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This is Four

8 Aug

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My boy recently turned four.  It blows my mind how fast time passes when you have kids.  I thought I’d take the opportunity to write a bit about my little boy in honor of this milestone.

So far, four is a fun, playful and exhausting age.  His emotions swing wildly and without warning, where one moment he’ll be an invincible superhero, and the next he is collapsing on the floor in tears if I don’t give him his way.

I like the superhero phase.  It is so much better than the princess phase my daughter went through.  He believes he has superpowers.  He believes he can do anything.   He believes in good and evil, and that it is his job to defeat all the bad guys in the world.  I wish that the princesses of this world were more like superheroes with pretty dresses.

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I am getting used to doing everything with a superhero.  I never know what superhero I will be picking up from preschool, and I often have a superhero tagging along and protecting me as I go grocery shopping or bike riding.  It is so fun to see people’s reactions to my little superhero.  I wish I could freeze time, as I love how confident and invincible he is, yet he isn’t ashamed to hold my hand or cuddle me.

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My boy is an athlete.  He takes to new sports naturally and with a complete sense of determination.  How many four year olds do you know that have been biking on two wheels for over a year and have taken naturally to mountain biking, hanging in bike parks and hopping off curbs in the neighborhood?  He also swims like a fish without any sense of fear.  That is my boy.  It excites me and terrifies me.  This week, he did a face plant on the cement after hopping off a curb.  He cried, bled a ton, and after I cleaned him up, he wanted to go right back out on his bike and hop off more curbs.

It is amazing what a dose of testosterone will do to a preschooler.  I swear my daughter would have sworn off biking for years if she had experienced such a crash.

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My boy starts preschool full time next week.  It boggles my mind, as I swear it was just yesterday that I was wearing him in a carrier and changing his diapers.  He is so fun.  He is so challenging.  I swear his best superpower is the ability to break my concentration and my sense of calm with one of his many tantrums.  But on days like today, when he crawled into bed with me just before my alarm went off because he wanted to cuddle, it makes up for those tantrums.  I think it would be better to be able to hold his hand and cuddle him (despite the crazy fits) than to have him be a grumpy teenager that thinks I’m not a fellow superhero and just an annoying mom who doesn’t know ANYTHING.

So belated happy birthday, my boy.  I love you to the moon and back and you make me so happy.  I will tell you that every day of your life (at least until you go to college and stop talking to me every day.)

Be Still My Heart

18 Jul

I cannot tell you how much joy this picture brings me.

swim meet

This is my daughter, who at 18 months developed a crippling fear of the water. With swimming being my favorite hobby and sport, I can’t tell you how frustrating this was for me. She would literally get into the fetal position and cry like she was dying when I put her in the pool at that age.

What she didn’t know is that I am one stubborn Mamma. I was not going to allow for my child to be afraid of the water. My daughter would love the water, I pledged.

It took years of work. I found that she was mainly hysterical when I tried to teach her to swim, so I signed up for pricey swim lessons despite the fact that I had taught swim lessons myself for many years.

I kept exposing her to the water, and eventually, she fell in love with it. This past year, I decided she was ready for swim team. She passed try outs with flying colors, and has been absolutely in love with swimming and swim team this entire summer.

She has participated in two meets, and I tell you, it’s like a dream come true for me. There were many days I doubted that my daughter would develop an affinity for the sport of swimming. But she has. She is good at it, and more importantly, she loves it.

Being at the swim meet, I am in my element. I know exactly where she needs to be and when for her races. I know about how much time we have in between events so that I can take her into the adjacent indoor pool to have her practice a few skills. I am able to coach her. (This is in stark contrast to when she did gymnastics last year, as that is WAY outside my element.) Being at the meets and working with her makes me remember how much I truly enjoyed coaching. And now I have my own little swimmer who eagerly awaits my coaching.

I don’t know how long this will last. I don’t know how serious she’ll be about swimming. But for now, I love that our free time can be spent together at the pool, where she listens to my instruction, and respects my knowledge as a swimmer. I love how my chest swells with pride as I see her step up to the blocks, and how she smiles when she hears me cheering for her. Swimming was so good for me as a child. It taught me discipline, exercise, nutrition, goal setting and gave me a great network of friends. Here’s to hoping that my daughter will have the same experience.

Garbage Truck Monday

19 Jun

Monday is my son’s favorite day of the week. It is Garbage Truck Day, which is like a holiday to him, and he anxiously waits for our garbage truck to arrive at the house. Recycling day makes it twice as exciting! Our garbage men are so familiar with my son running out to watch them that they make quite a show of waving to him and honking as they drive by.

This past Monday, my son happened to be getting dressed when the garbage truck arrived at our house. He promptly ran out the front door in nothing but his socks and underwear, waving with enthusiasm to our friendly garbage men.

Oh, how I wished I had my camera for this. May we all live life with abandon and do the things we love without worrying about what other people will think or say!

Run or Dye… Or Wait Until You Die…

3 Jun

Color Run

On Saturday, I took Little Man along with me to meet up with one of my best friends and her to kids to do Run or Dye at the University of Nevada, Reno campus.  This was our second color run.  We did Color Me Rad in the Fall, when I attempted to have my daughter run, but ended up with her running out of steam at about mile 2, and I had to kick the 3 year old out of the stroller and onto my back so that I could push my daughter.  Hefting 100 pounds of kids isn’t my idea of fun, so I told my daughter she couldn’t do another 5K with me until she trained…  Which she chose not to do.

Anyway, I digress.  I was excited to run the 5K, as I haven’t run one since my knee injury, and the UNR course is hilly, so I knew it’d be challenging.  We arrived 15 minutes prior to start time, and I hurried to adjust my laces and get my son strapped into the stroller.  We lined up, and everyone was happily throwing colored powder at each other, which was mildly entertaining.  And we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  At one point, my friend said, “I think they’re letting 10 people go at a time.”  She wasn’t far off.

We ended up having to wait with our kids (two 3 year olds and one 1 year old) for almost 2 hours.  It was ridiculous.  And have you ever tried waiting with three young kids standing in the hot sun without any food or entertainment for them?  Torture.  It was so bad that my friends were ready to bail after waiting 1.5 hours.

