Friday, April 28, 2017


What To Say When Your Friend Asks You If You're Pregnant and You're Not:

It’s crunch time…

It’s a busy time of year for me, it’s Bill’s birthday, a day later my dad’s birthday, then three days after that Ellie’s birthday.  Throw in teacher appreciation week, Mother’s Day looming and a big change in Ellie’s swim times and teachers and you’ve got one very ‘thrown off’ momma.  

Especially since my momma and da live so far away - I need to remember the special days WEEKS in advance people so I can send them the carefully picked cards and thoughtful gifts in time for the US and Canadian mail system to poke along and get it there in time.

ANYHOO I left Baskin Robbins yesterday with a very disappointing looking cake for her party and totally forgot about the full cup of iced vitamin water I got at Subway sitting precariously on top of the middle console.

One sharp left turn, one ice-cold shower all over my lap.  Quite refreshing on my hind quarters I must say.  

Luckily at the last minute I switched from sweet lemonade to vitamin water, otherwise I would have had to stop and CLEAN UP that mess.  There’s no sugar in vitamin water is there?  Do ants get into vans?  Won’t it just smell really good while it sits in the hot Texas sun?  

*Sigh.  Most of my future problems I create right now.  I can see it.  Being self-aware is half the battle folks.

So, the party.  I keep reminding myself as long as there are lots of balloons, and cake, Ellie will be happy and isn’t that the whole point?  I rented a bounce house this year and I’m already kind of regretting it.  Do we really need that for the handful of kids that will be here?  

Parties are fun but they also kind of stress me out.  This year I invited kids from Ellie’s class - 10 kids and I got three RSVP’s.  Will the rest show?  It’s a birthday mystery.  

It makes me a little nervous having people I don’t know here at my home.  Not nervous like, hide the good silver, nervous like, I hate rejection and this is putting myself out there to be judged and rejected.

Wow I have issues.

Putting that aside it’s also Bill’s birthday this weekend and I’ve arranged to have a few close friends stay after Ellie’s party and have dinner with us.  All without telling Bill.  I’ve arranged his favorite food, his favorite desert, some of his favorite people and…ok that’s it but it feels like a lot.  Especially since his favorite place isn’t open the day of the party and of course, they don’t deliver regardless.

Anyway, thanks to some very good friends I have arranged to have a little party for him and HE KNOWS NOTHING!!  Hee hee hee.

No, I’m not worried he’ll read this and find out.  He had to get up last night at 4am to check for an email for a deadline at work.  Then he stayed up, got dressed, and just went in to work.

He barely has enough time to read my instant messages.  (Get milk on the way home…Benji peed on me while I was nursing him…Ellie just picked her nose and then ran her fingers through my hair…)  You know.  The usual every-day stuff.

I spend days and weeks stressing over getting every detail right.  (Daniel Tiger plates AND cups?  Red and yellow plastic forks?  Red and yellow steamers too much?  Why is there no red or yellow number 3 balloon!?)  Gray it is.  Did I buy too many balloons?  (No.  Never).  

Why is this $60 ice cream cake so stinking plain?  Is the red sparkles and white sugar beads I bought at HEB today going to be enough to 'girly' it up?

She needs a party dress!  New shoes, she can't wear SNEAKERS with the SUPER PUFFY purple dress she picked out at Costco.  Socks?  She can't wear knee-high's or her gray athletic socks with pretty dress shoes.  

DOES THIS NEVER END?  (No.  No it doesn't.  Does she need matching hair bows?  Do I?) 

I try to spend time looking at my house the way a stranger would.  Maaaaybe get rid of the Christmas ornaments that have been sitting on the kitchen counter since November?  

And the day comes and I’ve forgotten something critical (Ice, juice boxes for the kids, whatever) but we all just move on.  I’m happy because my friends are there, the house is messy again and filled with kids screaming and babies crying and dogs barking and there’s nothing else to do but relax and go with the flow.

This quote may be a little too serious for a blog about parties but, I like it and I’m writing this so…here you go:

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism.  It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”  Vaclav Havel.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Big Fear, Big Love, and Big Hope. Also, Big Feet.

I’ve been going on a bit of a shopping spree lately,  Not ACTUAL shopping, with my legs, and feet.  And with other people milling about.  No, no.  I do most of my shopping online.  I let my fingers do the walking.

