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.

fourth-grade-first-day-of-school

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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Do You Miss Your Sister?

The Scene:

favorite-sister

 

Esther, Astrid and I are taking a walk around the neighborhood. We discuss many things – including summer, family, and why flowers die. And then I asked them a simple question…

 

Me: Are you guys excited that Eloise is coming home this weekend? Have you missed her?

 

Esther: I’ll be glad to have her home. I haven’t really seen her in three weeks. I hope she’s had a good time.

 

Astrid: I’m probably the most excited to have her home because she’s my favorite sister. I miss having my favorite sister home.

 

End Scene

 

Ouch.

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My Sister My Gift

“Really Esther? Seriously, I cannot believe you just can’t do that for yourself!”

 

“Astrid, you’re doing it wrong!”

 

“I’m not going to play those silly baby games!”

 

“You’ll never get it – you’re just a baby!”

 

There’s been a shift at our house in recent months. Three girls – sisters – who’ve spent years in a beautiful and harmonious dance are now breaking free into more solo endeavors. What were once choruses of kind words – “Let me help you.” “Do you want to play dolls together?” “I love you the ‘mostest’ big sister.”  – have turned a corner of life that now includes controlling comments, insults, and exasperations.

 

The previous quiet and joyous times when the three of them would play for hours – with dolls, games, creating art projects, and taking turns on the swings  – have turned now into spending time alone in a bedroom, looking down at a tablet to iMessage friends, begging a sister to play, being told that dolls are now silly, and little girls running into my arms in tears.

 

These three best friends can now barely be in the same room with each other for 10 minutes before an insult is thrown and a tear is shed.

sisters

The whole parenting life I know was easy when it came to dealing with siblings – they just always got along. Now I have to choose between interfering in their fight, telling them to just ‘shut-it’, or to just go into the other room and silently cry for what I fear we’ve lost.

 

Because in my dream, in my world, in my mind – sisters are such a gift – how could you push them away like this. But telling a four and a nine and an eleven year old those words is just met with blank stares from short lives lived and lack of caring about the forever relationship they are currently pushing away.

 

And I know much of this current strife can be easily attributed to the Junior High School registration forms that we just completed. That my oldest daughter is changing and growing up, and that two year gap between and her and her sister is wider now than it ever has been. And I’m doing my best to give this older girl some grace and space during this time.

 

My mother has many stories to tell of living with sisters, as she has five of them. Six girls – split between two bedrooms and one bathroom. I know there were many typical sisterly fights in their house – about bathroom time, boys, clothes, and splitting up chores.  I witnessed a few of these fights as I was a child when many of my mom’s sisters were sill preteens and teens at home. And since I only had a brother – I longed to spend as much time as I could in my grandparent’s house of sisters, desperately wanting to be one of them.

 

I think most women look for connections in their lives with another women – a true confidant to talk late into the night with – someone who is an easy phone call away – someone you trust with your deepest truths – someone to have in your corner forever. And while friends can fit this and be this for you – no one knows you like a sister with your parallel growing up experiences.

 

My grandmother died eight years ago. My mom tells the story of her and her sisters(and their one brother) all holding vigil over their mother as she died. They played her favorite music and told stories of their shared past – holding their memories in the laughter and the many tears they shed that day. They held her hands, kissed her, and let their tears fall to her face as they all watched her pass together.

 

I watched them all from a distant during the next days of the funeral arrangements to the next months of deep and heavy mourning. The sisters worked together to plan everything and to make sure their dad was as okay as he could possibly be after losing the love of his life. And during this time I saw the words, jealousies, and hurts that many of them caused each other through the years of adolescence and adulthood just lift off their shoulders and hearts as they came together to mourn and to celebrate as a family unified. As sisters.

sisters-at-the-beach

A few months after their mother died – the six sisters took a trip together over Mother’s Day, as they knew how hard this day would be for them. And a new tradition was formed. And eight years later they now meet each year for a girl’s weekend to toast their mother and celebrate the gift that they were given with so many sisters.

 

Deep down I think my daughters already know the gift that they have here. And I can only hope that one day – after the teenage hormones are worked through, the boyfriend drama is over, they realize that they really didn’t have it so bad, and no one will ever know them and love them like a sister – that they will come together and celebrate the women who know them first and best.

 

I just hope they don’t wait until I’m gone to head to the beach each year – because I kind of want to join them.

 

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The Guinea Pig

I spent the morning with Esther and Eloise, who had the day off from school, while their little sister did have school. We all kept looking for her behind and beside us as we all grabbed for a hand that wasn’t there.

