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.


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.



School’s Out For Summer!

This post is sponsored by The Motherhood and Brain Chase.


The girls are officially out of school for the summer. Astrid ended last Friday and the big girls got out on Tuesday.


Typically I take and post their first day of school and last day of school pictures. Typically the growth is noticeable, but this year the changes are less physical in my opinion(I mean Eloise grew about 6″ but she still looks the same to me). This year what I did notice were the academic changes. Well maybe the biggest change is that after seven years of taking pictures in the same spot – we moved houses and have to find the perfect school picture taking place. OMG!


Eloise, now in Middle School, spent time in her room doing homework and projects with friends on Facetime – her advanced Algebra and history classes were more intense and she tackled the challenge while learning amazing organizational and study skills.


(someone is not happy..not naming names)

Esther started fourth grade needing a lot of help with math and working through large projects – but by the end of year became very independent and creative with her projects, writing, and work. I’ve never seen a year where she blossomed like this. I attribute some to maturity and some to having truly just an amazing teacher.


Astrid started kindergarten not wanting to start kindergarten. She wanted to hang with mom forever and didn’t think being in a classroom would be her jam. But she’s now reading – early chapter books, doing math that astounds me, knows every country and continent in The World, and is learning Latin. But most of all she now loves school and is excited for first grade. Yet she didn’t grow out of one outfit(or pair of shoes) the entire year. Okay – maybe her plaid jumper got a bit shorter.


Summer will be a mixed bag for us. I like some scheduled activities and some weeks of complete freedom. But whether the kids are heading to camp or just hanging at the pool – I still think it’s important to mix some learning into the beautiful long days of summer.


So in just over a week our Summer Learning Adventure begins when Esther starts Brain Chase! Believe me – she is counting down the days. However – she leaves the day before (I KNOW!) for sleepaway camp and will be gone for 13 days(I KNOW!). So now she is super freaked out because she is afraid she will miss out on the clues and adventures. But I have reassured her – and I need to reassure all of you – that it’s okay to have plans this summer – camps, vacations, weeks by the pool – and STILL participate in Brain Chase. You can always catch up on work missed(you just cannot work ahead!


By registering for Brain Chase, your student is committing to do about five hours of focused online academic work each week for five weeks. Because the curriculum is web-based, he or she can complete the work whenever, wherever, and in whatever order he or she prefers.

What’s so great about Brain Chase is that it is an online challenge, so you’ll need a high-speed Internet connection anywhere. It will work on the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari web browsers. You will be able to complete math, language and reading assignments on tablets. (For the writing assignments, it’s recommended to have a desktop or laptop available.) To add to your vacation flexibility!
Brain Chase understands falling behind – the summer can be busy. Brain Chase allows students to catch up on missed work from previous weeks (although they won’t be allowed to work ahead).


You can learn more about the flexibility of the program through this post on the Brain Chase blog.


What I love about Brain Chase is that it is not THE Summer activity – it is just another cool adventure to add to our Summer of fun! Brain Chase is the perfect way to supplement the summer’s outdoor fun with positive, educational screen time – it’s not too late to sign up, and it’s flexible enough to fit any schedule. You can add it to your kids’ existing plans to round out their summer fun.


What fun plans do you have lined up for Summer? Let the adventures begin!


This post was sponsored by The Motherhood and Brain Chase but all words and opinions are my own.



Give Your Kids A Cool Summer Adventure! #BrainChase

This post is sponsored by The Motherhood and Brain Chase.


We are deep in our summer planning right now. Camp sign-ups start in February, Sport Sign-ups now, we are talking seriously about our road-trip, and family has started calling to find out when it’s a good time to visit. Yet with our new home I also just kind of feel like canceling everything and enjoying a new adventure in our backyard. There’s something so simple and beautiful about kids just outside from dawn until dusk, riding bikes, running between houses, and meeting new friends. I love when my kids have their own adventures during the freedom of summer.


Yet no matter how free we make our summer, or how scheduled we make our camp, family, and travel commitments – we always make time to read and keep up on some school work during the summer. Typically we head to the bookstore and buy some fun workbooks, but as our kids have gotten older they typically enjoy learning online with cool games and apps. Studies show that by the end of summer, students perform on average one to two months behind where they left off in the spring – so it just makes sense to keep up on some sort of school work to prevent that summer brain drain.


So I think we’ve found the coolest thing to get us sharp, have fun, go on an adventure, and do something as a family this summer. Basically we are throwing those workbooks in the recycling and seeing the world from our own dining room table.


We 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!!






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!


