Monday, May 11, 2015

Don't cry over spilled milk.

Hi guys. It's me, Liam.

One night when we were driving to a friend's graduation, I had a cup of milk in my cup holder. When I reached over to grab the milk I accidentally only grabbed the lid so when I tried to lift it, the lid came right off and the milk spilled everywhere. I was like, "Oh no! My mom's gonna kill me!" I actually cried over spilled milk!

A couple days later when it got hot, the car smelled terrible. Now my mom was really mad!

We tried cleaning it with a mixture of vinegar, water and Dr. Bronner's soap. I poured it on and then scrubbed it. The smell went away! But then it came back. Now it smelled like vinegar and sour milk.

To Google!

Here are some ideas I found on the Internet:

*Take the floor mats out and wash them.

*Sprinkle coffee grounds on the carpet, wait a couple hours and vacuum them up.

We tried both ideas and it worked! Now the car smells like coffee but, it's better than milk!

{Turning stinky situations into a learning opportunities since 2006...}

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Last night I dreamt that somebody loved me.

My Mother's Day wish list is generally pretty short. I like to sleep in, eat good food that somebody else made, and do whatever I want. Sometimes this means getting a drink with my friends or reading a book in the hammock all by myself. But sometimes it means having a fun-filled day with my family. There are no rules. Whatever mood strikes is what I like to do.

But first things first. I will sleep in.

Except this morning, when I heard Liam turn off the alarm to let the cat in, I knew there was no way I could fall back asleep. Because the dream I awoke from was about my mom. And it was a really good one.

In my dream she was lucid. Talking, smiling, remembering. It wasn't like we went back in time and the Alzheimer's didn't exist, it was more like she somehow shook it off. She kept shaking her head in disbelief. Not at how much had been lost but at how happy she was to have a second chance.

She was overwhelmed with gratitude. We all were. Every time she hugged me I could feel how much she loved me. It was dreamy. She would look me in the eyes and say, "My oldest!" or "My first born!" or something like that, then hug me so tight I could hardly believe it.

It was the best Mother's Day gift I ever could have asked for.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The life changing magic of having a friend.

Finn waddled his cute naked bum past my bed on his way to the bathroom at 8:50 this morning. Ten minutes before he's supposed to be at school. An hour and a half after he usually wakes me up.


We had stayed up past bedtime enjoying a bonfire with friends which, I have to say, is a pretty great reason to be late to preschool. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, texted his teacher, and pulled Finn into my bed for one of his famous good morning hugs.

I told him I was glad he woke up because it was already time for school. "Wait. Right now?" he said, incredulously. "But... I'm not going to get dressed." He slid out of my arms and right off my bed, then waddled back to his room and got in bed.

A few months ago, this would have sent me into a panic. Getting Finn to school in the morning was an absolute nightmare. Easily the biggest stressor in my life. He hated it. Or, at least, that's what he said while we battled our way out the door each morning. Once we were at school and I had successfully pried him off my leg and ran out the door (often crying), his teacher would text me that he was fine. Great even!

When I'd pick him up, same thing. He'd give me a big hug and say he had a great day. The pictures and notes from his teacher confirmed it. He was friends with everyone! Totally engaged and silly and loved by all.

And then the next school day would roll around and we'd be back at it.

"I'm not going!"

"I hate school!"

"School is the worst!"

"You can't make me go!"

It was awful.

But now? It's fine. Great even! So what changed?

It could be any number of things. I mean, for starters, four year olds can be certifiably wacky. One day it's up, the next it's down. Unless you say it's down and then it might just be sideways! Finn says it's better because I let him be in charge after school if he's had a good morning. (Bribery, man. If it works, it works.) I think it probably has a bit to do with me taking better care of my mental state (if Mama won't engage with you, what's the point of pitching a fit?).

But I really think it comes down to one thing.

Finny has a friend.

