Parenting By Improvisation #GoodandHonest #Motts

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Mott’s and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own. 
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Parent And Teacher #BullsIDidIt with Genesis Archery

As parents, we are the first and most important teachers to our own children. We are responsible not only for their safety, health, and comfort – but also to make sure they learn to put their own dang things away and say “thank you” and “please” and to not eat off the floor at Target.

 

We also try to teach them things that are in our own arsenal of talents – whether it be cooking, painting, soccer, baseball, writing, bowling, or poker. Some kids are receptive to learning from their parents – they love for their parents to show them how to bake or how to ski or how to drive a car. But some kids would rather their parents stay a few sidewalk squares behind them or basically stop telling them what to do.

 

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a great teacher to my kids. I think I let our personal relationship cloud the good I try to do with instruction, my patience runs thin, and my expectations maybe too high. And maybe, just maybe, my kids have a harder time learning skills from me or their dad than they do from a stranger or an expert. Maybe my kids just don’t listen to me anymore. Because they are tweens and they are smarter than I am. Right?

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So when I told the girls they had an archery lesson with a professional, while they were nervous to meet someone new, and show their skills to a stranger, I think they were excited to go to the next level in the sport. I don’t shoot – but Jed does – and he has enjoyed teaching them. But I think we all realized that for their love to continue, they needed to either join a club or have lessons that did not come from a parent.

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We headed to A1 Archery and met Dana for their lesson. They thought she was the coolest person on Earth because she is a mom, a marathon runner, an instructor, and competes professionally at the sport.

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And within just minutes, Dana had the girls shooting better than ever. She took the skills they already knew and just tweaked them a bit and boom – “bullseyes” all over the place. Their confidence soared and now they want to shoot more. I would love to see them join a team or club – but am not sure that will ever be their personality. What I would love to do though is start an archery club at their school to get more kids into this fun sport.

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In the meantime though, I think the girls now get to show Jed a few new things to improve his shooting. And now that Astrid has her own bow – well she has some amazing older sister teachers to give her some pointers.

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And for now I’ll just continue to stand back, smile, and watch my kids continue to learn.

 

Disclosure: I’m working with Genesis to promote their #BullsIDidIt program, but all words and opinions are my own.

 

To find out more about Genesis and the #BullsIDidIt program – check them out their website and on their Facebook page.

 

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5 Lessons My Tween Has Taught Me About Social Media

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

 

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

Posted with permission

Posted with permission

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

 

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

 

I get that.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Why We Love Archery

One of the most beautiful, amazing, yet sometimes heartbreaking part of parenting is watching your child find their way as we(as parents) try HARD to resist the urge to (gently) push them into activities, but instead sitting back and letting them find their way. Will they play football like you did? Will they excel in math? Love tennis and have your killer serve? Sing professionally like your grandmother?

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It’s hard to know where their love and passions will land. I do know that by three years old, Eloise wanted nothing to do with team sports. She hated being chased, feeling like she could let other people down, and felt pressured not only by herself, but from others. So she found “loner” activities like reading, dance, piano, swimming, and skiing (oh and crazy math skills).  She was drawn to activities where she could practice without an audience and work on skills that she needed to improve…alone.

 

When she went to sleep-away camp a few summers ago, I wondered what activities she would brave – track and field, drama, sailing, art? I was surprised(happily) when she returned and told us that she signed up for archery – and shot all week for a few hours a day. AND LOVED IT! And talked about it constantly. Her dad, excited to have someone to shoot with, went out and bought both Eloise and Esther each a Genesis bow.

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And weekly the three of them would head to the indoor range to shoot and hang-out and then go out to lunch or for a treat. Jed was thrilled to have an activity to share with his daughters, and they were thrilled to have an activity that was fun and new!

 

And then we put a target in our backyard so it’s even more convenient to shoot. I love watching my family enjoying archery together and work to continue to improve their accuracy. I hope that they continue to shoot as it’s such a great family sport.

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I also won’t lie and say that Eloise started shooting just randomly – I do believe her love for the Hunger Games books and movies certainly had something to do with her interest. I think that’s amazing. In fact the sport has seen HUGE growth over the past few years – with many schools now starting clubs and promoting the sport. And you’ll find that most youth programs use the Genesis Bow System as Genesis has created innovative and easy-to-master bow and arrow products that help kids of every age, size and skill level experience the hands-on thrill of shooting, training and competing to win. As part of its Bulls I Did It! Program, Genesis strives to help parents release the hero within their child by letting them discover their natural talents and unlock their unique potential through archery.

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Specifically the Genesis™ bow has an adjustable draw length so kids can’t outgrow it. Plus it’s easy to shoot, perfect for schools and clubs and can be used by the whole family (also comes in Mini Genesis™ version). The company’s newest feature is Build-a-Bow, which lets you create a custom look. In addition, Genesis sponsors competitions and public demonstrations across the country, and inspires parents and kids to live an archery lifestyle together.