Brain Chase is fun with action-packed animations, mysterious packages in the mail, and the hunt for buried treasure that turn learning into an adventure. It’s FLEXIBLE. You’ll do the challenge when you want, where you want, and at your own pace. And it’s CUSTOMIZED. You get to work at your own level.


Then every 24 hours, your adventurer can log in to enter their guess of the treasure’s location. The first adventurer to guess the location travels with their family to dig up the buried treasure.


The Sunstone of Cortes is just waiting for you!


I think my kids have already watched that video about one hundred times.


And if you need more inspiration, just watch the winners from Summer 2014!!


All you need to do now is sign-up and let the countdown begin to your own summer adventure. If you register before April 15th, your cost is only $149(additional discounts for siblings), and get an ADDITIONAL 15% off with code SELLABITMUM15.


And let your summer adventures begin!


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



The Blank Page

I’ve started and deleted and stared for days now. Trying to document a conversation or something that happened or a funny story. Most of the time I get distracted by work emails or a snack that needs to be made or a hairball that our new cat coughed up. And the rest of the time I don’t even open my laptop. In fact this past weekend I left my laptop at home. Just like a did the weekend before. And the weekend before that I was at home – but never opened it.


I still enjoyed snippets of life and love and family and conversation on Facebook – but haven’t read blogs for weeks. And I’ve started feeling almost selfish for ‘making’ you read my stories, my conversations, my thoughts…because I’d rather you work on your tan or hit the beach or take a bike ride and not worry about me.

Family Picture - Watch out for the penguin.

Family Picture – Watch out for the penguin.

It’s weird how I can thrive off relationships but then get to a point of exhaustion when I just need to focus on what’s right here and touchable. My work is very busy – work that I LOVE and am more inspired by than ever before when I see the good this company does in the world. My kids are just the right kind of busy and I feel the need to be with them and near them, but just as an observer in a way as they play and enjoy a lazy summer together without early wake-ups or routines. My family room is filled with Calico Critters and My Little Ponys and Lego Friends and they play for hours. Or I find one of my girls reading alone on the porch. They’ve reached that age where they can run off down the block with friends, make their own lunches, and empty the dishwasher without a reminder.


I’m spending more time in a quiet and restful state when I’m home – and besides our family room – the house is clean and  I’ve read eight books since mid-June and delight in losing myself in a story almost feeling like I’m a high school girl again and I believe that fiction can come to life. And I’m running daily and using that time to push myself HARD and really feel what great things a body can do if you just don’t sit back and go with the flow.


I’m happy.


And I don’t want to do it all. My life is so beautifully boring right now and I’ve found no greater joy really. We’ve spent more time with family and we’ve laughed so hard.


Jed said to me last night when he made a joke and I laughed my deep laugh that actually makes me sound like my brother “There’s nothing hotter than listening to you laugh.”


Good things are coming – I can feel it. Until then and September and The Busy – I’m just going to work on what feels right, parallel my kids’ joy in the ordinary, and fill my bedside table with more books.


And of course run like the wind(my own definition of wind).


Linking up with Heather.


On The Road Again #girlsaretrippin

It’s nearly 11pm and I need to get up by 4am tomorrow. I’d like to hit the road by 5am at the latest. Well 5:30am wouldn’t kill me I guess. I’ll wake the girls at the last minute, throw them in the bathroom to pee, brush teeth, change clothes, brush hair, and then throw them in the sexy and fast minivan, and then throw them each a waffle.


Lots of throwing going on here tomorrow.


We are heading out on a road trip for nearly a month. We’ve always gone away for a week or so each Summer – but never a month. But I figured ‘what the hell’ and truly I’m not sure why we haven’t done this before.


The girls are out of school all Summer, and I work from home. Who knows when I may have to re-enter the ‘going to work-force’ again, so why not use these lazy, open and flexible Summers we have for a few adventures.


And since Jed works mainly in the Summer – well, I’m taking the three girls and my Toyota Minivan and heading East for a month. (Jed is staying home to work and feed the cat and watch the house). “HI JED!”

My kids are amazing in the car – and again, thank goodness for electronics. 😉 And I love to drive. Did you know I wanted to be an Indy 500 driver when I was little?


We are heading out tomorrow and doing a long-ish drive with plans to find a hotel near the Indiana/Ohio border. Then we’ll drive about 6 short hours and arrive at the home of Mark and Fred. I need to meet the man who would actually marry Mark. But I guess since they’ve been together now for 24 or so years, Mark must be a pretty good guy, and well frankly, Fred must be a saint. We plan to stay one night there(or just stay forever unless they serve me boxed Franzia wine), and then we are heading to see Jed’s parents in Connecticut.


