Getting Better

One of my favorite songs of all time is probably Company of Thieves, “Oscar Wilde.” I’m pretty hard on myself much of the time, so I relate to the song’s refrain, which reads:

We are all our own devil
We are all our own devil
And we make this world our hell

I am a most skilled, excellent self-criticizer. I don’t know that I make my life a living hell, but I’ve been brutal enough a few times to make it pretty gosh-darn terrible. Plenty of times, the self-criticism is mostly in my head. (I’m using that as an excuse…..Can you hear it? I’m like, “Hey, it’s not so bad to beat yourself up if no one else can hear your bones cracking!”)

This negative behavior has been an awful burden to carry around that I’ve been working to unload. One of the best things about having children, for me, has been their ability to help me broaden my own awareness about the things I haven’t paid enough attention to in the past.  Having children makes me want to be a better person ALL THE TIME. I want to be positive and self-encouraging and a beam of sunshine so their lives are sprinkled with magic. But I noticed the most incredible thing recently:

My kids can tell when I’m faking. My kids can tell when I’m nutty and weird and grumpy. They can tell when I’m not seeing the forest for the trees: when I’m failing to live in the moment.  

So, if I want to be a ray of sunshine, and teach my kids how to become their own rays of sunshine, I REALLY need to fix the biggest trouble I’ve been carrying around with me.

This problemo of mine became super visible most recently when I got upset with my son. I say with in italics like that instead of writing at my son because we BOTH became upset. He did something super lame-o, which I noticed later was not really lame-o at all— it was typical three-year-old behavior with minimal side-effects after we got through it. It was a string of events, all of which were totally silly: he took a really long time to get dressed, he put his underpants on backward, he refused to wear a short-sleeved shirt on a 90 degree day, he refused to wash his hands after pooping, and he told me he didn’t want to go to the playground after asking to for about thirty minutes.

He literally defied everything in our typical morning routine, just for shiz and giggles.

He launched an 8-minute sass-a-frass episode on me at about 8:30 a.m., before my cup of green tea or breakfast. So far as I could tell, none of this was happening because he was hungry or tired because we’d just woken up and he’d eaten breakfast thirty minutes earlier.

So I got terse. And I got louder than my normal inside-voice-volume.

I HATE MYSELF FOR GETTING LOUD.

I even want to hate myself a little for typing that in all caps, but what other way do I have to express my sincere seriousness for hating myself in a cyberspace such as this?

Anyways, I got louder and visibly frustrated and said, “Man, you are driving me nuts. Let’s just get this stuff done, get out of the house this morning, and get to the grocery store so we can go to the park!”

And he said, “Oww, Mommy. You’re hurting my ears with your voice. I don’t like that.”

“I don’t like it either!” I said, “So put on your clothes, wash your hands, and let’s go!”

This made him cry. Not like the frustrated, sassy tantrum cry. Like the “You just scared me” cry.

I wasn’t soft or gentle or perfect Mommy. That is the Mommy voice he is accustomed to. And he doesn’t want to do business with grouchy Mommy any more than I want to do business with grouchy LM1.

When he started to cry I felt like crap. I was like, “Ugh, Kim! Pull yourself together! Why aren’t you dominating this Mom thing as soon as you wake up, after you’ve gotten sleep and had a great weekend, etc, etc, etc.”

And then it kind of hit me. I’m too hard on him because I’m too hard on myself. I hit my default button and started to yell at myself inside my head. But in that moment I noticed that getting loud and then getting pissed was a huge sign that I am always way too hard on everyone. My expectation is somewhere through the roof and my kids can see that better than I can. Especially my three-year-old. Mr. Perceptibility.

It was a Monday morning, and we didn’t need to run out the door. Maybe we needed a shirtless hour after breakfast. Maybe we needed to wear underpants backward. Maybe we needed to wear a long-sleeved shirt in the AC for 10 minutes (or more) before we were just about ready to get out the door. The high standard I hold myself to turns me into a grump. It turns out that it turns my kids into grumps, too.

Why was I rushing to get out the door? Why was I insistent on having a pattern or a specific schedule after a long weekend away? Why was I such a royal pain in the rump? Turns out, I was driving him nuts. I was driving myself nuts. It was all about me. I’m hard on us. I get it. I need to tone it down.