He's never not had friends in this class (and playdates and everything) but there's a big difference between wandering around the classroom, deciding which of your friends to jump in with and knowing without a doubt where you belong.

When we showed up five minutes into circle time this morning, Finn hesitated at the door for about a half a second. Then saw Jagger. They smiled and sort of half waved and, just like magic, the spot next to him opened up. Finn - the child who has cried, run out of the classroom, made me stay for circle time, clung to my leg, you name it - ran right over to his buddy and sat down.

I may have had to leave school in tears again, but at least they were happy tears.

At the beginning of the school year, Jagger was the only kid in class that Finn had a problem with. One day, he came home with a note that said, "On the playground Finn was trying to hit a boy with his jacket. When we asked him what was going on he yelled, 'He called me butt cheeks!'" I was so sad for my poor sweet boy. Until a friend of mine pointed out that Finn's butt cheeks are always showing. "Maybe the kid was just being descriptive? Like, 'Hey you with the blond hair!' only 'Hey you with the butt cheeks!' Hmmm. Considering Finn's chronic plumber's crack, I was willing to give the kid the benefit of the doubt. (Plus, I'm sorry, but that is pretty funny.)

A couple weeks later, I was helping out in Finn's class when he pointed to a very frowny boy giving me stink eye and whispered, "That's Jagger." I couldn't believe I gave this kid the benefit of the doubt. He looked like such a meany! But when Jagger sat on my lap a few minutes later and followed me around school the rest of the day, I realized he might not have been the happiest kid in class that day but he certainly wasn't mean. 

I talked to Finn about this, of course, and anytime he would say he didn't like school or didn't want to go I'd be quick to point out that he was not the only kid in class who was having a hard time. Then, around Christmas, things started to change. 

One day, his note from school said, "Finn and Jagger worked together on their Christmas Tree paintings. Finn said, 'This is peaceful.' Jagger agreed. It was just the two of them in the classroom with one of the teachers, the rest of the class had already gone to play in the big room."

When I asked Finn what had changed he shrugged and said, "Jagger and I are like brothers because we both hate school." So when we showed up for class a few weeks later and I noticed Jagger sitting alone in a chair looking sad I went up to him and whispered, "Hey buddy, Finn's here! He really likes you, you know. He wants to be your friend. Do you want to sit at the art table with him?" Jagger nodded and I walked him over. Soon after that I got this note from school:

Being friendly with everyone is not nothing. But having a friend is everything. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Looking back, moving forward.

One of the things I love about having this blog is that I can look back and see where I was or what I did or how I felt weeks, months, even years ago.

That's also one of the things I don't love.

Because it's not always comfortable to look back at yourself. Sometimes I read something I wrote a while ago and I think, "Who wrote that? Did I really feel that way? What was I thinking?!" It must be how Madonna feels when Like a Virgin comes on the radio.

You're welcome.

But, for better or worse, I WAS THERE. And if it seems silly or pathetic or whatever now, it must just mean that I've grown. Which I'm gonna go ahead and say is a good thing.

I'm particularly sensitive to this when I have something published somewhere other than this blog. Usually I read and re-read and edit so many times before I hit publish that I know every last detail of a story before it's shared. It's like I know it so well, it almost stops having meaning. And once I hit publish, it pretty much disappears from my mind.

So when I read something I wrote a while back in a space other than the one I edited it in, it's kind of a shock. It almost feels like I'm reading about someone else's life. Which is probably a good thing. Otherwise I'd probably feel super exposed or uncomfortable about sharing personal stories with strangers.

But I don't. Because it's me. But not really.

Power of Moms just published an article I wrote several months ago (the original is here) and when I read it on their site last night, I almost couldn't believe it was mine.

I was having such a hard time when I wrote that! I wanted to reach through the Internet and go back in time and give myself a big hug and a glass of wine and say, "I'm so sorry, friend! I've been there. It sucks. But just keep on keeping on and I promise you, IT WILL ALL BE OKAY!"

