I Won’t Grow Up

I’m sitting in a chair in our bedroom. I’m hiding because it’s quiet here. Downstairs I hear more kids than are mine watching a movie and fixing snacks and still in their pajamas at nearly noon. I sit directly across from our newish bed. It’s an actual bed – with a headboard and a base for the mattress, and it’s the first bed we’ve owned together. We’ve slept on an old mattress from college – at times on the floor and at times on a $30 metal base – for our whole “been-together” life. Our dressers have been cardboard boxes or tubs or closet shelves or piles on the floor. We don’t own bedside tables or matching lamps or a fancy duvet cover with fancy pillows. But we bought a bed this year. Well actually, we didn’t buy the bed, Jed’s parents bought us the bed as a housewarming gift/maybe belated wedding gift for the wedding/reception that we never had. It’s ironic really that our parents bought our bed for us.

 

My parents have always had a full bedroom suite. My grandparents too. A sturdy headboard with shelves, a low and long dresser for her – with a mirror and shelves lined with flowery smelling powders and perfumes, and a tall dresser for him – top drawer meant for ties and cufflinks. I knew my grandparents and parents were “real” grown-ups because they owned a full bedroom suite. Also because their bedspreads even matched the curtains.

 

I’ve never owned curtains.

 

I believe our kids think we are frauds because of the lack of bedroom furniture. And we certainly don’t feel like grown-ups. (Also I just got my nose pierced last year and Jed has a man-bun….but I digress…) So I’m wondering if owning a real bed at 46 years old will somehow give us the credentials we need to feel like adults. I mean it certainly makes me sleep better and want to head to bed by 8:30 just like my grandparents did – so maybe that’s the secret. But it certainly doesn’t help us make some of the tough decisions that we have to make for our family

 

We’re deciding this week if our kids should change schools – which is major and hard and confusing and new and CHANGE and it’s not all up to the kids(because they would stay..because friends), but I hate being the one to insist and decide. I don’t want to be the one with the bedroom set. I want to camp out on a old mattress and go to bed late and worry about things tomorrow or not at all.

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I look back at the decisions we had to make when our girls were little – how small those decisions seem now in the scope of a long life. Those decisions were basic ones of just keeping a child alive, healthy and happy. Now we focus so much more on the emotional, social, mental, fulfilling needs of the whole person…and they can make their own snacks. This stage is much harder to parent.

 

There’s not a bedroom set nice enough to make me feel adult enough to help make some of the decisions that will need to be made over the next few years.

 

So I’ll just sit in denial in the chair in the corner of my room and online shop for a matching duvet cover and curtains. Nice curtains will certainly make being an adult easier.

 

Next up – watching Wheel of Fortune at 5:30pm, right after dinner. Then we will be ready to make all of the hard  parenting decisions.

 

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Sitting To Write

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
Henry David Thoreau

I’ve decided the only way I’m going to write again is to just do it. I have pages of journal entries from this summer. Most are one or two lines – blog post ideas, submission and stories ideas, quotes from the kids that I don’t want to forget, and then of course dozens of doodles. I’ve always been one to doodle flowers. The same flowers that I’ve drawn since I was about 10 years old when I first discovered the art of doodling during a boring lesson in class. I will go back to fifth grade notebooks and recognize my childish script that is crowded into the center with flowers filling the margins. My flowers always have five petals, a big center, a curvy stem and two leaves.  My artistic ability has not improved in these 35 years, nor has my want to draw something bigger or better. I’m happy with my flowers and the familiar.

 

So I sit content this summer not looking for the new. Not looking for that viral piece, that big break, that instagram picture with 100 likes. I sit here in the happy of my same and good. Yet instead of sitting, I’ve spent more time standing up and moving. And maybe a little time on a lounge chair by the pool.

 

Yet I sit here right now and try to write again. I’m at the breakfast bar that has become our family gathering place, our homework center, our meal eating area, and my desk, and I hear good things. Eloise is above me in the in living room playing the piano. A few years ago she learned Für Elise(the child version) and now is learning it again(for grown-ups) and she plays it again and again and again. She could play this for days and I would never tire of it just like my flower doodles that still make me smile. She misses a key and goes back and picks it up again and gets it perfect this time. It makes me want to stop typing and head to the couch to be near her and either close my eyes or read a good book that might match the rhythm of the music.

