She’s Just A Child

This post has been sitting in my draft folder for over a month. I’ve written it. I’ve deleted it. I’ve written it again. I’ve edited it. I’ve cried. I’ve yelled. I’ve been sad. I’ve been protective. I’ve been angry. I’ve tried to forget that I even started this post.

 

After I let it sit again – and by “it” I mean the encounter as well as my heart, I almost decided just to walk away and let this go. But I think that maybe it’s something that people should hear.

 

So I’m hitting publish right now. And I’m vowing not to walk away from this issue and be silent. I’m doing this for our daughters.

******

Dear Mom At The Gap,

 

She noticed you too. She did. My daughter did. My child. She heard you. She heard every word that you said. She saw the look on your face as you said it. And you hurt her.

 

And instead of being excited about a new jacket that I offered to buy for her for her birthday, she told me that she didn’t want it and asked if she could just wait for me outside of the store while I finished with my return. I asked to go with her, but she told me to just stay in the store and finish as she was fine.

 

I watched her through the store window. Her head down as she sat holding hands with her little sister. I kept my eyes closely on her as I stood in line. Wanting to be near her and explain what just happened. Because she’s a child. A child.

 

I thought about grabbing the jacket she loved again and buying it for her anyway as a surprise. But would it always remind her of what she heard. What you said.

 

Let me tell you a little bit about my child. My child that I’ve known for nearly 12 years. The child that you hurt – with your 10 second observation and shaming words.

 

My beautiful child was born a preemie. Weeks early in an emergency delivery, she was born tiny yet perfect in every single way to me. Her limbs were thin – without time in the womb to develop the beautiful baby-squish we all expect. She instead was angular, fragile, and fine. And even as she grew as a toddler and into grade school, her frame was always slight with beautiful and almost magical wispy limbs. Yet she grew tall.

 

You don’t have to look much further than her dad or to me to see where her body structure came from – we both have thinner frames, small bones if you will, and are tall.

 

My child is an incredible student. She’s grades ahead in math, was reading at a tenth grade level by first grade, and always finishes in the top during the school spelling bee. She also loves music and is a gifted pianist though you would never know as she only plays for herself(or for us if she thinks we aren’t listening).

skinny-shame

My child cares deeply for others – watching her sisters, insisting on taking turns, never going first, and volunteering on the school community service club.

 

My child is quiet and doesn’t like to be the center of attention. She encourages others to take the spotlight and is an incredible cheerleader.

 

And my child is a beautiful dancer. She’s been taking dance for nearly eight years at a studio that embraces all children who truly love the sport.

 

Yet sometimes my child comes home from dance sad. Because she feels different. Looks different. She’s turning 12 soon – hormones raging, middle school angst starting, uncertain about life as she starts to define who she is, what she loves, etc. You remember the time of uncertainty, right? Sometimes she comes home from dance in tears because her legs look different or she can’t make them do what she should be able to do. Her legs are so long and thin that they truly do not come together. Do not touch. Do not work in many ballet positions. She is frustrated, yet doesn’t give up.

 

And I have those talks with her that all mothers do – that she’s beautiful and perfect and brilliant just the way she is. That her body is just the way it’s suppose to be. I tell her stories about my own adolescence and my thin legs, and about her grandmother getting teased in middle school when she was told it looked like she was “walking on toothpicks.” We giggle at how absurd life can be. And for awhile she forgets that she feels she looks different or “wrong” compared to others.

 

You see, my child is 11 -almost 12, with no signs of puberty anywhere except for the fact that she’s grown about seven inches in the past year while barely gaining an ounce of weight. She’s become almost as tall as I am – yet with the waist of a five year old, no fat cells to speak off, no hips, no breasts, and no other indication that she’s becoming a woman soon.

 

And I can give you the benefit of the doubt with your statement that perhaps because of her height – that you mistook her for someone maybe 16 or 17 – but that doesn’t excuse what you said. What you thought. What she heard.

 

Because she is not you. She is not even me. She is an individual who deserves better. To not be “skinny shamed” if you must when you said to your daughter “My god, look at how skinny that girl is – she’s obviously sick and anorexic and needs help.”

 

You have no right to judge another person. A child. How dare you decide you have the right to shame anyone because of their body or mind or by how they look. Why as a society do we continue to belittle and judge other women because of their looks and their shapes. Why do we continue to feed this industry that is intent on making us all want to be perfect – whatever that means. And as mothers, I expect better of all of us.

 

So my daughter, my child, fled the store with her baby sister to get away from you, when just moments ago she was happy and looking in the mirror at her reflection – wearing a jacket that she fell in love with. She’s gotten so tall this year that she can now wear ladies tops, and this was our first trip into a store to try something on in that department. She’s had a hard year – growing tall so quickly – do you remember that weird stage when clothing didn’t fit right. Everything was either too short or too long or too small or too big – that year or so as you transitioned from girls department to juniors? Yeah, that’s where she is. And this is happening while she already feels somewhat uncomfortable with her thin legs and height. It’s a hard road to travel with these pre-adolescent girls. How we find these moments of joy between the moments of uncertainty. And you, you just made it a little tougher for her.

 

After my child walked out of the store, I approached you and told you that I heard you and that SHE heard you and that you had no right to do that my child nor to your child. I told you that my daughter was 11 – and about the inches she’s grown, and the puberty not starting. But I shouldn’t have to do all of that explaining, because you should never body shame a child, or anyone. And you kind of apologized with a quick “I had no idea she was not a teen.” – but I need you to know that it’s no excuse. I need you to know that when I walked out of the store and took my child in my arms and talked about what happened, and that she’s incredible, and I explained what anorexic means – that even though she smiled when I suggested a Starbucks so we could just move-on with her day – that this encounter will most likely stick in her mind forever. You still remember things like this from middle school, right?

 

Somehow dammit – as mothers we need to stop the vicious circle of judging and shaming – and start figuring out how to better send messages of health and self-acceptance and love. And I know that’s hard to do – with increased societal pressures and plastic surgery Groupons in our inbox daily. But I truly believe it can be done and if we all just take a simple first step as mothers and women and just stop being so damn hard on one another.

 

Tracy

 

Share

I’m A Work At Home Mom

Work At Home Mother’s Log – Day 10

 

I find it fitting that I’m typing this at 2:30pm – barely an hour before the older girls get home from school, and the youngest one home sick today – feverish and now napping next to me on the couch. How delightfully lazy she’s made day 10 for me. Day 10 of being home alone.

 

My youngest started full-day kindergarten 10 days ago. This day that we mothers at home think about – dream about – worry about – fret about – cry about – celebrate about.