 

And now we are surprising Astrid with a Mini Genesis bow for Christmas so she can start shooting too. I can’t wait to watch her out in the backyard with her sisters.

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Maybe the next step is to get me involved.

 

If you are looking for a great gift for your sons or daughters – you might mention archery to them as it’s making such a huge resurgence.

 

Let us know if you have any questions about getting started as my girls would love to help!

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I’m working with Genesis to promote their #BullsIDidIt program – which we as a family are so excited about. But all words and opinions are my own.

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She’s Just A Child

This post has been sitting in my draft folder for over a month. I’ve written it. I’ve deleted it. I’ve written it again. I’ve edited it. I’ve cried. I’ve yelled. I’ve been sad. I’ve been protective. I’ve been angry. I’ve tried to forget that I even started this post.

 

After I let it sit again – and by “it” I mean the encounter as well as my heart, I almost decided just to walk away and let this go. But I think that maybe it’s something that people should hear.

 

So I’m hitting publish right now. And I’m vowing not to walk away from this issue and be silent. I’m doing this for our daughters.

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Dear Mom At The Gap,

 

She noticed you too. She did. My daughter did. My child. She heard you. She heard every word that you said. She saw the look on your face as you said it. And you hurt her.

 

And instead of being excited about a new jacket that I offered to buy for her for her birthday, she told me that she didn’t want it and asked if she could just wait for me outside of the store while I finished with my return. I asked to go with her, but she told me to just stay in the store and finish as she was fine.

 

I watched her through the store window. Her head down as she sat holding hands with her little sister. I kept my eyes closely on her as I stood in line. Wanting to be near her and explain what just happened. Because she’s a child. A child.

 

I thought about grabbing the jacket she loved again and buying it for her anyway as a surprise. But would it always remind her of what she heard. What you said.

 

Let me tell you a little bit about my child. My child that I’ve known for nearly 12 years. The child that you hurt – with your 10 second observation and shaming words.

 

My beautiful child was born a preemie. Weeks early in an emergency delivery, she was born tiny yet perfect in every single way to me. Her limbs were thin – without time in the womb to develop the beautiful baby-squish we all expect. She instead was angular, fragile, and fine. And even as she grew as a toddler and into grade school, her frame was always slight with beautiful and almost magical wispy limbs. Yet she grew tall.

 

You don’t have to look much further than her dad or to me to see where her body structure came from – we both have thinner frames, small bones if you will, and are tall.

 

My child is an incredible student. She’s grades ahead in math, was reading at a tenth grade level by first grade, and always finishes in the top during the school spelling bee. She also loves music and is a gifted pianist though you would never know as she only plays for herself(or for us if she thinks we aren’t listening).

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My child cares deeply for others – watching her sisters, insisting on taking turns, never going first, and volunteering on the school community service club.

 

My child is quiet and doesn’t like to be the center of attention. She encourages others to take the spotlight and is an incredible cheerleader.

 

And my child is a beautiful dancer. She’s been taking dance for nearly eight years at a studio that embraces all children who truly love the sport.

 

Yet sometimes my child comes home from dance sad. Because she feels different. Looks different. She’s turning 12 soon – hormones raging, middle school angst starting, uncertain about life as she starts to define who she is, what she loves, etc. You remember the time of uncertainty, right? Sometimes she comes home from dance in tears because her legs look different or she can’t make them do what she should be able to do. Her legs are so long and thin that they truly do not come together. Do not touch. Do not work in many ballet positions. She is frustrated, yet doesn’t give up.

 

And I have those talks with her that all mothers do – that she’s beautiful and perfect and brilliant just the way she is. That her body is just the way it’s suppose to be. I tell her stories about my own adolescence and my thin legs, and about her grandmother getting teased in middle school when she was told it looked like she was “walking on toothpicks.” We giggle at how absurd life can be. And for awhile she forgets that she feels she looks different or “wrong” compared to others.

 

You see, my child is 11 -almost 12, with no signs of puberty anywhere except for the fact that she’s grown about seven inches in the past year while barely gaining an ounce of weight. She’s become almost as tall as I am – yet with the waist of a five year old, no fat cells to speak off, no hips, no breasts, and no other indication that she’s becoming a woman soon.

 

And I can give you the benefit of the doubt with your statement that perhaps because of her height – that you mistook her for someone maybe 16 or 17 – but that doesn’t excuse what you said. What you thought. What she heard.

 

Because she is not you. She is not even me. She is an individual who deserves better. To not be “skinny shamed” if you must when you said to your daughter “My god, look at how skinny that girl is – she’s obviously sick and anorexic and needs help.”

