Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Funny for today

This is awesome.

Not awesome, as in, why can't it be me???

But awesome, as in, she lived to tell the tale. Mothers are resourceful, yo. (And, please God, don't let this ever be me. Thanks.)

This is follow-up from Ain't No Mom Jeans' Travel Tips .... the aftermath, if you will.

The One Where I Get a Smack-Down ... On an Airplane

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tips and such

I was at a meeting this week (one of those get-your-child-from-school-shove-food-in-your-faces-thank-your-mother-for-babysitting-and-out-the-door kind of meetings) and the outgoing president of the organization said something that really stuck with me.

To paraphrase, she said "I feel immensely satisfied with this year. I wasn't aiming for perfection - perfect isn't a fair expectation. I was aiming for progress, and I think we accomplished that."

It stuck with me, as a self-proclaimed perfectionist, that YES, IT'S TRUE, "perfect" is rarely ever a fair thing to expect of yourself or others, especially when it comes to child-raising (or just keeping your children alive on any particular day - we've all been there).

As an example, our morning routine after moving Ellen to the big girl bed has been dicey at best. We are trying very hard to enforce the "stay in your room quietly until the cow dances" rule (6:30am), but it isn't really going well. Ells typically wakes up in the late 5's or early 6's to go to the bathroom. I can't deny her that, so I wake up to the pitter patter of her feet racing down the hallway, then she goes potty, puts her diaper in the trash and gets some undies from her room. At that point she is pretty much awake, but we send her back to her room to wait "patiently". Mostly this involves singing and storytelling. She occasionally gets quiet, but today it was a full-on tap show with high heels and dress up clothes. At 6:12am. I blame this behavior on her father, a mostly-earlybird and former childhood "class clown" who believes he spent time with the principal because he was a snappy dresser and fun to be around. You see what I'm up against here?

So, again, the theme for the day is  ... aim for progress. This might involve some kind of personal nightlight / flashlight to encourage reading in bed without turning on every light upstairs. Will keep you posted.

In other news, a couple of things I think you might find interesting if you are reading on the beach or at the lake this holiday weekend, you lucky dog:

Ain't No Mom Jeans: Ten Tips for Flying Alone with Kids - now, if I could just get a vacation, we would be set.

Momastery: Whack-A-Mole - I don't read this blog often, but a few of her posts have gone kind of viral and a friend posted this on facebook. A funny, perfect, description of bedtime.

And, finally, in this graduation season - David Foster Wallace's Commencement Speech from Kenyon College in 2005. I don't think I am smart enough or cool enough to really "get" David Foster Wallace. I tried to read Confederacy of Dunces and then didn't finish. Not even close. There used to be a time in my life when I felt more comfortable analyzing literature and the arts, but this ain't that time. Nonetheless, I came across this in 2008 when the author died and thought it was worth reading. Maybe you will, too.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Worth reading

Hey! Guys! I finally read a BOOK! And, it didn't even have pictures!

I've discovered my problem with reading is that I just add it on to the end of my day, after doing all the other things I want / need to do. So - I get in bed and ponder "read" vs. "sleep" and sleep almost always wins. If I would just read at another point in the day, I think I could fix this problem. Alas, baby steps.

A friend gifted me with The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. I know I'm late to the game on this one, and I've always wanted to read it, but again I have my internal debate of "read about a dying father" vs. "sleep" and I think you can guess what happens.

I finally bit the bullet this week and was so glad I did. Yes, there were parts that made me sob (get your kleenex), but there were also funny parts and aha! parts. I generally cry at the drop of a hat, but now that I work with a lot of young people with cancer, these kinds of stories are more personally touching to me and I feel it's a more important perspective for me to have.

I certainly can't eloquently summarize the book, but I think one of the main points is to either Get Busy Living, or Get Busy Dying. He talks about the inspirations in his life - his wonderful parents, great coaches and teachers - and it was a nice reminder to cultivate those same things in your own child's life. I was also so touched by the tangible memories he left for his children in the form of notes and letters and stories and experiences. I sincerely, truthfully, honestly hope that no one I love finds themselves in a similar situation, but also - what are we waiting for? It shouldn't take a terminal diagnosis of cancer to make great memories for your children. His kids were so young, but I think every child would love to have snapshots of their childhood and funny stories, even if they have the gift of their parents to a ripe old age. For example, he wrote that Diane Sawyer suggested that he write letters to his children describing the very unique, funny things he loved about them ... not just the first steps, first tooth, but the funny crease over their nose when they laughed, or a funny joke they liked to tell, or whatever the case may be.

Take the time, don't put on any mascara, and give it a read. I think you'll be happy you did.

Monday, May 14, 2012


I hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day. Our day was typical / simple, which was just right. I find that the older I get, the more perspective I have on Mother's Day as something more than an occasion for brunch and cards. I feel profoundly grateful to have the opportunity to mother my own child, and so lucky to have my mother and mother-in-law in my life. Erik and I were raised by strong, loving mothers and I am surrounded by friends who are amazing mothers. If I can take a bit of that and pass it on to Ellen, I will feel successful in this very hard and immensely important job.

I had the "opportunity" to do a lot of mothering yesterday. Ellen was up late, having a marvelous time, at a party on Saturday night and my experience predicted we would pay for it for day(s). She had a mediocre quiet time, but seemed to rally and was cuddling on the couch with me just moments before spitting in my face and wrestling me like Hulk Hogan. She was un-containable, un-consolable, un-happy. I knew she was just plain exhausted and it took every ounce of my being to try to get her to calm down.

She finally - for one of the few times in her life - just said, "I'm so tired!". And, of course, she was far beyond the point of falling asleep on her own and just begged me to help her, help her, help her fall asleep. I laid with her and scratched her back "under" (under her shirt), and scratched her head "not there, all over", and patted her back "like this, harder". She drifted off to sleep probably 8 times, then woke every time I inched out of her bed and pleaded with me again. She finally feel asleep and was an improved version of her 3-year-old self upon waking.

I felt needed, as though it was a job only I could do at that moment, and I strained to see the beauty of the moment through my tired eyes and exasperation. She is increasingly independent, in ways that are wonderful to watch, but it's nice to be reminded that she is my baby, and always will be, no matter how big she gets.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Toy overload

Again, from A Cup of Jo today, a topic I've been pondering - how to best deal with TOYS.

Motherhood Mondays: The Great Toy Experiment

I've read some similar ideas here and there over the last few weeks, then really started considering what to do with the overflowing toys because we are having 20-ish small children to our house this weekend. EEKS! I need to do a lot of cleaning, and removing of choking hazards, and then have a discussion with Ellen about what is fair-game and what she wants to put away. I was considering putting quite a bit of it away and not getting it back out?

We are fortunate in our new house to have a lot of storage space, so I feel much less that I am being swallowed by her things, mostly because I don't have to look at them all the time. Still, though, she has far too many toys, some of which rarely get played with. My approach generally is to have everything put away every night before bed. I've noticed if things are left on the floor or in piles, she'll just walk right past them the next day to get to something else. When Ellen plays with Erik, I'll often come home to a room full of things strewn all over the place. I know she has had an excellent time, but I also know that she won't pick up any of those items again to play with - she'll go and get something new.

Her favorite things to do these days are color, make piles of hoarded items, and occasionally play in kitchen or vet. That's about it. That also leaves about 89 toys in her play room  and big girl room that languish on the shelves.

How do you deal with this?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Safety first

Interesting article on playground safety and not sliding down slides with your children. I swear I know someone this happened to, but can't recall the details ....

A Surprising Risk for Toddlers on Playground Slides