 

As a work-at-home mother, this day meant that I could change my schedule for the better.

work-at-home-mom

When I made the switch from working outside the home, to working at home – I promised myself to never hire a sitter. Ever. And if you think I’m kidding, I’m not. We’ve never had a sitter at home during the day, nor  had daycare – so scheduling work is at times – impossible. So I did what I could do – rising at 3:30am to work for a few hours and work-out before the kids were up, working during naps, working after the kids were in bed, working during that short hour or two during preschool.

 

Basically for the eight years that I’ve worked from home, I’ve worked with the assumption of interruption. From phone calls, to meetings, to reports, to work deadlines – I start/stop with the assumption that I will get interrupted every single time. So I would take work in small nibble-sized pieces – things I could finish in 30 seconds or five minutes, or I would hide in a closet or bathroom, or get my kids to stare at the TV for as long as possible. And yes, like many parents I’ve been on the most important phone call of my career while wiping a butt, or fixing a snack, or kissing a boo-boo, or emailing another parent to schedule a play-date.

 

But this is the life I wanted for the last eight years and I’m beyond grateful to be able to work from home, be the primary caregiver for my children, to save money on care, to make a good income, and to have this amazing flexibility. No matter how crazy almost every single day has been. No matter the few deadlines that I’ve missed, and no matter my lack of some of the projects and writing I’ve been able to take-on as I just could not do it all.

 

So 10 days ago everything changed.

 

Astrid started full-day kindergarten and my days from 8:30-3pm are free.

 

Free.

 

Child-free.

 

To work, to work-out, to run.

 

I had these huge plans for this month – how I would write, how I would finish some projects, how I would catch-up on my 1200 emails, how I would cook – maybe even organic.

 

But my brain will have none of it. After not being able to sit by myself in the quiet to do anything for more than minutes at a time – I find it nearly impossible to sit in my quiet office and really do work for hours. Or write for more than 20 minutes. Or to realize that I do not need to run anymore at 4am – that I could run at 9am and get better sleep.

mother-runner

I’ve become the most unproductive person in the world – just staring at the clock and waiting for interruptions that never come. Well – besides my work at home husband telling me that now we can also have sex at noon. BECAUSE WE CAN! Seriously, he needs an office job.

 

And I know I’ll get the hang of this – and figure out how to be productive on this new schedule that will last for the next 13 years or more. I have to.

 

But today I’m savoring my sick companion – home today and giving me a complete excuse to do nothing but rub her feet, kiss her head, and take a few naps, and let the work wait until Monday – when I will try this work at home without kids thing again.

 

Share

On Being 12

She surprises me with her hug from behind. Her arms around me and her head resting on my shoulder. She touches my hair slightly and whispers “I love you, Mom.” I pat her head awkwardly. I admit this freely. I’m not sure how to touch my daughter. My daughter who turns 12 today.

IMG_5747

I’m sitting on the dining room chair and she comes over and puts her bottom next to mine and pushes me over to make room for her. She’s touching me – leg to leg – and her head rests on my arm. She puts her hand on mine. I move away shocked almost. Not sure again how to touch her. What does she want? What is she doing?

 

The bus is coming. We’ve been at the bus stop now together for nearly seven years. It’s always the same. The bus turns the corner and comes towards our stop. Eloise walks away from me quickly – without a goodbye or a hug or kiss. I yell out “Have a good day, Mo! Love you!” But she never responds. Esther leans into me with a large hug and kiss like we may never see each other again. I watch the bus as it pulls away. Esther waves and blows kisses. Eloise is talking to friends – and never looks out the window.

IMG_5758

You might be reading this shocked. Appalled. Confused. I’m her mother. Her mother of all of her months, her weeks, her days, her minutes, her seconds, her every moment…how could I not know what do to when she touches me.

IMG_5752

But you see, I’ve respected her wishes, her body language, her distance from touch for her whole life. She was not a cuddly baby. Preferring to sleep in her swing or bouncy seat. To cry it out in her crib than to rock for hours. We bounced her and rocked her and held her for days it seems when she was colicky – but typically she only stopped crying when she was put down and was able to be alone. She was sensitive to touch, she didn’t love to be kissed, and when her baby sister was born – she loved her, but never showered her with affection. While other toddlers were “huggy” and “lovey” – she stood at the wall hoping that no one noticed her. She wasn’t much of a hand holder and tucking her into bed at night was with a quick kiss on the head. Many times, and for years, I tried to push for more. But she politely moved away from me. Until one day I just stopped trying out of respect.

 

Her affection was shown through sly smiles and kind deeds.

 

And for 12 years I’ve respected her space. And my place on the edge of it.

 

Waiting. Hoping.

 

So the past few months have startled me. Her touching me. Her seeking me out. Her telling me she loves me in return. Her wanting me to spend more time with her when I tell her good night. Inviting me to sit on her bed. My leg near her arm touching through the layer of blankets. She talks and I move a hair away from her eyes and she doesn’t stop me. Her want to share more books – and for us to sit so close on the couch as we talk. I find my body almost melting into her now as I feel I’ve waited so long to really get to know her. Yet I don’t want to ask her why.

 

So I project like mothers do. And if I had to guess I think she’s realizing that she needs something from me. That she’s not going to be a girl much longer and sees herself as becoming more like “me” and less like “them” – her sisters. Other children. And maybe, just maybe – getting closer to me will be the key and answers she needs for what’s happening. What it’s like. Or maybe she’s scared. Changes coming. Information overload. And she’s finally reaching for me. Like a baby needing comfort. And a mother finally able to do something emotionally useful.

IMG_5762

And I’m drinking it in like the finest French wine because what if it won’t last. I have no way to know this. To know all of the answers. To know everything or really anything about her. And I respect this woman-child too much to ask. So I just sit and enjoy each moment she will give me.

 

I think that’s what I love the most about parenthood – children are so beautifully unique and individual. They are not me or him. They are them. I can’t project me at 12 or you at 12. I can only just stand back from her or lean forward to hold her as she allows and marvel at how incredible 12 is for her.

 

How at times I see her and still see that curious toddler or that shy girl in kindergarten. But then see someone who at a glance is 17. Her future.

 

How she’s nearly my 5’7″ height and yet I don’t think has even started growing. And how maybe this new affection is because she wants to borrow my scarves and sweaters.

 

How she will never own enough books, and how I used to monitor her reading but now I could never keep up. She brings books to me that she knows I’ll enjoy.

 

How no one will ever have a heart as big as hers.

