Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rays of Sunshine in May

If you're anything like me, you can spend hours and hours scouring blogs for advice,
 encouragement, and laughs. 
 But who actually has time for that? 
 Usually these moments consist of my laptop in my lap sitting on the porcelain throne with two toddlers howling about anything on the other side of the closed door. 
These are my moments of enlightenment.
 Give me a break.  At least I get a moment.
 Some of my best parenting advice has come during "private time".  
I hope your moments of enlightenment come in a bit more comfortable, convenient manner.
 Here's a little post to make your life easier. 
 These are the little "rays of sunshine" that I've found throughout the month of May. 
They are the best of the best, so make sure you check out each and every one! 

All About Parenting:
Positively Positive Choosing Your Kids Over Your iPhone
The Marathon Mom On Not Getting Overwhelmed
 One Small Town Girl For The Weary Mom
Kristen Howerton The Only Mommy War Worth Waging

Bits of Life Inspiration:
A Momma's Desires and Pacifiers If Only We Could All Look Photoshopped
Michael Hyatt Live Your Dream
Momfluencial Are Mommy Bloggers a Bunch of Boobs?
Rachel Held Evans Enough
Momastery I Think Jesus'd Be Gay

To Craft or Not to Craft:
Creative Itch Duct Tape Flower Rings

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dear God, A Prayer Over Facebook. . .

Dear God,

I'm logging off.  I'm just checking for one more thing, then I'm shutting the computer down and goind to bed--it's way too late.  I just need to see if my girlfriend posted the photos of her daughter's ballet recital--oh, she did!  And they are adorable!  Gotta share these.  There, now I can log off.  Thank you for Facebook, Lord, it's a total lifeline.  In one place I can connect with all my local mommy friends, keep up with my friends from high-school and those who are raising their kids halfway across the world, stay buddies with church friends from eons ago, and follow the exploits of pretty much everyone from college without ever having to go to those hated reunions.  It makes me feel less isolated when I see that a friend is having an even worse time with her toddler than I am.  (Through her photo, I see she managed to lose all her baby weight and get fabulous new highlights while she's struggling.)  It's good for my brain to keep up with my old co-workers.  (Though it's obvious from the drama in their wall posts that I would have a lot of catching up to do if I ever try to rejoin the workforce again.)  And, what the heck, it's a good mental-health break to take a quiz about 80's music, or my favorite chick flicks, or 25 Things I Don't Know About My Best Friend.  Lord, please help me to tap the good in Facebook without getting sucked into what's mindless or undermining.  Help me to be happy for my friends, and help them be happy for me. Help me not to judge--or be judged--too harshly.  Most of all, God, please help me to log off when I should.  Like now.  I promise I'm logging off now.  Right after I take this quiz, What Kind of Online Mommy Are You?


Monday, May 28, 2012

Have I Said This Already?

The other day I realized that I repeat everything I say. Everything. And I usually repeat it about fifty times before I realize that I’m saying the same thing over and over and over again. But I think—and this is just a guess—that it’s because children are born with a filtering device in their ears. This allows them to only hear stuff like “there’s candy in the pantry” or “let’s buy Grouch a scooter for his birthday.”
They cannot, however, hear you ask them to pick up their toys or make their beds or brush their teeth. So you stand there repeating yourself. And after about twenty times, your precious child turns to you and says, “um, did you say something, Mom?”
It’s enough to drive a parent crazy.
Of course, my parents went through the same thing. Every night, around 6 PM, my mother would ask one of us to set the table. And we never heard her. Never. It was like she didn’t exist. So she’d repeat herself until one of us miraculously regained the gift of hearing and got up to set the table. And that was only after she threatened to ground us. On weekends, she would stand in the middle of the living room and tell us to go outside and pull weeds approximately seven thousand times before getting completely disgusted and unplugging the TV. And only then would we acknowledge her presence in the room and move our butts off the couch and outside.
Now I find myself doing the same thing. I wander through the house, saying things like “Grouch, brush your teeth” about ten times before Grouch actually walks into the bathroom and picks up his toothbrush. And at that point, I still have to say, “Grouch brush your teeth” at least once more before he actually puts toothpaste on the brush and cleans his teeth.
If that’s not bad enough, I’ve become used to repeating myself. I find myself automatically saying to Stinker, “please stop that. Please stop that. Please stop that.” And even if he did stop whatever he was doing by the second time I’ve said it, I just keep repeating it until I run out of breath.
I don’t think there is a cure for this. I’ll probably spend the rest of my life repeating myself. I’ll be an old lady, torturing my neighbors at the retirement home, yelling at them, “Did you clean your room?” about twenty times until BC hobbles out and puts me back in the house.
It’s not a pretty future, is it?
Of course, when you don’t want your child to hear what you are saying, they listen the first time. Please. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve got some juicy gossip to pass on and you check out the child. He’s sitting on the couch, completely engrossed in a repeat of the “Phineas and Ferb.” So you test him. You ask him to come here. He doesn’t even bat an eyelash. You say it again, just to be sure that he isn’t listening.
So you spill the gossip. And the very next minute, your child is out the door to tell everyone what you just said. Verbatim. After only hearing it once.
Have I mentioned that it’s enough to drive a parent crazy?
Speaking of crazy, the other day I realized that I repeat everything I say. Everything. And I usually repeat it about fifty times before I realize that I’m saying the same thing over and over and over again.
Or have I said that already?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Parenting For Dummies 101