We’ll spend time with family and friends as we travel through Connecticut, Boston, Maine, and New York…and then we will make our way to Indiana to see my parents and my brother and his family. I’ll leave the kids there for a few days while I go to a work conference…then we will celebrate Astrid’s birthday, and head home via Chicago as I attend another amazing BlogHer.


Whew. And honestly we don’t even have a lot of firm plans along the way – I want to keep our schedules pretty open and we’ll just do what we do(WHICH IS TOTALLY NOT ME!)..but hey, I’m going to embrace Summer and embrace a road trip and have some fun with my girls. Our biggest goal(besides seeing family), is to get to see all 50 States in the license plate game.

Then we arrive home and I sleep for 40 days and nights.


Or do 42 loads of laundry and get ready to start hauling the kids to camps and dance and piano and get back to the nasty task of grocery shopping.


Anyway, wish us luck and we’ll be blogging, updating my Facebook page, and you can follow us along on Twitter and Instagram. We will be using the hashtag #girlsaretrippin(Mom, I’ll explain what a hashtag is when we arrive in Indiana). Congrats to Alison for winning the “Name our trip hashtag contest!” I owe you coffee.


Have you taken your family on a long road trip? Where did you go?


Five Things To Expect From Sending Your Kids Away To Summer Camp

We packed their bags together. We(okay, mostly I) carefully put shirts and shorts together in tight rolls as outfits….enough for six days. We put clean underwear and socks in one tidy compartment, and packed four pairs of long pants to wear during horseback riding. I told them that they would most likely want to change into shorts or something after riding as they would be stinky, and that I packed some extra shirts too, just in case.


I also bought them shower shoes for the communal showers at the camp. I filled shampoo and soap bottles so they had enough for a shower a day…but yet I still fretted that they wouldn’t have enough soap. I reminded them to shower each day, and brush their teeth. I packed the requested (1) beach towel and (1) bath towel and really tried to figure out how I could send them each for a few more towels – because how could two towels really be enough for a whole week?


Their bags were heavy as they each packed about six books each, and journals and pens and note-cards for writing about their days and to write home. They both love to read and I think I imagined each of them using their few hours of free-time each day leaning against trees and getting lost in a book…just like at home.


The bus ride up to camp was three hours long, so I assumed they would need a snack. I packed granola bars and crackers, a little candy snack, and some fun little games to keep them occupied.


I guess in my crazy mom head I assumed they were going to fashion camp, where each camper would have a large closet where they could hang-up their large wardrobe of clothes, feel the need to shower daily(just like at home), and they would have unlimited leisure time in which to curl-up with a book. Maybe I also thought they would be alone. Especially on the bus. And the camp would not feed them.


I was clueless and should evidently not be allowed to send my kids off to sleep-away camp again as I think I’m actually ‘That Mom’ that packs embarrassing things in their luggage and sends them too much mail.


In fact they liked being away from me so much that the first thing both of them said to me at pick-up was “Mom, can we go for 2-3 weeks next year?”

So for those parents who have never sent their kids away to camp – here are a few pointers for you to make their camp preparations a little bit easier.


1. They will not shower. Sure, they seem like clean beings at home. They shower daily, wash their faces and brush their teeth..but until their camp counselors actually physically force them into the shower…they will not shower. So don’t waste your time packing all the fancy toiletries and soap and stuff..just assume a few good swims in the lake will suffice.


2. They will not change clothes. Ever. Like you know that outfit they are wearing when you drop them off? That’s what they will be wearing when you pick them up. Yes, even those kids who like to change their clothing 85 times when you are at home – they will also wear the same clothing for seven days straight.


3. They will not use the plastic laundry bag that you included in their suitcase for their dirty clothing and wet suits and towels. They will throw that wet towel right into their suitcase, and pile in onto ALL of their clean clothing and it will stink to high heaven. In fact it will stink so much that half way home you have to stop and tie the suitcase onto your car’s roof because you swear something died in there.


4. They will not read or journal or write notes home. Not because they don’t like to do those things, but because they are busy and making new friends. Don’t get mad because you never heard from them…because they don’t need that shit. Just be glad they were too busy to miss you.


Which brings me to #5…


5. Chances are that your kids won’t miss you. Oh sure, they still love you and want to live with you and all and don’t want to leave you forever….yet, but Summer camp provides so much to do – new experiences, new friends, new fun, and is busy and awesome and seriously so fabulous, that they don’t have time to miss you. So don’t be sad if your 10 year old – instead of running up to you and giving you a big hug when she first sees you at pick-up – just throws her sweatshirt at you and says “hold this” while she continues to go off and hang-out with her new friends. She’ll eventually come around and give her baby sister a hug…right before she tells you that she needs to come to camp for much, much longer next Summer.