Mom, it's cold

Mom, it’s cold

How she’s brilliant at math. LIKE CRAZY brilliant high school math at 11 crazy brilliant at it. And how when I offer to help her with her homework she rolls her eyes at me because she knows I can’t figure out a slope to save my life.

 

How she’s a beautiful dancer.

 

And plays the piano so well I weep.

Desktop2

How she cares for her friends.

 

And sisters.

 

And keeps up on current events and likes to discuss the wrongs in the world.

IMG_5749-001

But celebrates the rights.

 

How she is organized and neat and finds my chaos exhausting.

 

How she wants and earns more independence yet is a homebody at heart.

 

How she is forgiving for everything.

IMG_5734

And wakes up each day with a smile.

 

How she loves to play with dolls.

 

Yet she begs for an instagram account and giggles as she texts her friends.

 

How she thinks boys are still pretty gross and stinky.

IMG_5735

How she makes me smile every single time she walks into a room.

 

Whether she leans in for a hug or not.

 

How today she is 12.

IMG_5754

And she teaches me how to be a better mom to her every single day.

 

And how I’ll never feel like I’ve thanked her enough for being just her – in any which way she wants to be.

IMG_5719

Share

Full Day Kindergarten

Two days.

 

Two days until it starts.

 

13 years of full school days.

full-day-kindergarten

We’ve had a good run.

 

I’ve had a child home with me most days for 12 years.

 

Until Monday.

 

Monday she starts full day kindergarten.

 

And my days are quiet from 8:30-3:30.

 

No more weekday trips to the zoo. The library. The coffee shop. The grocery store.

 

Together.

 

She’s ready.

 

I think I am too.

 

But I’m scared.

 

And so is she.

 

I’m not sure whether to celebrate.

 

Or mourn.

 

Or do a bit of both.

 

12 years of littles at home no more.

Share

On Broadway

I watched Esther in a play today. Her first non-classroom-at-school kind of play. For years I’ve tried to convince her to do theater. She’s a good singer, a great dancer, has a face that lights up a room, and expressions to match. Her most amazing attribute though is her ability to quickly and completely memorize ANYTHING immediately. She’s one of those people that you meet once and she immediately knows your name and probably your sister’s name, and where you were born. I wouldn’t put it past her if she actually knows that names of all of the 1500 students in her school.

 

But she has resisted my efforts to gently push her into theater. She’s shy at heart. And an introvert. And one who hates being in the spotlight, and honestly has some serious doubts on her abilities.

on-broadway

So she very reluctantly tried theater this Fall. I even gave her an out. Typically once my kids sign up for something – I have a “no quitting” rule and they must fulfill the sessions that we’ve signed up for. Even if it means crying on the sidelines for five weeks(BEEN THERE!). But I told her that she could quit if she really felt uncomfortable.

 

But we didn’t have to worry about that, because theater has turned into one of her favorite things. And today she said that she has realized that she really likes acting and wants to do more.

photo-102

I’m so proud of her for stepping way out of her comfort zone. And for finding something she loves.

 

And maybe one day she’ll love seeing her name in lights and know that sometimes it’s okay to own the spotlight now and then.

 

What’s something that you would love to do but are afraid to try?

 

Share

Their Stories

There was a toddler who has having a FIT at the restaurant tonight. So loud that even kids noticed it happening. I could see that Eloise kept glancing over at the screaming girl as the parents tried to stop the madness with any means possible.

 

To distract Eloise I said “I’ll always remember the day that you turned six weeks old and decided to start screaming. We were out to dinner as you were such a sweet newborn that going out was never a problem – and then BOOM right after the salad you started screaming and didn’t stop for about four months. I was MORTIFIED in that restaurant – tried to nurse you – my milk going everywhere, tried to rock you, dance with you, burb you, EVERYTHING. But you screamed and screamed and screamed. We left with food uneaten and drinks full. I went home and cried louder than you were crying. And then we didn’t go out to dinner again until you were about one. And you’ve been quiet ever since. I think you got it all out of you early.”

Halloween 2011

Halloween 2011

We laughed. Eloise’s eyes even smiled. Who doesn’t love a story about you.

 

“Did I ever cry in a restaurant Mom?” Esther asked.

 

“Never.” I replied truthfully. “You never cried ever. You just sat and ate and slept and got all fat like a Shar Pei puppy. You were the happiest baby and toddler.”

 

“But you, Astrid. You cried for the first two years and weren’t fit for public consumption for quite some time.” We all laughed together as the older girls remembered how Astrid would scream as a baby.

 

“Do you think that girl’s mom will tell her about the time she cried in the restaurant someday?” Esther asked me quietly.

 

“Oh I am sure -and maybe she’ll save it for a time that she needs some proof that no one is perfect. Or maybe to embarrass her in front of her prom date. But yes, I bet she’ll share.”  I replied.

 

“So how do you remember all of these times, Mom?” Eloise asked.

 

“Oh, you have no idea the details I remember from your lives. Such tiny details and moments that you truly don’t even believe were a moment. But as a mother, we do. We savor them all – the good and the bad – and they all belong right here in our heart. Even the times we didn’t think we’d make it until the end of the day. They’re all here.” I smiled as I told them the dear truths that they too may hold one day.

Halloween 2014

Halloween 2014

“That’s a lot to remember. I can’t believe that moms do that for us.” Said Esther.

 

“It’s truly our most important job. You need to know your stories. And someday I will have told them all to you.”

 

Share

On Getting The Behavior You Want…

It was the day after I returned from Haiti. I was tired and the morning routine that I had basically created for our family seemed foreign and off. So I sat at the table drinking coffee in the morning darkness of this cool Fall Minnesota day. Astrid sat across the dining room table from me. She was writing “words” and scribbles on a piece of paper. Next to each “sentence” were two boxes and above the row of boxes she wrote the words “yes” and “no.”

 

“Whatcha doing?” I asked quietly.

 

“I’m making a quiz for you to take this morning.” She said with her eyes and hands still busy with her task.

 

“A quiz? That should be interesting.” I responded with a bit of a giggle.

 

“You need to take this seriously.” She said as she looked up at me with sad eyes. “Okay, I’m done. So let’s start. You need to answer yes or no to the following questions.”

astrid-parenting

She began..”Will you snuggle with me before school today, yes or no?”

 

“Yes – of course I will.” I replied. She made a little check mark in the “yes” box next to that question. And she continued on with questions that I easily said yes to. “Will you make me a special breakfast, will you help me make my bed, will you do your special piggies in my hair, will you pick me up from school, will we eat lunch together, will you bring me to dance tonight, will you be there for dinner, will you help me shower and brush my teeth, will you read me a story, will you help me with homework, will you tuck me in bed, and maybe will you snuggle in bed with me for a few minutes?” Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes…and easy quiz went on.

