Is Animal Humane Society Camp A Bad Idea?

I am a big fan of summer camps. Art camps! Drama camps! Sport camps! Outdoor skills camps! Swimming camps! Sleepaway camps! History adventure camps! Horse camps! Science camps! Yoga camps! Cooking camps! We love all of the camps – but I’m going to have to just say no next year to camp at the Animal Humane Society – because truly this is a super bad idea.

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Five reasons that Animal Humane Society Camp is a bad idea:

1. Child comes home talking about the dogs they played with. Asks for a dog. Looks at you with super sad eyes and makes you go on the website to view this dog. This dog is super cute. But you don’t need a dog. You don’t want a dog. You would be the primary caregiver of the dog – and no, you just cannot get a dog. Child is heartbroken. Child cries. Child wakes the next morning with a sad face. “What’s wrong?” You ask. “It’s Bliss the dog. I just cannot think about seeing him again today knowing that he doesn’t have a home….a home as wonderful as ours.” Decide you must be the worst mother ever because Bliss is not coming to live with you. Spend day looking at the dog’s picture on the internet and thinking about your child’s sad face.

 

2. Your child gives up on the dog idea and instead insists that you get a cat. A kitten. Or a cat. Or two cats. Or five cats. Or any cat. Just more cats. Insists that your cat is lonely and needs more companions. You spend the evening looking at all 110 cats on the website. ALL OF THEM ARE CUTE. You realize that you are indeed a cat lady and could probably feed about 20 if your husband didn’t kick you out because you brought home so many cats. Child BEGS you for a cat. You tell her that YOU TOO want another cat – but that Daddy doesn’t want one – so she really needs to give him the sad eyes and maybe a few tears about how sad the cats are and how we NEED a cat.  Dad says no. Everyone is crushed.

 

3. Child decides she now wants guinea pigs. Child has never expressed interest in a guinea pig before – but it’s the next cutest and fluffiest animal after cat and dog. Child makes you look at the guinea pigs on the internet. There is a bonded pair named Elsa and Anna. HOW COULD YOU NOW NOT ALSO WANT GUINEA PIGS? But even with the Frozen theme – you don’t really understand what a guinea pig is and you don’t want one. Say no. Crush child’s dreams FOREVER.

 

4. Child comes home going on and on about adorable little Degus. Degu? What the what? Child makes you go to the website. This is now the most viewed website this week. You find out that a degu is a rat-like hamster creature. You just say no and explain that your 20 cats would probably eat these degus. Child goes to bed devastated that the degus don’t have a home.

 

5. Child barely makes it through dinner after four days of camp because it seems so unfair that she has a home and a family and a meal as a family when thousands of animals don’t. The injustice. And how can we not help just one animal. She makes a wonderful case of why we should help another animal. You feel more guilt about not adopting another pet than you did when you were an active Catholic. This is deep, people.

 

Now if I had my way – we would adopt about 50 animals this week..but Jed would leave us all. And animal control might actually come after us too. Also, how would we feed so many?

 

I love my big-hearted, softie, animal-loving girl. This camp has been perfect for her and I love that she is finding more inspiration on how she can help animals even if we don’t adopt them all.

 

“Mom, I’ve decided that I want to volunteer at the shelter when I’m old enough..and I want to either open my own rescue organization, work for the Humane Society, or be a veterinarian when I grow up. There are so many animals that need help and I want to be there for them.”

 

I’m proud of you sweetie, I love that you want a profession that helps animals. Their love is like no other.

 

“Yeah, I know this what I should do…but in the meantime can we please just get a dog and another cat?”

 

****And I’m totally kidding about saying no to this camp next year because Esther has LOVED it and she’ll be back. And maybe we will have more furry family members by then…And if your community has a camp or volunteer opportunity at your local animal shelter – please look into it. This has been such an amazing experience for my animal-loving-sweet-girl.

 

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Overnight Camp Alone

“Do you think she’s okay, Mom?” Eloise asked on Sunday evening. The two of us were snuggled up close(well as close as you can be when it’s hot and humid and you don’t have central air), each reading our own books with our cat Truffle sprawled out over both of us. “She’s never been to overnight camp alone before. We’ve always gone together.”

 

“I’m sure she’s fine.” I said, while still thinking about my Esther-Boo and how she was a mix of smiles and excitement and a few tears and looks of uncertainty as she boarded the bus to camp that morning. Alone.

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Alone in the sense that she went to camp this week without friends and family. But surrounding by love, oh I know this, with the other 100 or so girls she will meet and outstanding counselors to guide her through this week.

 

And even though this is her third year heading off to overnight camp – it feels different this week, as she chose to head off without a friend or sister with her. At nine – she’s my sweet, brave, kind, and silly girl – who can make friends with anyone. I’m sure she’s fine. I know she’s fine. But for the past two years I’ve felt and quiet confidence of things being okay because she had her sister. They had each other. So it was okay not having contact with her for the week – nope, no phone calls allowed. But this time I wish I could just hear her voice once.

 

And typically I’m not one so full of mother-worry.

 

So each evening Eloise and I gather around my laptop – watching the camp website for pictures. They post about 60 pictures at about 9:30pm of the days’ activities. We search them all to see her face. Is she smiling? Is she having fun? Is she with someone? Does she look happy? Yet of the 200 plus photos that have been posted this week, she’s only been in three – and in those she’s been off to the side a bit and too far away to catch an emotion on her face.