So next Summer, when I pack their bags again for camp, and this time for 2-3 weeks, I’m pretty sure a small backpack with two changes of clothing and a toothbrush will suffice…along with my mother-heart during this letting go process that just gets bigger and bigger each year.


But that’s okay, clean or not, I’m so damn proud of my kids.



Big Kid Steps

Astrid and I are staying at a cabin. Our room has two twin beds and the first night that we went to bed, I tucked her in and turned off the lights and then I got into my own bed that was about three feet away. This little voice then came out of the darkness “Mommy you are so far away. Please come sleep with me.”


I was three feet away I now remind you.


I am not a co-sleeper. Once they were six months old and I put them in their cribs, my kids haven’t come into bed with us when they are sick or scared. We put them to bed at about seven or eight – in their own beds and rooms – and we don’t hear from them until morning. Ever.


But I know that the cabin is new, the noises are different, and the bed is a little strange. So I walked over and squeezed myself into the twin bed and wrapped Astrid into my arms and she fell asleep immediately likely comforted by my warmth but mainly just knowing that I was close. Very close. And that’s okay.


My big girls are at sleep-away camp this week. A whole week.

I admit, and don’t call me a bad mom for this, but when I go on a business trip, I don’t miss my kids a whole bunch nor do I feel the need to call home daily(I usually don’t call the whole time I’m gone). It’s not because I don’t love them or have a need to be with them, rather it’s because I know they are safe and comfortable in a daily routine. I know at 6:30 they are getting up, heading off to school at 8:00, eating lunch at 11:30, they have art at 2:00, then come home from school at 3:22, and if it’s a Tuesday they go to dance until 7:00, and dinner is take-out from D’amico’s. I don’t need to talk to them about their days, because I know their days and at any point during the day I can almost picture exactly what they are doing.


It’s the beautiful monotony of being home.


And they are safe.


But this week I am missing them more than I can express and it’s caught me off guard in a very uncomfortable parenting way and I frankly am not happy about it. I think of them constantly but yet I cannot see them in my thoughts because I don’t know what they are doing. I don’t know what their cabins look like, what time they eat breakfast, are they learning to sail or did they choose a drama class, do they love horseback riding, is the lake water cold, are they making friends and I wonder what time lights-out is and are they okay. Are they okay?


There’s no phone or email or text to reassure me. Just silence.

And it’s more unnerving than I imagined it would be, even though I know they are just fine.


I guess what it is, is that this is the first time they are doing something completely on their own – their food choices, clothing choices, activity choices, friends choices, everything choices – it’s all up to them. I have nothing to do with their days and it’s left me feeling helpless, not needed, and in the dark.


Just like it should. Just like it’s suppose to.


I guess this is the first step to letting go. To letting them make their own lives. Too soon it will them spending more time with friends and then when I blink twice they will be away to college.


So I realize that a week away now, at 8 and 10 years old, should really not be a big deal for me.


Even thought it’s probably a big deal for them.


Their first real steps walking into their own independent lives without me. Their own memories made, friends forevers, and experiences that I cannot share.


And as a mother, this makes me love them even more.


But damn I miss them.


6 Good Things About Summer #vlogging

Summer starts here officially in about 42 hours. That’s when my kids get out of school and we go out for ice cream. They’ve pretty much already emptied out their desks and dumped them into our garbage. It’s also my understand that this week is mainly a movie marathon. Typically they just go outside and play the last week of school, but it’s like 52 and pouring and rain, so shark movies will have to do.

I admit I used to dread Summer. When kids are littler they need well – more active parenting in many forms like actual playing with them, supervising them in the backyard, taking them to playgrounds, arranging for camps, and maybe even buying craft crap for rainy days. It’s exhausting this whole active parenting thing. But something magical happens when kids turn about 7 or 8 – they can usually find a friend in the neighborhood to play with, they can play in the yard without you standing watch, and they can even just hang in their room reading a book for eight hours because they can. They can make their own fun – without a parent breathing down their necks. You know, they can find the kind of fun like we used to do when we were kids. I just hope they don’t start smoking behind the garage.


Now I love Summer. Summer is easy. We can do a few camps – which yes, my kids are going to a full week of a sleep-away camp, we can hit the pool a few times, and we are heading out on a big road trip out East for about a month…but other than that – they can just do whatever they want to do and they are old enough to choose and also old enough to help with chores, make their own snacks and lunches and take care of their sister sometimes.


I haven’t vlogged in awhile, but MamaKat asked what 6 things we were excited for this Summer – and I thought a vlog would be fun. Evidently, so did Astrid.