You know, there are lots of things I wish I had known before I became a parent. I'm pretty sure I've told you all this a time or two.  I spent my entire first year with Mr. Grouchy Pants on the phone to my mother, whining about some part of parenting that I didn’t understand.
And that’s when it occurred to me that you really should be licensed to be a parent. They should make you take some classes so you really know what to expect when you are sitting in the nursery at 4:00 in the morning trying to calm a colicky kid and wondering why you gave up a fabulous career and a size six pant size for this whiny little person that cries day and night and isn’t going to be toilet-trained for at least three years, if ever.
So welcome to my new Parenting School.  Now, I can’t guarantee that after taking these classes you will become the best parents ever—only Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver are legally able to make that claim.  But you will feel more confident—even if you are still doing everything wrong.
It’s a Newborn, Don’t Drop it
Now this may seem like a silly class to take. But poll any group of four or more adults and you will find that at least one was dropped on his head.  In fact, according to NADWCSA (the National Association of Doctors Who Conduct Studies on Anything), dropping infants on their heads is the leading cause of head dents in this country.
Head dents are terrible things. Children and adults will go to any length to hide the evidence of this accident. Head-dented women must always wear their hair in a Farrah-do, since winged layers are the best way to camouflage the damage done by parents who did not know the proper carrying techniques for newborns. And you can forget your son embracing the “bald is beautiful” way of life. No, your head-dented son will be a member of the Somber Hair Club for Men and will spend adulthood wearing a cheap, poorly fitting toupee to disguise the dent.
What’s That Smell?
This class introduces you to the wonderful world of poop. After attending, you will fearlessly open the diaper of a child who has just eaten her first meal of chili, broccoli or both.  You will not hesitate to rescue toys that have been tossed into the Diaper Genie. No longer will you wrinkle your nose when your pre-toilet trained child is standing behind the couch with her face all scrunched up and red. No, you will handle this situation with the ease of knowing that you can tolerate any smell, no matter what your toddler ate for lunch.
How to Function on Two Minutes of Sleep
I recommend that you take this class in conjunction with “Catnaps, the Only Way to Catch Up.”  Most babies do not sleep during the night. And even when they do start sleeping through the night, many anxious mothers awaken four or five times to check on their children.  This causes severe sleep deprivation. While there is no known cure for this–other than actually getting some sleep (and a bottle of tequila)—this class will give you some excellent tips for staying awake during the day, so you can stay awake all night.  As a bonus, we will show an exciting movie called “Driving the Minivan With Your Eyes Closed.” This film will teach you how to memorize common driving routes, so you can catch some Z’s while running errands.
Projectile Vomiting For Dummies
This class is for every parent who has held her sick child in the middle of the night, only to have that child throw up on the parent’s back. This course will teach you techniques to comfort and aid your sick child, while staying a safe distance from the vomit. As a bonus, you will also receive a handy stain removal guide to help you clean carpets, bed linens and nightclothes.
Of course, this is just a start. I predict that my school will eventually have four year programs, so prospective parents will not only be licensed, they can get a B.S. in Parenting—and maybe minor in Ignoring Temper Tantrums in Public.
I just wish they’d had a school like this before I became a parent—if they had, Mr. Grouch wouldn’t be facing life with a bad toupee (in my defense, he rolled off the couch, not out of my arms!). And I would have gotten some sleep on the way to the grocery store.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fallen And I Can't Get Up

Have you checked out yet?  I have the privilege of guest-posting there ever so often and this is an example of what you'll find. . .along with LOADS of parenting advice for raising godly kids. It's a "must-read" website!  

Lately I’ve been feeling like a hamster on a wheel, running around and around in circles but never quite getting anywhere. Do you ever get this way? My to-do list is as long as the Great Wall of China, I’ve got a gazillion projects started but not completed, and I’m just not quite cuttin’ it in any particular area of my life. I need some sort of Time Management Wonder Woman to swoop down and teach me her "mad skillz" cause I kinda suck right now.

Part of my problem is that the little monsters refuse to go to bed at night, which shortens my down time to next to nothing. This results in me not going to sleep early enough, which then spirals into me not getting up early enough to get anything done, which then puts me behind schedule for the rest of the friggin’ day. It’s a vicious cycle of poo, I tell you! Each day I think things are gonna be different, and each day they’re exactly the same. That's what insanity IS, you know?! Doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.

I wonder what happened to that girl who just a year ago was getting up at 5:15 a.m. to work out every morning and who was actually able to get to bed at a decent time every night. This chick used to kick butt and take names as she showed her to-do lists who was boss! She was even able to still have time for playing with her friends and family. Man, I miss that lady! Did someone send her up the dang river, or did she just make a wrong turn somewhere in all the shuffle? Wherever the devil she is, though, I sure hope she resurfaces soon cause I’d totally buy her a drink and rub her feet if she’d help me get back on track cause dangit, it seems that I’ve fallen, and I just can’t get up.

Ever feel this way? Like the world is just going to fall out of orbit if you need a sick day?  Guess what. . .it won't! I have to keep reminding myself of this day in and day out. On those days like today when I feel like I've fallen and there is no way I can get up on my own, I realize that I don't have to. I'm not the one in control. I don't have to have all the answers or have enough energy or mark off every item on the to-do list. I don't have to be supermom, although that would be nice. I just happen to know someone else with all the superpowers.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dear God, Don't Let Us Melt Down!