 

Last night – “I’m sure she’s having a great time, mom.” Eloise said after we viewed all of the pictures and Esther wasn’t in one of them. “I know her – when doesn’t Esther have a good time?”

 

“I know. I just miss seeing that smiling face. I want to kiss her cheeks.”  I said as I looked directly at Eloise and honestly she looked a little bit uncertain herself. “You miss her don’t you?” I cracked a smile when I posed that question to Eloise.

 

“Miss her? Nah, It’s actually been kind of nice to have you all to my self in the evenings.” Eloise laughed. But then she went back to the photo album online searching for that sweet face that remains on our minds this week.

*****

 

Have your kids ever headed to sleep-away camp? This is my kids’ third summer doing it and I have to say that they both love going. The skills and  independence they earn, and the lifelong friends they make can’t even begin to be measured. Eloise is headed up this next week and will stay for two full weeks.

 

I’ve written a few posts about summer camp if you want to check them out too as you are perhaps making your own plans for camp.

Five things to expect when you send your kids to overnight camp.

 

How do you know if you’re child is ready for overnight camp?

 

And ode to summer camp(yes I actually sing in this one) as a summer sanity saver for parents.

 

 

 

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There’s No Such Thing As Normal

“Just stand like a normal person so I can get a quick picture before you leave with your friends.”

 

What’s NORMAL Mom?

 

“It’s not making faces at me and just standing still so we can be quick.”

 

Why do you want to take pictures of me anyway?

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“Because I want to remember you just like this at 11. My brain in getting mushy and old so I want pictures to remember 11.”

 

Well then you need to remember that I wasn’t normal at 11.

 

“No?”

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Because nobody is normal. Normal doesn’t exist. Normal is nothing. I’m me. Just me and for sure not normal.

 

“Really? Do you like being not-normal?”

 

Yep – it’s always good to be not normal. Maybe we should not even say normal anymore. Maybe everyone should just be weird. Because EVERYBODY IS WEIRD! I’m weird. So weird. I like being weird. I like weird friends. I like weird people. What if we just replaced the word “normal” with “weird” and then like nothing else would matter. Because you’d be all “Hey, act weird(instead of normal) and I’d be all like “No problem” – I can just stand here and I’m weird because I am weird and then everyone would laugh. Because the word “weird” is kind of weird, right?

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“You’re weird.”

 

I KNOW, right? See, now I can pose “weird” for you – because I don’t know what normal means. But weird – everybody can love being weird. Normal is nothing.

 

“So we should remove normal from all the books, all the dictionaries, all of our vocabularies?”

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I think everyone would get along better if we did. Normal makes me worry, makes me compare, makes me feel bad. Weird makes me happy and I like when people call me weird. I like people who like being weird.

 

“Sometimes I wonder why you’ve never had the girl drama at school like I did growing up, or like I hear about from my friends and their tweens lately. Why do you think you don’t or I don’t hear about it at your school?”

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Because we’re all weird mom. And we like being weird. I think people worry and feel jealous when they try to be and define normal. When it’s not their normal. I’ll never be normal because it doesn’t exist. So I don’t think anyone else is normal either. I find their weird thing. I have lots of weird things. My friends and I laugh about all of the weird things.

 

“I love you.”

 

Because I’m weird?

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“Because you’re you.”

 

So do you want just one ‘normal’ pose. Your definition of a ‘normal’ pose?

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“No because I don’t think there’s such thing as a normal pose anymore.”

 

I can stand still you know. For you.

 

“Okay.”

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But now I’ve got to dance again because I’m weird.

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What Is A Little Free Library

They’ve been popping up over the last few years in our neighborhood. We live in the city, so everything is walkable – groceries, coffee, and school. We have sidewalks, houses close together, and hundreds of people are walking by each day. Kids on bikes, babies in strollers, young couples holding hands out for an afternoon walk, and families out playing catch in the front yard(and using your neighbor’s yard too because a 30-40 foot lot doesn’t allow much for a game of catch).

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So it made sense – these Little Free Libraries popping up here and there. Because we are in a city of walkers and bikers – having a little library to take a book and leave a book is another perfect way to bring a neighborhood together.

 

And our kids have been bugging us to have one of our own. Which not only provides a way to get more books into the hands of those who need and want them, and a way to continue to nurture our close neighborhood relationships, but also a way for us to clean out our bookshelves and share our favorites and find other favorites from the books that people leave.

 

So I’m thrilled that his month we will be installing our own Free Little Library in our front yard. Free Little Library took root in 2009 and as of this year there are an estimated 10,000-12,000 libraries worldwide.

What is a Little Free Library?

It’s a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. You can, too!

 

Each one has a unique design(find your own!) and its own set of books. The Alpha-Bits branded libraries star popular PBS Kids’ Super WHY! characters to promote reading skills. Alpha-Bits and Little Free Library are uniting to promote literacy and the love of reading in communities across the nation.