 

But then came the last question. And Astrid paused for a moment before she asked me. I wondered if she was considering just skipping that one, or that maybe she didn’t like what the answer would be so it was hard for her to even voice it.

 

“Will you promise to never leave me again, Mama.” She asked in almost a whisper as she looked up at me with her messy morning hair that covered her eyes.

 

Silence.

 

“I can’t say yes to that, Love.” I said. Wondering if I sounded too brutal and firm and mean, having just returned from two weeks away. Wondering if it would be better to just lie and say that of course I’d never leave her again.

 

But I can’t do that to my children. A lie and a promise I’d have to break would be more devastating than teaching them the resilience of knowing the truth. And that sad things will happen to all of us. And just because I’m gone for a few weeks doesn’t mean that I don’t love her or think of her or carry her in my heart. Loving and missing someone so much that it hurts is part of the human experience. And it’s okay to be sad.

 

“I’ll have to leave you sometimes, Astrid. You know that. Just like sometimes you and your sisters leave me – for school and for friends and for camp. But it doesn’t mean we are not still a family even though we are not together. I love you no matter where I am and I will always be ‘here'( I point to our hearts) for you. But yes, sometimes mommy leaves. But I come back.” I say this as I stand and go to pick her up, but she pushes me away and tells me that she needs to be alone for a minute.

 

And I respect that. It’s hard to understand something that you don’t like without the benefit of experience or age.

 

Parenting is hard and beautiful, and having pieces of your heart running around on the outside of your body causes emotions that one cannot describe unless you experience it. And I think we all start with a goal to parent somewhere between telling kids to “suck it up” and “let me do everything for you” as we find our comfortable boundaries.

 

In our home we’ve set expectations for our kids very high, we’ve set clear boundaries, we have clear follow-through on rules, and we live as a family with a mutual respect for all. I think this clear path from the beginnings of our parenting journey 12 years ago has made life very easy for us. We have “good” kids that are good to others and we’ve never had to break up a sibling fight, give a punishment or time-out, or any other typical kid ‘infraction’ you can think of. Maybe we’re lucky and our kids have very even temperaments or maybe we did some things right, or maybe a little bit of both.

 

And we’ve done this without any parenting books. I’ll admit I’m not a fan – but also have never felt the need to seek advice. And when my dear friend Dr. G first asked if I would read her effective parenting book, I at first thought “Nah, I really don’t need that.” But I’m glad I told her to send it over anyway.

 

Because her book is more like a fun and practical conversation with her over coffee. She doesn’t come off in a way that “she knows your children best” – her theory is that WE all know OUR own children best and are the experts of our own family..and then lays the groundwork for raising smart, respectful, and resilient kids. I found myself nodding over and over again as I read each section as Deborah and I agree so much on the basics for getting good behavior. Because we need to all remember – we aren’t raising children, we are raising adults that we want to hang-out with, and that are productive and socially aware and giving and respectful…so we are giving them the skills they need to then raise the next generation.

 

Dr. G focuses on three main points – Respect, Responsibility, and Resilience. I love this so much – because THIS is how our family lives each day. With mutural respect for each other and our world, with everyone pulling their weight and giving, and with honesty and tools to be resilient because not everything is going to go your way and that bad things happen….and that’s okay.

 

Reading her book brought a smile on my face as I thought about the conversation with Astrid last week. That I know she’s resilient enough to know the truth that mommy will have to leave her again and again. And that she will be okay. Even if it means it might take her awhile to give me that hug to let me know that she gets why I have to go.

******

Dr. G’s book “Get The Behavior You Want, Without Being The Parent You Hate” is available to purchase now. And truly – I cannot recommend it enough. Great tips for living with the “3 R’s” for all ages. I know I’ll be referencing this book more as we hit the teen years!

dr-g-book

You can also follow Dr. G on Twitter and Facebook and on her website  and on her YouTube channel for daily awesome parenting tips.

******

I was not paid for this review and all words, opinions, and parenting wins and failures are truly my own. xo

 

 

 

Share

I Qualified For Boston Marathon – Twin Citites Marathon Recap

“I plan to qualify for Boston.” I said to the cashier at the running store as I purchased a few more GU packets for the race that was now less than 18 hours away.

 

THERE, I SAID IT. I sent it out to the universe. I voiced my goal of qualifying for Boston Marathon. My plan. And if it didn’t work out for me that day – more people than just me know that I failed. Failed? I guess that’s why I hadn’t said it out loud yet. What if I failed?

 

I mean I think a few people probably knew that I had that goal in mind. After missing my “BQ” by only six minutes at Grandma’s Marathon, and now training harder than ever, that I must be up to something more than just trying to finish. That maybe, just maybe a Boston Qualifying time was in the front of my mind. But I has still hesitant to say those words. “I plan to qualify for Boston.”

training-for-boston

And finally saying those words gave me confidence and at the same time scared the ever loving shit out of me.  Here I was at nearly 46 years old – running faster than I ever have and feeling stronger than I did at 26 – ready to kick some butt and post a PR and a Boston Qualifying time? My inner critic be damned.

 

Ironically, at the same time my goal was given a voice, a good friend of mine who just finished his first full Ironman sent me a Facebook message. “Remember, there’s a point in the race where everything will just start to suck and you question your ability – but instead of giving up and giving in to that suck…EMBRACE THE SUCK and kick ass through it.” (Or something along those lines…)…and I smiled and cried and told him that his words meant just about everything to me and that there was NO WAY I was NOT going to qualify for Boston that next day. Because I had trained hard and well, the weather would be perfect, and dammit – I could do this.

embrace-the-suck

No doubts. No excuses. No maybes.

 

Embracing the Suck became my mantra.

 

And I looked back over the past 14 weeks of training and I knew I did the work. I had three 20+ mile long runs. My last of which was at a killer fast pace for me. That week was the first week that I KNEW Boston was possible. I did hill work every single week. Five miles of ups and downs. I did a tempo run of 8-10 miles each week. I did a “sprint” 5K every week. The only training that I was “missing” was speed work – but I felt with the training time I had – that part would just have to wait for another marathon training cycle. You can ask my family – I ran A LOT for those 14 weeks and just like the last two marathons I’ve completed this year – I felt confident to finish based on what I trained for. Exactly. And this time I trained for a 3:45-3:55 finish. I just had to remember to trust my training.

