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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

 

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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.

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(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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

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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.”

 

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

 

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How To Prioritize

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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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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.

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“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.”

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Because nine is just the beginning.

 

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

 

 

 

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How You Know It’s True Love

In Spanish class they were given the materials and instructions to make one Valentine. What they did from there was up to them. Children came out of the room immediately handing cards to their moms or dads, sisters and brothers. But Esther handed us nothing and instead simply said “I have a special card that I made today.”

 

I assumed she just wanted to present her masterpiece to us upon our return home.

 

Esther walked in the door, removed her snowy boots and dropped her backpack to the floor. She took off her mittens, hat and coat and knelt down to unzip her backpack. She reached in and carefully removed a card and skipped into the living room calling for Truffle.

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But she didn’t need to call for Truffle as he was already bounding down the steps as he does each day at about 4pm when his sisters return from school.

 

Typically Esther reaches down for him, picks him up and over her shoulder, where he nuzzles her face and purrs for several minutes.

 

But yesterday instead she got down on the ground and read him the Valentine’s Day card that she made only for him. Her favorite Valentine.

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And as she finished I heard her say “No one will ever love me the way that you do, Truffle-man. You are the best kind of love of all.”

 

And if you’ve ever loved a pet – well I think you know exactly what she means. Unconditionally.

******

Astrid came home yesterday when a bag full of Valentines from her preschool party. There were tattoos, chocolates, cards, and stickers. One of the sets of stickers had several Cupids on it.

 

“What’s that guy, Mama?” She asked, not familiar with the baby cherub archer man.

 

Oh, that’s Cupid. Cupid helps people fall in love.

 

Astrid climbed up on my lap, grabbed my face in her hands, and looked right into my eyes and said “We didn’t need a Cupid to make us fall in love. We just did that right from the beginning.”

*****

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Eloise came over this morning and stood very close to me. Then she took her hand out to measure where the top of her head now hit on my face.

 

Right above my nose.

 

I thought you were coming over for a Valentine’s Day hug. I said.

 

“Ha!” Eloise responded. “In a few months I’ll be taller than you. I just wanted to remind you of that fact.”

*****

Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends. May you find and have all the kinds of love that ring true.

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My Children Are My ‘Want To..’ Hands Free Mama – A Review

I snuggled up to her in bed. She spooned into me as I wrapped my arms around her and took in the freshly bathed sent of her hair. Her fleece pajamas felt warm to my touch and she relaxed into me like the perfect puzzle piece against my stomach, neck and chest.

 

“Will you tell me a scary story, Mama.” She asked.

 

A scary one before bed? Really, is that what you want?

 

“The scarier the better!” She said.

 

In her dimly lit bedroom I could still see the wonder in her eyes and smile on her lips as I started the scary bedtime story for her.

 

I’m typically a “Let’s do this bath/books/bed thing quickly!!” kind of mom as the end of the long day cannot come soon enough. From an early wake-up to breakfast to bus to work to dance to homework to dinner to bed – the days of parenting can be long and tiresome. And by 7pm I’m reaching for the quiet and for the alone.

 

And I cringe to admit that maybe I’ve blown off her story requests with an “I’ll tell you extra stories tomorrow.” or “Let me think of something even better to tell you in the morning.” and sadly “It’s bedtime sweetie, no time for stories tonight.” More times than not…

 

But I made time this week. More time than usual as I realized how fleeting this ‘telling stories’ part of childhood is. How my 11 and 9 year olds read by themselves in their rooms with their lights. Their books are filled with complicated words and few pictures, and many of their stories I’ve never shared. How soon this little one in the fleece pajamas with reindeer on her feet, and baby fine freshly washed hair won’t ask to hear my stories anymore.

 

So I stayed.

 

And told a story of sisters getting lost in the woods and the calls of wolves scaring them from the forest and how they had to run to stay safe together. As I made ‘real’ wolf howls and panicked voices, her grip tightened on my arms that kept hold around her.

 

Her grip relaxed at the end, when of course the sisters made it home to their mom and hot cocoa after a stern “That’s why I tell you to never wander in the wood alone at night!” Then she turned to face me and I kissed her nose as she wrapped her still so very small arms around my neck and said “I’m glad you were there to protect me. Now I can sleep better.”

 

Soon I could hear her heavier and steady breathing humming on the monitor downstairs, and each of those breaths slowly entered my mothering heart with calm.

