Monday, December 31, 2012

2012--The Year of Guilt

Guilt for not taking enough pictures or video

Guilt for having my kids do too much organized activity

Guilt for not having my kids do enough organized activity

Guilt for feeling sad about something that happened to someone else

Guilt for eating too much and exercising too little

Guilt for not playing with my kids enough

Guilt for having a messy house

Guilt for not making dinner for my family every night

Guilt for not being intimate enough with my husband

Guilt for thinking, “Thank God that wasn’t my child” when tragedy struck someone else’s family

2012 was the Year of Guilt.

2013 will be the Year of Confidence … Confidence that I’m doing my best, even when it may not be enough. As every mom knows, the hardest thing to tell yourself (and believe it) is “I’m okay that it isn’t enough … as long as I have loved enough.”

Happy New Year, Crap Lovers! Thank you for being with me my first year. It's been fun.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Tears Do Mean Something

It’s been over two weeks since sadness fell over Newtown, CT, and the world. I haven’t felt much like writing since then, and it took me a week before I could begin reading the social media. Every post, every tweet, every blog, every comment, every picture sent tears down my face and weighed down my heart with an ache almost unbearable. I knew I was not alone. I knew that every person around the world who heard this story felt the same way. I knew because I read, and I read, and I read.

It was story after story of parents who were terrified to drop their children off at the doors of their schools, moms who slept with their children as to not allow even an inch of space between them and the monsters that may prey upon them, teachers who played out scenarios in their heads as to how they would protect their students if they were called to action one day, and people of all kinds who just couldn’t get a handle on the grief that set over them and the sadness they felt for the families who lost their precious loved ones in one of the most unimaginably, horrific acts to ever touch our lives.

Some people’s way to express emotion was to write poems, draw pictures, or offer prayers. Those all choked me up, too. But, then, I am so upset to say that some of my feelings of heartache and sadness turned to anger and resentment. For, as I read the comments to some of these beautiful messages, I found that not everyone was “agreeable.” I found that some people decided to use the comments section as their soapbox for their views on God and gun control. Here someone was trying to offer sentiments in the best way they knew how, and someone else had to poo poo on it with their social, religious, or political views.

I am all for freedom of speech, but come on folks, let’s practice common human decency here. If you want to start your own post or blog on how we should get rid of all guns or how God doesn’t really exist, go for it. Don’t dump that on someone else’s heartfelt message—whether you agree with what they wrote, or not. Of any time to show kindness and compassion, this is it.

I saw one message that questioned why people were expressing their emotions all over social media. This person said it seems like these people are trying to make this all about them when it has nothing to do with them. This person said, “Pick up a phone and call your mom or your friend if you need to get it off your chest.” In so many words, this person said, no one wants to read about you feeling sorry for yourself when it wasn’t you who lost a child or a family member.

My first reaction was to be angry and defensive, but I did not react at all. Instead, I went off and thought about an appropriate response. I decided maybe it was unfair for me to be angry with this person’s attack. I knew this person felt as sad about what happened as the next person. But, still, I do feel the outpouring of emotion in the social media does need a defense.

I use Facebook as part of “my community.” I won’t share everything with this community, but it’s nice to know I have its ear 24 hours a day, even when I do not require a response. For many, including me, it’s nice to know that other people have the same feelings and are grieving, too. When I try to sleep at night and can’t stop thinking about how scared those children were or what they were witnessing before their own lives were taken, it helps me to open my computer and see that a friend has written on a similar struggle.

Yes, we could call a friend or family member and get some of this off our chest. But, I’m a little different. I will admit I am not great about getting “deep” with people. I am a little guarded and don’t usually let people see the vulnerable side of me. But, when I write it, it feels safer. Sometimes I want my loved ones to know I am hurting, but blogging about it is my passive-aggressive approach.

I saw a college friend over the holidays, who happened to be friends with the sister and brother-in-law of the Sandy Hook Guidance Counselor who lost her life. I’ve known this friend for 20 years, and we are very close. But, we both hesitated bringing up the topic because we knew what it would lead to. A couple of glasses of wine later, we dove in. The tears flowed and the hours passed. It was cleansing, but exhausting. Writing is definitely the easy way out of our emotions, for many of us.

Do I expect sympathy? No, of course not. Nor, do I believe, do the others who express their feelings in writing. But, does it provide comfort to know there are many others out there feeling the same? Having the same sleepless nights? Shedding the same tears? Asking the same questions? It does to me. And, person who questioned motives, please find compassion in you to avoid judgment this time.

How cynical are you to think that people have an ulterior motive here? I have faith in human empathy. If you don’t feel the need to discuss your feelings in an open forum, that’s fine. I hope my friends and digital acquaintances continue to write about this. We are a community. The more we talk about this, the more it will stay to the forefront, and the more we will fight to protect our children from potential future indescribable acts. I refuse to sweep it under the rug. We owe it to those babies … and to our own.

You are right. These were not my children. These were not my brother’s children. These were not my friend’s children. But, these were children. And, my tears for them do mean something.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Talking about Violence with Kids

Here is a piece on talking to your kids about violence. Please pass this along to anyone with any age school kids. Shared with me from a Henrico County teacher today. Thanks, Misty.

Talking Violence with your Children

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday, Bear!