Why do I do this?

I have two kids under 3.  No amount of special deals for no amount of super amazing sweater vests would entice me to drag them and my tired butt anywhere near an ACTUAL department store.  Or the MALL!?  Ugh forget it.  I’d rather get my teeth pulled with inappropriately sized pliers by a dentist with dubious credentials.

So anyway normally that works out fine except Ellie isn't a size 7 shoes anymore.  Cue me sending Two (TWO) pairs of shoes back before I clued in she needed a bigger size.

Anyway, I finally dragged myself to Target and once I got past the reams of protestors (3) I finally got her some cute shoes.  Size 9.  She skipped 8!  What am I feeding this kid!?

Oh, you’re wondering about the protestors?  Me too.  The sign said…”Ask me why women are afraid to use the bathrooms.”  I’m like…ah…I’m a woman.  I’m not scared.  

I didn’t stop the crazy to ask but after asking around I’ve found out Target is letting transgender people use their washrooms?  Or something?  I don’t know.  Let’s just stop going to group bathrooms and everyone will be pleased.  We can each go pee in our own little private washroom.  Most places have ‘family’ washrooms like this anyway.  Come to think of it, Target has it for sure.  I use it when I’ve got the kids with me because Ellie is afraid of the toilet flushing.  (The sound, that she’ll be flushed away too?  It’s unclear.)  So I’m really not sure what the problem is.  Bill’s work as individual washrooms that are open to boys AND girls.  What a concept.

Anyhoo, in other exciting new I joined the Y this week.  Ellie, adorably, calls it the Wifi.  As in, “Are we going to the Wifi mommy?”

They have babysitting included in the price of their memberships.  ‘Nuff said.  

Friday I just wandered around with my headphones on, amazed to be kid-free while the sun is up.  I peed.  ALONE!  Then I peed again.  Because I could.  And because Benji had been up a lot last night and I may have had too much coffee…then I went to the sauna.  Ahhhhh.  


Fully dressed, with my iPhone and plastic headphones that were getting softer and softer as I lingered.  I stayed until I thought my headphones may actually sustain heat damage, just before they melted out of my ears, and I went back and got my kids.

Ellie was just shy of hysterical.  It had been exactly 18 minutes.  

She feels big.  New places and people throw her into a panic.  Being dropped off at a care center where she’s only seen once or twice (I took her a couple times first before I left her) will bring a terror-filled tantrum raining down on us the caliber of which I would expect if she had suddenly discovered spider-aliens roosting in her eyelashes.

Luckily there were no men in the care center.  Men, with their long legs and loud voices totally overwhelm her delicate sensitivities.

Ok I feel like I’m making fun of it, a little.  Really I’m not.  Her feelings are real and they’re overwhelming to her.  I feel like there is a kit of tools out there to help her cope with these feelings but I don’t have access to it.  Not much scared me as a kid.  Not much scares me now.  Her huge feelings kind of mystify me.

I feel like there’s a lesson in here for me.  There is something my tiny girl with the huge feelings is trying to tell me.  

I don’t think avoiding all the situations that trigger her big feelings is the answer.  Avoiding anything new is a terrible (and unhealthy) not to mention impossible way to live.  Change is life.  Life is change.  It will be constantly fluxing from new situation to new situation for her whole life.  I need to make sure she has the tools to cope with that.  

Right now I feel like I’m kind of throwing her in the pool without teaching her how to swim.

I don’t know.  I don’t have the answer.  I prep her as much as I can.  (Mommy isn’t leaving.  Mommy is in the next room.  Mommy will only be in the next room for an hour class…)  I go around and introduce her to the workers, I show her Ben in the next room.  I play with her for a bit (and usually another kid or two.)  I show her around to the blocks, the books.  I show her where I’m going to be on our way in.

I’m still on my 21 day meditation on hope.  I have HOPE things will get better and we can work through her big feelings as they come.  

And there are encouraging signs.  Sometimes she doesn't cry when I drop her off at the mommy's day out program.  Last weekend we went to a birthday party and she actually went right up to the face painter and asked her to paint her face!  And SAT THERE in front of a STRANGER while she painted her face.

I was stunned.  

Ellie was happy.  

And I thought, I feel like I'm doing EVERYTHING wrong, that I might be the worst mom on the planet and yet...she's doing better.  She's growing up.  She's feeling more confident.  