 

Twin Cities Marathon Race Day Recap:

Jed dropped me off near the start with only about 20 minutes until the gun. I like to arrive as late a possible as it helps with nerves and doing the circle dance at the porta-potty line. I peed once and then entered my corral. It was about 39 degrees and sunny and I wore just a tank and running skort. I had a SPIbelt fuel belt with four GUs(I eat one every 5 miles or so), and I borrowed Eloise’s iPod with mainly her top 40 tunes. Yes I was the old mom up there running to Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea, and Katy Perry. But I had to throw in a bit of David Gray and Florence and The Machine just to save my ears.

 

I was chilly but warmed up after just a few blocks.

what-to-wear-marathon

So here’s the weird thing about me trying to qualify for Boston…I don’t own or wear a GPS watch-thingy-garmin-do-hickey-gadget-thing. So trying to figure out my pace is challenging. Well actually it just keeps my head busy because I’m doing THE MATH constantly when I pass by miles that actually have the race time counting down. But here was my problem – I forgot to look at the time when I crossed the starting line, so I had NO CLUE how to calculate my chip time. I tried to do an estimate and I wrongly assumed that I crossed at about six minutes but actually I crossed at nine minutes. So my math was wrong during the whole race and I had three extra minutes to play with. Which looking back maybe it’s a good thing I had no clue what my actual pace was ever.

 

So I just used the race time clocks throughout the marathon – and calculated my pace back..which was wrong the whole time. HA! So if you don’t have a GPS thingy-watch-thing, then you do what marathon runners have been doing for years – you get with a pace group. My plan was to just stay ahead of the 4:00 pacer, but by mile three I was running with the 3:45 group and I felt comfortable.

 

At mile 8 I saw my family for the first time. And you can’t tell me that hearing Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off when I saw them was just a weird coincidence.

watching-a-marathon

There was lots of sunshine and little wind and I found myself still with Jack and the 3:45 pace group at the 13.1 mile mark. Turns out I hit there at 1:51 – which is probably a little faster than I intended to run, but I felt great.

 

At mile 15 there was a bit of a headwind heading up the River Road and I saw my family again. I gave them my fuel belt as I just had the one GU left for mile 20 that I could carry. Unfortunately my iPod also came loose when I took my belt off so I had to carry it the next 11.2 miles which kind of sucked, but it was better than listening to my mind and my math as I continued to worry about my mystery pace…

how-to-qualify-for-boston-marathon

Because at about mile 17 my 3:45 pacer started pulling away from me. And this has such a sinking feeling as I know either he’s going faster or I’m going slower. I kept him in my vision until about mile 19 and never saw him again. I’m still mad at Jack. So then of course I start stressing out that the 4:00 pacer will catch me.

 

At mile 20 though my worries diminished when I saw that I was passing mile 20 at 2:57 race time(which is what I thought was 2:51 my time) and I knew no matter how tired I was I could finish the last 6 miles in less than an hour.

 

But if you know the Twin Cities marathon, you know that miles 19-23 are all uphill with a HARD CLIMB at mile 21. But I stuck it out on the climb and had a great run down Summit Avenue. The street was lined with people – including many friends and neighbors. I felt great and just tried to keep about a 9 minute mile pace(what I felt) going for the last part of the marathon. I was having fun and didn’t really even have to worry about embracing any suck.

marathon-training

I crossed the finish line at gun time 3:57( and what I thought was a 3:51 chip time finish for me) and I screamed “I DID IT!!!” As I ran for my medal and a much needed bottle of water. That’s when I saw Jed at the fence and he was yelling “3:48! 3:48!!! and I found out that I was off on my start time calculations by three minutes. But it didn’t matter. I had set a PR and got my BQ and I wasn’t tired or sore. I knew at that point I had still left some effort out on the course and this PR may just not last that long….

 

I took 13 minutes off of my Grandma’s Marathon time and 38 minutes off of my Twin Cities time from last year when I got back into this sport and just wanted to finish uninjured. I’m very happy with my 3:48.36 results – and 49th out of 335 F45-49, and 618 out of all 3996 women!

marathon-results

And I hope to see you all in Boston in 2016(although I sure wish I could do it in 2015!).

 

In the meantime I’m going to keep on training and running and I’m looking for a Winter or Spring Marathon if anyone wants to join me or has any ideas? I’m sure there’s someone out there ready to #embracethesuck with me.

 

 

Share

What You Learn In Preschool

For the past several weeks I’ve been procrastinating yet lovingly agonizing over the end of year preschool gifts for Astrid’s teachers.  Because what do you buy the women who’ve made this first and amazing school impression on your child? A trip to Paris? A cruise? A new house? A pony? A pony and a ranch? A housekeeper for life? What gift truly matches your undying gratitude for what they’ve done for your child over the last two years? That’s when a generous gift card and flowers just seem so trivial for the gift that you’ve been given.

first-day-0f-preschool

(First day of preschool)

I file Preschool teacher under the category of jobs called “I don’t know how they do it.” Also filed in this category are nurse, air traffic control, fighter pilot, and brain surgeon. And maybe junior high school teacher too. Because damn 13 year olds can be hard.

 

So the gift of Paris isn’t unreasonable at all.

IMG_4461

Astrid is more than ready for kindergarten. In fact at the playground last week she climbed straight up the highest wall without help. When she reached the top she yelled “I did it Mama! See I’m big enough for kindergarten now!!” And she is  – physically, socially, emotionally, mentally – she is ready.

 

And I’m ready for her. And I don’t wish her to stay little or to have just one more year of preschool. But I lament over the fact that we have to say goodbye to her teachers. That they won’t see the completion of what they’ve helped create – a learner, a thinker, a creator, a beautiful mind and soul. That on her high school graduation – they can look and know that they had a part in this amazing life. How do I let them know they helped do this?

 

How do we say goodbye this week?

 

I’ve cried over it for the past month. Whenever a note comes home with an ‘end of school year’ event – I cry. Whenever I walk into school and think ‘only four days left’ I cry. Each morning as I kiss Astrid goodbye and then hug her teacher – I cry.

IMG_4465

Because these are the people and teachers I want in my kids’ lives – the people who lift them up and inspire them…

To just really enjoy life.

To sing more and dance often.

To color outside the lines.

To wear silly hats and shoes or no shoes at all.

To be a good friend.

To serve others snack before serving yourself.

To greet your friends.

To share and take turns.

To hug more.

To read good books.

To make more messes.

To paint with your fingers.

To know love from another adult besides your family.

