Taking A Tumble

The email read innocently enough “Astrid is now the only child enrolled in our Monday morning gymnastic class so we will need to find another class for her to join. The following are your options…”

 

Strange though. It was now March, and this four year old class started in September. We had now spent the school year with our Monday morning ritual. Astrid has made friends with her four ‘tumbling-mates’ and I’ve made nice with the other moms. No one had mentioned dropping out or switching classes when we just saw them a few days ago. Astrid liked her gymnastic friends and class very much and at times on a Sunday night would say “Gymnastics is tomorrow so I get to see Hannah!”

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And as much as I’m not very good at making mom friends at these types of things – I did enjoy this hour each week with the five of us sitting in comfortable chairs, lattes in hand, watching our kids through the big picture window as we discussed school choices, the cold winter, and a bit of celebrity gossip.

 

If you are or have been a parent of a preschooler – you know how these weekly morning classes go – whether a music class, book group, ECFE group, tumbling class, or soccer – it’s a constant for the school year and part of your schedule. A place for your kids to try something new, a place to meet new friends, a place to fill a morning when you can’t fathom another long morning at home in the long winter, a place of comfort in your week that you count on.

 

But this was actually more than that. Gymnastic is something she loves. She can do forward and backward rolls, balance on the beam, and is learning to flip over the bar. She’s proud of herself and I love that about her. As we all know, these excursions into “Hey, let’s try this!” – whether violin, baseball, or chess club – can sometimes not go too well for anybody.

 

“I guess we will try Thursday night.” I wrote back. None of the new times looked great and I wish I had contact numbers for the other moms to see if they dropped out or moved to another time, as it would be nice for Astrid to continue gymnastics with them.

 

Thursday night was everything Monday morning wasn’t. It wasn’t just the quiet, small preschool class in the gym – but 10 classes going on at once – from preschool to the college team training in different corners of the smallish space. But a light came in the chaos ,while Astrid shed her snow pants down to her leotard, was that two of her friends from Monday were also in the hallway – including Hannah.

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Until they lined up and while Hannah and the other friend lined up in one place – Astrid was asked to line up with another group. I could see a bit of worry mixed with her own strong brave face as she watched her Monday friends go in a different direction. And I watched her through the window as she jumped, balanced, tumbled, and rolled with her new class.

 

“Did you have fun?” I asked her when she came out of class and she showed me her stamp on her hand from her new teacher.

 

“It was okay. Busy. But I wish I could be with my friends.” She said quietly as she sat on the dirty floor to pull on her leggings and socks.

 

“I’ll contact them tomorrow to see what we can do.” I told her. “But maybe that class is already full.”

 

I emailed the director asking if Astrid could be moved with her friends if there was room. Her answer surprised me.

 

“Oh, they’ve moved up to a more advanced level and Astrid is not ready for that yet. So no, they cannot be together. If Astrid wants to continue to do gymnastics she’ll have to stay at a lower level – which is the class she is now assigned to on Thursday nights.”

 

Lower level.

 

My first reaction was visceral “MY daughter? My daughter IS good and deserves to be with the more advanced level with the other four year olds!” And “Astrid – now you have to work harder and then you can be with your friends!” I sheepishly admit I thought that. Said that. Wanted that.

 

Until the next week as we drove away from another Thursday night class of Astrid watching her friends across the room and she said to me “I don’t like gymnastics anymore.”

 

After loving, and announcing it as her favorite activity for the past six months.

 

So I went back to the gym’s website to see what it said about the classes and of ‘moving up levels’ and of ‘handling of preschooler confidence and emotions,’ and all it had were age group classes listed. We signed up for a 4-5 year old class for the school year. And it was our expectation to be in it, and with consistency for the year. I know kids will be at different skill levels – just like they are for any activity – but to start dividing them up and showing them where they belong on the skill ladder at this age. Well that just hurt us both.

 

And made her start not liking something she started having a passion for.

 

Now I’m not one of those parents who believe that all kids should be equal in activities, no winners or losers, and medals for participating – but to squash kids at four years old in their first year at an activity? I’m not sure what the point of it all is. Maybe those other four year olds who are ‘more advanced’ now can keep their legs a little straighter on a cartwheel, but it’s not like they’re doing split jumps on the beam yet either.

 

So I emailed the gym director one more time and asked if there was another class we could try, and we found an opening on a Friday afternoon. It’s a small class, with some sweet kids, and she doesn’t have to see her old friends across the gym anymore. And when these lower level kids finished last week, Astrid ran to me with a smile to show me her stamp.

 

“Did you have fun?” I asked.

 

“Yes, mama – this was much more fun today. I guess maybe I’ll keep trying gymnastics for awhile.”

 

And we walked out of the gym hand in hand without a care in the world about her level. Because she had fun.

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Do you feel they should start diving kids based upon skills and levels at this age? What’s your experience?