*****

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This moment took five minutes. Yet it’s a short moment with a long impact that my sweet girl will always hold in her heart. Those days that mommy stayed and held me as she told me stories.

 

I could’ve instead spent five more minutes on Facebook or answering work emails or writing another blog post. (All of which, I really still do have time to do).

 

But I’m not going to let those five minutes of joy that I can and will spend with my children be the “I have tos” of my days…oh no those are the “I want to moments…”‘ that I need more of. MY “I have tos..” are my work demands and the emails. And sure – I have to mother – but not because I have to. Because I want to. And choose to be present for my children every single day.

*****

I just finished reading Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford.

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Distracted parenting. Can you relate? And this isn’t to shame anyone(ME!) on the phone at the playground or answering emails instead of playing Monopoly(oh help me god). But it’s being present when you can be present. Rachel’s words, commitment and journey of grasping what really matters has inspired me. Her new book is full of ways to make your parenting life(and mixed with your professional life) meaningful and fulfilling by learning to grasp and appreciate the moments that really matter. Her book gives tips on unplugging and making real connections.

 

One of my favorite lines from Rachel’s Hands-Free Pledge is…

 

” I am letting go of distractions, disconnections, and perfection to live a life that simply, so very simply, consists of what really matters.”

 

Every chapter hit me in soft spots and hard as I mirrored my parenting in hers. And I had many a “Me TOO!” moment as I recognize how busy we’ve all become. Her chapters are full or beautiful stories and insightful tips about Awareness, Presentness, Simplification, and even Forgiveness.

Tips and lessons that I want to model for my own children as they start to enter the social media space.

Her book is a beautiful and gentle reminder not to let our lives, our only one, pass us by.

 

I have so much gratitude to Rachel for sharing her words with us. And I would love for you to check out her book. It will make you think, cry, and maybe make a few tiny changes, that will make all the difference in your days. And your world.

 

Like my world – which includes bedtime snuggles and stories with a reindeer-footed preschooler who won’t want to hear mommy’s stories for much longer.

 

So join Rachel and go hands-free. Discover what happens when you choose to open your heart—and your hands—to the possibilities of each blessed moment.

 

Her books is available here…

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook | iBooks (Apple) | IndieBound

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One Last Chance

 

Um hi, this is Tracy Morrison and I want to schedule a D&C.

“Hi Tracy, let me just look up your chart…..okay so let’s see here….um Tracy, so you are pregnant again?”

I am and I want the D&C as soon as possible.

“Why don’t we make an appointment with your doctor first and do an ultrasound and see how far along you are.”

No, this isn’t negotiable. I don’t want an ultrasound. I’ve had dozens of ultrasounds before and I know what it will show – it will show a pregnancy that is 5-6 weeks along with a little beating heart and then I’m going to fall in love with that beating heart right then and there. And then you are going to make me come back again in a week or so and there’s that heart again and then I fall in love just a little bit more. A week later we’ll do it all again and I’ll find myself not only falling in love even more, but I’ll find myself at Target buying a sleeper, some little socks and I’ll start listing baby names. And you know what happens about a week or maybe three weeks after that? I’ll be in Target again and feel it. Feel some light cramping or maybe not so light cramping and then a drip..drip…drip. And then the good times well they really start. I will find myself back in the ultrasound room to see what I already know. I will see my baby. My baby that I fell in love with. Gone. Just like the last time and the time before that and the time before that and the time before that.

“Tracy…I..um..”

So no, I don’t want that doctor’s appointment or that ultrasound or that heartbeat or that falling in love or seeing that baby or buying that sleeper or those sweet dreams of meeting my new baby for the first time. I just want a D&C tomorrow so I don’t have to hope anymore.

******

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Sometimes I think back to that conversation. I remember that woman. Me. Sitting on her kitchen floor with her head on her knees as she sobbed-shouted into the phone. And how she hung-up on the nurse that day for being so unreasonable. Then I think about how the doctor called me about an hour later and told me he just wanted me to come in so he could give me a hug and buy me a coffee. The doctor who told me three months earlier that it would be a million to one chance for me to have more children and any pregnancy would almost certainly end in another loss. The doctor who finally took hope out of my heart and I started to heal.

The next day in his office as he told me he thought we should do an ultrasound just ‘to see.’ I remember yelling at him for his betrayal of my heart and my hopes as he ripped me opened and played with my fragile emotions of motherhood.