 

You have no right to judge another person. A child. How dare you decide you have the right to shame anyone because of their body or mind or by how they look. Why as a society do we continue to belittle and judge other women because of their looks and their shapes. Why do we continue to feed this industry that is intent on making us all want to be perfect – whatever that means. And as mothers, I expect better of all of us.

 

So my daughter, my child, fled the store with her baby sister to get away from you, when just moments ago she was happy and looking in the mirror at her reflection – wearing a jacket that she fell in love with. She’s gotten so tall this year that she can now wear ladies tops, and this was our first trip into a store to try something on in that department. She’s had a hard year – growing tall so quickly – do you remember that weird stage when clothing didn’t fit right. Everything was either too short or too long or too small or too big – that year or so as you transitioned from girls department to juniors? Yeah, that’s where she is. And this is happening while she already feels somewhat uncomfortable with her thin legs and height. It’s a hard road to travel with these pre-adolescent girls. How we find these moments of joy between the moments of uncertainty. And you, you just made it a little tougher for her.

 

After my child walked out of the store, I approached you and told you that I heard you and that SHE heard you and that you had no right to do that my child nor to your child. I told you that my daughter was 11 – and about the inches she’s grown, and the puberty not starting. But I shouldn’t have to do all of that explaining, because you should never body shame a child, or anyone. And you kind of apologized with a quick “I had no idea she was not a teen.” – but I need you to know that it’s no excuse. I need you to know that when I walked out of the store and took my child in my arms and talked about what happened, and that she’s incredible, and I explained what anorexic means – that even though she smiled when I suggested a Starbucks so we could just move-on with her day – that this encounter will most likely stick in her mind forever. You still remember things like this from middle school, right?

 

Somehow dammit – as mothers we need to stop the vicious circle of judging and shaming – and start figuring out how to better send messages of health and self-acceptance and love. And I know that’s hard to do – with increased societal pressures and plastic surgery Groupons in our inbox daily. But I truly believe it can be done and if we all just take a simple first step as mothers and women and just stop being so damn hard on one another.

 

Tracy

 

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My Kids Saw The Mockingjay Movie

In a follow-up to one of my best and most judged parenting decision – letting my nine year old read The Hunger Games Trilogy – and taking her to the movie – I’ve now taken my current nine year old to see the new Mockingjay movie.

 

Not only did I take my two oldest to see Mockingjay – but I took them to the Thursday night premiere of the new Mockingjay movie. Like with thousands of teenagers and twenty-ish year olds. Thank goodness that premieres now start at 9pm as there is no way this old lady could handle a midnight movie.

 

Eloise read the Hunger Games books when she was in third grade, and she saw each movie as it came out.

 

Esther also read the Hunger Games books at the end of third grade, and then we rented each movie as she finished each book. Our agreement was that she could attend the premiere of Mockingjay if she finished the last book also.

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Reading Mockingjay was a bit painful for Esther – as I think it was for many of us. Hailed as the most *meh* of the series for sure, it was not a thrill-read like the first two books. And the end is just sort of a bummer.

 

So I guess going into the movie, I should’ve expected less than the first two. If I had expected less than maybe we would’ve enjoyed Mockingjay more. Because I have to say that Mockingjay part one was very slow. And kind of boring. And lacking of action. But knowing the book – part two should be very action packed.

 

I will also say that the Mockingjay movie was not so great for my kids to watch. While The Hunger Games and Catching Fire were full of not only strategy, action, and the actual games  – they were also full of human relationships, strong teenage characters, and suspenseful moments of cheering for someone. The sets were beautiful, the story was easy to follow, and it was pure entertainment while staying pretty true to the books and still dealing with the government crap going down.

 

Mockingjay part one was almost all government politics and positioning and propaganda – which truthfully went way over my kids’ heads. It was a great set-up for part two, but made for a pretty boring movie. In fact, when the movie ended – typically at a big premiere in a packed theater there are cheers. Instead we all kind of looked around and just said “Wow, that’s it?” Like awkward total movie end silence and checking phones.

 

Also – while there is of course killing in the first two movies, they showed less of the actual violence in those. In Mockingjay, there are a few pretty intense scenes of death when Katniss visits some Districts that the Capitol has attacked. Those were some pretty hard scenes for kids to watch. Or for me to watch really.

 

All in all I think my kids had fun going to a movie premiere for the cool experience, and of course seeing Katniss because they love her, but I think they felt the movie wasn’t that awesome compared to the first two Hunger Games movies.

 

Have you see it? What did you think?

 

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My Tween

She turns 12 in about a week.

 

And she likes listening to Taylor Swift and wearing Converse.

 

She likes to hang with her friends.

 

And reading mature books.

