Monday, September 30, 2013

Looking Back on Crap ... Airplane Travel

This was the first blog I wrote. It's amazing looking back how much of my inspiration came from the crappy stuff!

Airplane Travel with a Baby

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Nearing my 1-Year-Anniversary of Blogging

So, one week from today is my 1-year-anniversary of blogging. You may have noticed I've been MIA lately. I have had to put my writing aside for a while to get my house ready to sell, sell my house, and look for a new house (no luck there). And, let's not forget pack my house with three children 5 and under climbing in boxes, crying over toys I have thrown in a yard sale pile, and finding any chance to sneak my box marker and write on walls, furniture, and self. Anyway, it's all exciting stuff, and I am looking forward to one day being settled enough to sneak in a blog here and there. But, for now, "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit." And, in honor of my anniversary, I am going to repost my most popular blogs from the last year each day for the next week. If you joined me in the last 3 months, then many of these will be new to you, so just pretend I'm doing awesome this week!

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Best Damn Birthday Present!

Soooo ... it's my birthday, and I have a friend who "gets it." She gave me the perfect gift today ... the Dammit Doll. I will keep it in the garage (or, on my husband's pillow when he's in the doghouse). The garage is where I go when I need to blow off some steam and find my head before serious disciplinary action is about to occur. 

If you haven't seen this doll, here is what it says on the chest:

"Whenever things don't go so well,
and you want to hit the wall and yell,
here's a little Dammit Doll,
that you can't do without.
Just grasp it firmly by the legs
and find a place to slam it.
And as you whack the stuffing out
yell, 'Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!'"


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Friday, August 9, 2013

Oh, I'm Napping

It starts with a mid-week outing with girlfriends to a local wine bar for a sparkling wine tasting. Okay, what is the next day going to look like for this stay-at-home mom so that she can take a nap in the afternoon? Pool … yes.

The sun and two full hours of pool play should be enough to drain their batteries. We even eat lunch at the pool so I don’t have to clean the kitchen. On the drive home, three sets of eyelids looking heavy in my rear-view mirror. So far, so good. I have set myself up beautifully.

We get home, and I top off the baby’s tummy with another 8 ounces of milk. He’s got his lovey, his fan, and his darkening curtains. He goes down without a peep. The 4-year-olds are weary and don’t fight me when I send them to quiet time. I tell them I will get them after an hour and to stay in their rooms until I come in. No doubt in my mind they will sleep today. Done.

I clear off the three loads of unfolded laundry from the top of my bed. It can wait … again … probably until we wear all of those clothes. My sheets on my unmade bed are cool. The air conditioning is on a comfortable 74 degrees. My pillow is fluffed and ready to welcome my chlorine and sunscreen-soaked head. The ceiling fan is on low. My cell phone is off. Hello, nap. How I have longed for you.

It only took about 20 minutes and some meditation and deep breaths to get rid of the anxiety of what I SHOULD be doing before I settled into sleep deep enough to drag some bodily fluids down the side of my face. Why do I drool when I nap? Does anyone else do this? Only during a nap … not at night. Weird. Anyway, I’m pretty sure I even started to dream, when …

“Mama … Mama … Mama,” like the beeping of the most annoying alarm clock.

“Maybe if I ignore him he will go back to sleep. It’s only been 30 minutes, for God’s sake!” I think.

“Mama … Mama … Mama.” Then, a couple minutes later, “Dada … Dada … Dada.” Then out of utter desperation, “Puh Puh … Puh Puh … Puh Puh (Capri).” Then a couple minutes later, “Wuh buh … Wuh buh … Wuh buh (Weber).”

There’s still a chance, right?

“Guh guh (Gracie, the dog)!”

Damn, you, Murphy’s Law!!!

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Friday, August 2, 2013

Boy's Brain in a Midnight Potty Break

Because I know you all enjoy the humor that is my boy twin ... Last night, he got up to pee and his penis was stuck to his testicles. I said something about it and his face lit up with the expression, "Sweet! I don't have to push my penis down," and went hands-free. I gasp and tell him he better hold on or it's going to break free and shoot him in his own face. He didn't seem to care, just had the biggest grin I've ever seen in the middle of the night. Boys.

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We Feed With Love

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I'm putting myself out there with this picture of me feeding my third-born shortly after his birth.

I experienced difficulty breastfeeding my twins, with frustration of not producing enough for both, difficulty and pain getting one of them to latch properly, and lack of time and help with completing other tasks. I was breastfeeding one, bottle feeding the other, and pumping between feedings in an attempt to increase my supply. But after four weeks, my mother and mother-in-law had to leave and I gave up ... buried in frustration and household chores. I made it five weeks with them until I gave into formula and a better life for my family. I knew it was the right decision for us, but couldn't help feel guilty when I would see a mother of 9-month-old twins breastfeeding with the ease of chewing gum. My twins are healthy kids, rarely sick, and intelligent. I had many opportunities to snuggle them and find intimacy and closeness. I don't regret what I had to do--nor should anyone else who chooses formula.