 

Time moves and we sometimes follow it reluctantly. And I’m dragging my feet as we end this chapter and begin another. Not because I want to stay behind and live in the past, but because I want to carry the beauty of the past with us.

IMG_4492

And remember how incredible preschool is.

 

May this be the beginning of the magic of a lifetime of learning and love. And a celebration of the teachers each year who will make an impact on her young life.

 

And I hope her teachers don’t mind that we stop by to just say hello once in awhile. Because I truly cannot imagine a life without any of them.

Share

Superhero Moms And A $200 Amazon Giveaway #happymamas

I’ve felt like a pretty bad mother since Listen To Your Mother ended last week. Trying to get back into the everyday of life – packing lunches, doing laundry, cooking meals, grocery shopping, cleaning, and working – has been more difficult than it should be. It’s also why my kids have eaten jelly toast and apples for lunch four nights in a row and we’re down to our last half roll of toilet paper. It’s like Russian Roulette pooping around here because you never know if you’ll end up in the bathroom without the toilet paper. So maybe it’s best to just bring your own if you come over for a visit. Or maybe not visit us at all because our house isn’t clean and I can only offer you water.

super-hero-mom

But the beautiful thing about all of this -KIDS DO NOT CARE. Only I do. I care about a clean house and full fridge and clean jeans and toilet paper. My kids haven’t noticed anything amiss because their home is still here, and we are still here. And healthy. And can laugh about the jelly toast for the fourth night in a row.

 

We put so much pressure on ourselves to be a ‘good mom’ and ‘do it all right’ and ‘to be at every thing our kids do’ but we need to realize that a good hug, an I Love You, and just time for a snuggle(or a fist-bump if you have a tween like mine), is really all we need to do to be a Superhero Mom most days.

 

We are a Superhero to these little folks – whether our cape is showing or not.

 

Mother’s Day is a strange day in my book. A card makers holiday that I personally don’t need. I don’t receive gifts, flowers, or brunch and frankly all I wanted to do on Sunday was to stay in jammies all day and watch movies with my kids and maybe not have to cook dinner because I love take-out. I will love you forever if you would just surprise me with take-out. The girls all made me cards – which really they do not have to do – but Eloise’s card this year was amazing. And in my eyes – her gift was much more than just this piece of paper with her fabulous cartoon – it was that she gave me the gift of knowing I’m raising wonderful, creative and thoughtful people.

cartoon-mothers-day-card

Her cartoon reminded me that we are all Superheros who hold this job of mom.

 

In fact I took this SuperheroMom Quiz from coupons.com and found out that I am Cat Woman! As I self-proclaimed cat lady – I think this fits me well!

Screen shot 2014-05-14 at 1.21.05 PM
Coupons.com is a great source for celebrating moms this month because of the great savings, deals and coupon codes. Take the quiz and find out what your superhero power is, and while you are there be sure to enter enter the Coupons.com Mother’s Day Giveaway this month where you can win prizes like a $500 Visa gift card, a $500 Sephora gift card, a Vitamix and a Roomba. Coupons.com is a great source for celebrating moms this month because of the great savings, deals and coupon codes.

 

Coupons.com is also sponsoring a Happy Mama Moments Mother’s Day Should Be Every Day Giveaway for a $200 Amazon gift card that can be used for whatever you want on amazon.com! For a chance to win see below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this giveaway or post. All opinions are mine.

 

Share

The Mommy Wars

I yelled up to Esther at 7:53am that she needed to get her butt downstairs NOW! The bus was coming in five minutes and I knew she still had to find her shoes, pack her backpack, and brush her hair.

 

But she didn’t respond, so I took the stairs by twos and ran down the hallway to her room. I found her standing completely still, staring forward and wiping tears from her cheeks, in front of her open closet door.

 

“M..M…Mo..Mom, I don’t have anything red to wear.”

 

Why do you need something red, my love?

 

“Be..be…be..b..be..cause it’s Listen To Your Mother day and I need to wear the colors for you.”

 

Oh love.. The words caught in my throat..You don’t need to wear red for me. I know you support me without wearing anything that matches the show.

 

“Bu..bu…but I want to because I’m so very proud of you.”

 

********

I haven’t read or presented anything that I’ve written or created in front of a large audience since I worked and did glamorous marketing things for a Fortune 500 company. Back then I would give reports and presentations with a Power Point slideshow with all kinds of numbers and graphs to back up my talk. And I used fancy slides to make me look like I knew what I was doing. Because everyone knows that corporate presentation have a large percentage of fluff and bullshit. But it was comfortable and I was confident talking to a room of suits.

 

But sharing my personal writing – OUT LOUD – is something I have not done since high school.

 

So last week, on the night of our Listen To Your Mother show – to say that I was nervous, had to pee a zillion times, and had palms that no one should touch – would be a gross understatement.

 

Because what if no one liked my words? Because words aren’t numbers that you can make look pretty with a bar graph.

 

The piece I shared stemmed from a blog post I wrote several years ago when I sat one day completely exasperated reading ANOTHER article on the Mommy Wars. But I rewrote this piece to fit with the show, to relate to the other pieces we would hear, to close the show, and it needed to be funny and light.

 

No pressure.

 

And I also needed it to be personal – how I was mothered and how I mother. And I knew that my family would be in the audience listening.

 

Here’s the piece that I shared. The YouTube video will be out shortly. Thank you to everyone for your love and support – and for wearing red if you were so moved to do so.  If you’ve never been to a Listen To Your Mother Show – well you must put it on your calendar next year.

 

Oh, and here’s me eating a Hostess Ho-Ho on stage. I pretty much think anyone will nail a reading if eating a Ho-Ho is involved.

the-mommy-wars

I stand here today as a survivor. I was exclusively formula fed as a baby.I never co-slept with my mom.  I watched entirely too many episodes of The Brady Bunch and The Love Boat, and did not eat anything organic until I was 25. We enjoyed Hostess desserts and red Kool-Aid by the gallons. I come from divorced parents who both worked full-time, enforcing a childhood at that time that was labeled “latch key” and would now be called illegal please call CPS.

And I don’t remember what the other moms in the neighborhood even did- whether they worked or stayed home, or if we discussed if breast was best at any play-dates.

Because there weren’t play-dates.

There was “Just go out and play with your friends!”

I only remember one family that was a little different from the rest of us and I only recall this because of a very bad experience. You see one day I went to my friend’s house for a snack and I saw what I thought was a jar of chocolate pieces on the counter, and asked if I could please have a few. “Of course” my friend’s mom said and handed the jar to me. I reached in, shoved a few pieces in my little hungry mouth and promptly spit them onto her faded bell bottom jeans and brown etched leather clogs. “Don’t you like carob chips, my dear?” She asked.