 

And watching PG-13 movies.

 

Earrings and infinity scarves.

 

Skinny jeans and henna tattoos.

 

Begging for instagram and double piercings.

 

But she has littles sisters.

 

So she still plays with dolls.

 

And watching Doc McStuffins.

 

And plays with Play-Doh.

 

Makes littles breakfast.

 

Helps her get dressed.

 

And rides trains with her.

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Even when it’s the most uncool thing to do.

 

Because when you have a little sister.

 

You are already cool.

 

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Ready For Middle School

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

 

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

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An outfit for my middle school daughter.

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Because you are so ready. So ready to fly.

 

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Straight Talk Straight Teeth

I was born with a small mouth and waaayyy too many teeth to fit in that mouth. I could not wait until I could get braces and get my teeth straightened. I had rows of teeth coming in at all angles. It was a disaster. And as soon as all three of our kids’ baby teeth started coming in -well I saw how perfect and close together they were..and I knew they took after me. Once they lost a tooth – the adult tooth would come in behind their baby teeth and pretty soon my sweet girls were sitting here with rows of teeth and teeth all over the place. I apologized immediately for giving them this trait, along with the fact that they have such an early bedtime, and then I promptly took them to the orthodontist once they were old enough. It was time for some straight talk for straight teeth.

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Eloise had a few teeth pulled and has already completed phase one of her braces and teeth straightening process – and those braces were on for just about a year. I barely recognize her as that sweet girl with the teeth – or barely even the girl last year with the braces. This is how fast kids change.

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And now this girl is spitting out molars. Seriously – she opens her mouth and a tooth comes out. She lost three last week. And the sad thing is that she just hands them to me. And I’m all like “Don’t you want to put that under your pillow?” And she gives me a ‘side-eye’ look and walks away. The first time she did this I put a note under her pillow.

 

Dear Eloise, I heard you lost a tooth and yet you didn’t leave it under your pillow for me. I’m hurt. I’m deeply hurt that you could forgot about me like this. After all we’ve been to each other. In fact, I was going to leave you like $200 for a molar. Your loss. Love, The Tooth Fairy Forever EXCEPT TO YOU.

 

The next day she handed this note over to me with a hand-written note on it. “Nice try Mom.”

 

So two days later and two more teeth later I left another note.

 

Dear Eloise, I know you’ve lost more teeth. Did you know that your friend Sara lost a tooth last week and I gave her Taylor Swift concert tickets? Right? So cool – and that’s what everyone is getting BUT YOU. Love, The Tooth Fairy Forever.

 

That morning Eloise walked downstairs and just gave me the ‘side-eye’ without even a word.

 

Sigh.

 

So after she the rest of these teeth fall out and her adult teeth are in, we will start phase two of her teeth straightening plan. She is lobbying HARD for Invisalign Teen for this phase rather than tradition wires and brackets because she feels it would look better, be easier, and she’s responsible enough to ensure she will wear them as instructed.

 

This is something we will have to decide soon.  And our orthodontist does recommended them as there are many benefits:

– It’s easier to play sports or instruments without interference as it’s removable

– Your teeth stay cleaner as brushing and flossing is easy as it’s removable and there are no food restrictions

– Invisalign Teen is just as effective as traditional wire braces

– The cost is about the same as traditional braces

And our orthodontist has alleviated my question as I wondered if Invisalign takes longer to complete than braces. This is a myth – as the length of Invisalign treatment is very comparable to braces. This is good news for Eloise. And the other good news for us is that Invisalign is covered by insurance the same as braces on our policy.

 

Head over to their site for more information on how Invisalign works. And you can also find an Invisalign dentist.

invisalign-sweepstakes

But now for the BEST NEWS! Use the Rafflecopter widget below for your chance to win a FREE INVISALIGN TREATMENT!

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Find Invisalign all over social media!

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Have you or someone you’ve known used Invisalign? And if so, what was their experience?

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts, words and opinions are mine.

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There’s No Such Thing As Normal

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

 

What’s NORMAL Mom?

 

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

 

Why do you want to take pictures of me anyway?

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

 

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

 

“No?”

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

 

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

 

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

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“You’re weird.”

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

“I love you.”

 

Because I’m weird?

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“Because you’re you.”

 

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

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

 

I can stand still you know. For you.

 

“Okay.”

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

tweens

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

–St. Paul Fake Planet News, Mandy Johansson reporting

 

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You’re Totes Jelly That We Met Veronica Roth LOL

Last night I spent about four hours with a few members of the local press and 1000 SCREAMING 13-18 year old girls.

 

See, this is the problem with reading YA – you end up hanging out with YA readers – and they are like 13-18 year old SCREAMING GIRLS. And oh man can those girls scream. And when 1000 of them do it at the same time, your ears bleed and you start talking in tween/teen-speak. Until your tween tells you to STOP because OMG embarrassing. Also – my future with three daughters who will be teenagers soon just flashed before my eyes.