When we FINALLY got to start running, I was amazed at the people who only ran about 100 yards.  I’ve always had a rule with myself that I won’t do a 5K run unless I can run the entire time without stopping.  But the culture around 5K runs has changed in recent years.  99% of the people tend to walk, and they walk slowly, spreading out all across the course with no regard to having slow people stay on the right.  It was challenging for me to maneuver the jogging stroller around all of the walkers, and I had fun telling my son, “look how fast your Mom is!” as I tore past all those walkers.  I had him convinced by the end of the race that he had a “sports car stroller” and we “won” the race together.  It was also an ego boost for me as I ran past all the high school and college students.  I heard one young guy complaining about a hill as he walked up it.  I ran by him saying, “yeah, try pushing 45 pounds up this hill!”

 

Color Run 2

 

Anyway, we headed straight from the run to the outdoor pool, which was our first pool outing of the summer.  Let the warm weather activities begin!  I had so much fun swimming with the kiddos this weekend, and am excited to see how much they will progress in the pool!

For those of you contemplating a color run, I would recommend Color Me Rad over Run or Dye.  Run or Dye was a disorganized mess if you ask me!

 

Chaos. Utter Chaos.

17 May

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So we got a dog.  A puppy.  Because life wasn’t chaotic enough with my full time job and two young kids.  Whose idea was this?!

Mine, of course.   There haven’t been many years in my life where I haven’t had a dog.  Since meeting my husband, we went from having three large black dogs that we dubbed the Black Dog Club, and over the years, the club dwindled down to our dear Shadow, who passed in December.

It just felt a bit lonely, and the kids really wanted a dog.  I truly think it is good for kids to grow up with a dog.  So, the negotiating began between me and JB…  First was the negotiation of the breed of dog, on which we had very differing opinions, except when it came to his suggestion of a Rottweiler.  When I met JB, he had an awesome Rottweiler named Heidi, and I fell in love with that dog.  She died when my daughter was a baby.

Anyway, last week, we finally decided to get a 5 month old Rottweiler puppy.  Of course, then the negotiations on names began.  JB was adamant he wanted to name her Elsa, and I wanted to name her Bella, so we compromised after about 48 hours of stand-offs and named her Ella Bella.

The first week, she was super well behaved and we were concerned at how calm she was.  Ha!  She has now made herself at home, and the chaos has ensued.  Potty training a dog with kids in the house is just awesome…  Like when my son locks her in his room or mine and then she messes in there.  This morning, even though she had peed and pooped outside, as I was getting ready, the dog peed and pooped upstairs with the kids.

She loves to eat my daughter’s toys.  She loves to chew on long, flowing dresses as you walk by, which is the dress of choice for my daughter, so this has caused many tears.

Last night, I had a neighbor come visit.  A neighbor who never had kids, but loves them.  I was a bit embarrassed at her seeing the reality of my life right now…  That I fed the kids while unloading groceries, and made dinner for myself,  but every time I tried to sit down to eat it, someone needed something from me, or the dog got into something, etc.  I swear I sat down to eat my dinner about five times and was interrupted before I could actually sit and consume it.  I tried to have a conversation with this dear neighbor as my daughter attempted to do homework (needing tons of help) and my son was, well being a 3 year old boy with tantrums and demands slung into the midst of our conversation.  Add to that the dog jumping on the furniture and running around with toys, and I swear I couldn’t finish a single thought without being interrupted and having to go intervene in some…  SITUATION.

I am literally exhausted.  A few weeks ago, I started to wonder is something wrong with me? Why am I exhausted all the time?  But then the voice of reason kicks in, and I remind myself how much is on my plate.  It is everything I ever wanted, and I know I will look back and miss these years when they pass, but having two young kids and a full time job and volunteering at school and in the community and trying to keep in shape and cook healthy meals…  It is a lot.  I think back to my days in college where my only responsibility was myself, and laugh at how I thought I was busy then.  Almost every day this week, I have fallen asleep while tucking a kid into their bed, and I then stumble down to my own bed, just to start it all over the next morning.

I wouldn’t trade it for a thing.  I love having my plate full.  I just wish I could clone myself!  Here is a picture of my full plate…  How did I ever get so lucky?!

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The State of My Car

15 Feb

Before I had kids, my car was my pride and joy. When I was 25, I was working for General Motors, and saved up my money to buy a Trans Am Ram Air. I custom ordered it, knowing every option that I want on the car. I knew the day it arrived at the dealer, and called the dealer to inform them when I would be picking it up. I LOVED that car.

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Six speed, manual transmission, 320 horsepower, custom exhaust and T-tops. That car was sweet. I would spend time almost every weekend washing, waxing, polishing the wheels, vacuuming, Armor-alling the interior, and conditioning the leather seats. My car was in pristine conditions at all times.

And then I had a kid.

And I soon discovered the car wasn’t horribly amenable to my new Mom lifestyle. So I sold it, and got what I call a Mom Car.

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And it is pretty cool for a Mom Car. The problem is I have two little gremlins I drive around a lot, and I have absolutely NO time to clean the car. Every once in a while, it will develop what I call the “Mom Stench”. The Mom Stench is a mystery smell that fouls the inside of my car, and it takes a treasure hunt to discover the source.

“Don’t feed the kids in the car,” my husband says. Sure, easy for him to say. Our weekends are usually spent with me ferrying the kids to fun activities, grocery stores, etc., and when they’re hungry, this schedule comes to a grinding halt. So yes, I feed them in the car. And sometimes a sippy cup rolls under the seat, or a gogurt container gets flung without my knowledge, and stews and ferments until my whole car smells.

Plus, every time I pick up the kids from school, they come with armloads of art and accoutrements. Although I always say, “bring your stuff in” as I am trying to haul in my own stuff, it often gets left. So I am left with spare socks, gravel from shoes, doll clothes, art, and just trash in general. I try to keep up with it, I really do. And if you saw the state of my car before I had kids, you’d know how much this really bothers me, but it just seems like a losing battle.

And it’s like twisting the knife in my heart when my husband says, “your car is a pig sty.”

I sometimes pony up for a mobile detailer to come to my work, and clean up the mess that has now become my car, but it doesn’t seem to last long before the car just gets soiled.

I think my car is a symptom of a busy life. I’m treading water, trying to keep my head up, and sometimes, things like cleaning the car and monitoring what the kids are doing to it in the backseat are things that fall through the cracks.