 

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A Cooking Birthday Party For Kids

I love to celebrate birthdays – and have been known to throw a few wonderful birthday parties in the past. From princesses and butterflies or rainbow birthdays to yellow themes or peace signs and slumber parties to Yo Gabba Gabba and Alice in Wonderland – my girls spend months thinking about themes, crafts, food and friends. We even have parties for our cats. And I’ll spoil them rotten on this day – because it is truly their day. Call me over the top, call me obsessive, call me Tracy – but don’t call me crazy because you’re only a kid once – so why not do it up in style while you can. And hey, if you want balloons and clowns even when you turn 45 – I say go for it.

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But.

 

Having ‘in-home’ parties has become less appealing to me over the last few years. This weird thing happens – the kids GET BIGGER. And while 10 five year olds doesn’t seem like a big deal in your modest home, 10 eleven year olds cannot all fit in one room. Also – they don’t totally enjoy playing pin the tail on the donkey or doing my lame crafts I come up with. So our theme parties have slowly turned into slumber parties(the type where I sit in the kitchen and watch Scandal and drink red wine – which AWESOME), but even I(even with wine) cannot handle a slumber party every single year. Also tween girls scream. What is UP with the screaming? So this year I convinced both of my older girls that we should ‘hire-out’ and have off-site birthday parties.

 

And while I’ve always liked in-home parties because I’ve always considered them to be more economical – if I factor in all of my time to clean and prepare and decorate and coordinate and manage and buy everything – well it turns out having an off-site party is about the same cost and I HAVE TO DO NOTHING. But show up. And read People magazine with a latte.

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But I also wanted to make sure it was a party where everywhere hung out and did things together. I didn’t want a big bouncy house thing or open rec day or something where I would be chasing kids and mending broken arms. I still wanted all the kids to be a group and do something that Esther was passionate about. Also, we like quiet things. And less screaming.

 

Also note that I’m anxious for the day when my kids are old enough to just be passionate about a mani/pedi spa day and fancy lunch with me and just a few of their friends. I think this day is coming soon.

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Esther loves to cook and bake. So I Googled cooking schools in Minnesota and found a very awesome place called “Way Cool Cooking School!” I called and they had the date we needed available, so we loaded up two minivans full of 11 tween girls and off we went for a few hours of cooking.

 

The Way Cool Cooking School did EVERYTHING. The craft – they decorated aprons and all of the guests signed Esther’s apron. The lunch – they all made their own pizzas from the crust on up. The cake – they provided a birthday cake already made and decorated, and the kids made homemade cupcakes and decorated them to take home. The treat – they made chocolate dipped ‘mini microphone’ marshmallow treats. The goodie bags – they provided each child a ‘left-over’ box with fun cooking utensils, treats, and recipes. They did ALL of the set-up and the clean-up.

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I did nothing but deliver the girls to them and then I honestly read a magazine for two hours.

 

And Esther and the girls all said it was one of the best parties ever. I loved that it gave them a skill, they had fun, and we didn’t have to worry about the mess. The ‘chef’ was so incredible with the girls and I just cannot recommend a party like this enough. I would say it would be perfect for kids ages 7-13 and those that are able to sit and really pay attention for an extended period of time. The chef taught them some great cooking skills and shared some fun recipes.

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I have a feeling we will be going back there soon as they also offer classes and camps for kids. (And no, they have no idea who I am or that I’m writing this).

 

Do you love to have home parties or off-site parties for your kids?

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It’s A Good Thing You Can’t Have More Kids

“MOM!!!” She screamed at 3am. I was finally sleeping in my own bed after spending three nights in hers. Those three nights in hers meant very little sleep, so my sleep now was heavy and needed. Jed had to even nudge me “Trace – Astrid’s calling for you.” And this was the man that never heard any of our babies wake up once. Now me thinks he did…

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I rushed to her side thinking the worst(puke all over her bed), but instead found a little blond imp sitting up and just smiling at me.

 

What is in love? Why did you yell for me? Are you okay?

 

“Yeah, I’m okay. I just wanted your company. I missed you when I woke up. I couldn’t touch you. So now I can touch you.”

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I sat on her bed and she rubbed my knee and smiled.

 

Okay, I’ll just snuggle beside you for a few minutes until you fall back asleep.

 

“Thank you mama for giving me company.”

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My intention was for her to close her eyes and drift back to sleep, and then I would go back to bed.

 

Her intention was to use my new ‘company’ in her bed for a little conversation. As it turns out when you spend 24/7 was a sick child for four days, they really get used to you being with you and doting on only them. And it’s not like when they are four you can leave them to their own devices for care.
Basically it’s a no win situation. And they know it.

 

“Mama, it’s a good thing you won’t have any more babies, right?

 

I guess so sweetie. But why do you think it’s a good thing? And we really need to get back to sleep.

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“Well, it would just be so awkward for that new baby?”

 

Awkward? Awkward how?

 

“Well you know you could never love them as much as you love me, and you’d have to tell them that. And well..AWKWARD!”

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Yeah, you’re right, that would be awkward for them. Good thing you’re the baby forever I guess, huh?