My bear's cake and cupcakes. Might be a little salty. I'm having a really tough time with the fact that my baby is 1. Boo hoo. No one told me how hard it would be when my baby turned 1. Dang.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Let your kids do things on their own before you think they are ready. I have made many assumptions with my 4-year-olds over the years that they were not ready for the next thing. I guess a lot of the time it’s just easier and faster to do it myself—and, I know it will get done the right way. I have had to force myself to step back and let it play out. More often than not, I am shocked by their abilities. It starts when you give your baby the spoon and the bowl for the first time. It won’t end pretty, but the sense of accomplishment you see on his face is worth it.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Twins and Their Artwork

I asked my 4-year-old twins to make a Christmas card for their teachers. Now, I’m not sure if this is a boy-girl thing or a Weber-Capri thing, but, as you can see, there is a stark contrast between the two cards. Capri drew a picture of the night Jesus was born (on the left). This was the third piece of paper she used because she didn’t think the first two were perfect.

Weber drew a heart in the middle of the paper and said he was done. I said, “Do you want to put a little more effort and thought into it?” About 90 seconds later, he said he was really done (picture on the right). He explained it as “a Christmas heart maker that shoots out hearts onto a birthday cake.”

This is pretty typical for both of them. Capri puts a lot of effort into her artwork and gets weepy if it isn’t just like she wanted it. Weber speeds through the project so he can move onto the next thing. But, to give him credit, he comes up with the most amazing stories about what his scribble is. I’m sure this says something about him … and, I’m not sure if I want the answer.

What do you think? Is this a boy-girl thing … the 4-year-old girl who loves to color rainbows and hearts versus the 4-year-old boy with little to no attention span? Or, are these more personality-based traits?
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Oh Crap! Realization of the Day … Go the Furb to Sleep!

Furby does NOT have an off switch! Furby does NOT have an off switch! Furby does NOT have an off switch!

I wish someone would have screamed that at me a couple weeks ago when I purchased this popular Christmas toy with, I quote, “a mind of its own.”

We had an early Christmas celebration and this was a toy my daughter wanted. It sings, speaks Furbish and English (in a Valley Girl sort of way), snores, burps, purrs, and is flat out sassy sometimes. It’s actually a pretty cute little toy, except that the only way to shut it up is by putting it in a quiet room for a couple minutes. Then, whatever you do, don’t touch it, because that wakes it up.

My daughter wanted to show it to her teachers this morning. We took it in, then I took it with me to save the teachers’ sanity. I put it in the car seat and shut off the radio. It babbled for a minute, started snoring, and fell asleep. It was harder to get this thing to sleep and keep it asleep than an actual baby. I’d hit a bump in the road, and there we’d go again!

How do you say, “Go the F*** to sleep!” in Furbish? Go the FURB to sleep!

My answer: A Phillips-Head Screwdriver!

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Oh Crap! Realization of the Day … Facebook and the Elf

Don’t look at Facebook if your kids are looking over your shoulder. Today, while scanning the news feed, I came across an Elf with a dollar bill in his hand and naked Barbie on what appeared to be an ornament stand pole. My daughter said, “Is that Elfie with Barbie?”

“Yes,” I said. “I think Elfie is giving Barbie some money so she can go buy some clothes.”

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day … Some Moms

I’ve realized I might not embrace mommyhood as much as I thought. I love being a mom, and I love the time—MOST of the time—I spend with my kids. And, I, like many other friends of mine, cherish the time when the kids are in school. But, today, one of my friends—whose children are NOT in college--posted this:

Can't wait for Christmas break to have my kids home all day again!”

What? Did I read that right? Most everyone else, including me, says, “Ugh. What am I going to do with my kids all day, every day, for two weeks?”

Of course, she was one of the sweetest people I knew in college, but still! Way to make me feel like a bad mom. Hahaha! Just kidding … kind of.

I guess I should look at the extra time as a bonus. And, realistically, I do love the days it is just the kids and I, especially now that the twins have school 4 mornings/week. Those Fridays are special days for us. Though, when full day turns into full days, my patience level gets lower and lower and that is when I start counting the days until school starts again. I guess some moms just have it. Sadly, I’m not some mom.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day … Santa Shopping

Don’t do your Santa shopping before your kids visit Santa. You think you know what they are going to ask for, then they go and change it at the last second.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day … Pacifiers

As my family was sitting at the restaurant last night, inhaling our food because of our ticking time bomb, our 11-month-old known affectionately as, “Bear,” I realized how much I absolutely love the pacifier (paci, binky, naw naw, num num, plug, dummie, tup tup, bee bee). I could literally mouth kiss the person who invented this simple, yet sanity-saving device.

Then, I thought back to when I was pregnant with my first (the twins), and swore I would never give them a pacifier. I was one of those people who read way too much on the Internet while I was pregnant. I remember being so angry with the nurses in the hospital after the twins were born, because they gave them pacifiers in the nursery without checking with me. I was all, “I’m not going to give my babies a pacifier. They’ll never learn to latch. They’ll never learn to talk. They will have a problem with ear infections.”

About 90 seconds after we were home, I threw that whole theory right out the window, along with the number to the lactation consultant who told me I shouldn’t use them. They latched just fine. They talked when they should have (maybe early). They had maybe one ear infection.

I used them until they were 2, and weaning them was no problem at all. We tried at 18 months, but found it was somewhat of a battle. At 2, they understood so much more and were talking so they could communicate with us about the situation. One evening, the kids and I gathered up all the pacis and put them in a bag. We left them for the Paci Fairy, who was going to take them to new babies. The next morning, the Paci Fairy left an interactive stuffed animal that said their names, sang songs, and played games. They never once asked for the paci after that.