Dear God,

I see this coming like white on rice.  I can sense it in my bones the way a small animal knows an earthquake or storm is coming.  But please, God, not here, not now.  I know I've pushed my little guy too far all day long.  MY BAD!  But please, do not let him melt down in lane 7 of the mega-giant Wal-Mart supercenter check-out at 5:43 on a crowded weekday night.  Please not in front of High-Heeled Single Gal in her pencil skirts with Lean Cuisine and pomegranate juice.  Please not in front of Crunchy Earth Mama with her wheat-free organic cart of goodness and her three perfectly content children.  Look, Lord, I know it's wrong to force-feed Skittles to a child who can barely function from lack of sleep, but please, I'm trying to buy us just five more minutes.  Please just let us make it to the parking lot before all hell breaks loose.  Thank you, and hurry.


Monday, May 21, 2012

26.2 Miles of Peace and Quiet

Sounds blissful, right?  Sure, if you're behind the wheel of a convertible headed for the beach leaving your two screaming toddlers at home with the grandparents!  Who doesn't enjoy a solo road trip now and again?

Unfortunately, that's not the mileage I'm talking about today.

Let's "marathon-talk", shall we?  It's a first for me.

It's something that I've had on the bucket list since my teenage years, and am just now getting around to. Just as my bones are starting to do some creaking and popping. Wonderful timing, Michelle.  This should have been tackled at 22. . .before kids. . .when you at least still had the time and energy for a shower every morning.

Nevertheless, I've decided to take on the massive challenge of a marathon at 30-years-old.  And I've decided to do it in less than a year.

(Let the eye-rolling begin.)

I know I can barely get out of pajamas most days.  I know I still "nap" with my toddlers every afternoon and lounge on the couch, channel-surfing most evenings. This is definitely not going to be the easiest thing I've ever done. But mama's got a "muffin-top" that rivals anything Betty Crocker is baking up and these thighs aren't going to walk themselves off. Something's gotta give!

I don't know how to run. . .this is a given. But I do know a thing or two about blogging, so I'm going to start there. Don't worry, your google readers are not about to be flooded with mileage trackers and diet smoothie recipes! I'm taking this madness somewhere else. For those of you who would like to watch me trip over my own shoelaces and attempt the impossible for the next 50 weeks, feel free to join me at

Here's an excerpt of what's in store:

I'm a stay-at-home-mom. Must I elaborate?

Because 26.2 miles of peace and quiet sounds like heaven on earth, doesn't it?!

Because it's cheap therapy and because I love a good adrenaline high.

Because running around keeps me from running away. Literally.

Being a wife and a mom and a woman in general can be overwhelming. And let's be real honest here. . .all those days of laundry, cleaning up spill after spill, dirty diaper after dirty diaper, breaking up ongoing sibling fights, and having little people on your heels every minute of everyday is enough to make anyone want to drink themselves under the table.

So I'll run.

Come join me on this journey to crazy-town personal empowerment! I'll need all the inspiration and encouragement I can take! My 50 weeks of "From Couch Potato to Marathon Mom" training begins TODAY!

Happy Monday, ya'll! 

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Day I Didn't Want To Be An Adult

Today was one of those days when I really didn’t want to have to be the adult, but I had to shove my soft side out of the way and let the sensible side take charge. Apparently, my son has been having a bit of a problem keeping his hands to himself in preschool. As is the case with most boys, he likes to be goofy and act crazy with his friends. I guess this has caused some problems for the teacher starting class activities on time. She decided to create an oh-so-sophisticated “smiley face” system, whereby he gets a happy face on days when he’s cooperative and a frown face on days when he’s not. Since my youngest was going to church this evening, I had told my Grouch we’d have a dinner date to the cool mall food court and playplace. The kid was beyond excited about our little excursion — he could hardly wait. So, when I picked him up from school this afternoon, I could just tell from the “cat-that-swallowed-the-canary” look on his face, that all was not good in the hood. He had gotten himself in trouble, and as a result, received two very unhappy faces on his behavior chart. As soon as he saw me, the tears instantly welled up in his eyes. I could tell how heart-broken he was. I wanted so badly to take back my ultimatum about the dinner date. My heart kept telling me that he’s only five, but my head kept telling me that I couldn’t punk out on my follow-through. As I wrestle with the fact that I was looking forward to our date as well, the decision seemed so much harder. I don't want to make an adult decision today, Lord. But resounding through my mind was the instruction to "let your 'yes' be 'yes' and your 'no' be 'no'."  If Grouch couldn't trust that I meant what I said, how could that effect him later?  I had a serious battle with this in my mind but, ultimately, decided to go with my head. It killed me to tell him we couldn’t go on our date. I knew it was the right thing to do, but it totally sucked to be the bad news messenger. I fully realize that this is just the tiny tip of the iceberg for what’s to come as far as discipline goes. To be honest, I dread the teenage years with every fiber of my being. I guess for now, I should just thank my lucky stars that I’m only dealing with a water-spitting contest in the preschool coat room because God only knows what will be going on in the coat room in just a few years down the road….

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rock Your Kids Summer with These 5 Awesome Activities!