And then, GASP.  Self revelation.  I am NOT confident.  I'm nervous in new situations and I'm shy around new people.  I don't scream and cry hysterically but I'm not comfortable.  I do tend to avoid those situations.  

And then, GASP.  We're back to everything is my fault and I'm totally screwing up this parent thing but I do have hope that the pure strength and force of my love will make up for all my failings.  I'm not perfect, but I do love big.  There's hope for her (and Benji) yet...

“Hope is the sun.  It is light.  It is passion.  It is the fundamental force for life’s blossoming.”  Daisaku Ikeda.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A New Hope

" the companion of power, and the mother of success; for who so hopes has the power within him for the gift for miracles." Samuel Smiles.

Hope.  Hope!  This Easter weekend I think it's quite timely to talk about hope.  That's what Easter is really all about isn't it?  Death being conquered.  It sure isn't about bunnies pooping chocolate.  (Before I get too high on my high horse I did, of course, hide chocolate bunny poo-eggs and even colored some eggs with Ellie.  Ben supervised)

After Trump bombed Syria I had nightmares about nuclear bombs dropping on us.  In my dream Bill and I were debating whether to run from the blast or whether it was better just to stay put.  Ellie and Ben were in the dream with us.  And I thought, what crazy audacity of hope had struck me to bring these tender souls into this world?

Other Americans don't seem to have this fear - is it they think they're invincible or they're just more stoic than I am and won't talk about their fears?  Or maybe they're just used to living in a more volatile political atmosphere.  I am obviously still adjusting.

I don't talk politics much anymore - the climate isn't conducive to rational conversations.  I suppose that's the most important time to talk about hard issues but I'm a new mom and I don't have the energy to engage with the crazy right now.  

So, hope.  I don't believe there is ever 'false hope'.  Hope is never false.  Hope eases burdens and helps us imagine a better future.  It isn't naive to stubbornly hope for better - if someone didn’t tenaciously hold on to hope we wouldn't have cars.  Or telephones.  Or radios.  Or babies.  

Someone smarter than me said…worry and fear of a thing only makes us suffer twice.  I have found this to be the case.  

This month I am participating once again in Deepak’s Chopra and Oprah’s (Oprah 2020!!) 21 day meditation and it's on…Hope.  21 days thinking and meditating and praying about hope sounds like a nice hot bath on a cold winter’s day.  What are you hoping for?  I’m hoping for time to do yoga, three times a week.  For my relationships to be mutually fulfilling and healthy.  To feel vibrant and healthy.  And a bigger house, why not?  With a pool.  A career that makes me feel excited to get up in the morning.  To be more spiritually tuned in.

What are YOU hoping for?  It’s never silly to hope.  Never wrong to dream.  Indeed if we had less self-doubt and more confident striding forward in hope, the world would be brighter, better, or at least, more interesting.  

“Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.” Samuel Smiles

Friday, April 07, 2017

Three Helpful Things Your Stay at Home Spouse Wish You Knew

I thought maybe I'd take the time to let you, the working spouse, know what's helpful and what isn't, since, how do you know if we don't tell you?


1) getting us a hot cup of tea/coffee in the morning.  (So, so helpful!)
2) getting at least one kid to potty before you leave for work
3) closing the nursery door so kid A doesn't wake up kid B if he's crying, if kid B happens to be experiencing a morning miracle and sleeps past 5:45am.  Nothing must disturb this miracle.  NOTHING.  I firmly believe I could hold back a tornado if I needed to.  

Me to Tornado: THE LINE ENDS HERE.  My kid is sleeping.  Go terrorize a trailer park.  

Tornado:  (Sheepishly) Yes, Mame. 

Not Helpful:

Asking to take baby A OR B if they’re crying. (We love you but you do not know how to calm this kid down when you’re not the primary.)  You just don’t.  

It isn’t a male/female magical power thing.  Baby wants the one who’s there most of the time when they’re upset.  That’s just the way it is.  And taking them (unless i need to pee) will only make things worse.

Exception:  When baby A AND baby B are crying, you must take the one who is crying the least loudly.  Got it?  Still with me?  This gets complicated.


You have no idea the special hell a parent goes through when she’s just barely made it through the day with both kids full, reasonably clean and safe and have you breeze through the door after being gone 11 hours and say…Anything.  Negative.  

At all.  

I cannot stress this enough.