I truly think I may have been institutionalized had it not been for the pacifier. This is just one parent’s story, though. I’d love to hear yours!

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day ... Morning Sickness Sucks if You Are Not a Duchess

So, Kate Middleton is pregnant. I'll admit, I'm rather excited. But, she was admitted to the hospital for acute morning sickness and will stay there for a few days. Do I really need to go on?

If you experienced morning sickness, you know that there are days you wish you were in the hospital, pumped with some good drugs, and having someone pat a warm washcloth on your face. But, most of us live in reality—not at Disney World, where my daughter thinks Kate lives.

I had morning sickness with both of my pregnancies—it started around 5 weeks and ended between 12-13 weeks. For me, it was all-day nausea, with a break around 6 pm. I would then eat all of my calories at one sitting (usually pasta with meat sauce). Then about an hour later, the nausea would come back until I went to sleep. Fortunately, I only vomited a few times throughout those 8 weeks, and it was typically after being in a vehicle.

The doctor prescribed anti-nausea medication, but the first one made me so tired that I couldn’t function. She prescribed a second one that worked pretty well and didn’t make me sleepy, but it was expensive and my insurance company would only cover enough for about a third of a month. I found myself rationing it based upon plans I had throughout the month. I tried every remedy you read online and in the “What to Expect” books, but nothing worked. You live with it and think you will never feel good again, then one day you wake up and it’s finally fun to be pregnant … for about 3 more months.

I was lucky I worked at home during my first pregnancy. I could lie on the couch whenever I needed … take a nap here and there … take a shower or bath during the day. I remember thinking, how can women go into a job every day feeling like this? Then … I got pregnant while I had twin 2 ½-year-olds. Again, do I really need to go on?

I’ve known some moms who dealt with nausea and vomiting throughout their whole pregnancy. For me, it was almost enough to not get pregnant again. But, I guess like childbirth, you forget enough of the bad to allow you to do it again.

I really have no advice here, except marry a prince. Happy pregnancy, Duchess!

P.S. I really do hope she feels better soon.

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Crap No One Tells You ... About Crying in Front of Your Kids

My 4-year-old daughter caught me with tears in my eyes—one of the “moments” I’ve had in the last few days since I lost a cousin to a car accident. She asked me why I was sad, and I told her that one of my cousins died and went to be with God in Heaven. She understands death to the extent that when something or someone dies, it no longer moves or talks or breathes. And, she knows that God is good. So she said, “Won’t he like being with God?”

Ugh. How does a 4-year-old make more sense out of this than an adult?

So, I thought for a minute about how I can make this seem better than the horrific event that it is. By this time, my 4-year-old son came in and I filled him in. Then, I told them that, yes, he would like being with God. Cousin Richard was a carpenter, so I told them that God is the Master Carpenter, and that I am sure Cousin Richard will learn so much from God about building things. I also told them that Cousin Richard was a very good singer and that he would be singing with the angels, for sure.

Then, the Heaven questions started, like “Will he eat in Heaven?” and “Will he move in Heaven?” and “Is Heaven in the sky?”

This all made me cry more, but also laugh at the same time. I thought it would be traumatic for the kids to see me cry, so I spent most of the weekend planning fun Christmas outings, like visiting Santa (where I actually laughed when the baby cried … classic first-time Santa visit), and seeing the Christmas lights at the botanical garden. I also went shopping and bought three pair of shoes. That did not make me feel better, but it got me out of the house and kept me from breaking down in front of the kids. Turns out, it’s not traumatic for them to see me cry. In fact, I should have let them see me sooner. They made me feel better than anyone could have.

The sadness is still very much in my heart, but for a moment I can be happy for the peace I am sure he has found. Rest in peace, Cousin Richard. Your infectious smile will be missed terribly.

For Cousin Richard Paulsen, March 14, 1972 - December 1, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day … Pictures with Santa

When you take your kids to get their photo with Santa, make sure you are presentable because there is a strong likelihood you will end up in the picture, too. Last year's yoga pants, pony tail, and rubber headband were a lovely addition to the Santa portrait.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day ... Faraway Family

My kids talked on the phone to their 10-year-old cousin halfway across the country the other night. They told their cousin about their adventure to the Christmas tree farm that day. She was going with her family the next day. When they got off the phone, my daughter asked, “But, they are not going to the same Christmas tree farm, right?” I said no, because they live very far away from us. Then, she said, “Why do builders build our cousins’ houses so far away from us?”

I didn’t have a good answer for that. How could I tell her we chose to live far away from our family? It makes me sad that my kids will grow up only seeing their cousins once a year, if that. It’s just the way of the world now. We adopt our friends’ families and refer to them as aunts, uncles, and cousins. I guess it’s our way of feeling close to family. I just get a little more sentimental about it this time of year. The good news is, we will see all of their cousins this Christmas, as 20 people try to cohabitate for a week at the house in which I was raised. And, all of us will pick up just like we saw each other yesterday. That’s what family does.
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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day ... the Affair

So … my husband is having an affair. I’ve known about it for about 6 months now, but this is the first time I am speaking openly about it. I know the mistress … well, I know of her. I call one of our friends in Alexandria her pimp. She is pretty appealing--I’ll give that to him. I’ve even considered joining them! Hey, I have to have a sense of humor about it, right?