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As you know, Astrid is starting kindergarten in the Fall. We are spending our last full days together this year having fun, going on day-trips, doing art, and working on basic ‘getting ready to read’ skills – like reading together, pointing out letters, and practicing letter sounds. She loves a bowl of dry Alpha-Bits cereal for snack time as it gives her the independent activity time to pick out her favorite letters and then EAT them too. And then giggle as she screams “I ate the ‘A’ Mommy!!”

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As a steward of a Little Free Library, I’m committed to promoting reading and a sense of community and I cannot wait to show you our Free Little Library as it goes up this week!

 

I’d love for you to get involved and find out more. Visit their website Little Free Library, and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Disclosure: We were given a Free Little Library for our yard, but all words and opinions are my own.

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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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Praying For Rain

I taught our daughters how to play kickball today. Reading this you are thinking one of four things. 1. Your 11 year old doesn’t know how to play kickball? 2. You actually have to teach someone how to play kickball? 3. Kickball rules. or 4. Why the hell are you playing kickball?

 

Kickball will always be a comfort sport for me. We played it for hours in the neighborhood when I was a kid, and it was a favorite activity during school recess. I prided myself as a pretty decent kickball player in third grade and it was always a safer choice than dodge ball.

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Kickball is a comfort sport because even for a girl(me) who wasn’t coordinated enough to swing a bat and make a connection with a ball, or field a ball with a glove(picture the girl running the opposite direction of the ball or cowering with her hands over her head), I could play kickball. I had leg strength to kick and run and even I could catch a big ball out in the outfield with a big bear hug. And kickball wasn’t an organized sport – it was always just a pick-up game with a bunch of kids having fun. We played until we were tired, or it was dark, or the bell rang -  and I don’t remember there being a winning or losing team. This non-competitive girl loved her some kickball.

 

But within five minutes I had all three of my daughters in tears. One could not kick no matter how hard she tried. Big ball. Small ball. Fast ball. Slow ball. The girl could not kick the ball. One girl could not run fast enough not to get tagged out each time. One girl didn’t want to ‘let’ her little sister get to base each time and gave up because she wanted to play a ‘real’ game where she could get people out.

 

Let’s just say that I was the best player yet no one wanted to play with me. And I don’t even like playing outside with the kids all that much – yet here I was trying and everyone cried. So I went back inside for a cup of iced coffee and cooled off.

 

Eloise was doing cartwheels when I came back outside, so I decided to do a few cartwheels, some round-offs, and impress the girls with my mad front walkover skills. Not too shabby for a 45 year old. But then I made the mistake of asking Esther and Astrid if they wanted to work on their cartwheels. Both were in tears within seconds.

 

So I went back inside to check Facebook and get my mind off playing outside.

 

And then a friend rode by on her bike and asked if Eloise wanted to go for a ride – so Eloise left with her. And I asked the other two if they wanted to ride their bikes. Esther was in tears within seconds because she could not remember how to pedal. Astrid cried because she only wanted her strider bike and didn’t want to pedal. Esther threw her bike down and said “I’ll be the last person ever to do this!” And Astrid told me she will never pedal.

 

So I went back inside and turned on the weather channel and prayed for rain.

 

For six months our land was frozen and outdoor activities in the neighborhood were limited, and the last few weeks it rained nearly every day and we were stuck inside -  reading, watching movies, building forts, doing art, baking cookies – and no one cried – for months.

 

One day of sunshine and warmth and wanting to soak it all in and be out there, and the day was just shit as my girls – slightly uncoordinated, not competitive, and not very sporty – spent most of the day in tears. Large motor activities are hard. So hard sometimes.

 

But after dinner I found them all outside – up in the fort snuggled together all reading books.

 

I guess they finally found a way to enjoy the outdoors.

 

And I let them read until bath time while I continued to work on my kickball skills and back walkovers.

 

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10 Things To Do Instead Of Blogging

10 things I’ve done this week instead of blogging…

 

1. Drank my body weight in Prosecco at our Listen To Your Mother cast gathering, and laughed HARD with about 20 of the most amazing and talented women I’ve ever met. Prosecco wasn’t required to laugh so hard, but it makes my very introverted self talk to all of the people. listen-to-your-mother

2. Ate a peep cupcake. Or two. It’s Peep Week over at Vikki’s place and she merrily and kindly baked Peep cupcakes for my kids. So I ate them.

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3. Astrid is on Spring Break so we went to the zoo to see the farm babies for Easter. It was 19 degrees, snowing and cold. I didn’t really take any pictures because I had decided to put my winter gear away – so I was hiking out there in a spring coat and no mittens and I lost feeling in all extremities. Also, I hadn’t been to the zoo during a weekday in years and it turns out everyone at the zoo on a Monday is four and under – which is just not an age group we associate with much anymore. I forgot how crazy two year olds are and why I don’t have one anymore and don’t want one anymore or why I’m not a preschool teacher. So then we went to the bar to be with older people. Okay, maybe not the bar..but Starbucks for a coffee and nice conversation. And then to the Minneapolis Institute of Art to look at paintings. Astrid needs to sit to “admire them fully” as she now says. It is nice and quiet there.

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4. Saw Muppets Most Wanted – WORST MOVIE EVER. Even worse than The Lego Movie. Astrid and I both fell asleep. When it was over Astrid even said “I’m so sorry mommy for making you go to this.”  I haven’t yet forgiven her.