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Eloise and I were invited, delighted, and over-the-moon excited(that’s like John Travolta’s systematic, hydromatic, ultramatic in Greased Lightning but in 2014) to see the new hit movie Divergent at a red carpet screening event at the Mall Of America last night. Not only did we get to see the movie two weeks before you all – but we also got to meet the author, Veronica Roth, and Ansel Elgort, who stars as Caleb!!!

 

We both read the trilogy during our vacation to Costa Rica – so we were well versed with the story and with our undying love for Veronica Roth. I also have a strict “No seeing a movie until you read the book” rule – so we were cool to view!

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Eloise was adorable as we waited for Ansel and Veronica to make it to our spot so we could interview them. She had tons of questions prepared. However, once Ansel made it to us, she whispered “Mom, I don’t think I can talk to him – so will you ask him my questions and introduce me.” OMG I died because she was so sweet. He signed her poster and hugged her and I got a great picture. I have to say he is ridiculously kind. He stopped and talked to all 1000 fans and took tons of selfies with them all AND he followed this old lady on THE TWITTER! Totes McGoats Y’all!

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Also, I’m old enough to be his mother.

 

Then it was our turn to chat with Veronica – WHO WROTE DIVERGENT WHEN SHE WAS A FRESHMAN IN COLLEGE! What an amazing woman. Eloise did talk to her. First words to Veronica were “You are so adorable!” And she IS. Everything about her and she was so warm as she greeted us and talked about the book and movie. Eloise also asked her “What advice would you give a young writer?” and “What faction do you think you’d be in?” And then she signed Eloise’s book and poster and posed for a picture.

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And then I asked Veronica the most important question? “OMG I love your boots – where did you get them????” She got them from ASOS in case you need a pair….

 

The movie was amazing and very true to the books. If you are a ‘book purest’ you will LOVE the movie still! I suggest getting in line now for that midnight showing. I think we may go see it again when it’s released.

 

And as far as ‘Is it appropriate for those under 13?” That is your call as a parent of course. But I felt it was very tame with the serious content it had to cover. If you’ve read the book you know there is some violence/death scenes as well as some make-out type scenes. These were done very well and were very tame. There was no gore/major violence or sex scenes at all. My 11 year old is very innocent and is uncomfortable with some violent or sexual scenes in movies…but there was nothing in Divergent that bothered her. As a parent I felt very comfortable letting my tween go to this movie. And when my 9 year old finishes the book – well she will get to go too.

 

Eloise is still crazy excited about it this morning and could not wait to tell her friends at school all about it.

 

Also, she didn’t get her math homework done. Do you think a note from Veronica and Ansel will suffice???

 

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Pitch Perfect

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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You Is Kind. You Is Smart. You Is Important

“I don’t think I’m doing that great in math, Mom.” She said casually and without eye contact.

 

This girl is placed three years ahead of her grade in math and works like a dog. She’s one of those girls who loves school and everything about it – from the work to the social part to the teachers. She’s the girl that the teachers say each year at conference “I wish I had 30 Eloise clones each year.”

 

And I’m not sure what she is even doing in math because I no longer understand it.

 

Why don’t you ask dad to help you if there’s something you are struggling with right now. You know he loves to help with math. I mentioned back to her before she was all the way up the stairs.

 

She comes back down to talk.

 

“No thanks, I’ll figure it out. I just want you to be prepared for my grade.”

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(Her final grade)

*******

Eloise, do you mind if I share your poem on my blog? I understand if you don’t want me to  – but it’s beautiful and I believe that more people should read your words.

 

“Yeah, no. I suck at poetry.”

 

Not true – you’re a gifted writer and should share your work more.

 

“Yeah, no. My writing will never be anything special.”

 

I think it’s special.

 

“You’re my mom. It’s in your job description to like work that I do. I’d need a less biased opinion.”

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Your teachers love your writing.

 

“They don’t count either, because it’s for a grade. Not for an emotion.”

 

Do you love your writing Eloise?

 

“Why does that matter?”

 

Because if you don’t believe in your writing, no one else will. Do you think you’re a good writer? Because if you do – it doesn’t matter what I think or your teachers think or what the internet thinks. It matters what you think.

 

“I don’t think my writing is good enough to show other people, no.”

 

Okay. I can tell you otherwise, but you need to really think about this, Eloise, please think about how it’s okay to put yourself and your work out there.

 

“Maybe I just don’t want to.”

 

I understand and respect that so much. I love how humble you are, Eloise. And how you don’t need others to praise you and your work. It’s one of my most favorite things about you. But you know, we don’t live on an island. Sometimes it’s good to put yourself out there and see what happens.

