Friday, December 20, 2013

Uh oh...

I knew Bjorn had asked Santa for a Flash Gordon toy for Christmas, but I was unaware until today that it was a specific Flash Gordon toy.

"A wind up Flash Gordon toy that when it winds up, it goes super super duper fast!"

A quick google search found me this:


Except it is on ebay for $800.


Or best offer.

Think he will accept $15? Because that's pretty much what I'm willing to spend.

Looks like Santa's elves will be bringing a regular Flash Gordon toy that uses imagination, and not a wind up, to go "super super duper fast"!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The most wonderful time of the year

This morning, I felt a sense of discomfort. Just that casual sense of unease that something wasn't quite right.

I ran over the list in my head. Was I missing any appointments? Did I forget to put on deodorant? Was there oatmeal stuck to my shirt?

And then, it hit me.

Earlier, at the dentist, I was asked (as we all are at this time, small talk at its best) if I was ready for Christmas. I lamented the standard woes about not being able to think of gifts for certain people in my family, and how was I ever going to get their gifts and ship them and still have time to work and clean and live and ......well, you get the drift. I complained.

It was my tirade which had left me uneasy.

Uneasy, because I feel guilty when I don't tell the truth. Maybe it's my Catholic upbringing, maybe it's just me, but whatever it is, a tiny lie, a small, little fudging of the truth can make me feel anxious. It is very important to me to be truthful, in all ways. This may have cost me a few friendships over the years.

The truth is, I love this time of year. Yes, I am stressed with working twice as much as I have any other month of the year. I don't have presents or ideas for presents for some family members. I am trying to stuff a year's worth of hot chocolate and Christmas lights into a small few days of free time.

And I love it.

I love that we watch the old grainy Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer over and over again. I love that Bjorn wakes in the morning and immediately opens his Hallmark book to hear his grandma and grandpa and aunt and uncle reading Twas the Night Before Christmas to him. I love Peanut refusing to put little baby Jesus in his manger where he belongs, but stashing Him in her purse and carrying Him around all day.

I love the lights and the festivals and the hot chocolate. I love the songs and the stories and the traditions and the memories.

We have a countdown calendar, and Bjorn noticed that it was 11 days until Christmas, 11 days until we leave the "special keys" outside for Santa, so he can get into our locked home. Apparently last year, we did this.....some kind of jingle bell keys set in the front yard, keys only Santa can use, since we don't have a chimney for him to come down, and our doggie door isn't big enough.


Last weekend, we went to a Christmas festival with friends. It was a crowded, overwhelming festival and almost right away we wished for something different, something less than the lights and the rides and the $6 hot chocolates. We were handed a flyer for a hayride and living nativity one street over, so we headed there. All the kids were quiet and respectful during the living nativity, and on the last spot, the manger where Mary and Joseph knelt in the hay, Peanut whispered in my ear. "I want to say hi baby Jesus." We walked closer and she leaned over gently, waving her little hand, whispering, "Hi Baby Jesus!"


Pictures with Santa are priceless, and I actually looked forward this year to another picture like last year's, with Peanut screaming her pretty little head off again. It's a rite of passage, right?  I never imagined that Santa wouldn't even let her sit on his lap. I guess that's what happens when she is screaming "NO! I NOT WANT TO!", punching wildly and kicking her little boot-clad feet at anyone within striking distance.


While it may be a rushed, busy time of the year, I love it. Every year with kids, the holidays get better, the time sweeter. Bjorn walks around singing "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer", "Jingle Bells" and "Happy Birthday Jesus." Peanut keeps saying how much she doesn't like Santa and trying to open gifts.

I was asked again, later, if I was ready for Christmas. I took this time to say how I really felt, that I was enjoying my hot chocolates and Christmas carols and loved watching my kids buy gifts for each other. I was met with blank stares and weird looks. It was sad, really. They seemed to have no idea what I was talking about.

That this, this month, this rushed, packed, crazy busy, hectic, over scheduled month......this truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I won't judge you

To the single woman at the grocery store tonight who gasped in shock, and glared at me when she heard my 2 year old sing (as if life were a cartoon and she were Minnie Mouse) "When you see BEER, saaaaayyyyy BEER!", don't judge me.

Because someday you will have kids of your own. 

You will be in public with your kids, one carrying three naked baby dolls and a handful of goldfish she found in the bottom of her car seat. The other is wearing a pirate eye patch and snow boots in July. Neither will have had a bath in three days, and you're not sure when your four year old last changed his shirt.

And you, you who used to be single and free and put on makeup everyday, will realize that these little miniature people, they copy every thing you do. Every. Single. Thing. Even if you only did it once. Because their little minds don't have the 30+ years of experiences to hold, they remember all 2 years of their experiences with perfect clarity. 

Then they sing about those experiences. ALL of them.

"Poopy!. POOP POOP POOOOOOOP. You go Poopy. I go Poopy. He goes Poopy (pointing at innocent bystander). And it's stiiiinnnnnkkkkk-yyyyyyy!" delivered with a flourish and a bow, of course.

They sing and talk and comment about absolutely every thing that is happening around them, from pointing out overweight people to what they had for breakfast three days ago to what we are buying at the store that moment.

Then you may understand. You may understand why I laughed when my girl made up a song about buying beer. (Because it's better than a song about bowel movements? Because it's a game we play to keep them interested at the store? "When you see apples, saaaay apples! When you see deodorant, saaaaay deodorant!") You may even remember me, my hair sticking out of a sloppy ponytail but the smile on my face genuine, letting her child be a silly little girl, singing about anything she sees. Because it is funny. It is cute. She's adorable, twirling around, arms flapping as if she is on a Broadway stage, not in the produce aisle. 

You may even feel a little bit guilty. Or ashamed. For thinking - as some people without kids do - that YOU would do so much better. You would be different. Your kids would be cleaner, their lisp less apparent. Your kids would skip contentedly along like toddlers in a 1950's sitcom, being seen but not heard. I know this because that is how I felt, that is what I said.

Just like me, you would be wrong. 

Some days you will do it better than me. Some days you won't. But it's not a contest. Life is not the Olympics, with one winner and the rest falling behind. We are all in this thing called life together.

But don't feel bad. Your gasp of horror, your dismay at the fact that my 2 1/2 year old knows what a beer is (and seriously?! What is wrong with knowing that?!) - I needed that as well. To remember that my happiness does not depend on a strangers view of my life, nor do I care what you think. I am happy, laughing along with my playful daughter, whether it is songs about dog poop or things we find in our teeth or, yes, Mommy buying beer the night before Thanksgiving. Thank you for reminding me that my hair may not be washed but my heart is very full. The trade off is absolutely worth it.

Someday, you smug single woman who gets to pee by herself and read not just sentences but entire books, you who shave your legs more often than I shower and who doesn't yet have the scars of childbirth on her body and heart, someday you will be here, where I am.

And I won't judge you. Promise.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Well, he IS made of frogs and snails and puppy dog tails........

The story starts as most of mine tend to start these days..... The silence was deafening.

And I chose to ignore it.

The silence was nice. I'll admit it. I liked it.

I walked around my house, casually unloading the dishwasher and picking up dirty sippy cups and broken toys. And it was quiet. Quiet, people. No "He touched me!". No "She took my firetruck!". No corralling and time-outs and explaining and, well, parenting. So, instead of looking into the backyard to see why they weren't smacking each other with hockey sticks and baseball bats and plastic babies (as is the norm around here), I let it go.

