This year, the stress I have created for myself over the holidays has made me want to hide in a pile of laundry, guaranteeing that no one will ever find me.

I don’t know why I wait until the last minute to do it all, but I do. Something in me must like the drama. But I do realize that when I find myself wanting to cry while wrapping presents and listening to Christmas music that I have reached a sufficient level of craziness and I need to take a step back and gain some perspective.

The perspective that I needed came while I was scrubbing the toilet today. Strangely enough, this is not the first epiphany I have had while cleaning the bathroom, probably because my kids avoid me, rightfully afraid that I am going to ask them to help. Therefore, I have a few minutes to think thoughts that only belong to me.

My perspective was not a new thought or even a particularly clever one, but it was the thought I needed at that moment while I clutched the toilet scrubber in one hand and the disinfectant in the other. The idea is that if I want to enjoy my life while surviving the holidays that I am going to have to make a conscious effort to believe the most in the little things.

You know, the things that make all the shopping and wrapping and schlepping and baking and packing and traveling and deciding and arguing and wrestling and crying and de-boogering all worth it.

Just this week my little things have included;

The gleam in my 8 year-olds eyes seconds before he threw a snowball directly into my face and then I had to tackle him and MAKE HIM PAY.

IMG_6099

A butterfly girl at dawn.

AdobePhotoshopExpress_2014_12_16_13_03_26Family who dropped everything to help us.

A cloudy day that fit a cloudy mood somehow so perfectly that all of a sudden it all felt okay.

Beading bracelets and watching Game of Thrones with my Mom and Sister until the wee hours. Like almost 10:00.

My 3 year-old who hasn’t yet figured out that I can’t carry a tune and wants me to sing to her when we cuddle.

A new commitment to meditation. It makes me less crazy. I’m using the app, Insight Timer. They did not pay me to say this.

A perfectly made Bloody Mary and a perfectly made pot of chili that were better for the friends that came with them.

A wise piece of advice from my Aunt; “The best way to make something right is to go out and live well.” And then we did.

A teeny tiny Christmas tree that made its way from our friend’s yard into our living room.

Little girls with big skis.

IMG_1053.JPG

Cousins sharing Cheerios from their car seats.

AdobePhotoshopExpress_2014_12_16_13_46_27

A 13 year-old dog who still chases snowballs.

Recksy roo

A dance on the beach in the moonlight with some of my favorite girls celebrating that we have each other.

AdobePhotoshopExpress_2014_12_16_12_38_25

This big boy with his long long legs but still hanging onto his stuffed animal.

AdobePhotoshopExpress_2014_12_16_12_34_10

My kids taking turns throwing themselves into a snowbank in their underpants.

My friendships that stick and stay, even if we don’t get to talk to each other very much. I know they are out there and hopefully they know I am out here too.

My 8 year-old who came home from school and said he had the best day EVER because he got to measure the ceiling in his classroom. With a ruler.

This moment right now. I have placed my 3 yo in front of a movie so I can write and simultaneously avoid cleaning the house. With not one drop of guilt added.

 

So. Believe in your own little things.

 

I’m over at HuffPost Parents today with, well, some of what I am feeling thankful for this week. I might have left out the Old Fashioneds. And I swear I will write a post that doesn’t come in list-form one of these days.

papanora

 

1. Santa is alive and well and keeping our kids from jabbing Legos into each other’s eyes.

2. Thanksgiving break is not Christmas break.

3. She (or he) who cooks the turkey wins the most wine.

4. For one day, eating is an Olympic sport where everyone wins.

5. Extended time with our children helps us to appreciate waking up early next week so that they can go to that sanity-saving institution called school.

6. There is the ultimate hope that turkey actually has that sleeping ingredient in it and it will magically make our kids Close. Their. Freaking. Eyes.

7. The kids aren’t completely out of their minds, because there are presents in their near future. (See: Thanksgiving break is not Christmas break.)