She clearly gives him things I cannot. He has never looked better. He is happy. He’s 41, so I guess I’ll just chalk it up to a mid-life crisis. He has even introduced the kids to her. They seem to like her.

I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. He still carries his weight at home. He spends a lot of time watching videos of her that she posts on some obnoxious Facebook page she has. And, she is even storing some of her things in our garage. Uh, okay, I don’t even get to part my car in there! He mostly sees her really early in the morning, so it doesn’t interfere with our lives too much. Every once in a while he sees her after work, and has invited some guys from work to join them.

Wricka-Wricka … (That was my record scratch). Okay, it just got weird. I may as well reveal to you that his mistress is … CrossFit.

I apologize to friends and family. I hope I didn’t give anyone a heart attack.

Here is the definition my husband gave me: CrossFit describes its strength and conditioning program as “constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement," with the stated goal of improving fitness (and therefore general physical preparedness), which it defines as "work capacity across broad time and modal domains."

That all sounds reasonable and completely harmless. But, from what I am starting to understand—not just about my husband, but about the whole “CrossFit Community”—is that it is somewhat of an obsession. Some outsiders have referred to it as a cult. Yea, I could see it. I am advised to call it his “passion.” And, our friend in Alexandria, VA, is the CrossFit coach who opened his eyes to it, so if anyone from Northern Virginia is looking to do this or see less of their spouse, I’ll hook you up.

And, yes, my 4-year-old twins can be seen doing planks and lifting a PVC pipe. And, yes, I have a large wooden box covered in shoe prints in my garage, a pull-up bar permanently affixed to the wall, a couple of those ever-loving kettlebells, and several other items that “hardly take any space.” And, yes, sometimes unexpected guests show up in said garage to do something called the WOD (workout of the day), and to try and achieve a PR (personal record). Other times they will do their WOD at a “box,” the gym that houses these cults and their old-school exercises.

There is often talk among these CrossFitters of “Paleo,” as if he is some kind of cult leader.  Turns out, it’s a period of time, known as the Paleolithic era—during the time of the caveman. The Paleo Diet is based on what they call “clean eating.” It’s eating like the cavemen—mostly meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables. I’m not sure if they have to hunt and gather their own food and pull it back to their homes on a wagon with square wheels. Though, I’m sure if my husband had to hunt for his food, he would certainly lose a lot of weight. I’m not even sure if he knows where the grocery store is.

He talks endlessly about all of these things, as do other cult members. He uses all the buzzwords I’ve mentioned, and many more I’ve just stopped asking about. And, while this “passion” has slightly impacted our lives, this mid-life crisis could be much, much worse. And, yes, he looks amazing and he feels good about himself again … and, that is good for all of us. I hope the “CrossFit World” doesn’t take offense to any of this. I think what you are doing makes a lot of sense. Heck, if the boxes started offering child care, I might be right there with you.

So, this blog is for all you CrossFit widows out there. I feel your pain and I know you feel mine. And, all you CrossFitters out there, I hope you blow your WOD right out of the water today!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day … Kids Get It

We were listening to holiday music in the car today, and “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” came on. I was singing along, sitting in the Starbuck’s drive-through, when I saw some confusion on their faces in the rear-view mirror. My 4-year-old daughter asked, “Why couldn’t Rudolph play the games?”

I didn’t realize they were even listening to the words. I figured they were thinking, “Geez, I wish Mom would stop singing. Doesn’t she know the other drivers are rolling up their windows so they won’t hear her?”

So, I turned around to them and explained that the other reindeer didn’t want to play with Rudolph because he was different. I was going to continue, thinking it would require more than that to make them understand the story, when my 4-year-old son interrupted me with the most matter-of-fact statement, “Well, everyone is different.”

I quickly turned to the front again as tears filled my eyes. It’s a moment like that when a mom feels like she is doing a good job—or, at least reproduced to better the future of our world. I realize now that pre-school kids are the most open-minded people on the planet. We could all learn something from them.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day … Decorating the Tree

I love decorating the tree with my kids. They fight over who hangs which ornaments. They fight over the part of the tree they decorate. They get mad at me for not letting them hang the $20+ Christopher Radko glass ornaments. They get mad at me for not letting them climb the ladder to hang the ornaments at the top. They spill their hot cocoa. They roll their eyes when I try to take their picture next to the tree. They cry when their metal hook comes out of one of the ornaments. They cry when an ornament falls and rolls under the tree and out of their reach. They complain when I don’t let them hang every ball from the Costco-sized shatterproof ornament bucket. They yell over the lovely Christmas music my husband has in his iPod playlist. Shall I go on?

But when it’s all said and done, and I step back to look at the tree, I smile. And, I chuckle … when I see 18 shatterproof ornaments hanging in a one square foot section about 36” from the floor (eye level for my 4-year-olds). I may remove a few to relieve the sagging branch, but I leave most as a reminder of what it took us to get there. And, I will look forward to the same chain of events next year. Happy decorating!

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You know you are sleep deprived when ...

You know you are sleep deprived when … you put the dish soap in the sink, turn on the water to fill it, and come back a minute later to see you forgot to plug the drain.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day ... Toddlers and Bathrooms

This one is fairly obvious, but I'm writing it as a reminder for me. Don't leave bathroom doors open when you have a toddle in the house. Dang, it's cute, though.
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day ... Growing Old

Daughter: Why can’t I have coffee?

Me: It will stunt your growth.

Daughter: Why can you drink coffee?

Me: Because I am done growing.