Lots of times, when I look at the kids and wonder WTF is going on, I need to remember that I’m the adult. I’m the grown up. I set the tone. I help them to learn how to set a lovely tone, too.

So, I’m trying. I’m learning. I’m taking it one step at a time and looking to make improvements without the nasty backtalk in the back of my mind. I’m trying to keep it real and take it easy.

So, we had a naked dance party. We took it all off (not me, the kids) and we listened to Taylor Swift’s recommendation to “Shake It Off.”

What new parenting tricks have you learned today? SHARE!

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The Little Things

A few weeks ago I got into a conversation about having children. A couple was still in contemplation mode about whether or not to have children and they wanted to know a bit more about the items I might put in the hypothetical “worth it” column.

Being a person who always knew she wanted children, my “worth it” column started when I was little, playing with dolls, rocking them to sleep and feeding them pretend peas. But I have a few friends without children, and I respect and honor that we all make different decisions. I look at their lives and find value and “worth it-ness” in their choices and the lives they’re forming, too.  I guess you could say I can find worth-it-ness on both sides of the coin.

The decision to have kids is one that I don’t feel I belong in at all….because I want everyone to make the choice that is best for him/her/them. But, I was prompted to think about this and give a real answer. It felt interesting enough to blog about.

Regardless of my moral dilemma, I was prompted to think about this and give a real answer. So I did. And even though I feel about 98% confident that my answer will change over the years, for right now, at this phase in our lives, here’s what seems to be capturing my heart enough to use as an argument:

I love watching how our children are learning to mimic facial expressions. I’ve noticed my sons often smile or look confused or tease me, and the looks on their faces are so HUMAN. I know that my kids are human, but they look like little adults, like professional homo sapiens who have translated expressions and gestures into real-life, fully recognizable and understandable meaning.

LM1 will say, “Are you kidding me?” or “Wait, that’s not right!” or “This should do it!” or “No, Mommy, that’s not right,” and he’ll make this face that tells me, “You are a weirdo, Mommy. Life is unclear and you need to explain yourself, immediately!”

The joy is that I can tell exactly what he’s thinking before he’s said it. But I cannot do this with many other people. Maybe my kids are more transparent than regular thinking, breathing adults.

I like to think I just know them.

Other times, LM1’s face tells me that he’s sad or disappointed before he reacts with the tantrum– the hazy, confused, raucous pandemonium that also tells me he’s sad or disappointed. LM2’s cries are now understandable. I get it. I look and listen, read his face, and somehow I get what he needs. It’s amazing.

There’s something strangely amazing about history repeating itself….

I guess you could say that this neat little trick isn’t enough of a reason to have kids. Because we have beloved family and friends to whom this may apply. And you’re right. So what’s the difference? What’s the big deal?

It’s the fact that the expressions they make are duplications of the ones my husband makes. And that is the most heartwarming, deliciously beautiful thing to see. It’s incredible and exciting and bewildering to see our children look like the man I love. And even that may sound silly. It may sound bizarrely minuscule in the grand scheme of beautiful blessings or things to fall in love with. But that seems to be what all of life’s greatest treasures are. They are small things that seem stupid when you say them out loud. And then when you feel them in your heart, their grand and mystifying perfection simply makes you smile a little bigger than you ever did before.

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Tricks of the Trade

We are more than half way through the summer, and it seems that vacationing with the babes is getting easier. There is always so much to pack, so many things to remember, and a zillion things I manage to forget. BUT, I think we’re getting a little better each time. Here are a few new tricks we’ve picked up that seem to help the kiddos for the long rides and crazy times!

1.) Keep food close. I always pack more than one bag of food, a cooler for stuff that will spoil, and then spare goodies in the diaper bag. Fruit and Goldfish are great. Even if it’s just crackers or individual apple sauce pouches, I try to keep stuff on hand for when someone gets whiny.

2.) Keep spare clothes in plastic zippie bags. For me, I’d much rather let them get messy and clean up later so as to keep every body cool-tempered. That means they eat in the car and make little messes all over. What can you do? I pack at least two outfits in zip lock bags to keep them fresh and offer a change of clothes when necessary.