“But Tracy you’ve been given one last chance. Never walk away from one last chance. You never know when this could be the one.”

******
Sometimes I hover too long over her crib at night. Her crib. She’s three and a half and still in a crib. My baby. My chance. I stroke her baby-soft cheek and move her blond curls away from her eyes. My tears fall onto her blankets maybe filling her slumber with dreams of her own that will come true one day. The same tears I shed on that kitchen floor four years ago when I thought all hope was gone.

 

This post originally appeared in Mamalode, but disappeared after their site migration. So I’ve brought it here. Home. Where it belongs.

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this is me…

this is me…

this-is-me

-my body is strong from hard work

 

but still

 

-my belly is soft as it keeps a warm reminder of holding seven babies - of which three land in my arms each day

 

-my arms are long and lean and admittedly weak but strong enough to hold me up each day

 

-my tattoos are like memories etched into my body forever. of a certain place. or time. or man. and i treasure them as marks made of a life well lived

 

-my hips are wide and my torso is short, inherited from my mother’s side – maybe not my favorite trait – but i see my body in my mom’s and in her sister’s and it reminds me of where my inner strength comes from each day

 

-my face is angular with high-cheekbones that remind me of the distant Native American heritage passed down through my father. along with my dark eyes that mirror his. his eyes are deep, quiet and kind and i treasure having the same

 

-my legs are long and travel great distances just like my paternal grandmother did as she exercised each day and showed her beautiful legs off well into her 70s

 

-my fingernails are ragged and unkept because my hands are always busy and it show the real me. just like my brows will always be wild and not in fashion and my hair needing a trim because i believe there are more important matters to attend to

 

-my hair is thin and sparse like my maternal grandmothers, so i think of her each morning as i brush my hair with a daily reminder of my loved ones gone like silver flashes of light through the clouds on a dreary day

 

-my hair is also gray and this week, after months without a color appointment, I smile at as the top of my head shows a new hue publicly. and i’m okay with that

 

-my face is serious and lined with experience, heartache, bravery, and calm from a life so full that it allows the bad in because without it, the good would not feel so fresh and unexpected

 

-my laugh matches my brother’s, as it should because no one can mirror your childhood like your sibling

 

-my body has taken me far and it knows the journey is still in its infancy

 

-my body is mine, and the finest thing i own. from the first touch by my parents on the day i was born, from holding my new babies on my stomach, to today as i reflect at the middle-aged woman i’ve become – this is me

 

-my body has beauty and faults and it encompasses my whole life and where i came from – giving me pieces of ancestry like little gifts that i appreciate each day when i catch the reflection of my true self. my beautiful self

 

-my body is sexy and perfect and strong – no matter the tiny imperfections that only i really see

 

-my body is a reflection of my life lived. a house of memories that no one else has

 

because

 

this is me

 

*****

For #ThroughTheLensThursday with the prompt Reflection

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What Do You Learn In Preschool

I vaguely remember preschool. I remember it was in a church basement; Lutheran, even though we were Catholic. And my teacher wore her hair high up on her head in curls that were neatly pinned like flowers. She also wore a tan, ribbed turtleneck top, a huge smile, and sensible shoes most days. I remember playing with various toys, reading books, signing songs, and learning the importance of sitting quietly on a carpet as we all faced the teacher. My teacher, in 1972, wore a miniskirt as she sat on a chair facing us. We could spy her undies every day. We loved her. And her undies and how they made us giggle.

 

Preschool was a place to go and socialize with other kids, a place where you learned a little body control and how to listen to a teacher, and a foundation for getting you ready for your adventure to bigger and better learning.

 

Preschool should be magical. It should be a place where unicorns graze in rainbow colored fields under a jelly bean sky. Preschool teachers I believe are hatched from pastel colored eggs that have been dipped in fairy dust before being carried down to earth by white swans wearing tutus.

 

This is how I want my daughters to feel when they go off to preschool. I want them to feel like they are wrapped up in magic at every turn.

 

And we’ve found that spot with our preschool.