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Astrid goes between dancing in the living room – practicing her ballet positions and leaps to the piano music, and heading up to her bedroom to play with Calico Critters. During the summer she has created elaborate houses, roads, businesses and schools with her Critters. She can finally dress them and undress them and manipulate them as she wishes without assistance. She is six. And she is big enough to do anything by herself. It should make it easier for me to find time to write – this time of “no assistance” to her. But instead all I want to do is be near her for as many moments as I can while she is still little. She is still so very little.

 

Esther is in the other room with her iPhone. Yes, I said HER iPHONE – the original sin of parenting in the 21st century – getting your ten year old their own iPhone. Believe me, I never thought I would do it either. And I could go in depth on why we bought it for her – or I could write a list post about the top 10 reasons why our fifth grader needed an iPhone. But you know what, it doesn’t really matter as we just did what we felt needed to happen for our own family. Ain’t nobody got time to read posts about how my choices are better than your choices. They are just different. Or the same. Or whatever. So she’s currently in the rec room making videos with the cats. She’s trying to make them dance and do jumps and maybe even talk. I really have no clue – but she’s laughing and the cats seem happy. I mean, cats rarely seem happy – so they are as happy as cats can get. And all I want to do is shut this laptop down and go spy on her…and the cats.

 

Jed is at work. I’ve said that sentence about 1454 times in the past four months. Work is good. Work is busy. But by August I see how hard it has been for him. So when he’s here(which isn’t much) we all shut down and spend time together. Not a laptop or a phone has even come to bed this summer, and it’s been nice to unplug and see new life.

 

Fall is coming(I’d love to say Winter Is Coming – but fear of plagiarism you know), so there will be a shift. I will sit here alone. And it will be quiet. And my excuses for doodling flowers will be gone. And then I will sit and write about what it was like to stand and live. So I must go now as someone wants to play another song, dance with me, help with shooting a video, or just be given the ease and time to fall asleep together…early.

 

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Six

“Mommy, you always miss my birthday.”

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I do.

 

Every year I have a work commitment on her birthday.

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“We will celebrate when I get home. And in the meantime here are 366 kisses…plus another 6 to get you through. And know that you’re on my mind and in my heart always.”

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And she held my face tight. She always holds my face tight. She always looks deep inside of me. She always asks me to kiss her extra on her nose(chocolate) and cheeks(peanut butter and jelly) and her ears(made from sprinkles).

 

I worry for the day when she decides that her forehead is no longer made of whipped cream.

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Today I’m missing her whipped cream, yet know we will celebrate big when I see  her in a few days.

 

And I hope that at 6 she will still let me tickle her pickles(toes) to make her giggle as she falls into my lap that still holds her so perfectly. For as long as it can.

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Because 6 is still little.

 

Don’t tell me differently.

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Happy Birthday, Baby Girl.

xoxo

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Just Be You

I’ve been spending a lot of time being mad at five year olds lately. I never even knew that one could get angry with a five year old. But this school year has proved challenging for me. Last fall Astrid came home and announced that her water bottle was “wrong.” “Wrong, how?” I asked. “It’s a baby kind of water bottle,” Astrid replied. “Juliet told me that. She asked why I had a bottle for a baby instead one for a big kid and then she laughed.” I looked at her water bottle. The water bottle that she picked out for school. Sure, it was pink and had some hearts on it – hearts and pink – things that she liked. But it wasn’t a sippy cup. It was a “normal” water bottle. Sure, not one that I would carry typically, but I’m not five. “I want a water bottle more like yours for tomorrow, Mom.”

 

“Well do you still like your water bottle?” I asked.

 

“Yes, but I’ll just use it for dance and home”

 

“I think instead you should tell Juliet that you happen to like your water bottle just like she probably likes hers. Tell her that everyone can have a water bottle that they like and it’s not polite to make fun of anything or anybody. Ever.” I gently nudged.

 

“But she made me feel too bad to even say anything. So I’d rather just have a new water bottle.”

 

The next day Astrid went to school with one of her sister’s water bottles. I never asked if she said anything to Juliet.

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A few months later Astrid stopped letting me kiss the top of her head when we parted ways at her classroom door. “Why can’t I kiss you anymore?” I pleaded. Sad. She would duck away from me when I tried and refused to respond or even make eye contact. I can respect her space and needs and maybe she was growing out of long goodbye kisses and hugs, this wasn’t my first rodeo…but still….I have a 12 year old who stopped parent PDAs when she was about six..and I have a 10 year old who would give a kiss and hug to her parents at anytime and anywhere in front of anyone. This refusal of the morning goodbye peck felt different..and not like her.

 

“I just don’t need a kiss before school anymore.” She said.