With my third, it was much easier. I produced enough--even for the little piggy that he was. I enjoyed the intimacy with him. And, I had peace of mind that I was doing the best thing for him that I possibly could. I was also very fortunate to never feel judged for breastfeeding in public. It's quite possible I just never paid attention to it. Or, maybe it's possible people are beginning to accept this act as exactly what it is ... nourishing a child ... period.

There are many reasons why a mother would choose formula over breastfeeding, or have no choice in the matter at all. No matter what mothers choose for themselves and their babies, I think all mothers would agree that everyone should support a breastfeeding mother just as breastfeeding mothers should support a formula-feeding mother. Happy World Feeding Week ... breast milk or formula, we feed with love.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Duchess Parades More Than Her Tiny Prince

I’ll admit that I was anxiously awaiting the news of the birth of England’s tiniest Prince. I wasn’t obsessed, but definitely was one of those who checked the news feeds every few hours. Then, after the birth, I did become a little obsessed with seeing the first pictures.

Though, while the couple and the baby were as beautiful as I would expect, a couple of things disappointed me. First, was the baby’s weight. I know you are thinking, “8 pounds, 6 ounces … that’s a healthy weight.” Yes, but he is a prince. For some reason I wanted to hear something a little more dramatic. Maybe I expected an announcement something like:

“The Prince has arrived at a whopping 14 pounds, 15 ounces, and has already taken his first steps and uttered his first word … ‘Mum.’”

Yea, okay. I guess it’s slightly refreshing that he is as normal as any other newborn … I guess.

What’s also refreshing is seeing how Prince William and Kate are going to be as normal as any other parent. I did see the picture of the baby in the car seat, and yes, it’s a little shocking that they didn’t have the baby secured properly. But, I’m sure after the billions of comments by mothers all over the world, the message has made its way back to them. I sure remember the frustration with those car seats the first time we left the hospital … and we didn’t have thousands of onlookers as we struggled. Apparently the normalcy is also that there is never anyone to help … just the 80-year-old volunteer who can barely push the wheelchair to the curb. Or, in their case, some security detail, who is more concerned with keeping them from being attacked or mauled by paparazzi.

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
But, there is one thing that especially stood out to me, and I’m sorry to say it is not normal … but it should be. There I was, watching the video of the Royal family and their new prince outside the hospital. So much to gawk at, including the fact that this new mom was standing there in heals with her hair beautifully coiffed. But, then, something really jumped out at me. Kate handed the baby to her husband, and there she stood, holding her post-baby belly like she was proud of it. I know I am among many women who has felt self-conscious about her belly—even one day after childbirth. But, beautiful Kate showed women all over the world that the belly we find repulsive on ourselves was something we should be parading. Who knows, maybe it was purely out of habit that she was cradling her tummy. But, I’d like to think that she consciously sent a message to women everywhere that they, too, should be insanely proud of their post-baby bellies. Thank you, Duchess, and congratulations.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fork vs. Toddler

In this case, the fork met its demise. A little advice if you are in the market for utensils for teething toddlers, do NOT buy ones with rubber handles. Or, maybe the fork tasted better than my cooking. Hmmm.

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Moms=1, Insecurities=0

I don't usually repost articles on this blog website, but this one was too special to share with only my Facebook followers. These are beautiful photographs of real moms ... insecurities and all. I'm so proud of these women for embracing what we all wish we could. Here is one example. Find the rest here.

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Cinderella has Boobies

So, my 4-year-old daughter whispers in my ear last night, "I saw Cinderella's boobies."

Of course my initial thought is that Disney has gone R-rated on me. But, after probing a little more, I find out that she just meant that she saw the bumps in her clothes. 

She has been seeing Cinderella and other princesses (with boobies) for quite a while now. I have no idea why she is just now noticing their racks. She plays with Barbie dolls, too, but has never once mentioned their boobies. She also seemed a little embarrassed by it at the same time. I imagine she'll feel the same way about her own chest in about 8-10 years. 

It will probably be more like, "What's up with the bruises on my chest and why is one of them bigger than the other? If these are my boobs, I hope this is some kind of sick joke God is playing on me and when I wake up in the morning I'm going to look like C-cup Annie Krupp from my volleyball team. If not, I am going into hiding until they even out."

Ah, boobs ... after having a baby, that might be the #2 most talked about topic ... after poop, of course.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Good Day for Equality

I hope when my children learn about the Supreme Court ruling from today in their history lessons, they think, "Why in the world was that ever needed? It makes no sense that people would be discriminated against because of who they want to marry." 

Kind of like how we think of the 21st Amendment. It makes no sense to me that alcohol would have ever been banned. Were there no parents of children ages 18 and under at the time? If that happened today, I would totally LIKE "Speakeasy for Parents" on Facebook.