So please don’t judge me if you get in my car and smell the Mom Stench. Believe me, I smell it, too, and it is the bain of my existence.

A Valentine For My Past Self

14 Feb

I read a great article on the Huffington Post yesterday about a woman writing a letter to her past self regarding Valentine’s Day. I thought it was such a great idea that I’m writing one to myself.

This is the recipient intended for this note:

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Dear 16 Year Old Lynnette,

Happy Valentine’s Day! I can’t remember this specific Valentine’s Day for you, but I remember this holiday used to be a BIG DEAL for you. There was always excitement that you’d receive a surprise Valentine, or that the current boy of interest would get romantically inspired for the big day.

It often didn’t work out that way. I remember many Valentine’s Days where you pined away, just dreaming of the time in your life where you will have a Valentine, and imagining those days as romantic, with candlelight dinners, chocolate, flowers, and yes, perhaps some jewelry or poetry.

You will have Valentine’s Days where you get sweet sentiments from guys that are just NOT very exciting for you, and there will be a few Valentine’s Days with unrequited efforts, where you will be utterly depressed.

Do you know who your best Valentine of all times will be? Your Mom. There is a woman that remembered you every year, and gave you quite the care packages even when you lived far from home. There was also your Dad, who brought you one flower every Valentine’s Day, but the fact that you knew you could rely on that one flower each year you lived at home with him is a special memory for you now.

So what are your Valentine’s Days like now that you have that permanent Valentine? Not at all like you imagined. Your Valentine is proud that he isn’t a “sucker for that marketing scam”, and he doesn’t see much of a need for romantic gestures after making that one huge gesture of marrying you. But hey, he’s there, he’s opening a special bottle of wine, and you aren’t going to be lonely.

What is really special about the Valentine’s Days of your future, though, is your kids. Like your daughter, who made you multiple Valentines, and professes her love for you daily. The same girl that dressed in a tutu, heart tights, a heart shirt, and 80s style pink gloves for the occasion. And then there is your son, who isn’t sure he wants to give away his Transformer Valentines, and is covered in the Transformer tattoos and heart stickers that came with the Valentines he picked out at the store.

The Valentine’s Day of your future is busy, but fun, and not nearly as romantic and dreamy as you imagined, but much more sustainable and real.

So keep smiling, and rest assured that you’ll have to spend a lot less time on your hair in the future, and know that the dress you’re wearing in that picture will be the last hand-sewn dress your Mom will make for you because you will complain about it too loudly. You should just bite your tongue and realize what a treasure those handmade dresses really are.

Love,

Future Self

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You’re Not Coming To My Birthday

8 Feb

The latest threat in our house originates from three and a half year old Little Man.  If he gets mad at you or doesn’t like what you’re doing, he says, “well you’re not coming to my birthday.”

I just love it when he gives me that threat.  The exchanges usually go like this.

Little Man:  I want dessert.

Mean Momma:  No dessert unless you finish your vegetables.

Little Man:  Fine, well you’re not coming to my birthday.

Mean Momma:  You realize that means you’re not having a birthday party if I don’t come, right?

I don’t think the kid realizes that I am the one that plans the birthday party.  I am the one that shops for the presents.  I am the one that bakes the cake.  If I didn’t come to his birthday, I really don’t think he would have a party.

But he doesn’t get that.  We hear the threat of not coming to his birthday numerous times a day.  I often want to say to him, “I MADE you, child.  The only reason you have a birthday is because I grew you and gave birth to you.  Don’t even threaten me with taking away your birthday.”

But of course, that is all lost on a three year old. 

 

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He is Thankful

21 Nov

He is Thankful

Glad to know my boy is learning the meaning of Thanksgiving… He is thankful for monster trucks!

If She Were President

16 Nov

My daughter was so exited about the election, and there were numerous school activities feeding the frenzy.  Looking at schoolwork that was sent home last week, I discovered a gem of a writing example.

It said:

“If I were president I would go swimming every Friday.  I would have children and make them go to school.  I would roast marshmallows over the stove.  I would give money to the food bank.  That is what I will do if I am president.”

So in other words, if she were president, she would be JUST LIKE ME.  So cute!  We had a little talk on how she could definitely do all of that, but she didn’t need to be president to do so.

You’re probably wondering about roasting marshmallows over the stove…  I got this idea after a camping trip when I was single.  I was craving roasted marshmallows, and started roasting them over the stove rather regularly.  Anyway, I recently introduced the kids to this idea, and we save the marshmallows for a special occasion — when she gets 100% on a spelling test we celebrate by making s’mores.

Her latest pursuit is making cards like the nuns, and she wants to sell them to make money.  Thanks to that kid note, I’ve encouraged her to give a portion of her proceeds to the food bank.  Of course so far, I seem to be the only buyer of these cards!

 

Long Term Career Objectives

8 Nov

About a month ago, I was fishing out something from under my bed, and came across the Sound of Music box set my mother had given me a few years ago, with a note saying, “save this until your daughter is ready.”

Oh, she’s ready!  I thought.  Over the course of the next weekend, whenever we got a chance when the boys in our house weren’t around, we watched it.  I sang along.  It was such a special memory.  I remembered watching that movie each year with my own mother, and I was thrilled that my daughter seemed to like it and understand the story.

Next thing I know, the child is waking up early and popping in the DVD in the morning.  I have woken up numerous mornings to the sound of her singing along to the movie.  “I am sixteen, going on seventeen…”

It is adorable.  But it is getting to the point of her being obsessed.

She quickly decided she wanted to be a nun for Halloween, despite the fact that I told her most of her classmates wouldn’t even know what a nun was.  She then started talking about wanting to be a nun when she grew up.  She has watched the movie so much that she can recite all of the dialogue and songs by heart.

So last week, when I saw a mention in the newspaper about the nuns at a local monastery having an open house , I just knew we had to go.

We showed up on Saturday, and a nun greeted us at the door.  “There was a misprint in the paper,” she said.  “The open house isn’t really until tomorrow.”

Once I told her that I had a six year old entranced with nuns that just wanted to meet some real live nuns, the doors were thrown wide open and we were offered a personal tour of the entire facility.

You know what?!  Those nuns have a pretty sweet set up.  They live in a modern building on a huge plot of land with large, colorful trees and sweeping views of the valley.  They wear street clothes, by the way.  (They said they just decided the habits weren’t conductive to their work, and it didn’t make much sense to change in and out of it for worship.)