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5. Running. I’m in full-on marathon training right now. Getting up at 3:30 again to do some long runs(18-20 miles) and frankly this makes me nap most of the day. My legs are working a lot more than my mind and my fingers these days.

 

6. Watching the final Dance Moms episode before the “Moms Tell All” next week! Oh Abby – this season has been a HUGE train wreck. I just don’t even know where to start. When not watching Dance Moms – I am at dance. All three girls are dancing a lot this year and loving it. I used to bring work with me to do while they were in class – now I bring a coffee and People magazine BECAUSE I CAN.

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7. Buying all of the Easter candy. I just realized yesterday that Easter is this weekend! Hopefully our egg hunt won’t be in the snow. Hopefully I won’t eat all of the chocolate before Saturday night and then have to go back out to buy more.

 

8. Texting my mother. Seriously, someone from my mom’s cell phone texted me with a “Hi.” And I was all like “Who is this and what did you do with my mother??” She’s still resistant to the whole thing – but I think she’ll like it. She just needs a better phone because she cannot see our emojis on her 1978 brick phone.

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9. Browsing Petfinder looking for a cat friend for Truffle. I know we don’t really need another cat..but we WANT another cat. Maybe 50 more cats. In the meantime I just go look at the hundreds in our area that need homes and cry a little. The other four people in this home are pushing for a dog. I don’t want a dog because I’m the one home all day and just really don’t want to have that responsibility, and I can’t keep this house clean as it is. However, I said “Sure, we can get a dog as soon as the four of you pick up after yourselves every single day for six months, don’t moan when I give you chores, and take over the bathroom cleaning.” Since none of this has been done since my announcement this week – I’m assuming we will get a dog oh in about NEVER. But it’s not my fault.

 

10. Filing taxes. Being self-employed is all unicorns, rainbows, and good wine until tax day.

 

What have you been up to? I’ve missed you.

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Local St. Paul Mom Gives Her 11 Year Old An iPhone

It was reported yesterday that local St. Paul mom and blogger, Tracy Morrison, gave her 11 year old daughter an iPhone of her very own. The news broke shortly after school when Tracy’s daughter Eloise sent an email to a friend, and end of the message read “sent from my iPhone.” As all news travels in fifth grade, soon hundreds of tweens across St. Paul learned the news and shared the news of the iPhone with their own parents over dinner that night.

 

“I’m not sure what Tracy was thinking!” Said an anonymous St. Paul mom over the phone when we called for comment. “I thought we had an unwritten pact in this circle of friends that no one would have a phone until junior high. I feel like Tracy is setting a precedence and frankly it’s upsetting to our family.”

 

Hannah Johnson, a good friend of Eloise’s from dance also received an email and then an iMessage from Eloise later last evening, was quoted as saying “Eloise is lucky. Her mom is much nicer than my mom. I cannot believe she got an iPhone. I mean all I have is this iPad Mini that I can’t leave the house with.”

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Hailey, Emma, Emily, Sophia, Maddie, and Eva – all classmates of Eloise, said she was like so lucky, but still had mixed emotions about Eloise being the first of their friends to get an iPhone. They were trying to be happy for her, but at the same time spent most of the evening complaining to their parents as most tween girls do about how life was so unfair for them since they only had a sad little iTouches.

 

We reached out to Emily’s parents for an interview, but they declined to comment yet mentioned something about moving Emily to a convent out East where technology was not allowed.

 

“I think it’s just totally unfair to the other parents that Tracy just went out and did this without first notifying us.” Said Emma’s mother. “I’m really disappointed in the whole thing. I mean it puts undue pressure on the rest of us parents – both financially and socially. Being a tween is already a difficult time – and now Tracy is really making our lives pure hell because of this iPhone.”

 

We sat down with Tracy last night to find out what prompted her to give her 11 year old an iPhone after stating numerous times over the past year that Eloise would not have a phone until she was in junior high. And in fact wrote in her blog in 2012 that “she’d be damned if Eloise would have a phone before she turned 12!”

 

“Well, it certainly wasn’t our plan to give Eloise a phone this early. However, as parents I think we all need to grant ourselves some flexibility with the right to change our minds. A big lesson I’ve learned about parenting is to never say never. Sure you might intend to feed your kids all organic foods – but damn Cheetos are yummy. It’s the same thing with the phone. We’ve always planned to delay this day for as long as possible, but since she turned 11 we’ve been giving her more independence in staying home alone for longer, being able to go off with her friends more, and she has more afterschool activities. She’s also proven herself as incredibly responsible. Quite honestly though, this weekend we called AT&T because they were raping us with our current rates and it turned out we could activate my old cracked iPhone 4 that was just sitting in a drawer and put her on our plan and actually SAVE $40 a month from what we were already paying because it was now a family plan. I call it a win/win.”

 

When asked how Eloise was handling her new responsibility with iPhone ownership, Tracy mentioned that Eloise understood there were many rules on usage with her new phone and she would not have it at school with her nor in her room at home, and that there were many blocks on websites and everything would be tracked carefully.

 

We tried to reach Eloise for comment, but she did not return our calls. Instead we received a text from her with just “…’sup, yo, who r u?” and then a long string of panda emojis. So we think that Eloise is enjoying her iPhone ownership very much.

 

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the kids and parents continue to react and accept the news.

