Wednesday, May 28, 2014

F-bomb, take two.

Do y'all remember a few years back when I taught little Liam how to swear? Okay, I didn't exactly teach him how to swear. I just introduced him to one especially choice word (thanks, Radiohead!) and he figured the rest out on his own.

But don't worry. Just because he's uttered a handful of four-letter words in his lifetime does not mean he has the mouth of a sailor. If it makes you feel any better, he usually whisper swears if anything. As in, "Mama, I am not going to say it but you know what I want to say right now." I nod like, yep I get it no need to go on, but he continues, always in a whisper. "Fuck. I really want to say fuck right now. But I won't. Because it's inappropriate."

He knows that language has power. 

I should probably mention I have no problem with swearing. I mean, sure, it can make people sound uneducated or crass, but it can also sound juuuuust right. Like there's no other word that could have so perfectly completed that sentence. Sometimes there's just no better way to get a point across.

Case in point. I was just about to drive my nephew Jack and his dog brother Charlie halfway to Louisville to meet my sister yesterday when I realized Charlie had dug one of my patio palms out of its container, dragged it across the backyard and tried to eat it. Since he had already managed to dig up our garden twice over the weekend (once chewing through the soaker hose Bill had so lovingly integrated) you can imagine that dog was on my last nerve. Suffice to say I had a few choice words to share with him.


A few minutes (and deep breaths) later when I went to buckle Finn into his car seat, he tried to share a moment of solidarity with me.

"Mama, that Charlie is a fucking poop."

I was stunned.

Sure I had just called Charlie a fucking lot of things but I was so not expecting anyone to be taking notes. And to hear that word come out of a three year old's mouth? Well, that's just not something you're ever prepared for...

"Oh, Finny. I really don't think you should say that word. I'm sorry I said it too. Let's just...not anymore."

"He's a fucking pee, Mama."

Yep. Just like we were filming a fucking movie. It was hard not to laugh and I certainly couldn't blame him or judge. He had obviously learned it from me. Kind of funny to think of any kid getting punished for swearing...it's not like they pulled it out of thin air.

Anyway.

Tonight, when I tried to discretely fill Liam in on what happened, Finn played the whole scene over. Only this time, I had my camera...

video

Liam was practically in tears. He was DYING. Later when I told him I wanted to share the video with a friend he said, "That's the best idea I've heard all day. Well, that and Finn saying *in a whisper* fucking."

I only wish Finn would be as discreet as his big brother has been. I will be utterly shocked if that happens. But, it wouldn't be the first time this kid has surprised me. We'll work on it. In the meantime, I would like to issue a blanket apology for any inappropriate language that comes from my family. I guess we're passionate with our words.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

That one time at the beach...

We spent the day yesterday with a couple of our favorite families at Percy Priest Lake. It was a gorgeous day and the kids had a blast swimming, playing in the sand, and hula hooping their little hearts out.


I brought some of my hoops and showed off some of the things I could remember, even teaching a few tricks to the more...obsessed future hoopers. At one point Liam said, "Wow, Mama. I had no idea you were so amazing at this!"

It was kind of a perfect day.

You would think there would be nothing in the world that could bother my kids. But what's a child without something to gripe about?

Liam got it into his head that in order to really have fun at the beach, Mama had to swim. Now, I'm usually more than willing to take a dip - shoot, I'll spend a whole day in the water! - but yesterday it was way too c-c-c-cold. Even when I got nice and hot sitting in the sun, I could only wade up to my waist before retreating back to my towel.

I thought for sure that would count. Mama was in the water! I even chased Liam around a little and ran from him when he tried to touch me with his freezing cold wet hands. That's fun, right?

Nope. He wasn't satisfied AT ALL. In fact, my trip into the water really just bummed him out and made him all mopey. I didn't really swim, my hair was still dry AND he bumped his toe. His day? Suddenly the WORST.


I tried to ignore him but he insisted on sitting right next to me, berating me about how not fun I was being. Which, I gotta say, is crazy. I brought hula hoops for goodness sake. I'm fun! My friends think so. The other kids think so. Why didn't he?

Because he's my son and it's his job to push me in all sorts of crazy directions.

After a while of being fun-shamed and cooking in the sun, I decided I could potentially go back in the water. The general consensus was that the ONLY way to do it was to run as fast as you could and dive under before your body could register how cold it was and and react in a logical way.