3.) Tire them out before the car ride. Driving tired means the kiddies will prayerfully sleep, even if just for a short while, when we’re driving. They don’t like car seats, they don’t like feeling trapped, and they don’t like sitting for long periods of time. But they LOVE to sleep. This trip I made sure to have the kids swimming, running, and playing before we got into the car. It made them much less irritable and when we hit nap-central, we cruise-controlled our way through town.

4.) Plan ahead for rainy days. Summer time means rain, so I like to have a short list of plans for when rain comes along. Museums are great. I also pack rain coats and warmer clothes so that we can play in the rain. It can’t be avoided, and it’s super fun, so why not plan ahead so we can enjoy? This year we remembered umbrellas, too, and LM1 thought fishing with an umbrella was about the coolest thing he’d ever done. He fished off the pier in his raincoat and umbrella and became the wettest kid to catch a fish. #MISSIONACCOMPLISHED

5.) Work in a nap. I know when we’re on vacation everyone wants to have non-stop fun. I know, on the other hand, that fitting in a few really good naps is paramount to making it through the week. Make time for these, divide resources and find a way to let baby or toddler sleep it out a bit. This makes for much less grumpiness and way more fun in the waking hours you have together.

6.) Pack a play bag. I let my boys fill a backpack with some of their favorite toys before we go. It gets them into the routine of packing and brings the comforts of home on our trip. I wouldn’t recommend bringing a MOST FAVORITE toy, just in case it were to get lost. The toy backpack has helped in restaurants, on the beach, and in the houses we’ve visited.

What do YOU love to do to help make vacationing easier? I wanna know!!!

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That Repeated Phrase

There is a phrase I hear more often than any other when I am out and about with my two sons.

“You’ve got your hands full!”
Folks say this to me when the kids are laughing, crying, tantruming, shrieking, running from me, smiling, being polite or adorable. You name it, and for some reason or no reason at all, someone drops the line.
I think I can say without exaggeration that I hear it at least once a day, but usually more.
Sometimes it is accompanied by, “Two boys, huh? ” or “Oh boy!” or a simple “Wow!”
I don’t know what the phrase really means. What was it supposed to mean back in the day when someone came up with it?
When you hear a phrase so often, you might start to wonder…
Do I look tired? Busy? Flustered? Joyful? Are my “full hands” meant to be synonymous with “my cup runneth over?” Like there’s more love and laughter in my house with my two little lovies, and whoever is saying the phrase is really meaning, “I’m so jealous of you right now!!!”
I tend to assume folks look at me and think, “she looks overwhelmed” or “she looks like she needs help because her hands are so full.” Or I assume they are trying to make conversation.
It’s a terrible pick-up line/conversation starter, but, hey, maybe it’s all they’ve got.
The trouble is I can’t imagine how saying it to a mother who, in fact, is tired, busy, flustered and still joyful could make her feel better in any given moment.
The last time I heard the phrase, I was at the lake with my little men. LM2 was crying because he’s a baby, and plenty of times, babies cry. LM1 was crying because he was tired (I pushed nap time because we were having too much fun at the lake) and he didn’t want to leave. His protesting turned to all out kicking and screaming, shrieking and wailing.
But I carried both men in my arms, a backpack diaper bag behind me, sand toys tucked into an elbow crevice and trotted toward our truck.
A small, tan, smiling (laughing?) older woman stared for a while, and when I was finally within earshot she said, “You’ve really got your hands full.”
What am I supposed to do with that? Is that an invitation to start a dialogue? Does she want to reminisce about days from her own early motherhood? Was she showing sympathy? Empathy? Did she really need to laugh at the situation?
I’ve been thinking about this because I’m really not sure what this phrase even means.
I want to believe that little old woman is sweet and kind. I want to believe she was laughing and smiling to show me the humor in all of these sometimes stressful situations. Then I ask myself what the best case scenario could have been. What do I want someone to say to me instead? Do I want anything to be said at all?
And because the answer is not so transparent, I decided that I just need to come up with a better retort. Instead of smiling with a bewildered grin, I can say any of the following:
1.) “My husband can’t keep his hands off me!”
2.) “I’ve got three more at home!”
3.) “We’re hiring!”
4.) “And they’re all gunna be president.”
5.) “Oh, they’re not mine.”
6.) “And I’m pregnant with twins!”
7.) “Full is better than empty.”
8.) “Well, they’re not cell phones so ‘hands free’ isn’t always an option.”
9.) “Thank you. I’m not sure what to call your hands.”
10.) “Full is the diaper I’m about to change!”
and my personal favorite…..
11.) “Oh, I’m sorry. Did you want a hug? Maybe later.”
What do you do/say when folks drop this line on you???
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Why Is Being Tired the Start of Craziness?