Daughter: No you’re not. You’re growing old.

Me: Touché.  

This conversation on the way home from preschool this morning made me think. I will be 52 on my twins’ graduation day from high school; and 55 on my baby’s graduation day. So many people are having children later in life these days, and it’s kind of a depressing thing now that I think about it. I thought we were doing it the right way. I was able to have a career for 12 years before having children. I was smarter, because I was older. I had more life experience. I would have the advantage over younger parents. Ugh. Turns out I’m just more tired, less patient, and more worried.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day ... Target

I don’t often promote businesses in my blog, but with Christmas coming—and life—I really think this is useful advice.

I’ve always loved Target, but after I became a mom, I needed it! I’m not sure why it took me so long to get the Target debit card, but now I have it, and in just 8 months I have saved $93 with their 5% discount. The Target brand formula and diapers—which are significantly less than the name brands—are the reason I am there every couple of weeks. Their kids’ clothes are affordable—they probably won’t last more than one kid, but they do the job for one. They even have some super cute brands like Gwen Stefani’s Mini Harajuku line (which I only buy on sale). LOVE!

I’ve also noticed their toy prices are becoming more competitive. I often pull out my phone to compare prices to Internet pricing at Amazon and other competitive online retailers, and so often I will find the prices are the same. And, if you have the card, you get free shipping when you shop with them online.

If I can avoid their home section, which is where I get into real trouble, Target is a very good place for my family. I swear I do not work there, have family who works there, or own their stock. I just happened to look at my last receipt and saw how much I’ve saved this year, and wanted to share my realization that Target totally rocks! And … it’s NOT Wal-Mart!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day … Bye-Bye Baby Fat

I was looking at my naked baby last night and suddenly realized his rolls are starting to disappear. (I’m speaking of my 11-month-old, not my husband; though he is cross-fit crazed right now and looking lean and mean.)

All three of my kids were “healthy” babies—lots of rolls and creases—and I can’t get enough of it. I love me a chunky baby. So, now that my third is in practically a full sprint now at 11-months-old, his rolls are vanishing. But … but … I haven’t squeezed and kissed them enough. I haven’t blown enough raspberries—and, you know the more fat, the better the raspberries. How am I going to hold on to this feeling and never forget how squeezable he is right now?

I guess the only way to come close is to take lots of pictures and video. I already feel like I’ve missed his chunkiest days. So the advice is to put your baby in his diaper—or get him naked—and snap away. Do this once/month until you feel you have captured the most rolls you will ever see. And, don’t forget to gobble him up before you put his clothes back on. As if you needed that reminder!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day ... Sweet Moments

My realization today came from an old friend and co-worker, Cybil. I asked her if I could use her post today because it was one of those light-bulb moments for me, reminding me not to let time slip away without cherishing those sweet moments.

“Sam gave me a kiss on the cheek while dropping him off at school this morning. It was a wet one and I usua...

lly wipe those kind off, but I decided to let it dry to keep it with me all day instead. I love that boy…”

Every parent knows that wet mark left on our cheeks after a child’s kiss, and Cybil is right, the first thing we do is wipe it off. I just loved that she let it dry on her cheek and took that moment to even think about it. Brought a tear to my eye. Thank you, Cybil. This is a good reminder for all of us.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day ... Best Advice for New Parents

As an expectant parent, you will be overwhelmed with advice—solicited and certainly unsolicited. The best advice I ever received for raising a baby in its first year came from another mother of multiples after my twins were born. She told me that whatever my struggle with my babies are, know that it will likely be over in two weeks.

Of course, then it will be something else, but thinking about surviving a challenging situation two weeks at a time makes it tolerable. It gives you a light at the end of the tunnel instead of being swallowed up by it. I lived by this advice during the first year with the twins and am doing so now with my third. Just like you will look forward to the next big milestone in your baby’s life, you will also look forward to some of the unpleasant behaviors coming to an end.

This advice got me through some tough moments that first year. I remained positive and hopeful on days when I could have been dragged into a dark place. I hope it will do the same for any new mom out there. If you know someone who is expecting or is a new mom, please share this with her.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day ... Taking a Break

I went to DC for two nights without my family to spend time with some friends. I slept like a baby. Hold on, let me clarify. Not MY baby, who at 11 months is still waking me up EVERY night.

It would have been weird for my friend if she had been woken at 1 pm by me screaming and crying hysterically. I wonder if she would have known to come in and hug me and put my pacifier in. Or, maybe I would have needed some Tylenol or Baby Orajel for those darn top teeth trying to poke through. Then, at around 4:30, I would demand her back to give me a bottle and change my diaper. Let me take that back. I did NOT sleep like a baby.

I guess what I slept like was a person who hasn’t slept through the night in over a year and desperately needed to catch up. Today is my first full day back and I am feeling refreshed, my kids are sweeter and funnier, and the whining doesn’t get on my nerves as bad.

The realization is that taking a break for you is not just for you. This may be short-lived, but for now I feel like a happier and better mom.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Crap No One Tells You ... About Soccer and Youth Sports

The kids just had their last soccer match of their first season. As a first-time “soccer mom,” the Crap No One Tells You is that youth soccer is NOT about soccer. Silly me!

After every game, my husband would ask the twins what their favorite part of the day was. My daughter’s answer was the same every week until the last week, “The snacks and the tunnel.” The league we joined encourages the parents to form a tunnel after the game for all the kids to run through. Also, parents take turns providing a snack and drink (following all the food restrictions for those with allergies, of course) after the 45 minute practice/match that sometimes ends at lunchtime. Awesome. (Do you think sarcasm can be sensed in writing?)