 

“Yeah, that was really good planning, Mama.”

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She so knows her rightful place in this family and uses it daily to her advantage. Girlfriend gets me every single time.

 

I just hope she doesn’t need more ‘company’ tonight.

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She Loves Me Anyway

I make a lot of mistakes as a mother. While our oldest daughter will always officially be our guinea pig, our trials and errors do not belong exclusively to her and to talk about ‘from the couch’ one day. Her sisters will join her there.

 

I would not call myself a ‘mean’ mother, but I am a ‘firm’ mother. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t yelled. Because I have.

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I’ve also apologized more times than I can count because I am not above mistakes and I’d prefer a relationship of mutual respect with my kids.I don’t want to be their boss. I am here to be their guide.

 

I forget things. I’ve forgotten my kids at school and activities. I forgot Astrid once as she slept in her car seat that I put down on the sidewalk while I loaded the car. But thankfully had just pulled away from the curb when I realized my grave mistake.

 

I’ve been taking an ‘in the car’ body count since that day.

 

I’ve forgotten field trips and important papers to be sent back to school. I’ve forgotten birthday parties and important parts of costumes or projects that I was suppose to buy for them.

 

I’ve fed them junk food and drive-thru and don’t buy organic fruit.

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I’m inflexible and probably not as warm as they’d like sometimes.

 

I work from home, thus the line between “Is mommy working” vs “Is mommy not working” is blurred and most of the time I feel like I’m failing at both.

 

Mornings are hectic no matter how early we rise or how organized we seem and I’m always short with them as we hustle out the door. As the bus pulls away I always think that if this is the last time we see each other – what will they remember about me.

 

I hate playing games(except cards), don’t understand make-believe, I’m a horrible artist, don’t craft, don’t allow glitter, and I don’t love play-dates…here.

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I’m the type of mom that gives her kids plenty of opportunities for independence and learning. You won’t find me trying to entertain them on the weekends. Sometimes I wonder if maybe I’m too detached.

 

I have faults too long to list – just like any human and mother.

 

And when I feel overwhelmed and that I’m doing it all wrong.

 

I need to remember one thing.

 

Kids are kids.

 

And their simple needs are love and security.

 

And if I search though the life of each day of chaos and busy and schedules and short tempers and toys everywhere  – I see love and security everywhere for them.

 

I don’t need to play Monopoly or dollies to give them that.

 

And even if we’ve had a bad morning, I am still greeted each day with a picture from Astrid.

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A picture of us(without clothes…with our belly buttons showing…ahem). But us. Together.

 

That’s what Astrid sees. That’s what she knows and loves. And she draws me a picture of us every day. I have 240 of these so far. And if you think I’m making a book. Well you are correct.

 

“Mommy, you’re my best friend and you’re the best mommy ever.”

 

And any mommy guilt I have disappears.

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Join Amanda of Dude Mom and 11 others as we celebrate being Happy Mamas each month. Join us and let’s start a movement together.


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We Did Not Like The LEGO Movie

I took my kids to see the new LEGO movie today. We went in with an open mind and not a disdain for all things Lego. We own LEGOs. We play with LEGOs. We don’t worship the LEGO like we might some other toys. But a LEGO-liking-family we are.

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My only bias to watching the LEGO movie is that I’m not a huge fan of kid movies in general. I might also fall asleep in most of them…BUT…if my kids loved or even liked the movie ..then it was still a good movie in my opinion…because my kids enjoyed it. And I fake it for them.

 

I mean, have you seen Free Birds? One of the worst movies of the century. But my kids found it funny and enjoyed themselves, so I pretended that I did not sleep and totally enjoyed myself too. Do NOT go see it though. OMG so bad.

 

But the LEGO movie disappointed all of us. I mean – I loved the positive messages of believing in yourself and everyone has a special gift and everyone plays differently and all the good stuff we teach our kids – and I kind of liked when it all came together FINALLY with the actual real dad letting his real kids PLAY. Got it. Good.

 

But oh my gosh – the 90 minutes before that were so dang boring. Eloise was asking to leave. Astrid fell asleep. And Esther was people watching. I nodded off a few times, but tried to keep it together to actually watch the whole show. And I also noticed that most adults were not laughing out loud during the scenes that I thought were actually kind of clever.

 

Here’s the thing though – I am glad that you and you and you and you enjoyed the LEGO movie. Because the majority of the population seemed to love it. Awesome. But people seem to have a major emotional attachment to this movie, and saying that you don’t love it is like getting into a debate about SAHMs vs WAHMs or breast vs bottle. Chill people.

 

Speaking of chilling…..We loved Frozen – BECAUSE OLAF. But I get that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. And I would never question why you didn’t like it or how you could not appreciate the message. Cool. Not frozen – just cool. Just don’t come over to our house because the snowman building is rampant around here.

 

And I loved the movie Brave – but my kids hated it. HATED it. I will never understand them. And I will probably never understand kid movies. I will never understand kids.