Whenever I get tired I start to lose my ability to function. I know this sounds obvious. Human beings need rest. We all do. But I have always been astounded at my husband’s ability to function, even when he is really tired. So I know there are humans out there who can handle exhaustion with considerably more grace than I can.

I was built differently somehow. I become beastly-monster-woman. Rationality escapes me. Short, punctuated puffs of air escape my nostrils, and no one thinks I resemble Daenerys Targaryen; they think I’m one of the dragons. And they’re probably right.

My red eyes, my menacing snarl, my desire to eat anyone who pisses me off…..I get it.

But the funny thing to me is that I entirely lose my ability to keep myself together, too. I’m not just in a bad mood: all kinds of weird and crazy things start to happen, one right after the other, none of which happened in the weeks before. Ridiculous events unfold in a matter of hours, swooping me up into what feels like a cloud of complete chaos.

Over the course of a few days, here are the ridiculous things that happened. And I PROMISE I will get some rest. And Dragon Mommy will disappear shortly.

1.) The soccer ball went into the toilet bowl. And then into the mouth of a babe. Wow #Ineedquickerreactiontime
2.) LM2 cracked my second pair of eye glasses in a month
3.)  LM2 colored on the sofa with crayons (that was a first for us)
4.) My kid squirted a stranger kid in the face with a water gun and threw a tantrum over being punished for this and having the water gun taken away (which wasn’t even ours! he swiped it from someone else!) — in public– for twenty minutes– and then tried to hug the kids for another five after the fact. Talk about split personality.
5.) I lost my cell phone.
6.) I found my cell phone– but it was outside in the rain, so it went into a bag of rice for 36 hours. Then I got rice stuck in the charge port of my cell phone and could not charge it. I’m thinking a paper clip should do the trick…
7.) I tried to go to bed early last night but was quickly rerouted by LM2’s vomit explosion. We will not feed him certain things in the future as a result of this one #lessonlearned
8.) I got kicked in the face by LM1 because (a) he didn’t want to take a shower and (b) he said the water was too hot, which I tried to explain is a fixable problem, but he didn’t believe me until I could prove it via faucet handle, after he settled down.
9.) I ordered dinner out but forgot to tell my husband where I ordered from. And my cell phone wasn’t working (I called from the laptop). Then I took the kids for a walk (because they were driving me crazy). So he had to drive around looking for us, finally found us, picked up the food, and everything was a little soggy and cold cuz it had been waiting for like 40 minutes after it was all said and done #whoops
10.) I fell at a wedding this past weekend and flashed the guests. With my nakedness. Like, the whole kit and caboodle #I’mtoooldforthis #you’rewelcome

All of this clearly means tomorrow will be an AMAZING day. I mean that seriously. I believe it! #herewego #keepcalmandcarryon

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DIY Bliss = Marital Bliss??? WTF

So, I think all the time about the things that make a marriage work…..and the things that make it not work. It’s a slippery slope sometimes, like any relationship. I used to think that fighting with my spouse, disagreeing, or getting into a bad mental place together was a sign that I had done something wrong. I would keep a running checklist in my mind, just waiting to get enough cons on the page to convince myself I was not marriage material.

This sounds so terrible to me as I write it, but it’s the truth. For many of our early years together, I just kept waiting to drop the shoe (because I was sure it would be ME to do so) all so I could prove once and for all that I was a terrible wife. I absolutely, positively do not attribute this bad attitude to my exposure to divorce, friends, family, media, crappy movies, or otherwise.