8. Pie. For breakfast.

9. You know your toddler will at least eat the cranberry sauce. I mean, probably.

10. If you make a big enough turkey, you don’t have to cook until probably Valentine’s day.

11. Extended time with our children confirms our belief that teachers are some kind of patient superheros or cyborgs or maybe even actual gods living among us.

12. The kids are pretty funny when they aren’t being completely annoying. Like, right this moment, my 3-year-old is standing in the bathroom yelling “poop!” and “fart!” because we told her she has to go in there if she wants to talk potty-talk.

13. Grandparents = kids asking somebody else to listen to them play their harmonica.

14. Grandparents = kids asking somebody else to wipe their butt.

15. Grandparents = kids asking somebody else to play Candyland the wrong way with them for the billionth time.

16. Grandparents.

17. The kids are so exhausted from the added effort of annoying not only their siblings, but their cousins too, that they most likely pass out at night in front of their Frozen marathon.

18. As parents, we are so exhausted from the added effort of not only yelling at our own children, but our siblings’ children too, that we most likely pass out in front of our Game of Thrones marathon.

19. That five seconds of snuggling with your kids in the morning before someone gets an elbow in the eye and all hell breaks loose.

And finally…

20. That school is open again on Monday.

You can find me over at Scary Mommy today because I was recently inspired by a huge pile of laundry. And by inspired, I mean annoyed.

toddler-picking-out-clothesImage via Shutterstock

 

Karma is stalking me in the form of a purple dress that my daughter wears most days of her life. I believe this is because, as a child, allegedly, I was quite particular about the clothes I would wear. This once prompted my sweet grandmother to declare to my mother, “I would never let a two-year-old tell me what she was and was not going to wear.”

I felt this same way until presented with the seriously strong opinions of my own little girl who will perseverate ALL DAY LONG if she is made to wear something that she doesn’t agree with. She once held a cardigan shut with her hands (for hours!) to cover up an adorable white shirt that she said was “too straight.”

Here are just some of the other reasons why my three-year-old is changing her clothes:

 

1. There’s a bone on it. (a bow)

2. Her friend borrowed this sweatshirt once and now it’s too hot.

3. These pants aren’t jumping high enough.

4. When she swallows, this coat tickles her neck.

5. She forgot that she can’t do jeans on her legs.

6. Halloween shirts just feel scary.

7. These tights are choking her feet.

8. Her brother breathed on her.

 

And you can read the rest here!

Jomama

I’m over at Scary Mommy this week!

 

Here is a peek:

 

Before becoming a mom, I had never asked the question, “Is it okay for this child to use my sock as toilet paper?” Or, after my two-year-old sprinkled her great grandparents ashes in her hair, I asked, “How much soap does it take to get human remains out of someone’s hair?” The answer: A lot. But I have asked these questions, now, and I can never go back.

Here are 25 other questions that I never knew I would be asking once I became a mother:

1. Is that chocolate… or poop?

2. Oh crap, will anyone notice that I’m wearing two different shoes?

3. Can a baby actually suck your life force out through your boobs?

4. Ketchup totally counts as a vegetable, right?

5. How is it that I have a college education and I can not solve this second grade math problem?

6. Wrestling this person into her clothes counts as cardio, right?

7. Did my mom hide in the bathroom, too?

8. How long can a kid survive on just toast?

 

And you can check out the rest of the post here!

I love my husband. I do. He is a wonderful person and a great dad and a dashing dresser.

But the man really loves to run up hills. And occasionally, I get thrown into these running-up-hills situations and I complain a lot. My love of complaining about running up hills does not mix well with his love of running up hills.

A couple of weeks ago, we had the chance to go to Burlington, Vermont together. Without our children. As overjoyed as I was with the prospect of spending 5 days sleeping in and doing whatever the hell we wanted all-day every-day, I also suspected that there might be some hill-running in my future. I prepared for this by trying not to think about it and hoping for a miracle.