So I did it. All the moms did! I grabbed the closest kid's hand and ran into the lake and dove under the water and came out laughing. It felt fantastic! Cool but not cold and way more fun than sitting in the sun getting pestered.

Liam was totally impressed. He ran out to the water after us saying, "You did the impossible!" Then he and I swam out to the buoy thing (like a divider between the swimming area and the rest of the lake) with all the friends and stood on it and dove off and had a few chicken fights and laughed our faces off.

"Mama," Liam said, bobbing up and down in the water just inches from my face. "I'm so glad you girls decided to get in the water. Now we're all having so much more fun!"

It was true. The kids had been swimming and having a great time all morning but once we were ALL in the water, everything changed. Suddenly we weren't just spending the day at the lake, we were making memories that would last forever. I just know that one day when Liam or I look back at the summer's of his childhood, we will both remember this moment.

I'm so glad I took the plunge.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friendship is a verb.

Twice a month we have homeschool open play at the park near our house. It's moms (and dads) sprawled out on blankets on the grass while kids mix and mingle and play. Sometimes a big kid will organize a huge game of capture the flag; other times small groups will go off on adventures to the cave. If it's cold or rainy, we all go inside and the kids play air hockey or pool or ride bikes and scooters around the gym. There's usually a Pokemon trading situation or a Beyblade tournament at some point. And ever since the city dropped a big pile of dirt behind the community center, the kids have spent most of their time back there, doing whatever it is kids do (they call it the Mound of Love...).


It's easily my favorite part of our homeschool schedule. I've met some of the best people I know sitting around that park. And for the kids, it's like recess - times a thousand. Same kids, week after week, month after month, year after year...

You would think by now my boys would be thick as thieves with some of these kids. And they are. Kind of... But mostly they're friends with the kids they've hung out with outside open play. And sometimes, honestly, they just want to play with each other. Which I totally get. (Bill and I are like that at parties sometimes.) It's hard to go from acquaintance to friend, even if you see each other every other week. It often takes an inciting incident to take things to the next level. A play date, a phone call...something to get the ball rolling.

This morning, Finn got a call from his buddy Glory. Her mom and I have been trying to force them to be friends for EVER so this was a really big step in the right direction. She asked if he wanted to play with her at open play. He shrugged his shoulders, playing it cool. "Um, okay!"

"Do you want to share a snack?"

"Okay, cool!"

That was it, really, but as soon as we got to open play, they ran right up to each other. Glory leading the way, Finn pretending it was no big deal...



(She's wearing her much older sister's dress; his entire outfit is backwards...they are obviously meant to be friends.)

They hung out most of the afternoon, just like they said they would. They even shared the snack Finn packed - a bag of Southwest airlines pretzels, a couple tootsie rolls from Halloween and a piece of blue licorice (no idea where that one came from).



Watching them be so intentional with each other was great for me to see.

I realized a couple months back that I could sit on my blanket on the grass next to all these amazing people for years and never make anything more than an acquaintance. Or I could step a teeny bit out of my comfort zone - by getting a phone number or saying yes to a drink or asking for help or having some real talk - and create some honest to goodness friendships. I think I was under the impression that friendship was something that just happened after enough time had passed. But that's so not true! Friendship is not something you get, it's something you DO. Time doesn't turn a person into friend (like I thought), a person has to act like a friend in order to be (or make) a friend.

Thanks to Finn and Glory for the adorable reminder.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Why gratitude matters.

This week has been a hard one for me. For the third day in a row I've felt in over my head. Not like this is too much. More like this isn't much fun.

On Monday I thought I was just coming down from Mother's Day weekend. I mean, I really did shirk all responsibility for two days straight so I figured an uncomfortable readjustment was to be expected.

But then yesterday I felt the same.

Like no matter how many loads of laundry I did, there was still a pile. Only it wasn't just the laundry. It was all of it. The meals and conversations and daily to-dos. All of it felt so incredibly mundane yet insurmountable. Which I guess is motherhood in a nutshell. You're not exactly doing rocket science but the job never ends.

Is that a wash?

Anyway. I guess it's probably always like this I just don't usually notice. But this week has felt like such a failure. I've just been so angry at my kids. Disappointed, really. Which is an awful thing to say but that's how I've been feeling.

Like an angry, disappointed broken record.