 

“Yeah, no. I don’t want to do that. What if people hate what I write?”

 

You can’t control what people think about you or your work, but you can control how you accept things and know in your heart that you are good enough for you.

 

“Sometimes I don’t understand you, Mom.”

 

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m here. And if you want to ever put yourself out there now – I am here and your safety net. But somehow I feel like if you took a leap you’d find you really wouldn’t even need me. Know that. Know that you are smart and talented and kind and amazing. And just don’t worry about your poem. It’s fabulous. I don’t need to share it.

 

“Mom, I’m going upstairs to read.”

 

Okay. I love you.

 

Eloise brushes by me and our arms touch briefly. She’s not a hugger, but I know by giving me the slightest touch in passing is her way of connecting, without words.

 

She climbs the steps and yells back. “I’ll think about it.”

*****

My kids are kind. The purest and not-taught sort of kind – those who hold doors for strangers, give friends the last piece of cake, watch out for others, never go first, never fight over a toy, and don’t like to read satire because it somehow hurts them to their core – they were never the selfish toddlers that I read they would be. That they were suppose to be. The toddlers that I yearned would stand up for themselves and put themselves first. Just once.

 

And how strange it seems that I’m trying to gently teach them this now. That they matter. Not just for how they serve others – but for how they serve themselves.

 

Will they ever serve themselves?

 

And I will go to my death saying those words to them – of their kindness, knowledge, and importance – but is it possible to really make someone believe that?

 

This is something they don’t tell us mothers how to do.

 

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20 Ways You Know That Your Preschooler Has A Tween Sibling

There is a seven year age difference between my oldest daughter and youngest daughter. When my oldest daughter was four I took her to music classes and we’d sing and clap to repetitive and traditional children songs, play with scarves, and roll balls back and forth to the rhythm of these songs. I remember smiling really big and thinking that this is what good parenting was all about. I bought Raffi CDs, we watched Baby Einstein movies, and I admit to spending $150 to attend a Wiggles concert. Twice. She loved Sesame Street and her stuffed Elmo tagged along with us on every outing, we had play-dates with other kids and their moms, and I spent more time picking out her preschool than we probably will for her college.

 

You know – we did the required first kid things. And while it’s typical for you to be a little less focused on doing all of the ‘right’ things with your third child, since now a trip to Target is considered just as enriching as a trip to the zoo, what I wasn’t prepared for was that my current preschooler would spend so little time seeking out appropriate preschool-age activities and more time wanting to be like her tween sisters.

 

And when this third child entered preschool and started making friends of kids who were the oldest in their family – well those parents may have questioned my parenting. As they should. Because my child is rapping to Low by Flo Rida while their child is rightly appreciating Puff The Magic Dragon.

 

But in about five years, when maybe their third child is in preschool and they have a fourth grader at home – well come see me my mother-sister and we will just laugh together. While the kids play in the other room and dance to music that we cannot believe we let them listen to. Because as sweet as a four year old is, a four year old with tween siblings is inevitably a bit precocious.

 

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1. Your preschooler says  ‘Well duh’ for almost every answer when taking her kindergarten readiness test. The evaluator just shakes her head, gives your daughter a perfect score, and jokingly tells you that she’d probably be fine in third grade too.

2. Wears Rainbow Loom bracelets all the way up her arm like all the cool kids do, and has mastered the coolest color combinations and wants a double/triple in all neon green.

3. Asks why her closet is full of pink and pretty clothing, tights and dresses that twirl, and cute mary janes, when she’d really rather shop at Justice and wear peace signs, bling headbands, and Taylor Swift concert t-shirts. A trip to Claire’s trumps a trip to the children’s museum any day for her now. “And when can I get my ears pierced, Mom?”

4. Has never owned or asked for character pajamas – and only wants tank tops and flannel pajama bottoms like her sister. You sadly fold and giveaway the Tinklebell nightgowns that her sweet sisters wore when they were little. The Disney princesses that ruled our life for years with older daughters has made way for reruns of iCarly and Shake It Up.

5. Hears a friend singing Wheels On The Bus and asks if you’ve ever heard that strange song. You realize that this child has never even heard London Bridges. When asked what her favorite song is she says it’s a toss-up between Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream and Mirror by Justin Timberlake…and she also can sadly sing along to Blurred Lines.

6. You don’t have to carry around kid song CDs -instead you are ordered to turn on KDWB(the top 40 station) before the minivan is even turned on.

7.  She is used as a real doll by older sisters as they apply make-up on her to practice for their dance performances.

8. She knows full dialogues from the latest Sam and Cat and Good Luck Charlie episodes. She has never seen Sesame Street. In passing she has seen a large yellow bird. She asks what his name is. You feel like a preschool mom failure.