Photo courtesy of Sonoma County Lawyer Blog.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Lesson in Sharing

My twins learned the cutest lesson in sharing from their 6-year-old friend. This 6-year-old had a dollar bill, and was so kind to want to share it with my 4-year-old twins. So, since there are two of them, what did she do? Yep, tore it in half. I'm pretty sure those halves don't count as a half dollar in the monetary sense, but what a moment it was when all the adults standing around gasped, then smiled in adoration of that little girl.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Doolittle Raid History Lesson

Are your kids in a summer coma yet? If so, here is a perfect chance to give a history lesson to your children. The following was sent to me in an email. I do not know who wrote it, so if this ever makes it to the author, please find me at so that I can give you proper credit. The reunion the author speaks of was just held in April of this year, and turns out it was the last reunion these brave men will have.

It's the cup of brandy that no one wants to drink.

On Tuesday, in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, the surviving Doolittle Raiders gathered publicly for the last time.

They once were among the most universally admired and revered men in the United States. There were 80 of the Raiders in April 1942, when they carried out one of the most courageous and heart-stirring military operations in this nation's history. The mere mention of their unit's name, in those years, would bring tears to the eyes of grateful Americans.
Now only four survive.

After Japan 's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, with the United States reeling and wounded, something dramatic was needed to turn the war effort around.

Even though there were no friendly airfields close enough to Japan for the United States to launch a retaliation, a daring plan was devised. Sixteen B-25s were modified so that they could take off from the deck of an aircraft carrier. This had never before been tried--sending such big, heavy bombers from a carrier.
The 16 five-man crews, under the command of Lt. Col. James Doolittle, who himself flew the lead plane off the USS Hornet, knew that they would not be able to return to the carrier. They would have to hit Japan and then hope to make it to China for a safe landing.

But on the day of the raid, the Japanese military caught wind of the plan. The Raiders were told that they would have to take off from much farther out in the Pacific Ocean than they had counted on. They were told that because of this they would not have enough fuel to make it to safety.

And those men went anyway.

They bombed Tokyo, and then flew as far as they could. Four planes crash-landed; 11 more crews bailed out, and three of the Raiders died. Eight more were captured ; three were executed. Another died of starvation in a Japanese prison camp. One crew made it to Russia .

The Doolittle Raid sent a message from the United States to its enemies, and to the rest of the world: We will fight. And, no matter what it takes, we will win.

Of the 80 Raiders, 62 survived the war. They were celebrated as national heroes, models of bravery. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced a motion picture based on the raid ; "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo," starring Spencer Tracy and Van Johnson, was a patriotic and emotional box-office hit, and the phrase became part of the national lexicon. In the movie-theater previews for the film, MGM proclaimed that it was presenting the story "with supreme pride."

Beginning in 1946, the surviving Raiders have held a reunion each April, to commemorate the mission. The reunion is in a different city each year. In 1959, the city of Tucson , Arizona , as a gesture of respect and gratitude, presented the Doolittle Raiders with a set of 80 silver goblets. Each goblet was engraved with the name of a Raider.

Every year, a wooden display case bearing all 80 goblets is transported to the reunion city. Each time a Raider passes away, his goblet is turned upside down in the case at the next reunion, as his old friends bear solemn witness.
Also in the wooden case is a bottle of 1896 Hennessy Very Special cognac. The year is not happenstance: 1896 was when Jimmy Doolittle was born.

There has always been a plan: When there are only two surviving Raiders, they would open the bottle, at last drink from it, and toast their comrades who preceded them in death.
As 2013 began, there were five living Raiders; then, in February, Tom Griffin passed away at age 96.

What a man he was. After bailing out of his plane over a mountainous Chinese forest after the Tokyo raid, he became ill with malaria, and almost died. When he recovered, he was sent to Europe to fly more combat missions. He was shot down, captured, and spent 22 months in a German prisoner of war camp.
The selflessness of these men, the sheer guts ... there was a passage in the Cincinnati Enquirer obituary for Mr. Griffin that, on the surface, had nothing to do with the war, but that emblematizes the depth of his sense of duty and devotion:

   "When his wife became ill and needed to go into a nursing home, he visited her every day. He walked from his house to the nursing home, fed his wife and at the end of the day brought home her clothes. At night, he washed and ironed her clothes. Then he walked them up to her room the next morning. He did that for three years until her death in 2005."
So now, out of the original 80, only four Raiders remain: Dick Cole (Doolittle's co-pilot on the Tokyo raid), Robert Hite, Edward Saylor and David Thatcher. All are in their 90s. They have decided that there are too few of them for the public reunions to continue.
The events in Fort Walton Beach this week will mark the end. It has come full circle ; Florida 's nearby Eglin Field was where the Raiders trained in secrecy for the Tokyo mission. The town is planning to do all it can to honor the men: a six-day celebration of their valor, including luncheons, a dinner and a parade.
Do the men ever wonder if those of us for whom they helped save the country have tended to it in a way that is worthy of their sacrifice? They don't talk about that, at least not around other people. But if you find yourself near Fort Walton Beach this week, and if you should encounter any of the Raiders, you might want to offer them a word of thanks. I can tell you from firsthand observation that they appreciate hearing that they are remembered.
The men have decided that after this final public reunion they will wait until a later date -- sometime this year -- to get together once more, informally and in absolute privacy. That is when they will open the bottle of brandy. The years are flowing by too swiftly now; they are not going to wait until there are only two of them.
They will fill the four remaining upturned goblets. And raise them in a toast to those who are gone.