My son also likes the snacks and tunnel, but he usually adds that he liked scoring a goal. The league also puts all the players, who did not score a goal during the match, on the pitch at the end and stands them in front of the goal with the ball to let them score with no defender. Awesome. I actually didn’t mind it the first week. It seemed to get the kids excited about the sport and gave them some confidence. Though, I think we underestimate the intelligence of 4-year-olds. After that first week, my kids knew what was happening. If they didn’t score during the match, they would say, “We didn’t score any REAL goals.” The post-regulation-play goals were not fun anymore. My husband and I really tried to put emphasis on other parts of the game, like stopping the other team’s attempted goal, passing to a teammate who scored, or just flat out hustling and giving their best. Despite our efforts to make a huge deal out of these things, they just pale in comparison to the ever-loving goal.

The kids appeared to enjoy their 20-minute practice more than their 20-minute game that followed, which makes sense as they were doing something with a ball at all times. They ran drills and worked on basic fundamentals. It was great. The games were a bit of an anomaly, though. Every time a goal was scored, the three kids on the field for each team would huddle on opposite sides of midfield and talk “strategy.” That’s funny. The kids got nothing from those three minutes, except bored. No offense to the coaches, but they are 4. They were only interested in being silly with their friends during that time. Then, they actually recognized a half-time. Seriously? It’s a 20-minute game. Let the kids run. They are 4. They don’t get tired.

Now, the last week, when my husband asked what their favorite part of the day was, they added one more thing … the trophies. Awesome. I know this is a huge debate and I am clearly on the side that thinks trophies should be earned. The reward for the kids should be that they actually got to participate in the organized sport. It’s expensive! Maybe if we put our kids in matching t-shirts, instead of TWO fancy uniforms that were way nicer than what I had as a high-school varsity athlete, and skipped the trophies, we could all save a ton of money on these once/week, 8-week programs. Thank goodness for hand-me down cleats and the fact that these fancy uniforms will likely fit them for the next five years.

Maybe I am overacting … I mean, they are 4. We did sign them up for soccer, because we thought they would enjoy it, and they did. Why can’t I say, “mission accomplished,” and be done with it? My understanding from other mom sources is that most leagues discontinue the trophies and the snacks when the kids get a little older. Maybe I shouldn’t be so cynical and realize that these are the motivators for future athletic endeavors.

As usual, I am probably expecting too much from this age. I just find these extra-curricular activities so stressful. I question my decisions when it comes to enrolling them in these activities. I want to expose them to everything so they will have the chance to find their talents, but I also want to limit their activities so they can just be kids. But, the days of kids getting together for pick-up games are long-gone. Even mom sources with older kids tell me that just doesn’t happen anymore. Is it where we live? Is this just life in the ‘burbs? Am I just too “old-school?”

Speaking of old-school, my husband grew up in a condo community in New Jersey with tons of kids his age and a huge open field with dirt, a little grass, and probably a lot of stickers. It was home to many pick-up games of baseball, football, soccer, tag, you name it. I grew up on a farm in Nebraska with 4 brothers. When we weren’t doing chores or homework, we were setting up track and field events or playing baseball, badminton, or volleyball in our spacious yard—much of our cardio chasing down the dog that got ahold of our equipment. Or, in the colder months, playing hoops in the barn, stepping over tools and squeezing between load-bearing studs and vehicles for the 3-pointer and running into the doors after a layup. Sure, it had its problems, but it was free and it was what we wanted to do.

I suppose one of these years, our kids will set their own direction for the activities they want to do and I will stop stressing about it. Maybe soccer practice will be replaced with guitar lessons (with the guitar my son put on his Christmas list). Or, maybe our weekly activity will be going to the library for a couple of hours just to read. The bottom line is … I have no idea! Just like most challenges with parenting, there are at least two sides to every issue and only one child like yours, whom is known best by you. The fact is, all of this is self-regulating, and there is a fine line between exposure and overexposure. My husband and I will continue to follow our guts and hopefully provide the best opportunities for our crew to find health and happiness in their lives. That’s all we REALLY want, right (I mean, besides a professional baseball player or golfer … wink)?

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day ... Sleep Deprivation

Some days you will be so sleep deprived that you will set the clock timer on your oven to 3 hours and 50 minutes instead of preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Just another day in the life of a mom who has two 4-year-olds with colds and bad dreams and a 10-month-old cutting teeth and going through a growth spurt. If that's the worst thing I do today, I'm still a successful mom.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day … Birds and Bees

You may be having the birds and bees talk with your child long before you think you will.

This morning, my 4-year-old daughter was reminding me of when the baby used to drink milk from my “boobies,” and asked how milk came from there. I told her, in as few details, how it happens during pregnancy. Then, she started talking about when she would be
pregnant and asked, “Is it far away?”

Thinking she was asking if it would be a long time before she got pregnant, I said, “Yes, it will be a long, long time. You will be an adult.”

“No,” she said. “How far away is the place where you get pregnant?”

After laughing out loud and having her look at me like I was crazy, I paused … for a while. My husband and I always feel it is best to be honest with every answer we give them; however, the amount of information and the way it is delivered is where I usually struggle. This instance was no different. I was able to wiggle out of it with very minimal detail until she was onto the next topic.