9. Is treated like royalty when she goes to her older siblings’ schools. Tweens gather around her, pick her up, tell her she’s the cutest thing ever, tell older siblings how lucky they are to have a baby sister. We don’t have to wonder why she is so spoiled. Ever. Or loved.

10. Has a hard time making friends as she talks like she’s 11 instead of 4 and KNOWS WAY TOO MUCH and SHARES. SHARES SO MUCH. Play-date invitations are few and far between.

11. Asks friends to come for sleepovers instead of play-dates because that’s what her sisters do. Now you have to awkwardly explain to the other mom that yeah, I don’t really want your 3 or 4 year old to spend the night. EVER.

12. Has never visited sproutonline.com or ABCmouse – but can kick some serious Just Dance butt when Roar comes on. Can possibly twerk.

13. Knows how to order dinner at the sushi bar and knows what gourmet cupcakes and real frosting should taste like. The sweet sugar icing on character cupcakes from Target just won’t suffice. She knows what ganache is.

14. Can work the iPad and can download music better than any parent. Has Minecraft houses and stuff and you just stare at her and wish she would play with Little Ponies.

15.  Has seen PG13 movies whereas her sisters at four years old had barely seen their first movie and it was most definitely rated G. Sorry, but this girl loves Harry Potter!

16. Is convinced that she should be able to stay home alone too like her sisters if you just run to the store. “I’ll be just fine, Mom!” Honestly, she probably would be – but you’d rather CPS did not pay a visit.

17. Instead of the sweet calls of ‘Mommy” and “Mama”  – at times she also thinks your name is really “MOM” or “MOTHER” said in the most OMG I cannot believe you just said that kind of tween voice.

18. She also makes “Please knock” and “Private – stay out” signs for her bedroom door.

19. Does ‘homework’ each evening when her sisters do theirs and tells you to be a little quieter so she can concentrate on her maths.

20. And the best tween habit – can do all of the chores her sisters can – from laundry to dishes to vacuuming floors. Dang, now why didn’t you teach your older kids how to do these important chores earlier?

 

What did I miss on how your littlest tries to keep up with their tween or teen siblings?

 

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Reading And Loving

Jed and I are doing what we used to do before we had children. We’re going to bed and reading for awhile. This seems like such a luxury lately and I’ve missed this habit. I think we used to do this before we had Wifi too -you know way back in 1999..so we could not bring work or Facebook to bed. Instead we just had a book and a warm body to be next to.

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Since the New Year, I’ve been shutting down my computer early, not even making it to the 10pm news, and heading up to bed to read.

 

Jed never quit reading before sleep. And I’m glad I’m getting back into the habit.

 

What we are all reading and loving right now:

 

Jed is finishing the last book in George R. R. Martin’s Game Of Thrones Series. I have no idea what it’s about or how it is – but he’s read them all now, so let’s just assume they must be okay. I was going to ask him for a review – but I didn’t want to interrupt his reading.

Esther finished Kate DiCamillo’s latest book last month – Flora & Ulysses(Winner of the 2014 Newbury Medal!). We’ve read and loved all of Kate’s books(and not just because she’s local and we’ve met her), but because she fills her books with wonder and love. Esther said it was a super fun book to read and it made her laugh and she loved the comics!

Eloise has read so many books lately that I wasn’t even sure which one to pick – so I’m going to pick one that we’ve both read lately. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Eloise knew a little about the holocaust from reading The Diary Of Anne Frank and discussions at home, but I don’t think she fully understood how devastating it was until she read this book. Narrated by Death – The Book Thief is so unique from any other book I’ve ever read. A story about a foster girl learning to love and trust again, while learning to read and the power of words. The characters in this book are so rich and interesting and the storyline mesmerizing. Eloise had a few questions as she read the book as it is historical, so she wanted some clarifications of what and why as the war progressed in Germany. I would say that she is on the ‘young-side’ for reading this – but she thoroughly enjoyed it, as did I. It is probably the book I would recommended the most to anyone looking for a powerful read with a beautiful, yet tough message.

Astrid is reading(and having read to her) as many books as humanly possible. That’s the beautiful thing about being the youngest child – your bookshelves overflow as older siblings outgrow books and they become yours. I think we will need to open a library just for Astrid and start moving out furniture that no longer fits. I know it’s time to go through some of our old board books but I just cannot part with any of them yet. So Astrid owns a gazillion books. So I will just tell you about one of her favorites that I just happen to read for her class last week.

 

First a funny story though – I actually read this book for Eloise’s class too back when she was in preschool, and as I finished reading, a little precocious girl stood right up and pointed at me and said “That was the most boring book that I’ve ever heard!” Gotta love kids. Also, that is why I don’t teach preschool.

 

The book is Millions Of Cats by Wanda Gag. There is not a children’s book that I love more. Maybe it’s because I have a link to New Ulm,  where Wanda is from, or maybe it’s because I love cats…but really it’s because the story is so sweet, the prose so lovely for both kids and adults – with repetition, an interesting story, lovely illustrations, and a nice moral to the story about humility. Who doesn’t want to read about hundreds and thousands and millions and billions of cats. If you don’t own this book – buy it now and you will keep it around for your grandkids.

 

What are you reading and loving right now?

 

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I Did This – I’m With The #HappyMamas

The quiet is almost deafening upstairs. Occasionally I hear soft stocking feet running down the hall, a giggle, or a door quietly shutting. But for nearly three hours it’s been silent.

 

If you are a mother of three, this could cause concern. The long quiet. Concern enough to go check on your children – are they free of blood, teeth intact, room not on fire, alive. But I never went up there. With three kids I expect at least one will be able to scream down for help in case the other two are dealing with blood or fire or broken teeth.

 

It’s our fifth day off school over a span of just two weeks. We’ve spent a lot of time together. A lot of time inside our home together. A lot of time not being able to safely play outside. A lot of time dragging out every toy, book, game, crayon, and snack we own.

 

And besides an hour in the morning as the zombies stare at the TV while they shovel in frozen waffles, or the hour at night when we catch-up on Dance Moms together or watch reruns of Sam And Cat – the TV is off, the iPad isn’t touched, and my computer is my computer.

 

The girls are brushing doll hair, putting on fashion shows, making pictures, having pretend picnics, and going through drawers of stuffed animals that haven’t been unearthed in years. Together.

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And frankly some of the time I haven’t even known what they were doing because they were playing. Without me near. For hours. By themselves. Like children should do. Maybe they sat and listened to music and took turns being the lead in a band, or maybe they put on puppet shows, or maybe they told each other jokes. What they did is their own thing. That they created for themselves. In their rooms. And they only came down for dinner when I called them to set the table. And they came down together and laughing. No blood.

 

I finished my work. It’s one of my busiest weeks at work, and having them home from school weighed heavy on my shoulders and mind as I saw the temperatures plummet. But I had nothing to worry about, because kids have the ability to make their own fun. And play with each other.

 

I want to whisper this secret to my friends with all little ones at home – that things will get quiet for them one day. That one day their kids will just go play without them building that Lego tower with them(not that I don’t love to do that once in awhile), but when they do need a three hour block to get some work done – their kids can manage that for them..and just go play. Like we once did as kids.

 

Yet my kids are still all here in our house. We’re still sharing space together. Even though they aren’t tapping on my knee saying “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom…”

 

And even though my kids are a floor away and not asking me for anything – I am still mothering. In fact  – I did that….I mothered enough so my kids know they can make their own fun and snacks and pick up their toys. I did that. I taught them boundaries and gave them a space to play. I let them know that sometimes mom needs to work and needs quiet, and to respect my time just like I respect a crazy amount of time with them. I taught them to be self-sufficient and to be happy even playing alone or with a sister for more than 10 minutes. I did this.

 

Watching your kids move away from you because they know how and can, is still mothering. Being a good mother did this. Being a good mother doesn’t have to be defined by how many games you played with them or how many plays you acted out. Being a good mother also means that they can go off for hours to create their own plays, but being there when they’re ready to perform.

*****

Galit and I were chatting and having a glass of wine together. We sat close and laughed about many things as we talked…we really talked, and finished sentences. We were out together bowling with our families…TEN PEOPLE..and bowling in a LOUD bar. And yet we sat and drank wine and heard each other. We talked about writing and work and sure, kids.

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And those SIX kids were just feet away from us, but they were bowling and talking and laughing and playing all by themselves. They never came to talk to us or ask for anything. They managed their own food and drinks. They took their turns and kept their own scores and just did what kids do.

 

We’ve done it. We’ve reached this sweet spot in mothering. Where the kids are old enough to do so much(nearly everything) on their own, and you can do things you enjoy parallel to them(like talking with a dear friend) – because they are still there. There – feet or a floor from you – but still with you. This sweet age when they can do for themselves yet they are still with you and not away with friends.

 

Dear friends – this is such a sweet time right now. I cherish this moment of motherhood before it flees too. Like all of the moments mothering do. Mothering has its beautiful and hard moments – the moments you miss and the one you don’t once they are gone – but I’m holding this now of motherhood tight.

 

This moment where my kids are here. But just not right here all of the time.

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This was written as a Happy Mama Moment. A group of 12 moms have formed a Happy Mother Movement for 2014. Each month you can join us and link up with your Happy Mama Moment, inspired by Dude Mom.

happy mama movement logo

 

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