 

At one point Esther was convinced that we left Astrid at the bakery. And for the moment after that I was convinced we left her somewhere too. But we have Eloise to keep us in check. She’s the hand for Astrid when mine are full, the one to bathe her when I have to work, and the one to remind me what time school ends or dance starts.

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And Eloise does all of this without me asking. Esther easily picks up that slack if Eloise is busy with friends or dance.

 

The rythym of the three always keeps me calm as a mother – because I have help in so many other hands and hearts without question.

 

And maybe it helps that Astrid is five and seven years younger than her sisters – because having a “baby sister” is easier to handle than just a typical “little sister.”

 

As Eloise says, “Astrid leads a charmed life.” But then Eloise doesn’t do anything to make it a less charmed life – in fact I think she makes sure of the charm.

 

So this morning I took the big girls out for pain au chocolat and cafe au lait(chocolat chaud for them..but Eloise does sip off of my coffee…don’t tell Jed). We sipped and ate and talked about school and friends and how we will visit Paris someday soon. We made plans for their school Valentines and made a grocery list. Then Eloise looked at her watch and told us to hurry and finish so we wouldn’t be late picking up Astrid.

 

“I love Astrid’s school.” She said as we gathered our coats and hats. “I wish I went to preschool there. She’s so lucky.”

 

I know, hon..it is a great school. But your preschool was pretty great too. I didn’t know where to send you – you were my first, and I think we did okay.

 

“You did – and I liked my school. I’m always your guinea pig though.” She looked at me as she said this and I could tell by the light in her eyes that she was slightly teasing me. “Being the oldest means you can try things on me to see if they are good or bad and then make better decisions for Esther and Astrid. And I’m okay with that as it’s fun to be the first and to try things. And I will always tell you if something sucks…you know, so my sisters get something better.”

 

So you don’t mind being our guinea pig, is that what you are saying…because if you realize this is truly a fact(it is) and you own it and kind of like it, well there are many more new experiences we can try. Just wait for high school!

 

“Sure Mom, I can handle it. I just hope my sisters know what I’ve done for them.” Eloise kind of laughed as she said this.

 

I don’t know any two sisters who look up to their big sister more. Ever. They will always look for your guidance and your hand, because you’ve always given it so freely to them.

 

“Soooo, maybe now that I know I’m a guinea pig…I can actually have one as a pet?”

 

Don’t push your luck, sister.

 

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Making Babies

I saw the scene playing out in the family room. I kept to my business in the dining room while I listened to Astrid speak to her sisters. I kept my hands busy, my eyes diverted, but my ears were very busy listening and my mind was spinning, hoping that no one would seek me out to further explain Astrid’s lesson.

 

“So, see Sisters. See the baby is under my dress just like a baby would be in a mommy’s belly. The daddy put it in there, ya know. And then when it gets super big, it kicks and kicks until the mommy poops it out her crotch!”

Astrid stood in front of her sisters with her baby doll and demonstrated the baby making scene several times, just to make sure she was understood.

 

The sisters – nearly five and seven years older than Astrid just sat on the couch in silence. In disbelief. In confusion. In disgust.

 

“Weally Sisters. This is how it all works. My friends at school told me!”

 

Astrid goes to a preschool where she is the ONLY one (I swear) who has only older siblings. All of the other three year olds in her class have babies at home. Babies that were pooped out their mommy’s crotches. Astrid wants to know why she doesn’t have a real baby at home. And she’s asked me for one.

 

Eloise finally speaks up “Astrid, I have no idea what you are talking about, and I have no idea how babies get in a mom’s belly, but I do know that a doctor comes with a big knife and just cuts that baby out. Why would you think a crotch would be involved? Also, I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”

 

Eloise and Esther quickly exit the room, grabbing books on their way out and I find them in the office snuggled on the couch quietly reading.

If you were to ask Eloise and Esther the difference between boys and girls – they would tell you that boys have shorter hair.

 

They have no curiosity about their bodies, about other bodies, about babies, about mommies, about daddies, about anything to do with anything to do with how people work. When I was pregnant with Astrid, and they were 4 and 6 and I expected questions..and received NONE. NONE. I even tried to prompt them, thinking it would be good to talk about it, and they both just would quietly walk away.
When I was FIVE I begged my mother to tell me ALL about the birds and the bees..and I still remember following my mom around reading literature about how my body was going to change. And bless my mother’s heart for never telling me to shut-up, even at the grocery store when I was yelling excitedly “MOM, MOM – I have EGGS that are going to travel down my fallopian tubes to make a baby! Seriously, this is the coolest thing ever.”