Don't judge. You would do the same.

SILENCE, remember?! It's a precious thing.

Then Peanut walked in the house, chomping away. I hadn't given them anything to snack on in a while, so warning bells immediately went out.

"Peanut, what is in your mouth?"

"YummmmYummmYummmmMmmm." she mumbled back, mouth full.

"Open up. What is that?! Oh.My.Gosh. Is that DOG FOOD?! Are you eating dog food?!"

It's at this point that Peanut opens her hands, hands filled with more dog food. I quickly grab it away before she can shove it in her mouth.

"Yeeeees." Bjorn slowly said.

"Uh huh! Yummmm!" Peanut chimed in excitedly.

"Why would you eat dog food?!" I asked.

Peanut tries to grab the dog food from me. "Yum yum yum!" she says. "Because my tummy said it wanted to eat dog food." Bjorn replies.

"Do you listen to everything your tummy tells you to do?"

"Yes. My tummy tells me not that it is full."

"You're full? How much did you eat?!"

"All of it." Bjorn said.

"All if it?! The whole bowl of dog food?!"

"No silly," Bjorn replies, because obviously if someone is being silly around here, it's me, "All of it that Dog left."

Then he spreads his arms, stretching them out wide like the rabbit in every one's favorite bedtime story. "THIS much!"

Being that he is 4, and has no concept of cups or ounces, inches or feet, I knew I would never truly know how much was eaten.

I remember reading once that it is an actual human job to taste test dog food. Somewhere out there is a person whose sole profession is to make sure that the dog food is fit for consumption.

I know two kids happy to volunteer for that position.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Desert & The Windy City: a Tale of Two Cities

Recently, I was asked by Kendra Thornton, (mom of 3, travel aficionado and a Chicago girl) to collaborate together on a post featuring what is unique and wonderful about the cities we live in. 

As a flight attendant, and a native Texan living in Arizona, married to a man who was born abroad, you can probably guess that I love to travel. I love seeing new places, and I never fail to see amazing sights no matter what city I am in. But I don't always have to travel far to find new adventures. The Hubs and I - with the two kidlets in tow - like to pick a direction (east!), choose a time (90 minutes!) and then see where the drive takes us. Most of the time we wind up at some kid-friendly entertainment (Two kids 4 and under? Often we find ourselves at restaurants with plastic cutlery and talking animals.), but we have also seen that Phoenix has far more than golf courses and desert views to offer.

Phoenix.  Sports, Sports and more Sports
Before we moved to Phoenix, I told The Hubs that I would only move on one condition - that we get there before Spring Training that year.  Where else could I see 15 professional teams play America's sport for sometimes as little as $7 a ticket?!  As a lifelong lover of baseball,to me Phoenix is the sultan of swing, the best of the bat!  Baseball games are played in 10 different outdoor stadiums across The Valley and bring to mind the old-fashioned stadiums of the past, with metal bleachers and large grassy areas where you can spread a picnic blanket, waiting for a foul ball. Spring training isn't all that Phoenix offers, though. Hockey lives here in the desert, and The Phoenix Coyotes are so loved in my house that Bjorn sleeps with Coyotes blankets and named his Build-a-Bear Mike Smith, the Coyotes goalie. Round it out with the Phoenix Suns and the Arizona Cardinals, and Phoenix is the place to be for professional sports.

Easier to get him on Howler's lap than Santa's!
Buy me some Peanuts and Cracker Jacks....

Perfect Parks for Play
When you think of Phoenix, you probably think of hot. You're right. It's H-O-T hot in the summer. But from October through May, Phoenix weather is nothing short of amazing. it is almost like a production company brought in their "perfect weather" machine for a movie shoot and left it on all winter. That's when you head to the many parks around town. Every weekend finds us at some park or another, playing football or soccer or Frisbee. We have Encanto Park in Phoenix, with the Enchanted Island amusement park, and numerous walking trails and hiking paths. Or the Surprise Community Park and its aptly named "Playground of Dreams', a play area for kids of every age to swing and jump and slide and climb to their hearts content.  Our absolute fave, though, has to be the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale, where you can ride a replica miniature train around a mile track. For $2 a person. Cheap entertainment at its absolute best. Afterwards, you can enjoy a carousel ride and a picnic lunch next to the playground, watching other families take their turn on the train. Relaxing, inexpensive and the kids adore it. Who could ask for more?

Who doesn't love a good ol-fashioned train ride?
The Children's Museum of Phoenix
Nestled in The Monroe School building downtown, The Children's Museum looks like most other buildings in downtown Phoenix. But take a closer look outside, and you can see little kids with squeegees and water bottles, engaging in creative water play. Inside the museum, there are rooms for kids of all ages. The art room has a huge rocket ship covered in dozens of layers of colors, as kids can paint it as much as they want, however they would like. Baskets and blankets scatter throughout the fort room, ready to be transformed into any magical place a little imagination can discover. There is a supermarket attached to a kitchen, allowing the kids to bring their (wooden) pepperoni, cheese and dough over to be cooked in the (play) pizza oven. All these rooms pale to the spectacular climber located smack dab in the middle of the museum. Almost as tall as the museum itself, the climber is made with a bunch of assorted building materials (a real bathtub!), leading to winding staircases or fenced dead ends. So many rooms and different atmospheres means there is always something there for everyone.

I never knew squeegees could be so much fun.

You know what I love about Phoenix now, but what does Kendra Thornton love most about Chicago?

Sports, Architecture, and Ferris Wheels: A Fun Weekend in Chicago
Chicago has it all.  There are professional sports teams. There is delicious cuisine; the hotels and shopping are all historically noteworthy.  The art and architecture are lauded.  There is a reason I call this place home, you know J. If you come for a week, or even for a weekend, though, figuring out what to do can be an intimidating process.  The following suggestions will help you get a start on your trip. 

Professional Sports in Every Season 
No matter the season, there is a professional sports team to follow in Chicago.  In the spring and summer months, watch the White Sox and Cubs.  The Cubs play at the historic Wrigley Park, which is famous for its ivy-covered walls.  In the fall, the city’s NFL team, the Chicago Bears, plays at Soldier Field. And, in the winter and spring, the Chicago Bulls play high-flying NBA basketball.  This year, the Bulls’ young star, Derrick Rose, is returning from a knee injury.  The great thing about all of these franchises is the legends and stories that accompany each team.  Michael Jordan, the best basketball player of all-time, suited up for the Bulls in the 1980s and 1990s, and is just one example of a Chicago sports legend. 

Ride the Ferris Wheel at Historic Navy Pier
Built in 1893 for Chicago’s World’s Columbian Exposition, Navy Pier Park has endured the test of time, and is now considered a national historic landmark.  While it is currently undergoing a ‘contemporary makeover,’ these renovations are largely occurring through the winter so they won’t disrupt visitors.  Navy Pier Park’s most famous ride is the 150-foot tall Navy Park Ferris Wheel, which has 40 gondolas!  Other attractions include the Light Tower Ride and Wave Swinger. If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, Navy Pier has an 18-hole miniature golf course. If water is your thing, try out the remote control miniature boats the Pier has to offer. 

 From Modern to Victorian: Chicago’s Amazing Architecture
Even though I have been living here for a “few” years now, one of my favorite things to do is just wander around the city, checking out Chicago’s amazing architecture.  The office buildings located downtown are modern, industrial, and downright awesome.  The historic neighborhoods, filled with decadent Victorians, have a more refined aura.  The key to Chicago is to stay in a hotel near a location that is filled with the architecture you prefer, or near the attractions you wish to visit.  I always recommend gogobot as a website that is knowledgeable about Chicago hotels and accommodations. It also helps that gogobot offers up-to-the-minute deals and rates on some of The Windy City’s most popular hotels. 