So what are you most looking forward to this Summer? Do you love Summer with the kids home, or do you wish for year-round school?


Monday Monday

Listen To Your Mother Twin Cities happens in 10 days. TEN DAYS. So now it’s the little details that need to be completed. A million little details. So each and every single minute of every day I’m thankful for my partners in crime on this magical adventure. Do you all know how amazing Vikki, Galit and Heather are? We like each other so much that we’re seriously considering becoming the first all girl middle-aged introverted rap group.


But this post is not about that. This post is about Minnesota..and old school blogging. Remember when it was okay to just post some nice, but maybe not awesome pictures and not worry if you would have a pin-worthy image or if your post had the potential to go viral because of your magnificent words?


This post is not magnificent.


I just want to show you my house and my street last Monday. Last Monday – seven days ago.

And today. This Monday. Today.


To say that we’ve done some major, last-minute Summer wardrobe and sandal shopping would be a gross understatement.

I want to thank Nordstrom for their amazing European sandal selection for girls, and Justice for having shorts and dresses with just the right about of bling.


I’d also like to thank the inventor of the maxi-dress for allowing me to cover my white legs. Maybe my next post will be ‘Ode To A Maxi-Dress’ – or maybe I’ll talk about the weather some more, because damn weather is interesting.


Or not.

I’d also like to note that our ice cream trunk man disappeared for two years. TWO YEARS. After six years of driving down our street every night from April until October, when you disappear for TWO YEARS, well your absence is noted by children who talk about your absence for TWO YEARS every night from April until October. We were so concerned the first year that we spent months driving around St. Paul looking for him, and he was nowhere to be found. So I’ll be damned  if tonight, our ice cream truck man turned the corner onto our street and my kids FREAKED the eff out. Of course the first thing I said to him was “Where the heck have you been????!!!!” He laughed and said “Oh, you missed me – I moved to Colorado for two years but I liked it much better here, so I moved back. I missed your street too!”  I told him to never play with my emotions again, and then I bought a Dreamsicle and all was right with the world.


Just write.


This Looks Nothing Like The Mall

We decided to let Jed pick our ‘last official day of Summer’ activity. Being the lone guy in a household of girls means that his life sucks a lot because he does a lot of activities that he really doesn’t love. It’s also why he spends a lot of time in the garage.  He suggested that we go to a ‘Toy and Car Museum’ over in Wisconsin. He emphasized the word ‘toy’ and also mentioned that this ‘museum’ had 100’s of antique dolls to admire.   He said it would take us a little over an hour to get there.


Now, if you know Jed like I know Jed, ‘an hour’ really could mean anywhere from ‘two hours to two days’ in official ‘Jed time’ but since I was letting him pick the activity I also decided to give him full control over time-management and navigation. (And if you know ‘me’ like I know ‘me’ – this pretty much made my over-controlling head explode).


But I decided that today I would be a more of a ‘go with the flow’ kind of gal. (HOLY HELL , I JUST STRESSED THE FUCK OUT TYPING THAT SENTENCE)


So we decide to leave at eight to make it to the museum a little after they opened at nine. At seven Jed leaves to get his coffee at Dunn Brothers because evidently the coffee I make sucks, but I totally do not take offense that he must buy his coffee every morning instead of drinking what I make. Nope, no offense at all.  I told him to buy donuts to surprise the girls for breakfast since he was going out for coffee. At 8 Jed walks in house without donuts. “Where are the donuts?” I asked. “They didn’t have any.” He replied. “Didn’t you consider going to a different shop then?” I questioned. “No, I didn’t think of that.”  He said.  Seriously? Men. You do not leave the house promising donuts and then come home without donuts. EVER. I mean EVER. NEVER.  So Jed leaves again for donuts.


We leave at 8:20 while eating donuts. At 9:30 I ask if we are almost there as we really don’t seem almost there. “Yes, just 10-15 more minutes I think” Jed says.


I look at my phone and see it is 9:30 and I’ve truly made it in my book about 2 hours and 30 minutes without any control over our day and decide to end the madness and I pull out the AAA map of Wisconsin.  And find our destination.




“So Jed this place is really about 3 hours from home, isn’t it?”


Really, I didn’t think it was that far.  That’s too bad. Let’s just cross the next bridge back over to Minnesota and head back then. Jed concedes.


Three girls in unison from the backseat “YAY, let’s head home!!”


30 minutes go by. No bridge.


“Jed I think you missed the bridge. I told you it was back in Nelson but you missed the turn. YOU MISSED THE TURN!”


Well, since we’ve already gone this far past it, why don’t we just check out the museum.