Having trouble keeping the kiddos occupied this summer?
 Here's a little relief! 
 We've come up with 
Join in on the fun as we continue
highlighting these activities and crafts.
Today, we will spotlight 5 more
 for you to enjoy with your kiddos!

Fly Kites at the Park
This was a favorite for my boys last year.
We spent evenings at our park watching kites fly 
as the sun went down. 
This year, we plan on joining the fun again.
We may try to make our own kites!
To try this with us, here is an easy tutorial to follow:

Make a Backyard Obstacle Course
This activity can be perfect for a birthday party or event!
One of the greatest things about a homemade obstacle course 
is that you can use whatever items you have on hand.
 A stuffed animal slalom course?  Sure! 
Hurdles made from rolled-up beach towels? Absolutely!
There are many different ways to create your
very own obstacle course. 
Some ideas include:
limbo, or army crawl under a broomstick propped on some boxes
Make a tunnel out of boxes to crawl through
Make hurdles using pool noodles or broomsticks
ring toss with hula hoops

Milk Jug Toss
This is such a fun craft to do with the kids!
Take a couple of empty milk jugs, and cut the bottoms out.
Use whatever spare balls you have around the house.
Play the same way you would "catch".
Kiddos might like making this activity
just as much as playing it!

Attend a Concert in the Park
Most cities offer a summer concert series.
Here in Edmond, most public parks begin their summer concerts
in June and July.
Go online and find an event in your local area!
Pack a blanket, some lawn chairs, and sandwiches
and settle in for some relaxation while the kids 
frolic on the park lawn!

Make a Living Room Race Track
 This is something that I did with the monsters last weekend!
It was such fun! 
Use white masking tape to create roads and race tracks.
We used the sofa and love seat as part of our track.
The boys got really creative and  built cities around the roads
and got out their superheroes to play along. 
It was a fun activity with easy clean-up!

Join us next Thursday as we explore
5 more awesome summer activities!
Happy Playing!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dear God, I'm At McDonald's. . .Again.

Dear God,

I'm a responsible, eco-aware mommy (most of the time).  I've watched Food, Inc.  I know the dangers of preservatives, nitrates, and Big Food.  So why are we here?  Because my kids are starving and I'm exhausted and we're broke, and McDonald's means cheap food and free entertainment for toddlers.  Also, the fries are to die for. With that said, we are not even done with ordering, and I'm already regretting it.  My kids are hanging on my knees asking for a certain toy to come in their Happy Meal.  Oh, I know McDonald's is trying to peddle healthier food for kids, it's just that it's not the food that my kids want to order.  They want M&M McFlurries and action heroes.  Which, they are not getting, God. I know this is not a healthy choice in the long run, but please just look the other way today as they plow through their Happy Meals searching for the toy, gobbling down a few fries and a couple of bites of nuggets, and savor the thrilling experience of running wild through a public space with one hundred other screaming kids. Thank you for cutting us some slack today, God.  Also, thanks for creating a world that includes McDonald's fries.  They are evidence that miracles truly exist.


Monday, May 14, 2012

French Fries and Chocolate Parenting

I’m not sure how it happened, but apparently I have failed as a parent just by virtue of being American. According to the latest parenting trend, many cultures are better parents than Americans – ergo, I am a parenting failure (and yes, in case you were wondering I have been waiting months to use the word “ergo” in a blog).
Anyway, this trend started with the Tiger Mother. A Tiger Mother, for those of you who didn’t know because a) you don’t care; or b) you really, really don’t care, is the type of mother written about by Amy Chua in her book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. “
Now, in the interests of research (and by research, I mean I googled it) I have looked at Chua’s book (and by looked at, I mean I read excerpts of it when I googled it). Anyway, as far as I can tell, Chua’s parenting advice goes something along the lines of humiliate your child every freaking day to the extent that they fear you more than they fear being made fun of by the mean girls at school.
Is it awful to admit that there are days when I see nothing wrong with this parenting advice?
Come on. We’ve all had those days. The days when nothing we do as a parent is right and we know instinctively that the child we adore so much is going to be wearing prison orange for the rest of his life because you cannot get him to listen and/or stop throwing a tantrum.
But I’m not a Tiger Mother by nature. I cannot force my child to learn piano by screaming at him (although this does work to make him clean his room sometimes). I cannot make myself look at a picture my son drew for me, tell him it sucks, he is lazy and he should do it again. I don’t care what the picture looks like, it’s taped to the fridge. Or even framed and hung on the wall. (I have a child Picasso, by the way.)
Thankfully, to rescue me from my American way of raising kids and Mr. Grouchy Pants from his orange-jumpsuit future, there is another new book out, “Bringing up Bebe” by Paula Druckerman. I recently read a sample of this book (and by sample. . .well, you know).
First, I have to say, Druckerman is definitely no Tiger Mom. There’s a lot of patience advocated in this book, er, sample. Second, I learned a brand new curse word in French – “caca boudin.” Apparently this has something to do with sausage and all French preschoolers say it. I’m going to use with abandon, because it’s actually the funniest curse word I’ve ever heard.  And I’ve heard a lot of curse words in my time.
In any event, according to Druckerman, the bebes (French for “small, adult-like creatures we drag around to restaurants and gallery openings and expect they will behave the entire time”) in France are awesome. They cry, but only very little because they have been taught to soothe themselves. They go to restaurants and they never need to have distractions or even special meals of those icky little chicken nugget things that everyone knows are not really chicken but some sort of disgusting rubbery thing made in a factory somewhere.
Maybe it’s just me – but who would have a meltdown in a restaurant in France? Hello? They eat chocolate and croissants for breakfast. That’s my idea of breakfast in heaven, people. And they don’t eat greasy French fries from a cardboard container. They eat pommes frites. Who on earth would have a tantrum while eating pommes frites and chocolate? Heck, I would sit still every dang night if I were eating that.
But here’s the deal.  This trend – Tiger Mother, perfect bebes – stems from the fact that many of us feel inadequate as parents. And there are some children out there with a sense of entitlement and a serious lack of manners (mine included). And there are a lot of children who don’t have that sense of entitlement and who do have manners. But maybe we can take some of these ideas and mush them into our American parenting and come up with a perfect child of our own.
Or maybe we can just figure out how to eat pommes frites at every meal and be done with it. I’m good with that too. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Gifts To Avoid for Mother's Day