Take a bite, have a bite, sit back down, wash your hands, eat your dinner, put your shoes away, put your stuff away, seriously, put your stuff away, where are your shoes, did you brush your teeth?, we have to go, it's time to go, no really, WE HAVE TO LEAVE!, no, I will never leave without you but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WILL YOU PLEASE WALK OUT THE DOOR RIGHT EFFING NOW?!?!?!?

When my children don't listen to me I feel a whole range of emotions. Angry, disappointed, taken advantage of, like I am raising spoiled brats, like I must be a terrible mom, like my children are going to grow up to be idiot delinquents who don't know how to do one simple thing like pick up after themselves or finish a meal without eight thousand reminders.

I don't say all of this to them but I don't exactly hold my tongue either. Yesterday I yelled about the toys in the living room and the half-assed way they "put them away" and both boys burst into tears (they hate when I raise my voice). It didn't even phase me. If anything, it made my resolve stronger. Like I was about to lose to crying? No way.

How awful is that?

They're just wearing me out. Because, like Miley Cyrus always says, it don't stop. And it won't stop...for a while. It pauses, briefly, for bedtime but since Liam's a bit of a night owl, that isn't even a guarantee.

Tonight, when I was finally done, I came into the living room to sit down for a bit. This will sound really stupid, but some days I find I hardly sit at all unless I'm in the car. What is that?! I looooove to sit. Anyway, I was sitting there, in my robe, just taking a load off, when out came Liam.

At first I was surprised (even though he does this a lot, I never expect it). Then delighted (some of our best one-on-one is late at night when he's supposed to be asleep). Then, without warning, I became seriously annoyed. My shift was OVER. I had already done all the things, and I was about to go to sleep so I could wake up and do all the things again, but first I wanted just a little time to not do all the things.

But I guess that's where I'm wrong. Parenting isn't shift work, it's life work. There are no breaks or days off. (Even if sometimes it feels like there are.) So, really, complaining about my lot in life is just a bunch of hot air.

But still. Something had to give.

Before I went to bed I got out a notebook and tried to come up with a plan that might make our long days and short years go a little smoother. And then I wrote some of this because writing usually helps me feel better. But I had no idea how to end it so I switched to a paper journal. When I realized I had written a poem about the woes of motherhood, I knew it was time for bed.

As I was brushing my teeth I couldn't believe how sullen I looked. I mean, my life is not that bad. I decided to turn that frown upside down and, honestly, as soon as I smiled I felt ten times better.

I climbed in bed, still smiling, and got out my gratitude journal. It had been a few days since I had written anything so I gave myself permission to look back a few days. I even scrolled through my recent pictures for a reminder of all the stuff I had to be grateful for.

Epic bike ride.



Happy camper.

Helping each other cool off.

Friends at field day.

This little guy.

Finn went to childcare at the Y so I could booty dance with my friends!

Late night learning with my big kid.

Awesome science experiments.

Good buddies and playdates.

Last day of 2nd grade.

The most amazing thing happened. I realized I have NOT had a crappy couple of days. The days have been great. Fantastic even! It's my attitude that's been the problem. Looking back through my photos and memories, searching for all the little things I have to be grateful for completely turned me around. I went to bed with a smile on my face, thankful for this beautiful, messy life I get to call my own.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Death by Braverman.

So, I finally got caught up with Parenthood. As in, I just finished watching the season finale. Of this season.

Meaning there are no more episodes for me to watch. At all.

I HATE when this happens.

I like to be able to watch my shows whenever I want. Preferably in rapid fire succession when Bill's out of town. Binge watching, they call it.

It's my favorite guilty pleasure.

But I don't actually feel guilty about it and there's nothing pleasurable about ending a show. So that sucks.

Tonight feels especially bad. The last episode I watched was SO emotional and I'd had kind of a tough day. Not for any reason/for all the reasons, you know? It got late, the big kid finally went to bed, and I sat here on the couch drinking wine, watching Parenthood and crying like a goddamn baby.

Now I'm honestly a little afraid for my life.

Not for any other reason than I can't breathe. Which sounds pretty serious but mostly it's just inconvenient. Okay, it's a little scary. I mean, my entire nose passageway is completely blocked. It's an absolute no go. I tried blowing it once and that was SO not going to happen I don't even want to try again. I can't even sniffle. I'm just going to sit here on the couch, breathing through my mouth and writing this nonsense on my iPhone for no other reason than I can't imagine going to bed with such a teared up nose. So, I'm sorry/you're welcome. (Lots of slashies in this here post.). I'm honestly not sure what else to say.

