat on worn furniture in this cramped room with stranger cousins because I got to hold my grandma’s hand, stroke her hair, and talk to her for awhile. I kept tickling her feet just hoping she’d wake-up to see me and smile just one last time – but knowing her, she would’ve woken up and asked me why she never received a thank you note from Astrid’s birthday. And believe me, I’m living with that guilt, Gram. And I loved seeing your “boys” and their families surround you today. You look beautiful.

 

And ironically, my grandpa’s picture was on the front page of the Duluth paper today. He piloted the Vermont tug for years, and was helping the Edmund Fitz back out of the harbor at one point before she sunk on this day 40 years ago.

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Maybe this was a sign that he is out there somewhere letting Gram know that it’s okay to say goodbye to us, and that he’s waiting for her. I take comfort in that. I can see them enjoying some weak coffee together soon.

 

xo

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Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy Birthday Dad, Papa, Aubie,

 

You texted me in the early morning hours today. You do this a lot. You head to work before 4am and you know that I am probably getting up to run by 5am. We’re alike like that, Dad. I like your early morning texts. No one else would think of texting so early.

 

But today’s text was different. Today’s text was telling me some pretty hard news about Grandma. That’s not the text I’m sure you wanted to send. Not the news you wanted to hear today, because it’s your birthday.

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So I want you to know that I’m holding you hard right now. I mean sure I’m on my couch in my home, wearing my jammies and covered with blankets and two cats, and you are in your house a few miles away, most likely already in bed because you get up by 3am. But I’m holding you hard, okay? Because when I see me, I see you, and I see her. The three of us are so much alike – in looks and quirks and all that stuff that comes with being family.

 

It’s times like now I’m glad that you live close. Well, I’m always glad that you live close. Although I did really like when you lived in Montana as it gave us a great ski vacation every year…but now I want you here. You are so much to my family and your girls adore you and you spoil them so incredibly with your unconditional love and time. And even though it’s hard for us to talk sometimes, I know you are there if I need help, advice, or a laugh. And I’m not sure what I’d do without our Saturday coffees. Does Caribou Coffee know you are spoiling your daughter with a treat from them every Saturday morning? I hope they recognize everything you do.

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Because I think about everything you do – as a partner and caregiver, as someone still working hard every single day at a job, as a son, as a brother, as a father, as a grandfather, and as a friend – and I hope you know how much you are loved and appreciated.

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So Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you. I appreciate you. I can never thank you enough for everything that you are. And please know that we are holding you right now especially and walking with you and loving you no matter what happens.

 

Love you,

Tracy, Jed, Eloise, Esther, and Astrid

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Blogging This Month

I had to reset my blog password yesterday as I couldn’t remember what it was after not logging on for a month. It’s weird how something so part of my heart and soul for nearly eight years could feel like almost nothing overnight. Well, maybe not overnight…but over the course of a few months.

 

Also, I’m sitting in the basement of our dance studio – where I now find myself four days per week, and the girls are done dancing in 15 minutes – so this needs to be rushed as usual. Which is another reason maybe I’m not blogging.

 

Blogging has evolved over the past many years. The race to be published in all the popular places, the race to prove that you are a great writer and worthy, the race to have something controversial enough to write and share so that you get your fame after just writing for so long. Meh. I miss blogs. I miss seeing your kids in cute costumes without worrying if the words that go along with the pictures are worthy of a bigger audience than ten. I miss being humble and human.

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But oddly enough, I don’t miss blogging.

 

And my friends and strangers that I wanted to see and follow – well I still see and read them. I see their cute kids on Instagram and Facebook(does anyone visit Twitter anymore?). But mostly I see my own kids and their friends. I find that as they are getting older, they need me more. Sure, it’s not to make a snack or clean up a mess – but it is to be more present, to drive carpool, to sit next to them for their first R rated movies, or to snuggle up in bed at night and talk about the day- talk about complicated things and emotional things and funny things. And as they are now on social media and such – well I want to make sure they see me put my computer and phone down more. Lately I’ve been using my phone more to Google homework help than to check for likes on an Instagram photo. I’ve been focusing on what I can do(and they can do) more altruistically – and I love the writers that do this well.

So….

 

I’m trying to blog everyday this November. Not because I really want to blog anymore, but because I want to write again. I want to exercise that muscle with words that have been sitting inside my head for many months. Writing is still a sweet release that unburdens my heart and gives me peace. I’ve been missing that. But I guess not missing it enough that I’ve taken the time to say hi here lately.

 

I’m trying to figure out a way to blog for a good reason. To blog for others. To blog when it makes sense and does something good. But not for me.

 

So hi.

 

Here’s to a beautiful November. May your leaves be gorgeous, your skies blue, your families healthy, and your dreams brilliant.

 

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Halloween 2015

I was trying to remember when I stopped Trick-or-Treating. We spent the Halloween of my sixth grade on vacation in Washington D.C., so I know I didn’t do it then. And I’m thinking that I never did it again after that. There used to be a bit of unwritten rule as the age of “13” being the cut-off age for asking for candy. Even I, as a new parent with very little ones, wondered about the adult sized “kids” that would ring the bell on Halloween. But then as my kids started getting older, and as more and more older kids came to our door in full costume, well I decided that all kids should be able to just be kids for as long as they want. As long as they put a little effort into a costume and have good manners, well then I say “let them eat chocolate!” Because if they don’t eat it, Lord knows I will eat it all.

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Eloise was Audrey Hepburn this year. She’s had it planned out for months. We went to Goodwill and found her dress and gloves, tiara and jewelry. She borrowed my shoes and wore a fur cape that we had in our costume bin. And no, she’s not wearing any make-up but on her eyes and lips…because yes, her skin really is that creamy and amazing. I think she’d make a perfect Snow White one of these years. She was stunning. And yes went door to door for awhile in those shoes…until wisely changing into her ballet flats.

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Esther was a Hippie from the 60s. Or maybe Julie the American Girl Doll. She had a hard time deciding on a costume this year and honestly we ended up at Goodwill on Friday searching for ideas and put together this whole outfit at one store for about $12.00. It’s perfect on her. Now she just needs a cool VW bus.

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Astrid was a leopard. She was suppose to be a black and white bunny – and we even had all of the fabric to make it. But a few weeks ago she found Esther’s old leopard costume while digging through the bins in the attic. And voila – she wanted to be a leopard. I love it on her – and also love that she can just pull on her cozy black UGGs to to keep warm during the cool nights we have here now.

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I was Rosie the Riveter. I’ve been dressing up for the past few years and love the new tradition – no matter the strange looks I get at times – or the extreme embarrassment of my children. I love seeing more and more adults dressing up now! My costume is actually a rejected dance costume from the girls’ studio. For $10 – it was a steal and worked out perfectly!

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We spent today resting after the stress of getting it all put together. And now we EAT ALL OF THE CHOCOLATE!!!

 

Happy November, friends. Maybe you’ll see me around here a little more this month.

Miss you. xo

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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