 

–St. Paul Fake Planet News, Mandy Johansson reporting

 

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Six Years Of Blogging And Now A Book

My six year blogging anniversary passed quietly last week. Celebrating my six year ‘blogiversary’ is kind of like how I handled my 45th birthday – locked in the bathroom alone with a glass of red and a dark chocolate bar as I pondered what I’ve really accomplished.

 

I started my blog as a blog. It had five readers and I shared silly, daily stories of my girls and cats. It grew to something a little bit more as I shared stories of loss and hope and I found my voice in humor.

 

After six years of blogging – fame and fortune have not come my way – except for that one viral post that made me step back and be quite comfortable really without fame and fortune.

 

Actually, blogging has given me something much better than fame and fortune – it’s given me friends and the ability to be fearless.

 

And blogging has made me become a writer.

 

Six years ago – or even three years ago I would never say “I’m a writer.” Me, who went to school for business and engineering and took many math and economics classes, and took only speech and debate as my required and very painful English class.

 

I wasn’t always adverse to English classes. I was a voracious reader as a child and kept a journal since I was eight years old. During high school I filled notebooks with poems about asshole guys ,and I submitted short stories to magazine contests.

 

Until that year of AP English when my teacher sucked all the joy out of reading, appreciating good literature, and creative writing. I sat in the back of the class refusing to participate, listen or engage. I wanted every book to burned, every piece of paper to be shredded, and every English class in the world to cease immediately. That’s how much she made me hate literature and the beauty and power of words.

 

I was an A+ student and near the top of my class, and I still smile when I see that string of Ds on my report card from that year of AP English.

 

However, I still remember the one and only assignment I completed for her. The assignment was to write a personal essay about a difficult time in our lives. At first I resisted – because completing an assignment for her was like cleaning my room when my mom asked me to. I was 17 and liked to push her buttons just like any adult who told me what to do. I told her that I had nothing to write about and did not turn in my assignment. I still remember her coming over to my desk, kneeling down to be eye to eye with me, and saying “I’m giving you 24 hours to turn something in. Just try doing this – not for me – but for you. Don’t make me fail you because you’ve failed yourself.”

 

That evening I sat in my room with some nameless punk music blaring and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote about something very personal until my hand hurt and tears smeared the ink on my papers. I turned that first draft as my final paper into her that next day. The pages that were frayed, smudged, and with some margins filled in with edits – just like my life at the time. Imperfect and feeling still so incomplete.

 

Two days later she passed our essays back to us. I expected my usual ‘D’ as I did appreciate her effort to not fail me in her class, as god knows she wanted to see me again next year even less than I wanted to see her.

 

But instead there was a big red ‘A’ on the top of the page. Along with a note “Tracy, see what you can do when you write from your heart.”

 

And I find that still today – the best writing comes from my heart – and no, it won’t be with the best grammar or spelling, but it will always be me.

 

Which is why I’m thrilled to announce today that my words are in a book.

 

A little over a year ago, two amazing women came up with a writing series called “This Is Childhood.” They invited eight of us to join them to celebrate each year from age one to age 10.

 

I wrote about seven. My Esther at seven.

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Well Brain Child Magazine picked up our series of essays and has published them in a journal that launches today. This journal includes not only our essays of childhood, but also provides pages for parents to write their own thoughts as their children experience the joy (and the hard) of just being kids. It gives parents a place to write from their heart. Which is where all of our best writing comes from.

 

However, for me, being included in this book is just the frosting on the cake. The cake is made up of many layers of love from getting to know the nine other authors and moms. Over the past year they’ve become friends, mentors, and women I admire more than anything. They are brave, beautiful, and giving. I’m so grateful that blogging has given me the gift of incredibly talented ‘writerly’ friends, who don’t think my words aren’t worth publishing because I am ‘just a blogger.’

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I stand among greatness my friends…

 

So thank you Allison – whom I’ve know the longest – for your friendship, your support in this endeavor, your brilliant writing, and the daily laughs and tears we have in this strange on-line space.

 

Lindsey, whose writing makes me want to write more. Her honestly and emotional availability and wisdom and talent come through in everything she writes. I’ve loved getting to know her and her beautiful family more.

 

Galit, my Minnesota sister and a ‘co-bringer’ of Listen To Your Mother to our fair state. We’ve become close, forever friends, and her writing will always inspire me to be more. I do not have the words to express my love for her. Also, she’s made me ‘almost’ like dogs.

 

Nina, another Minnesota friend. I’ve admired Nina’s writing for years, but now we are ‘in real life’ friends and I am forever grateful for her talents, kindness, honesty, and advice.

 

Denise  – whom I met through the ‘This Is Childhood’ series, and I am overwhelmed by her writing experiences and talents, and would follow her writing to the ends of the earth if she’d let me..in a non-stalkerish way of course.

 

Aidan – another mom of three girls and a truly beautiful soul. I admit to reading her blog archives because she is a master at her craft and deserves to be published everywhere. I’m honored to have my words close to hers. Also, I want to live in Manhattan.

 

Kristen’s writing inspires me, makes me think, and makes me want to hug her daily for asking the hard questions in a beautiful way. Her heart comes through in her essays in a way I can only dream of doing.