(And now it’s finally starting to dawn on me why Jed’s 1-2 hours late getting home from anywhere every single ding.dong day for 14 years)


An hour later we finally pull into our destination and we all have to pee. And the first thing I notice is the porta-potty as the only bathroom possibility which truly isn’t a pretty thing for us four city girls. Jed admires the cleanliness of said porta-potty.


Okay, that wasn’t the first thing we saw. The first thing we saw was the acres and acres and acres of THOUSANDS of scrapped out cars lining the side of the road as we made our final turn into the ‘museum’.

(Two thumbs WAY up!)

Jed took us to a scrapyard for our final day of Summer. And not only a scrapyard, but a scrapyard also with three full barns full of old cars and motorcycles and the worlds largest collection of old pedal cars.   And what’s not to like about seeing 1000 pedal cars with a 3 year old when the child CANNOT TOUCH OR RIDE ON ANY OF THEM. Good times my friend.


Oh but let’s distract the kids from the scrap, the old cars and the things they cannot touch or ride-on and let’s go in the house and look at the collection of antique dolls are STARING at us and now we will have nightmares for the next month about the five foot tall Shirley Temple doll. Thanks, Dad!


I needed at least one picture of our ‘fun day’ so I made the girls go stand over by the hearse that had the weeds growing out of the hood, and Eloise was all “what’s a hearse?” and I replied “It’s a car that carries dead people! See, this is fun!! And you will remember this family outing for the rest of your life!”


What did you do for last day of Summer break?


Resting Time

We’re done this Summer. I think back to June and the hustle we had in our hearts and the spring in our steps. We had to do it all – the pool, the park, the beach, the pool, the playgrounds, the picnics, the play-dates.  Hours outside soaking up the sun. Happy kids riding around the block with their friends.


Busy busy. Happy happy. Summer.


But now it’s the end of August and we’re tired. And done. We’ve been at a loss this week at what to even do. “Does anyone want to go to the pool?” No.  “How about the beach?” No. “Go play with friends?” No. “Bike ride?” No. “Trip to the mall?” No. “The art museum or maybe the science museum?” No. “A hike?” No.“Movie?” No.


And then I made the kids go to the pool today and some kid POOPED in the pool and the pool closed. And I had even shaved for the event.  (Not to mention the whole two hours we were there my kids kept asking me when we could go home).

So for four days now we’ve sat around reading magazines and books. Writing in journals and playing board and card games. We’ve taken naps and watched maybe one too many iCarlys. It’s like Winter again but it’s 80 outside and sunny. And we don’t care.


School supplies have been organized and reorganized. New school clothes hung and shoes tied and ready.


The clock is ticking by. Slowly.


And I feel like there should be one last hurrah for us before school starts in 10 days.  But our tired and lazy bodies aren’t craving anything but rest.

Because soon it will be the 6am wake-up, the rushed breakfast, the after-school activities, the dinners on the go.


So maybe this restful lazy week is just what we need.


To say goodbye to Summer.



Keeping Cool

I don’t do well in heat. Truth be told I would rather live on an iceberg with a polar bear most days. I can picture the conversations we’d have over toasty grande non-fat lattes from Starbucks. Of course this would be right before she ate me.  But still – the weather would be just perfect.

A few weeks ago it was like 90 degrees and as soon as I walked outside I said “Oh my it’s so hot I just might melt!” Astrid looked at me and shook her head saying “Mom, you’re not a snowman!”

But wouldn’t it be awesome to be snowman?  Except for when it’s over 90.

We are in Indiana this week and it’s hot. I mean hot. Like 102 degrees hot today.   For a snowman this is not pleasant weather.

I’m someone who prides herself on complaining about the weather when it’s above 83.   I’m the weird one who dreams about blizzards and new sweaters in the middle of July.

This is also why I didn’t live in Southern California very long.   I missed the polar bears. And I remember when I got off the plane in Bangkok for the first time and wondered how I would ever cut through the heavy air.

So while I’m not truly physically melting, I am hot. And by hot I mean hot not hot.

And we are keeping cool in many wonderful and simple ways.

How are you staying cool this Summer?




I came downstairs today a little before noon and immediately started shouting out orders “Eloise finish packing the pool bag!” “Esther get sunscreen on your little sister!” “Astrid go find your sandals so we can go!”  90 degrees outside. No air conditioning inside. We were heading to the pool.


But Eloise and Esther both stopped what they were doing and just looked at me. Not moving.  Eloise was the first to speak “Wow mom I love your new swimsuit. You look really pretty!” Followed by Esther “You have a tummy mom that shows in your swimsuit. I like it!”


Astrid came up and poked me in the belly button and then she ran away laughing.