I was just a negative person.

I couldn’t measure up to my own ridiculous expectations because I hated all the traditional wifey things: cooking, cleaning, crafting, DIYing, hosting parties, gardening, interior decorating, baking, becoming a SAHM, etc. Mind you, I did all of those things but complained all the while.

SOOOOOOO WHAT HAPPENED???

It’s so lovely!!! Do you love it??? Ugh, I just love it!

What’s changed is my attitude. My frame of mind. My interest in being honest with myself and my spouse all of the time, without excuse. And what was the result? I’ve started to LOVE the things I hated. I LOVE gardening. WTF. I love anything with a pop of color (welcome to my planter, coleus), or an interesting texture (please grow here, astibles), or a fun characteristic (creeping thyme is beautiful AND you can walk on it!). I never expected to find myself in this new state of mind, but it’s working for me, which is working for Hubs.

And that leads me to DIY bliss….

As far as I was concerned, DIYing is super lame, more expensive than claimed to be, unprofessional looking, imperfect, and frustrating. I also thought I was not clever enough to attack projects because I never used to make anything on my own, aside from a Thank You card or maybe a delivery pizza order (ok, I never really did that because of my lactose sensitivity, but you get the picture).

This year I really wanted to find a new headboard for our bedroom. I don’t know why this struck me as important, let alone obsession worthy. But I started Googling and Pinteresting and started to dream about what I might like.

Saved from interiorbarndoors.org

Hubs encouraged me to find exactly what I might like. I think I surprised everyone (mostly myself) when I fell in love with a barn door headboard that wasn’t really even a headboard. It just looked so farmy to me, which is not a bad thing at all, but that has never been very “me.” But this headboard was beautiful. And I wanted to live in a more natural, peaceful, elemental space.

I started shopping and came across some old barn doors I thought we could paint or shellac until I learned they were $500 each. I hadn’t even sold the previous headboard in our bedroom yet, but I didn’t think I’d hit that $500 mark, let alone $1,000. But without blinking, Hubs said, “We can make that. That looks easy.”

Easy is now my favorite word. Let me help you with the definition of easy here, because I needed help learning what “easy” means:

Easy doesn’t mean fast.
It doesn’t mean simple.
It doesn’t mean perfect or even close to perfect.
It doesn’t necessarily mean cheap, either.
It just means do-able.
And now that know what easy means, I love it when we look at something as a couple, give each other that special smile and say, “Yea, that looks easy.”

Our easy-to-craft headboard was finally built out of pallet wood, all of which we hoarded and then broke down ourselves. We bought some fresh wood for the main framing and stained all the wood with a light gray. Well, that’s not entirely true: I thought I ruined it with a stain that was way too dark. So we stripped that, power sanded, and tried again (thank you, Home Depot Paint Man, for your assistance with that one).

We argued about the order in which we worked on the project. We moaned over working too late at night (cuz power tools and my little ones don’t really mix, so we were relegated to working from 8-11 p.m.). We argued about how to cut the wood at specific angles. We griped when we ruined or split certain pieces of wood. We fought about where to store the power tools and how to keep the garage tidy over our weeks and months of projecting.

We also brainstormed together. We laughed. We listened to music and danced while we worked. We teased one another about decisions and watched each other work in awe and interest…seeing new sides of one another. We looked forward to the evenings when the kids were asleep and we could stow away to the garage for a few hours to work on our little project. We built something together. Now we can look every day at something that signifies our ability to act as a team and to create. And ultimately, we had FUN.

It sounds silly, maybe. This little project that turned into something else. But it was great. It was messy and imperfectly perfect (I swear one side is still uneven). It was a little piece of magic we conjured up, and it was bliss.

What are you doing these days that makes your marriage sing? Share, share, share!

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Potty Training Woes

I took my little men up to Long Island to see the family this past week. It was an adventure full of love and laughter, as expected and hoped for!  I must admit, there were a few unexpected happenings, thanks to the introduction of potty training.

I have not been super proactive about potty training because I haven’t felt a strong sensation that LM1 is truly ready for it. He’s not very interested in the potty, and we’ve tried underpants without much success. So, I left it alone for a few weeks because I’ve read that it is fairly damaging to force potty training on a kid who isn’t ready.