American Comfort Food Done Right 
With the fall well underway, the weather in Chicago is starting to cool off.  One of my favorite restaurants in the city for fall-themed foods is the RL.  Located right in the middle of downtown, next to the world’s largest Ralph Lauren Polo store, the RL has a menu filled with American comfort food classics.  My favorite thing to eat here, especially in October, is a tomato soup with grilled cheese.  Simple, yet tasty, and the soup always manages to warm me up!

Thanks, Kendra for stopping by to tell us what you love most about The Windy City. (Make sure you follow Kendra Thornton and gather more travel tips form her Twitter!)  I know Chicago has a special place in my heart, too. Some of my fondest memories are of hanging out at my Grandma's in south Chicago, visiting the Museum of Science and Industry, and, of course, watching The White Sox play. I can't wait to check out your favorite restaurant, too! Grilled cheese and tomato soups are some of may favorites! 

Now tell me - what makes YOUR city special?!

Monday, October 14, 2013

How motherhood has changed my movies...

One of the most unexpected changes of becoming a Mom has been to my movie and TV preferences.

While previously I enjoyed horror flicks, scary movies and every single crime show God and Jerry Bruckheimer have created, I just can't seem to stomach them now. I still DVR Law & Order SVU, but it is mostly out of habit at this point. Most of the show is spent with me cringing and wincing.

Because everything I see on that TV screen is everything I am trying to protect my children from.

I am watching safely from the comfort of my La-Z-Boy couch, my kids tucked safely into their non-recalled, completely safe beds, and I have the urge to run into their rooms and measure their breathing, to make sure they are still there.  My irrational side needs to see that it IS just a TV show and nothing (NOTHING!) in that show is every going to touch my kids. Ever.

I want to shout at the screen, warning each child away from the danger around those corners. I want to hug the mothers who have lost their children, console them, for my heart is breaking for their loss as if it is a child I have actually known, not an actor in a role.

While I do still watch Law&Order, my heart isn't into it. I tend to veer more towards what my life looks like now (or what it would if I was witty and beautiful and had a stylist picking out my clothes, home and friends). Modern Family. Parks & Recreation. The Office. Funny, family comedies.

So when The Hubs fell asleep at the late late hour of 9 pm a few nights ago, I settled in to watch something he would never watch with me. Something safe, with no law and no order and no thinking required. A chick flick. An old chick flick I had never seen before about dancers and young love.

Oh yes, I'm about 10 years late to the party; I watched the movie Step Up. (You know, that one with that one actor. .....What's his name?.... Oh yeah.... Channing Tatum.)

I was enjoying the movie - the triteness, the simpleness of it all. A love story we have seen played in countless movies countless times. And then - BAM! A child dies. (Spoiler alert! Except, I don't think it can really be considered a spoiler, since the movie has been out for seven years. If you haven't seen it by now, someone was bound to spoil it for you at some point. Might as well be me.)

That's right. In the middle of this chick flick about dancing and love and being true to yourself, a child DIES. I was so unprepared for it. Just sitting there, ho-hum, tweedle-dee, look at Channing, he's so cute, wow, I wish I could dance like that, and then - Tears. Quiet, sad tears because in order to make the lead character realize what is really important in life, the writers had to have a child die.

I think we need to tweak our movie ratings system. Keep the old ratings, but we need to add something for Mothers. Bambi could get a G-M. Meaning: Rated G, but a Mother dies. (Again, spoiler alert..... and did I really spoil that for anyone?!)  Step Up could get a PG-13-C. Meaning: Rated PG-13, but a Child dies. That way at least I get advance notice of a child's death.

It is really not safe for me to watch anything anymore.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Something so Big Kid about that

I feel like I'm behind on most of the "typical" Mom things. Namely, my son is 4, and not in preschool yet, and I forgot to enroll him in baseball before the season began. I normally get around to doing things about three weeks after I should. Procrastination at its best.

I want him in preschool, I really do. But finding one that works with our schedule is hard. See, we need full time daycare/preschool because I work three days a week. But my work days vary between weeks, so I need care that will let the kids come three different days each week. And, no, I don't want to put my kids in all FIVE days, just three. I'm selfish and want those other two weekdays with them. Most places told me, "Sure! You can bring them only three days - BUT you have to pay for the other two days in order to guarantee them a spot." Uh uh.

I also wanted a place where both kids could go. They are the best of friends (Peanut routinely tells Bjorn "You my bestest fwiend EVAH, Yah-Yah!") and I want to hold onto it as long as possible.

Sadly, most preschool daycare's are only for 3 and up, so those were out. Also, the cost of some were ridiculous! $1200 for ONE kid? $2000 for two? I think they might have been teaching the kids Chinese and gluten-free baking and how to start their own business, but, seriously? I could send my kid to private Catholic school for that price!

Except that the private Catholic school around here has a school day that ends at 3 pm and no after care. Oh, and they are also only 3 and up.

My options got slimmer and slimmer, and ever since his two daycare buddies went off to kindergarten, Bjorn has begun begging for school more and more.

So I finally found one. At my gym, of all places. 

It's reasonably priced. They are flexible with my days. They won't take Peanut, but that is OK. I'm using this preschool in addition to daycare, not in place of it. Peanut and I have our girl time, and Bjorn goes to school.

I didn't think the first day would be difficult - I had been sending him to daycare since he was 7 months old.  But it was. There is something so Big Kid about letting your child walk into a schoolroom (even if that school room is actually a squash court and that reading nook is just a beanbag chair thrown in the corner). There is something so Big Kid about him walking away from you, sitting in a circle with 11 other boys and girls and watching him watch the teacher.

Don't even get me started on when the day is over, and he walks out the door with a folder under his arm, asking if we can go home right now because he has homework to do.

He went to preschool on Monday, and every night since he has sat at the kitchen table and asked to do his homework. He gets out his colored pencils, opens his folders and says, "OK, Mom. What are we going to do first?"

Every night we practice his "i's" and his "9's" and all the I sounds, and we write in his reading log, and when we are done, he puts it all in his little folder and places it next to his bed for safekeeping.

I thought Peanut would be upset, seeing her "Best friend EVER" walk away from her to go to school, but she waved goodbye to him happily, grabbed my hand and walked away so we could do our thing together, her and I. I, on the other hand, can't believe I have a comfortable, strong, capable son in Preschool.

There is something so Big Kid about that.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A simple walk

During our trip around the block this morning, Bjorn rides his bike in front of me and the Princess Peanut, who is being pulled (regally) in her wagon. His commentary of the trip never stops.

"Does it smell like I toot, Mommy?"

"Noooooo." I reply. "Why, did you?!"

"Yeah. I lifted my butt and toot in the air. Because if I toot on my seat, my seat will be all stinky. And we will have to wash it. So, I toot in the air."

Then he rides along again, satisfied with his tooting ability.

"Look, Mommy! A saguaro cactus. Two saguaro cactus!" Bjorn points across the street. "They must be brother and sister. Like me and Peanut."

"I NOT a cactus!" shouts Peanut. "I a Big Girl. YOU a sa-waro!"

"No, Peanut. The CACTUS are brother and sister. There are two of them. See? See!!?"

