How To Survive The Zombie Apocalypse

Astrid wants to tell you that the worst part about having siblings that are a wee(a lot) older is that you have to worry about the zombie apocalypse. Most five year olds are worrying about whether or not Calliou will ever make it out of preschool, or whether or not their next meal will be nuggets or cheesy noodles, or if they will EVER figure out this whole shoe typing business. But Astrid has to worry about zombies.

 

Because somehow her sisters have convinced her that the zombie apocalypse is real. And coming soon.

 

zombie-apocalypseSo now Astrid tells me daily about the ways she will overcome the zombie apocalypse. This is what I love about this child. I do believe her older sisters will either just try to hide behind us, or play dead, or just give up while screaming…but Astrid might just be the one of us to survive.

 

Some of her plans involve ways to fight back – maybe water balloons filled with peanut butter so they get stuck when they are running after her.

 

Some of her plans involve “friendly” sisterhood type ideas – like sacrificing her sisters so she can get away.

 

And some of her plans involve flight. She thinks if she can get on a plane to Singapore she’ll be far enough to get away and make a better a plan to escape the zombies forever.

 

And her last plan is to just become a zombie and then she won’t have anything to worry about. She’s asked me to become a zombie with her.

 

I’m not sure what the best plan of action is during the zombie apocalypse, but I do know that I want to be nice to Astrid because she might just be my only hope of survival.

 

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On Being A Mompreneur

This is part of a sponsored campaign with Touchstone Crystal. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

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“I never thought I’d stay home with my kids.”

 

I still say this even now, nine years after walking away from my corporate job.  But I say it without any regret.

 

At the time I quit though, I am not sure what my intentions were – to really never work again, to not work at a 9-5 job again, or to really stay home full-time.

 

After about a year at home though, I knew that I personally wanted to work again. I wanted to work again for a few reasons – I wanted projects that were challenging outside of motherhood, I wanted a reason to leave the house once in awhile, and I wanted to earn my own money again. After having my own financial independence for so many years – not having it was a very big deal.

 

But, I also wanted complete flexibility – because I quit my job do be home with my kids – and I still wanted that.

 

As parents – there are so many debates about SAHM, WAHM, WOHM, etc – and we all make different choices for different reasons – and I love that. But when I graduated from college, and the internet was not so prevelant(YES, it was THAT long ago) – having the flexibility to work from home didn’t exist. Parents were left were very few options – either work or don’t work. And I felt this pressure to choose one or the other when I chose to quit nine years ago. I tried to sell my bosses on how I could job share, or work part-time, or telecommute – but they wanted none of it.

 

So eight years ago – I wanted to find a flexible way to be a MOMprenuer – work AND be with my kids(have your cake and eat it too baby!) – and you know what, I did just that!

 

There are two things that I’ve done that have allowed me to earn a living while staying home –

1. The first is blogging. I’ve been blogging for nearly seven years. And while for me this for sure isn’t a full-time income, it’s an amazing extra income for our family for some fun extras. I’ve also been paid for freelance writing on other sites, and have met an amazing community of people in the blogging space. My goals for 2015 are to continue to evolve my blog more into travel, social good, fitness and home decor(as we’ve just purchased a new home) – and not as much parenting focused as my kids are getting older.

 

2. The second is direct sales. I’m a team leader for an amazing company that I joined seven years ago. This is a job that I never thought I’d have either. As an introvert – I actually have found that I’ve thrived in this environment. And girlfriends, that money that you can earn in direct sales WHILE being home with your family is truly mind-boggling.

 

And you can say bad things about the internet and all that(yo, Kim’s butt) – but the positive that the internet has done for parents is HUGE in allowing us to be so much more flexible in all aspects of our personal and professional lives.

Love the family vacations that we can take with the money I earn!

Love the family vacations that we can take with the money I earn!

When Touchstone Crystal reached out to me to share my work from home and mompreneur story, I was excited to share it with you. I love hearing stories of what works for your family – and what gives you the financial freedom you need to stay ahead and provide.  You can become a consultant with Touchstone Crystal with very little investment – but by doing just a few shows a month you can earn thousands of dollars in income for your family. Trust me – the direct selling and personal consultant companies of today are not your mother’s ‘cosmetic company ladies’ from 1972(don’t tell her I said that).

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You can find out more about the opportunities at Touchstone Crystal by clicking over to their site.  Touchstone Crystal wraps up Swarovski’s quality and style and delivers it as a flexible new way to approach your career – and life.

And now they would LOVE to offer a Giveaway to one of YOU!

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WIN – A set of Touchstone Crystal Monte Carol Earrings! Easy entry using the Rafflecopter widget below! All you have to do is share what your “Dream Job” is in the comments to enter!

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

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On Getting The Behavior You Want…

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

 

“Whatcha doing?” I asked quietly.

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Silence.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Day Before The Marathon Prep – Pre and Post Motherhood

Day before the Twin Cities Marathon – my prep in the year 2000 before I became a mom:

-Hang out for hours at the expo. Chat with adults without anyone yelling “Mom, mom, mom, mom, MOM!”

-Sample the goodies at the expo instead of feeding them to my children

-Nap

-Hang out with fellow running friends and talk about running. No one interrupts us. We eat lunch at a place without a kids menu

-Nap

-Take a nice slow run at anytime of the day that I WANT

-Relax. Chill-out.

-Lay out clothing for the race and have the ability to start and finish this task like all the way without interruption

-Watch a movie

-Nap

-Fun carbo-loading dinner with friends that includes a bit of beer and lots of laughter. At a place without a kids menu

-Go to bed when I’m tired and at anytime that I want to just knowing that I won’t be woken up all night

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Day before the Twin Cities Marathon – my prep in the year 2014 as a mom of three:

-Run at the butt-cracking-ass-of-before-dawn because I need to get home before anyone else wakes up

-Start the first of five loads of laundry

-Make everyone breakfast. Try to eat some scraps that they leave.

-Take one child to theater class

-Take another child to dance class

-Start laying out marathon outfit

-Crap – Run to expo and grab packet. No time to browse or chat. In/out in 5 minutes.

-Run to grocery store to buy something for dinner

-Pick up child from theater

-Pick up child from dance

-Bring next child to dance

-Continue trying to lay out marathon outfit

-Break-up sisterly fight

-Stop by CVS to get poster board for family tree project from theater class child

-Pick-up child from dance

-Start cooking dinner

-Work on laundry

-Work on family tree school project with child

-Remind another child that they should work on their homework

-Yell at another child to get off the iPad

-Feed family a dinner that everyone hates

-Barely eat because I don’t really like it either

-More laundry

-Dishes

-Homework

-Watch bad shows with kids on The Disney Channel

-Go to bed way too late because I am still up folding laundry and doing family tree research

-Finish marathon outfit planning in my head

-Can’t fall asleep because of all the family to-do lists

-Wonder if anyone else makes “family to-do lists” in their heads while running a marathon

-Wonder if you’ll be woken up during the night

-Fall asleep grateful for all of the beautiful family distractions

 

 

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The Jan Brady Syndrome

You swear it will never happen in your family. To your kids. To you. You watch TV shows and read books making light of the “middle child syndrome” and you laugh it off because if you focus enough on just being a good parent, you will never let that happen to your child.

 

Until it does.

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Those middles. Those amazing middles who just make it so easy for you to overlook their quiet needs because of the loud demands from the oldest and youngest.

 

You spend so much time with your oldest – when they are the firstborn and ONLY – and then forever through their childhood as they are the first. The new. The experiment if you will. You make your decisions and mistakes by these oldest children as you learn what you are doing. In this process you become so in tune with their moods and demands, that it’s easy to forget some of the rest of your brood. You pay attention to them always because you wonder if you’re doing the right thing – the right school, the right food, the right time to date, the bedroom decorated just so. Newness takes time and nurturing and thought – your oldest gets all of these things.

 

And that baby. That last child. Cute, sweet ‘widdle’ bundle of a baby. Always your baby. Even at 15, right? That baby is spoiled by you and everyone else who bows down to their every single need. Your days and years are formed by doing things that are youngest child appropriate, and by their nap and sleep schedule, and damn their just overall cuteness that drives attention to them.

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But that middle. That Middle. Those flexible, easygoing, take it as it comes Middles. Until one day when they no longer accept that as an excuse for disappearing from your immediate view.

 

You find yourself looking at homes – and picking out the perfect bedroom for your baby and your oldest and saying things about your middle “Oh, she can just room with anyone – it will all work out.” That Middle who does activities that her oldest sister does because of convenience. She’s easy. She eats everything without complaint. She’s quiet and sweet and a tries to please people to almost to a fault.

 

Until she doesn’t anymore. And instead of yelling “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” She finds her voice. What she likes. What she doesn’t like. Classes and interests that she wants to explore alone. Her quiet disposition blossoming with her growth. She’s noticed. And our guilt grows with her.

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I wonder if these middles are born with special powers. Their sweetness and going with the flow-ness. I wonder if they get sick of it and want to just not have a hand-me-down coat for once.

And in the busy-ness of family life we make an effort to snuggle and talk with our middle. To not make her a middle. To not lose her in the chaos – but sometimes her soft, sweet, and kind disposition just makes it too easy for us to forget.

 

So I tell her to use her voice! And what can we do? And what do you want to do?

 

And she tells me she’s fine and happy.

 

And damn she is. Such a happy child. The baby that smiled all day and never cried. Ever. That knew her toddler sister needed that attention. That girl who made going to kindergarten a breeze because of how overwhelmed I was with a new baby at home. That girl with the biggest heart for animals and bugs and nature. And who, I kid you not, knows the names of probably all of the 1400 kids at her school. And listens and loves with such force and grace.

 

There’s a special place in the world for these Middles – and I know that our Middle has the heart and humor big enough to live out her dreams. Even when we happen to spend too much time without her in the center focus of our lens.

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So fly my girl. And take the lead you so rightly deserve. Your wings are beautiful and your course perfection. And make Jan Brady just a silly myth.

 

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Ready For Middle School

I took a pair of jeans back to American Eagle last week. I decided to try a light gray wash in the hi-rise jeggings, but the color just wasn’t right for me. I’ve never taken a return to AEO before. In fact, I’ve never stepped foot in an AEO before. I’ve always ordered online in the comfort of my old lady home. And while I’m happy to say that their clothes fit me well, I’m not happy to report that perhaps…perhaps I’m not really the demographic they are marketing to.

 

Because do you know what I bought in exchange for my jeans? An outfit for my middle school daughter.

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An outfit for my middle school daughter.

 

Like as in my daughter started middle school last week and can now shop at clothing stores that sell women’s clothing. Like they fit her and everything.

 

And now everything has changed. And will continue to change and I cannot stop it. How can my baby that weighed less than five pounds be five foot three at 11 and in middle school. How can she borrow my new jacket that I just bought for ME, and wear my UGGs, and start digging through my earrings for something to match her new outfit. All of a sudden I realize why moms start shopping at Chico’s and J.Jill – it’s so their tween daughters will not want to borrow their clothing.

 

So do I turn in all of the jeggings for mom-jeans? Do my cardigans become sensible? My dresses less revealing? My earrings boring? Just because she’s growing up doesn’t mean that I have to, right?

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As someone who has worked hard to be the hip-mom(but not too hip because awkward), my world is changing faster than I can possibly keep up as my kids keeping growing up seemingly behind my back because there’s just no way they can be this old.

 

This summer brought a huge change in her friends. Back to school night revealed hundreds of 11 and 12 year olds who grew height and boobs during the incredibly short 82 days since we last met. Changes in hair and face shape, changes in walk and talk. Mainly in girls mind you, as the boys still seem small and cute and silly, and now it all makes sense why we start dating older men.

 

The mothers huddle together and whisper about periods starting as we recount our preteen years and wish they too will be 14 before they have to worry. And yet we know they are whispering to each other too – their secrets and news and changes.

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I love middle school. While so many wish away these in-between years, I say “bring them on hard” because these are the years that really matter. The years of finding more independence, making more decisions, of learning good study habits, finding out who you are and what you really like, focusing on an activity – or two, making those friends that might just be with you forever, because if they can weather 13 with you – well they will weather 43 even better than you can imagine.

 

These are the years you can still easily find comfort and advice at home and your parents are still relatively smart and your younger siblings not so embarrasing. These are the years that you still need a ride everywhere and yet you gain the indepence to ride your bike where you need to go by yourself. And these are the years you learn even more responsibility – about home, school, friends, social media, money, and time – and as you learn these lessons your landing is still soft in my arms and home.

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And these are the years that you surpass your parents in height, in math, and in pop culture knowledge, and pretty soon you have more secrets of your own that you share with friends more than you share with me.

 

And that’s just fine – and the way it’s suppose to be. Just don’t borrow my boots and leggings without my permission, and I promise I won’t shop where you shop anymore, or bug you all the time or crash your slumber party with my own period stories. Because I HAVE MANY STORIES.

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And remember just one more thing – I am here. Always I am here for you. I’ll be sitting here sipping tea in my cardigan and mom jeans.

 

And know that you are never alone in this big, big world. Focus on what you can – keep it small and comfortable. And if you just love yourself(because you are awesome), be kind to all, and just be yourself, well everything will be just fine.

 

Because you are so ready. So ready to fly.

 

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Family Running Fun And Color Vibe Run Giveaway by Tum-E Yummies!

(Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Tum-E Yummies(Tum-E Yummies are a fruit flavored drink, a great treat for kids!) Our favorite flavor is Greentastic Apple by the way…) – but all words and opinions are mine)

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I’ve been running as exercise for about 23 years(I was 2 when I started obviously) – and during that time I’ve had years of running just for exercise, years of running and training for races, years of running while pregnant(10 miles the day I gave birth to my oldest), and a little time off here and there for recovery and injury.

 

But I am a runner. I own that.

 

And if you were to ask my kids what their mom does – or something about their mom – they would most likely say “My mom is a runner.”

 

Which is probably why – after stops and starts and tries with all three kids in different sports – baseball, soccer, and the like…they all have taken an interest in running. And I’m glad that my first baby gear purchase was  jogging stroller.

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I love that running is an easy family activity -here are some tips on how and why you can get your family involved in running together!

 

1. Start immediately – buy that jogging stroller! You can buy new -but there are MANY to be found used online or at consignment shops. I bought a Kelty when our oldest was born and loved it. I started her in the stroller when she was about six months old and we ran happily until she started preschool. My next jogger was a B.O.B – which I adored and used with my youngest for about four years until I just sold it to my neighbor. Best investment ever!

 

2. Kids make the best spectators. Get their interest in running peaked by watching races together(even the races that you are not running) – watching the elite runners go by is nothing but mind-blowing and inspiring – and also cheering on those near the back of the pack – watching their will to finish is tear-jerking awesome. Who doesn’t want to run after watching a race. It’s pure emotion, adrenaline, and love for the human spirit.

 

3. Get those running shoes ready! Invest in good shoes for those little kid feet just like you do for yours! Take them shopping with you for running shoes and get them fitted too. Sure, shoes are not cheap – but compared to other sports – when pretty much shoes are your only ‘gear’ purchase – um – it’s a huge cost savings! My kids love to go running shoes shopping with me!

 

4. Make time to run with your kids. I mean sure – you need to get those eight miles of hills in, or that tempo run, or that 20 miler on a Saturday – and yes, you just want that time to be ALONE sometimes. So still do that! And then head back out on another run with your kids. I started doing this a few years ago with my oldest daughter – I’d wake her up after my run and we’d head out again together.

 

5. Explain the benefits are being healthy and moving your body and being strong. Running isn’t about weight – it’s about a healthy and strong lifestyle. Running as a family gives your kids the foundation of exercise and health they need to promote a lifelong healthy lifestyle. Make running and all exercise part of a just normal daily lifestyle!

 

6. Make the runs fun – or make a game out of it! “Hey, race you to the tree!” Or give them little fun goals or prizes – or even set-up a scavenger hunt during your run. Maybe treat them to a night run with glow sticks and flashlights one evening! Run trails in the woods instead of taking a hike. Change up your routes. Explore a new city! Running is fun!

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7. Enter the kids in fun run or local kid events. Many marathons have family fun runs the day before the marathon. Go as a family and cheer them on!