There comes a time in everyone’s life where they must do something impossible. Something so difficult that they avoid doing it until the very last minute. Yes, I am talking about buying your mother a gift—whether it’s for her birthday, Mother’s Day or some other holiday that makes a last-minute trip to the mall for a coffee mug necessary.
This is serious, people. There are mothers all over the country who right now are quaking at the thought of putting another World’s Greatest Mom mug in their cupboards. Mother’s who awaken at night screaming in terror from the nightmares caused by all the bathrobes they’ve received over the years. Or the delicious pancake breakfasts that burned down their kitchens (oh, wait, that might just be my mom).
Anyway, I am here to help. I have compiled a very handy list of what not to get your mom for any holiday or occasion. And before you ask, these gifts all exist and no, I’m not buying any of them for my mom.
  • Sushi Bath Soap Gift Set. This set of several sushi-shaped soaps comes in a little wooden box for that authentic sushi feel. And I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that your mom loves sushi. You’re thinking that when mom gets to pick the restaurant, it’s always Japanese, right? So wouldn’t sushi-shaped soap be perfect for mom? No. No, it wouldn’t. Take it from me; nothing says “ick” like washing your face with a California Roll.
  • Squirrel in Underwear Dramatic Oil Painting. Really. I wish I could make this stuff up. I’d be the funniest person on the planet, not to mention the weirdest. But this little gift is exactly what it sounds like: an oil painting of a squirrel in his tighty-whiteys, set against a background of green grass. Now I realize that this is exactly the kind of art you believe should be hanging in your mom’s foyer—but she doesn’t agree. Trust me. That’s why you find so many of the poker playing dog paintings at garage sales.
  • The Wine Rack. Yes, a wine rack does sound like a great gift. But this is no ordinary rack—it’s a wine rack for your mom’s rack. Yes, it’s a giant, inflatable bra that fills with alcohol. I know this is every man’s dream. But trust me when I tell you this is not a mother’s dream, no matter how you try to justify it.Yes, there are times when Mom needs a little sip of some “mom juice” so she can stay sane after a long day at the park with a toddler engaged in the terrible twos. Look, I’ve been that mom on the playground whose child is having a full-on, nuclear-level meltdown. And I’ve wished for a way to dull the noise. But never have I wished I could just whip out a straw, stick it in my bra and suck down some Chardonnay. It’s wrong. Plus, if you drink too much from one side, you end up lopsided and nobody wants to see that.
  • Talking Toilet Paper Roll Holder. Um, okay. I’m thinking this one should be self-explanatory, but apparently not. Look, your mom doesn’t just sit around in the bathroom wishing someone would talk to her. She’s hiding in the bathroom so she can have peace and quiet. So when she unrolls the toilet paper and a voice says, “Hi, how’re you doing” you are going to scare the you-know-what out of her. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  • Better Marriage Blanket. This blanket absorbs certain, er, odors. You know, the odors I’m talking about. They’re the odors your mother always blames on the dog, whether you have a dog or not. But this revolutionary blanket takes those odors and somehow manages to make them disappear—yes, even smellies your dad makes will be gone in a poof of…well, they’ll be gone. Now I know this sounds like an awesome gift. After all, what woman doesn’t want to be completely shielded from odorous emissions forever? But it’s not the perfect gift. Because what this gift says is, “Mom, we know you pass gas.” Not a good thing to say to Mom. Save this for Dad. He’ll love it.
Of course, there are many, many more bad gifts out there. So my advice to you is to buy her flowers. They’re pretty. They smell good. And they won’t speak to her during her private time.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Re-Writing History

It's been a hard couple of years with my oldest child.  I hate to even write that statement down because some might assume I have favorites, and Mr. Grouchy Pants is not it. I have two amazing boys and they are completely different. I love so many things about each one individually.  I do have to confess that there have been times in these early toddler years that I have LOVED my little Grouch, but didn't like him very much.  I write this down because as I explain this struggle, some very desperate parents out there might be able to relate and find a little hope.