 

Don’t laugh at me, but I have tears running down my face a I type this. And when Astrid’s teacher hugged me hello this morning I cried then too. Just feeling her warmth and by knowing how safe and happy Astrid is there. Each day her teacher hugs or touches me and tells me words that are reaffirming. “We love Astrid so much. She’s a delight. She makes my heart happy. Her smile lights up a room. She’s a lovely friend. I don’t want her to ever go to kindergarten…”

 

And I cry again. I’ve warned them that I plan to just come and sit in the classroom next year for a few hours even though Astrid will not be there. Because I need more unicorns and fairy dust in my life. Everyone should have a place that makes you feel this good.

 

Astrid’s school focuses a lot on music and art. Each ‘lesson’ or monthly plan is about a band or artist. They’ve studied The Beatles, Bob Marley, Michael Franti, Taj Mahal, Claude Monet and more. They learn all of the songs or paintings, have dance parties, and explore the places and cultures where the artists are from. This is her preschool curriculum, and I melt over it each day I enter that happy place to drop her off. And I linger longer there than I have at any other school.

 

We’ve spent months singing along with Astrid as she continues to appreciate the arts at home – and teach us what she has learned. And I love it so hard that no one is pushing phonics or math or early reading books on this child. This child with a song in her heart.

 

Her favorite song from the year is Cakewalk Into Town by Taj Mahal… and she sang a few versus for us. And I think if we all listen and watch this just a few more times, well no one will get the blues ever again.

 

Guaranteed unicorns, rainbows, swans and jelly beans if you watch this….

What do you love about your child’s preschool?

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I Did This – I’m With The #HappyMamas

The quiet is almost deafening upstairs. Occasionally I hear soft stocking feet running down the hall, a giggle, or a door quietly shutting. But for nearly three hours it’s been silent.

 

If you are a mother of three, this could cause concern. The long quiet. Concern enough to go check on your children – are they free of blood, teeth intact, room not on fire, alive. But I never went up there. With three kids I expect at least one will be able to scream down for help in case the other two are dealing with blood or fire or broken teeth.

 

It’s our fifth day off school over a span of just two weeks. We’ve spent a lot of time together. A lot of time inside our home together. A lot of time not being able to safely play outside. A lot of time dragging out every toy, book, game, crayon, and snack we own.

 

And besides an hour in the morning as the zombies stare at the TV while they shovel in frozen waffles, or the hour at night when we catch-up on Dance Moms together or watch reruns of Sam And Cat – the TV is off, the iPad isn’t touched, and my computer is my computer.

 

The girls are brushing doll hair, putting on fashion shows, making pictures, having pretend picnics, and going through drawers of stuffed animals that haven’t been unearthed in years. Together.

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And frankly some of the time I haven’t even known what they were doing because they were playing. Without me near. For hours. By themselves. Like children should do. Maybe they sat and listened to music and took turns being the lead in a band, or maybe they put on puppet shows, or maybe they told each other jokes. What they did is their own thing. That they created for themselves. In their rooms. And they only came down for dinner when I called them to set the table. And they came down together and laughing. No blood.

 

I finished my work. It’s one of my busiest weeks at work, and having them home from school weighed heavy on my shoulders and mind as I saw the temperatures plummet. But I had nothing to worry about, because kids have the ability to make their own fun. And play with each other.

 

I want to whisper this secret to my friends with all little ones at home – that things will get quiet for them one day. That one day their kids will just go play without them building that Lego tower with them(not that I don’t love to do that once in awhile), but when they do need a three hour block to get some work done – their kids can manage that for them..and just go play. Like we once did as kids.

 

Yet my kids are still all here in our house. We’re still sharing space together. Even though they aren’t tapping on my knee saying “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom…”

 

And even though my kids are a floor away and not asking me for anything – I am still mothering. In fact  – I did that….I mothered enough so my kids know they can make their own fun and snacks and pick up their toys. I did that. I taught them boundaries and gave them a space to play. I let them know that sometimes mom needs to work and needs quiet, and to respect my time just like I respect a crazy amount of time with them. I taught them to be self-sufficient and to be happy even playing alone or with a sister for more than 10 minutes. I did this.

 

Watching your kids move away from you because they know how and can, is still mothering. Being a good mother did this. Being a good mother doesn’t have to be defined by how many games you played with them or how many plays you acted out. Being a good mother also means that they can go off for hours to create their own plays, but being there when they’re ready to perform.

*****

Galit and I were chatting and having a glass of wine together. We sat close and laughed about many things as we talked…we really talked, and finished sentences. We were out together bowling with our families…TEN PEOPLE..and bowling in a LOUD bar. And yet we sat and drank wine and heard each other. We talked about writing and work and sure, kids.