For a recap of the reunion, click here.

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Flipping Out at Five

Is there a stage at almost 5-years-old that I need to be warned about?

Lately, both of my 4-year-olds, who will turn 5 in August, have been acting ridiculously hormonal. They will be happy and having a great time, then with a flip of the switch, they are in full on Ross Rage mode (for you “Friends” lovers out there). It’s reminiscent of the rage I saw in my son at 3. But, at least at 3, he had a reason for his tantrums. Like the time he didn’t want to leave the park, so I acted like I was leaving him, then he finally came … with poop in his pants (wearing underwear). He was pretty mad, but not into rage mode until I put him in his car seat with the poop in his pants and drove home.

But now, it will take such a small thing to set them off. At dinner tonight (yes, we have breakfast for dinner when I’ve waited too long to plan anything, or haven’t been to the grocery store), the following came out of my son’s mouth within about 10 minutes.

(Big sigh) followed by me asking him if he was finally full after 10 pancakes? “No, I’m just disausted.”
I laugh, because it was cute. He gives me a dirty look—eyebrows down so far I almost can’t see his eyes and lips pursed so they are almost white—then said, “You make me twice times madder.”

A minute later, he pours more syrup with the spout that looks like a face, and said while laughing, “Watch the syrup throw up.” Okay … happy again.

Two minutes later, he hears his sister and dad having fun in the family room and said, “You’re annoring (annoying) me.”

My daughter, who has been pretty much an angel since birth, has started grunting and stiffening her arms with her fists to the ground when she doesn’t get her way or gets upset about something. Sometimes, she will even hit me … never full strength … almost in a joking way, but not really. I’m torn with whether to laugh at her or go apeshit on her.

And the lying … oh, the lying. They are little lies at this point, like when they tell me they brushed their teeth, but I know damn well they didn’t. I call them out for lying, which usually leads to my daughter hitting me again and saying, “How do you ALWAYS know?” I do wonder how long she will believe that Mommies and Daddies have a special magic computer chip in us that scans the brain of their children and tells us when they are lying.

Anyway, I guess this is sort of a cry for help or at least a way to see if anyone else went through this when their kids were this age. I’d love to hear your stories and your advice.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Book is Worth a Thousand Snuggles

It occurred to me recently that I may not be the only one who questioned my ability as a parent because my children refused to sit through a bedtime story the first two years of their lives.

I blogged yesterday about bed time routines and shared the fact that part of my routine with my baby is singing to him. Many people choose to read a book instead of, or in addition to, singing. But, I found with this baby and with my other two that their attention span before bed was pretty low, regardless of their level of sleepiness, and a book just made them restless. Reading before bed turned into a battle. I found myself practically tying them down just so they would listen to a damn story. That’s when I realized they might start to hate books if I was forcing this. It wasn’t until about 2-years-old that I started reading a story to my twins before bed.

The fact is, we all want our children to love books, but we are brainwashed into thinking that they HAVE to have a book before bed or we are bad parents. There was a time I thought my kids were going to be less intelligent because I wasn’t reading to them before bed. Sheesh! Now that the twins are older, story time before bed is so special. And one of my 4-year-olds is reading short stories, so I don’t think their lack of bedtime stories when they were one did any harm.

All of my kids love books, and our book time is much more productive and enjoyable during the day when they are alert, especially the first two years of life. The baby will get stuck on one book each day, and we may end up reading it 12 times in a row. He will do sign language for “more,” and now even mutters, “Mo?” especially with books that force me to make silly and sometimes embarrassing noises. Anyone read Sandra Boynton’s “Doggies” 12 times in a row? If you know this book, you can sympathize.

My point is, please do not stress if you can’t implement stories into your bedtime routine. That will not define their intelligence or their love of books. As long as they are exposed to books during the day, they will love them. But, please expose them to books and read to your children. I read a terrifying article recently that I almost didn’t believe. There are actually children entering Kindergarten classrooms without the recognition of what a book is or how to turn its pages. This is sad to me on so many levels.

So, sit down with a book and your child—even if there are no words and you have to bark like 10 different dogs and meow like a cat.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite

I will never claim to be an expert in child rearing. However, every once in a while I like to share advice on things that have worked for me, or—more often than not—things that have NOT worked for me. No better way to learn sometimes than from mistakes.