Mr. Grouchy Pants was always that.  Grouchy.  My adorable, stubborn, beautiful little sour puss. Sometimes I feel like he came out with a scowl on his precious face that just never went away. Don't get me wrong, there were moments of cheerfulness and big smiles and plenty of laughter. But he was always a very particular child.  I learned early that things had to go according to plan, or he may just have an emotional meltdown.  I probably fed that fire. Don't we all when it's our first baby?  We hang on their every "goo-goo-gah-gah", we give them what they want or need even before they ask us, we are perfectly content devoting our every waking hour to just sitting and staring at them.  They are new and exciting and they learn that we were put on this earth to entertain them, provide for them, and cater to their every whim. Not that this is a bad thing.  But we teach them what to expect from us.  I think in my case, especially, I became all things to Mr. Grouch and worshipped his sweet little spoiled behind one iota too much.  I didn't think that was possible.  He was my baby, and always would be.

Until I had Mr. Stinky Pants.

Boy did our world come to a screeching halt. Especially for Big Brother. All of the sudden, mommy's attention and focus wasn't solely wrapped up in his every move. He had to compete for the chance to be the one sitting comfortably on Mommy's lap. He went from being "Mommy's Baby" to "Mommy's Big Boy" overnight. And if the title "Big Boy" meant no more crawling into mommy and daddy's bed every morning, no more hour-long story times at night, and no more bedtimes where Mommy rocked him to sleep every night for two hours while humming his favorite lullaby, then "Big Boy" was NOT the new nickname that he wanted.

Things changed in our house, but they also changed for me emotionally.  I felt torn. I didn't realize that going from one child to two would be such a drastic difference. What's one more, I thought. Apparently, one more came with a whole lot of sacrifices. The main one being letting go of the atmosphere of "Grouch-worship" that was so routine to us, and embracing a new life of balance.  I obviously did not handle the transition well.  And neither did Mr. Grouchy Pants.

The next few years were filled with meltdowns, resentment, and bitterness.  The more Grouch acted out due to lack of the attention that he'd grown so accustomed, the more I threw my hands up in surrender and just turned even more attention to Stinker. It was a vicious cycle. One that neither of us knew how to stop from happening.  I was so overwhelmed by the outbursts and negative actions of Grouch that I retreated to Stinker and allowed my husband to tend to our "difficult child".  If I were to be really transparent, I would admit that the moment that Stinker arrived, I began to neglect Grouch in such a way that he was left with emotional scars that we are still trying to fix. However good my intentions or how accidental my behavior was in the two and a half years to follow, it left Grouch with feelings of abandonment and a grudge so deep that it will take God's help to overcome. I've accidentally broken my little one's heart. I'm learning to forgive myself for this so that I can penetrate through his again.  It's a daily process.

Through this whole ordeal, I've learned a lot. I've learned that Mr. Grouchy Pants and I were given each other for a reason. We are in so many ways alike. You see, I had a parent who I could never please. One who made me feel like a constant inconvenience.  One who would only love me if I lived up to his expectations.  I was constantly disowned.  Constantly pleading for love and attention.  Constantly feeling abandoned and alone. Don't think for a minute that this is just a coincidence. Generational sins are a real-life curse. My dad and I currently have no relationship. It breaks my heart everyday.  In the same way that it probably broke my dad's heart for years and years that he had no relationship with his mother. And she had no relationship with her mother. This is something that our family has been struggling with for decades.

And it stops here. 

No matter how long it takes me, or to what lengths I have to go, my son will feel loved.  He may struggle with it.  He may fight me like he does sometimes now when I tackle him in a bear hug and struggle to get free.  He may say mean and hurtful things to me to break my heart the way I have unintentionally broke his. But I won't walk away. I won't take the easy route and play favorites and spend all my time with the "pleasant child".  Mr. Grouchy Pants has a Mr. Happy Pants inside him just waiting to be freed, I just know it. I make it my life mission to find him.  Our routine daily takes turns for the better. I'm learning to balance my emotions and get a tighter grasp on my patience. I'm learning that with kids, taking the "easy route" is almost never the best route.  And most of all, I'm learning to not just love my kids, but to like them as well. They are a product of their history.  The history that I get the pleasure of writing every single day. One day, Mr. Grouch will look back on this history lesson and be thankful that his mom was a soldier; realizing her mistakes but never ever giving up the fight.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dear God, I Need A Nap. . .

Dear God,

I cannot go on.  It's four in the afternoon.  My morning caffeine high is long gone, and I have hours and hours to go before I manage to get to bed.  I am quite certain I could crash to the floor this instant and sleep like a rock for a week. Please, can I have just five minutes to pass out?  I cannot read one more syllable of Underpants Thunderpants, I cannot even lift my hand to turn the next page, I am THAT tired. Please let my chattering little monkey--who is busy telling me the colors of all the different underpants--please let him not notice that my eyes are closing. Please let him be oblivious as I quietly lose consciousness. Please let me not hear, "Mommy, pick up your head!  Mommy, why is your voice sounding funny?" Just five minutes, God, and I'll be a new woman, ready to push through the rest of the day. Thank you.