"Oh yah." she says, nodding along with him.

A few minutes later he says again. "Mommy?!"

I wait for it, curious what it will be this time.

"This is the spot where Daddy saved me." he states matter of fact.

"Daddy saved you?"

"Yes. Do you remember that? I fell right here and Daddy saved me. I only got one scratch on my tummy. Remember?"

"No, I don't remember that, Bjorn."  I really don't remember it, along with countless other times he has fallen off his bike and his out of his wagon and off the swing.  I also know he gets so agitated when you don't remember something that he does, and I'm a bad silly mom who likes to agitate him just for fun.

"Mommy! Use your brain! You have to remember! You have to bring your brain with you, and then you remember!! Do you remember now?"

He is so adamant about me remembering that I don't have the heart to tell him this event - this oh-so-important saving of him by his Daddy- is lost in the cracks of my shaky memory. "Yes, Bjorn. I remember."

"See, Mommy? You have to use your brain." He shakes his head and rides off.

Yes, Bjorn. Yes, you do.


"Yes, Bjorn?" Who knows what it is going to come out of this kids mouth today?

He points at a few signs up ahead.

"We live on street Fifty Two." He transposes the speed limit sign for 25. "And this means 'No bad Guys Allowed'. Like The Toy-Takers. No toy takers allowed on my street!"

Most entertaining walk ever.

Friday, September 20, 2013

It's a dog eat dog world....

"I want that piece." Bjorn says at dinner, pointing at the chicken drumstick on the center plate.

"Ummmm......I'm not sure you...uhhh....can you eat that?!" I look at The Hubs questioningly. As a bacon-eating vegetarian, I don't know if a 4 year old can eat a chicken drumstick, with all its skin and bones and tendons and weird fatty clear things that aren't really able to be chewed but look just like chicken until it is actually in your mouth.

"Yes! Yes I can!"

The Hubs shrugs. "Sure, go for it."

Bjorn grabs the drumstick with one hand, biting into it full force. A hunk of greasy chicken skin hangs out of his mouth as he chews, and I resist the urge to cringe. Mostly. I may have made a semi-horrified face.

"Here," I said, handing him a napkin. "You can put the parts you can't eat in the napkin."

He shoves the dangling skin in his mouth. "I'm good."

He takes more bites and I have a clear picture of long-dead ancestors, sitting on rocks outside their cave, devouring mammoth legs beside their newly discovered fire. Bjorn has no table manners at all when it comes to drumstick eating, and I am too horrifyingly paralyzed by the sheer act to teach him. Don't get me wrong - I don't want my kids to be picky eaters like me; it's an incredibly difficult way to eat, especially if you love restaurants and going out as much as we do, and it requires eating a lot of salads.

But drumsticks? They are gross. The tendons, the stringiness, the fact that it so closely resembles an animal - the whole thing grosses me out. I'm literally (literally!!) shuddering as I am writing this, I am so disgusted by the thought.

Then Peanut joins in on the fun. Monkey see, monkey do.

I'm almost entirely certain that 2 year olds most definitely don't know how to eat off a drumstick, so I go to stop her, but Bjorn gets there before me.

"You want some, Peanut?! Ok! You can have some of my drumstick!" and he holds the leg out for her to gnaw on.

Who am I to stop a boy from sharing with his sister?

They pass the chicken leg back and forth, and Bjorn talks as he eats, his sister nodding agreeably along with him.  "I know this is a chicken leg. I know this is a chicken - a chicken that says 'Bawk! Bawk!' and has legs and feet and wings. I know this is a chicken like the ones we see at the zoo."

This is one of the main reasons I can't eat meat. It too closely resembles an animal, so it feels wrong to me. It tastes of sadness and animal babies without mothers, and overwhelmingly it takes like flesh and meat, which is just so wrong. Even if it was an animal that died eating organic grass in a land of marshmallows and butterflies and happiness, it doesn't help. I always think of Bambi and Thumper and Sebastian and Flounder, all those sweet Disney animals, and I just can't eat meat.

My kids have no problem with it.

A few days later, we are eating tacos for dinner - black bean for me, carne asada for everyone else.

"What animal is this?" Bjorn asks, popping a strip of steak in his mouth.

On the inside, I cringe, but I answer obligingly. "The same animal as hamburger."

"Nooooooo. This isn't hamburger. A hamburger is from a cow. What animal is this?"

The Hubs - the steak-loving, meat eating, completely carnivorous Hubs is strangely quiet across the room. He has his back to me, and if I didn't know better, I would think he was laughing at his squeamish vegetarian wife having to answer these questions. But, nooooo, that couldn't be right, could it?!

"It IS from the same animal. Steak and hamburger come from the same animal, but different parts of the animal and made different ways so it doesn't look the same." I say.

I am way out of my comfort zone here. No clue if I am even right. I have no reference to how steak and hamburger is made besides knowing that if I DID know, I probably couldn't eat anything for a few weeks. Even now, this talk of cows and steak and meat is making me feel so queasy, I can't even eat my nicely soil grown rabbit food dinner.

"This is cow? Really?" Bjorn questions, after a few more rounds of 'what animal is this'.

Across the kitchen, The Carnivorous Hubs finally answer. "Yep. And what do cows say?"

The kitchen echoes with the alternating sounds of my 4 year old and 2 year old shouting "Moo Moo Moo!" and shoving bites of cow-steak into their little meat-loving mouths.

If I wasn't already a vegetarian, I would definitely be now. I am completely grossed out.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Belated Happy Birthday, Take Two

Now for my girl. She was turning 2, and while she most definitely has opinions on what she does and doesn't like, she is not as attached them to like Bjorn is.  Planning a party for her was much easier.

Let's face it, after Bjorn's shin dig, I really wasn't in the mood to plan another party. I just wanted a simple get together with friends and family. (Although I didn't learn my lesson and still created a "theme" for her party, too. Sigh. Will I ever learn?)  I even nixed The Hubs plan to grill hot dogs and hamburgers because it just sounded like too much work. Instead we ordered the world's largest pizza from a local pizza place. Perfect.

The party was at our house, which meant I had to clean (ugh!) but also meant I didn't have to pack the kids up and head out anywhere (yay!). And while 6 pm may seem like an awkward time to start a toddlers birthday party, it works well for our family. Peanut usually wakes from her 3 hour nap (yes! 3 hours!!!) about 5 o'clock, and heads down to bed at 8:30. It's so hot here in AZ that even in the morning, the sun would beat down unrelentingly, but in the evening, an outdoor pool party was a little cooler. I think by 7:30 pm, it was down to about 105 or 106 degrees. Positively cold for an AZ summer.

She wouldn't wear them, so someone had to wear the mouse ears!

Water logged and loving it.

Peanut loved every moment of her party.

From the minute her first little guest arrived, to the pizza, fruit and pasta salad. From the pool we could barely drag her out of, even for the prospect of black frosting and ice cream, to the way she stood so still and quiet, eyes wide and wondering, watching as everyone sang her a Happy Birthday song. From trying to blow out her candles herself, to opening her first gift and not letting it - a Baby "Pwincess" doll - out of her grip for the next two weeks. From sharing all her new toys with her friends, to waving happily as the last person left, she loved every minute of it.

The cake? Stunning. The black frosting? Not such a great idea.

What a big girl!

Not so pretty was the aftermath of black frosting!

Happy Birthday Beautiful Girl.

The Perfect Family Portrait

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Happy Belated Birthday!