In this case, it is something that has worked for me. This topic is on sleep habits; specifically, getting a baby/toddler to go to sleep. Today, I broke one of my own rules, mainly because I saw a selfish opportunity to hold onto a baby moment while I still can. And, after 18 months, I feel comfortable that this one day will not ruin all my work leading up to this moment.

While none of my three kids really slept through the night until they were one (meaning, 10-12 hours straight), I have always had tremendous luck in getting them to go to sleep. I attribute that to two practices. One, I do my best to maintain a consistent schedule every single day, which includes a nap time and bed time that will get my child into his bed before he is too tired (this is a real thing!). And, two, the routine leading up to sleep time is the same every day.
Nap time is always the same and bed time is always the same every day. Over time, you learn how much sleep your baby requires in a 24-hour period. You also learn at what time they really get sleepy. Once you learn this, make sleep time about 30 minutes before that. Putting your baby in his crib before he is asleep or before he gets too tired is a great habit to start at an early age.

This leads me to my rule breaking today. We had an active morning with music class, followed by Kid Zone play at the gym while I exercised. Baby was tired, so by the time I got to singing and rocking him, his eyelashes all of a sudden seemed to weigh 10 pounds. I just sat there and kept humming until he was asleep. (Sigh. My heart melts.) All parents love this moment, but IMHO, it’s a tough habit to break, making it that much harder for your child to ever fall asleep on his own or in the care of someone else. And, the earlier you start teaching your child to fall asleep on his own, the easier it is on everyone.

After baby is used to this, naptime and bedtime will result in very little fussing or crying—this assuming your baby is healthy and that infants with colic have grown out of that. You will hear this from many different people, and I believe in it 100 percent … “Kids not only need a routine, they want a routine.” This applies to rules, too. This reminds me, I’ll have to share our rules in a future blog.

Of course there are days when the baby might be forced to sleep in a stroller or in the car, or we may get home late from being at a friend or relatives house. He has two older siblings, making it impossible to be home for nap time every single day. But, because he is well-rested from consistencies on most other days, I find it is easier to get him to sleep if he isn’t in his own bed. Then, if it is a short nap, it’s just one day, so it doesn’t disrupt his life too much.

Also, having a few things you do leading up to naptime will make it easier if you are in a situation where your little one can’t sleep in his own bed. Even if you are able to do one or two of those things, it can send the message that it’s time to go to bed. It doesn’t have to be much. At naptime, I give him milk, change his diaper, and sing him a song while I rock him for a couple minutes. Then, I lay him down with his pacifier and lovie bear. At night, he gets a bath, milk, teeth brushing, massage with lotion, clean jammies, a song, a pacifier, and his lovie bear. If I can carry out a few of these before bed in a strange place, he recognizes it’s part of bed time.

Another trick that has worked is teaching sign language for “sleep.” You can have the strictest schedule, but some days, your little one might feel tired prior to his scheduled nap time. If I know my little guy is well-fed, well-hydrated, and getting the attention he wants, but still acts fussy, I will ask him if he wants to go night-night and do the sign for sleep. If that’s it, he will do the sign back and run to the steps waiting for me to take him up. He won’t always sleep, but sometimes I think he just needs a little alone time. I know how he feels! His siblings are a lot to take at times. (BTW, I started teaching sign language to my children right away, but their use of signs to communicate with me didn’t start until about 9 months to a year. My point is, don’t worry if you’ve been signing with your baby for 6 months and nothing is happening. One day it will just click and be so rewarding for both of you.)

One more bit of advice in getting your child to sleep, especially when they know what bugs are. Do NOT use the phrase, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bit.” I repeat, do NOT use that phrase, unless you want to change sheets, vacuum the floor around his bed, and sleep with him that night. See, now you can learn from one of my mistakes! Sweet dreams!

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

4-Year-Old Cake Decorator

Here's an easy and super special cake idea I used for my husband's birthday cake over the weekend. Everyone knows you can have the bakery scan a photograph to put on a cake, but did you ever think of using artwork drawn by your child? 

I attempted to get the 4-year-old twins to work on this together, which ended in crying and fighting. After I wiped my tears away, it was clear there would be no forcing the boy to do more than scribbling, so I let the girl do it on her own. Boy didn't care. Shocker! So, girl came up with a picture of her dad and the twins playing baseball (in case you couldn't tell)--complete with the backward "R" in "Birthday." It was perfect!

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I Could Learn from Showbiz

As I was watching a sitcom the other night, I was making snarky comments about how out-of-touch with real life they were. With four kids, including twin babies, sitting at the table eating dinner in peace, while the adults carry on in the adjacent room. Or, how the three dads watch a basketball game at a bar with their three babies in kangaroo pouches and not … a … peep.


I laughed at it all—not because it was funny—because it was a farce. Or, was it?