 

By 10 I had read Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret at least 2465 times that the binding was broken and the front cover had been ripped off. This knowledge about my amazing and beautifully sprouting body was powerful and I could not learn enough. (Which is why I also talked my mom into buying Forever for me when I turned 11).

 

Eloise currently views the thought of her period as more of the curse my grandmother acted like she carried heavily with her each month. And I admit, at 44 my monthly visit is a damned and awful curse.

 

I think Astrid will be that girl like me though – and she’s going to embarrass the crap out of her saintly sisters.

 

And don’t think I haven’t tried to let the girls know about their bodies. Oh, I was so excited to give Eloise a ‘gift’ on the first day of first of fourth grade – I bought the the American Girl Book – ‘The Care and Keeping of You’ – just to give her a little information on the changes that will happen to her over the next few years.

 

24 hours after receiving the book, she quietly handed it back to me. She’s a fast reader, so I wasn’t’ shocked that she had finished it so quickly..and my god, if I had owned that book at 10 I would’ve already read it forty times and called ALL my friends to share the news of OMG the cool shit coming to my body! As Eloise placed the book in my hands I asked her if she had any questions or anything she’d like to discuss, because that’s good parenting, right?

And Eloise said, as she looked at the floor, and then at me, and then at the wall, and then at the floor again…”Mom, there’s not one thing in that book that I want to know about…NOT ONE THING…not ever…so don’t even bring it up again and you can return the book.”

 

Okay.

 

“Well, Eloise you know this isn’t like optional – what happens as you as a girl beautifully become a woman, right? I mean eventually you’ll need to know some stuff??” I gently said while trying not to giggle or cry.

 

“Yeah, well I’m perfectly fine how I am and yeah, this stuff is not interesting to me at all.”

 

Okay.

 

So my plan is to have Astrid, when she’s fully five of course, to have the big talk with her big sisters..because maybe they’ll take it a little better from her.

 

In the meantime I’m okay with them knowing that the difference between boys and girls is all about the hair length.

Is it so horrible to stay little for just awhile longer?

 

I’ll just need to find a new preschool for Astrid.

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Sisters With Boobs

Astrid knows most of the lyrics to any Taylor Swift song. In fact she was up from 2am until 4am last night singing Trouble, Stay Stay Stay and We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.

 

Sometimes the three songs became one long song of mixed-up lyrics, but that’s okay as the messages of most of Ms. Swift’s songs are the same.

 

However, Astrid does not know the words to Wheels On The Bus or Twinkle Twinkle and I dare say has rarely played a game of Ring Around The Rosie. She’s like a tween stuck in a toddler’s body who has to endure hours at preschool singing nursery rhymes when all she wants to do is play Wii just dance and gyrate her hips again to a good Rhianna tune with her big sisters.

 

Sometimes I worry that Astrid will have no friends when she’s 8 or 9…because she’s a youngest child and will have sisters that are 13 and 15. Sisters that will have boobs and periods and like boys.

 

AND ASTRID WILL KNOW EVERYTHING.

At 8 and 9 Esther and Eloise are so innocent…AND KNOW NOTHING. Sometimes they are shocked by things their friends know – you know those friends with older siblings. These friends can watch more mature movies, know the good swear words, hear whisperings around their house about girlfriends and boyfriends, and they get to stay up later.

 

Eloise has complained to me many times that “She knows NOTHING!” So I ask her “What do you want to know?” And she says “I have no idea!”  And I say “It’s hard to be the oldest…because I have no idea what you need to know and yet when your sister is your age..she will know everything…so please just be patient with me.”

 

But then I tell her “But be thankful Eloise that everyone wants to be your friend, and everyone’s parents love you – because you are so sweet and innocent and still like to watch cartoons and preschool shows with your baby sister.”

 

I fear the day when Astrid is 8 and 9 and KNOWS EVERYTHING and she’s the type of kid who will tell her naive little friends EVERYTHING and then I will be that mom getting the phone calls asking what my daughter is telling their daughter. And what if my daughter won’t have friends because she SHARES everything.

 

And I don’t want her hanging out with just the 15 year olds.

 

I want her to be 8 and innocent and sweet and still watch cartoons and play little girl games and swing from the monkey bars without knowing EVERYTHING.

 

Or at least finding a filter by that time so she doesn’t share it all.

 

Because maybe my biggest fear is being ‘that’ mom with the overly sophisticated child. The child who has older sisters with boobs.

 

Just write.