 

8. Enter a race together! Some of the best races these days are races that involve COLOR! These races not only are fun to run – BUT are fun to prepare for. Have you heard of the Color Vibe Race? The Color VibeTM race brings you the ultimate experience in colorful family fun! The Color VibeTM is a color blast 5K that is all about having fun and getting covered from top to bottom with splashes of color as you race your way to the finish line.  The kids not only love to run an easy and colorful 5K – but they love to get prepared! We’ve purchased neon tutus, boas, headbands and fun laces to match so we are colorful even before we get splashed! I love the creative outfits at the run!

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Do you have any other tips to get the whole family running together?

 

Leave your comment below for a chance to WIN TWO(2) tickets to our area Color Vibe run on September 13th! It’s happening in St. Cloud, MN! So comment to win your tickets(and remember kids 12 and under are free with an adult ticket – so your 2 free will get a family of 4 on the course!)

  • Tum-E Yummies will have a booth set up at the Color Vibe race where participants can try the different Tum-E Yummies flavors and get a free car seat protector to prevent any of the color from the race from transferring to the car. – this is awesome!
  • The winner of the giveaway will receive Tum-E Yummies in addition to the two tickets to the Color Vibe race!!!!

Tum-E Yummies

Come join us in a few weeks!

 

(Prize will be in the form of a coupon code for registration. Contest closes on 9/6.)

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Lessons Everywhere

We passed a homeless man as we were walking to our car today. He had numerous bags, a wheeled cart, and he sat on the curb reading his bible aloud. Eloise took the two dollars she had out of her pocket and started to hand it to him even though he had no sign and wasn’t asking. He looked stunned at first but then smiled and said he wanted to read his favorite verse to us.

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“Does he worry that it’s weird to read his book aloud when he knows no one is listening?” Eloise asked

 

I’m guessing that many people do listen. In their own way.

 

“I wish there wasn’t homelessness. It doesn’t make sense to me here in Minnesota when other people have so much. Why does it happen?” She prodded as we now drove home.

 

Many reasons – loss of a job, mental health, a fight with a family member, hopelessness, moving to a new place, a bad relationship, abuse, alcohol.... I answered carefully, but truthfully. It can happen to anyone.

 

“Well we need to find a way to get rid of it altogether.” She said quickly yet kindly and oh so hopeful.

 

Well that’s complicated. How do you think we could do that?

 

“By having the Mayors and Governors and the President helping all of their people thrive.”

 

That takes money – so more taxes for everyone to do this?

 

“Of course, rich people should give more but even just regular people like us should do more and give more and think of other people more everyday. If we all thought like that I bet people wouldn’t be homeless. And then the people who got homes and jobs could pay it forward to other people too – people who still needed homes. But someone has to start. Everyone has to start.”

 

I like the way you think, Eloise.

 

“No one should suffer alone. Do you think he’s alone a lot?”

 

Probably, but I bet he’ll remember you today.

 

“I think I’m going to do something about this soon. Do you think I’m old enough?”

 

More than old enough.

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The Road Less Traveled

“Mommy, if we are driving really far and I have to pee how do I go to the bathroom?”

 

Like we always do – we find a gas station or restaurant to stop and pee at.

 

“It’s too bad that cars don’t have potties.”

 

Yeah, I think it’s okay that we just stop and pee at a bathroom.

 

“But what if we don’t make it to the bathroom?”

 

Then we will just pull over and you would pee on the side of the road.

 

“Like on the ground?”

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Yes, on the ground. I’ll show you how to squat and pee sometime so you don’t pee on yourself, your clothing or your shoes. It’s a good skill to have. Someday when you’re in college you’ll thank me for teaching you. Or maybe if we go hiking or camping.

 

“People pee on the ground when they hike? I hope we never hike.”

 

Yes, all the time.

 

“So we would be like hiking on pee? Let’s not do that ever.”

 

Well most people pee away from the trail. But yes, there’s pee in the woods. Where do you think the animals all pee?

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“I’m thinking we just need to stay close to gas stations and restaurants or like never drink again.”

 

Sooooo…do you have to pee or something?

 

“I did, but now I’m afraid that I’ll be walking in pee everywhere I go. Will you carry me to the next bathroom. You can be the one to walk in all the pee.”

 

 

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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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