 

“Really? Well okay, but can I kiss you in the car before we get out for school?” I asked.

 

“As long as Adam doesn’t see.” She looked down as she said it, “Because he will make fun of me. He told me it’s disgusting when you kiss my head and that I’m too old to have my mom kiss me. He told me he’ll be watching everyday.”

 

I told her that was creepy. And that Adam needs to mind his own business. And that I still kiss my own mom goodbye and I’m super old. I told her to tell Adam that she can damn well kiss anybody she wants to kiss because it means she loves them and to tell Adam to pound sand. Or something like that.

 

But again, she just said she’d rather avoid our kiss goodbye if it means Adam will say nothing to her.

 

And for me, as a parent, it gives me pause at a place of choosing where to pick my battles. Do I tell the teacher about the kids making my child feel bad and that maybe there needs to be a little lesson of “live and let live” and “everybody is different and likes different things” and maybe keep your damn mouth shut if you don’t have anything nice to say. Or do I just let Astrid choose how she wants to handle it. Make the choice to tell the kids to just stop or make the choice to focus on something else and move on. And the child in me wants to plant a “baby water bottle” in Juliet’s locker and plant a big wet kiss on Adam’s head in front of everyone. But I won’t.

 

I’ll just continue to tell my kids to be them. To love what they want to love and not worry if it’s not the same as their friends. To not worry about what other people think. To not be a sheep. And to never be that kid that tells someone else that what they love or have is wrong. Instead say “Cool water bottle.” Or say nothing at all.

 

And I’ll try not to give those two kids the evil eye when I see them in the hall. We can all be above that.

 

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Parenting Right Now

I want to freeze time. But they say it just keeps getting better.

 

I want them to grow up. But they say that I’ll miss my babies.

 

I want them to stay little. But they say I can’t hold on forever.

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So I will just enjoy today. Today we have an almost six year old, a ten year old, and a half-way through the year to being a 13 year old…so we will keep calling her 12 for as long as we can.

 

No one in our house is a teenager, no one needs a curfew, no one needs their butt wiped or their sandwiches made. They can cook. They can clean. They can put away their own laundry. They can read their own bedtime stories. They can load the dishwasher. They are starting to enjoy coffee. They can dress themselves. They can do much of their own homework. They shower independently. They know how to brush their own teeth and hair. And do ponytails. They can eat things without me cutting the food into little pieces. They can go hours without snacks. They don’t make me carry sippy cups for them. They can entertain themselves. They now teach me things. They like movies that I like. I like music that they like. They can feed the cats. They make me laugh. THEY GET MY JOKES! They can debate logically. They have dear friends. They cry about bigger things than a boo-boo. They can catch a ball and throw it with aim. They can almost beat me in a race. They can tie their own shoes. They still mostly prefer hanging with family than with friends. But the almost 13 is for sure leaving more.

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But they cannot drive yet and are dependent on our transportation. They need the food we cook and the clothing we buy. They are not old enough for well paying jobs. They still need us – a lot. But not in the way it was. The way before they were all almost six. I barely remember the lifting, and wiping, and running after, and nose picking, and diaper pail filling, or mouth wiping, or bathing, or doing all of the chores myself. The laundry, cooking, cleaning up. I barely remember having to be outside with them when they were outside. To watch, to play with, to just make sure they were okay. Now I’m outside because I want to be – because I want to try to win back my glory of tether-ball champion or beat the middle one in a race and the little one in a jump-rope battle, to plan and plant a garden together. To teach them how to mow the grass.

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Now we find ourselves in a different room from them much of them time – they want their own space – but want to know that we are there in case. But not because they need us for everything. I sometimes spend time embarrassing them with my dance moves to Uptown Funk. They share cool YouTube videos with me. We laugh together at the latest Jimmy Fallon clips. We watch PG-13(yes, even the five year old) movies because they are GOOD. We order grown-up food and I haven’t made nuggets or noodles at home in a very long time. Their tastes are maturing..and mine are trying to stay young for them. But not too young as they don’t want me wearing their clothing. But they are starting to steal mine.

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So I want to freeze time here. This in-between needing me for daily living and needing me to pick them up past curfew at a party. I want to freeze time here where we can talk politics and world news yet they are not old enough to vote. I want to freeze time here where I don’t have to watch cartoons but the movie we watch together isn’t full of sex and guts and stuff and I get all “mom” embarrassed about. I want to freeze time here because we can leave them home by themselves without a babysitter or we can take them with us and know that there will be no tantrums to be had or nap times to rush home to.  I want to freeze time here where every night we are home together as a family and it’s not exhausting – it’s all enjoyable – and they are HERE..and not there. I like not having to worry about the there yet. And I like that when I sit down on the couch to rest a moment – that no one will be asking me to get up yet again for a snack.