 

Bethany makes me laugh and cry and share with every word she writes. Her talents are immense and she almost..almost..makes me want to have a house full of boys. Almost. I find myself nodding along with her essays and wishing we could take a long run together. There would be so much laughter that just writing about that run makes me want to hop on a plane and show-up on her doorstep in a sparkly running tutu.

 

Amanda. Oh Amanda. Don’t tell her but I want to be her neighbor. I have these strange dreams of living next door to her, our six girls playing in the yard, our husbands enjoying a few beers together, while I run my fingers through her hair. OMG, I mean while we discuss life and writing, everything because I think we’re meant to be friends forever, and her words have forever changed me.

 

No matter what happens with  my writing and my blog. Whether I am published again, or I take my blog down before the 7th anniversary – I will always be grateful to count these women(and many others) as friends who’ve inspired me, challenged me, laughed and cried with me, and celebrated good things like being published in a book. SERIOUSLY GUYS, WE ARE IN A BOOK!

 

Buy it.

 

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Dreams #happymamas

My dreams were never that big when I was little. I wanted 150 cats, wall to wall white shag carpeting throughout my penthouse, to be a lawyer so I could put bad guys in jail, and to be a super model if I ever grew tall and had boobs.  I may have also dreamed of boobs.

 

None of those things happened. But that didn’t make me unhappy. It just made me realistic that 150 cats shouldn’t live in a house with white carpeting, and that deciding between being a lawyer and model was a super hard choice until I didn’t grow boobs or grow that tall or like reading such big books full of super boring laws.

 

So instead I became an engineer with hardwood floors and one cat.

 

Dreams do come true when you’re willing to tweak your expectations a bit.

 

I love listening to the dreams of my kids. From the small – “May we please go to McDonald’s as it’s been months!” To the sweet “I hope Truffle cat gets a sister sometime soon.” And the big “When I’m big enough I’m going to solve World Hunger and make sure every child goes to school.”

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I listen to these the same way that my mother did – with a smile and kind words that they can be and do anything they set their minds to. Except eat a McD’s every month. I won’t help with that dream. My mother encouraged me and never discouraged me even when she knew I’d never get very tall or grow boobs.  She also didn’t try to make my dreams come true for me – because that’s not what mothers are for. Except for the small things to put a simple smile on our child’s face. Like maybe I could have white carpeting in my room – but no cats.

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One of Eloise’s dreams came true this weekend. Eloise loves pandas. All things panda. All pandas. She is slightly obsessed with pandas. Her dream is to see a panda. Well her biggest dream would be to see a panda in the wild as she has written about panda endangerment at length for school projects, but seeing pandas in a zoo would have to do.

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We planned a trip to D.C. this past weekend for a wedding and spent our first day just watching the pandas. “I’m HERE!” Eloise said, “I’m really here!” And I melted into a parental puddle knowing that it’s not my job to fulfill the dreams of my children – but being their to witness them – is truly a dream come true for me.

 

This makes me a Happy Mama.

 

Join us each month with The Dude Mom and share a Happy Mama Moment of your own!

 

Team Happy Mamas are also teaming up this month with Thirty-One Gifts, makers of stylish and functional personal products and storage solutions, to give one happy mama a super happy day! One lucky mama is going to receive a $200 gift certificate to use on some totes or handbags or storage products or whatever floats your boat from the site. Totally up to you!

Now, enter to win below and don’t forget to link up your Happy Mama posts this week too.

 
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You Are Not An American

We actually watched Pitch Perfect last weekend after Astrid was in bed. I felt we needed to try after my Facebook blew up when I asked if the movie was appropriate for my kids, and if it was any good. Every person on the planet(or at least my Facebook friends) said it was Amazing! Fabulous! The Best! So Fun! The Feel Good Movie Of The Decade! So, who are we to miss out on that. A little sexual innuendo and crass humor won’t stop us from watching Pitch Perfect 42,560 times dammit.

 

And we hated it. All three of us. Like hated almost all of it. I texted a friend saying that I felt strange hating it so much because I was suppose to love it. My kids were suppose to love it too because of Music and Cups. And even that could not keep our interest.

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“You’re not an American.” She texted back jokingly. “It’s like how you like to grocery shop every day for like three apples and a pint of milk instead of stocking your fridge with 740 ounce bottles of ketchup from Costco. You’re not normal. Or American. Also, you are no longer allowed to watch Dance Moms or Project Runway. You are not one of us.”

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My kids love music, popular music, top 40 music, Glee club music, and the song Cups. And even they did not enjoy Pitch Perfect. Maybe it was because the Cups song was only on for a total of about 30 seconds. Or because so much of the music was so poorly done. Or predictable. Or because most of the movie was one long dick joke(pun intended), and that’s not really a word we throw around in our home very often. Ever. Even the person who has a dick in our house doesn’t throw that word around.

 

But when they movie ended both of my kids just let out a “meh,” said it was just okay, wished there was more music and less talking(ha!), and that they didn’t really need to see it again.

 

I put them to bed and tried to process the whole two hour long “Dick Joke Movie” that I just watched. When I asked for public opinion about the movie – everyone mentioned typical light-sexual scenes on par with a PG-13 teen movie. That I can handle. That I don’t mind. That I don’t mind my kids seeing. But in my opinion the whole movie was about how crass can females and males be to each other in college and treat each other like pieces of meat and make fun of their dicks – whether through fake shaking around or through bad jokes, and go to frat parties and drink as much beer as possible. I don’t want my kids to think THAT is how we should talk to one another or act in college. All the time. Parties and crazy times in college – yes. Tweens now thinking this is allthetime acceptable behavior – notsomuch.