No wonder this friend would come to our house and eat all of our Hostess treats.

Maybe back in the 70s we didn’t have Mommy Wars. No one acted like a parenting expert but instead just acted like a parent – of their own kids. Everyone pitched in and helped neighbors and kept an eye out for the kids that were all running around without supervision because it was what you just did. Maybe we drank our body weight in Tang each day because the astronauts told us too and that was good enough for my mom. Maybe the Mommy Wars didn’t exist because there wasn’t social media, Facebook, those pesky Mommy Bloggers to compare ourselves to, OR my nemesis, Pinterest.

But maybe those women were just wiser and had better things to worry about. Like the war, or whether Sam and Alice would ever marry and if they did would Alice leave the Brady Bunch or would Sam move in and how would they fit another square in the screen.

So I’m taking a lesson from my mother and her generation and believe it’s time we make the mommy wars go away by ignoring them, because they truthfully don’t exist if we just focus on doing what we need to do for our own families. Let’s make a pact today to stop talking about breast vs. bottle, sahm vs wahm, cry it out vs. co-sleep, and feeding organic vs feeding them a little Kraft Dinner once in awhile. Let’s start wars about more important things. I’ve been making a list of some things that bother me more than how others parent their own children.

Like…
Those moms  who read People Magazine or Us Weekly or InStyle instead of award winning and educational and thought-provoking books.. What are you(me?) teaching your children about the importance of where to focus their time. Also, did you know that celebrities are “JUST LIKE US!” and grocery shop and walk on sidewalks? These are the important things I know because I read People.

Or you moms who actually throw away your kid’s half-eaten Mac-n-Cheese.  This is wasteful…it is our job as moms to finish the plate as quickly as possible while standing at the sink and hoping the kids don’t come in and catch us. Don’t ruin this for the rest of us.

Or you moms driving your cool SUV’s or hybrid-eco-friendly cars like “oh I’m not going to be a sell-out and buy that Minivan even though I know it would be so much more convenient..but I’ll be damned if I can be one of ‘those’ soccer moms…”  Oh my SwaggerWagon set has you all figured out…I mean it took me 7 years of motherhood to finally give in to the minivan. But the in-floor storage, the auto-sliding doors, the seating for 8, the low clearance for easy loading and unloading.  I mean sure, when you do have that twice a year date night with your spouse – pulling up in the minivan in front of the new, hip vegan restaurant seems awkward on a Saturday night. But by Monday when you are driving carpool again, you forget your pain.

Now those are important subjects that I think we need to toast over a glass of wine. As long as we make it red wine. Because I don’t understand you moms who prefer white wine.

I am not my mother and made my own choices that surprised even me. I breast fed exclusively, co-slept, I quit my job to stay home with my kids full-time, yet I don’t keep a very clean house compared to her, I still don’t let my 11 year old ride her bike around the block by herself, and I mainly buy healthy snacks.

Until today. Because these Ho-Hos totally rock and I think I need to buy another package to share with my kids. I thank my mom for making sure these were always in the snack cabinet and not worrying about what others thought. She and others mothered without a manual, and I hope without a worry of whether they were doing it right, without comparison, without guilt, and without regret I believe, and thankfully without carob chips.

I think we can all take a lesson from the moms that came before us who didn’t live with the mommy war myth that is perpetuated by the media.

As mothers who have experienced loss, mothers who’ve made tough decisions, mothers who’ve overcome infertility, mothers who never thought they could experience such joy or such pain. And as daughters, all of us reading here today. We owe it to ourselves to just be at peace with our own choices.

So I toast you with my tang and my Hostess Treat that we just enjoy them together today as mothers, daughters and women who may have differences in practice and opinion but are unified in our celebration and experience. Unless carob chips and white wine are truly your poison. But I promise I won’t judge.

*****

Esther was late to school that day – and she was not wearing red. It’s true – she owns nothing red. But the extra time we spent together that morning meant more to both of us than her wearing the right shirt.

 

After the show my girls rushed to me with flowers and hugs and tales of the shows. Esther looked up at me and said “I love you mom – you were really funny!”

 

And then Lorna Landvik came over and asked if I’d ever consider writing or performing stand-up comedy.

 

After I picked myself up from the floor I realized that I too had a story(a personal story – not one that using bar graphs and numbers) that was a worth sharing. As do you. xo

listen-to-your-mother

Listen To Your Mother has been a game changer for me and so many others. Thank you Ann Imig for your vision and love.  And to Vikki and Galit – my partners in LTYM Crime – girlfriends I love you and would totally move a body for you. xo

 

Share

How To Prioritize

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

 

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

egg hunt

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

 

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

IMG_4080

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

 

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

IMG_4124

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_4117

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

 

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

 

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

Share

Ready For Kindergarten

My daughter’s preschool career ends in six short weeks as this fall she will enter kindergarten. Yet this morning I still carefully unzipped and slid her jacket from her arms and hung it on her hook that has a cute little peeling bunny label on it. I put her lunch in her basket that she can easily reach, and then she sat down on the bench waiting. I bent down to her so we were eye to eye and I kissed her nose – twice – as I gently removed her boots and smelled her toes and laughed as she asked if they were super stinky this morning. I placed her boots in her spot beneath the bench and then slid her shoes on her, folding the velcro over the top with an extra pat and then one more kiss to her nose before we both stood up.

 

She grabbed my hand – her right into my left – and we skipped into her classroom together. She sat down at the art table to make me a card. She makes me a card every day. Typically a rainbow and a sun with some flowers. We stand together in the center of the picture – one tall and brunette and one small and blond. And we are both smiling. I kiss her goodbye as she is just beginning the orange stripe of the rainbow and tell her to have an amazing morning. She kisses me back and hugs me tight and tells me that she loves me so much that some days it physically hurts her.

ready-for-kindergarten

She is nearly five and starting kindergarten soon, and yes I’m the mom who still helps her with her coat and shoes, and walks her into class each day and waits until she gets settled before I leave.

 

And I feel no guilt for babying her just a little longer. Especially knowing I am not the same mom as I was when my oldest was finishing her preschool career. Back then I did what you were suppose to do to get them ready for kindergarten – I taught her to tie her shoes, zip her coat, and the flip method for getting her coat on and over her head properly. She got dressed each morning independently, and I walked several paces behind her as we entered preschool, and watched her find her own hook, take off her jacket, change her shoes, and run into the classroom after a quick kiss and hug in the hall. After all, in a few short months I’d be putting her on a bus and she’d have to survive on her own.