Our first run on the first morning was a disaster. A freaking disaster. If you ever go to Burlington, Vermont and someone tells you that a great trail run is running up to the top of Camel’s Hump, they are a liar and they don’t want to be your friend.

It is a beautiful…hike.

Here are a couple of pictures:

Him running up a hill…tra la la.

photo 1 (65)

Me saying, “Ha ha I’m having so much fun. Someone help me…please. Please?”

frantic

After a couple of miles running straight up the slippery, rocky, stupid mountain, we bailed. It might have been the daggers I was imagining throwing into his back, but I don’t think Robb was having a good time, either. We then found a nice cross-country skiing trail and sorta salvaged the day even though the air was still thick with our mutual annoyance.

My favorite part of the cross-country trail was when a butterfly followed me for about a mile, trying to land on my shirt.

When I told Robb about the butterfly he said, “You mean it was a leaf?” I still don’t think he believes me.

This takes us to Saturday. We did extensive research on our next run. And by extensive, I mean we googled “trail runs in Burlington.” We came to an article in Runner’s World calling one particular trail, “The Trail of The Month.” Great! We would like to do The Trail of The Month in Burlington, VT and have fun together as a couple on our wonderful retreat without kids. Yes. That is what we would like to do.

When we saw the elevation gain and the words “fairly arduous”, it seemed a little daunting, but, this was The Trail of the Month from the very reliable Runner’s World.

As we drove toward Mount Mansfield, I started to get a little nervous. It looked…big. We parked and paid and talked to the Park Ranger and when she told us that The Chin is the highest point in Vermont I became a little more nervous.

map

I was kinda trying to keep it together, though, because I really didn’t want to have a repeat of the day before.

Robb really wanted to do the 9 mile Trail of the Month that Runner’s World wrote about. I was more into doing the 7 mile trail that the Park Ranger recommended. So, we looked at the map and argued discussed and decided that we were up for being tortured having an adventure.

There were 3 good things about The Trail of the Month in Burlington, VT as called by Runner’s World:

1. The first mile was nice.

2. Beautiful views.

3. We completely bonded over our shared misery.

You see, this was not a running trail. Not by any stretch of the imagination has any human ever run this trail. And if they have, I would like to meet them and just stand in their miraculous presence. This was 9 miles and 3 hours of class 2 scrambling and some occasional jumping over large crevasses.

See below:

Adventuring

The Crevasse

 

And:

photo 4 (45)

Robb pretending that he is running

 

And:

Rocks.

Rocks.

And:

And some more, larger rocks.

And some more, larger rocks.

At the top, there were about 200 people (including an older woman in freaking orthopedic shoes and a skirt) and I was like, what the what?

Well, that was when we saw the Gondola.

Don’t I look super-duper happy:

photo 1 (67)

 

The views were, indeed, spectacular:

 

But please don’t go to Mount Mansfield and expect to run to the top of Vermont.

 

The happy ending is that we then stuffed our faces and it was good. If you are ever in Burlington, go to The Farmhouse Tap and Grill. Food so good that I forgot, for a moment, the three hours of pretending that I was an incompetent mountain goat. They did not pay me to say this.

 

My husband and I went on a vacation. Together. Without kids. I know. Crazy with a side of sleeping-in till noon. It was lovely, we drank beer, we ate the best burgers in Vermont and we had a full-fledged adventure (which deserves its own post once I recover).

Here is a sneak-peak of “The Run From Hell.” Notice in the first picture that I am very far behind him. And in the second picture I am climbing a rock. Not, in fact, running.

(A big huge thank you to Robb’s parents who held down our home-front with ease, despite the week we were gone being Grayson’s Special Person of the Week at school (meaning show-and-tell EVERY SINGLE DAY) and also him having a field trip and Nora displaying a recent book-de-shelving psychosis.)