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I will never say that parenting is easy – because that can change moment by moment, hour by hour, year by year. But I will say that parenting right now is beautiful and I’m truly loving every moment of these golden in-between years.

 

And I worry about my wish to freeze time here, because everything does seem to just keep getting better.

 

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Brain Chase Summer Learning Adventure Giveaway! #BrainChase

This post is sponsored by The Motherhood and Brain Chase.

 

I was so thrilled to introduce you all to Brain Chase earlier this Spring.

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As a reminder, we as a family are going on a Brain Chase. Brain Chase is a 5-week online summer learning challenge disguised as a HUGE global treasure hunt for 2nd through 8th graders. Each summer, a golden mechanical treasure will be buried somewhere on earth – and it will contain the key to a safety deposit box holding a $10,000 college scholarship fund. Participants who complete an hour of online summer learning activities each day will unlock secret animated webisodes that hold the clues to the treasure’s whereabouts. Pinpoint the treasure’s location first, and you’ll be the one on a plane to dig it up!!

 

I’ve already signed my kids up and my 10 year old has asked me DAILY when the Summer Challenge begins! I kid you not. She is ready to find the Sunstone of Cortes! Brain Chase just released their first sneak peek at the actual Sunstone. It is about 12 inches in diameter and has mechanically rotating components that open to reveal the center compartment, where the key to retrieve the $10,000 will be hidden!

Brain Chase starts on June 22, 2015 and continues with 5 weeks of structured challenges on reading and math websites, weekly writing exercises, and exclusive access to an original animated adventure series loaded with hidden puzzles and clues. You and your children participate in a massive global treasure hunt for the big prize of a lifetime!

 

Each week the adventurers have 4 tasks to complete – a reading task, a writing entry, math points, and a bonus challenge(typically 4-5 hours of total weekly work). When they are done, they unlock the next webisode which contains hidden pictures, numbers, and riddles to help them guess the treasure’s location! The webisodes are so cool as they travel around the world exposing your kids to even more cool adventures!  And don’t worry if you are going on your own adventure or to camp during this time – as Brain Chase allows you to make-up your work at anytime during the 5 weeks!

 

There are a few new and exciting announcements surrounding this Summer’s Learning Adventure to share – One is that Brain Chase has partnered with Rosetta Stone! All Brain Chase registrants will now have the opportunity to chose to participate in a language module as part of their online academic work. Students will be allowed to choose from 30+ languages when they register! This is truly amazing and just deepens the global studies aspect of Brain Chase!

 

The next new piece of Brain Chase is a teacher referral reward program. Brain Chase is offering $15 to teachers for each of their students they refer to Brain Chase. Registrants who hear about Brain Chase from a teacher can simply enter that teacher’s name and school name at registration. Kids fight summer brain drain to win a treasure – and now teachers win too! You can download flyers to share with your students here!

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And if you child is like mine and is counting down the days until the Brain Chase adventure begins(44 days to be exact), well you can check out the new dashboard demo for a hands on look at Brain Chase and interact with last year’s dashboard for detailed explanations about how your kids’ work is tracked during the program’s five weeks.

 

Now is the time to register and get ready for some family fun, adventure, and learning!

 

I’m also THRILLED to offer ONE FREE REGISTRATION(A $199 value) to a lucky reader!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Just comment on this blog post with what excites you the most about Brain Chase, and then enter with the Rafflecopter widget to win!

 

And let your summer adventures begin!

 

Sponsored by The Motherhood and Brain Chase. All words and opinions are my own.

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Parenting By Improvisation #GoodandHonest #Motts

This is a sponsored post by The Motherhood and Mott’s and their Good & Honest Campaign.

 

My own mother thinks that I’ve lost my mind. Ask my dad, and he’ll agree with her. I never thought we would be one of “those” families that spends every free moment that we have…well, not being free at all. During the school day I’m running errands for my kids – picking up equipment, forms, ingredients for baked goods and snacks, and then after school I’m driving them absolutely everywhere.

 

Last Saturday I spent exactly seven hours and 19 minutes in my car driving three kids here and there and everywhere. My car has become a giant receptacle of dirty clothes, uniforms, school work, snack wrappers, grocery bags, instruments, ballet shoes, and books that I read while I sit and wait and catch my breath.

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So my parents think that I’ve lost my mind for letting such a schedule happen. For having a to-do list a mile long written on small pieces of paper in my mess of a purse. For not saying no, you cannot run track this year.

 

Yet somehow – in this chaos of a life, this mess of a car, the mixed up brain that forgets so many things – well, we’re happy. Yes, we are happy between school pick-up and ballet drop-off, and that vocal concert, and the practicing of piano, and the track meet, and the dance recital, and the volunteering at the school AGAIN for eight hours this week.

 

And like everything from this childhood that I am witnessing – it will not last. In six years one will leave for college..and then another two years later..and in 12 years…gone. I can dedicate these 12 years to this. To this busy that middle school and high school brings. A different busy from six years ago when it was pushing someone on a swing and cleaning up breakfast dishes and wiping butts. At least this new busy gives me minutes here and there to read a book while I sit in a car, or check Facebook, or leave a kid at home while I run the others somewhere, or allow me to stop for groceries by myself sometimes.

 

And I don’t feel like my kids are running my life by all of us now choosing to be this busy. In someways we love it. And honestly, I think a busy kid has less downtime to get into trouble. Trust me – I know this from my own experience. So I can either embrace and maybe laugh at the crazy that we call our life, I can complain about it, or I can stop it if I feel that it’s wrong. But it’s not. It feels just so crazy right, right now.

 

What our new and crazy schedule has also taught me is to just let things go and improvise. We used to sit at the table together almost every night for dinner. Now, dinner is mainly on the go and I need to just click away and ignore all of the posts and research about how dinner together as a family most nights is so important. We did that for 12 years…so now it’s time for picnics in the car or on the dance studio lobby floor. And I’m calling it still pretty darn good as we are still together and hey, no dishes!

 

It feels good to just focus on what feels right for our family as we create our own memories and schedules and know that with balancing life, we are really just doing the best we can.

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I love that Mott’s is giving all of us parents a break with their new Good & Honest Campaign. And can I just say that Mott’s Snack & Go Applesauce packets have been a lifesaver for easy and healthy snacks on the run for us!

Let’s be honest. Moms and dads work hard to be the best parents they can be. But they’re not afraid to admit that everything doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes we have to fudge it a little bit and just go with the flow. Even if that means straying a bit from the Parenting 101 Manual.

Spending quality time with kids is important, whether it’s doing homework, working on a fun project, reading or simply laughing at things that no one else could possibly understand. These are the very moments that create long-lasting memories, but sometimes in the balance of life, we falter and recognize that we can’t always be perfect.

The Good and Honest campaign is truly meant to uplift parents and acknowledge we improvise along the way. We celebrate and support those who are doing the best they can every day for their kids.

Now I’d love to here about your Good & Honest parenting moments – do you cut bedtime stories short by leaving out a few words…only pretend to listen to your child practice the piano…’forget’ to pack a lunch just to save some time in the morning? Fess up!

 

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Mott’s and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own. 
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Twenty Six Minutes

Subterranean

 

Located or living underground.

 

Mediterraneus(Latin)

 

Enclosed or nearly enclosed by land.

 

Esther calls out 20 more vocabulary words from the backseat, getting 20 more responses from Eloise in the front. Astrid sings FourFiveSeconds the whole time. The whole time being ThirteenMinutes and 6 miles that the four of us are in the car in the morning.

 

I wonder if Astrid had quite a bender over the weekend that she was repenting about. But I don’t recall anything more than a maybe a little extra root beer in her float on Friday and a late night family viewing of The Hobbit on Saturday. So I just smile and sing along with her because damn it’s a soulful tune. And also because Paul McCartney. And Rihanna. And that other gentleman who is so damn talented..but still. And I pause once again to be grateful that Raffi’s music has not graced our car since 2006.

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Esther and Eloise finish the vocabulary words and now sing with us. Esther does air guitar and Eloise drums a beat on the dash.

 

I want to cry with happiness for these ThirteenMinutes each morning. And the ThirteenMinutes coming this afternoon.

 

The TwentySixMinutes that I was dreading when we moved. Our move meant moving out of the bus zone and into the land of driving the kids to school. TwentySixMinutes that I used for showering or working or for silence and for me. A compromise of mine for this move. I dreaded losing this time of mine. I dreaded being in the car more. I dreaded the environmental impact.

 

But instead I gained TwentySixMinutes with my kids. Sometimes the morning ride is filled with spelling words and plans for the day. Sometimes the radio is just turned up all the way and we sing and laugh. Sometimes we are tired and cranky and silent but together. Sometimes there’s a fight about the wrong shoes or forgetting a book. But always it’s us.