 

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What Do You Like About Your Sister

The girls have been playing school a lot lately. Eloise shuts her bedroom door but I can still hear them talking quietly inside. Eloise has the big desk because she is the teacher and she has two little boxes set upon the floor that Esther and Astrid sit at and do their work.

 

Eloise insists that Esther work on math. She bought her two new 3rd grade math workbooks and I hear Eloise carefully explaining some complicated problems and assigning no less than five pages of homework per night.

Astrid has been given an alphabet workbook filled with pictures of animals and lots of letters to trace. Eloise patiently tells her each letter and slowly makes their sounds, gives her examples of words that start with that letter, and makes up a story about that letter for her. Then she helps Astrid take her crayon and trace the letter as they say it together. Astrid already knows about 10 letters and can recognize almost all of her numbers but Eloise gets frustrated when Astrid gets her ‘P’ and ‘D’ and ‘B’ confused. Astrid reminds Eloise that she is only three years old.

 

So Eloise lets her just color for 30 minutes. But not a minute more.

 

They do this now. The three of them disappear upstairs to quietly play school or American Girl dolls and I won’t hear from them for hours and hours unless they get hungry. Sometimes I might just peek upstairs to make sure they are still there because the quiet can sometimes be too quiet. But they always are. There. Together.

I interviewed them asking what they liked about their sisters for MamaKat’s vlog prompt this week. You could tell how quiet they are. I cannot turn the volume up enough and encourage them to talk louder enough because it’s them. The quiet ones. Except Astrid can be a bit of a card sometimes.

But what you cannot hear you can still see. How much they love each other and like to be near each other.

 

And I hope when they are very, very big with families of their own that they make time for their sisters and remember the days they spent playing simple games in their rooms…just the three of them.

 

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

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I’m Sorry About That 10 Second Celebration – Memories Captured

I wrote a post last week about how we should all just take a little more time with the happy. How we need to think carefully about our online footprints, to be gentler with ourselves as we travel this parenting road, and yet to always try to make our kids proud.

I loved your response, and to find out that I was not the only one thinking about this impact on our children. Thank you.

 

Some of that post was brought on by my own self-doubts about my content and my insecurities and my failures as a mother. I do a gut-check every time I post something online but I also need to do a better gut-check when my kids are standing right in front of me.

And I realize that I need to do a better job at honoring my kids everyday in every little way that I can. Because I want them to have better self-confidence than I do. Not self-doubt, not feeling shamed, not feeling good enough.

 

Because my kids are so much more than that.

Esther came home last week so proud of her new role as class representative on Student Council. I think I celebrated with her for about 15 seconds as she was handing me her math assignment which was filled with red ink. She got so many problems wrong. Simple things. Things we go over again and again. Things she should know. And I got angry and frustrated with her because she just is not getting it.

 

Never mind that big win of Student Council just 15 seconds ago.

I was not proud of myself. And realized that I need to do a better job of building them up(not without cause just because they are awesome) and letting my kids know that they work hard and that they are good people. Everyday.

 

And I will honor my kids the way that I expect them to honor and respect others. Always.

 

As we continue to strive for the happy.

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Today I am thrilled to co-host Memories Captured – which is an amazing monthly link-up hosted by Alison and Galit.  Please join us from October 15 to October 19th and link up your memories.

We want you to capture a moment or a someone that you love in words and photos and share them with us. It’s as simple as that. You capture, we swoon. Choose any format that speaks to you and capture away.
We’re giving away a Signazon product of your choice this month! Signazon offers decalswindow decals,  yard signscar magnet signs, and congratulations banners.



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A Simple Scheme..

Pssst…

 

I have a secret to tell you.

If you have older kids and their younger sibling is having a birthday soon…..

 

DO NOT LET THEM HELP PLAN THE PARTY.

I happen to ask them what Astrid would like for her birthday….and they casually mentioned that she would love a Pillow Racer and a bubble machine.

THE THREE YEAR OLD HAS NOT PLAYED WITH THESE ITEMS BECAUSE SHE CANNOT GET THEM AWAY FROM HER BIG SISTERS.

 

So I told the big sisters that I would be happy to buy them their own Pillow Racers for Christmas this year, but oh no..no, they said “oh we are too old for Pillow Racers!”

SO WHY ARE THEY RIDING THEIR SISTER’S PILLOW RACER ALL DAY?

Won’t they be surprised when they open Pillow Racers this December…while their friends are opening iPhones and iPads.

THE JOKE IS ON THEM!

*****

Linking up with wordful Wednesday.

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My Illegal Babysitter


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I had to work yesterday, and what I do for work involves doing nothing but focusing on this work from 4am until midnight on that day I work. I work six of these days each year.