You should see the kitchen these nuns have.  Holy cow, it is huge, with modern appliances, granite countertops, and I can just imagine the amazing meals that get created in their kitchen.  They have a dining room with a big, beautiful table, where all 19 nuns eat together with a huge picture window backdrop.  I really wanted to join them for a meal.

As for the nuns, we met a lot of them, and they were so nice, open and receptive.  It literally felt like 19 girlfriends living together, which as I contemplate that, actually sounds like a pretty sweet life.  I wonder if they drink wine, though.  I described to my husband as a sorority house for older women (without the men and alcohol).

Anyway, we spent a lot of time touring the grounds, and Little Miss even asked to see their bedrooms, so we were ushered up to the living quarters to see their bedrooms and meet their dog that they keep onsite.  I then learned that the nun giving the tour was an avid skier.

A skiing nun!  How cool is that?!

We definitely bonded over skiing, and she told me that she skis almost every day in the winter.  (Once again, wow, not a bad life, eh?!)  It makes sense, though.  Living in this community, skiing would be a great way to do outreach, as you can talk to people on each chairlift ride.

They have a few nuns on site that are resident artists.  We stopped in to view the nun’s art and buy some greeting cards that the nuns had made, and as we were leaving, I asked my daughter if she still wanted to be a nun, and she enthusiastically said yes.

“But then you couldn’t have children,” I reminded her.

“That’s OK, I’ll be a nun at an orphanage.”

Looks like she has her long term career objectives all planned out.  She’ll be a nun that works at an orphanage, and does art, gymnastics, skiing and ballet in her spare time.

Looks like a perfect future nun, right?!

I Want To Cuddle

22 Oct

My three year old son has pretty bad allergies, and I believe that is why my normally good sleeper is waking up in the middle of the night or extra early some days.  Yesterday morning, he came into my room one hour before I needed to get up.  I wake up to him saying, “Momma, I want to cuddle.”

Part of me knows I shouldn’t allow this, but another part of me loves to cuddle, and doesn’t want to wake myself completely up to take him back to his room.  So, to my husband’s protest, I let him get in the bed, we snuggled up and went to sleep together.  Although my arm went numb, it was bliss.  I’m just not sure how long my little boy will want cuddles from his Mom.

This morning, he made his appearance at 4am.  I know this is becoming a bad habit.  My husband is completely opposed to kids in our bed, and I don’t want to set precedence that it is OK for him to wake me up in the middle of the night if there isn’t something wrong, but he is just so darn hard to resist right now.  So, instead of allowing him in for a second time, I marched him upstairs and told him that it isn’t Okay to wake me up just for cuddles.  We only cuddle when we’re awake, I told him.

Sometimes when I am laying next to a sleeping child of mine, holding them and feeling their heart beat and their breathing, I smell the top of their head and think this is what heaven must be like.  I already dread the day they get to be too big for cuddling with their Mom.

 

 

The Monday Morning that tried to KILL Me

20 Aug

Oh, wow, what a horrible start to the week I had this morning.

It started at 2:30am, when my husband woke me up to say, “your daughter is yelling for you.”

Of course.  My daughter.  No way he could get up.

So, I race up the stairs, and and my mind is racing through the possibilities with dread.  I’m repeating in my head please don’t let it be puke.

I get up to her room, and say, “what is it?!”

“My brother wants you.”

Oh.  I go into his room.  “What’s wrong?”

“I need pants.”

We had returned from Lake Tahoe late last night, and I had put him in a pull up, but neglected to put pants on the boy, which evidently was a big problem at 2:30am.  As I’m putting pants on him, he says, “you forgot to cuddle with me.”

“I don’t cuddle with anyone in the middle of the night,” I tell him.  Tears ensue.  I’m now cuddling at 2:35 am, waiting for my adrenaline to go back down.

So, back to bed, and then the real morning started.  My daughter was supposed to go to daycamp at her school, and according to the calendar I had, it was bike day.  So, on top of everything I had to do on a Monday morning, I was digging out a bike rack, getting out her bike and helmet, and making sure she was wearing shorts under the long skirt she insisted on wearing.

I drove her to school, glancing often at the clock, as I was cutting it very close for my first meeting.  I walk into the school, and there are janitors cleaning the floor of the room where the daycamp usually is.  I ask them where the daycamp is, and they give me blank looks.

Lovely.  So, I call the daycamp number, and the owner says, “oh, we never have camp the week before school starts.  They have to clean the school.”

Of course they do.  Not sure how I missed this detail when I made her childcare plans this summer.

I decided to just take her to work and then figure out what I was doing, going through a laundry list of possibilities in my head.  Then, a little voice from the backseat said, “can’t I just go to my old school?”

My child is brilliant.  She had gone to her old private kindergarten for a month this summer, and they have all of her shot records and all the forms filled out, and they love her there.  Perfect!  I called them up, and they said to bring her on over.  Except for that pesky meeting.

So, she sat at my desk doing a First Grade workbook while I talked for 1.5 hours to a guy in London.  She was an angel.  Thank God.

After the meeting, I packed her up to take her to school.  The first light I hit unexpectedly turned yellow, and I started to gun it, but then noticed the police car stopped at the intersection.  Hence, I slammed on the brakes and came to a screaching stop (key to later in the story).

Heart racing, I finished the drop off at school, and returned to my car, and my phone is nowhere in sight.

*sigh*  I’ll just use the find my phone app when I get back to my computer.

Except when I logged onto my computer, I find out that my phone stopped synching its location with my computer a month ago.  I then retrace my steps in the office, to the bathroom, and tear apart my car…  It is gone.  I am ready to hit hard alcohol by this point in my morning.

I did one last search of the car, and found the phone, wedged under the floor mat, as it had been a projectile during my brake screaching moment.

Phew.  So, things are a bit back to normal.  My daughter’s bike is stashed under a stairwell at my office, and I’m ready to get her back in school with BUS service.  Oh, how I miss bus service.

But I’m also thankful that she proved to have better problem solving skills than her frazzeled mother this morning.

And She’s BACK!