 

Another one you may not believe – but none of us liked any of the Toy Story movies. None of them. None of us. WHO ARE WE?

 

But Smurfs?? BIG FANS! Don’t hate me for it. Maybe it was because Smurfs 2 was set in Paris. Paris.

 

So dish – what kid movie do you love the most? Do you have a kid movie that your kids loved but you hated? Or maybe a kid movie that you loved and your kids wonder why you keep watching because they did not love it?

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An Ode To Play-Doh

A Play-Doh Poem

-Just Because I’m Trying To Stay Sane Right Now


Your squishy clay

Your bright colors

Make it hard to resist you

But when you dry up

And land on my floors

It makes it hard not to dis you.

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You stick in hair

And carpeting

And on my cats and chairs

But when my kids create

Their ‘art’

I decide that I do not care.

 

They build boats and cars

And cookies with the clay

Kids ages 2 to 12 together

Find this fun to play.

 

So I walk away

From the mess I see

From this ‘doh’

They use for creations

Their snowman, dolls,

Fruit and fun made

From their own imaginations.

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Yet days later after

They’ve cleaned and put

All the ‘doh’ away

I still find the bright pieces

of clay imbedded in

The socks I wore that day.

 

So again I curse the

Devil ‘doh’

For entering our domain

I toss it quickly in the trash

Knowing we will buy more

When it rains.

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Cold Weather Day Fun

Schools are closed today. Not for snow, but for cold. We had -45 wind chills this morning with actual temps of -22. I went for a four mile run and actually felt a bit overdressed. One layer too many – but it was good to be warm and safe and I take preparation for any cold weather run very seriously.

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I also welcome concerned, adult, encouraging, kind and even humorous conversations about crazy cold weather running on social media. But some people like to throw around the word ‘stupid’ instead. Because that’s now how I guess people constructively talk to other people in 2014. Attacking strangers on social media is the new fashion of the season. YAY us!

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Which makes me sad for all of humanity.  Also now I feel obligated to contact the internets to make sure I’m dressing my kids appropriately when I let them go outside in this cold. Because we did go outside. I have so much guilt.

 

So to get over my awesome berating on the twitter this morning, we decided to do a cold winter weather science experiment. We boiled water and threw it into the air to see if it really does just freeze immediately into little ice crystals and vaporize. And it does! So cool! (Please note for all of you worried internet people – I did this experiment before my daughter did it just to make sure it really worked so I did not feel like I was putting her at risk that boiling water would rain down on her panda hat cuteness…so please don’t call me icky internet words).

Then we went to see Disney’s Frozen again and now are even more obsessed with Olaf The Snowman.

 

Then we had donuts.

 

Now we are eating popcorn and drinking hot cocoa.

 

All the good things you are suppose to do when school is called off.

 

However, now school is also called off for tomorrow. One day off is fun, two days off calls for an emergency plan to keep the kids entertained without donuts and cocoa. Maybe I’ll just go for a long run in the frigid temps and think about some fun things we can do as a family.

 

So do you love when school is called off? What is your favorite activity for kids on a day off from school?

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I’m also honored and crazy excited that my post On Being Vulnerable is syndicated on BlogHer today!

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I’ll Take The Root Canal Instead Of The Uterine Ablation

Blood quickly started running out of my vagina, through my underwear, soaking my very awesome olive green skinny jeans and started oozing down my leg.

 

As I was standing in line to pay at H&M.

 

Mind you that I was not wearing a sweater or coat to cover my bottom or to wrap around in front of me, and my handbag is medium size and structured so also of no use for camouflage.

 

Also I had just inserted TWO super tampons just one hour earlier as my period started yesterday morning.

 

I’d also like to take this time to remind you that I had just started my period two weeks ago when I bled all over the dental exam chair while getting a root canal. And since I haven’t had my period in about four days, well it was really time for it to start again.

 

Which is why I was seriously saving for a Uterine Ablation or putting one on my daughter’s Christmas list.

“Dear Santa, I would very much like Saige the new American Girl Doll, Roller Blades, an iPod Touch, and of course a Uterine Ablation for my mom so she doesn’t bleed through clothing when we are out in public anymore. Love, Eloise”

 

Because when you have high deductible insurance you pray to Santa for all things to do with your uterus.

 

So while I’ve been saving up for a fun visit to the doctor to have my uterus scraped and lasered and stuff…a tooth fell out because a filling from 1975 went bad. And I ignored this hole in my mouth for about four months(did I mention we also don’t have dental insurance) until HOLY HELL A NERVE WAS EXPOSED and THE PAIN…OH THE PAIN!

 

So for the next three days I sat at the dentist getting a root canal and a crown and writing a check for $2600! Because how fun is that! I now have no pain, a new tooth and I fear my uterine ablation is now off Santa’s List.

 

Because as a mom(or parent) we don’t prioritize things like our lady parts when we need to spend money – we put off haircuts and doctor’s appointments, going to the dentist and buying ourselves Spring wardrobes while we make sure our kids are properly outfitted and signed up for soccer.

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Mom Money Prioritization goes something like this….

1. Food for kids

2. Shelter for kids

3. Clothing and shoes for kids

4. Cat food and litter

5. School supplies and books for kids

6. Activities for kids – sports, dance, piano et al

7. Birthdays and holidays for kids including presents

8. Your kids friend’s birthday presents

9. Charitable contributions

10. Kids dental and doctor visits.

11. Braces for kids

12. Vet visit for cat

13. Cell phone bills

14. House repair needs

15. Vacation savings

16. Saving for college

17. One haircut per year

18. Razor refills to shave your legs

19. Dental appointments for you

20. Your uterus

 

So off I go to buy another box(or 20) of Super Tampons and wish someday the tampon makers would realize that they have a HUGE market to capture of perimenopausal women who need the Super Deluxe Paper Towel Roll Size Extra Absorbent Tampons so they don’t have to worry about leaking out in front of their children. Or the cashier at H&M. Or their dentist. Or on the car seat. Or ever.

 

Do you prioritize money differently now that you are a parent?

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How To Speak Dog. I mean CAT #NGKInsider

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Our cat Truffle turned three last week so I tried to take birthday photos. To which he said “Are you kidding me?” Because it doesn’t matter how much you might think you can coerce a cat to still still and nicely for you – YOU CANNOT! Unless you drug them, which I totally would never do.

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I also don’t believe we will ever know what a cat is saying – because cats are more smart, savvy and cunning than us – which makes them an eternal mystery. And also adorable.

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And who wants a predictable pet?

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Those crazy dog lovers, that’s who! Seriously, such an ‘easy to read’ animal. And it’s also why you need to get How To Speak Dog  – another awesome book from National Geographic Kids.

How to Speak Dog is a fun, informative, and photographically driven book that helps kids understand what their dog is trying to tell them through body language and behavior. Super-engaging dog photography, along with National Geographic Kids’ signature bold and bouncy design, helps illustrate the key canine concepts. Quick-hit tip boxes, fun facts about mankind’s best friends, and informative sidebars from the experts enliven the text. Readers young and old will respond to the irresistible call of the canine in this delightful book that warms hearts and wag tails everywhere—a must-have in every home where pups are looking for love and understanding.

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We love the animal and pet books from National Geographic for our kids. These non-fiction wonders are entertaining while they are education and so fun to read and look at the pictures whether you’re 4 or 44.

 

And there’s probably not a How To Speak Cat book – because cats are too awesome to be interviewed. Or even look at you.

 

But if you love cats, dogs or just a good joke – check out National Geographic’s new Just Joking App – it’s a FREE app for kids and we’ve been having a ball with it this week. Here are some Halloween favorites to try on your kids tomorrow!

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Q: What happens when a ghost gets lost in fog? A: He is mist.
Q: Why did Dracula become a vegetarian? A: Because his doctor told him “stake” was bad for his heart.
Q: What is a monster’s favorite place to swim? A: Lake Erie.
Q: How do you fix a broken jack-o’-lantern? A: With a pumpkin patch.
Q: What did one ghost say to the other ghost? A: “Get a life!”
Knock, knock. Who’s there? Zombies. Zombies who? Zombies make honey and zombies dont’
Q: Why don’t mummies go on vacation? A: They’re afraid they might unwind.

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Disclosure: I’m a National Geographic Kids Insider – and I love taking you inside the Yellow Boarder for fun activities for your families. I am not paid for my time with them – I just love them. And cats.

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Finally An Answer To All Of Their Questions

“Mommy why don’t cats talk like people?”

 

“Mommy why are plates round but you can’t throw them like balls?”

 

“Mommy, does Bob Marley’s mommy live in Hamsterdam?”

 

“Mommy, are cats and dogs best friends sometimes?”

 

“Mom, why can’t I have a phone of my own?”

 

“Mommy, how do they get those people in the TV?”

 

Survey says that kids ask about 1000 questions a day(okay, I just made that number up as I’m just going by my personal experience with three curious kids in the house – so consider that an average). And I admit that much of the time I cannot answer their questions. Or keep a straight face.

 

This is 30 second picture into my typical day…

But there is one question that I need to answer, and that is “What’s for dinner?” And the best way in to get all three kids to smile and say “Right answer, Mom!” during our cool Fall weather here in Minnesota, is to answer with “Campbell’s Tomato Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches!”

And then maybe they will be too busy eating to ask me why squirrels cannot fly airplanes.

 

Or maybe they can just ask The Wisest Kid In The Whole World!

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The Wisest Kid, discovered by Campbell’s Soup is an 8 year old who lives on a mountaintop and offers lighthearted advice to parents about what makes kids happy, especially around mealtime. He may not be able to tell you about “Hamsterdam” but he will offer kid-friendly mealtime tips, recipes and more to help parents avoid the “Mealtime dilemma.” We’ve all been there, right?

[Read more...]

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Finish Strong

“Did you win, Mommy?” Were Astrid’s first words as she walked in the door Saturday at noon and immediately reached up so her arms could wrap around me. “I missed you.” She whispered as her mouth met my ear.

 

“No, Baby, I didn’t win.” I answered. “But I wasn’t trying to win. I was just happy to finish strong.”

 

“Oh Mom, that’s too bad.” Esther said as she hugged me around my waist and I kissed the top of her head.

 

Eloise gave me her typical kind of ‘lean-in to touch shoulders with me, almost a high-five, bend her head down to meet mine, and then turn away quickly’ pseudo tween hug and said “Good job anyway, Mom. Do you know the person who won?”

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Their innocent faith in my abilities made my heart grow 50 sizes in that short, shared moment. Because honestly winning was never in my game-plan, training plan, mind-set, physical abilities or truthfully even a pipe-dream that I’ve ever had.

 

I just wanted to finish the race with a decent time, not last, and without poop in my shorts.

 

Kind of like I just want us all to reach bedtime each day alive..and maybe clean. My goals are small, short-term and I hope doable.

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That’s how I tackle motherhood, because frankly the daily defeats would leave me frustrated and depressed.

 

So my mantra each day of motherhood is just to finish strong.

 

I mean sure we want good things each day – a favorite meal, a new book, to run around outside in the sprinkler with friends and to go on a bike ride. Maybe we got to watch our favorite show, taught our cat a new trick or went out for ice cream.

 

Good things happen along the route each day of our race – the fans clap, we get water, someone yells our name tells us we are doing awesome. But that still doesn’t make me win or even give me the will to want to win.

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It just gives me the will to keep going – even on those very hard days and miles that I just want to quit – one foot in front of the other, waffle toasted, one more dish put away, shirt folded, bo0-boo kissed, pictured colored, lunch packed, lap snuggled, tooth brushed, goodnight kiss.

 

Because this motherhood road is long and winding with finishers medals that look like clay hand-prints for Christmas trees and smudges on light switches..and juice boxes remains that we drink instead of champagne.

 

And I will never be a winner in this race – but for my children, I vow to try to always finish strong for them each day. Because they believe I can.

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And to hopefully I will do it without poop in my pants.

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#blogust ’13 Moments Matter. Comments Count.

Astrid is running fast now. It’s weird when that happens..when toddlers turn to preschoolers who turn to almost school-age kids. How their wobbly first steps turn into clumsy walking then running with trips and falls as they still kind of toddle back and forth..but then…one day they run like the wind. Their legs move easily forward in a fluid motion with a perfect kick at the end as they draw their foot up again for yet another perfect stride.

 

And off she goes. This is how I know she is four.

 

And as she runs, her hair flies behind her – just like a big girl.

 

She’s a big girl.

 

And she got that chance  to be a very big four.

Unlike so many children around the world because they do not have access to simple and life-saving vaccines, and a child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could be prevented from a simple vaccine.

 

And those children will never see their 4th birthday. They will never run, never feel the wind in their face as they stride quickly playing with friends.

Some will never even learn to walk.

 

So it’s time that we make a difference.

 

And it’s so easy.

 

Join us for the whole month of August for Blogust.

 

Blogust is a month-long digital dialogue
bringing 31 of the most influential online writers
together to help change the world through
blogging . 31 days, 31 children, and 31 stories of
growing up. Make an impact. Join the

conversation. For every comment on any of the 31 posts,
Walgreens Pharmacy will donate a life-saving
vaccine (up to 50,000 vaccines) to give
children around the world a shot at life


It’s so easy. Click over to learn more about Blogust on Shot At Life to follow along each day to click over and comment on each and every blog post. Let’s get 50,000 vaccines and save so many children’s lifes – giving each of them the same shot at first steps, blowing out birthday candles, first hugs, first giggles, first words…and a shot at life. Because every child deserves a chance.

 

***I am a Shot At Life Champion and would love your support on this important cause.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Tablet Review

So here’s the problem with having more than one child – you basically have to buy them all the same thing because somethings are just hard to share…like a piece of chewing gum, one movie seat, or the coolest device that they’ve ever seen – like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Tablet.

 

Yeah, our new ‘friend‘ is causing quite the stir on our family road trip because any other device no longer measures up.

Well basically, my kids are not fighting over the Samsung Galaxy- I AM the one keeping it for myself since I do not have GPS in my car, so I love the mapping application to help me with my drive..and 2600 miles I have yet to get lost…well except maybe that one time when I let Astrid take the tablet for some cake decorating game. “Hey Mom, sorry we are lost in Boston, but look at the rainbow cake that I made for you that you cannot eat!”

[Read more...]

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Five Things To Expect From Sending Your Kids Away To Summer Camp

We packed their bags together. We(okay, mostly I) carefully put shirts and shorts together in tight rolls as outfits….enough for six days. We put clean underwear and socks in one tidy compartment, and packed four pairs of long pants to wear during horseback riding. I told them that they would most likely want to change into shorts or something after riding as they would be stinky, and that I packed some extra shirts too, just in case.

 

I also bought them shower shoes for the communal showers at the camp. I filled shampoo and soap bottles so they had enough for a shower a day…but yet I still fretted that they wouldn’t have enough soap. I reminded them to shower each day, and brush their teeth. I packed the requested (1) beach towel and (1) bath towel and really tried to figure out how I could send them each for a few more towels – because how could two towels really be enough for a whole week?

 

Their bags were heavy as they each packed about six books each, and journals and pens and note-cards for writing about their days and to write home. They both love to read and I think I imagined each of them using their few hours of free-time each day leaning against trees and getting lost in a book…just like at home.

 

The bus ride up to camp was three hours long, so I assumed they would need a snack. I packed granola bars and crackers, a little candy snack, and some fun little games to keep them occupied.

 

I guess in my crazy mom head I assumed they were going to fashion camp, where each camper would have a large closet where they could hang-up their large wardrobe of clothes, feel the need to shower daily(just like at home), and they would have unlimited leisure time in which to curl-up with a book. Maybe I also thought they would be alone. Especially on the bus. And the camp would not feed them.

 

I was clueless and should evidently not be allowed to send my kids off to sleep-away camp again as I think I’m actually ‘That Mom’ that packs embarrassing things in their luggage and sends them too much mail.

 

In fact they liked being away from me so much that the first thing both of them said to me at pick-up was “Mom, can we go for 2-3 weeks next year?”

So for those parents who have never sent their kids away to camp – here are a few pointers for you to make their camp preparations a little bit easier.

 

1. They will not shower. Sure, they seem like clean beings at home. They shower daily, wash their faces and brush their teeth..but until their camp counselors actually physically force them into the shower…they will not shower. So don’t waste your time packing all the fancy toiletries and soap and stuff..just assume a few good swims in the lake will suffice.

 

2. They will not change clothes. Ever. Like you know that outfit they are wearing when you drop them off? That’s what they will be wearing when you pick them up. Yes, even those kids who like to change their clothing 85 times when you are at home – they will also wear the same clothing for seven days straight.

 

3. They will not use the plastic laundry bag that you included in their suitcase for their dirty clothing and wet suits and towels. They will throw that wet towel right into their suitcase, and pile in onto ALL of their clean clothing and it will stink to high heaven. In fact it will stink so much that half way home you have to stop and tie the suitcase onto your car’s roof because you swear something died in there.

 

4. They will not read or journal or write notes home. Not because they don’t like to do those things, but because they are busy and making new friends. Don’t get mad because you never heard from them…because they don’t need that shit. Just be glad they were too busy to miss you.

 

Which brings me to #5…

 

5. Chances are that your kids won’t miss you. Oh sure, they still love you and want to live with you and all and don’t want to leave you forever….yet, but Summer camp provides so much to do – new experiences, new friends, new fun, and is busy and awesome and seriously so fabulous, that they don’t have time to miss you. So don’t be sad if your 10 year old – instead of running up to you and giving you a big hug when she first sees you at pick-up – just throws her sweatshirt at you and says “hold this” while she continues to go off and hang-out with her new friends. She’ll eventually come around and give her baby sister a hug…right before she tells you that she needs to come to camp for much, much longer next Summer.

 

So next Summer, when I pack their bags again for camp, and this time for 2-3 weeks, I’m pretty sure a small backpack with two changes of clothing and a toothbrush will suffice…along with my mother-heart during this letting go process that just gets bigger and bigger each year.

 

But that’s okay, clean or not, I’m so damn proud of my kids.

 

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Another School Year

I’m just going to go ahead and sum up this school year with one word. Meh.

 

In full disclosure,  I don’t really think it’s my business to talk about the school year. It’s not my school, not my teacher, not my friends, not my daily routine. It’s theirs.

But I’m still going to give this school year a ‘meh’ as last year was such a ‘WOW’ that this year just seemed to fall a bit flat for both my girls. It’s bound to happen I guess. Some years are just so awesome and some years are just ‘meh’ and you hope to hell that the years of ‘really sucked’ are very, very few. Eloise had a ‘really sucked’ during her first grade year, and thus far Esther has been lucky to live in the mainly ‘WOW’ category, with now one ‘meh.’ Not bad in my opinion.

First Day Of School/Last Day Of School

My kids love school. They don’t get excited about Summer. They like structure and seeing friends every day. They like to learn new things and be challenged. They don’t like bugs and honestly being outside is not their favorite thing. They’ve spent the first three days of Summer mainly reading books. Eloise read 400 pages today and we took a trip to Half Price Books and bought 12 more books. They did spend two hours gardening this morning, and after each of them received about 10 bug bites, they declared that being inside really is usually the best answer. Did I mention my girls hate sports and love ballet? Also, being in a classroom all day every day is their version of a good time.

 

I asked both of my girls four questions about their school year… 1. What was your favorite party of the year? 2. What was your least favorite part of the year? 3. What subject did you like the most or what did you like learning about the most? and 4. What subject wasn’t your favorite?

 

Esther – 2nd Grade

1. Favorite part – “My teacher is super nice and always likes to give hugs and also smiles at me every morning.”

2. Least favorite part. “My art teacher yells at my friends and that makes me sad. She’s not a very nice lady.”

3. Favorite subject or learning experience. “I loved writing original poetry and wish we had more time to write more poetry. I’d like to buy some poetry books to read this Summer.”

4. Least favorite subject. “I’m not sure I will ever use math. Math is seriously no fun. Do people really like math and who are those people?” (Um, YOUR MOTHER DOES!)

Eloise – 4th Grade

1. Favorite part. “I love my teacher because she is super awesome, just real and super nice..and she really likes me.”

2. Least favorite part. “Sometimes I felt like there was a ‘lack of class control’ and my teacher had to spend more time getting kids in control rather than spending that time on actual education. I feel like our class size was way to big for one teacher to really do a good job, and I feel that with fewer students we would’ve had more time for more projects, more subject matter and really more instruction time. Sadly, I feel like I didn’t learn as much as I wanted to this year.” (WHOA)

3. Favorite subject or learning experience. “We wrote an actual ABC picture book for little kids. I wrote mine about bears and it was really awesome to publish an actual book with all of the writing and illustrations. The best part was taking it home to read to Astrid as she was my target market. She loved it!”

4. Least favorite subject. “I did not love learning about the Greek and Latin roots of words because there were too many tests and seriously it wasn’t that much fun. I mean I understand the importance, but it was super boring.”

So now let’s bring on Summer! Linking up with Memories Captured.

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6 Good Things About Summer #vlogging

Summer starts here officially in about 42 hours. That’s when my kids get out of school and we go out for ice cream. They’ve pretty much already emptied out their desks and dumped them into our garbage. It’s also my understand that this week is mainly a movie marathon. Typically they just go outside and play the last week of school, but it’s like 52 and pouring and rain, so shark movies will have to do.

I admit I used to dread Summer. When kids are littler they need well – more active parenting in many forms like actual playing with them, supervising them in the backyard, taking them to playgrounds, arranging for camps, and maybe even buying craft crap for rainy days. It’s exhausting this whole active parenting thing. But something magical happens when kids turn about 7 or 8 – they can usually find a friend in the neighborhood to play with, they can play in the yard without you standing watch, and they can even just hang in their room reading a book for eight hours because they can. They can make their own fun – without a parent breathing down their necks. You know, they can find the kind of fun like we used to do when we were kids. I just hope they don’t start smoking behind the garage.

 

Now I love Summer. Summer is easy. We can do a few camps – which yes, my kids are going to a full week of a sleep-away camp, we can hit the pool a few times, and we are heading out on a big road trip out East for about a month…but other than that – they can just do whatever they want to do and they are old enough to choose and also old enough to help with chores, make their own snacks and lunches and take care of their sister sometimes.

 

I haven’t vlogged in awhile, but MamaKat asked what 6 things we were excited for this Summer – and I thought a vlog would be fun. Evidently, so did Astrid.

 

So what are you most looking forward to this Summer? Do you love Summer with the kids home, or do you wish for year-round school?

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Land of the Giants

My nephew is tall. In normal human terms he is about 6’6″ – which yes is tall, but not scary. But when you are three years old that height is giant-like. Like more than giant-like – it’s like if you combined King Kong, the biggest dinosaur, the tallest giraffe, and then an actual mythical giant and THEN MADE IT INTO A MAN. That’s what Astrid saw when we arrived in Indiana on Friday evening – a mythical giant creature in a form a man walking towards her. And she freaked.

A couple of things… 1. My nephew is probably the sweetest, sappiest, gentlest, kindest, humblest, downright amazingly quiet, lovable and friendly man you will even know. A gentle giant if you will…and 2. Astrid doesn’t care – because he’s basically a large man…and 3. Astrid doesn’t like men.

 

Astrid didn’t even like her own dad until she was about two years old.

 

I cannot convince Astrid that most men are nice – even with those deep voices and scruffy facial hair. And I know that someday she will grow out of her fear of ALLTHEMEN – ESPECIALLY THEBIGMEN – just like my other two daughters did. Some now may call her silly. Some may call her smart.

In the meantime, my brother (who is not a giant) loves kids. Loves his nieces and just wants Astrid to let him hold her and give her a few dozen hugs. But Astrid wants nothing to do with all of that.

 

So he has to photobomb pictures just to get close to Astrid.

Please don’t tell Astrid that Uncle Troy was that close to her.

 

But progress was made and by the end of the weekend she was giving him hugs. Tentative hugs, but hugs…and as for her cousin – the ‘weawwy weawwy big guy” – well he was happy to finally get a few high-fives and fist-bumps…. I call that progress.

 

And hopefully next time – as she grows, and he has finished growing – she won’t see his height, but only his warm smile and open arms.

 

What is your child afraid of?

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