Yes, we're having pancakes for supper.  Again.  One raised eyebrow from you and you may have pancakes coming out of your ears buddy.

In fact, when you come home you should look at your kids (Safe.  Fed.  Reasonably clean and calm), your whirlwind of a house with laundry hanging from the fan and spit-up cloths on the floor soaking up random messes and smile gratefully.  

You should take one look at your harried wife with hair she didn’t have time to wash let alone brush, her un-make-upped face, her comfy pants stained with spit-up, squished corn and yes, yes orange Cheetos smears and give her a big, big hug.  

Don’t be surprised if she cries.

Lastly, please, please, PLEASE take that spouse out to dinner at LEAST once a month.  They need to be reminded that they’re adults.  With thoughts and feelings of their own.

Dinners centering around types and volumes of spit-up, debating degrees and pitch of screams that deserve a time-out vs not do not a fulfilled momma make.  Give her something to eat besides cold macaroni, Baby A’s left over vegetables and Baby B’s oatmeal mush.

Just imagine their excitement at the prospect of adult conversation!  Idly pouring over a menu of options!  Leisurely chewing said options! 

If you do all of these things I can assure you that eventually, things will get better.  Kids need you less often as they get older, although admittedly when they DO need you it’s usually more stressful.  (I didn’t CRASH the car, per say, but, I do need you to pick me up from the police station…)

Anyway, much love and peace to all the momma’s and daddy’s out there who are slugging it out day in and day out, being the primary caregiver to babies is NOT for the faint of heart.  Sleep when you can, eat when you can, and remember to give yourself the same love and care you’d give your kids.  DO IT.

Love and peace to all the moms and dads who go to work each day too, who miss their kids cute little faces and maybe even miss their first steps, first words, and all the awesome, magical stuff that makes parenting worth every sacrifice.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Mommy Muddling Part Trois or, Mommies Need MMA. And Margarita's.

So Nana and Papa have gone home.  It’s back to the un-fun task of (literally) juggling a baby and a toddler by myself all day.  I don’t throw them TOO high, don’t worry.

So Ellie is going through this really fun ‘scream’ stage.  I swear all I see some days of my adorable, beautiful almost-three-year-old is her bottom molars.  

I tried ignoring the behavior.  (Fail.)  I tried screaming back.  (Ah, spectacular fail.  But I felt better…)

Now that Nana and Papa are gone I’m attempting time-outs.  It’s only been a few days but if I remember from my time working at group homes the first few days are the hardest.  It’s when she will test you.  

Will you REALLY give me a time out?  What about now?  What about now when you’re feeding Benji?  What about now when I have to eat lunch?  What about now when mommy is finally going to sit down and eat lunch herself?  What about when Daddy is home.  What about when your friend is visiting?  Ughhhhhh.

What about a THIRTY minute time out and a nice cold margarita for mommy, kid? 

In any case Benji is teething off and on at the same time so…I’ve pretty much had a headache for three weeks.  Mom and Dad will be sending me their hearing-check medical bills.  I’ll bet this was the first time Da was happy he could ‘turn off’ his hearing!  

On the bright side, according to all older women everywhere whose children have long flown from the nest, this time will pass by SO SO QUICKLY.  I just need to savor cleaning EVERY POO-LEAKING DIAPER that runs down his leg, every scream-fest, and every 2am, 3am, 4am, 5am wake-up call from a fussy baby.

Just really stop young lady, and ENJOY every sour-milk throw-up splatting on your shoulder and dripping down your elbow.

Oh I’m savoring ladies, I’m savoring.  Savoring the constantly damp shoulders (If he’s not spitting up on me he’s gently chewing and slobbering all over me) and the bowls of Kraft Dinner lovingly prepared, flung to the far corners of the kitchen in a fit of toddler rage.  (That’s the WRONG BOWL!!)  

Ahhhh.  What was my point again?  

Maybe, how to not only survive this ‘beautiful time’ but ENJOY it?  Well, maybe, a combination of meditation, prayer, prescribed drugs and secret midnight MMA training?  Maybe.  I’ll let you know.

“You know what’s hard? Even harder than dealing with toddlers? Pretending it’s not hard.” 

The Gift Of Nowhere To Go

Hiya my friends – look – I don’t know if anyone other than mom and some uncles and aunts back home read this but, in case you’re out ther...