Monday, May 7, 2012

What I Learned In The Working World

It wasn't long ago that I was a "Working Mom". You know, one of those cool people that actually got a shower every morning, put on something besides yoga pants, made it a point to wear lipstick and perfume and look like a "girl" before I left the house in the morning. Someone who got to have grown-up conversations during the day about spreadsheets and marketing and sales projections. Someone who had something besides mac-n-cheese and tator tots for lunch. Someone who felt a little bit more "important" in my stiletto heels than I normally do now sporting my flip flops and "I heart playdates" T-shirt. Someone who came home smelling of the wind in my hair and business and not like formula and applesauce. I miss those days. I will admit it. There are days when this "stay-at-home-mom" gig is a whole lot harder and less rewarding than those quarterly bonus checks and the fellow salemen's words of flattery and flirtation for closing that "big deal". But hearing my son be the one to tell me I look like a "princess" in the mornings in my nightgown and wet hair far outweigh the compliments and "good jobs" of co-workers.

If I were to reconsider coming back into the "working world", there would be quite a few things I would need to reach back into my memory-bank and re-examine as to not make a fool of myself.  And for those moms (and there are many currently) who are finishing up their maternity leave haven and assimmilating back into the realities of their desk job, I've come up with a few key points to remember. Here are the highlights:

The Office Survival Guide for Parents

Be nice to the receptionist. Receptionists are people too.

You think the receptionist isn’t listening. The receptionist is listening. She knows pretty much everything about you and your mom and everybody else in the office, on account of everybody assuming she isn’t listening.

Do not wear black bras under white blouses to work.

Do not wear low-cut trousers and g-strings to work.

“You cannot just say everything you think to the attorneys you work for.” (Yes, that is a direct quote.)

Copy machines have top-loaders. (Wish I woulda known THAT little tidbit before I spent that summer at a print publication company making copies by hand, one by one. If I ever find the jerkfaces who watched me do that all summer without telling me about the top-loader – I’ll kill ‘em.)

The “reply-all” email feature can ruin your life.

On a related note, there is no sarcasm font.

If you set up your cubicle in accordance with Feng Shui principles, you will not work more productively, but everybody will think it’s cool.

Burning popcorn in the microwave will make it stink for the duration. Nothing will fix it ever. Buy a new one.

The most annoying expressions in the world are: “At the end of the day;” “playing catch-up;” and “touch base.”  Oh, and “paradigm shift.”  You will cringe when you hear yourself saying these things but you will not be able to stop.

Talking on the phone while chewing is not okay under any circumstances.

There’s always somebody who knows more about whatever it is you think you know everything about. That person is in the room with you right now.

Emergency drills are scary, much scarier than the ones in grammar school.  {In the case of a real emergency, I would run full speed out of the building giving no thought or concern whatsoever to those around me.}

“Lower your voice” is uniformly solid advice.

Extreme pressure generally turns an ordinary project into an absolute disaster.

If you are wondering at all if you should say something, you shouldn’t.

The computer is not broken. You did something wrong. Re-start it. You’ll be fine.

If you think the project is going to take a week, tell your boss it’ll take four.

Even if you have no idea who or why a person is calling you, but they claim to be “returning your call,” assume they are correct and roll with it.

Some people walk around with paper on their heads and do other such silly things. You cannot do these things. People already think you’re weird.

Take notes as if your life depended on it, even if the note contains: “10/10/07: George told me about his trip to Madagascar, detailed incident with monkey.”

Don’t skip.  People frown on skipping in the workplace. Also ballet moves. Total no-go.

You will become the woman who shows everybody pictures of her kids and talks about them too much. You will. Because you miss them.

Accept that you will never become completely professional again. Aim instead for “professional enough to not get fired.”

Friday, May 4, 2012

Public Lovin'

One of the absolute greatest parts of parenting is being able to walk hand in hand with one or both of my kids. To me, the only thing that comes even close to that amazing of a feeling is when I get an unexpected hug from one of them out of the complete blue. I guess you could say it helps to make up for all those other times when I want to jam hot coals in my eyes and duct tape them to their kitchen chairs. And as awesome as it is to have them by my side, I know the time is coming all too quickly when they will want absolutely nothing to do with me whatsoever.

I remember when I was so mortified to be seen with my own parents that I would have them drop me off all the way around the corner so that none of my friends would see that I did, in fact, just exit a silver station wagon being driven by my beaming mom. And God forbid either of them ever try to put an arm around me or blow me a kiss. I would rather have been tortured by a pack of rabid raccoons than be subjected to any kind of public displays of parental affection.

And now that I am a parent myself, I cannot even imagine how agonizing that must have been for them. Sure it happened little by little, but it had to be like a knife slowly being shoved right into your gut. My mom always says that it absolutely broke her heart the day that I stopped holding her hand in public. I guess she knew deep down that it was the beginning of the end of my childhood innocence. And sure enough, I gradually transformed into this horrific teenage creature who spent far too much time telling them how much they sucked. How lovely to have your insides ripped out bringing this person into the world who is now embarrassed to even be in your presence.

So, in order to avoid this whole heart-wrenching experience, I’ve decided to make my shorties sign a legal-binding contract written up by a legitimate attorney promising that they will ALWAYS hold my hand and hug me. Failure to do so will result in consequences of some kind or another. Sure it’s not the most warm and fuzzy way to get some human contact from my offspring, but hey, sometimes a mama’s gotta do what a mama’s gotta do. And these kids are gonna love me whether they want to or not, dag nabbit!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


The state of my house usually dictates the state of my emotions. And lately as things are becoming more and more cluttered, I'm finding myself seeping slowly into feelings of overwhelm and entrapment. Let's face it, with two toddler-size tornadoes constantly following behind me re-destroying the rooms I just tidied up, I look around at what I've accomplished at the end of the day and it ain't much. I'm not sure how to go about rectifying this ongoing problem, but something certainly has to give.