17 Aug

Woo0ps.  There went a month in blog-land.  Sorry about that.  I’ve had numerous posts composed in my head, and never managed to write them…  So, here is a random smattering of thoughts for you…

Olympics.  Oh, wow.  That is one way to turn my family of rather active people into a bunch of couch potatoes, ironically.  My daughter was learning about the Olympics in school, and was very excited to watch them.  I was very excited to watch swimming, and hoping that seeing the Olympic swimmers would inspire her.  I made sure to show her the interviews with Missy Franklin, who is tall, strong, and with such a lovely personality.  I think my daughter will be somewhere near the height of Missy Franklin, so I wanted her to see how good height could be for a girl.

But what did my daughter latch onto?  Women’s gymnastics.  Now, I don’t have anything against this sport, but those girls are TINY.  The women in our family are not tiny.  I even searched online for the “tallest Olympic gymnast woman”, and the answer was 5’5″.  We estimate that she’ll be about 6’1″.

So we had conversations about how she will be tall, and she should try sports where height will be an asset.  “Want to watch volleyball?”  “Hey, look, Missy Franklin won another gold medal!”

But she is still set on gymnastics.  So, next week, she is doing a trial class of gymnastics.  My mother giggled at this whole story, as I had a similar fascination when I was little, and as my mom said, I need to let her figure out if it is the right sport for her.  I’m betting it’s not, but I’ll just keep my mouth shut and let her figure it out for herself.

But, I made a deal with her — that if I was going to pay for gymnastics this school year that she’d agree to do swim team next summer.  She agreed, so I guess we have a compromise.  (How I’m going to get her to 2x/week swim practices at 5pm when I’m supposed to work until 5pm is something I have to figure out before then.)

Plus, the gymnastics school has a class for my son’s age group at the same time, so instead of trying to keep him occupied in a tiny waiting room, I’ll scoot him right into class, too.  That should be good for some entertainment!

And on a side note of the Olympics, I just love watching swimming.  I love watching the new techniques, the new suits, the new technology in caps/goggles, etc, and reminiscing on my days as a swimmer.  I’m so happy to see the sport get elevated status, and I totally idolize many of the swimmers on the men’s and women’s team.

Oh, and will someone please make a US men’s swim team calendar so that I can put that on my Christmas list?

Here is a picture of the next generation’s Missy Franklin and Michael Phelps.

On Biking…

Our son has had a strider bike since Christmas, and he is a real pro at it.  He does stunts, hops curbs, and can totally keep up with his sister on that thing.  We bought him a bike with pedals a few months ago, and promptly took off the training wheels, as he knows how to balance.  Well, he had some mental block about pedals, and avoided that bike for what seemed like the longest time.

Then, one day a few weeks ago, I look out in the backyard, and he had just hopped on his pedal bike (known in our house as the Rocket bike, as it says Rocket on the frame), and he is biking around using pedals like it was no big deal.  This happened the week after his third birthday.

We upgraded our daughter’s bike in the early summer as well.  We got her a mountain bike with gears and hand brakes, that is a bit big for her, but at the rate she’s growing, we decided that was the best choice.  Anyway, many nights you’ll find our family biking at the church parking lot in our neighborhood, racing eachother and coming up with different obstacle courses.  It is so fun.  I looked at my son the other day as we were biking next to eachother, and couldn’t believe that just three years ago he was a helpless newborn, and now he is a little boy that can ride bikes with me and share the funniest thoughts.

On Growing Up…

I put my daughter on a plane this week by herself.  She flew to the Bay Area to spend the week with her grandparents and aunt.  My six year old was excited and not at all afraid to march onto that plane without me.  It was the strangest feeling to watch the plane pull back from the gate.  I couldn’t help thinking about how recent it seemed that traveling with her was a big ordeal, and now I can just plop her on a plane.  They say that time moves fast when you’re a parent, and I would have to agree.

Those are my thoughts for the day…  Please don’t give up on me and my little blog! A few more random pics from our summer below.

Little Man being tossed in the air by his dad:

 

My daughter doing the bungee trampoline at Mammoth ski resort last month:

My Big Boy

26 Jun

It has been a big week for my little boy.  We returned from a visit to New Mexico, and left his sister at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for another week.  In other words, he has had his Dad and I all to himself.  The first trick he decided to master while sister was out of town was potty training himself.  Remember how I feared he wouldn’t be potty trained until he was 7?!  He just wasn’t interested, and then one day, he had it mastered.  It was literally like flipping a switch.

The only thing we’re struggling with in the potty training arena is getting him to stop pooping in the backyard, which he claims he did to be like our dog.

Now that he’s potty trained, we decided we would mark the occasion by getting him a big boy bed.  Why yes, my almost three year old was still in a crib until last night.  I found with my daughter that waiting until “almost three” meant for a smooth transition (read: no midnight visitors or fighting to keep them in bed).

We went shopping this weekend to get him a bed, and it was delivered yesterday.  Over the weekend, I cleared out all of the baby stuff and nursery decorations, and started replacing it with the new theme for his room — Cars, Trucks, Planes and Trains.  It is beautifully bright with primary colors of red, green and blue, and he just loves it.  It looks like this:

Last night, we lectured him that if he got out of bed to do anything but use the potty that he’d have to go back to the crib.  I checked on him a few times, to find him sleeping peacefully.  Then, this morning, I thought he was sleeping late, and went in to peak at him.  He was in his bed, lieing on his back, looking up at the ceiling.  When he saw me, he said, “Mom, the sun is up.”  I guess he interpreted the “don’t get out of bed rule” to apply in the morning.  I’m sure that won’t last long.

Anyway, I can’t believe the transformation this kid has had in the past week.  Just a little over seven days ago, he was a crib sleeping diaper wearing boy, and now, he is a big boy with a big boy room and big boy underwear to go with it.

It feels very final giving away all of our baby stuff.  The crib will be the last to go, once we determine he doesn’t need the visual reminder of the rules of the big boy bed.  Even though I’m a bit sad I won’t have another baby ever again, these kids are getting more and more fun every day.

 

Portrait of a Kindergarten Graduate

6 Jun

Today is the last day of school for my daughter. As of this afternoon, she will have completed Kindergarten. Everyone says that time flies when you’re raising children, and that is so true. This feels like a landmark moment, so I thought I’d spend a few minutes writing about my daughter, the Kindergarten graduate, at age six.