 

Yesterday was one of those days – and by doing nothing but this work for that 20 hours I mean I don’t even eat or pee(but I do manage to drink two pots of coffee).

 

But this work on do I these six days a year takes place in my home. Typically the kids are at school, or Jed’s around, or I can get a sitter/friend to take the girls for a few hours but yesterday it worked out that all three kids would be home all day in my care.  Motherhood, right?

 

So I sat down with all three girls the night before and told Eloise that I would give her $20 as ‘lead babysitter’ and Esther would get $10 as ‘assistant sitter’ if they took care of themselves and their sister all day and could not come talk to me unless there was blood or fire or a stranger on the premises.  They had to stay in the house or in the backyard and had to make their own meals and snacks.

 

Eloise kind of laughed at me and believe said ‘this is easy money’ and told me I had nothing to worry about.

And you know what – Astrid(yeah, my three year old) never asked me for anything once all.day.long because ‘Eweeze can get it for her’ and she totally respected that.

 

Eloise made their meals, got clothes out and everyone dressed, cleaned their bedrooms and monitored their TV time, while also making sure the cats were fed.

 

I worked all day and wondered if I would be in trouble with CPS – not because I should be or because I was breaking any laws and I know how responsible my kids are – but because you know as a society we now worry about what other people think about us which kind of sucks.

 

When I took a break from work at 8pm to tuck everyone into bed(because no matter how hard I’m working I would never miss a goodnight kiss), I told Eloise how proud I was of her and also apologized for having to give her so much responsibility. She told me that she’d do it for me anytime and actually she didn’t even want to get paid because it was fun and she shouldn’t take money for playing with her sisters all day.

 

She’s made a calendar to check off the days until she turns 11 and can babysit for real.

 

I have this feeling there’s going to be a long line of requests for this amazing girl.

 

But I’ve got dibs so neighbors back off!

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Wordful Wednesday..

I haven’t done a Wednesday photo post in awhile. But I took the girls out for pictures last week.

There may have been a Dairy Queen treat as a bribe. Maybe.Okay for sure. For me.

It’s so strange this year to have a warm March and April. To have the trees blooming so early.

 

I look at these photos and can see how much my girls have grown this year. Same place. One year ago.

 

Astrid has hair.  The bitchy lady was not at Dairy Queen.

Sometimes I cannot get over how beautiful my kids are. Is that weird to say?

It’s just that they are just so kind and good to the core. They wear their emotions on their sleeves and they are the best friends you will ever have.

 

They love and protect each other.  They never fight.  They do almost everything together. I could not be more proud.

I’m also glad that they know their mother is so much less than perfect. That sometimes I make mistakes, sometimes I yell, sometimes I cry, sometimes I ruin dinner, sometimes I don’t buy them that cool shirt they really want.

 

But I’m always the first to tell them a joke or do a silly dance or to remind them not to take things so seriously because what is life without laughter.

 

I also offer them coffee every morning. I know one day they will take me up on that offer.

So as we move forward another year. Or two. And I  take their pictures and feed them ice cream….I just want them to know that they are perfect. In every way. Always.

(this picture took my breath away)

*****

I’m sharing a letter to Eloise at Letters for Lucas today. I would love for you to visit me there.

 

Linking up with Parenting By Dummies. And Small Style.

 

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Small Style – The Difference Between Animals and Sisters..

The big girls went back to school today.  It was a happy day until I realized how much Astrid counts on her big sisters to play with her.

 

They play ring-around-the-rosie and hours of Candy Land.  They play Little People farm and baby dolls. They sit and read to her and play dress-up.

They are Astrid’s best friends. Her only friends.

 

And now she is alone. With me and the cats.

 

She asked me to play Candy Land – which I did – but she needed more people to use the other two ‘guys’ so she made Truffle the cat and her stuffed reindeer play with us.

And then she got really, really sad that neither Truffle nor the stuffed reindeer could pick up the cards nor move their ‘guys’ because – as she said loudly “MOMMY, ANIMALS DON’T HAVE HANDS!!!” And she shoved them away from her game.

 

And she sat there crying that her stuffed animals and cats could never be that fun to play with because they only have feet and NO HANDS.

 

So she sat at the window all day just watching for her sisters.  “You know mama, my friends with hands who can play games.”

 

I told her she was discriminating and it did not make me happy.  Even friends without hands can be fun.

But she insisted she was right by telling me “No mama, animals just aren’t that fun to play Candy Land with.”

 

I’ll take her word for it.

 

Damn cats.