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The afternoon ride home is talking about their days. Homework that’s due. What’s for dinner. Sometimes long talks. Sometimes long tired silences. But they are here. With me. Together. TwentySixMinutes for us.

 

This extra time with my kids without interruptions possible is a gift I did not expect. Surprises will never cease in parenting. And I’m going to take any extra moment that I can with them. No regrets. No benders. No repenting. No dreading.

 

Our TwentySixMinutes together.

 

Because it’s #1 on our carpool playlist right now.

 

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Moving Day

I’ve lived in 22 homes or apartments(not counting the times squatting with friends for short stints when all of my belongings could fit inside my cheap compact car circa 1987), five states, two countries, with a handful of mortgages, and even a monthly rent payment of $53.85 when it was split four ways.

 

In each new place there was furniture to be arranged, bathroom schedules to make(except the few glorious times I lived alone and peed with the door open and took long showers), and an acclimation period as I became familiar with my new surroundings, the best route to the grocery stores, a new coffee shop, a shy hello to meeting new neighbors.

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We moved every few years when I was little. My dad was in sales, and then my step-dad managed retail stores – so the expectation was a new move, territory, store to keep things fresh, get more experience, get promoted. I never questioned this. The packing up, the long drive to the new home, the unpacking, the meeting new friends. Yet, as an introvert, I still remember my first interactions in the new towns. I remember the neighborhood kids that surrounded the moving van when it arrived. Being the new kids always was a mixture of feeling cool and feeling out of place. I remember walking into the first day of 7th grade at my new school and town and being introduced “As the new student.” My eyes fixed somewhere between their staring eyes and the floor as I took my seat in the front. I could hear whispers that week “That’s the new girl,” as I walked the halls trying to find my classrooms. I was intriguing and it was always a strange, scary, yet satisfying feeling to be just a little different for awhile.

 

I continued moving after high school. I left home just days after graduation and moved colleges, apartments, boyfriends, and towns over the next several years as I earned my degree. And it was no surprise to me or my family when I accepted a job across the country and packed up early for my new adventure, missing even my college graduation ceremony.

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This was my life for 34 years – until we had our own family, and we moved to St. Paul, and to our house, and it stuck. It stuck hard. It was comfortable and easy. Coffee shop – there, and grocery store – here, and friends – easy, and neighbors – lovely, and schools – fine, and furniture – old, and everything – normal. I’d be lying if I said that Jed and I sometimes don’t look at each other and wonder what happened. I mean the kid part – AMAZING, but the stagnation – well STAGNATING.

 

And it’s strange to me that our own kids have always known only one home. So it’s with this knowledge that I’m trying to understand their own worries about moving this month. New neighborhood, new friends, maybe new schools, new rooms, and new schedules. What I see as a breath of fresh air and something new and exciting for our family – they see as something uncomfortable, and unknown. I tell them that standing still, while yes is quite strong and peaceful – it also causes stiff joints and boredom. And that our home doesn’t make us a family, the people inside of it do – and that is not changing. Unless of course they convince us to get a dog. The adventures never end.

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Have you moved around a lot, or have you stayed put for most of your life?

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We are currently neck deep in selling our home, buying our home, packing our home, and staging our home, and trying to make our lives feel “normal” while do so. The best way to help you through the stress of moving is to hire an agent you can count on and be your expert on selling your home quickly for a great price, finding you a home in your right neighborhood, and maybe providing a little marriage counseling when you don’t agree on everything. We are thrilled to have Brady Kroll of Edina Realty as a sponsor for the Listen To Your Mother Show – Twin Cities this year. If you have any buying or selling needs, or would love to talk to a local agent – please check out Brady’s webpage for more information.

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The Sisterhood Of Motherhood #SisterhoodUnite

Disclosure: “I’m a Sisterhood of Motherhood Blog Partner, but all opinions are my own. Please see below for additional disclosure.”

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My memories of those first weeks of motherhood are mostly blurry, with fuzzy edges, and time that blurred from day to night. Time ticked by with feedings, diaper changes, quick showers, and truthfully a lot of daytime TV. It was a brutally cold December that turned the calendar to an even colder January. As a classic introvert and new mother, I made a cocoon of sorts in our home and safely and warmly spent our days that turned to nights that turned to days inside cuddling, bouncing, rocking, nursing, changing, and probably crying. My husband spent those weeks delivering my coffee, bringing home a meal or two, and holding our fussy baby for a few hours in the evening so I could take a walk and regroup. Those walks I remember vividly – the nights were dark and frigid and the air would hurt my face yet it gave me peace to return home to start the cycle once again.

 

Looking back to this time – now 12 years behind me, I realize that I felt lost, alone, not prepared, and silently wanting help but not knowing who to talk to or where to look. Motherhood felt awkward and sticky and between the quiet cuddles, it was loud and hard and overwhelming.

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And then one day a postcard arrived in the mail. It had a picture of a smiling stick-figure type face with the words E.C.F.E in bold print across the top. It said “Congratulations!” and “Now forming new parent classes!” and “Call to sign-up.”

 

It was the best phone call that I have ever made. The class was starting in two weeks – a weekday night – and there would be 9 other new babies and parents in the class. Yet the relief I felt after the call, of perhaps finding other first time parents and having someone to talk to, soon turned to terror and stress by having something firm on the calendar with a bunch of strangers.

 

And truthfully, the day of our first ECFE class, I almost just didn’t show. Could I nurse before we left? What if the baby needed to nurse during the class? Where would I change a diaper? What if she pooped all over me? What if she cried the whole class? What if I cried the whole class? What If my clothes were dirty? My hair unwashed? My eyes tired? What if everyone else seemed so put-together? What if they see that I have no clue what I’m doing? What if I am a failure at this mothering thing? What if…what if…what if…..

 

But I went. I’m sure my hair was messy, my clothes not pressed, and my eyes were tired, and yep – my colicky baby cried for most of the class. I nursed her and did the baby-dance with her for the whole two hours. And sure some babies were happy just being on the floor on the blankets, and some babies ate, and some babies cried, and some parents looked a bit more tired than others…but ALL of us were first time parents and really had the same worries, concerns, and joy. No one cared what they looked like, what I looked like, how we fed or diapered our babies, or whether we just showed up from home or work. We all just felt like we had a safe place to be.

 

It only took this first two hour class to form a bond that would take us all through the next several years of parenting together. I will never be able to thank our first ECFE family for everything they did for me to give me the reassurance of “ME TOO!” I wish this type of program – or the availability for any new parent – a tribe/a group/a family/ a community of people who can offer you this type of support in the earliest throws of motherhood. They have been my lifeline.

ECFE Reunion

ECFE Reunion

Of course now I think we need to get back together weekly to help each other navigate the tricky teen years! Who’s with me?

 

Similac believes it’s time to embrace mothers who choose to embrace motherhood. Time to put down the fingers and the subtle suggestions. Because no two of us are the same, but we’re all in this together. The sisterhood has only one rule. Nourish each other the same way we nourish our children. And, just like the sister who’s got your back, we’re there to help you get through the first few days and months of motherhood with confidence — and zero judgment. The way it should be.

 

I would love for you to visit Similac’s new Sisterhood Of Motherhood site, learn more on Facebook, and really – watch this video – it will make you laugh and cry.

 

But really what I want you to do is go up to that new mother – friend or stranger – and ask if she needs something. And give her a smile and an unexpected compliment and tell her that she’s doing a great job.

Similac partnered with bloggers such as me for its Sisterhood of Motherhood Program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. Similac believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their words, Similac’s policies align with the WOMMA Ethics Code, Federal Trade Commission(FTC) guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

 

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5 Lessons My Tween Has Taught Me About Social Media

“Mom, don’t take that picture!” she yells as she covers her head with her blanket. The morning is cool, dark and quiet, and her stern tone changes this serene moment immediately. But it was too late for her, as I had already snapped a picture of the scene. “I hope you didn’t take that!” she continues “And if you did, don’t post it on Instagram or Facebook!”

 

I’m hurt and surprised by her harsh words, yet at the same time I get what she means and why she said them.

Posted with permission

Posted with permission

What I saw, as I looked over my coffee and across the room, was a beautiful scene of father and daughter together working on her algebra homework. I saw a family moment to freeze in time – a time to remember when she was in middle school and needed some help on a few equations. I wanted to remember these early mornings of school and homework and “tweendom” that will fade into just another blip of one of the ages of childhood.

 

Yet what she saw was only herself – with early morning bedhead, and wearing old pajamas. She saw her sleepy eyes and her dad’s messed up hair. She saw herself sitting too closely to her dad while during the day she likes to give off that teenage vibe that she happily keeps her parents at a comfortable distance of coolness and independence. She wants to let people know that she typically brushes her hair and wears skinny jeans.

 

I get that.