I haven’t worn a bikini since I was 8 months pregnant with Esther. Seven and a half years ago. Before that you wouldn’t catch me in anything but a bikini.   But I’ve hated my stomach since my second child. My doctor decided not to follow my first c-section line and I was left with two scars, an inch of scar tissue on my stomach, and a shelf above the tissue that will never go away.


When it was time for my third c-section, the doctor decided to CUT A NEW LINE(I shit you not) adding to my scar tissue and making the shelf even bigger.  And no matter how much I run and do sit-ups I just cannot get my stomach muscles tight and sexy like they once were. So I said “hello tankini” and truthfully I’ve never trusted the bitch.


But I started looking around the pool this Summer and noticed that the other moms look amazing. And kind of like me.  So I worked a little harder. Ran a bit farther. Did some resistance training. Introduced a bit of Jillian Michaels to my life.(Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred)


And yes I still have my scars(but found a suit that mostly covers them) and I will always have this weird shelf on my stomach(my award I will cherish for three healthy children).  Sometimes I think my doctors owe me a free plastic surgery for this mess.


But I don’t care anymore.


And my kids think I look nice.  Who cares about the 20 year old pool boy.


Tanned belly here I come.


I am confident in my swimsuit and my daughters will see that and I hope always love their bodies. Even the parts that they may view as not so perfect.


Because if their 43(cough) year old mother can still wear a bikini then I think we can muster up the confidence to do just about anything.


Speaking of swimming…thank you for the comments on my article last week about getting your(and you)family involved in swimming as I work with USA Swimming this Summer to spread the word on the importance of learning to swim, water safety and swim clubs, as well as cheering the Team USA in Swimming at the Olympics this Summer!


Again if you would like more information on swimming and finding a club in your area please visit for more information!


The USA Olympic Swimming time trials are currently airing live on NBC direct from Omaha June 25-July 2.  You can find some of the amazing results on the USA Swimming website and follow along online, on air and in the news!  I’m so proud of Minnesotan Rachel Bootsma who finished second in the 100 meter backstroke and now will be fulfilling her Olympics dreams!   We’ve also been watching as Michael Phelps continues to dominate and quality for event after event.


Have you been watching the USA Olympics Swimming Trials?  My kids have loved watching and becoming familiar with the names of the competitors as they realize their Olympics dreams!


We would love for you to watch Monday night as The Motherhood and USA Swimming are throwing a Twitter party on Monday, July 2, at 7:30 p.m. ET so we can all cheer on Dara Torres in real time as she swims!!   The party will last an hour, and they’ll be giving away some prizes, talking about swimming and cheering on Dara throughout.  The hashtag for the party is #SwimToday.)


Disclosure: This post was sponsored by The Motherhood for USA Swimming. I was compensated for my time but opinions are my own.   If you’d like more information on Swimming in your area please visit and we would love for you to watch the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Swimming airing live on NBC June 25-July2. Check your local listings for times.  Also, this campaign is using the hashtag #SwimToday so watch for the tweets to follow along with important information about USA Swimming.


Swim Lessons and USA Swimming

Eloise had her first swim lesson when she was 6 months old. She hated it. Hated getting wet, hated getting in the pool, hated the swim diaper, hated it.  But we insisted on ‘lessons’ if you will, and by lessons I mean ‘let’s just get comfortable with the water.’  She continued to cry about swimming until she was four years old. It was about that time that her sister, then two, started jumping off the sides of the pool into our arms and seemed to laugh and actually enjoy this thing called ‘swimming’ because it seems most of the other kids were also having fun.  Eloise decided to try it again and now loves to swim.

I admit the last thing I wanted to do was push swimming on any of my kids.  I grew-up in a long line of women who were terrified of the water.  My own mother would not be able to save me in a pool and my grandmother was rarely seen in water over her ankles.   I was determined to change our legacy.  But the last thing I wanted was for Eloise to associate the water with fear.


However, I felt and feel strongly that my kids need to be able to swim…..

[Read more…]


Me For Once

It’s been an amazing 11 days since school let out. I almost feel guilty saying that because isn’t Summer suppose to drive me crazy(and yes at times it does).  Do you want to know why it’s been better…and no, not just because my kids haven’t been whining.


I’ve taken some time for myself. I’m running of course and I also added another 30 minutes each day for some strength and resistance training. May I just say I’ve never felt better.  I got a haircut(first one since last July) and even a pedicure and manicure(my once a year splurge).


I’ve also put my phone down and picked my camera up. I’m doing things that make me feel healthy – strawberry picking with my kids, making jam, cleaning out my kitchen cupboards, and donating piles of toys and clothing.