 

For me, instead of being a fun movie about changing your tune, letting go of stereotypes with lots of feel good music moments, it was more like my generation’s Fast Times At Ridgemont High with one good song in it. And I sure wouldn’t let my 9 and 11 year olds watch that. I would feel more comfortable letting my four year old watch it for just the music while the incessant dick jokes would float over her head. And those jokes did float a bit over my 9 year old’s head.  But at 11, at the age where you understand almost everything, but are still innocent enough not to know how teens may talk to each other in a joking manner – where you still don’t get many jokes, and are forming your own ways and opinions – I think this movie sucks. Sorry, that’s the only word I could find without making my own crude dick joke. Instead of a ‘meh’ – Eloise gave it more of an “Eww – I hope boys never talk to me like that.”

 

Call us prude, call of sheltered, call us crazy, call us not worthy of doing movie reviews  – but don’t call of Not American.

 

I mean sure, I’ve never shopped at Costco, I don’t buy toilet paper in bulk, we’ve never been to Chuck E Cheese, or purchased LEGOS. We’ve never taken our kids to Disney, we don’t listen to Country Music or watch The Bachelor, and we will never take in a meal at Red Lobster.  We don’t own white tennis shoes and you won’t find me wearing shorts.

 

But you will find us watching Frozen for the 354,687th time, watching Dance Moms, enjoying a Filet O’ Fish during Lent, and flying down a water slide with the masses.

 

None of this has to do with defining myself as American. It just means that I have my own individual taste for things. And don’t like dick jokes.

 

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Taking A Tumble

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Lower level.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Did you have fun?” I asked.

 

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

 

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

*******

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

 

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That Time You Vomited In My Face

My wake-up call this morning was a pink water bottle slamming into my nose along with the words “FILL THIS!” that were honestly not that sweet sounding from my four year old who was snuggled up against me all night. And when I say “snuggled up against me” I mean “stayed up  most of the night listening to the sounds that humans make when they are about to puke, so when she did, we had a decent chance of catching the puke in the bowl or even making it to the bathroom.”

 

And this was night two.

 

Which should’ve been night three. Because three nights ago I thought she was just fine when I put her to bed. Never think a child is ‘just fine’ when they’ve had a fever much of day, had not been able to keep any food down, and slept fitfully on your lap most of the day.

 

Because three hours after I put her to bed I heard the sound coming from the monitor that no parent wants to hear. The sound of vomit. Everywhere. This is also when I admit that I should know by now not to let my kids sleep with 45 stuffed animals, four pillows, eight blankets, and their American Girl Dolls. When a four year old vomits in their bed – they vomit everywhere and on everything.

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I remember a night of vomit in my own bed when I was about five years old, mainly because my parents still talk about this evening if I ever bring something up about my childhood that bothered me. They’ll say “Do you remember that night you woke-up sick and stood up on your bed and then turned in circles as you projectile vomited all over your room?” And then I can’t talk about any of those petty growing-up-injustices that I’m sure I made up because their cleaning up vomit out of carpets, curtains, bedding, clothing, furniture, brothers, and off of walls trumps all minor teenage angst I’ve been holding in.

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So that’s what I did three nights ago. And without gagging. Parenthood gives us several super human powers – but the greatest is that we typically do not gag when dealing with some of the nastiest things out there. We can turn off the feeling that this is probably the most disgusting thing I’ve ever done or smelled, and just whisk that vomit-caked child into our arms(even when wearing a dry clean only wool sweater) and gently bathe her off and change her into clean clothing all the while keeping our voices soft and soothing. We place her gently onto a clean surface with a warm blanket and begin stripping sheets and balling up blankets and animals so vomit doesn’t drip as we walk to the laundry. We rinse the soiled items in the laundry tub before washing and drying everything three times. Then we tiptoe softly back to our sick child and lay her on the bed that we’ve now prepared consisting simply of a beach towel covered mattress and a red plastic bowl.

 

Once they are resting, we change our own soaked clothing and shower away the chunks from our hair, put on clean pajamas and snuggle in next to them ignoring the stench that still lingers, and we both drift in and out of sleep awaiting the next wave of nausea, or the demand for water.

 

Because this is what we do as parents. Without gagging. Without complaint. Without notice that this is what we’re signing up for before they are born.

 

And we’ll never ask for thanks later that we did this for our children. We’ll just save this little memory as a little ammunition for later when our kids start telling stories about how bad we were as parents.

 

“Hey, do you remember that time you vomited in my face?”

 

That will shut them down.

 

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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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LISTERINE 21 Day Challenge Results

There are many things I can improve upon when it comes to parenting…

1. Stop yelling

2. Serve more vegetables

3. Understand math so I can help with homework

4. Not forgetting my kids at school

You know, typical stuff that we all are guilty of. Right? Please tell me you’ve forgotten your kids at school, and sometimes vegetables are just hard to serve?