Except maybe this:

Occasionally I've been known to have a bit if Braverman envy. Yeah, I know, they're a fictional made-for-tv family, but still. I can't help but sometimes wish I had a family like theirs.

Except, really, I don't.

Because you know if that was your family you'd be up to here with Zeke and all his meddling and totally irritated by any number of things that go on around there.

If I'm completely honest, I've got a good thing going. I have a good relationship with my husband, my kids (most of the time/maybe not today/long story), my sister and my cousin; parents and in-laws that are far away but doing their best; and not all that much drama, considering what some families go through.

Basically, if I'm honest, the Bravermans can suck it.

I know, I know. That's just the season finale talking. But I'm mad at them/I miss them already.

This is so not helping me convince Bill that there's value in watching TV dramas.

But it did give my nose enough time to start working again. So I guess that's awesome. I can breathe/there's nothing else for me to watch on TV. So I guess it's time for me to climb in bed next to my boys and go to sleep now. Probably could have done that before writing all this but, you know. xo

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother loving.

Have you read the book, The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan? It's fantastic. I highly recommend it. It's a memoir about the time in her life when she's battling breast cancer at the same time her dad's battling cancer of his own.

The title refers to the place where most of us hang out - the middle place. We're children but we're also parents. We've got one foot in each camp.



I completely loved the book but my experience of the middle place is a little different than hers. While she seemed heavily identified with being a daughter, I, on the other hand, am most comfortable hanging in the mother camp.



I realize it most intensely on Mother's Day. About halfway through the day (or weekend, since I celebrate at least two days) I suddenly realize, dang! I haven't called my mom yet. Or sent a card that will arrive on time or done anything else that honors MY mother (or mother-in-law...). I am so busy being a mom that I almost forget I have one.

I hope that's not nearly as terrible as it sounds.

My Mother's Day is not about my children doing nice things for me. It's not even about my husband doing nice things for me (although, bless him, he always knocks it out of the park). Honestly, it's got nothing to do with anyone but me.

Mother's Day is a day I earned by becoming a mother. Kind of like how we all earn birthdays just by being born. Once a year we get to celebrate our wonderful selves for no other reason that we're here. That's how my Mother's Day is!

Whatever makes me heart sing is what I'm going to do (or not do). Sometimes it involves my children, sometimes it doesn't. But it never depends on them. Whether or not my kids or my husband do a single thing for me on Mother's Day honestly doesn't matter. They already did their part. They made me a mom. The celebration is up to me.

This can be both liberating and a little strange. As a mother, I'm so used to everyone else's needs mattering a lot that it's a bit of an adjustment to take a day to strictly focus on my own. But it's good. Really, really good.


Yesterday, after a leisurely morning walk with tea at High Garden and a grilled pimento cheese from Bella Nashville (I die), we stopped off at home before a friend and I went to get mani/pedis across town. There were a bunch of kids at the house (as per usual) and I suddenly had an idea. Inspired by some sidewalk chalk graffiti at Sweet 16th (did I neglect to mention the breakfast sandwich we picked up on our walk?), I wrote LOVE IS... on the sidewalk then asked the kids to write whatever came to them.



Finn immediately said, "Kisses." (He is so my husband's son.)



Liam, in the throws of play date splendor, wrote, "Playing!" Then a moment later added, "Soda."

Most of the kids at the house were boys so there was a lot of ew gross stuff going on. Love is disgusting, love is chaos, etc. But when I told them to think about their moms it went a little better. My favorite answer was Love is Helpful with a picture of a stick figure mom and a cup of coffee.



That's good stuff.

But since it's Mother's Day weekend and I get whatever I want for a few more hours, I'm gonna say my answer was the best. Love is everything.



Especially mama love.

Love to all you moms (and people who have moms) out there. I hope you're celebrating your wonderful selves today and taking some time to bask in the goodness you've spent all year cultivating. xo


Friday, May 9, 2014

Pillow talk.