See exhibit A:

books

And yes, she still has the side of her bed up. She likes it. But DO NOT make the mistake of calling it a crib. You will regret it.

 

I haven’t traveled on an airplane without being responsible for a child in quite a few years which is maybe saying something about how fun it is to be with your husband in the first few years of him starting his own business.

Read; Not fun.

I flew out to meet Robb in Burlington as he was wrapping up some work stuff and during the trip out, I found out that I actually love traveling.

By myself.

I am a very fun person to travel with. I don’t whine at all or lick seat belts or stare unabashedly at the other passengers on the airplane. I just sit there and read a book and drink some wine and mind my own business. Well, at least I try. I did get sucked into admiring pictures of my neighbor’s friend’s cousin’s dog on her phone for about 30 minutes. To be fair, it was a cute dog. Sometimes I’m a little too friendly and people think I care way more than I actually do.

And because I am fond of making lists out of all the things in my life (all sorts of lists that would boggle your mind)…here is my list of things that are awesome about traveling without children.

1. Going to the bathroom. I almost feel like I don’t need to say anything more about this but I’m going to anyway. I realized that, while traveling by myself, that I am a normal human-sized ambulatory person who can fit nicely in a regular stall. This is because I’m not hauling 12 bags balanced on a stroller or trying to convince a blue-eyed version of myself that peeing really is something that humans have to do once in a while.

2. And…the automatic flusher in the toilet did not scare me or anyone else that was in the bathroom stall with me, making it a much more relaxing experience.

3. The stuff I did not have to bring on the airplane with me, i.e. extra underpants, pack n’ play, carseats, games, DVD player, movies, this week’s special blankets and stuffed animals, and an entire carry-on filled just with patience.

4. The people I sat next to on the plane did not make the sign of the cross when they saw me coming.

5. The magazines. The wine. And the napping. My own napping. Not the napping that I desperately work my entire day trying to achieve in some other person.

Success!

Success!

6. The people-watching. There is a whole lot of fascinating humans to observe when you aren’t concerned about keeping someone else alive while exiting the moving sidewalk.

7. Bodily functions. Again. Surprisingly easy to keep track of when they are just your own. And I did not have to say the word “potty” even once.

8. The startling amount of selfish glee I got from watching other parents while they struggled to get their young children to act normal. While watching some new parents attempt to convince their oddly strong toddler to not kick the seat in front of him, all I could think was, “Good luck, Suckers!”

9. I never once had to apologize for my lack of social skills. “Like, sorry. I guess I’m just feeling shy today. That’s why I am staring at you with a blank look on my face while you ask me my name.”

10. And finally, without my cute sidekicks, I was basically invisible. I am a bit of an introvert, so this was awesome. Nobody asked me what grade I was going to be in or if I liked my teacher. Nobody asked me if this was my first plane ride or if I felt like a big girl for having my own seat. And, best of all, not one person tried to play peek-a-boo with me between the spaces of the seats.

 

And…I’m pretty sure the kids didn’t miss us.

 

Fall around here brings birthdays and soccer and running and enchanted creatures in the forest.

 

Nora turned 3.

Yippee!

photo 1 (62)

 

And monsters have become the thing that gets her out of her bed and into mine WAY too much. But thanks to all of the kind advice from a little Facebook crowdsourcing, here she is with her new Monster Catcher. It seems to working so far.

 

 

monster catcher

 

Now if only it would catch her before she pours entire bottles of fingernail polish into the sink. Or tries to wash her brother’s mirror with lotion. Or empties her entire book shelf to find the book she calls Loudly Loudly. This book (actually called Holler Loudly) is threatening to take me to a dark place. I have been forced to read it at least three times a day for the past two weeks and when I first started to read it, in my innocence, I read it with a really terrible southern accent and now I am also forced to continue to do this. And so, I may have hidden it. But then that backfired with the unloading of the bookshelf.

So.