I hear my kids running around playing with each other and the neighborhood kids, I’m keeping my freezer stocked with popsicles and I think I bought an endless supply of sidewalk chalk.


We’ve spent time at the pool and time in the movie theatre. We’ve probably eaten far too many donuts but we’ve also gotten out on a family bike ride. Did I mention I got a new bike?

What I’m saying is – things are good. My mind feels healthy without negativity and stress. Summer is good.


I know I mentioned to all of you on here and on Facebook(you do follow me on Facebook, yes?) that my post “Together Forever” won a full sponsorship from Brica to attend the Type A Parent conference this coming weekend.

When I wrote this post a few months ago I meant it so deeply – how these girls are together, but can I just say that it’s even better now?  Insanely good and possible.


It pains me to leave my kids. Pains me. Like pains me in a way that I don’t get haircuts(and yes Astrid sat quietly on my lap for the whole salon appointment).   But I’m really looking forward to this trip.  Sure I’m looking forward to it because it’s a great conference and I look forward to connecting with other people and brands in social media and blogland – but I’m really looking forward to representing a company like Brica. I love their motto “Making Together Better” and really how it fits in with how we are having such a great Summer. Together.


Whether at home, on the go, or at the park – Brica has products that help parents and make kids happy.


I would love for you to check Brica out online, on Facebook and also on Twitter.

And while I will miss the most important people in my life for a few days…I know that they are happy and safe at home and that I am doing something good for all of us.


So am I weird that I hate leaving my kids? And if you had just one product for your kids..what would it be?


One Year

I posted last year about how much kids can change just from the beginning of the school year to the end. Thank goodness I’m not aging at all.  But before I share those pictures I want to share a picture of our sweet neighbor who graduated this week.

Her graduation gave me great pause on just how quickly it all goes as this gorgeous lady was just about Eloise’s current age when we moved in here and I hired her to be my mother’s helper to my 2 year old so I could have some quality time with my newborn.

So what I’m saying is A. Time flies B. Eloise is evidently now for hire, and C. I still haven’t aged a bit.


I’ve been avoiding writing about this school year because I don’t want to jinx my kids for next year…..because if I may just say it “THIS HAS BEEN THE BEST SCHOOL YEAR EVER!!!!!!”

A few months ago someone asked my girls if they were looking forward to Summer. They both got very quiet and then Eloise kind of looked down with tears in her eyes and said that she didn’t want to talk about it. Esther told our friend “I wish school would go on forever.” Please let them think this way forever.

Eloise has been in a deep state of depression this weekend because school is over and she misses her teacher and classmates deeply. Eloise’s teacher this year was one of the teachers that she will tell her kids about.  He’s made a huge impact on her – he’s pushed her to come out of her shell as well as nurtured her to stand-up for herself all the while knowing her sensitivities, her brilliance and her extreme kindness towards others. Mostly though, because of his incredibly warped sense of humor, he has taught her to FINALLY understand my humor and how to notice, appreciate and use sarcasm. Amen.

(can her legs get any skinnier?)

Watching nearly his entire classroom sob as they said good-bye to him on Friday is a testament to what a great teacher he is. I wish I had a picture of him from the first day of school when his hair was still down to the middle of his back.  When he got his hair cut a few months ago we all yelled at him about it.  But the Mr. Potato Head shirt kind of makes up for it.

I hope he likes us a lot as it’s my expectation that both Esther and Astrid will be in his 3rd grade classroom. Thank you Mr. P for being you. And being awesome.


I was a little worried moving Esther to Eloise’s school this year. It’s a big school with some high expectations and while Eloise is my goal-oriented worker-bee, Esther is my dreamer, giggler, and artsy one.

(may she please still wear bows in her hair when she is 18. amen)

I need not worry though because the one thing that Esther will always find is someone to play with, someone to laugh with, and someone who needs a good friend.   While 1st grade had it’s rocky bits as 1st grade usually does, it was a spectacular year.  Esther had an amazing teacher who gives big hugs, high-fives, and smiles, while gently pushing the kids to work hard and find their amazing abilities.  It doesn’t hurt that her teacher is also very funny, kind, has awesome taste in clothing and rides a motorcycle.

Esther fell deeply and madly in love with her and so did we. Thank you Ms. B for being awesome.


I need to note that our school has over 1000 students and both my kids teachers came to their dance recital last week. How cool is that?   If I had the means I would’ve totally bought ponies for our teachers as end of school year gifts.

(Astrid grew hair!)

Teachers make such a profound impact on our kids that I am ever so thankful for teachers like these.  Thank you thank you thank you.


Have you hugged a teacher today?