Astrid is wearing:

Purple velour dress and tights from Target, very cheap pink sparkle boots from Old Navy, faux fur bear coat from Oilily, and her typical hat from NuxieMade.

 

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My Kids are Gifted and Talented…

Daily. No hourly my kids do things that make me go “OH YES, this is why you go to the G&T school! You are so brilliant my perfect, smart and amazing kids!”

 

For example, just last week as I was cooking dinner my kids came into the kitchen to get a glass of water. They opened the cupboard and Eloise said “Mom, all of the small glasses are dirty.”

 

So I said “Well use the big ones.”

 

And Esther said “But we only want a small glass of water.”

 

So I said “Then fill the big glass just half full.”

 

And Eloise said “Well that seems like kind of a waste.”

 

And Esther said “Yeah, and what if we forget to turn the water off and fill it too high and then don’t want that much water and then have to dump it out.”

 

And then Eloise said “It would be weird not to use the whole glass.”

 

And so I said “Well then why don’t you guys share a glass and only drink half each.”

 

And then Eloise said “Gross.”

 

And then I said “I’m sure you can figure this out.”

 

And so Eloise said “FINE, let’s go Esther we’ll just get a drink tomorrow after the small glasses are clean!”

 

And so they walked out of the kitchen. Still thirsty.

 

Gifted I tell you.

 

And I have extremely high hopes that their baby sister will follow in their footsteps. Maybe. Probably not.

 

 

If the video isn’t working for you…you can find it here.

 

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The Messy Case of “Not Me” and “I Dunno”

In the afternoon of November 1, 2011 and victim was either in the basement doing laundry, upstairs putting away laundry, in the bathroom hiding from her children, or perhaps on twitter.  No matter what the victim was doing – during this brief period of time – the three young children of the victim were unsupervised.  This is not an alarming fact as the victim’s children usually manage quite well at many moments during the day without their mommy standing next to them.

 

The victim admits that she did not enter the kitchen from 3:30 until 3:45. Upon entering the kitchen at 3:45 the victim found almost an entire box of white powdered dishwasher detergent dumped on the floor.  It seems that the guilty party who dumped the powder upon the floor then assumed the best way to clean it up was to get it wet to “wash” it up. Turns out this didn’t work well for the suspect.  There were clumps of wet detergent everywhere as well as soapy bubbles of detergent kind of everywhere and powder still coating almost the entire kitchen floor.

 

Upon investigation there were several sets of footprints leaving the scene as well as several soaked towels caked with detergent left in the sink. They were sent to the lab for fingerprinting.

 

After seeing this mess and yelling a giant “what the eff!”, the victim then entered the family room where she found her three children sitting in a row with their eyes glued to The Cat in the Hat. You know, PBS… educational programming.

 

She asked, in a very calm voice I am sure, who made the mess in the kitchen? All three children looked at her and blamed “not me” “I dunno” and “what mess.”

 

Noting white granules on all six feet facing her she then said “I’m not mad at who did this, I just want to know what happened and some help cleaning it up.” She continued “and since this was a dry mess – remember vacuums are best for dry messes. When you add water to a dry mess – you just make a bigger and wetter mess. Trust me on this. When I was nine I spilled a huge potted plant on our best carpeting and instead of just vacuuming up the evidence I got a very wet towel to mop up the dirt and guess what I made..MUD! Mud that ruined our carpeting.” (She did not share the frivolous information of also hiding this mess from her mother and remembers also blaming “not me” for this crime.)

 

She felt proud that she is not raising narcs and that they are covering for their guilty sister, but because she is also judge and jury she has decided they are all guilty until proven innocent.

 

So whodunnit….

Suspect #1

Almost nine years old. Knows better. Has been known to stretch the truth on occasion. Tall enough to reach the sink and knows where the towels are stored. Has been known to be wicked smart but lacks common sense at times. Her alibi is that she was reading a book in the living room when the events happened at 3:40. Her sisters will not confirm nor deny this.

 

Suspect #2

Six years old. Has been known to be clumsy. Could have tipped over the soap while reaching for something else. Can now reach the sink without a chair. I do not believe she would act alone.  Has admitted to being in the kitchen when the events unfolded BUT claims she was petting the cats and singing a show tune and did not quite see what happened.

 

Suspect #3

Two years old. Has access to the soap but I believe if she dumped the soap I would have heard a loud “UH OH!” Cannot reach the sink without a chair and help. Doesn’t know where the towels are. When asked about her whereabouts during this time she responded with “I want goldfish crackers.”  We at first thought she could be bribed as a witness to turn in her sisters, but she will not talk. I’m not quite sure she even remembers this happening.

 

Court proceedings start on Friday. Stay tuned.

 

I’m sure they are hoping for Colonel Mustard in the library with the candlestick.

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I received information about Clorox’s Bleach It Away campaign and am sharing my messy moment for the chance to win prizes from The SITS Girls. To learn more about the messy moment program, check out www.BleachItAway.com.  Sharing your story on the Clorox fan page gets you entered for the chance to win $25,000 and daily prizes, and you can grab a coupon for Clorox® Regular Bleach.

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Also linked up with Mamakatslosinit’s incredibly famous writers workshop.

 

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When do I get my own room?

Eloise asked for her own room last year. Last year she also started having sleepovers more. Turns out ALL of her friends have their own room. Turns out ALL of her friends also ONLY have brothers.  When Eloise has a sleepover here(which is so far rare..because I’m mean) we just kick Esther out into Astrid’s room to sleep on the floor or to our room or I’ve even had a sleep-over with her in the living room and we stay up late watching really bad slap-stick movies. I know that within the year Esther will also request a sleepover with a friend.

 

So far my best way to avoid sleepovers at my home is to serve peas instead of pizza, make them watch Disney princess movies instead of i-Carly,  and make them go to bed by 7:45. Win/Win I believe yes!?   This stellar parenting is what I hoped would squelch any crazy notions of having friends over all the time or asking for ones own room as they need more “space” and “privacy” for guests.  The no guest policy really seemed like the best route.

 

Anyway, I slipped a few times and it seems kids actually had “fun” and “laughed” and stuff and now Eloise is pushing for her own room for her ninth birthday because she is like “old” and needs “privacy” and “space” and also a need to place peace sign pictures and pillows throughout her room and build a proper tween shrine to Justice.

So we’ve been dancing around this subject as I’m not too crazy about it for several reasons…

1. We have a three bedroom house so two of them will always share a room

2. Eloise and Esther are the closest in age

3.  Astrid is still kind of a baby/toddler type human and I don’t think it’s quite fair to ask Esther, who will be turning seven soon, to share with a child who is still in a crib and wears diapers

4. Eloise and Esther are best friends. Truly. Best friends. I actually think Eloise would be terribly lonely without her. They don’t just share a room – they share a bed.

5.  I am too cheap to buy new stuff to properly bling out this room she envisions. She has big visions. I have left-over mix and match furniture and old quilts for her. We don’t have the PB Teen budget to get a cool bed and amazing desk and the beanbag chairs she envisions. I am thinking of shabby Ikea meets the old daybed from the office a la my old desk for high school kind of thing…with at least two peace sign pillows of course.

6. I don’t want this place for “space” and “privacy” to be this place where she thinks she can go slam the door and shut her family out. We have a pretty open door policy and I still want her sisters to feel included.

7.  I have a feeling that Esther may feel this same way in a few years and when she wants her space and privacy and own room – where will we put Astrid so her tween sisters have a place to cry through their hormonal issues?

8.  MANY people share rooms and space and I just kind of want her to get over it. I believe my mom had four sisters in her room at any one time.

 

But I get it, I do. I only had a brother so I did have my own room and I LOVED MY ROOM. I lived in my room. It was my respite and my special place that was just mine. I get it….I know that feeling of wanting this…

But I don’t know how to give it to her without ever being able to offer it to her sisters too? Or do we just do it and end up doing some strange room change dance for the next ten years?

 

My perfect solution is to put the three of them in our master bedroom and make them all share and then Jed and I can finally have our own rooms…but that is neither here nor there.

 

What would you do?

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I just need them to remember this…

I’m blogging tonight and am very short on time. It’s busy here. Work has started.  I have very few free moments. Working nearly full-time from home with three kids at home has it’s challenges. Even with amazing kids.  I laugh on the phone as I talk to customers and bosses as my kids scream in the background and Astrid pulls on my skirt until she is in my arms whispering “mama mama mama” near the phone as I try to finish my calls.  As soon as I sit at the computer she demands to be on my lap. She pounds at the keys messing up my emails.

And I refuse to ignore my kids or use the T.V. as their sitter. So we play and go about our day as my work swirls around me.  It is an interesting dance we do.

But the super busy only lasts so long and I know soon I can breath again.

Until then I watch my kids. I watch the two older one specifically because the young one doesn’t let go enough for me to watch her from a distance. This little ones clings to me and now refers to herself as “mama’s koala” …she clings so tightly to my side that I no longer even have to hold her for her to stay on my hip.  And it annoys me and it’s hot and I’m sweaty and then I melt into goodness and love as she holds even tighter and turns my head and plants her lips on mine in a long, very long kiss, and she hold my cheeks and looks into my eyes and says “I love you mama, oh I love you too mama, oh mama” and then I let her hang on me all day.