Grayson is in soccer. The first few games usually start off super slow. But usually by the end of the season the whole team is finally figuring out how to play together and I will admit I get embarrassingly excited whenever anyone gets even close to the goal. There is just something weirdly satisfying about watching your kid kick a ball. This might be the only life situation where we encourage him to be aggressive, which isn’t exactly his go-to demeanor. I mean, he gave his little sister the middle name “Rainbow” right? And he gets a little teary sometimes when Nora hugs him out of the blue. He has to work a little at aggression.

 

See below.

graybutterfly

The kid gets pretty tired out from all the trying and the running and the latent competitiveness that I just know is running through his veins.

photo 1 (63)

 

Notice the money he has clutched in his hand and the new bling. There is a great little shop in Idaho Springs (right across from the brewery) and Gray saved his money so he could buy some prayer beads there. I know. He might just be the first Buddhist in our family.

The nice shop owner noticed that Nora was admiring the hat in the pictures below (probably because she was screaming “I really want dis hat!” very very loudly at one point) and as we walked out the door, he just handed it to her. So yeah, customers for life.

And Nora learned a valuable life lesson that if she makes a big enough fuss about something, some stranger will give her stuff for free. Just getting her prepared to live here in ‘Merica.

She’s been wearing the hat ever since. Even when it was 80 degrees out.

We also made our way to The Enchanted Forest that our local Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center puts on every Fall at Mud Lake. It’s fun. The guy that is dressed as a bear acts drunk and that is pretty much the highlight for me.

The bus trip to Mud Lake selfie:

photo 3 (55)

Robb hula-hooping and Grayson trying to sneak by him looking like he is pretending not to know him:

Who IS that guy?

Who IS that guy?

 

The Moose and our tour guide Fairy:

photo 5 (22)

 

The Bobcat:

photo 4 (43)

 

And I have been neglecting my blog in favor of training for a Half Marathon that was sadly cancelled at the last minute, writing on my book (!), and well, monster-wrangling. I hope you are all having a wonderful Fall!

 

 

photo 4 (42)

I was never in dance growing up.  Not that I wouldn’t have been, it’s just that I grew up in a small town in South Dakota and I don’t think that dance classes were a super high priority. I’m pretty sure I could have found a class in my town on learning how to drive a tractor, how to properly wrestle a calf, or maybe even How To Apply Crisco While Tanning on Barn Roofs. But dance, not so much.

Now, however, we have found ourselves the parents of a little girl who is creating a tutu situation around here that is a little ridiculous. We recently decided that maybe we needed a place to channel some of her frilly, twirly energy before our house explodes into a cloud of tulle and ribbons and fancy shoes and they never find our bodies.

photo 3 (52)

 

Here are some things I didn’t realize before signing my three-year-old daughter up for her first dance class:

1. That I would need to take out a second mortgage or sell a kidney in order to buy, not only ballet AND tap shoes, but also the hot pink leotard tutu concoction that became lodged in my daughter’s vise-like grip at the local dance store. Note to any other mothers out there thinking of taking their child into a store specifically made for dance; Don’t.

2. That I would underestimate my daughter’s attachment to her new dance things. After putting on the entire ensemble once we got home, including tap shoes, she began to fall, repeatedly, on our wood floor because of the slippery shoe bottoms. Eventually I said, “Maybe you should take your tap shoes off so you don’t break you bottom today.” But, in her desperation to continue to wear the super fancy, future-head-injury-disguised-as-a-pair-of-shoes she said, “I’ll just crawl mom. See! I like crawling!”

3. That I would soon realize why the dance instructor briefly allowed the parents in the dance room to help don our children’s tap shoes and take a couple of pictures and then politely told us to get the heck out. The kids would have never been able to hear the Frozen sound track over the audible swooning and the,  Oh My Gawds!!! and, They Are So Cutes!!! and the, Look at them tap their darling little tap shoes’!!!”