As far as I know, these are real live children they are using in these shows, not robots, right? And, even with the magic of editing, there still has to be a certain amount of time when these children all behave at the same time, right? So, how are they doing it? How many takes until they have a keeper? I’m convinced they must know something I do not.

I’ve had … let’s see, the twins are about 1,730 days old, and at 3 meals/day, that’s 5,190 … 5,190 takes at having a meal in peace with children at the table. Apparently, I wouldn’t make a good director.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Barbie Clears the Pool

Not just anyone can clear an entire pool by choking on water shortly after eating a sizable fruit salad. Dang Barbie!

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Today Should be a Work Holiday

I am taking just a brief few minutes to tell you why the day after Mother’s Day should be a work holiday for fathers. My hubby was so sweet to me this weekend. He surprised me with a wonderful date for just the two of us Friday night, followed by a pedicure Saturday morning, a massage Saturday afternoon, a get together with my recently-separated friend and her kids Saturday night (complete with good wine, antipasto, and chocolate), a couple hours on a rooftop pool with friends (no kids) on Sunday, and a homemade dinner for our family and our in-laws that night. Starbucks was delivered to me every morning, AND, he changed every poopy diaper! Kudos to my thoughtful husband.

Now, before you think I am bragging about how great my husband is (I am, a little), just know this completely shames the hamburger helper dinner he made me for my very first Mother’s Day … with twins! Sorry, babe, I had to throw you under the bus for the good of blogger world. There’s nothing worse than reading about a family that can do no wrong.

Back to my point. I know most of you are saying, “Okay, where is she going with this? She isn’t actually going to imply that dads need a break after taking care of their wives and kids for a day or two, is she?” No. But, here is what happens. Today, Moms all over the country are putting aside the laundry, the dishes, the cleaning, the attention to the kids, the bill paying, the card sending, the dinner making, and the apple pie baking to pick up the slack for the duties that are normally done by their husbands on the weekends.

Because I didn’t lift a finger all weekend, my own projects piled up on me. But, instead of catching up, I’m mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, and edging while the kids are napping, because I know my husband won’t be able to get to it during the week, and waiting until the weekend might invite jungle animals to find habitat in our backyard.

I don’t mean to sound insensitive to single parents who are stuck doing ALL the tasks, ALL the time. Nor, do I mean to sound insensitive to moms who mow the lawn and men who do the laundry. I do feel fortunate to have a partner who does help with the chores, as well as who loves me, and spends quality time with our children. So, please do not attack me too harshly for sounding like a spoiled little brat right now.

It’s like those nights when you say screw the dishes after dinner and go straight to bed. Yes, it’s great to get the extra sleep, but you are working twice as hard trying to get out the door the next morning.

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

I Want to Want to be Alone

The first three years I was a mom, I wanted to spend Mother’s Day with my kids and husband. I wanted to sleep in until about 8 a.m. I wanted my family to take me to breakfast. I wanted to spend a leisurely day, going to the botanical garden, then maybe the mall. My husband might buy me some new perfume that would last me until it would go bad, since I so rarely wear it. I would have a guilt-free nap in the afternoon. He would change all the diapers, clean all the messes, and break up all the fights. We’d have a nice dinner, followed by wrestling, then snuggling (with my kids, that is—the prize fight would come later … or, not, because it’s my day and I can do whatever the hell I want and not feel guilty about it).

Now, four plus years and three kids into motherhood, all I want is to be left alone. Do you know how empty golf courses are on Mother’s Day? The only thing I want is to NOT mother. I still want to BE a mother. I just don’t want to mother them on this day. But, here’s the thing … there is some magnetic force that pulls me to my family on that day. I know I will end up spending the whole day with them, because I can’t fight it. And, I know the next day I will regret the hell out of that decision. I will tell myself, “This was your one chance, dummy! And, you did something you could do any other Sunday of the year. One of these years you will learn.”

Do you notice how many dads get their golfing in on Father’s Day? Most of them are away from their children all week, but you don’t see them feeling guilty for being as far away from their kids as possible on their special day. Why do moms (especially stay-at-home-moms) feel the need—or desire—to spend their special day with the people they spend every waking moment with on the 364 other days of the year?

I just want to want to be alone this Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day to every mom who wants to mother her children 364 days a year. Moms—whether stay-at-home or career—are the hardest working group of human beings in this world. Next year, let’s lobby for Mother’s Week!

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Friday, May 10, 2013

And the Child Becomes the Parent

My husband has jet black hair. Let me start over. My husband HAD jet black hair. Now, he has jet black hair with a sprinkling of silver. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE it! I’ve always thought a man with salt and pepper hair was very sexy, though he doesn’t believe it. So, I’m not sure why, but whenever one of those silver hairs is poking out away from the rest, I just want to grab it and yank it out.
Hubby and 4-year-old son last weekend at Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

But, what my husband also has is a ton of hair and the thickest roots. I will most certainly lose my hair before he will. So, when I yank said hair, there is a huge bulbous root connected and it actually makes a loud popping sound when it comes out.