While on Long Island, one of LM1’s relatives introduced a new toy that “he could have when he pooped on the potty.”

I tried this tactic myself with a different toy a few weeks ago. My son pooped on the potty once, received the toy and had not pooped successfully on the potty since. I guess you could say he saw a means to an end and called it a day.

Well, the new toy was especially alluring, so he set his goal and planned to poop at some point during the week.

It took him a few days though. Every time he pooped his pants, he cried and cried, shouting, “Now I can’t have my toy!!!”

This was horrifying and made me question my parenting strategy. Which, I suppose is a good thing: I should be questioning at all times, working to make better and better decisions. But, how could I take the toy out of the equation after it had already been introduced?

Conundrum…..

Anyway, after a weekend of tears, he finally pooped on the potty and earned his treat. He was thrilled! He kept peeing on the potty, and all was well.

Then came time for the ride home….

My son asked to stop at “The Green Wawa,” which I finally realized was the Woodrow Wilson rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. They serve breakfast sandwiches (at the Starbucks) and convenience snacks, so he thought it was a Wawa. We stopped on the way out to Long Island to get gas, and he remembered.

The only challenge of traveling as a solo mommy is that kids have a tendency to fall asleep in the car (which is great! Kids need sleep!). But, if you’ve got one turtle-heading LM1 screaming and LM2 fast asleep in his car seat, you’ve got some decisions to make.

I opted to carry LM2 in his bucket car seat contraption into the handicapped stall. This was gross because I had to put it on the floor….and the germs and dirt and whatever else in there is skeevy, but I told myself it’s all a natural part of life, and my neuroses needed a weekend off anyway.

LM1 proudly mounted the bowl and started his business. Unfortunately, I forgot that public restrooms have automated flushers, so every time LM1 wiggled or shifted, the toilet flushed, which nearly soaked the back of his shirt. This led to crying and the need for a change of clothes, which I conveniently left in the car.

“Why is it splashing me?!” LM1 shouted.
“It’s automatic,” I said, “and it thinks you’re done pooping every time you wiggle or move.”

But an LM1 like mine doesn’t know how to sit still. So the thing kept going off, which led to more crying, which threatened to wake LM2.

So I stood behind LM1 and held my finger over the sensor. Which struck me after the fact as fairly unhygienic as well, but hey, I was already knee-deep in there. At least the thing stopped flushing. LM1 sat for ten minutes, sang songs and delivered rhymes, but failed to poop.

We got back into the truck, loaded up, and started again.

The complaints started twenty minutes later….when LM1 announced he needed to poop again. So, perhaps it was a bad idea, but I stopped again. It took a while to find another rest stop….because I didn’t want to get off the highway. All poor decisions, maybe. But by the time I stopped, LM1 had fallen asleep. LM2 was up and crying with a wet diaper. So I changed him, settled him down, gave him some food, and then considered waking LM1 so I could go to the bathroom. In the midst of our previous stop’s mayhem, I forgot to go. Which was a super realization. How did I not feel it before?

But I didn’t want to wake the dragon.

So, I made a snap decision… I peed in a diaper. I used some of my favorite yoga squat muscles and made it work.

Who knew potty training my son would lead to peeing in a diaper myself? Why is this the mystical way that parenting works?

Share your own experiences! What crazy things have you done in the throes of potty training?!

ALSO…..here is the super cool new potty seat we bought LM1, which I think will help make him feel confident.  Sure, it looks a little geriatric and there’s no Tickle-Me-Elmo to tickle his hinee, but I think THIS seat is gong to be the winner!

 

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New Rules

When I was a freshman in college, I lived down the hall from an artist. I had never known an artist before– in the sense that I thought it was super cool to have a friend to chat with daily who had smudgy paint fingers, frazzled hair, and no sense of time. I wanted to know people who were artistic because I wanted to be like them. Try as I might, I couldn’t find something to be passionate about, and I thought it would make me a much more interesting person if I could find some kind of art form to obsess over. My ability to go to sleep at 10 p.m., untethered by the demands of creativity made me utterly boring, in my eyes.

I thought, “Art friends can change this!”