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And those SIX kids were just feet away from us, but they were bowling and talking and laughing and playing all by themselves. They never came to talk to us or ask for anything. They managed their own food and drinks. They took their turns and kept their own scores and just did what kids do.

 

We’ve done it. We’ve reached this sweet spot in mothering. Where the kids are old enough to do so much(nearly everything) on their own, and you can do things you enjoy parallel to them(like talking with a dear friend) – because they are still there. There – feet or a floor from you – but still with you. This sweet age when they can do for themselves yet they are still with you and not away with friends.

 

Dear friends – this is such a sweet time right now. I cherish this moment of motherhood before it flees too. Like all of the moments mothering do. Mothering has its beautiful and hard moments – the moments you miss and the one you don’t once they are gone – but I’m holding this now of motherhood tight.

 

This moment where my kids are here. But just not right here all of the time.

****

This was written as a Happy Mama Moment. A group of 12 moms have formed a Happy Mother Movement for 2014. Each month you can join us and link up with your Happy Mama Moment, inspired by Dude Mom.

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You’re So Vain

“Mommy, don’t close the door on me when I’m peeing because you won’t be able to see me pee.”

beautiful-face

Hon, I don’t need to watch you pee. I’ll just be in the hall folding laundry. I’m right outside the door.

 

“But, Mom, if you close the door you won’t see my beautiful face, and I have the most beautiful face in the world. Even when I’m peeing my face is beautiful. Won’t you miss my face?”

******

So I watched her beautiful face while she peed.

 

Motherhood is so weird sometimes.

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117th Avenue Northeast

I learned to dance The Hustle in that house. There was a much older neighbor girl(6th grade) who knew all the cool steps. I was only in kindergarten and wanted bell-bottom jeans just like hers, and I grew my hair out in her to match her Marcia Brady style.

 

That house is where we would listen to Helen Reddy, The Carpenters, The Beatles, or even a little Charlie Rich when we would all pitch-in to clean on Saturdays. I remember marching through the living room(while holding a broom) as I cleaned to Yellow Submarine.

our-houseOur(only one) bathroom was pink, our kitchen was orange and avocado green, and our living room had raised blue velvet wallpaper and matching blue shag wall to wall carpeting.

 

That house had only two bedrooms, so I shared with my brother – our twin beds parallel on opposite walls – and we would talk late(8pm) into the evenings. Our discussions mainly centered around the fact that our mom made us go to bed, but it was still light out, and our friends could be heard playing right outside our window.

 

At that house we had a sandbox in the backyard. We would spend days digging to China(not possible) and when we gave up we would run from yard to yard just playing with whomever else(everyone) was outside.

 

The summer that I was five, I convinced my mom that I should be able to run around the neighborhood without my shirt because my brother and all of his friends did. No one ever thought the girl with the Marcia Brady hair, but running around without a shirt seemed odd. I preferred jean cut-offs and bare feet to a dress and mary janes any day during those years we lived in that house.

 

I’d follow my big brother everywhere when we lived in that house. And one day that summer of being five, that ‘bad’ kid that no mom liked, but we just could not stop hanging around, taught us all the word “fuck” as we all sat on top of the monkey bars together. The word felt strange yet nice on my tongue as I said it the first time.

 

I think I went right back to that house and told my mom about it.

 

We got our first dog when we lived in that house. But Benji peed on visitors, and laundry, and furniture. And when Benji peed on mom, we had to return him to the shelter. We didn’t have anymore pets in that house.

 

We moved into that house as a family of four…and left as such..but with a different dad.

 

I don’t remember a lot about the four years we lived in that house – just the pink bathroom, green refrigerator, the sandbox, learning a favorite word, having my brother near each night to talk to, and my freedom from shirt-wearing status.

 

But I bet my mom remembers a lot more about that house. How a marriage broke-up. How she went back to school and got a good job to support us as a single parent. How she got remarried. The memories that house must hold for her.

 

And it all makes sense now how Helen Reddy became our Saturday cleaning theme since I still know all the words to You And Me Against The World, I Am Woman Hear Me Roar, and Delta Dawn.

 

That house will always be the house that taught me the importance of a good personal theme song because it buries itself into your heart to create a lifetime of memories. Kind of like a house can. When everything changes.

*****

Written for #WhereILivedWednesday with Anns Rants.

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