Since Bill was out of town last night, the boys slept in my big bed with me (it's one of our "Dada's out of town" traditions). I was trying to get a bit more shut eye this morning (another one of my traditions is binge watching TV late at night...) when Finn rolled over to Liam's side, handed him one of his favorite stufties and asked in his sweet gravely three year old morning voice, "Did you have any dreams last night?"

Liam was waking up a bit slow so he turned it back on Finn. "Did you?"

Whether or not Finn had any dreams he could remember didn't matter one bit He held his entire hand up in the air and said, "I had this many dreams!"

"Five. Wow," said Liam. "Tell me about them." His tone of voice is so sweet in the morning.

"Well, the first one was about Penny Goo," Finn said, looking at the dog laying on the foot of the bed. "She was licking me!" He burst into giggles.

"What about the second one?"

"My second dream was about Missy Goo," said Finn as the cat walked into the room. "She was going potty. ON THE POTTY!"

"Wow. What about the third?"

"My third dream was also about Missy Goo. She was on the ROOF! And my next dream - "

"Your fourth."

"Yeah, my fourth dream. Missy Goo was on the wall!"

"What was she doing?"

"Just climbing up!"

"What about your fifth dream?"

"In my fifth dream, Missy Goo was... ON THE FAN!"

I love when Finn tells stories. He can take whatever mundane details he happens to see and instantly turn them into truth. This used to drive Liam nuts. "Mama, why are you supporting this? He's lying." But I choose to see it as creative license. "He's not lying, Liam, he's creative! You have to let him use his imagination. Just...go with it." Eventually he got on board. Now we all love Finn's stories.

"Liam," Finn asked enthusiastically. "Did you have any dreams?"

In fact, he did! But since Liam's dream was one he had while sleeping, it was slightly harder to recall. There was a boy and a girl who Liam didn't know ("they were totally random") and they all went to Tatooine (from Star Wars) for some reason and there were all these random shops and the boy must have gone into one of them because, later on in the dream, when they were all at our house jumping on the trampoline, the boy offered everyone some chocolate be bought on Tatooine.

You know, basic, random, dream-like stuff.

I love that this is how my boys wake up in the morning. Together, talking and sharing their dreams. I'm so glad I get to crash their slumber party once in a while.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Three little birds.

It was a slow start this year but spring is definitely, finally, for better or worse, here. The garden is planted, things are popping out of the ground left and right and we're blaming all kinds of things, related or not, on allergies.

I even got my first mosquito bite tonight.

It feels good to be a part of it all. I've started to really appreciate all the life that lives around us. I've even taken to bird watching. It's so easy! You just watch birds. People in movies always have binoculars and memberships to the Audubon Society but my style is a bit more pared down.

I just fill up the squirrel bird feeder every day or so and watch birds from the comfort of my hammock or wherever else I happen to be. Turns out, they're everywhere.

We're especially lucky because we happen to have a bird family that builds a nest right above our backdoor every year. Sure, they mess up the already messed up aluminum siding (I know, I know...it's on the list), but it sure is fun to watch the mom and dad fly in and out while the babies chirp and squawk and wait for food (just like Alicia Silverstone's baby!).

We also have a nest in the tree outside our living room window but we've never been able to find it. We know it's there because Mommy and Daddy Finch fly in and out a thousand times a day and we hear lots of baby bird sounds coming from within. But that's pretty much all we knew.

Until yesterday. Liam went to the side yard to turn the hose on for me and discovered a baby bird on the ground. Being new to bird watching, this sent up only a partial red flag. For all I knew this could have been A) tragic, or B) totally normal. 


Once I saw the bird though, I had a feeling it wasn't great. He was kind of hopping around and trying to flap his wings but one of them seemed to be messed up. We did some research and decided, since the mom and dad were definitely still around, it was probably best to leave him alone.

We checked on him all afternoon and evening, chatting with the neighbors who had spotted him as well, trying to decide if there was anything else we should be doing. I knew we could box him up and take him to an animal sanctuary but it seemed like a huge mistake to take him from his parents. I decided (again and again) it was best to let nature take its course. And by the time the sun was setting, it looked as if he might not make it through the night.

It's sad, yes, but that's nature. Not everyone who leaves the nest makes it. The parents were doing everything they could to help their baby and I knew that was the best case scenario. They certainly knew better than a newbie birder with no plan or expertise. 

This morning I was not at all surprised to find him gone.