4. That the first dance class might turn the mother’s into women that they didn’t quite recognize. There was only one tiny side window in which we could all see about half the class at any one time. There may have some polite shoving involved. I don’t really remember. We were all very excited.

5. I didn’t understand what an amazing bargaining tool that the hot pink tutu concoction would be. Getting a three-year-old to listen to all of the words that are coming out of your mouth is challenging. Unless…you have leverage. That dance dress has become the ultimate leverage. “If you throw your brother’s art project all over the room because you are angry at him, you are choosing to lose your dance dress.” or, “If you continue to make going to bed into an MMA Fighting Championship, you are choosing to lose your dance dress.” or even, “If you continue to talk to me in a voice that only dogs can hear, you are choosing to lose your freaking dance dress!”

6. How she would tell everyone, including every checkout person we see, our garbage lady, or anyone accidentally making eye contact with her, about her “Dance Party” and her “New dwess! That twirls and sparkles!” And is, of course, hand-wash only.

7. That I would need to make a deep investment into Woolite because I am going to be hand-washing that thing every day of my life.

8. That my daughter would start to creep me out a little standing there in The Dress, hip jutted out, head at a weird angle, and talking in an even higher falsetto than her normal voice saying, “I am a pweeetty pwincess! Aren’t I mommy? Say it! Say I’m pwetty pwincess!”

9. And well, the cuteness. Oh my gawd.

photo 1 (61)

 

 

I’m over at Scary Mommy today with this post talking about this girl.

IMG_2410

 

Toddlers are kind of like escaped insane asylum patients who you are forced to feed a strict diet of noodles and applesauce and then they are allowed to touch your eyeballs while you are sleeping.

But, they are also like the naked truth of humanity walking around doing everything that we secretly WANT to do but have learned through societal norms that we must NOT do. Yes, there are many reasons why I love toddlers. (Well, at least mine. Yours is kind of annoying.)

1. They are adorable enough during even the worst temper tantrum that you never actually toss them from a high place. How is it possible that I can find the enraged, snot-streaked face hollering at me still one of the cutest things ever? Must be a survival of the species thing.

2. They feel ALL the feelings. This can definitely work against you if they happen to miss seeing the random cow you pointed out during a car ride. But they also have so much love to give! Like a short, creepy stalker kind of love, but still.

3. They help you gain upper body strength with all the shoe-wrestling and clothes-putting-on and tooth-brushing. I will sometimes pick my toddler up in the middle of a tantrum and she is kicking so hard in my general direction that I have to hold her at arm’s length to get her to time-out without me receiving bodily injury. But my Deltoids are amazing!

4. They live in the moment. You, as their parent, can learn to appreciate the pretty flowers on the side of the road while you are on your hands and knees with a box of wipes and a soaked and unwilling version of yourself. And don’t forget about appreciating the “I love you Mommy song” in the gas station rest room that might go on for a good long time while you try to get them to concentrate on what they are doing. So sweet.

5. They try SO hard. The determination! The commitment! I wish I could sell the single-minded focus my child gives to convincing me she needs to wear her tutu with everything.

6. Their wants are still so simple. Rocks. Water. Tupperware. Day made.

7. You are pretty much a superhero. You probably won’t ever feel as loved as you do when the preschool teacher is physically wrenching your small toddler away from you at drop off.

8. You can still fool them a little. They actually believe you when you say that eating their vegetables will make them grow big. They don’t always care, but they believe you.

9. They get excited about…freaking everything. I wish I could muster the same amount of excitement for my life as my toddler does about simply going through a car wash.

10. They still want to cuddle and they still might call cantaloupe, “camel milk.” Their babyhood is leaving and you will have to tell them the proper way to say stuff eventually, but not today. And if they go to Kindergarten still calling a dump truck a dumb f*ck, well, they should have thought of that before they Sharpied the window sills.

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 218 other followers

%d bloggers like this: