A special thank you to our daycare

This week was my 5 year old son’s last week at his daycare/preschool. He has been counting down to his next adventure to kindergarten with excitement. Each morning he says,” how many more days, Mom? Sarcastically followed by “are you going to cry on my last day because you are sad I am growing up?” I told him I would not cry even though I knew I probably would (And…I did!). My how time flies. It really is bittersweet. The bitterness of life’s fleeting moments and the sweetness of new experiences for him in “big boy” school.

I remember visiting his daycare while I was pregnant with him. The owner showed me around the entire daycare from the bed baby to the preschool rooms. I have this memory in my mind’s eye of glancing into the preschool room where I saw children playing with friends, back packs hung on the wall, and kidos doing an activity using kid scissors. As I peered into the classroom I remember thinking to myself “wow those kids are so big and that it would be forever before we are in this room.” Forever turned out to be a very very short five years.

My son started attending his daycare at 8 weeks old. I am pretty sure the first day I dropped him off I had a typed listed featuring everything you need to know about my son. I am also sure the teacher thought I was nuts. I remember sitting in the parking lot and shedding a tear the day I dropped him off at daycare for the first time. I cried because it was my first time leaving him. Truth be told, I may have shed a tear or two of relief because it was the first day in 8 weeks he wasn’t screaming at me (see previous post about colic). He didn’t scream at daycare-he waited until I picked him up. True love.

This is a picture of my son on his first day at daycare.

First Day at Daycare September 13, 2010

First Day at Daycare
September 13, 2010

And…here is his picture on the last day of daycare. He looks a little different in this big old chair now.

Last Day at Daycare August 7, 2015

Last Day at Daycare
August 7, 2015

This blog post serves as a special thank you to his teachers and the owner over the last five years. You each hold a special place in this chapter of our lives. This is why you all are so great:

  • You helped teach him some of the most important life lessons-sharing, caring, taking your turn, manners, and the list goes on and on.
  • You always communicated with me about my son’s day with you.
  • You developed, within my son, a love for learning and exploration with classroom visits from community helpers, like policeman and firemen, and daily hands on activities.
  • You make learning your ABCs, 123s, animals, songs, and rhythms so much more fun than I could have ever made it. As a matter of fact I have relearned a few things myself. For example, I can’t get “bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish, how many pieces do you wish?” out of my head this week. Last week it was “boom chicka boom.”
  • You have helped him create arts and crafts that I will always treasure.
  • You provided assurance about the stages in the life of a small child. We survived colic, a year stint of my son biting like a vampire, multiple dislocated elbows (to no fault of the daycare) and potty training together.
  • You have high expectations for my child.
  • You provided encouragement, comfort, love to my child.
  • You helped teach him how to be a good friend, student, and helper.
  • You helped him understand right and wrong and good and bad choices.
  • You were made by a greater power to love and teach children.
  • You are a beautiful example of women lifting up other women.

It takes a village to raise a child and our daycare is a part of my family’s village. As important as this place has been to my child, they have been equally important to me. They have greeted me with a smile and open arms EVERY day. Days when I am on time. Days when I run late. Days when life is perfect. Days when I am tired, don’t feel well, or want to quit. They have provided me the confidence I need each day to know my son is safe, happy, and learning. That confidence allows to go to work and spend my days empowering others in my profession.

This week my son and I were talking about the new building, teachers, and friends that come with kindergarten. During the discussion he said “sometimes when you try something new, it’s scary but you just be brave and it turns out good, right?” Sometimes I think he is wise beyond his years. With a positive attitude like that, I assured him that great things are in store for him. As we transition to the next phase of my son’s educational journey. These years at daycare/preschool will always have a special place in my family’s hearts. For this experience I am grateful.

As we drove out of the daycare parking lot on our last day, I wiped a tear from my eye and then I heard my son say “this air conditoning in the car is making my eyes cry a little (such a tough guy). When do I get to go back and visit?” I knew then he understand the great experience he had there.

Today my spoon is full of many great memories of our special daycare experience and the friends we have made along the way.

Four-Ever Memories of Three

To my soon-to-be four year old:

How can you be four? Wasn’t it yesterday that you were just four seconds old and I saw your chubby face for the first time? Wasn’t it yesterday, that you were four months old and eating Gerber turkey and gravy and sweet potatoes baby food for Thanksgiving? Four years sure have flown by. You remind me daily that you are super deep big (deep apparently means a LOT) and that you have hair on your legs. Your adventurous spirit has made me a thrill seeker of your life moments. I try to burn those moments and your contagious giggle deep into my mind so I can reminisce on these days when I am 100 years old sitting in my rocking chair.

You have had a BIG third year of your life and I am sure number four will prove to be equally as adventurous. Three years old started out with a month-long celebration of your birthday (you have already been celebrating your upcoming number four for two weeks). You started preschool this past year and you have learned so much. You can write your name, rattle off numbers, recite the ABCs, and recall random facts about the weather, seasons, animals, etc. I have learned and relearned so much from you. For example, I know about dinosaur species-which dinos are meat eaters and plant eaters; what every creature eats and where they live; the workings of every type of construction vehicle and crane; and old nursery rhymes and games are new again. You have sung songs from the movie Frozen and Blake Shelton’s Boys Round Here no less than 100 times per week (that is 5,200 for the year). I particularly love that in Shelton’s song you sing at the top of your lungs that you are kicking up “ducks” instead of dust. We have watch lots of Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, and Superhero Squad. You are proud that you can reach the light switches and climb into the tub on your own. You enjoy Facetime and talking on the phone with family. You see yourself as the protector of your best buddy cousin “Tole” (Cole) who is only 6 months younger. You have caught turtles, frogs, lightening bugs, butterflies, crawdads, and salamanders. You still pee in the yard, but I have at least contained you to one tree. Every time you see an airplane fly overhead, you fling your arms out and say “take us to the beach.” You have completed your first 5K on Mommy’s shoulders because you would not ride in the stroller; went camping and canoeing; explored caves, museums, and zoos; taken swimming lessons; joined the Padres’ T-Ball team (and asked me what is a Padre every game and asked why can’t you be on the Pirate team); had a blast on Halloween as Captain America; were amazed when you saw an off-duty Santa eating at local Froyo place and wondered where his reindeer parked; built snowmen and gingerbread houses; played endless games of boomerang, soccer, football and army men with Dad; have flown a kite, fed ducks, donkeys, and cows; went fishing; lived off of yogurt, mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, pizza, fettuccine, strawberries and watermelon; and you have started to like salad.

Your little chubby face and legs are still chubby but not as much as they once were. As I have watched you grow throughout  your third year, there have been many times throughout the year that I have paused because you have reminded me of one of our family members; after all you are the perfect combination of years of DNA. Some may say it’s because I want to see those traits from the one’s I love, but I believe the fabric of your being is made from generations of love.

me 3Mom: You know me as Mommy or Moder (mother) if you are being silly. Some wonder if you even belong to your Dad or if you’re an asexual reproduction. Simply put, you are me with boy parts. Pictures of me, age birth through  four look just like you. You also have my organizational mind and love of trying new things (except for new food-you don’t stray). You have my tough spirit and do not let much get under your skin. We share a love for seeing, experiencing, and enjoying this great world.

clay 3Dad: You know him as Daddy and he is your best friend. You have your Dad’s mechanical brain. You can put stuff together and take things apart with ease. You have his strong, patriotic heart. You have his fratboy party spirit for good times and adventure (God, help us!). You have his athletic ability. You are both gentlemen.

 

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Maternal grandmother: You know her as Mimzi. You have her quick wit and because of this you both spend most of your days as friendenemies (friend + enemy) trying to push one another’s buttons. You can both be stubborn, but will fight for what and who you love. You have her weird toes.

 

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Maternal grandfather: You know him as Popppa. You have his round face, brown eyes, his love of sweets, and his love of Four E Farms. You also have his heart; you have said that you want to work like Poppa and help people when you are big. Maybe he will finally have an offspring who follows a career in pharmacy.

 

di and grePaternal grandfather: You know him as Poppy. You have his love for nature and the great outdoors. You are also kind like he is and always willing to help others. And…we can’t forget your Paternal step-grandmother: You know her as Nana. You aren’t blood, but she loves you just like family. You both know how to enjoy a good time and like giving Poppy a hard time.

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Paternal grandmother: You know her as Grandma. You share her creativity and her persistence.

 

 

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Maternal-Maternal great grandmother: You did meet Maw, but you were too tiny to remember. She was so proud of you. You have her love of music and her blind faith in something greater. She was also on alert for bad weather and you are always asking about “cornadoes” (tornadoes).

 

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Maternal-Maternal great grandfather: You know him as Grandfather. At times, I think you laugh like him. He has a distinct chuckle. You also have his mind and hands-on ability to build and create just about anything you set your mind to. I hope you have his great complexion-he has made it to his eighties without wrinkles.

 

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Maternal-Paternal great grandfather: You never had a chance to know him, but, like your Momma, you have his big lips. He also had a big smile like you-this picture doesn’t do it justice.

 

 

Granny

Paternal-Paternal great grandmother: You never had a chance to know her. She would have loved you! You possess her love of family and ability to see the best in people.

 

 

photo 1

Paternal-Paternal great grandfather: I never met him, nor have you. However, your Dad tells me you are strong like him and share his sense of humor. He was also a very smart man. He spent his career studying oceanography-maybe that is why you love the beach.

 

As you can see, Son, you are made up of some pretty remarkable people. You have some of their best qualities. The fabric of your being is uniquely you, yet a part of others. I have loved watching you bud into a little person this past year, as well as having the opportunity to reflect on the family I love as your actions sometimes remind me of them.

Four years old, marks the end of the toddler years and beginning of the child years. As you turn four you will grow smarter, taller, and stronger-but as I tell you-you’re always my baby. To which you say “you mean BIG baby!” It is my promise to you, to make the child years as adventurous and loving as the toddler years have been.

I love you the mostest,

Moder

XOXO

Today, my spoon is full of four-ever memories of my toddler.

 

 

 

Presence: Life’s Present

We have all savored something. Maybe it was the taste of a fine glass of wine, a made from scratch dish from a family recipe, or a scrumptious dessert. In that moment of savoring you think, “mmmm” this is the peak of excellence that you want to remember. There is much to savor about life that is not related to just food. Perhaps it’s a destination checked off the bucket list, the moment you say “I do”, the first time you glance at your newborn child, a graduation, a milestone, the sun setting or rising, or the glow of a summer or winter day. You know one of those moments, even if the world is not perfect-for that moment in time life feels, taste, or seems perfect. I have found that on the best of days, life is perfectly imperfect and that you can savor the perfection in imperfection.

My life always provides bountiful topics to blog about. However, I have not been writing as much as I typically have in the past. Why? Mainly, because I am just savoring. I have reached a stride where I am enjoying motherhood by savoring rather than sharing the moment. I have always loved the job of mom, but I am particularly fond of being a mom to a three-year old. For us, year three (only 2 months left until four years old) has been a good one. The kind of year that makes you wonder when the bottom is going to fall out because the journey has just been so fun. My toddler has had good health, we have gone over a year without a dislocated elbow (I stopped counting at the 7th dislocation), he has soaked up a wealth of information, he only follows me to the bathroom 75% of the time, and he acts more human than animal most days. He likes to remind me constantly that he is “growing up” and is “getting bigger” and that he might even be so big when he is “forty” that he will be a “really, really big giant.” Yes, I like the job of mom to a three year old.

One thing I have tried to become more aware of is of my toddler’s presence. Granted, it is hard to miss this funny, rambunctious kid. However, I am talking about the evidence of his presence that I was probably never meant to find. The presence I could have easily wiped off with some type of cleaner, tossed in a tote of toys, or maybe even never noticed. When I started consciously looking for tokens of his presence, I noticed my toddler leaves a trail of his three-year old self everywhere. I know one day, I will terribly miss these sweet tokens because they will be replaced by smelly socks and gym shorts.

Throughout the year, I have been trying to click mental pictures of life with a three year old that I do not want to forget or even worse…overlook. I want the moments with my three year old seared in my memory. In addition to mental pictures, I have been taking iPhone pics of the funnier moments that remind me of my toddler’s presence. I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I have discovering them.

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Take time to notice the presence of others and not just in the physical form. You will be pleasantly surprised by the lessons you might learn, the appreciation you might gain, or the joy you may experience. Sometimes the quiet, unexpected, and the seemingly unnoticeable moments show us the most about people and life-becoming a present to our soul. When you are rushing through life it’s hard to see little things that you take for granted. When we take time, even if it’s only for a minute to notice our surroundings, we can truly appreciate our life and those in it.

Today, my spoon is full of presence of a three year old who steals my heart every day.

All in a Day’s Work

Recently my toddler and I were in the car on the way to preschool and work. Even though my brain is not yet awake, he loves spending our short morning commute asking questions-most of which I do not know the answer to or the answer is too complicated for 7:45 AM. Things like, “why did that tree grow there?” “Does Santa go on vacation to the beach?” “How old was I when you were a baby, mommy?”  “Why do donkeys like to eat carrots”? “How old will I be when I have a beard?” “Will I grow up to be a giant?” And the questioning goes on and on and on until we get to his preschool. Recently during the morning commute, my toddler was asking me about why people work and what they do for “work”. He questioned me on the “work” of all of the family and friends he could possibly think of (like 500 people) and we talked about what they do for work. He then said, “what’s my job, momma? Where do I work?” I responded that he works at preschool and his job was to learn all sorts of new things, have fun with his friends, and to be kind and helpful (terrible threes-that is a real hard performance measure to achieve some days). As we pulled into the parking lot to his “job” (AKA preschool) my answer about his work seemed to pacify him and he jumped out of the car to head in for a hard day of work on pajama day.

Fast forward to a few hours later that day, I was at my work in a meeting. I spend way more hours than I care to calculate in meetings. At this particular meeting my mind drifted off for a split-second (really, it was just for a bit) and I started thinking about my toddler and wondering how his “work” day was going. I then begin to think, what if my toddler took my place for a day at work. How would his day be different than mine? I mean I could use a pajama day and some time to play with my friends. What would my toddler do (WWTD) if he was sitting at this board room table in a meeting? Looking around at my colleagues picturing them as toddlers, I thought if I acted like a toddler in this meeting by mimicking some of my son’s behaviors, it might look something like this.

Example

WWTD

How   to apply to apply it in the adult “work” world

Action Items Say NO to every question and request just because you can.  Do you think we should implement this initiative? NO! Do you want to schedule another meeting? NO. Do you think we can all agree….I said Noooo! Sometimes you need to say NO. Keep a healthy work and life balance and say NO where and when you should.
Meeting Discussion Dominators Make funny objects or paper airplanes out of meeting notes and agendas and throw at people who talk too much. Break the “rules” and think outside the box.
Ice Breakers Eat boogers or let one rip and then giggle. Have fun. Have a good laugh at yourself. Take the opportunity to get to know others and allow others to know the authentic you!
Questioning Ask “why” as many times as possible. Why are we doing this? Why are   these chairs so uncomfortable? Why are we meeting again? If you don’t understand something, question it and keep asking   questions until you get it.
New Technology Use your electronic device app with a talking cat, lady bug or dino. Record everyone talking in the meeting and   play it back with the cat, bug or dino voice on full volume. Try something new to get your message across. No death by PowerPoint or reading word for word. Be creative with the tools available!
Buy In  I “Insert Name” you are being   very ugly.  or “You are rude.” or “You are not my very best friend anymore.” Speak your mind, let it go, and move on. If you don’t like someone or how they are acting-tell them. Don’t hold a grudge.
Integrity Be a tattle tale – “I just broke your toy?” or “Insert name” is being   mean.” Sometimes you have to call it like you see. Even when it means be   truthful with your own behavior.
Camaraderie Call people names. “You are a chocolate monkey butt”. (This is an endearing term my toddler uses for his aunt) Forge meaningful connections with those around you with humor.
Attendance Show up and sing to your own tune! Insert my toddler’s mean mixture of Katy Perry’s “Fire” and Blake Shelton’s “Boys Round Here”. Be present (guilty-that is how I came up with this blog idea).
New Ventures “I want to go home. Where’s my mommy?” It’s okay to be anxious when trying something new or sticking your   neck out.

Oh, and I failed to mention, in the above toddler boardroom scenario, I am sure mints and coffee would definitely be replaced with Goldfish crackers and juice. Also, pajamas would be the new business casual and you could bring your favorite toy. Without a doubt, leaders can learn a few things from toddlers. Really, they remind and teach us about the basics of savoring life that somehow the world deprogrammed from us. As parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc. we have a lot to learn from children that can easily be transferred to our “work” life. The next time you are leading or attending a meeting, embrace your inner child. Eating your boogers might not work out so well, but hey a paper airplane never killed anyone, right?

Today my spoon is full of “work etiquette” from a toddler (said in my talking dino voice).

When did “trick or treat” become “tramp or treat”?

Trick or Treat. Please be sweet. Give me something good to eat. In a few days children and adults alike will be celebrating Halloween. SONY DSCWhen my son was an infant and we picked out a chicken costume for him, I recall my husband telling me that I better enjoy picking out cutesy costumes for our child because the day would come when our son would aspire to be a superhero, villain, or scary creature. That day has abruptly arrived. Not only did our toddler pick out his costume, he picked ours too! He went back and forth on the Incredibles, Hulk, and Captain America before he nailed down his final pick.  This Halloween we are superheroes-Captain America (toddler), Superman (husband), and Wonder Woman (me). For you comic lovers, I do understand this means two DC characters mated and created a Marvel character, but that’s minor details for a three year old. Honestly, my first selfish reaction to the costumes my toddler selected was to thank the Master of this great universe that I do not have to be Mrs. Incredible “Elastigirl” and wear a skintight red leotard. And this rest of my neighborhood should be thankful too!

Finding a Captain America and Superman costume for the “boys” of the family was a piece of cake…or a real “treat” in Halloween terms. We visited a few online sites, found the costumes with the best sculpted muscles, cape, and fighting accessories-WHALAA! Their costumes arrived in the mail before I even found mine. Wonder Woman, on the other hand, took a little more time and creativity; mainly because it was tough finding a costume that didn’t fall into the category of Wonder Whore.

This costume buying experience has brought to light a whole new dilemma that moms across the globe face this time of year. How do you dress up for Halloween and not look like a trick or a treat if you catch my drift? Mothers, our choices are to look frumpy or look like a tramp. The magic words of Halloween are “Trick or Treat” not “Tramp or Treat.” Let’s explore our costume options. There are the cute costumes like M&Ms or clowns and then the scary ones such as a witch with warts on her nose. This is the appropriate holiday to sport the broom I normally ride all year, but who wants to be an ugly old witch with warts?

If you don’t like cute or scary, you can try the prostitute end of the spectrum, like the Transylvania Tramp, the Firehouse Hottie, or the Devilicious Devil. How about a construction worker costume made from maybe one yard of fabric and accessorized with a construction cone bra and five inch orange stilettos because that is what construction workers across America look like?!? Or maybe a naughty nurse is more your speed because so many nurses wear a short white apron, white gogo boots, and a bedazzled bra top in the operating room. After all, it’s the costume that says no gloves are required, infections are free. Maybe you would like to chase away goblins and pray for poor lost souls while wearing a sexy nun costume. Can we give these celibate sisters a little respect, please? Or maybe you want to dress up like something out of this world such as a sultry astronaut. In the USA, we cannot get enough girls in this nation interested in engineering and math, so let’s put them in Frederick of Hollywood style lingerie and send them to the moon. Makes sense, eh?

Let me pause here to say, ok, maybe these costumes are not made for moms. But they certainly aren’t made for children or teens either! Maybe they are for the single ladies that look like supermodels, who are attending parties and not raiding their children’s candy. However, I would still beg that somehow male costumes have remained the same and female costumes have become over sexed and are made with less and less material every year. Should we really have to buy a plus size costume just so our “pumpkins” don’t pop out of the costume? And in my neck of the woods, it is cold this time of the year! Yet, another reason to cover up!

What are we doing here? Are we dressing up for Halloween or trying to live out some fetish under the pretense of Halloween? And news flash, this should be about children having fun, candy, and spooky stories. As adults we have taken over Halloween and have done so in a distasteful manor…especially to women. Adults, we had our Halloweens as children, let’s leave it there. I rocked a Big Bird, Little Mermaid, and Cabbage Patch Kid costume as a child-just to name a few.

However, that doesn’t mean I want to sex those characters up as an adult! The only reason I am dressing up, is to create a memory with my toddler, and well, because he told me to.

I have come to the conclusion that the costume choices for “mummies” are slim pickings. I won’t be walking around my neighborhood with my Captain America and Superman in stilettos or fishnets.  Mommies, have some pride, get creative, and cover up! Costume makers…get some more material and cater to a market that is looking to be treated.

Today, my spoon is full of the truth about Halloween because I am caught up in the superpowers of Wonder Woman’s golden lasso!

Non-camping Mom’s Survival Story

In my ranking of fun things to do in my spare time, camping ranks a very close second to a root canal. Anyone who knows me shouldn’t be shocked by my previous statement. I love the outdoors-kayaking, hiking, swimming and enjoying the goodness of the beauty we are often surrounded by, yet carelessly pass by in our daily hectic lives. However, my enjoyment of the outdoors comes indoors at bedtime. Once a tent enters the picture…my love for the outdoors comes to an abrupt halt. This is the point where yours truly prefers to check into a hotel or return home. Please note, anything less than 4 stars is equivalent to camping. My husband is not as high maintenance as me…for goodness sake he survived living in a giant sandbox with dust storms and only an occasional shower for months while in Iraq. I would have withered and died if I couldn’t have caught the next camel out of there! So for him, camping is nothing to complain about. For me, camping is everything to complain about.

Camping as Sweethearts

Camping as Sweethearts

This is a picture of me and my “boyfriend” now husband on our first camping trip when we were dating in college. And note to self, why do I have on mom shorts at this stage in my life?!?! I should have worn daisy dukes when I had the body. Okay, back on topic, yes that is a smile on my face…but you do crazy things for love. We were camping with our best friends who we still love dearly and who also got married and had a son much like ours. I vowed that day to my friend that I would NEVER EVER again camp.

I didn’t know it then but looking back that was when camping was actually fun.  Adult beverages of your choice without dealing with the bladder of a mother (ladies you get this), no worries of laundry, unpacking, etc., on the next day. No worries of your first born getting lost and having to be raised by a pack of wolves. Yes, I should have enjoyed the “spoonful” of that trip more.

Now. Fast-forward about 13 years. For the past decade plus, I have been avoiding camping with my husband. He says I tricked him and sold him a false bill of goods… my response, “he didn’t read the fine print”. However, I have lost the battle. My husband made an alliance with our three-year old and guilt tripped Mom into camping with the boys.

Seriously...one night!

Seriously…one night!

So…last weekend, we packed our SUV to the guilds like we were being evicted from our home and set out for our first family camping adventure. Here are my three pieces of advice for people who hate camping and end up going any way…

  1. If you are married, pack as much stuff as you possibly can. You never know what you will need. On the flipside, this reminds your husband/spouse just how difficult it is to pack up and live outdoors for the night at this stage of life. In other words, make him work.
  2. Expect the worst. Serial killers could be hiding in the forest, pedophiles are probably lurking around every tent or RV, creepy killer spiders could potentially invade your sleeping space, and that is just to name a few dangers that one might encounter.
  3. Finally take a deep breath and say to yourself, I can survive anything for 24-hours. Then…
  4. Relax and make the most of it. Throughout the world, people are living with incurable disease, being sold into slavery, and having the worst day of their lives…so relatively speaking…feel lucky to be outdoors in a safe country with great park systems where you and mother nature can safely cohabitate.
Camping with my Sweethearts
Camping with my Sweethearts

This is me camping now. Much has changed and watching this little guy have so much fun, I in turn had a blast. Okay, not a blast…but a good time. My husband said “we should do this next month”. Hold the phone!! I will only commit to one camping trip a year; with the caveat that it is not a primitive site, but a site with an electrical outlet…a girl has to dry her hair! I could had added a glamping caveat. New to glamping? Google  “glamping”- it’s a form of glamorous camping where outdoor meets hotel. Really, “glamorous” and “camping” together is a bit of an oxymoron…but I can handle camping in style with a butler, a luxurious mattress, and a spa.

Times have changed with this trip. Instead of multiple adult beverages, I only enjoyed one, because I didn’t want to have to get up in the middle of the night and make a trip to the bathhouse and meet an axe-murderer. Squatting in the woods was not on the list of options. I am not going to lie, there was a time around midnight where I almost enacted my executive veto on this trip and packed it up to head home. I wasn’t sleeping worth a darn…but inhaling a few deep breaths of the clean fresh outdoor air settled me down. Our SUV was filled to the brim with everything you could imagine compared to our first camping trip…where we stuffed a sports car full.  I don’t recall even owning bug spray in college. However, this trip I sprayed the parameters of the tent, doused my child in organic bug spray, and had enough candles burning for a séance. In college a sleepless night in a tent, meant napping all day the next day. Now, well…what’s a nap?

The beauty of this trip was enjoying each other, the peace and quiet of limited cell phone coverage, no Disney movies, no iPad…just us three healthy,happy people snuggled in a tent. And at the end of each day…peace and a happy family is all a mom really wants.-even if it is under the stars and out in the great outdoors.

Today my spoon is full of memories of bugs, s’mores, and a sleepless starry night.

The Not So Terrible Twos

Tomorrow I will be a mom of a three year old. I am not for sure where time has gone. A few days have felt like a decade and all the others have felt like a Nano second.  All in all, the days have added up to a lot of great memories. We have come a long way baby (screaming baby)! There have been challenges but also a time of great milestones and imagination.   We have moved from me stressing out as to whether a “heaping” scoop versus a “full” scoop of formula would kill you. Heck, now you eat dirt and your own boogers. I used to be tortured by your Dad looking for all of the answers to our questions in the What to Expect the First Year book. You don’t know how lucky you are to still have your Dad…I had many images of using that book as a deadly weapon during our 2 AM quests for knowledge about poop, screaming, eating, snot, etc. Now, we just go with the flow and hope for the best.

Every day this week my toddler has asked me “is it my birthday yet?” Followed by “I want my birthday!”, “I want to be three!” and “I need my birthday party!” Before we venture into 3s there are a few things I want to always remember about you being two. Everyone says the twos are terrible, but I found them to be terrific!

  • You have been blessed with great health. One ear infection all year! I guess boogers are great for the immune system.
  • Your second birthday party started out with a major flood. The Dino theme party I planned for you was saved when the sun finally popped through the rain clouds. You never even noticed that the rain messed up the dino dig I had planned for your special day.   I’m still ticked about it and now own more plastic dino skeltons than I care to admit.
  • This year you have road on planes, trains, a boat, a four-wheeler, a golf cart, a Gator (not the animal), a replica of the Nina, a Ferris wheel, a hot air balloon, an elephant, and a camel.
  • You have fed ducks (got bit by one), turtles, donkeys, goats, peacocks, fish, and a lama.
  • We have been to the beach twice…which you love and instantly turn into a pirate the minute you feel the sand between your toes. “Arrghh”! You have visited museums, zoos, and aquariums. You have seen a play (okay it wasn’t Broadway…it was Elmo Live) and a dino exhibit.  You attended your first WKU sports event…Go TOPS! You were the only kid that hated Shrek on Ice.
  • You took a drink from the Fountain of Youth (I was hoping it would keep you two for forever!), splashed at water parks and made your first snowman.
  • You have a new fascination with superheroes and getting the “mean men”. You even can cast a pretty good Spiderman web. You also gain superhuman strength each time you put on your Batman or Spiderman PJs.
  • You started the twos out in diapers and sleeping in my bed. Now you’re a big boy wearing underoos and sleeping in your own bed. You are the proud owner of 250 Hot Wheels that I bought off of Ebay and used to reward you each time you used the potty. Now I want to hit myself each time I step on one of those darn cars. We have mastered potty training, now if you will just quit dropping your pants and peeing everywhere and stop watering my landscape with your urine…it will be a complete success.
  • You had your first trip to the dentist. All that torturing you with brushing your teeth-paid off! However, you did make me look like an idiot because I didn’t realize you had a gash in your gums from where you fell down the day before. But you clearly articulated to the doctor what happened when she asked. Mother of the year here!
  • You have learned so many words and repeated a few that I shouldn’t have said!! Some you have worn out like the word “why”. Others you have your own way of saying them…here are a few of my favorite.
    • Orrrange  and Raannnnch (with a French accent)
    • You call your boots “boops” and your hat “hook”.
    • Your “yessss” has such a definite hiss to it.
    • Who can resist your “sorrrrrwey” and “pleeeaze”?
    • We need to work on your grammar -“Yes I is” “No me Not” and “Me Am” will only be cute for a few more years.
    • Cooper is “Pooper” which has some symbolism
  • You had your first brain freeze. You didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I laughed until I cried.
  • You have had your first crush on a girl.
  • You attended your first “friend” birthday party.
  • We built you a fort that probably could qualify as taxable living quarters.
  • You love to celebrate. You were excited for Halloween, but mad at me when your costume was a pirate bird, and not a real pirate outfit. You said you were “just a bird, not a pirate”.
  • You had a blast at Christmas. The drums you wanted for months was a real hit and you named your band the “Mud Truck Band”.  Maybe one day “Mudtruck” will be in flashing lights!
  • You can count, you know your shapes, and we are working on ABCs.
  • You are obsessed with anything construction and especially enjoyed watching our new home being built.
  • You love going to Pop’s Farm to feed the donkeys. You have even claimed it as “your farm”.
  • You become very attached to your tennis shoes. You don’t like to change. I had to throw away your Car tennis shoes in a dumpster in another state so you couldn’t get them out of the trash to wear.
  • You are proof that a human can live off of juice, pop tarts, nuggets, mac & cheese, and fruit for two years now.
  • You have a memory like an elephant which is a reminder to me to always strive for positive days to yield great memories.
  • You love to be on the move and you adore your family. You have a carefree way of enjoying them for just who they are and never seeing their short comings. I hope you always keep that spirit.
  • You love your “Titty Tat” (cat) but deep down you wish she acted more like a dog.
  • You have been mad at Santa ever since I told you he took your Christmas tree down. I passed the blame to Old St. Nick because you were disappointed and you are still asking when he is bringing it back. Surprise….it will be back in late November! You also hated the Elf on the Shelf which worked out great for me because I couldn’t ever remember to move the stupid thing. You were mad because he made messes and bothered your toys. So we decided he would just set on the shelf and not move.
  • On those few long days when we have had a time out…I can’t help but laugh when you are sitting in the timeout chair and yelling at me at the top of your lungs that “I is a good boy now”. Your tone is not so convincing. You now try to put us in timeout if we do something you don’t like.
  • You think kisses from girls, including me, are yuck…but I steal them from you anyway.
  • You try to tell jokes and crack yourself up. I have to admit “Hey Mom you have a fat elbow” is pretty funny when you say it. As long as you don’t say I have a fat rear end…I’ll keep laughing at your jokes.

There are so many more good times, but these are a sampling of ones I always want to savor in my spoon. I can’t wait, my dearest Coop, to see what adventures and fun the age of three will bring. Thank you for all the joy and excitement you bring to our life. You certainly keep us laughing and are a constant reminder that my spoon runneth over.

Today my spoon is full of fond memories of the not so terrible twos.

Why? Why?!? Why!!!

Why haven’t I been blogging lately? Well, I have been busy. Well, why have I been busy? Because I have been drowning in “whys” and it has apparently zapped my creative juices and energy. Why?!?

Being the mother of an almost three year old, my day from sun up to sun down (and sometimes even when the sun is fast asleep) consist of approximately 100,000,000,000 “whys” a day. Why is the sun bright? Why does they sun hide behind the clouds? Why does it rain? Why is that car black? Why is grass green? Why are there big trucks and little trucks? Why do we have to wear clothes? Why does our cat not work (yes, I have wondered that too, I mean it would be nice if she earned her keep or at least cleaned her litter box)? Why do cats have tails? Why does a cow moo and not bark? Why do I have to wash my hands? Why do we have to go this way? Why is that building there? Why is the Easter Bunny not at the Mall every day? Why don’t we have a beach (honey, I work in education, Momma can’t afford a private island). Why, why, and why? Each of these questions grows into about 3 or 4 questions about the subject until I can’t think of any answers. Frankly, I don’t know most of the answers at all. I am not a scientist, physicist, meteorologist, engineer, etc.? I just go along with the marathon of questions and answers until either I have to lie or admit defeat. And when I don’t know, I usually get “why don’t you know momma”? It’s painful to admit that, well, I don’t know everything and I certainly don’t know as much as I thought I did (but son, don’t tell your Dad). How do these girls on 16 and Pregnant survive when I have a dang Ph.D. and can’t think of all the answers?!

It’s exhausting. But the educator in me loves his inquisitive nature and strives to cultivate that and explain the world around us. I never want to mute his inquiry…I always want him to ask. I really think instead of a book on “What to Expect When Expecting”- I would actually read and benefit from a book entitled “Why: Everything you need to know in three year-old speak”. If there was only an iPhone app for “Why” (and I have been known to Google during desperate times). I have even tried a little reverse psychology and said “well, you tell me why.” To which, my son replied, “no you tell me why, you da momma.” It’s hard to be put on such a high pedestal of know it all.

I know one day, I will be in the car with my son and praying for something more than a grunt to come out of his teenage mouth. I guess that is when the payback begins and I can start asking him so many questions…to which I am sure he will make up the answers as well. And if that isn’t pay back enough, then I am sure he will have to repeat a lot of conversations during my elder years. Until then, I’ll savor the moment of him thinking I know EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING because one day he will discover I am not a genius.

Today my spoon is full of why. Why? I DON’T KNOW!

Forever Young….Forever 21

Recently, I was shopping with my husband and son. Well, my husband was trying to entertain my son at the mall while I shopped. I hit some killer sales on some high-end items and well, I had to have them. No really, I saved BIG! I ventured outside of my box a little and purchased some outfits that were not as conservative as I typically select. I was on a roll so after my bargain adventure, I headed to Forever 21 to purchase a few more trendy items.  In my head, I was thinking….oh yeah maybe “Stella has her groove back.”

When I go in Forever 21, it takes me a moment to reframe.  How many clothes can a store cram into one location? I mean the shirt crammed into the rack at the front of the store might be a perfect fit with the pants hanging in the back corner of the store. Don’t trip over all of the size 0 girls you might not see along the way when you are trying to get to the back of the store or dressing room. Really all senses have to be engaged during this kind shopping experience. I was just getting in my groove and my cell rang. It was my husband. He said “Hey! We are on the other side of the mall at Chucky Cheese if you are looking for us.”  To which I replied, “Well, I was going to be looking for you after I left this store-but if you are at Chucky Cheese maybe not.” That phone call was a dose of reality for Stella. Needless to say, I lost my shopping momentum. Nothing reminds you that you cannot be forever “21” like a call from Chucky Cheese.

I left the teenage clothes and headed to Chucky Cheese where my two loves were playing a lizard game. My husband excitedly informs me that you can apparently really rack up the tickets on the lizard game-good to know!  Then my husband says, “do you want to eat here for dinner?” To which I replied in a rather disgusted voice, “I would rather lick the public toilets in this mall than eat here”. The food may be great at Chunky Cheese, but there is just something unappealing about eating while you are surrounded by folks who can’t fit in the booth they are sitting in (Chunky Chucky Cheese) and you are inundated with background noises ranging from a singing mouse to racecars blares to machine guns. And let’s not forget there are probably more germs on those game handles than in any science experiment funded by government research. It overwhelms me and honestly just grosses me out to the point I can’t even  enjoy my favorite food pizza there.

As my toddler and husband used the last of their game tokens (I hid half of them in my purse), my mind drifted back to Forever 21. What is it about 21…or at least the early 20s that makes you want it to last forever? A few things quickly came to mind.  Is it the college years and the wonderful world of freedom? After all, there are few responsibilities, no managing people, no 401ks, a perfect metabolism, no bundle of joy to wake me like a rooster at the crack of dawn, spontaneous travel, no “real” plans…just living for the moment ….forever 21. Then it dawned on me, Forever 21 needs to revamp to a new market demographic (see I knew that marketing minor would come in handy one day). The new and improved Forever 21 should look like this…a store I could walk in with my husband and toddler and we would all leave happy. In the middle is a germ free play land which serves organic food and is operated by Phds with degrees focusing on children. The attendant would take my child and hand my husband and I an iPhone-like device so we could watch our child gleefully playing at any time. In this play land, my child would have a blast but would also get a healthy dose of information on manners, potty training, sharing, sleep habits, etc. The workers would also pick out clothes and shoes for my toddler and they would fit perfectly-no need for returns.

My husband would go to the right of play land to the man’s world…which would be a combination of a pub, sporting goods, Eddie Bauer, Lowes. Please note, no trashy waitresses allowed. He could shop, drink Guinness, and enjoy sports. Probably a little of Beastie Boys, Toby Keith, AC/DC, Mumford & Sons, and Robin Thick would be playing in the background.  While my husband and toddler are entertained, I would head left. My first stop would be for peddie/mannie and a massage by a buff 21-year-old male. Hey, don’t judge-this is my idea, it wasn’t happen stance that no trashy waitresses were allowed on the man side. My side of the store would have clothes that fit mothers. Not a mother that had kids at 16 and their figure rebounded. Mothers like me-waited until I was not forever 21 and my hips will forever never be the same. The clothes would be a mix of Forever 21 and H&M style of apparel. A personal stylist would be at my beck in call and pick out the perfect clothes for my body style and every size that fits me says size “0”. Justin Timberlake, LL Cool Jay, and Lenny Kravitz, Adele, and Miranda Lambert would be serenading me throughout my shopping excursion. I could check on my precious toddler with a push of a button while sipping on a martini. Awwww…the feeling of forever 21. Then my husband, my child and I would greet each other in the middle…. refreshed and happy with bags full of clothes. That’s what Forever 21 feels like in your 30s…and for that I would pay dearly.

“Look mommy, I got a pider (spider) and a car!” My toddler exclaims who is proud of his prizes earnings at Chucky Cheese which are probably imported from a foreign country and contain toxins…snapped back to reality…not forever 21.

Today my spoon is full of memories of 21.

Thoughts for my Daughter-in-Law on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is here. Love is in the air and candy hearts and chocolates are making their way to our hips. I have never been a lover of Valentines. Don’t get me wrong, I always love a surprise from my love. I personally think Valentine’s just has a forced feeling of “love” – too commercialized. So for Valentine’s my husband and I try to bring our A game all year…not just on February 14th.One of my fondest Valentine’s memories is of a friend and I sending each other bouquets of flowers from a secret lover while we were in high school. Who could it be? Geez, I don’t know! It was for a good laugh and we had fun with the “mystery.”This Valentine’s Day is different. I have been doing a lot of thinking and daydreaming about love. Not in my life, but that of my son’s life. I know he is only two, but life slapped me in my face a few weeks ago when his teachers jokingly shared with me that he is a little “gentleman” to a girl in his class. My first thought, well at least he is exhibiting traits of chivalry, and not pimp-like at a young age. That’s positive, right?  I know this little gal is just two, but that little hoochie (I promise I am not jealous) is already stealing my son’s heart. After naptime, he apparently helps her off her mat and has a date with her during lunch and snack each day. When I told my husband he said, we need to separate their mats! Really-they are two, we are maybe over reacting. Adding insult to injury, my son received his first birthday party invite last week-from a GIRL; who by the way is an older woman-she will be three! This innocent crush on his girl buddy and the party invite from a cougar has me thinking that in a blink of an eye I will be a mother-in-law. That is the worst label ever-so many stereotypes go with that term.

My husband’s mother, made it very clear that she was “losing” a son when my  husband I dated and later married. Since she doesn’t have access to my blog, I won’t take any dirty punches. However, there is nothing I hate more than the shallow thought of “a son is a son until he takes a wife.” Really, I have to start now to plot how I will be the best mother-in-law that ever existed and defy the horrible stereotypes.  How do I turn this ship around now so that I don’t “lose” a son, but instead gain a daughter?  I know there will be Valentines Days to come where my son will be touting a teddy bear to school for his love or sending roses to some vixen that isn’t the marrying type. However, I am skipping over those brief moments in time and going straight for the kill-the ONE that will last- YOU, my daughter-in-law. I have decided to start thinking and planning for our relationship now, so I penned this open letter to YOU my dearest daughter-in-law (who is not taking MY son).

Dearest Beautiful, Smart, Perfect Daughter-in-Law:

I know you are perfect because my son has good taste thanks to my positive influence on his life and let’s face it-his mother is nearly perfect. Now that we share the same last name, I would like to say “welcome” to our family! Please know I don’t view you as a thief in the night who stole my son. Actually, the joke is on you-your stuck with me, my husband, and our crazy family.  So I beg of you, just go ahead and embrace us-there are many fun times ahead. Drop the mother-in-law stereotype. You will find me likeable. Honestly, you have fallen in love with my life’s work, so I sincerely accept your thanks for molding a young man into a perfect mate. I started working on your behalf before we ever knew each other. That is how great of a mother-in-law I am! If you think about it, we have a lot in common since we both love the same man. I fell in love with him the first second I gazed into his big brown eyes right after he took his first breath. And you…fell for those same eyes yourself!

The good news is I will not ask you to wear my wedding dress. I have already donated it to a good cause and it is long gone. So, find one of your own that fits you and your dreams. I won’t upstage you on your wedding day, but know I will look damn good when I am lighting the candle that forever unifies us as one big, happy family. I won’t judge the cleanliness of your house or the gourmet appeal of your food. If you spend your life cleaning and picking up after my son and your offspring-it is no one’s fault but your own because I taught him differently.  I won’t harass you about how you parent. I won’t harass you about your sense of style (well, that might happen if you are embarrassing the family name). However, I will nag you to enjoy the ride of a perfectly imperfect life and will be there to support your journey.

I assume you picked my amazing son because he is gorgeous (I mean he should have been a model, I know), he is intelligent, a good conversationalist and listener, he is open-minded, loves adventures, has a good sense of humor, and is practically perfect. Or maybe you picked him just because I came with him. Let me tell you, honey, this level of perfection you fell in love with didn’t happen overnight. His father and I have been training him for years to not be a narcissistic narrow-minded idiot who cannot function independently.

Right now you may not even be born yet or you may be playing with Dora the Explorer stuff and obsessed with everything pink. However, I am working for your future happiness now, and he is only two! Let me give you a few examples.

  • You will enjoy not falling into the toilet seat in the middle of the night. Putting the lid down has been incorporated into potty training at our house.
  • You will not have to clean up after him. Thanks to me, he puts his own stuff up and doesn’t have crap scattered everywhere. He knows how to put his plate and sippy cup (hopefully, he has progressed to an adult cup) in the dishwasher. Well, thanks to my OCD tendencies, we “clean-up” every night. I am sorry if you have to sing songs about how fun cleanup time is while he does his chores.
  • You will enjoy dinner on the table when you get home. He helps me cook. He is an excellent stirrer of all ingredients. I will incorporate moving those ingredients into a pan in his “oven and stove 101” training when he is older.
  • You will enjoy that he can balance respecting an independent woman and chivalry. Well, he learned that one mostly from his dad. He will always kiss you before he leaves and before bedtime. He has spent his years watching his mommy love her family and balance a career. He has seen days where I was superwoman and days were I was a failure-he knows it’s hard.
  • You will notice he has good manners because he understands the importance of please and thank you. 
  • You will like how he is a good communicator and has lots to talk about. Well, his father and I have been cultivating an adventerous spirit by toting him around the world and to museums before he could talk. I have spent countless hours talking about and explaining life to him.
  • You will like it that he is a good listener. Like my husband, he has heard my “hearing vs listening” lecture many times (I’m a communication major). You don’t listen to mommy when you are watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse; that is “hearing” not “listening”. The TV goes off until you can be a good listener. You’re welcome that you won’t be ignored every time a sporting event is on TV.
  • You will like that he doesn’t think your one of the boys and enjoys hearing his bodily functions like burps and “toots” as he now calls them. It might be fun with Dad, but he better keep the noises to himself around the ladies.

Hopefully, these actions which I have already starting working on will show you that from the beginning, you and I have been on the same team-we are not each other’s competition or enemies. I don’t want to be your BFF, just your MILF (for those of you with your minds in the gutter-that means “mother-in-law friend”). I know I will be replaced as his truest love and that is okay. I can only hope you picked him because of the qualities I have worked so hard to instill in him…and that maybe he picked you because we are alike. Hey, they say you marry your mother-which scares the hell out of me! I can’t promise I won’t be annoying or I won’t be too involved, but I promise it will all come from love. Let’s face it, you love my baby, I must have done something right.

Sincerely,

Your mommy-in-law

Today my spoon is full of chocolate Valentine’s Day Candy as I sulk at not always being my son’s Valentine.

Big Boy in a Big Bed

As you know from previous blog posts, yes I am “one of those” moms who let my child sleep in our bed-or “momma’s bed” as he calls it. Yes, I ignored all of the books I read, my doctor’s advice, and parental wisdom from friends. I have spent the last six months sandwiched between a 13 pound cat and a toddler. Yes, most of those six months were sleepless nights because my toddler tosses and turns like a rotisserie chicken. Many nights, I cried mercy and left the cat, toddler, and husband in the bed to catch some zzz on the couch or in my toddler’s bed. I am thankful to survive sharing our bed with our toddler without a broken rib or black eye.

He slept in his bed great as an infant and did great until right before he turned two and his two year molars snuck up on us. Teething caused him a lot of pain and kept him (us) up many nights-so our bedtime routine went to hell and stayed there. The combination of his strong will and my lack of sleep ended up being a disaster…with my husband on the worst receiving end of it (love you honey!). We tried the yelling it out method and sending Coop back to his bedroom. That ended with him kicking the inside of his bedroom door and yelling “let me out” and “you a rude momma”. And, my toddler wasn’t the only one yelling it out. My husband and I were “screaming it out” at 2 AM and all other hours of the night. Seriously, I’m thankful we don’t have night court in our home town; we might have dissolved the marriage on one of those sleepless nights. In the name of a little more wink eye and not making “to death do us part” a reality-we caved and just let our toddler sleep with us. I mean really, not every culture agrees that everyone has to have their own bed, right? For crying out loud…it was just for six months-don’t be so judgmental. Did you notice I said it “was”? Yes, the New Year brought about the new goal of reclaiming our bedroom! As dumbfounded as I am to report this, the transition from momma’s bed to Coop’s bed has been a breeze.

I will admit, on January 1st I was sick to my stomach on making this transition. I dreaded the lack of sleep and the fight to keep him in his bed. But that was what my husband and I agreed on-and well, it was to late to back out this time. I had already agreed that when we moved in our new home in November that we would get him out of our bed. We were too tired from unpacking and juggling life-so I just ignored that agreement. Then my husband remembered and got us back on track. I spent the first day of the year strategizing how to not bite my husband’s head off when we were walking around like zombies in the middle of the night keeping our kid in his bed. I spent the entire day talking to (no, brainwashing) my toddler about how “big boys” sleep in their bed and “don’t you want to be a big boy.” At bedtime we did the usual, read the same five books we have every night for the past 3 months. My toddler fell asleep, we put him in his room, and the rest is history. Being a “tad” over protected, I surrounded him with king size pillows, put a baby gate on the outside of his bedroom door frame, and shut the door. This gave me a three-step warning alert if he got up and out of bed. I spent the night sleepless, staring (with the volume on full blast) at the baby monitor watching his every move like he was a newborn. Surely this would end any moment. He won’t stay in his bed without a fight. Well, he did and he continues to do so. He has had a night or two of waking up at 5 AM and wanting in our bed. However, in the name of not making bedtime a fight, I let him join us (and in a sick way I missed him kicking the crap out of me). My approach has been making a big deal about his success on sleeping in his bed and not fighting him to return to his bed for another hour or two. He has been snoozing in his big boy bed all of 2013.

ZZZZZZZ

ZZZZZZZ-Snoozing like a “Big Boy”

I keep waiting for this to fall apart. Given our track record of parenting obstacles, nothing has come without a fight and tears (from everyone). Is this divine intervention? Is this a healthy dose of good karma coming our way? I don’t know, but whatever the reason we will take it! Many have said it takes 21 days to make a habit, so we are almost half way to creating a good sleeping habit for 2013.

I share this with you, because sometimes as a parent, you just have to do what is right and works for your family at the moment. I would venture to guess that for most families, bedtime is perhaps the worst part of the day. Don’t be ashamed, feel like a failure, or be embarrassed. Life is what it is. Others may roll their eyes or tell you that your approach is crazy. The experts may warn against it, but it’s your life and your family’s sanity. As my toddler reminds me every morning and night when he goes to bed or gets out of bed, “I’m a big boy”. I must admit, I am happy we have our bed back, but a little sad that he is indeed becoming a big boy too quickly. As the saying goes, be careful what you ask for because you just might get it.

Today my spoon is full of bitter sweet rest.

If Only Spiderman Could Fix All Evil

This week’s post was supposed to be filled with the Christmas holiday spirit; however, like many of you, my heart has been so heavy from the tragedy in Connecticut.  So many spoons once full of life, now so empty.  Upon hearing the news, as a mommy my mind shifted to the morning of the tragedy. Most likely, the last moments the parents shared with their child. I know the last moments are only a glimpse in time, but they must replay in the parents’ minds. Some parents and their children had great mornings before school drop off. Aren’t we always grateful for those mornings (well, we should be)? Other parents and children may have experienced a hectic morning filled with meaningless arguments of what to wear, get your backpack, we are running late, and hurry up. Don’t we always hate those mornings? And for some, the morning was just as ordinary as their cereal for breakfast and expected after school pickup. Regardless, no one knew the fate of the next hours-none of us really ever do.

I tried on Saturday morning to watch the news about the events. Just a quick update to be informed- much more would have been torture.  In the background noise was the giggles of my toddler in another room. Watching such horror while a giggling toddler was near did not seem right. So I quickly turned off the news to join in a game of super heroes and wrestling with my two year old and husband.  My mind and heart were torn as whether or not to talk about what had happened on a two-year old scale to my toddler or to save the conversation for later years. My toddler has the memory of an elephant-so I decided to say something, even though small, rather than nothing. I believe in equipping kids with the reality they live in at every age. So, I sat my toddler in my lap and in two year old language told him “if you ever see a mean person trying to hurt kids at school or anywhere, run and hide like when we play hide-and-seek.” He really seemed to listen and I was proud of my parenting moment. So I followed up with, “now tell mommy what you would do if you were to see a mean person trying to hurt you or other kids?” He jumped up into a fighting stance like he was in a boxing ring, cast his spider man web hands and said “I beat you up mean man.” Can you tell his dad was a Marine? Okay, so maybe two is a little early for this talk. But even if a seed was planted and it protects him until he is old enough to understand more, then so be it.

I’ve seen post on Facebook and overheard discussions all trying to make sense of this mess. The truth is that the events were senseless and the only thing that makes real sense is to keep the momentum going in the many little ways that over time might add up to a big difference.  Turning school leaders into gun toting educators isn’t the answer. Educators have enough to do already! This southern gal believes in the right to own guns, but also strongly believes there are major improvements in regulations to be made. Throwing an 8×10 photocopy of the Christian 10 commandments on the wall is not an answer. Posted Ten Commandments do not equate to “God” being back in schools. Did “He” ever really leave? I like to think that whoever is in control of the Universe is a little less shallow than requiring self-portraits and commandants posted in buildings to ensure protection. If you believe “God” (insert your higher power of choice) wasn’t in the school-reexamine the lives spared and the heroes that emerged. Look at the goodwill, love, prayers, and tears poured into a town most of us never heard of before last week. Just like evil, good (and God) comes in many forms.

So where do we go from here? How do you stop the seemingly unstoppable? We do not forget the misery Connecticut feels after the media has moved on to a new story. We encourage the government to put funds into structuring safe schools and we do it with the fever of airport security post 911. We realize that sweet American children are not the only children who face senseless violence-it is worldwide. We demand a thorough review of gun regulations and do something with the findings. We talk more openly with our children about good and evil. We take a hard look at our healthcare system and educational policies to see if they really support families and students that live with mental health issues. We remove the stigma to create open dialogue about mental health issues. We stop pointing a finger at failing parents and schools and start pointing kids in the right direction by setting an example, by mentoring, and increasing self-worth for those that can’t see it in themselves.  We continue talking about this subject and start doing….more. We don’t act like it can’t happen in our children’s schools, in our movie theaters, in our malls and any other place we enjoy everyday freedoms. We play an active role and we continually stretch our thinking so that we may see all sides of an equation in order to arrive at a better solution. We work on savoring every spoonful of life, even the hectic or ordinary everyday mornings.

My mommy brain jumps from the morning of the event, to the reality of where families who lost loved ones will find themselves- with Christmas gifts hid away in a closet, yet to be wrapped for a sweet child no longer on this earth. The empty beds. The shattered dreams of things yet to come- a family vacation to see Mickey Mouse, graduations, weddings, grandbabies, etc. It’s really uncomprendable. May the family and friends of the children and adults who met an unfair fate that day find hope in what is seemingly such a hopeless time in their lives. May their spoons be full of kind moments, momentum for change, and the perseverance to live each day. I will continue to teach my child the realities of good and evil and pray he never has to “beat up the mean people” by casting his Spiderman web.

Coop & His Hero

Casting Webs On Evil

Today my spoon is full of hope for the good that will continue to emerge and multiple from this horrific event.

 

Transformers: Bedroom in Disguise

Recently we have moved and it has caused some post-traumatic stress to resurface from my days of shopping for a baby bed. Like all parents, when we found out we were expecting, we begin looking for furniture, gadgets, etc. that are supposed to make life easier for parents and baby (what a gimmick!). One item that my husband and I spent WAY too much of our lives researching is our bundle of joy’s bed. Seriously, I can now appreciate the fact that in the “old” days, babies would sleep in a dresser drawer. Before we knew we were having a boy we spent countless hours each evening searching online for baby beds. We narrowed it down from infinity to about 3 bed styles for a boy and 3 bed styles for a girl. So, once we found out that Mr. Cooper was making his debut…we automatically reduced the possibilities by half. The rest should be easy, right? Not so much.

We had too long to think about this piece of furniture. So we continued shopping at retail shops. We thought this was the way to go, rather than ordering online. As a civil engineer guy, my husband was attractive to the convertible bed. After weeks of looking at beds and discussing possibilities, I caved on the convertible bed. I now call it the transformer bed. I am sure there is a kit that comes with it that shoots fire or launches a missile. I had a weak moment-I was tired of talking about it and at the time the thought of not having to ever pick a bed out for my son again sounded great. He can convert it right on to college and then I would redecorate with new stuff. Once we decided on a convertible bed, I was back to the drawing board. We looked and looked and we found the dream bed; or so we thought. But as luck would have it, our dream bed had been discontinued. So, we opted for dream bed number two and placed the order around the 21st week of my pregnancy (for those keeping track….that leaves 19 weeks for arrival and setup).

Then, I get the phone call that some shipping fiasco was occurring in China and that it might take 8 weeks for our furniture to arrive, instead of 6 weeks. Sure no problem! Then 8 weeks turned into 18 weeks. Finally our furniture arrived. Oh wait, I mean one night stand arrived …because that is such a helpful piece of furniture in the nursery (insert cussing). This is where I went from normal to needing to be tied up in a straight jacket. My husband and I called the retail store daily. Only to be promised that it should arrive any second. I mean time was ticking! Dealing with an unhappy pregnant woman who is full term during a Kentucky July is not pretty. When the store grew tired of talking to us, they gave us the company’s phone number. Some lady from the company told me the rest of my furniture was literally sitting on a dock in China and was waiting for a cargo ship that had room. If I knew I wouldn’t go into labor, I would have paddled a boat all the way to China to get that stuff. I will skip the rest of the details because it is just too painful to recant, but the entire nursery showed up 8 weeks after the stork dropped off our bundle of joy; which is a total of 27 weeks for delivery time! I am surprised the store and the furniture company didn’t take out a restraining order on us. Oh, and I failed to mention, that when selecting and ordering the baby bedding, I was schemed once by a fraudulent website, then placed an order that was discontinued and finally found the right bedding the third time. I also went through about 6 different shades of paint in the nursery before finding the right color. Thank you to the hubby for his patience.

So, it should be clear to see why I hate nursery furniture. It is over rated and a waste of time. Transformer beds come with too many parts and pieces. The now headboard has teeth marks all across the top because it was a side piece of the crib when my toddler was teething. It looks like a beaver has gnawed the bed. My toddler doesn’t even sleep in this freaking piece of furniture anymore because he is in my bed. It makes a comfortable bed for the cat! Needless to say, every time I go into the bedroom that houses this furniture, I want to beat it with a sledge hammer. I don’t want to wish Coop’s life away, but I can’t wait until he takes this furniture set to his first apartment and I can watch each time I visit how it has been destroyed wood grain by wood grain by college life.

The moral of this story is you can’t buy rest and relaxation unless it is on a beach with a drink in hand. Don’t waste your money on overpriced transformer beds that promise to send your child off to dreamland comfortably for the first years of their life. Keep things simple. Clean out a dresser drawer and when they outgrow that…scoot over and let them in your bed.

Today my spoon is full of bitter memories of a transformer bed. Now if it would just transform my toddler’s sleeping routine.

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24/7 on the job…Mom

Last week, I had surgery on my knee. The MRI showed a tear in my meniscus.  After 1.5 hours of exploratory surgery-not a single little tear could be found. Arghh!! The good news is I have just been hobbling around like a pirate for a few days instead of being on crutches throughout the upcoming holiday season. The bad news …well, I have a battle wound on my leg (AKA a scar) and we still don’t know what is wrong with my knee. So next steps are physical therapy and taking arthritis medication. Seriously, arthritis?  For those that know me well, know I haven’t worn my bones out from my athletic prowess.  My late grandmother suffered from arthritis.  When the condition would bother her, she used to say her “Arthur” was acting up as if it was her mischievous friend.  I guess, Arthur is now my new “friend.”

My husband has been most helpful and most gracious during my surgery and recovery. And frankly, I am a horrible patient. I am a grumpy beast. I hate depending on others and dislike having to sit and watch life pass me by while my leg is propped up at a certain angle and healing. I am humbled by individuals who have had to be patient while their bodies were healing for a long period of time. Anesthesia and pain killers make me sleep like a bear hibernating for the winter. However, through this experience, I have learned there is one job that you are never off duty for and that is the job of mom. You know you’re a mom when….

  1. In the surgery center recovery area you ask for Goldfish Crackers. And despite the amnesia, you remember being disappointed they were not the extra cheesy blast variety.
  2. Your bummed you got an entire night to yourself in a king size bed (husband, kido, and cat took the couch) and were too drugged to remember it.
  3. Having been sleep deprived for months you first thought after you realized you slept for 16 hours straight is “do I have bed sores?”
  4. While sleeping you remember a pirate with a hammer visiting your beside and you are pretty sure it was your toddler and not a weird dream.
  5. Instead of a bell, your husband leaves you a plastic trumpet on the night stand to blow if you need help. Honestly, my loving husband probably wanted to tell me where to shove that trumpet a few times.
  6. Your family says “It’s been 24 hours…aren’t you back to being superhero mom? “
  7. You have to take sponge baths for a week to avoid infecting your wound, but you forgot to ask the doctor about slobbery toddler kisses on your “boo boo.”
  8. You beg to go to the grocery shopping because it is considered “me time.”
  9. Your first meal post operation you ask for macaroni and cheese.
  10. You still can explain to someone what your toddler is saying even though you are drugged out the wazoo.

Today my spoon is full of thanks for good health! Mom’s don’t have time to be sick!

This “Two” Shall Pass

From birth, heck from pregnancy, most parents are automatically in a competition with each other…especially mothers.  And it is not in our nature to air our dirty laundry.  Doing so is a sign of weakness to the competition. After all, our kid’s perfectness is a direct reflection of our perfection. But for the sake of creating empathy among parents, especially mothers, I am airing my laundry today. Most of us like to think the rest of the world operates in little pockets of utopia where their children are perfect, the parents have the heart of Super Nanny, and life goes as planned. My life has been quite the contrary since the terrible twos became a guest at our house. A dear friend of mine shared the following quote with me which I will PG-13 rate for the sensitive folks.

They are called the “terrible twos” because” f*#&ing awful” doesn’t start with a T.

Quite frankly, I couldn’t have said it better myself. The mother who texted this quote to me is a top-notch mother in my book and I appreciated her rawness! Seriously, what happens at two? And I thought colic was bad!

Borrowing from an 80s movie reference, my cute child goes from Gizmo to Gremlin with something as simple as the wrong Sippy cup filled with apple juice when he wanted orange juice.  For the past few weeks, our days go something like this. At 6:45 he wakes up. Before his eyes are open he says “nack” which means he wants a snack…AKA breakfast. No worries, Prince Cooper, your Gogurt and juice await you. By 6:47 he is telling me “NO TEETH” and “NO SHOES” which means he has no intentions of brushing his teeth or wearing his shoes today. The clock hands seem to be moving at warp speed as I try to finish getting ready while he downs his “nack”. I hear his feet hit the floor the moment he finishes.  He makes his way crying to the bathroom like I have been gone for weeks. He begins climbing my legs. I swear it is like he is trying to crawl back in the womb some mornings. A few minutes later, we have a WWF wrestling match to get his clothes and shoes on. I won’t even go into the details of how the socks have to be “just right” so they don’t hurt his feet and how the tags on his shirt itch his back.

By this point in the morning, the cat is standing at the door meowing because she wants outside. Don’t we all want to escape Miss Kitty? Well, the luxury of a house cat affords you the opportunity of enduring this fine morning with the family. If anyone is going outside to be alone it is me. For goodness sake cat, you have the house to yourself all day! Next, comes the tooth-brushing smack down. And, really, what’s the point….these stupid things are going to fall out in a few years anyways. All of these morning activities, which may I add, are usually done with me wearing dress clothes and heels!

Fast forward to leaving the house, round two continues  as I try to pile drive him into the car seat. His body automatically morphs into a stiff board the minute the car door opens. As soon as I get one arm in the restraint, the other is out.  Off we go to daycare and work…awww…some peace and quiet. Crap!  The sun is in his eyes. Now he is crying again and yelling “NO SUN.” A part of me secretly thanks God that his beautiful beams of sun are causing temporary angst for this holy terror. Maybe some angelic beams will penetrate him.  Out of the car to daycare we go, a little clingy-but he is always happy to see his teachers. Off to work I go, usually sweating like I am having a menopausal moment. Rushing in the door I manage to greet everyone with a smile on my face despite the war zone I just went through.  Who knows if my clothes match? Heck, I may not even have all of my clothes on. I probably have Gogurt in my hair or splattered on my rear. None-the-less, I am here and ready to conquer the day.

Fast forward….the work day is done and let’s face it…some days are filled with adults who appear to have never exited the terrible twos. Long gone are the memories of the morning stress. Off I go to daycare to pick up my pride and joy. I’m ready to see my little munchkin and spend quality time with him. I am greeted with a big smile. A good sign, right? Yes! He has had a good day. Or at least that’s the report. Maybe his teachers lie to me and act pleasant as if he is a good child for them.  Off we head to the car. Noooo! My holy terror is back for a WWF rematch thrashing as he goes in the car seat. I’m really beginning to wonder…does this kid hate me? People in the parking lot probably think I have taken a child that doesn’t belong to me. The little demon from earlier in the day reappears and the remainder of the night is a battle of wills. Whining, crying, more whining….picking our poor 12 year old cat up with grilling tongs, yelling “NO JESUS” and “NO AMEN” when we say our prayers…and on and on and on. Is it bedtime yet?  Close enough…off to bed we go….all four of us snug in the bed (me, my husband, toddler, and cat).  Please Lord, don’t let tomorrow be Groundhog Day.

I know the terrible twos are a phase and this too shall pass. I wonder why the twos are so terrible? Is the Devil a two year old? If so, I never want to meet him. On average, my child has more sweet and funny moments than “terrible two” moments or we would be looking into a refund policy. Luckily, his cute Gizmo moments, outweigh his Gremlin tendencies. But, unfortunately, those angelic moments, right now, often occur when he is with other folks.  As a parent, I guess this is a labor of love step to condition your heart for unconditional love.

As my husband walked out the door wrestling our angel all the way to the car this morning he said, “I wish we could come home and the Super Nanny’s car would be in our driveway”.  To which my child said “NO NANNY”. Sure, we might be a case for the Super Nanny…but with a lot of love, a ton of patience, and a few ounces of wine…the terrible twos will be distance memories and replaced by the ““what’s that threes”, the obnoxious puberty years, the brainless teenage years, the experimental college years, etc. I air my laundry because life isn’t perfect and mine isn’t either. So if you are a mother of a two year old (or a mother of any age child), take a deep breath and realize that more of us have been to this place than we will ever admit. Keeping moving forward. The goal is to survive the terrible twos and not create an adult who has a persistence case of the terrible twos. The world has enough of those already!

Today my spoon is full of terrible twos. Hmmm…I wonder what my WWF Mommy Stage name could be?

Eat Some Carpe Diem

Quite a few folks have asked me “where is your blog this week” and to you I say thank you for missing me. I have missed blogging. It’s a creative outlet I have come to love. I promised to be authentic on this blog-so to answer your question “where have I been? “ Well…drowning in work and life. Mucho deadlines at work, building a house, a traveling hubbie, and a bummed knee have caught up with me this week. So this blog is short and sweet!

If you’re having one of “those” weeks, in the midst of the busy chaos stop and have a real big spoonful of life. For peace of mind go ahead and resign as general manager of the universe and do something for yourself and those you love. Enjoy the beautiful weather, get your hair or toes did, have a massage, catch up with a friend, go on an adventure with the kiddos, commit a random act of kindness, have a date night with your love, etc. Whatever, just stop and enjoy it.  Tonight, Coop and I are going on an outdoor picnic adventure.

Meanwhile, enjoy your spoonful and see you next week! There is so much to blog about…Honey Boo Boo drama, Todd Akin speaking on behalf of all uteruses, the idiot I met who said kids in daycare go to kiddy kennels (that one sent me over the edge), my 23 days of coke sobriety (let me clarify that-Coca Cola)….got a lot of material stuck in my head! Looking forward to jumping back on the blog wagon next week.

Today my spoon is full “carpe diem” for the things that matter most.

Molars and the Pearly Gates

I am sure I will have to go through an extra security checkpoint before entering the Pearly Gates of Heaven because of this blog post. However, if the Man Upstairs knows my inner most thoughts….I figure I am going to be standing in line for a while any ways and doing a lot of explaining (I am picturing a Cuban voice saying “Stacy, you got some splainin to do”).

So you know how the story goes, God made Adam and then Eve. Well, God, I have to say on Version 2.0 you really did not think through your design of teeth-this should have been totally reengineered. I never knew the magnitude of this flaw until I became a mother. I’m going to cut you a little slack because you did accomplish a heck of a lot in seven days…but just a little overtime would have been appreciated in the teeth department.

My son, Coop, has hit a stride the last few months after surviving colic, chronic ear infections, and getting all of his teeth the first year of his life. He is rarely sick, sleeps through the night, and is generally a blast to be around. Some mothers might not appreciate this stride. But after four months of colic (where my husband and I heard screaming from our bundle of joy for 12+ hours a day to the point that our ears rang like we had been in the front row of  a 80s heavy metal band concert) followed by annoying ear infections…I APPRECIATE this stride. It’s almost as if the stork took our grumpy kid and exchanged him for a happier version. This all came to a screeching halt this week when an uninvited guest showed up at our door step….the two year molars. Actually, the guest skipped the doorsteps and just barged right in. Seriously, is this a cruel joke on parents and children? I honestly did not know to expect two year molars. Frankly, I don’t remember getting them and I did not read the “what to expect book”….just rolling with the punches in this household.

So in the wee hours of the night, as my little boy slept on the couch with me while holding his little cheeks and moaning “ouch” I started to think about the whole design of teeth. After much thought, here is the redesign that I propose for Adam/Eve 3.0. Really, teeth should come in while you are still in the womb. This gets rid of the whole concept of teething. Need I say more? No, but I will. Now for all breast feeding mothers, don’t have a heart attack. I am not a scientist or a doctor (well, I am a doctor-but not of the scientific or medical variety), but I am thinking that the teeth would kind of be like the texture of an earlobe, and then they just harden up as you get older-pain free. And for crying out loud, the set you are born with is the set you keep- you don’t lose them all just for them to grow back! What a waste! I would also recommend as part of this redesign, skipping the whole wisdom teeth concept-you have to get them cut out anyway. And, God, while you are at it…just go ahead and line each tooth up nice and straight with no over or under bite.

There, one easy solution ends a lot of sleepless nights and irritability for children and parents around the world! Think of all of the tears, agony, and pain spared. Now, this could wipe out a few industries that supply teething pain relievers and a few professions such as orthodontists or dental surgeons. And the tooth fairy would have to reinvent herself a bit. But, these all seem like small sacrifices in the name of peace and sleep!

Until then, Coop’s spoon will be full of children’s pain reliever.

The picture below is Coop proudly displaying his first two teeth.