Her world is one of beauty and magic. Her fertile imagination has her believing in fairies, mermaids, leprechauns and angels. She is a budding artist, and all of her drawings consist of rainbows, flowers and happy, smiling mermaids or fairies (or a combination of the two into a mermaid fairy) that are smiling and look just like her.

Her teacher sent home a binder with her school work and art work from throughout the year, and it was so fun to look at.  The first page said, “What is special about me is my Mom and My Dad”.  Every single person she drew is happy, and she doesn’t like her own artwork until it leaves the satisfactory level of beauty in her eyes.

Last week, she did a project at home she titled  “Map of My Heart”.  On it, she glued a picture of her parents, one of her as a toddler, and then she wrote all the things she loves, including, “dogs, dolls, bike, swim, girl scouts”.  She also wrote that she wants to dance and be a nurse when she grows up.

My daughter is the essence of the innocence of childhood right now.  I want to put her in a bubble to maintain this beautiful, happy impression of the world that she currently has.  One day something will happen to put a damper on her world of magic and smiles, but I will do my best to make sure that day isn’t for a long time.

For now, I will relish the moments where she thinks the light reflections on the wall are fairies watching down on her, and when we sing loudly and off key together as we drive around Reno.

Each night as I put her to bed, I tell her that she is my dream come true.  I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without her.

A Boy After My Heart

31 May

This past weekend, my husband was out of town, and Little Man woke me up with his screams of “Momma! The sun is up!”

I did something I normally wouldn’t when the hubby is in the bed — I pulled him into bed with me for cuddles.

He is so very cuddly first thing in the morning. He was laying with his head on the pillow beside me, and looked over with the biggest smile, squeezed my shoulder and said, “I love you!”

Totally unprompted.

Then, last night, twice he looked at me and said, “I’m so glad you’re here.”

I’m filing those memories away for when he is a moody teenager. These truly are the fruits of my labor!

Public Service Announcement: How To Teach Your Kids To Swim

29 May

Anyone that knows me knows that I love swimming. I started on swim team at six years old, started teaching swim lessons at 14, and was a swim coach for three years. I was also a lifeguard for five years. So, yes, I’ve spent a lot of time at pools.

I believe that swimming was a tremendous gift that my parents gave me. It is my form of meditation, and a form of exercise I can carry with me into adulthood, and through two pregnancies and recovering from knee surgery. I definitely want to pass on the same gift to my children.

Swimming is our main activity together in the summer. Like yesterday, when we went to the pool and were immersed for three hours. Nothing makes me happier than sharing my love of the water with my kids.

What frustrates me, though, is watching how some other parents approach swimming with their children. Namely, when people put their small children in suits that have built in life jackets, built in floatation and water wings, or water wings.

At all of the pools I worked at, having flotation devices on your children was strictly prohibited. There was a good reason for that rule — putting children in flotation devices gives them a false sense of security in the water. They believe they can swim, and they do not learn the proper respect for the water. It also messes up their body positioning in the water.

Yesterday, I watched a woman who had her two year old in a life vest and water wings. The woman was in the water, but standing 3 feet from her daughter, saying, “look, you can swim!”

What I see is a two year old getting false confidence that could be deadly if she comes across a body of water while an adult isn’t looking.

What also drives me crazy is the parents that put their kids in flotation devices and then sit on the deck watching from afar. First rule of teaching your kids to swim: GET IN THE WATER. There is no replacement for adult supervision. Ever. Keep the flotation devices OFF of your children, and get in and hold them, teaching them how to kick, blow bubbles, hold their breath, and move their arms. It is really that simple. Those simple skills may take a while, but that is really what it’s all about.

Also have them practice grabbing onto the wall (doing the monkey walk to get to more shallow water), and getting out on their own (that’s right, without any pushes from the parent). It is my goal to ensure if my kids fall into a pool by accident that they won’t panic, will be able to turn around, grab the wall, and get out. I also drill into their heads that they do not get in the water without me. Period. My almost 3 year old will wait patiently on the step until I get to the pool.

I think it’s also important to get in and swim with your kids. Get your hair wet. Wear goggles and have underwater tea parties. Swim like a mermaid. I was at the pool yesterday, and for the majority of the time, I was the only parent in the water. So many women don’t want to get their hair wet or mess up their makeup. My advice to you: get over it! It is much more fun to just jump in completely than worry about every splash messing something up. I think my kids learn how to respect and enjoy the water because they see me doing it as well.

So what should you do with your kids? If they’re young, it’s all about imagination and play. Try ring around the rosy (you all fall down underwater and blow bubbles), host tea parties, go on lion hunts (or insert your favorite animal, going through obstacles like sinking sand, holes water falls, etc. on your quest), play tag. I buy my kids super cool pool toys each year (because they all seem to disappear by the end of the summer anyway). We have a shark, dive rings, kick board, etc. The kick board is strictly for kicking with my supervision. It is not a flotation device! I will not buy them anything inflatable besides a ball. The ball is only acceptable because they cannot rely on it to keep them afloat. They must rely on me or themselves.

I think getting kids goggles also makes a huge difference. I’ve found the brand Finis to be the most reliable against leaks. Goggles take away the strange sensation of water in your eyes, and also helps you to open your eyes underwater and feel comfortable.

There you have my words of advice. And for the record, I do own life vests for my kids, but those are saved strictly for our lake or ocean outings, where a wave or a sudden dip in the sand could pull them under. They never wear them in the pool.

After three hours in the pool yesterday, I taught my kids another lifeguard trick… When you’re chilled from being in the water so long, there is NOTHING that feels as good as laying on the hot cement. NOTHING. I had a moment yesterday where we all three were laying on the pool deck together, and I couldn’t help beaming, knowing that the tradition of swimming will live on in these two.

A Mother’s Day To Remember

22 May

For Mother’s Day, I decided I wanted the whole family to go to the beach at Lake Tahoe and take my kayak, which I haven’t been able to use for years (between pregnancy, a new baby, and then a knee injury, it has been over 3 years).

The hubby suggested we stop by Mt. Rose on the way to the beach so that Little Man could ski. Doesn’t everyone stop for a quick ski on the way to the beach?!

Anyway, we got to Mt. Rose, where there was now a creek down the main run, and JB walked with Little Man in the mud and slush to get him to ski. Little Miss and I stayed back, as we were dressed more for the beach than tromping through slushy snow.