Which I guess is why we share our stories. So someone else who is having a bad day or week or life can know they are not alone. And when we read the great stories, the ones that make us laugh or inspire us or teach us something new, it gives us hope that we too can be our very best selves. Because there's always a silver lining - sometimes we just need a little help finding it.

Power of Moms is a gathering place for deliberate mothers which...right on. I really love that. There are so many stories from so many different perspectives on this site - it's pretty fantastic. I'm honored to be included. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Dinner dilemma.

Isn't it crazy that dinnertime comes around EVERY SINGLE DAY? Even when you had a late lunch or the kids are totally engaged in something fun or you just made dinner yesterday. You can almost set a clock by it.

My mom used to tell a story about a friend of ours who sometimes "forgot" to make dinner. Her husband would get home from work and she'd be like, "Oops, I forgot about dinner again! I guess we'll have to go out..." My mom thought it was hilarious. "Who forgets about dinner?!" I thought it was hilarious because my mom was not exactly Suzy Homemaker and we frequently hit up the Taco Bell drive through for dinner (women in glass houses and all that). But I also thought forgetting about dinner was a pretty good strategy if what you really wanted to do was go out.

Now that I'm the grown up and dinnertime is my responsibility, I have a completely different understanding. I bet our friend really did forget about dinner! I do it all the time. Half the time I'm totally on top of it; the other half it sneaks up out of nowhere and bites me on the ass.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Around 4:00 Bill texted me:

Random, yes. But also the hint about dinner! Now I couldn't forget about it. I had a house full of kids and not a house full of taco stuff. Even though I had been to the store almost every day this week...

Thankfully his next text just said he wanted pizza and IPA.

We wuz confused. Dinner has a way of doing that to us sometimes. Because what seems easy in theory - going to get pizza - is usually anything but. We'd have to find a place to park, wait for a table, fight with the boys about not getting soda, spend a bunch of money, and get home later than bedtime. Suddenly cooking at home sounded like a walk in the park.

I went into the kitchen and did that thing where you look at all the random stuff you have and try to turn it into a meal. We had apples and eggs and broccoli and lots of avocados and some salad and...none of it was exactly screaming dinner.

Then I heard a knock at the door and the friendly UPS guy handed me our new toaster oven. Which meant the boys could have veggie corn dogs and avocados and we could have whatever we wanted! Things were suddenly looking up. And by the time Bill got home, the boys had eaten and our cheap, easy, healthy dinner was plated and ready to go.

I made a salad (mixed greens with herbs, avocado, walnuts, dried cherries, and creamy balsamic), warmed up some quinoa/rice (this stuff saves my life all the time - we get boxes of it at Costco), and roasted some broccoli via this recipe in the new toaster oven. It was delish. And so much easier than going out.

Now to figure out what we'll do tonight...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Up a creek without his brother.

The other day Liam asked if we always do fun stuff on Mondays and Wednesdays because those are the days Finn is at school. "And you know," he said. "Sometimes Finn can be a little...difficult."

"Hmmm," I said. "I guess maybe. But I don't really think about it that much. It could just be because those are the days other people are free to do fun things. I think I say yes to plans more than I make them, you know?"


"I think that must be it," I said. "Because Finn's really not like that anymore. He's kind of a big kid now. Right? "

Later that day a friend asked if we wanted to go hike and play in the creek at Beaman Park. On Tuesday. When Liam would be at school. I might normally say no - because trying to take Finn somewhere without Liam is kind of a crapshoot - but I felt like I needed to put my money where my mouth was. (Was that two  gambling expressions in one sentence?! I guess you can take the girl out of Reno but you can't take the Reno out of the girl...)

So we said yes.

The last time we went to Beaman together, Finn wanted me to carry him all the way back to the car after we played in the creek (it was about a mile uphill) and when I said I couldn't because I was carrying a backpack, he screamed at me at the top of his lungs the ENTIRE WALK BACK.

I think I've been avoiding it ever since.