But we are not talking about her. We are talking about those older two.  That is what this post is about. Dear girls – whether you will or will not fight about clothes, or personal space, or boys, or whatever when you are teens – remember…please remember that when you were six and eight that you were best friends. That you were best friends up until this point. That I know if someone asked you if you could only choose one person to see the rest of your life, it would not be your mom or dad – it would be your sister. The sister you share one bed with. The sister you read with. The sister you play every game with. The sister you share every joke with. The sister you go to the bathroom with..and shower with. That sister. That Astrid doesn’t even call you individual names very often – she just yells “SISTERS!!!” – because she knows you are together. And she needs you both as one.   Please remember how neither of you ever ask to play with friends or play-dates or other activities – because you have each other. Always.

Please remember that when you fight someday. Please remember she is your best friend. Always.

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On the Day You Turned Two…

Dear Astrid,


Two.


Just yesterday as I listened to you scream again – but this time about which show you wanted to watch before nap, which resulted in no show because I am mean like that – I tried to remind myself what a true miracle you are. Because frankly, you are difficult. And not difficult in an ‘oh she is two and this is typical behavior kind of way’ – but in a seriously you have not stopped screaming at me since you were born kind of way. I remember those letters I wrote to you in the past and everyone was ‘oh she will grow out of it’ – but you haven’t and now I wonder why those people don’t come over and buy me a pony. Because I deserve a pony for raising you. And wine. More wine. Not for my pony though. Drunk ponies are never funny.


And it’s not that you are naughty or have bad behavior or I worry about your future – you just take every emotion you have and times it by 100 and let us know that is how you are feeling with such fierce determination we pause and wonder how such a little body can hold that much inside.  I worry for your future boyfriends. And for when you reach puberty. Because when you are mad – oh my word let’s just stop time for five hours while you deal with it. When you are sad – the cry, oh the cry – I think you should have a career on stage…but the love…

When you are happy and like me for awhile – the hugs. Oh the hugs. You reach around my neck and put your lips on mine 45 times while squeezing me tighter and asking if I popped yet from your squeezes and in between kisses you say “oh I love you – oh I love you too – oh mama – oh mama – oh I love you.”

And I melt and forget that two hours ago you had me in tears because I gave you the wrong lunch. The lunch that you requested. And yes I do use the word requested with you because baby talk drives me mad. amen.

You are at your happiest when you can sit on my lap – or Eloise’s lap – suck your thumb(oh egads what am I going to do about that) rub your blankies against your face and just exhale and relax. You can sit there for hours.

But then I think a north wind blows and something is a buzz kill and you start to yell at all of us again.

Esther says you are going to end up in ‘Baby Jail.” Pretty sure there is not such a place. But maybe there is and I just don’t know about it because my other two babies were really nice.


You are wickedly smart and I don’t know if it’s a third child thing and what you soak in from four other people is frighteningly amazing – as it’s not like I have the time to sit down and do anything with you like I did with your sisters – but by 18 months you knew your colors and shapes and even obscure ones like lavender and turquoise – and an oval and a heart. You could recognize landmarks from your seat in the car as we drove by and your sister’s are like ‘how does she know what that is – or how does she know that is Elena’s house as we’ve only been there once before?’   It’s a powerful thing – knowledge plus the drive and incredible emotions you have.  Somehow we need to figure out how you will use them for good and not evil because I worry you will be a terror to your sisters during their teenage years and we’ve now stopped watching Ramona and Beezus. You truly don’t need anymore ideas.

Even so, no four people could love you more. I waffle between wondering if you are spoiled having pretty much four people caring for you – or if this is just the perfect love, and with your spirited personality – this is what you truly need. Because you are too much for just me. And I do believe you will continue to be that way. Thankfully.

As no one will ever get in your way of your huge and beautiful goals for life. And don’t let them. Just remember to do it kindly and with compassion and love.  Say please and thank you more, and don’t take the last popsicle.ever.  And if you hurt their feelings – remember to just give them a big hug, a big wet kiss and let them know that you love them – then they won’t notice that you also took their last crayon, colored on their pages, and knocked down their tower. Because I know you will. Thank goodness you are also a fast runner.

Happy Second Birthday, dear Astrid.  You could not be more loved. Even when you act like I ruined your life. Or give you the wrong cereal.

Love,

Mama


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