Tonight, one of those hairs was screaming at me, and I tried to use the “It’s Mother’s Day, won’t you let me just this one time?”

About that time, my 4-year-old daughter walks in. Hubby asks her, in the most negatively descriptive way, if he should let me pull out his rogue hair. She giggles, rolls her eyes, and turns away in an uncomfortable shyness that she gets when she is being put on the spot. Then, she turns back, points at both of us and says, “You two need to work that out on your own.”

And the child becomes the parent.

Where is this insight when she is arguing with her brother?

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Mom Knows Best

I am one of those people who pretty much trust whatever my pediatricians tell me. If they tell me my kid needs vaccinations, I do it. My theory is that I can read myself into crazy. There are opposing opinions on just about every topic you can imagine as it relates to raising children. I always ask them, “If this was your child, what would you do.” That’s good enough for me.

I’ve learned, though, what advice to take seriously and what advice can be tinkered with. One of those things is being bottle-weaned by one year. Well, my baby is almost 17-months-old, and while he occasionally uses a sippy cup, his main means of transporting milk to his mouth is a bottle. Not only does he still drink from a bottle, but most of the time I even take the chill off the milk. Not only that, but I lay him back in my arms and feed him as if he is 4-months-old. I love it. He loves it. My other kids love it (as seen in the picture).

I’m not worried about his physical or mental development as a result of this. I know eventually he’ll be switched over to a cup, just like he will eventually give up his pacifier. I won’t let it go forever—certainly not past 2-years-old. There are so many things about him that are still so “baby.” He babbles (only a handful of words), he wakes up in the middle of the night, he barely has any teeth, he has rolls of fat on top of rolls of fat, and he barely has any hair. So, as long as we are all enjoying this bottle thing, we are going to keep it going.

It’s like that with a lot of things, and I’m more open the second time around. With the twins I was very much “by-the-book.” This time, I put my emphasis on the really important things and put new importance on certain things that are not “by-the-book.” This is my baby, and right now it is important for me to treat him that way.

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Blisters for Sisters

By the end of the day Sunday, I will have walked 235 miles for breast cancer and raised about $12,000. This weekend marks my 6th time participating in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Washington, DC. This is a 2-day, 39.3 mile walk where participants are required to raise a minimum of $1,800. The first time I did the walk, I signed up to fill a philanthropic void I had since moving to DC. I had a friend who did the walk in Charlotte, NC, the year before, and she made it seem like a great experience.
My #1 Fans

Since that first walk, this effort has become so much more to me. I formed some of my closest friendships with women I met on that first walk. I’ve walked next to survivors, women in the middle of their battle, and husbands who have lost their wives. I’ve heard their stories and that was enough to keep me going. I’ve also had kids since then, and the thought of my daughter ever facing breast cancer, or the thought of me facing it while my children are still young and need me is all I need to keep going.

My first five years, I was glad to say that no one in my family or circle of friends ever battled breast cancer, and I knocked on wood every time I thought or said that. Part of me thought if I kept doing this then my inner circle will be exempt from ever getting breast cancer at all … until now. Just 24 hours after I signed up for this year’s walk, I found out a cousin in her early 40s with two children began her battle. Around the same time, a close friend’s mother, whom I absolutely adore, began her battle. Cancer does not discriminate.

Because we see so many survivors, we forget that people are still dying from this disease. Many times it is not detected early enough. I know most of my readers are moms with young children. It is hard to make time to get a mammogram. Moms with young kids don’t go to the doctor. I get it. But, if you are 35—or younger if you have a family history—getting your baseline should be a priority. I did mine practically the day after I turned 35. I had 1-year-old twins at the time, and my only help was my working husband. You make time when it is something this important.

Raising money for the cause is important, and $12,000 can do quite a bit on a local level. But, what I hope to contribute—more than the donations—is awareness. If 2,000 women and men sporting pink t-shirts, boas, hats, and other garb, march around a city to remind a handful of women to get their mammogram, then count me in. And, if writing a blog about breast cancer awareness for a few hundred followers leads just one of you to get the mammogram you have been putting off, then it was definitely worth the last 6 years.

I don’t know most of you, but I’m guessing some of you know someone right now who is battling breast cancer. If you do, please provide that person’s name in the comments on this page or leave me a message on my Facebook page and I will add him/her to my prayer list, which I will wear pinned to the back of my shirt throughout the two days. I believe in mass prayer and mass positive thoughts, and I will be walking with 2,000 people and past supporters all over the DC area. It’s worth a shot, anyway.

Pink Power!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day ... May Day!