 

I recently untagged myself from a photo that a friend posted on Facebook. He messaged me asking why I untagged myself, as what he saw was a photo full of happy memories with an old group of friends from nearly 30 years ago. What I saw was me, an 18 year old who was horribly unhappy and unhealthy on the inside, and has spent years trying to delete any pictures that were taken from that time. His tagging me brought that girl front and center and I could not hit delete, delete, delete fast enough.

 

So I get that what I view as a beautiful family moment, she can view as a moment of ugly morning hair. And a few years ago, as her mother I would’ve posted it without her knowledge or opinion. A few years ago she was not on social media. I’m also pretty sure almost every “Mommy Blogger” has at one time or another written a post about what is “our” story versus what is “their” story as our children have gotten older. Because while posting pictures of your toddler playing in the mud is all fun games, well posting pictures of your tween with her friends is off limits.

 

But this really has nothing to do with what is my story of motherhood versus their story of being my child. This has to do with how I now feel a new responsibility for what I share because my daughter is now on social media.

 

After begging for an Instagram account for over ONE MILLION YEARS(her account of the situation, it was actually just a few months), because EVERYONE in the whole world is on Instagram besides her, I opened an account for her on her 12th birthday. Honestly, I’m still not comfortable with the whole thing even though our parental controls are probably better than Target’s IT firewalls, but we decided this would be an easy way for her to enjoy her first steps into social media under our careful watch before the crap really hits the fan and her access explodes as she gets older. Believe me, I want to move my family to a yurt in Siberia when I think about Snapchat, cyber bullying, and hell even Tinder.

 

What I did not expect from letting her have an Instagram account though, was that she would teach me a lesson or two about my own social media behavior.

 

This is what my daughter being on social media has taught me about living life online…

1. Think before you post. What goes online stays online. You are leaving a permanent record out there for everyone to see and Google. Is this a post or picture that you want to remember forever? Having my daughter on social media has made me really stop before I post anywhere and the responsibility that it truly holds.

 

2. It’s not just about you. Sure, you loved the picture, but is it something that will hurt your friend or a family member? Ask permission. While yes, I own the stories about my motherhood – they are not mine alone. I now take time to discuss posts and pictures with my kids and if they don’t like something – I don’t post it or talk about it. Mutual respect belongs front and center both on and off social media.

 

3.  Know who your friends are. My personal Facebook page has become a ‘mess’ of people. A few years back I started friending anyone who requested to be my friend if we had a few mutual friends in common. But now, I really wonder who most of these people are. As I now have to approve who follows my daughter’s Instagram account – it’s really made me go back into my accounts and make a stronger line between what I post personally and what I want to keep on my professional pages, and I’m cleaning up my accounts.

 

4. Post because it’s important to you, not because of “Like Currency.” We all get caught up in how “viral” a post or picture goes. Admit it, you do. You might be 45 years old but having 50 likes on a Facebook post sure feels better than having two. Sometimes we never leave the angst and emotional turmoil of puberty, amiright? So having this exact discussion with my daughter – telling her to post pictures she loves on Instagram because she loves them, not because they will be popular, has helped me with what I share and how I don’t need to waste so much time finding the right filter so people will like my picture more. I’ve always found that the posts and pictures that resonate the most are the ones that tell my truth anyway. The rest doesn’t matter.

 

5. Put your phone down. Does every moment really need to be captured? Live in the moment. When my daughter first joined Instagram, she was on her phone ALL THE TIME. And I saw myself in her. Was I really doing this too? Was the picture I just took more important than the moment that I just spent with my kids. Sure, social media is fun and exciting, but the person sitting right in front of me is even more important. Don’t let social media manage your time. Manage your time on social media. This has been one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from watching my own daughter start her own journey online.

 

Just like everything with parenting – we all learn together as we go and they grow. She will make mistakes just like we will make mistakes, but watching her explore social media over the past two months has taught me a lot as a parent as I reflect on my own behavior online. Sometimes I watch her with great delight as she improves her photography skills, but then I go into her “friend approval” list and cringe over the people who have found her account.

 

Parenting – it’s wonder mixed with a healthy amount of worry. Yet currently as we dip our toes into the shallow end of the social media pool – it’s honestly worry mixed with a healthy amount of wonder.

 

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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).

touchstone-crystal-jewelry

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!

 
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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

marathon-preparation

 

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.

middle-child-syndrome

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.

sweet-esther

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.

middle-school

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?

middle-school-years

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.

what-to-expect-middle-school

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.

first-day-of-school

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.

starting-middle-school

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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