There was much crying from Little Man, and he did two extremely short “runs”.

Then, we were finally off to the beach. It was a glorious day, and I immediately put the kayak on the lake and took off with Little Miss in my lap. Let me tell you, we’re mighty close to the weight limit on that kayak, as Little Miss is almost 60 pounds now. That meant we sat low, lots of COLD Tahoe water was leaking in, and the smallest movement from her made me fear we were going to tip. Let me tell you, the water in Tahoe this time of year is frigid, and I absolutely did NOT want to tip.

JB took Little Man out twice. On the second time, I was sitting in my beach chair with my head tipped back and eyes closed when I heard crying in the distance. JB was far enough out with the kayak that I couldn’t tell what was going on, but it sure looked to me like Little Man was the only person on the boat.

Turns out that JB had flipped the kayak trying to do some sporty turn around a buoy. They both went in (thankfully Little Man had a life vest on), and JB had put Little Man on top of the overturned kayak. From shore, I couldn’t see JB. The first thing that came to mind was the recent accident where a man and his 2 year old son drowned in a Washington lake while canoeing.

But I rationalized in my head that JB is a strong swimmer, and has done numerous open water swims in triathlons. Still, the former lifeguard in me really wanted to go try to save them or offer help. I valiantly took several steps into the water, and my reaction was BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! I then saw that two women had beached their kayaks right next to where I was standing, so I asked them if I could borrow them to go help my hubby. They obliged, and I tore out there as fast as I could (realizing their kayak was much sleeker and faster than mine). I arrived at our kayak to find JB in the water, pushing the kayak towards shore, and with a smile on his face. Little Man was still crying, but he was safe. We decided it was probably better to let JB continue pushing the boat, and my help wasn’t needed.

After this ordeal, we asked Little Man if he preferred kayaking (and tipping over into the lake) or skiing. His answer? Tipping over into Lake Tahoe. Ha!

Anyway, it was a glorious day, but I do think our kayak will soon make it to a Craigslist posting, and we’ll soon be buying a paddleboard instead (after the water warms a bit more)!

Keep On Moving

11 May

Recently on Facebook, this picture of the Jog-A-Thon at my school in the 1980s made an appearance:


(That’s me on the far left, one head taller than the other kids and looking over them at the action.)

The timing was ironic, as today was my daughter’s own Jog-A-Thon. She managed to walk 1.5 miles, and I joined her walking for half of it. It was a glorious Spring day in Reno, and the DJ was playing really good music.

That is, until they started playing 80s and early 90s music. It took all the restraint in me when they started playing MC Hammer’s Don’t Touch This not to bust out in the Running Man.

But my daughter wouldn’t have understood how funny that is, and she also would have been mortified, so I refrained. Instead, I took pictures so that I could post them on her Facebook wall in 30 years.

(Some day she will laugh that she chose to wear a purple tutu for her first Jog-A-Thon. She’s the one sitting in the front row towards the right of the picture in the tutu.)

Love Can Build A Bridge

21 Feb

I was watching Oprah sometime last year, and she did an interview with The Judds.   The Judds then did a performance of their song Love Can Build A Bridge.  I was instantly transported back to church camp in the early 1990s…  I remembered singing that song with my camp mates, full of hope for finding the perfect love in my life — that of a husband, of children, and also with God.

I was very religious in my teens, needless to say.

That song spoke to me powerfully back then.  When I saw the song performed on Oprah, it stopped me in my tracks. I replayed it over and over.  Soon therafter, I started using that song to sing my children to sleep.

Little Man has now become very addicted to the song.  I’m not allowed to sing any other lullaby to him.  He insists on the “Bridge” song, and also will only allow me to sing it when it is bedtime (no breaking schedule).

The other night, I was singing this song to him, when I heard my daughter singing along from her bedroom, and my son started singing, too.  I was amazed that they knew all of the lyrics.  It also made me smile. If any song lyrics are going to make an imprint on my children, I think these are the perfect ones to describe the love I feel for them as their mother.

Love Can Build A Bridge (lyrics)

I’d gladly walk across the desert with no shoes upon my feet
To share with you the last bite of bread I had to eat
I would swim out to save you
In your sea of broken dreams
When all your hopes are sinking
Let me show you what love means

Love can build a Bridge
Between your heart and mine
Love can build a Bridge
Don’t you think it’s time?
Don’t you think it’s time?

I would whisper love so loudly
Every heart could understand
That love and only love
Can join the tribes of man
I would give my heart’s desire
So that you might see
The first step is to realize
That it all begins with you and me

Love can build a Bridge
Between your heart and mine
Love can build a Bridge
Don’t you think it’s time?
Oh, don’t you think it’s time?

When we stand together
It’s our finest hour
We can do anything, anything Anything, anything
Keep believin’ in the power of Love
Between your heart and mine
Love can build a Bridge

Don’t you think it’s time? Don’t you think it’s time?

Valentine’s Scrouge

14 Feb

I like Valentine’s Day.  I do.  It just comes on the heels of my daughter’s birthday, and after going all-out to celebrate that, Valentine’s Day tends to be an afterthought for me.

This year, I have two Valentine’s Day pet-peeves:

1.  My daughter’s teacher came up with this lovely idea to have kids draw a Valentine’s Buddy, and they would each bring lunch for their buddy.  In essence, I still have to make a lunch, but I send it for some other kid, and Lord knows what kind of food that other mother will be packing!  I ate lunch with my daughter last week at her school, and every time I do, I look in awe at what other parents are packing for their children.  The winner this past time was the Mom who packed one white breadstick and one brownie for her child’s lunch.  Really?!  Nothing with viable nutrition!  The teacher spent the lunch trying to gather food the other kids weren’t eating to give to him.  So yeah, I have high standards with the food I give my kids, and this whole switching lunch thing isn’t my favorite Kindergarten activity.

2.  Goodie bags.  The Mothers at my son’s daycare send goodie bags home for every random holiday.  He got a goodie bag yesterday from a 1 year old, filled with plastic junk and candy.  I’m not a believer in goodie bags even at birthday parties — because, truly, who has ever received a goodie bag in which the contents weren’t pitched within a week?!  Do I look like a slacker Mom for not giving goodie bags to the other kids at daycare?  Probably.  I don’t really care.