Did you do May baskets today? I happened to call my parents this morning, and my dad asked me if we got snow? Well, I live in Virginia and he lives in Nebraska, so climatically (not sure if that’s a word), things are a little different. He told me of when he was a kid and on May 1st, he and his friends would make May baskets and give them to the girls. Then, they would run away to avoid getting kissed. The point of this story (which, with my dad, sometimes there isn’t one), was that he remembered there being snow on the ground on May Day. When I called, I was at my local mechanic getting my state inspection done, which was due in April. I didn’t even realize it was May until about 10 o’clock this morning. Needless to say, no May baskets left this house this morning! If people still do May baskets, what do you do? I love to hear about traditions. Please share!

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Encourage Other Moms

I saw a mom at pick-up time at preschool today, letting her 18-month-old throw a tantrum outside the front door of the school. She stood ... silent ... but, undoubtedly wanting to cry herself ... while the little guy screamed and hit his fists on the ground. I walked up to her and told her she is a good mom and let them be. I've been there, and I know that it would have been nice to hear those words at that time, because you certainly question yourself. So, next time you see a mom working through a "teaching moment," be sure to tell her she's doing a great job. I know it would make me feel better, and I hope--even if for one second--it made that mom feel better.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

I Have a 16-Month-Old

I have a 16-month-old. This is my excuse for being MIA in Blog World. For those of you who have children older than this, you know what I’m talking about. But, if you forgot—like I did with my 4-year-olds—let me just remind you.

Those of you pregnant, with newborns, or with infants, I’m here to warn you that there are many barriers to your baby’s good behavior and your sanity between 12-18 months. From what I hear from other parents, it can even reach to age 2. Here are some barriers I have been battling, or at least trying to cope with, in the past 6 weeks. If I’ve missed some, it’s because I am sleep deprived, so feel free to offer up some more.

Teething. Everyone dreads when their baby starts getting there first few teeth. And, that can be bad, but I’ve found it worse when they start to get beyond the front four. My baby would probably be considered an average to late teether. At 16 months, he has three front bottom teeth and two bottom molars. On top, he has his four front teeth. It seems now that the rest of the teeth are trying to catch up. His two top molars are coming in now and all the teeth in-between are not far behind. He is up for 1-3 hours at a time during the night, and has been for the last month.

I’ve tried the natural teething tabs, acetaminophen and ibuprofen, gum numbing gel, all sorts of teethers, and have now resorted to the amber teething necklace. So far, my best bet for getting back to sleep the fastest is to give him acetaminophen at his first cry, as well as put on the gum numbing gel. This usually puts him back to sleep after about 30-45 minutes and keeps him down the rest of the night. Some people worry about giving acetaminophen and using the gum gels, but my theory is moderation. I use these products once/day, and this will hopefully end soon.

Clingy. If he is awake, he is hanging on my leg and crying, “Mama … mama … mama … mama … mama …” You get the idea. If he is on my lap or we are playing or reading, he is the happiest kid in the world. “Teeth? What teeth? I have my Mommy.” I love these moments of snuggling and being close, but let’s face it, there are things I need to do to keep this house running. I swear he knows when I’m even thinking about getting up and leaving the room. Immediate tears and screaming as if someone started pulling off his fingernails. He even breaks down when I drop him off with his Nana, whom he adores and sees at least a couple times a week.

Eating. He is spitting most of his food out, especially after one of the 4-year-olds did it with his food once. “That’s a fun little trick,” he thought. And, proceeded to do it over and over, long after there was no food left in his mouth. After several “no’s” from his father and I, I started tapping his mouth. He would swing his hand back at me, then do it again. After this repeated itself a few times, he started tapping his own mouth. That’s when it was clear he understood, but at this age defiance trumps compliance. I’ve gone back to pureed food, and that is working for now.

Language. Some kids by this age have some vocabulary—sometimes enough to actually communicate needs and wants. Mine has the following: Mama, Dada, Papa, guh guh (snuggle, and with that he will bring a blanket—super cute), Buh Buh (Weber, his brother), and Cah Cah (Capri, his sister). That’s it. He has some sign language: more, please, sorry, sleep, milk, and pointing. Yes, pointing. His pointing is not very accurate, so I’m usually about 5-6 feet off, but we figure it out eventually. So, he can kind of tell us what he wants most of the time. Unfortunately, most of the time all he wants is “Mama … mama … mama … mama.”

Also, he doesn’t understand much of what I say, especially when I am telling him why he can’t have any more strawberries. He just doesn’t get, “Sweetie, you have red patches all over your face and I’m afraid you are going to acid burn your butthole if you eat any more.”

Defiance. He tests me at every turn. If he's not supposed to do something, he will do it to the max. It's a battle of wills and that's all I'm going to say about that. You know what I mean.

What this has meant to me and this family is less sleep, more takeout, less writing and reading, and becoming more immune to the sound of crying and whining. At this age, when they are challenging, it can wear on you pretty hard. And, unfortunately, they are challenging much of the time. But, when they are happy, it is quite possibly the cutest age of their lives. I’m convinced God planned it that way.

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