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One thing I’ve left up to them since they left ‘toddlerhood’ was tooth brushing and oral care(between dental visits anyway). They seem to do a good job at brushing and (knock wood) none of our kids have had a cavity and the dentist has always mentioned that they do a decent job.

 

However, since we all have been taking the LISTERINE 21-Day Challenge – we are focusing even more on lifelong good habits and doing more than just brushing, since brushing misses 75% of your mouth.

[Read more...]

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She Loves Me Anyway

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

I need to remember one thing.

 

Kids are kids.

 

And their simple needs are love and security.

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

And any mommy guilt I have disappears.

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


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Pitch Perfect

I was excited to pick-up the movie Pitch Perfect for $10 at Target yesterday. We’ve all heard some of the songs and it seemed like a fun movie for me and my tweens to watch on a cold Sunday afternoon. But my 11 year old deemed it inappropriate for all of us after watching for about three minutes. She really questioned my judgement of letting her eight year old sister watch, having her four year old sister in the vicinity of the movie watching, and how I thought something rated PG-13 and set in at college could possibly be an appropriate movie choice for any of them.

 

So we turned the movie off, they popped in Despicable Me 2 to watch for the 250,000th time, and I did some work while I heard the three of them laughing in the family room. “Silas Ramsbottom..” Hee hee.

 

Since Eloise left me questioning my parenting, I did what every mom does in 2014 and I consulted Facebook. Is Pitch Perfect appropriate for kids ages 8-11ish? The answers ranged from “Not appropriate at any age, because awful!” to “I let my 5 year old watch it and most goes over his head.” and “Not appropriate for my kids.” also “I watched movies like that when I was little – it’s a great opportunity for conversation.” and “My 11 year old watched it and came out unscathed.” to “I loved it but won’t let my kids watch it yet.”

 

And the “It leads to great conversation” argument always cracks me up – because while Pulp Fiction and No Country For Old Men would also lead to some interesting conversation in our home – I sure as hell am not going to show those particular movies to my eight year old.

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I saw my first Rated R move when I was 11. We lived in a very small town and in 1980- both Little Darlings and The Blue Lagoon were released. I rode my bike to town with a few friends and we were all carrying notes from our mothers…

 

“Tracy Morrison has my permission to watch Little Darlings today at the theater. Signed, Ginny(Tracy’s Mom)”

 

When you live in a small town – the theater owners knows you, your dog, your dinnerware pattern, and your mother’s handwriting.

 

And I sat there and giggled with my friends for hours. There were no conversations in our house that were off-limits and I am sure I rode my bike home and asked my mom a few questions about both of those movies.

 

But I was also that very curious girl who asked her mom about sex when I was five, insisted on knowing about everything by the time I was seven, knew everything by the time I was nine, so by 11 – a rated R movie was nothing. I was also that girl who was reading VC Andrews at 10, Judy Blume’s Forever at nine, followed up shortly with her ‘smash-hit’ Wifey, read Are you There God It’s Me Margaret so many times by fourth grade that I had to buy a new copy as mine disintegrated, and stayed up late on weekends to watch horror movies.

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My parents didn’t say no to me when it came to books I wanted to read, movies I wanted to see, or music I wanted to listen to. My parents did many things right(with a few questionable moments), but the one I admire them for the most is letting me decide what I felt appropriate for myself.

 

Even if it meant watching The Blue Lagoon when I was 11, because wow that was a bad movie. I kind of know now why my parents didn’t go with me to the movies that day.

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And I want to say that I appreciate how everyone parents their own children, and how they decide how media is available to them.

 

But I am choosing not to censor material for mine. I mean sure I won’t be giving them a note to go see The Wolf Of Wall Street at the theater next week, but within ‘reason’ – defined by each parent differently – I say watch it, read it, love it.

 

And I’m finding that my kids are finding their own barometers for what they want to read and watch and what they are comfortable with when it comes to media.

 

Case in point – Eloise read The Fault In Our Stars a few months ago. I had recommended it to her(and know many parents who don’t think their 11 year olds are ready to read it) and several of her friends had read it, so she indulged for a weekend. The book has some pretty mature topics – death, being a teenager, grief, love, and a light touch of a sex scene.  And Eloise did not enjoy it – mainly for those heavy subjects. She told me she felt uncomfortable reading some of the parts, and also didn’t like becoming so emotionally attached to the characters who may die. It made me remember Eloise’s experience with reading and watching The Hunger Games – it was Rue’s death that hit Eloise hard. The rest of the story sat fine with her. And while I let my kids watch The Hunger Games- I completely understand why some parents don’t.

 

I’m just grateful that my kids are already starting to establish their own limits for what material and subjects they enjoy and what bothers them. That’s when it’s my job as a parent to have those conversations, appreciate what my kids are curious about, and determine together what’s appropriate.

 

I don’t want to shelter my kids and I’d rather have the important discussions at home instead of on the bus, and I’m glad that Eloise is already drawing a line on her comfort level on certain subjects. I completely respect that and hope her peers do too.

 

And if it means that we watch Despicable Me 2 on a Sunday afternoon instead of something PG-13 – I say good for my tween to enjoy cartoons for as long as she can, because the being a kid time of our lives is already much to short.  I love this girl and her sweet innocent choices that seem pretty pitch perfect to me.

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Do you set ‘rules’ for reading, media, or movies with your kids?

 

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