This time we'd be going with a group of kids we hang out with a lot but always with Liam and Finn or just Liam but never with Finn on his own. I had no idea how he'd get along without his wing man. Would he sit on my lap the whole time? Whine and want to go home? Scream at the top of his lungs?

He started out a little hesitant, which is perfectly normal. But after not much time at all, he was in the creek with the rest of the kids, trying out his new rain boots.

After a little while, the kids asked if they could go up creek a bit to explore. Finn wanted to go, too. We said yes and I watched as he wadded off in his little boots, finding the way on his own, with his friends.

When it had been a while since we could see or hear the kids, we walked up the creek to see what they were doing. It was not an easy hike! The water was really rushing in some spots and the whole thing was pretty slippery. When we found the kids, I almost couldn't tell if Finn was with them or not. I kept looking for my little guy - someone much smaller than Finn actually is - but soon I realized he was right there all along. It turns out he really is one of the big kids!

As you can tell, we were not exactly prepared for a creek hike. His outfit had to keep evolving as the day went on, as he slipped in the creek or got cold, and by the time we were on our way home, he was full naked.

As we drove home and he asked question after question ("How did the Earth get made? How did the very first person happen?") I felt so enamored with my little big kid. And so happy that this fun day happened to be on his day home.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Best laid plans.

A while back a few friends and I had a great idea. A mom and kids mid-week campout. We'd avoid peak time at the camp ground, the kids would have lots built in playmates (and the most fun time EVER!) and we could divide the work and hang out all night around a campfire.

Win, win, win!

We found dates that worked for everyone (no small feat) and booked a couple sites. Everything was falling into place.

Except the weather.

The forecast called for rain, thunderstorms and more rain. We were bummed. The kids were, too. But who wants to camp in the rain?

Not this girl scout.

We had no choice but to call it.

Except at the very last minute the mom with the biggest backyard suggested we move it to her house. We could put up our tents, cook dinner over a fire and make s'mores. And if the weather really was as bad as predicted, we'd just move inside for a big sleepover.

New plan!

We were so stoked.

On the day of the campout, it rained off and on but we were undeterred. We packed and shopped and set up tents and picked up all the kids from their various activities and got right down to the important business of camping. I'm not going to lie. It was pretty epic.

The kids ran around playing some sacrificing game I think Liam came up with (no idea - but it kept them ALL busy and happy which is pretty cool considering they range in age from four to fourteen). We cooked hotdogs over the fire, told stories, drank wine out of plastic cups and laughed like a pack of hyenas.

When it got dark, we realized we'd never made our beds so my friend and I strapped on headlamps and started blowing up air mattresses. I'm not sure why but I found this absolutely hilarious. I guess I don't wear a headlamp very often.

Anyway, as I was doubled over cackling (instead of helping), Finn came up to me with a pack of graham crackers in one hand and an uncooked s'more in the other hand (his marshmallow was stuck on a little branch he found...) and said, "Can you help me? I don't know how to make s'mores."

I almost died from the cuteness. (And almost blinded him with my headlamp.)

I wish I had more photos to share but the truth is it was pretty much raining the whole night. It was a light rain - not much more than a drizzle, really - but it still did the trick. By the time the s'mores were eaten, we were all wet. Like the kind of wet you might not notice until you looked at the person next to you (by headlamp!) and realized they looked like they just took a shower with their clothes on.

As we sat around watching the fire, I think we all separately started thinking about bedtime, realizing what a racket it was going to be with a bunch of wet kids and wet sleeping bags and wet everything. Someone suggested we could just call it a night and go home. And just like that a new plan was formed.

The kids were bummed. We were, too. But now that we knew a mid-week camp out was possible (and super duper fun) we knew we could easily do it again another time. Preferably on a night that wasn't so wet and muddy. But really, even with the lousy weather, we had totally had an experience. A mid-week campout! And even though the whole thing only lasted four hours, I know we made some memories to last a lifetime.