Summer break has arrived early in our house. We decided to take the boys out of Mother's Day out and have them home with me full-time starting May 1st.  I have a stockpile of activities to keep us busy, but one thing I'd also like to accomplish this summer is instilling a sense of organization.  Is that even possible with a toddler?!  We will soon find out. As a general rule, both boys like routine.  They like to know what to expect and I am happiest when I feel like my day has a purpose. Some may find it humorous that we will be starting a more strict regime with the kids in the summertime as opposed to the school season. . .well, that's just how we roll.  Or how we will roll, if everything pans out. I enjoy my "me time" too much to not have any, and the only way to find time for myself is to organize and simplify. Here's how it will all go down:  (and yes, I am mapping it all out here for you so that I will have it mapped out somewhere and so you can have a small glimpse into my crazy life.  Isn't that what this whole blogging thing is about?!)

Daily Routine
We will have a scheduled wake-up time and proceed with the rest of the day.  Certain blocks of time will be set aside for meals, snacks, nap time, crafts, and activities. If I don't keep these hoodlums busy, they will proceed with tearing the house down bit by bit. As you all may be familiar, I plan on getting these daily crafts and activities from my 100 Rockin Summer Ideas for Kids List.

Housework/Chore Schedule
Because I can't keep up with it all on my own and because these little monsters are definitely old enough to be helpers, I am going to assign daily chores for each day of the week and have the kiddos help me get them accomplished.  Not only will we be doing something together, but I want to instill in them early that it takes everyone doing their part to make a household run. Toddlers are capable of making their beds (horribly), helping dust furniture, picking up toys, loading and unloading the dishwasher, etc. Hopefully this tactic of dividing and conquering the chores weekly will eliminate the mountains of it left for the weekend.

Quiet Time
I know how important it is to re-focus on a daily basis.  I think this is probably something that is best taught early. We will be calling this point in our day "Quiet Time".  Since I don't get much silence throughout the day, it will be a requirement everyday after lunch. Mommy needs her Jesus-time during the day so as to eliminate the need for a Wine-time every night. In all seriousness, I need this time more than they do. I need the daily reminder that I can do this. A moment to regroup and reconvince myself that I am doing a good job and that it's alright if I need a few moments to just breathe.  Most people call this nap time.  But I have a Mr. Grouchy Pants who stopped napping eons ago.  We will be using this time to look at books, listen to quiet music, pray, and just practice being still. Lord knows he needs the practice!  I am a bit concerned with the difficultly he will have starting kindergarten next year since he has issues just sitting down to eat lunch.  He's more of a "grazer" than a "park-it" kind-of-kid.  Heaven help us.  And bless our future "quiet times".

Monthly Projects
Did I mention that my house is clutter-ific?  It's beyond help.  I won't post pics because I don't want to embarrass my husband.  Lord knows it wouldn't embarrass me.  I'm convinced you all are well aware already that I am off my rocker. Anywho--monthly projects. We will have them. Things like Clean out the Garage, Landscape the Front Yard, Clean Out Closets, etc. These are things I've been putting off forever and would most likely continue to put off but my hubby has threatened to take all of my stuff to the dump if I don't do something with it.

Did someone say running? Is there a mass-murderer after me?! The older I get, the more I hate to exercise. Which just makes the fact that I need to do it even more now that I am 30+ even more offensive. What I don't want to happen is what I got a small taste of last night. We finished dinner and decided to head out into the neighborhood for a walk at night with flashlights with the boys.  They had so much fun for 4.7 minutes. Once the excitement of the flashlights diminished, all my 5-year-old kept repeating was, "Can we seriously go home now?  My legs hurt."  Wow. Apparently I don't have active enough toddlers. It seems about right. Ever since the boy discovered Angry Birds on the iphone, all he wants to do all day is sit around and stare at a screen.  Something's gotta give. We will be making it a point to get outside for at least 15 minutes everyday and do something active. It will be good to pull my kindergartner away from the digital stimulation and it will do me good to work off those lovely love handles.

What about you guys?  Do you have any ideas to help me clean out the clutter in my life and find a much needed sense of balance?  What have YOU done to create balance and order in your home?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dear God, A Prayer Over Our Park Visit. . .

Dear God,

Please let my kids behave today.  Please let me behave today.  Please let the line at the slide be orderly--please no pushing or biting.  Please stop my oldest from giving everyone his Furrowed Brow of Death stare.  Please no flinging of sand in the sandbox, please no coveting anyone else's toys (which always seem superior to ours, no matter how many I bring).  Please let at least one baby swing be open so that my little guy can hang out there happily.  Please let the other swings be filled with kids who have normal moms--just for today.  God, please no Supermoms with their toned arms and their expensive sunglasses and the cute capris that somehow don't make them look like a stuffed sausage with sawed-off legs, which is what happens when I try to wear cute capris lately.  Please no lectuires from the Armageddon Moms over the toxicity of my child's pacifier, snack, discount clothing, or stroller manufactured in China.  Please let us have a perfect park visit today.  In return, I promise not to hate on the pretty moms in my heart, talk about my feelings about homeschooling or SpongeBob.  Hoping we can work something out, God, and thanks.