 

I must get her ready.

 

This time I don’t care. And no, I don’t plan on sending this child to her kindergarten teacher as a baby lost in the woods looking for someone to wipe her butt. We’ve got that covered.

 

What I’ve found instead is that she is ready for kindergarten without me having to put so much outward effort on making her independent. While I’ve never actually shown her how to zip, she knows how. I can take her boots on and off her for weeks – but when we’re running behind and I ask her to put her boots on – she knows how.

 

I believe in independence, free-range, and my children learning how to make their own choices.

 

But I also believe that helping her with her coat and boots for a few more months until I’m not allowed to anymore is okay too. Maybe it’s more for me than for her. And if she ever asks to ‘do it herself’ I gladly step aside. But for now, it gives me time to steal more kisses and hugs and enjoy this short time we have together before she’s off to school forever.

preschool-pictures

You may calling it ‘babying’ her, but I just call it ‘time.’ Because as every mother knows, there’s never enough time to enjoy them while they are little and draw you holding hands under a rainbow filled sky.

 

Share

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.

way-cool-cooking-school

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.

kids-cooking-party-minnesota

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.

cooking-school-birthday

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.

rock-star-birthday-cake

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.

cooking-party-for-kids

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?

Share

Zombie Mommy

“Mommy, I don’t like when you leave me.”

 

I don’t always like leaving you either. But sometimes I have to…and I always come back.

zombie-mommy

“But if you were dead you wouldn’t come back.”

 

True, but I’m not dying anytime soon – so just for now, know that I’m coming back.

 

“But you will die someday and then you won’t come back and I won’t know you aren’t coming back.”

 

But by then you’ll be older and maybe a mommy too, so you won’t need me as much. So it will be okay. And that’s a long time from now.

 

“I’ll still need you when I’m a mommy.”

 

Maybe for some stuff. But not everything. You’ll have your own house and kids and life and even your own cats. And I’ll be very old when I die.

 

“Well even if you die when I’m a mommy and you’re very very old. I will still wish you were coming back.”

 

Me too.

 

“Unless you were a zombie. That would be super creepy. Don’t come back as a zombie mommy.”

 

I feel like I can promise you that I won’t come back as a zombie mommy and creep you out.

 

“Because if you did come back as a zombie mommy, I don’t think I could let you in my house.”

 

I understand and will respect your wishes if I did show up at your door as a zombie mommy. I wouldn’t let me in either.

 

“Okay, so don’t feel bad.”

 

I’ll be dead. I don’t think I’ll feel bad. I’m going to try not to be a zombie mommy ever.

 

“Promise.”

 

Promise. Now I have to get going to my thing.

 

“Okay, I will miss you, but please come back just as a regular mommy.”

 

Right, I’ll come back as regular mommy. Not dead. Not a zombie. And I’ll tuck you into bed. It won’t be creepy.

 

“This is why I love you so much. Because you’re not a zombie mommy.”

 

Share

Nine

I’ve never been this close to a middle child before, but now that I have one, well there’s a lot of truth to the myths you hear. And my empathy for Jan Brady has grown by leaps and bounds the last few years.

esther-birthday

Our middle child is our ultimate peace maker and friend to all. She cherishes her sisters’ love and appreciation and gives to each of them endlessly. She lets Eloise control the wheres, whys, whats, and hows – what the plans are, where they are going, the games they play, and when they do it – almost always on Eloise’s time. And she lets Astrid take most of the snuggles, the long bedtime routines, controlling the shows for the baby cartoons, the space on mom’s lap, a big slice of her attention for the last four years.

 

And this middle has done it with grace and acceptance and a smile for most of her life.

 

But nine is changing things. She’s using a word I’ve never heard from her. NO – to her sisters and to us. She’s giving herself permission to voice an opinion when she’s never expressed one before.

 

Typing that sounds awful.  I hope it hasn’t been. She has just always ‘gone with the flow’ and has seemingly done it with a laugh and a skip in her step. Now I wonder if that was okay or if she’s been bottling up her angst for years.

IMG_3398-001

Not that she seems angry now. She just seems strong and is using her voice.

 

And saying no more often. As well as voicing what she wants to do and what’s important to her.

 

When I think about it, even many of her toys and interests were all things that Eloise liked, and I think she felt like she was suppose to like and do the same things.

 

But today, Esther is nine and she wants you to know…

 

She doesn’t like riding horses. Sure, her sister is obsessed, but she’s not interested.

She loves all animals and honestly(and don’t tell her sisters), our cat prefers her over anyone.

She hates the Rainbow Loom – and all jewelry making – and all small motor type toys. Her hands can’t do the things that her sister’s can – and instead of ending up just getting frustrated, she is just saying “I’m not interested in that.”

She loves books about fantasy and sci-fi and wishes her sister would stop suggesting realistic fiction to her.

She doesn’t like riding a bike. So stop asking her to learn.

She’s an amazing tap dancer and she doesn’t care that you like jazz better. Tap is cool.

She likes scary movies. She wishes her sister would just go to bed earlier so we could watch more. Eloise hates scary movies.

She likes to ski fast. She hates to turn. She likes to just go straight down as fast as humanly possible.

She doesn’t care if her hair is messed up, her clothes don’t match or if her shoes work with her outfit.

She’s a good friend and loyal to the core.

She likes fruit and sushi and all vegetables and steak. She wonders why Eloise and I don’t like meat.

She doesn’t like math even though she’s good at it.

She’s very affectionate and still tries to fit on my lap. You can see the sadness in her face when she doesn’t.

She randomly comes up to me and touches me, hugs me, and tells me that she loves me. She doesn’t care who hears.

She doesn’t care about technology. Has never used a laptop and has never asked to, and is the last person you’ll find using the iPad.

She’s the first in the kitchen to ask if I need help making dinner or setting the table. And the first to volunteer to fold laundry.

She likes to go to bed early and stay in bed late into the morning. Like wants to sleep in like a teenager. The girl likes to sleep.

IMG_3411

She never asks for anything.

But now I need to do a better job of asking her what she wants to do, what she wants, and what she likes.

I don’t want her to live a life of just going with the flow, as the peace maker, as the middle.

esther

Because our Esther is such a pure and special person that needs to be heard.

 

And at nine she’s finding her voice. My job is to help her use it and to guide her how to make it louder.

this-is-nine

Because nine is just the beginning.

 

Happy Birthday Sweet Esther-Boo. I love you so much it hurts.

 

 

 

Share