Remember that time both of my kids had birthday parties and I forgot to tell you all about it?

Yeah.....I kind of got caught up with work and,, and forgot to post. But never fear, I'm here now! And because it was so long ago, and I still don't have enough time to tell everything, you'll get the condensed, highlighted version. Lucky you.

Bjorn turned 4 early June and because it was so hot here in AZ already, and our house does not accommodate multiple screaming 4 year olds and their families very well, we chose to have the party at Chuck E Cheese. That also meant I didn't have to clean before or after, or prepare food. Score.

But being the over-achiever that I am, I couldn't just have the party at CEC and be done with it. No, I had to have a theme, and thus had to create aforementioned-themed-party-favors. Sigh. I don't why I do this to myself. As The Hubs said to me while I was stuffing one more ninja sticker and tattoo into a take-out box with custom printed Ninjago eyes on it, "Can't his theme just be "Happy Birthday?!"

(And, no, in case you were wondering, it can't. Don't ask me why. But it can't. And The Hubs did wind up helping me make his idea for Ninjago themed favors - Ninja Headbands.)

We ordered a cake from Sams Club, but they wouldn't make him a custom Ninjago figure on it. How hard could that be? I could totally make that, right?!

We picked up the cake the day of Bjorn's party and went to work creating a Ninja. Bjorn wanted to help, of course, and I needed black eyes for the ninja, so I put a bowl of white frosting in front of him, put some drops of food coloring in it, handed him a spoon and told him to stir the frosting.

"But I don't know how." he said.

"What?!" I replied. "Of course you know how! Take the spoon and just stir!"

I walked across the kitchen to grab more frosting and when I turned back to him at the table, I saw this.

He stirred the cake!
Because sometimes, no matter how specific you are being with a 4 year old, you really just have to remember that they are really just 4. It was a good reminder for me that perfection is not what matters here; what matters is that my boy is happy, safe and healthy. Although for a split second I was very upset (all this effort! his big cake ruined!), it passed quickly. He's 4. He was helping. He loved helping, he loved his cake and he loved that he was a part of each and every bit of his party. (He also wound up loving that a "ninja punched his cake" as The Hubs said.)

Bjorn and two of his buds. He wouldn't leave the air hockey table!

Devoured the punched ninja cake!

Chuck E Cheese was a huge hit, and I'm glad we had the party there, because there were 30+ people there. Ridiculous, I know, but I wanted all my friends from my MOMS club, and the kids Bjorn has grown up with from there, and he wanted all his friends from daycare. And they all came, because, let's face it, Chuck E Cheese rocks.

Except they don't serve beer. I might just boycott them for that. What kind of place can expect me to have 30+ people for a 4 year old's birthday with skeeball and games and a giant dancing rat and not expect me to have a beer? Seriously.

Her shirt says "I Love my Bro". Because she does.

4 whole candles this year!
It was a wonderful, Ninjago filled day.

Chuck E Photo Bomb!
**Peanut's birthday update still to come!**

Sunday, August 4, 2013

One of Each

After I had Bjorn, my stitches had barely healed before the question came.

"Are you going to have any more kids?"

Not that it was any of their business (my relatives, my co-workers, the cashier at the grocery store), but everyone made it their business. And not that we were going to do it right away or anything because I could barely think through one baby at that point, so two was pretty unfathomable.

Yes, I knew I wanted to have more. I had always wanted 6 kids, but that was when I met my Hubs when we were 19 and thought we would get married and have babies right away. Waiting 6 years to marry and another 2 to have kids changed my mind a little. The older I grew, the more I knew.

I was ready for the questioning after we had Peanut. Little did I know, the question had changed.

"Now that you have one of each, are you done having kids?"

One of each, I thought to myself, as I looked at my son and daughter.

One who is snuggly and likes to fall asleep on my lap, one very independent who likes space to sprawl when sleeping.

One who loves books and reading and making up stories and one who loves drawing and coloring and finding pictures hidden in puzzles.

One who can hit a baseball across the field and one who can bend themselves completely in half.

One who needs to wear a hat everyday, and one who consistently puts the shoes on the wrong feet.

One who cries and scuffs around and holds onto a grudge, and one who screams to the rooftops, then forgets about it a minute later.

One who lives for ninjas, garbage trucks and firefighters, and one who can't let go of the baby, Minnie Mouse or microphone.

One who break dances when the music is on and one who twirls and whirls to a tune no one but they can hear.

One who slept through the night from 6 months on, and one who still sneaks into our bed every night.

Both who love hugs and kisses. Both who love movies with dancing and singing and cartoon characters. Both who make friends as easily as they breathe. Both who eat string cheese and yogurt and blueberries every single day. Both who want to stir their own chocolate milk and press the microwave button all by themselves to start their oatmeal.

Both who bring something special and amazing and wonderful to our family because they are uniquely and specially THEM. Not because they are male or female. Not because I needed a set, a child salt and pepper set.

So will we have more kids?

I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. But I know that if we do, it will be another uniquely special, uniquely amazing, uniquely wonderful one. Boy, or girl.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The New Normal

Do 1 year olds poop in the potty? I mean, is this something that is normal?

Or do I just have an extremely awesome kid?

Which I do. I know I do. Even the doctors at her birth knew it, that's why she was a 10 on the APGAR. My little star. Awesomeness surrounds her.

She doesn't turn 2 until Sunday, but she has pooped in the potty - the big potty, our potty, not that silly little training potty that other kids use. Psshhh. Nah, not her. She poops in the big one. Twice.

The first time I thought it was a fluke. She asked to go pee, and I sat her on the potty and sat with her in the bathroom for a minute, but nothing happened and I got bored, so I left. (Yes, I am an awesome mom.) A minute later I hear Bjorn yelling out. "She pooped! She pooped in the potty!"  There it was, sitting in the bottom of the toilet. Peanut poop.

Shock. Shock, I tell ya. I didn't cajole, bribe or threaten. I haven't offered her a thing besides the ridiculously crazy Poo-Poo dance we created with Bjorn. She loves it, but, really, girl - don't you know you could be getting Skittles or M&M's or even that giant Doc McStuffin' doll? You know, the one that comes with the animals and the doctor scissors and the little stethoscope that really thumps? You're going to settle for the Poo Poo Dance as your reward?

Tonight she pooped in the potty again. The real deal. I'm a little weirded out by it all. It took Bjorn until he was 3 to really even think about it, and that was only after a shitload (pun intended) of CARS stickers, stamps, candies and, yes, cars. The kid knew how to work the bribery.

Peanut, on the other hand, could care less about bribery. Which makes me want all the more to give her all the candy I have.

Which is none, because I already gave it to Bjorn so he would clean his room.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Make new friends, but keep the old......

Once upon a time, there was a girl who moved across the country with her new husband. She knew only two people in her new city, and in the course of the next year met a handful more.

She became pregnant, and although she tried to make mommy friends, it just didn't seem to be happening. The time to have the babe got closer, and the girl knew only one person in town who had a kid. It looked like mothering was going to be a little bit lonely. One day at work, a co-worker mentioned that she had a friend, who was also pregnant, and who was also living on that side of town.

After her baby was born, out of desperation, the girl messaged her, this pregnant girl who lived nearby. Just to see if she wanted to get together for coffee. Just to find another woman who knew what it was like to have a new baby, who was in the neighborhood, and really, just to see what would happen.

And that's how best friends met.

But I'm not just talking about the Mommy's.

They moved away today. My best friend. Bjorn's. Peanut's. The Hubs. It isn't often that everyone in a family gets along well with everyone in the other family. It's a blessing, and you don't find friends like that everyday. They will only be a 2 hour plane ride away, but that is a far cry from the 10 minute car drive they were before today.

Distance does funny things to people sometimes. Makes the heart grow fonder in some, while others tend to let the distance be a reason to let friendship slide. I firmly believe that best friends don't stop being best friends just because they move away from each other. Friends are forever, young and old.

We will miss you, best friends. But this isn't good-bye. It's see you later.

"Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold. A circle is round, it has no end. That's how long I will be your friend. A fire burns bright, it warms the heart. We've been friends, from the very start. You have one hand, I have the other. Put them together, We have each other. Silver is precious, Gold is too. I am precious, and so are you. You help me, and I'll help you and together we will see it through. Across the land, Across the sea, Friends forever, We will always be." - Make New Friends song, which I remember singing when I was a Girl Scout.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Check that off the list!

A few years ago, I wrote out a bucket list.

It had everything in it I wanted to do, from the exciting and glamorous, to the mundane and expected.

I quickly crossed off a few: 
Get married. Check
Have children. Double check. 
Become a flight attendant. Check again.

A few remained unchecked. 

Hear a mass by the Pope in Vatican City. Have my own custom bobble head. Stay overnight in an underwater hotel. Be published in Reader's Digest.

All these things mean something special to me. They aren't arbitrary. Attending mass in Vatican City, with the Holy Father presiding, is, I imagine, every Catholic's dream. I'm no different. I imagine it would be cleansing, spiritual, and uplifting.

Every sport has giveaway nights, where fans can get bobble heads of their favorite players. These bobble heads then sit on desks and tables everywhere, entertaining people with their constant "yes yes yes yes yes yes yes". Someday, I'd like to be that entertaining. And only the best players on the team get their own toy, so becoming a bobble head? It would mean I'm one of the best.

I'm deathly scared of being underwater. Many times I have tried scuba diving with my diving certified husband. Many times I have freaked out, panicked and thrown myself to the top of the water, unable to take even a few seconds underwater. Staying in the underwater hotel will give me an idea of what he sees and finds so amazing under the sea - without having to breathe from a ventilator.

And, finally - being published in Reader's Digest. Growing up, we always had a Reader's Digest lying around the house. So did the doctor's office, the dentists'. My neighbors house. It seemed everywhere I went, a Reader's Digest was there. It became to me the epitome of writing. As young as 9 years old, I would send off funny quips to RD, hoping to see my name in print. If someday I was published in Reader's Digest, then I would know, just know, that I was good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, people liked me.

The day is now.

It's not the full feature editorial I always pictured I would write. It's not even a half page article. It is a 5 sentence, real-life comedic glimpse into life with a toddler. Much like everything else I have written here. But this time, it was published in Reader's Digest.

And while it may not have been exactly as I always thought it would be, it still happened.

Be published in Reader's Digest. Check.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Could it be true?!

This morning, Peanut woke up with a sort of dry diaper.

I say sort of because it was an overnight diaper and those suckers hold so much, and are so heavy to begin with, I almost couldn't tell if she had used it at all.

I took off her diaper and she immediately began shouting "Pee pee! Mommy, Pee pee!"

Which isn't anything new in our house. It wouldn't be a day in the PB & bananas household without someone yelling about Pee and Poop. But this time she wouldn't stop the shouting.

So I opened the bathroom door and told her to go for it. A few seconds later, I hear her laughing. And the sound of pee splashing on water.

She was peeing in the potty. The big potty, even - not her little baby potty. Just like she had told me she needed.

I started clapping. Daddy starting clapping. Bjorn started clapping.

And Peanut? She alternated between laughing and saying "Oh. My. Gosh. Oh My Gosh, Mommy."

Disclaimer: I don't think she's potty trained and I don't think she's potty training. Bjorn did the same thing when he was about 18 months old, and then completely lost interest for about a year. But if the girl wants to pee on the potty, gosh darn it I'm going to put her there. I've heard girls train faster. I've heard second kids train faster. Whatev. I just think its fun to try WITHOUT candy or toys this time around!

Monday, May 27, 2013

S$&t my kids Church....

We've been neglecting church lately. Let's face it, taking two wild kids to church and making them be both quiet and still is the equivalent to yanking out three teeth, sans painkillers. It's miserable and exhausting and I honestly think in the time since I've had kids, I've only really heard one homily all the way through. Sometimes I ask myself, is it really worth it?

I mean, c'mon - Peanut is the girl who was kicked out of her own baptism. The priest actually shooed her away from the ceremony.  I don't take Bjorn to many library story times because the kid doesn't understand "sit still" and "inside voice".

My kids are crazy, and crazy and church don't mix.

But I've been missing it, and although our last experience was a total meltdown of epic proportions, we took a deep breath and faced it again.

All I can say is: It wasn't horrible.

They still climbed around more than I would have liked. Peanut made a few loud shrieks and Bjorn had to go to the bathroom, and started to throw a fit three different times.

It was still better than any other time. I'm hoping we can start going every weekend. It starts the whole week off right, and I really miss church. Practice makes perfect, right?!

What also helped was the absolute adorableness of their attitudes:

"Remember, Bjorn. This is Jesus' house, and we need to be respectful and quiet in Jesus' house. Ok?" said The Hubs as we are sitting in the pew.
"Ok, Daddy. But where is Jesus?"
"He's right there, Bjorn. On the cross." and he points to the front of the church, behind the altar.
"But, but, but, Daddy! But he's frozen!" says Bjorn.
"No, he's not frozen, Bjorn. It's a statue."
But Bjorn isn't buying it.
"You know why he's frozen, Daddy? I think Jack Frost did it!"

Twice the bells rang during the consecration, and Peanut shouted loudly after each time. "Mommy! Your phone!"

Peanut spent most of mass in my arms, pointing at the paintings and statues throughout the church.
"Who dat?"
"That's Jesus. And Mary." I replied.
"Who dat?"
"Those are angels."
"Who dat?"
This occupied her most of the time as we went through the stations of the cross numerous times.

Bjorn began flipping through the hymnal.
"Dad! Dad! This is Mikael Boedker! Number 89! Look, he's here in the book!" and pointed at the page number.
"And Shane Doan Number 19 is in here too! And Mike Smith Number 41!"
And we went through as much of the hockey roster as we knew, finding all the hockey players in the church hymnal. Kept my little hockey lover happy for at least 6.3 minutes.

Yesterday Peanut carried around with her a doll I had found for her to take to church. It's like a little flip book doll, with faces of Mary, Joseph, the Shepherd, Wise Man and Baby Jesus. She adores it and refused to put it down yesterday. Today, Bjorn began playing with it.
"Mom," he said,"I can't remember who this guy is. Who is this? The one with the crown?"
"That's a halo, I think, Bjorn. And that's the shepherd."
"Who is this one?"
"That's Joseph."
"Oh yeah, that's Jesus' Dad. And this is Mary. She is Jesus' Mom." He says, as he flips through the doll faces.
"But, Mom. Who is this?" he asks, pointing to the last face.
"That's Jesus, Bjorn. Baby Jesus." I answered.
"No! Mooooo-ooooom! Jesus isn't a BA-BEE! Jesus is a big boy! I saw him at church, when Jack Frost froze him!"

I think we will be heading to church more often.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Part Time of Both, Full Time of Everything

As a part time SAHM, and a part time working mom, I hear a lot of different opinions about my home/work situation. Strong opinions. Sometimes rude opinions. (When did people start pushing their own beliefs on others as truth?!) . So I feel the need to dispel a few myths about exactly what it is I do all day. 

 As a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM)
I eat bon bons all day.  
First of all, I don't really know what a bon bon is, but it sounds delicious. And chocolaty and gooey. I'm sure if I had them, I would love them. But I'm also equally sure that if I had something chocolaty and gooey in my house, my kids would be eating it, not me. When was the last time I actually got to eat my whole meal by myself? 4 years ago, the night before my son was born. So, rest assured that if there were any bon bons in the house, they would not be being eaten by me.
I watch soap operas all day.  
Soap operas are full of sex and intrigue, mysterious illness and kidnappers with guns. Interesting to a 30-something year old with no one but toddlers to talk to all day, but not exactly kid friendly.  None of these things are things I want my kids to emulate, nor even want them to know about. IF the TV is on during the day, you can guarantee it isn't even the news. It's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Word World.

My kids watch TV all day.
This one is my favorite. Because I really believe that parents lie about the amount of time their kid sits in front of the TV. I know that some days, my kids watch three or four shows (that's TWO HOURS!) of TV before I am done reading my blogs, folding the laundry and putting away the dishwasher and realize it's time for them to get up and do something. Other days, we don't even glance at the TV we are so busy. But what are my kids doing right now? Watching an episode of Team Umizoomi so I can finish writing this post. My kids watch TV, yes. They know their TV characters, yes. But not all day. Not most of the day. Not every day. But TV isn't the enemy, people. Know what is? Judging me. 

I do laundry and clean all day.  
This is partly true. I do do at least a load of laundry a day,and I do pick up. All day. Constantly. But I also read to my kids, and play with them. I am not in an apron, barefoot, waiting for my hard working husband to get home to his home cooked meal. I call him on the way home to ask if he can pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.
As a Working Mom:
Day care is raising my kids.  
This one angers me. Deeply. Would you be surprised that I hear this often? I asked a friend why she didn't want to return to work after her baby turned one, and she said "I don't want my kid to be raised by daycare." 
No one is raising my kids but me and my husband. Daycare watches, and teaches, my child during the day, yes. But they don't raise him. They don't teach him our family morals and values. They don't instill in him the ethics with which we want him to be raised. They don't feed him breakfast and dinner, tuck him in at night and read him stories. Daycare doesn't buy his clothes, or any of his toys. They have him for 8 hours a day while my husband and I work. 
He plays and he eats and he runs around and he makes friends and he learns. He isn't being raised. When your kids are in school, do you think it is going to be the teacher (that has him 8 hours a day) that raises him? No. It will be you, the parent, that raises him. The teacher just guides him and teaches him during the day.  NO ONE raises my child but me.
Mommy's stay home while Daddy's work
I'm not a feminist. I've never claimed to be. But, I do believe that I need to keep my job for a myriad of reasons. 
One, I like my job. I like to have some place that knows me as more than Mom. I like to have something that is my own.  
Two, my daughter needs to see that you don't have to quite your job just because you become a wife and Mommy. Daddies don't quit their jobs and drop everything to have a family, so why should Mommies? It may be a little bit harder, but I need to do this to show my daughter (regardless of what books may have come out recently by  business women) that she doesn't have to choose between having a family and having a career. Men aren't asked to choose. Neither should women. 
Three, I need my son to see the same thing. I need my son to know that women have worth in the workplace, just as much as men do. I need my son to appreciate that women are more than moms and wives, and that they too can have both a career and a family. Some day I hope his future wife thanks me. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The little things that count.....

I've said it before and I'll say it again.

It is the random firsts that you sometimes remember the most.

Like that one time the night time routine started out just like it did every night.

She gives kisses to doggie.
She gives kisses to Daddy.
To Bjorn.
And Mommy.

We have a family hug, and I reach down to grab her in my arms.

"Night night, Peanut. I love you."

And instead of blowing a kiss, as she has done on every other night, she says "Night night. I wuuuuuuvveee you."

Your heart beats a little faster.

"What did you say Peanut? Did I hear you right?! Say it again!"

Then she looks right at you, smiles sweetly and says, "I wuuuuuuuuvvee you Mommy."

And you feel so special and warm and gooey inside because it is the first time she said I love you and you know - KNOW - that you will never forget this day.

Until the next day you hear her.

"I wuuuuuuuuve you baby. I wuuuuuuuuve you book. I wuuuuuvvve you cereal. I wuuuuuuuuve you sock."

You have to laugh. Because while it means so much to you to hear it, for her it is one more way to express herself. And she really does love cereal.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sugar, Spice and Puppy Dog Tails

When I had Bjorn, I knew there were many scraped knees and bruises in my future. He wasn't yet three weeks old when he first "climbed a tree", scratching his new little baby leg in the process. I was prepared for the band-aids and the boo-boos, the seemingly permanent bruises up and down his little toddler legs.

After all, the kid spends practically all day playing soccer and baseball and hockey. He is made of dirt and snails and puppy dog tails.

I figured with Peanut, though, I would have it easy until at least, oh, junior high. When suddenly the hormones start raging and I become the enemy.

She was supposed to be made of sugar and spice and everything nice.

So why is she the one I had to take to the dentist for a chipped tooth? A chipped tooth she gave herself from throwing a tantrum?!

Yes, that's right. Throwing a balls-out, no-holds-barred tantrum. All because I made her hold my hand when we walked across the street. How dare I?!

After screaming the whole way "Myself! NO! NO! MYSELF!" because (why else?!) she wanted to do it all by herself, I placed her on the sidewalk and crouched down next to her to calm her. My sweet, little Sugar & Spice daughter till screaming, she threw herself backwards, and I caught her easily. But she immediately switched tactics and threw herself forward.

Face first. Into the sidewalk. Look, Ma, no hands!

It could've been worse. Much, much worse. As it is, she has a chipped front tooth that has not given her any problems. Literally an hour later she was biting into a full apple, no pain.

For the next few years, we have to be on the lookout for discoloration or pain with that tooth.

For the next few years, I also have to be on the lookout for tantrums, sidewalks and anything else that may interfere with my strong-willed daughters sense of right. Sigh.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Meal Time with a Toddler

I'm a strange eater.  I know that. 

Although deep in my heart, I think that everyone who loves meat so much is much much stranger than me, but, to your face, yes, I will admit that my liking vegetables (and bacon) is weird.

But my kids are even stranger eaters. Examples:

Two days ago breakfast.
"I don't want this cereal! I wanted the other cereal! And I don't like strawberries. No! I don't like bananas either!"

This morning's breakfast:
"Can I please have that cereal? I want to pour it myself. Can I pour the milk myself too? I want strawberries. I love strawberries! Can I put them in myself?"

Two days ago lunch:
"Can I have six carrots? Can I get them myself? Can I have six grape tomatoes? No no no, I want to get them myself! One, two, three, four, nine, six. Six tomatoes. Can I have 4 pieces of ham? Can I get it myself?"

Ten minutes later, when his lunch plate is devoured:
"Can I have more? I want six carrots, three grape tomatoes and four pieces of ham. Can I get them myself?"

Today's lunch:
"I don't like ham sandwiches. No, I don't like it in the shape of a dinosaur! This dinosaur has little legs and I wanted a dinosaur with looooong legs. Can I have more tomatoes? Can I get them myself?'

And don't even get me started on dinner.

Meal times are exhausting.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The magical anthem

Driving around this evening, I received a song request from the backseat.

"Mom, can you sing the hockey song? You know, the magical anthem?!"

Well, sure. If ever there was a request I needed to take, it would be to sing the magical anthem. So, I sung it with the full gusto of my dropped-out-after-two-voice-lessons voice, (maybe) missing a line here or two.

Hey - if Christina Aguilera can't remember it all, how am I supposed to?

"O'er the l-a-a-a-a-a-n-n-n-n-d of the fr-r-r-r-r-r-e-e-e-e-e-e, and the ho-"

"Wait wait wait, Mom." Bjorn interjects. "You skipped a part. The part about the tigers."

I racked my brain. Tigers?! In the Star Spangled Banner?  Have I been missing something all these years? Ramparts? Check. Broad stripes? Check. TIGERS?!

"What tigers, Bjorn?"

"Oh, Mom. You know!" as he begins singing.

"Staa-a-a-a-r-r-r-r- spa-n-n-ngles. Oh-h-h-h-h-h say can you se-e-e-e-e-e-e. That the tig-e-e-e-r-r-rs are stil-l-l-l-l there."

Then he went off on a tangent, taking his little sister with him.

"And the chickens are still there!"

"Tikkens!" echoes Peanut.

"The monkeys are still there!"

"Oooohhh ooohh oh. Ahhh Ahh ahhh." she cries in a perfect monkey imitation.

"The zebras are still there!"

"Zeeeee! Zeeeee!"

"And the elephants are still there!" he sings.


And they both collapse into their seats, laughing and alternately singing/yelling "Monkey! Tigers! Chickens!"

Best magical anthem ever.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Peer Pressure

We all know it happens. I just didn't think it would happen so soon.

Peer pressure.

"But, Mommy, Ethan watches that show!"

"Well, Bjorn - you're not Ethan. And I don't want you watching Spongebob Squarepants/Barney/Ridiculousness."

Peer Pressure is already here with what TV shows his friends are watching (Spongebob), what toys they play with (ambulance/fire trucks), what T-Shirts they wear (Iron Man and Batman) and how many hot dogs they were able to stuff in their mouths at lunch.

It's a little exhausting constantly telling him that he is not his friend Ethan, or Jamie or Michael. That he doesn't have to do or be or have anything just because his friend does. I know it will only get worse from here, but I imagine that reasoning with a 13 year old about why he can't own a $200 pair of shoes has to be less futile than reasoning with a 3 year old why he can't have one.more.freakin'

But not all peer pressure is bad.

When our little Bjorn was just starting regular milk, our pediatrician recommended we put Carnation Instant Breakfast in his milk to boost his calorie count. Almost three years later and we were still putting CIB in his milk - because if we wanted him to drink his milk, it had to be chocolate.

Until his best friend came over and told him how much she likes white milk.

"I only dwink white milk, Bjorn. I like it."

And then so did he.

Or when all he wanted to wear were socks and running shoes, even in the 118 degree Phoenix heat, and his room smelled like a sweaty locker room every time he took off his shoes because whoever said that babies and toddler don't sweat lied. They do. Especially in Phoenix summers. But Bjorn wouldn't even think about wearing a pair of flip flops or sandals.

Until he saw his friend Will wearing a pair of Crocs when he was camping.

Two years later and he still calls his Crocs his "Will shoes".

Sometimes it worries me. I mean, if he is this moldable at 3, how will he be at 13? Or 17? Will he still want a toy or those shoes because his friends have them? Because he saw it on a TV show or commercial? If his best friend jumped off a bridge, would he follow?

And then I think, "I'll worry about that later. Right now, I'm going to tell him Ashlee still takes afternoon naps and maybe I can get him to take one too."

Parenting at its finest.

Friday, March 22, 2013

True Story

Bjorn knows that he never touches the street without touching an adult's hand, so yesterday, when Peanut let go and began walking on her own, he began explaining to her why we hold hands in the street. Three year old style.

"Peanut! You MUST hold my hand." he said, grabbing her hand. "You can get hit by a car and then you will be flat."

"Uh huh." she says, still straining to escape.

"Then you will be flat and you will be flat FOREVER. And then we will have to get a new baby because you will be flat. And it's no fun to be flat."

In the midst of the explanation, Peanut cocked her head to the side and began nodding. By the end of it, she was holding to Bjorn's hand again.

I think I'm going to have him explain everything from now on.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Control and the Leopard Pants

Sometimes, out of the blue, I will remember my leopard print pants from high school. But, oh, these weren't just any leopard print pants - they were blue, skin tight leopard print pants. I think they might have even had a 70's bell bottom flare.

I really don't know why my parents let me out of the house in them.

And, I know what you're thinking. And you are right. They were most definitely not cool. Kinda like me in high school.

But I didn't care. They were fun and flirty and loud and different. Kinda like me in high school. I wore them all the time.

I think about those pants sometimes still, even though it has been probably 15 years since I last wore them.

Like when my son wants to wear "soft pants" (sweats) with the same Superhero shirt he wore yesterday and his rain boots. In Phoenix. When it's 95 degrees. . . . and hasn't rained in a month.

I think about those pants.

Or when my daughter takes off all her clothes, pulls on her rain boots (what is it with my kids and boots?!) and dances in circles around the kitchen, in her diaper and butterfly boots, singing "Ashes. Ashes. DOWN!!"

I think about those pants.

Even when I'm talking to a Mom friend at the park and my first words are "Don't judge me - they dressed themselves!"

I think about those pants.

Because now, after having kids - albeit small ones, but ones that very much have opinions about what they like and do not like - now, I understand part of what made my parents such good parents.


My parents could have easily told me not to wear the pants, that I looked ridiculous. They could have taken them away, or, since I didn't do my own laundry, it would have been simple to "lose them in the wash". I'm sure it wouldn't be the first time a parent pulled that trick.

But they didn't. They let me go on looking ridiculous in those ridiculous blue leopard print pants I loved so much. But there are so very few things a child has control over, starting from such a young age.

We tell them when they must eat - and what they must eat. How many bites they have to take. We tell them where they can sit and stand, no jumping on the couch, when to wake up, and when to nap and sleep. We tell them they have to turn off the TV and not to hit your sister and that it is time to do their homework/brush their teeth/feed the dog.

My children are so young, I am still choosing their activities. I choose whether we go to the park or the museum or run errands and who we do all those things with and at what times. Someday they are going to be able to choose them (to an extent), but until they are older, much much older, there are very few things that they can have control over.

Clothing has been one thing that as a child I had control over. One of those things my parents let me choose. (Within reason. I still remember those daisy dukes they took away from me in high school.) Recently, a friend told me her 8 year old daughter doesn't pick out her own clothes yet. That she's glad, because it's fun to play dress up for her daughter everyday.

I feel the opposite. As much as I cringe when Bjorn walks out of his room wearing his sweats (even though I hid them in the very back of his drawer), I am proud that he can choose for himself what he wants. That he knows his likes and dislikes. 

I know in order to stop the tantrums and the fights, to curb the constant helicopter parenting that seems to be what everyone is doing these days, I have to sit back and let go. To let my kid have a little bit of control. Stop the constant nagging on issues that aren't important. Save the control for the big things.  I will still tell him when he needs to take a potty break or a nap, but I will let him wear comfy pants every day..

And someday I will make him cringe with pictures of how he dressed himself when he was little. Just like I cringe now at pictures of those leopard print pants.