Anyway, I befriended this girl and it was dandy. I learned about oil paint and somthing about blending. One time I helped her clean paint brushes, which was really boring, but I told myself it was cool. I didn’t become any more artsy, or any less, but I got to hear what it was like to paint naked people without giggling, so that was cool.

We eventually lost touch, to no one’s fault or intention. We parted ways somewhere throughout the years at school. But of the many things I remember about her, one ridiculous thought has stuck with me for years.

One morning we were walking to get breakfast at the cafe. She looked at me with a furrowed brow and said,

“You know, teal and orange don’t really go together.”

She said this because I was wearing my favorite halter top: neon orange with red and white stripes, and teal flip flops. I bought the flops in California on one of the last really great vacations with my parents (before I became too old and “cool” to want to go on vacation with my parents). And apparently, my color choices didn’t jive.

She said something about color families that I didn’t follow, but I understood the general idea behind her comment: Don’t wear orange and teal together! They clash.

I trusted this thought and carried it with me for years. Not in an obsessive way, but in a quiet, helpful reminder kind of way.

Until today.

I was getting dressed for work and reached for a fun pair of earrings: gold clusters with little coral stones. And then I realized that they were orange. They would not go with my teal pants.

But then I stopped to think. I’ve done this thing for years. I’ve created lists and lists of rules in my mind. I’ve followed directions, suggestions, advice, tips, and lessons from anyone I can find.  I’ve been a human Rolodex for as many great ideas as I can find.

But I haven’t listened to myself enough.

It’s a new year (I know it’s practically summer, but I’m more of a summer person than a winter person, so my year really kicks into high gear when I’ve got sun and heat on my heels), and I’m making changes.

I’m ready to start clashing. Not for the sake of clashing, but because some things that don’t make rational sense feel really good. 

I want to act from a place of feeling good…and see where it gets me.

I know, I know; I sound so transformative. No one cares about earrings or halter tops from 2000. But, seriously, I want to dissolve the repeating narrative that’s been in my head, which has said something like this for over 30 years: Everyone BUT you is correct.  I know that sounds depressing, but I’ve been such a people pleaser for so long that I’ve taken everything to heart.

I know that sounds depressing, but I’ve been such a people pleaser for so long that I’ve taken everything to heart.

And it hasn’t been everyone and their wonderful words and wisdom that has been the problem. When I put on my orange earrings this morning, I realized that the problem has been me. I have misconstrued the point and lost myself along the way.

But every day is a new start. Every morning is an opportunity to create a different, ridiculous mismatch that can make my heart sing. I think this is going to be fun. I’m looking forward to it.

What are you looking forward to this week?

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The Lucky Spectator

I get to see some crazy, fun, incredible things each day. Life has been especially crazy lately, with lots on the schedule, lots of work to juggle, and the wildness of my little men. In the past few weeks, a few unexpected things have taken place that seem worth mentioning….to give those of you following our journey a bit of a chuckle. Enjoy! And, as always, share your own crazy adventures! I love hearing about your own excitement!

Enjoy! And, as always, share your own crazy adventures! I love hearing about your own excitement!

And, as always, share your own crazy adventures! I love hearing about your exciting lives as well!

1.) He showed Grampie how to work the DVD player, and told him it was ok if he watched Snoopy. LM1 knows very well that we don’t watch movies in the morning. But LM1 also knows to sneak into the guest bedroom to wake up Grandpa before getting Mom or Dad. And he knows that his excellent vocabulary and persuasive tone are likely to receive compliance from an innocent old man who goes by the name “Guppie” when LM1 feels like being especially cute, because he KNOWS how to say Grampie but knows how to work an angle, too.  When accosted about his actions he said, “Well, Grampie didn’t know how to work the…the… thing…(he doesn’t know that it’s called a DVD player but he knows which buttons to push) so I showed him.”

Right. Ok. Keep talkin’, kid.

2.) He peed on the ferry boat. I swear LM2 was only diaperless for thirty seconds….just before bathtime. So, we were in the bathroom, on a tile floor, and clean-up wasn’t that ridiculous.  But if we’re all being honest with ourselves, he aimed with some impressive precision, titled his (insert your own vocabulary word here) up into the plastic ferry boat and defiled it with a rainstorm of canary yellow. The small ship took the brunt of the storm. So, my floors were somewhat spared. But the boat……well…..the boat needed a little more than soap and water.

3.) He asked the mailman not to hit our mailbox. Because the mulch delivery truck did that a few weeks ago. So, in the eyes of LM1, no one else had better do it again. He’s very protective of our property, for some ridiculous reason, which is completely unknown to me. LM1 watches as trucks and cars drive by and he is just waiting for someone to knock the box and/or post over again. Maybe he thrives on action-packed afternoons? Maybe the bending of the post defied his sense of reality, and he wants it bent again. Regardless of his reasons, the shouting at our mailman comes across as a tad bit snarky. Imagine a two-year-old waving and shouting from the driveway, “Don’t hit the mailbox! Be careful! It’s right there!”
#slightlyembarassed

4.) He wiggled his little toes into the mouth of a baby. Can I first comment on this one with a raving, “Yuck!” and then say that it was hilarious after my initial disgust dissipated? LM2 was sitting in his high chair and a beautiful, gentle, curious, wonderful almost-one-year-old toddled up to the legs of the seat. Said toddler saw the toes, LM2 felt something brewing below, and the two halves came together. Do I call it curiosity on the part of both babes? Do I call it a freak accident? How could I have avoided this? I reacted in a way any mother would: I laughed my mommy butt off. #stilllaughingwhennooneislooking

And…speaking of butts….

5.) He asked why I put coupons in my butt. Well, try to get a free minute in the bathroom, Mommies. It’s no easy task. Try to hide the box of tampons. Try to sneak a moment of privacy. And then fail. When this happens, try explaining to your husband why LM1 thinks you put coupons in your butt. So far, his rationale sounds something like this: “Well, Mommy doesn’t have a penis like me and Daddy. So she needs to put coupons in there.” How do I fix this? #epicmomfail #howtoundothis? #WTF

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Thinking About Potty Training

LM1 is officially asking questions about the potty, his pee, his poo, and the like. So, we’ve offered him the option of peeing on the potty with a semi-convenient potty seat that sits on top of our normal toilet seat. I don’t know that he’s ready to really, truly, officially be a toilet-trained human, but he is certainly curious…..so I am as well.

The musings this little man has undertaken are….well….toilet humor aside, they’re a gas. Here are some of the questions I’ve received since starting this process:

1.) Q: My poo comes out of a different place than my penis. Why, Mommy?
A: Your pee comes out of your penis and your poo comes out of your butt. They’re different things.

2.) Q: If I will poop in my diaper, can I wipe my butt up here? (He wants to sit on the toilet, bend himself over, and reach his own butt in a c-shape position.)
A: Sure. Here’s a wipe. Be careful and don’t fall through.
Q: Why would I fall through?
A: Ask Alice. I don’t think she expected to fall through, either…

3.) Q: Did you hear me make the twinkly sound with my pee?
A: Yes. I heard the “tinkle,” not the “twinkle.”

4.) Q: How much soap until I’m all clean afterward?
A: No one really knows, so we’ll go with one squirt.

5.) Q: Do you wear pull-ups, too, Mommy?
A: No, I wear underwear. Because I’m a big girl and I can control my pee.

6.) Q: Pull-ups are not the same as underwear. Can I pee in them?
A: They’re like underwear, so try hard not to pee in them.

7.) Q: If I promise to pee in the toilet, can I wear only shorts today?
A: Umm, no, there’s still snow on the ground and you’re not a free-baller. Not on my watch.

8.) Q: I will take off my shirt to use the toilet?
A: You don’t have to. It’s not a requirement.
Q: But I am a man.
A: Ok. Whatever you need, Honey.

9.) Q: Will you put my poop into the toilet?
A: How would I do that? That’s your job.
Q: But it’s in my diaper. You need to put it in the toilet so we can flush it. Ok?
A: Gross.

10.) Q: I made a really really big stink-a-rink. Is that funny?
A: Not really. It’s kind of gross.
Q: I will laugh loud. Will you laugh, too?
A: Maybe at your wedding one day… ;0)

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