Seeing posts on Facebook today of what other Moms have done to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their kids truly made me feel like a slacker.  They baked muffins, decorated the table, bought cards…  I bought one chocolate rose for my daughter, and sprinkled a few candy hearts on the table.  Thankfully, the kids are young enough not to know any different.

So that is my rant for the day.  We still have cupcakes coming out of our ears at home from my daughter’s birthday, so I’ll be avoiding all of the Valentine’s treats like the plague.

Dragon Slaying on the Slopes

10 Jan

The past two weekends, we have been going skiing as a family of four.  That is really special to me, considering my knee injury last year, and the fact that it is Little Man’s first ski season.

But ski outings with a two year old aren’t easy.  This is how it has gone the past four outings:

1.  We suggest skiing, and he gets all excited, saying, “I want to ski!”  He is happy the entire ride to the ski area.

2.  We get there, and once we get the jacket, helmet, goggles and gloves on him, he melts down.  This is about the time I send JB to the slopes with Little Miss, and I get to deal with the screaming toddler.

3.  I’ve learned we head to the lodge at this point, where he writhes around on the ground and cries for at least a half an hour.  This last week, he collapsed just feet outside the entrance to the lodge.  A man walking by with his two kids starts saying, “Man down, Man down!”

People in ski lodges think a kid throwing a tantrum in ski gear is REALLY funny.  I am pretty much over it.  I tend to grab a camera, take a few pics for future blackmail purposes, and then I sit down about 10 feet away from him until he snaps out of it.

Right after this picture was taken, I ran into my former boss.  It is a bit embarrassing to have your kid losing his s*#t on the floor.

This past weekend, after 30 minutes of flailing, Little Man came up to me and said, “I want to go see the dragons.”

Dragons?  I’ll roll with it.  “Let’s go, then,” I said.  “You need a helmet to protect you from the dragons, and the goggles will keep the fire off of your eyes.”

So then, we head to the chairlift looking for the dragons.  Whatever works, I’ll do it.

Of course the snow conditions here have been hideous — all man made at this point.  They’ve been making snow during the day, and I’m pretty sure he thinks the snow guns are the dragons.

4.  After he snaps out of his tantrum, things are fine.  He likes to ride the chairlift, and makes hilarious noises we’ve dubbed his ski noises, which usually include squeaks and squawks.  He’s a little trooper after he gets over his initial issues.

Last night, he told us that he wanted to take his basketball skiing, but that he’d hold on to it really tight so that the dragons wouldn’t get it.

JB said he’s going to take Little Man skiing on Sunday while I’m in Disneyland with our daughter.  I’m curious to see if he’ll pull this stuff with Daddy, and if he does, what Daddy’s reaction will be to a half hour tantrum.

Disneyland Bound

6 Jan

I’m taking Little Miss to Disneyland one week from tomorrow.  She has NO idea.  Sometime in the next week, I have to figure out a way to let her in on this early birthday present, and my main goal is to COMPLETELY BLOW HER MIND.

I’ve been trying to bait her for this experience.

“If there was one place in the world you’d like to go, where would it be?” I asked.

“Albuquerque to see Grandma.”

OK, well that is a good answer, and I’m not going to debate that.

I’ve also told her that she’s not having a big party this year because she is getting a SUPER HUGE PRESENT.

It’s just going to be us two traveling.  JB isn’t interested in Disneyland, and I don’t want to take a 2 year old there…  It would be so much harder to deal with nap times and tantrums, and height limits with only one adult to manage the two kids.  Little Miss is tall enough for almost all of the rides, and we’re going to hit the big kid rides one after another.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to tell her about an hour before we need to leave the house.  That way, I announce it, we pack her bags, and zoom, off to the airport!  I’ll definitely videotape the reveal, as I had no idea, but there are countless videos on YouTube of parents surprising their kids with Disney trips.  Who knew?!

I went to DisneyWorld for my college Spring Break when I was a senior.  I remember saying after that trip that I didn’t see many happy kids there, and that I didn’t plan to take my kids to Disney resorts.

But now that I’m a Mom, and I know how much this would blow her mind, and I am pretty sure (fingers crossed) that she is mature enough to handle 2 days at DisneyLand without a meltdown, I’ve changed my mind.  For Little Man’s sake, let’s hope this goes well, and that I don’t swear off future trips to the happiest place on earth.

Bethaniel the Elf

1 Dec

I’m tired.  As much as I love long holiday weekends, the week afterwards just seems interminably long.  After returning from the Bay Area around midnight on Monday morning, we were slammed back into reality.  On top of this adjusment, my daughter was begging me to set up the Christmas tree (as she just LOVES to play with Christmas ornaments).

I finally caught my breath around Wednesday evening, so I set up the tree with the kids after dinner.  I got the box of ornaments out, and Little Miss immediately opened it, and within a split second, Little Man had grabbed two ornaments and broke them (one being a glass ornament we got on our honeymoon in Venice).

As I was getting our fake tree out of the shed, I stumbled upon our Elf on the Shelf, which Little Miss named Bethaniel when she was two.  I decided he would make a magical appearance as we set up the tree, but also needed to sneak him into the house without the kids seeing him.

So I shoved the elf down my pants, and lugged the Christmas tree into the house.

I had that darn elf down my pants for at least 10 minutes until the kids were out of sight for me to place him in the house.

Almost as if on cue, Little Miss asks me, “when is Bethaniel going to come?”

Totally winging it, I said, “well, have you done the magical dance to ask him to come?”

“No.”

I told her to turn in a circle three times, while chanting, “Bethaniel come play, Bethaniel come play, Bethaniel come to our house today!”

She then found Bethaniel in his new spot, and was thrilled by the magic of it all.

I was pretty smug about how magical I was until the next morning, when Little Miss woke up her brother at 6am to look for that darn elf.

Last night I put the elf in her room after she was asleep.  She woke me up at 3am because she had a nightmare.  (Side note:  she keeps having nightmares about Miss Trunchbull from the Roald Dahl book Mathilda.  Perhaps that wasn’t a great book to read to her in hindsight…)  I go upstairs with her, find her light on, and she says, “do you like my room?  I cleaned it because Bethaniel was watching.”

Yes, she was cleaning her room at 3am.

Anyway, I’m rather tired today from her late night escapades, but it is fun making Christmas magical for my kiddos.