I never thought when my children were 4, I would have trouble answering their plethora of questions. I thought the most I’d have to explain is what thunder is—and, it’s not the angels bowling, like my mom told me. Be ready for anything … that’s all I have to say.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day ... Voting

Oh Crap! I shouldn't have told my kids for whom I was voting since they went to the polls with me--and, for the obvious fact that they are 4, and well, have no filter. Of course my son asked, "If (Candidate 1) wins, are we going to celebrate?"

After a few chuckles from the voters around us, my daughter saves the day by saying, "No, if (Candidate 2) wins, we are going to celebrate."

Phew! More chuckles ... followed by the conversation I SHOULD have had about our vote being private. Fortunately, we talked about both candidates and practiced saying their names over the last couple of days. They each formed an opinion about which one they liked after seeing them on television this morning.

I'd love to hear about your voting experience with your children!

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day ... Fictional Families

A friend complimented my blog the other day and said she had a similar idea a couple years ago after reading a blog on what seemed like the perfect family. We both had a chuckle as we know that doesn’t exist. But, today’s realization is for those of you feeling less than adequate because you see someone else handling parenthood flawlessly. If someone constantly blogs or talks about how great their kids are, and never shares anything negative or embarrassing, it’s not because they are afraid to end up on STFU. They simply want the world to think they are the Cleavers. Don’t let a fictional family doubt your ability as a parent. And, anytime you do, just visit for daily anecdotes about the imperfections of parenting.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day ... Dentist

Halloween is a great time to take the kids to the dentist, and not for the reason you are thinking. I told the twins if they did well at the dentist they could pick out 2 pieces of candy when they got home! Solid parenting, right? :-) I do have some good advice, too. If your kids are afraid of the tools at the dentist's office, start them on the spin brushes at home. Then, when they go to the dentist, they are not afraid of the vibrating noise. They know it's just like what they do at home. According to my dentist, the $7 spin brushes work just as well as the expensive ones.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day … Birthday Gifts

We’ve been attending a bunch of kids’ birthday parties this fall, and I’ve learned one thing every parent should know when buying a gift for the birthday kid … ask the kid’s dad what the kid wants. I don’t beat around the bush with the parents, if I know them on at least a casual basis. I figure it’s better to find out what the kid wants instead of bringing something he already has.

I tried asking the mom a couple of times, but moms are too nice, “Whatever you get him will be wonderful, I’m sure.”

Or, this one I love, “He doesn’t need anything. Just bring yourselves to the party. That is gift enough.”

Well, obviously I am not going to do that. I mean, you are providing 2 hours of supervised play and tons of sugar for my kid. The least I can do is bring a simple gift. So, last time, I asked the dad what the kid would want. He gave me a straight answer. No nicey-nice. Just a great idea. Done!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day ... Parent-Volunteers

Another mom and I volunteered for the Halloween party today at the 4-year-olds’ pre-school. We played a game of “Stick the Face on the Mummy,” in which I chose children to come up one at a time--based on whether they were sitting crisscross applesauce with a smile on their face. My daughter sat very still with a smile—albeit fake—the whole time. My son, the life of the party, was goofing around a little—in a fun, harmless way. There was one other child—not mine—who was pouty today. She didn’t seem to want to participate in anything we did and certainly didn’t want to be the last kid to stick the face on the mummy. In my house, she WOULD have been last, and I would hope that if (and when) my kid acts that way, he/she would be the last to go, as well. But, instead, I chose my own children last. I thought about it after. Are kids, whose parents volunteer in the classroom and on the field, treated fairly?

When I was growing up, there was sort of a stigma with being the coach’s kid—that you got more playing time and preferential treatment over the other kids. I was not a coach’s kid, and never felt slighted with playing time, but I do think it happened from time to time.

But, today, everywhere I go where there is a parent volunteer, I see the volunteer’s kid get shafted. Parents are trying so hard to NOT give their own kid preferential treatment, that I think they are actually being kind of unfair. I see our kids’ soccer coach putting all the other kids in first, while his own kid consistently is the last to go into the game—and probably gets less playing time.

Now, today’s example at the Halloween party was not one where I think my kids were treated unfair. Certainly, if I was unbiased with no children in the classroom, I would have chosen the pouty girl last. Maybe that’s just some of the Nebraska tough-love in me. But, everyone got an equal shot, and I’m pretty sure my kids were not fazed. It just made me think.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day ... Honesty

You always worry about whether your kids will tell the truth. Today, my daughter was drawing a face on a ghost and said, “I am making it a people ghost.” She looks at me to see what she is missing on her “people ghost,” and said, “Oh, the lines (as she points to my forehead) and the beauty marks. I’m making a mommy ghost.” Sigh. The realization is that kids are way more honest than you want them to be at times. Happy freakin' Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Yes, My Kids Watch Television!

As we start the week with the first two days of school closed due to our not-so friendly, Sandy, it brings me to a topic that many of us lie about—or, feel guilty about, in the least. We read and hear things about limiting your child’s screen time, and part of us hopes our children don’t really like television so it won’t be a battle in our house. We stress about it every day. “Let’s see, you watched a show before you went to school, so you only get one more half hour show, or you will exceed your one-hour limit for the day.” We feel guilty if we are using the television as a babysitter. The Crap No One Tells You is that most of you WILL use the television as a babysitter and will eventually find comfort with that decision.

I admit it. I have, and will continue to use the television as a babysitter. But, here is why I don’t feel bad about it. Number one, there are times--mostly when I am preparing dinner--that I need the kids in a place I can see them, but they won’t be requesting my attention. If that means one hour a day that I am NOT engaged with them, I think they’re going to be fine. Not to mention, as a stay at home parent, I NEED that time.

Number two, about 90 percent of the screen entertainment my children are exposed to is educational programming or learning games on the LeapPad Explorers. There are so many great options now that I can get OnDemand whenever I want, or record them for later use, so they don’t get bored watching the same shows over and over. Though watching the same show over and over and over seems to be something they actually prefer (makes me want to claw my eyes out at times, but I remind myself of the alternative … “AAAAHHHH … Mommmmm … Weber, stop it. Mom, Capri took my balloon. AAAAHHHH … Mom, Weber pushed the baby.”)

And, there is something about hearing them shout out the answers to the television character that makes me feel like it’s a good thing. I remember before the twins were talking much, I would watch some of the programs and wonder if Dora’s question to “What was your favorite part?” is ever answered by anyone. Then, one day they started answering. They started finding the super letters with Super Why. They started patting their laps to get Rocket to go faster in “Little Einsteins.”

So, why do we feel so guilty when our kids are watching television or playing games on the computer? And, why are we so ashamed to admit it? Instead of telling the other parent, “My kid hardly watches television.” Why don’t we fess up and say, “Yea, my kid loves television, and there are days he watches three hours of it?” You know you’ve had that conversation, and probably told a little white lie about how much television your child watches.

The experts say kids need to learn from experiencing and seeing things in the real world. They say kids are too lazy these days and not getting enough exercise as a result of watching too much television or playing video games. I completely agree!

Most mornings of our lives are spent away from our house—seeing things in the real world. Museums, botanical gardens, parks, zoos, farms, nature walks, library and story time, music classes, swimming pool, beach, organized sports (not to mention pre-school four mornings a week)—just a few ways we offer our kids discovery, pretend playing, exercise, and arts and crafts. When we are at home, there are many hours spent outside riding bikes, kicking the ball around the yard, swinging and playing on the play set, painting and playing in a new fort (whatever box was delivered from Overstock that week), and going for adventure walks around the lake (the “Duck Walk” as my kids call it).

Then there are days like today, when they have already watched 2 hours of television. But, we also played “Go Fish,” indoor balloon volleyball, read a couple books, practiced writing the letter “r” and the number “2,” completed a couple workbook activities, played a shark board game, and had our own music/dance class. This was all before quiet time.

I do believe kids can get exposed to a lot of positive things by watching television. And, their imagination play is huge as a result of it. Every once in a while they will impart some knowledge on me out of nowhere. I’ll ask them where they learned that. Several times the answer was from a show. They may also learn something that they will ask me more about, which leads to some discussions on topics we would have never broached.

We are very lucky in this generation that we CAN expose our kids to so many positive and educational experiences through the use of media. When I was a kid, it was “Sesame Street” and “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.” They were on at a set time of the day and if you missed it, that was it. We didn’t have a VCR until maybe I was in Junior High, and even then the access to videos was limited—and, most certainly not educational. I have to imagine my mom with five kids age 8 and under, would have loved the amenities I have in television today. She would have been responsible with it, as I believe I am, but it may have saved her sanity some days and who knows, maybe I would have been a more worldly as a result?  

Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician and lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics report “Media Use by Children Younger Than Two Years” say children under two should especially avoid television because it provides only entertainment—no educational value, and could result in short-term language delays. He suggests that promoting independent play is time better spent while you are making dinner. I respect and appreciate this. I really, truly do. I do strongly believe in independent play and its benefits. However, no disrespect to Dr. Brown, I imagine he was not at home all day with his baby, or on the days he was, was probably not the one being whined for every time he left the room. Sometimes, that extra voice coming from the television is all my baby needs to get his focus off the fact that I am not in the room with him. Then, once he strays his eyes from the television, he will play independently.

My twins were more interested in television at a younger age and I probably forced it on them more because they were twins and I was losing my mind. But, I attribute their learning sign language to the “Baby Einstein” video. Obviously, I was teaching them, too, but I strongly feel it reinforced what they were learning from me. While my third born at 10-months-old now, is not very interested in television, he does seem to like shows with a lot of music. I will often peek in and catch him dancing this hunched over sideways old man jive. It’s very cute. Maybe he’s not learning anything and just having fun with the music, but I guess I don’t mind. At this age, he has become extremely clingy, and mama needs a break.

I used to admire parents who never let their children watch any television. Now, I fear for their mental wellness. Please don’t take this article the wrong way. I’m not advocating television take over for teachers or parents. But, I’m also not going to deliver you with the arrogance of some experts on this topic, who make it seem like it’s so easy to avoid television. Just like pretty much EVERYTHING in life, moderation is the key. I feel comfortable with my decision to allow my children to watch television, because I am confident that my significant efforts to incorporate educational and active play in their routine every day are beyond adequate. But, experts and other parents will continue to make you feel like less of a parent because of it. I guess this is just the warning to you. You may be like me and come to the conclusion that you are doing the right thing and have the right balance in your child’s life, but still feel silently guilty whenever the topic arises.

As for now, as the rain continues to tap on my windows and the gusts of wind pick up, and while I still have electricity and my kids are in quiet time, I write and I daydream. I dream of the day when my baby will sit through his first movie with the twins, while my husband and I snuggle with them on the couch on a day just like this. There, I said it!