But this evening, he was back! He looked so much stronger than yesterday that I actually started to believe he might make it. The boys and I gave him his space (all the birds got nervous when we got too close) but I couldn't help but watch the situation unfold through the back fence. (The birds obviously still knew I was there, what with their birds eye view and all, but as long as I stayed behind the fence, they didn't seem to mind me watching.)



It was really sweet. Every few minutes, one of the parents would swoop down to feed their baby. He got SO excited when they showed up. He hopped around and tried to follow them. So much so that I thought he might just hop up and start flying. But the more I watched the more I became convinced that that wing was not going to be okay.

Then, the unthinkable happened. Baby Finch followed his mama right out into the street. It was right about five o'clock; a terrible time of day for wee ones to be near a busy street. Let alone, in the middle of it. I didn't know what to do. So I told Liam to get out there and chase him back to safety.

Fortunately, Liam had more presence of mind than I did at that moment and didn't run right out into traffic like I'm now realizing I told him to. He stopped and looked and waited. A car was coming. Three cars. It wasn't safe. And then... 

The worst.

One of the cars ran right over the baby bird. And my baby had to witness it. 

He broke down. I held him. We both cried and shook our heads and asked why. Death is hard like that. Even though we decided it was probably not the worst thing in the world that could have happened to a baby bird with one wing. 

Still. My heart ached. For Liam. And especially for mama and daddy bird. I watched a little while longer and, while it seemed like they got right on with business (they still had mouths to feed and babies to care for), I knew it could never be that simple. 

Of course their hearts are broken. Their baby is gone. They did everything they could to save him and it wasn't enough. That poor mama bird. Her baby loved her so much he followed her into the street.  And then... Oof. Parenthood is heavy business, no matter what kind of animal you happen to be.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Clean it up.

I was talking to one of my neighbors the other day about a song writing challenge he's doing with some friends. Each week one of them comes up with a topic or theme and everyone has to write a song within the guidelines.

When it was his turn to come up with a challenge, he asked everyone to write a song for kids about cleaning their room. Not because he thought it would be a particularly fun thing to write about, but because he has two kids and has had it up to HERE with trying to get them to clean their damn rooms!

I was shocked. Their house always seems so clean and organized! I guess I just assumed his children were freaks of nature who picked up after themselves like it was no big deal. Because surely that happens somewhere, right?

I gotta say, it was kind of nice to hear that I'm not the only parent on the block banging my head against the wall, trying to decide between yelling at my kids or tripping over toys for the rest of my life. It made me wonder if I'm transparent enough with some of the BS that goes on around my house. Because thinking other people have it all together when you don't (and, ps, we all don't), is really hard. I hope I share enough of the bad with the good for you to know I'm not some perfect a-hole. If I don't, I think it's just because it's really hard to find time to write when everything is cattywompus. And when I do find time? I'm much more likely to use it drowning my sorrows in a bucket of wine than I am sitting at the computer.

But there's something to it, you know? Something really nice about knowing that EVERYONE struggles. So I'm gonna work on that. In the meantime, just know this: just because I usually try to find a silver lining does not mean we don't have cloudy days.

Anyway. The actual point of me writing this was the cleaning. Which is an ever loving nightmare in our house. Seriously. It's like the one thing we consistently struggle with. You name a bad way to get your kids to clean up, and I've done it. I yell, I threaten to throw things away, I do throw things away...

I box stuff up and stick it in the basement and when no one notices after a while, I donate it.

I shame the kids for being spoiled and not deserving they toys they have.

I give up and leave it messy.

It's pretty much a never ending battle. But today, I had a victory.

Bill was coming home from a work trip so I wanted the house to look nice for him (it SUCKS to come home to a messy house). We had a few errands to run and time was getting away from us so I knew we didn't have time to fight about cleaning up. Especially because the boys had created a "series of African trees for their giraffes to eat while they went on an adventure and a date" which is to say, every single pillow was somewhere on the floor (plus, the normal mess from the morning).

I considered how many times I would have to say "clean up" before we had to leave and I realized I just didn't have it in me. Suddenly I had a ding (what the boys say when they have a good idea). I needed a clean up song.

I searched on Spotify and found a few that would totally work. Without warning, I turned one of them on LOUD and stood in the hallway where the boys could see me with my hands on my hips. They both came out of their room looking a little confused and found me standing there with a smile, nodding along to the song. Without a single word passing between us and no hesitation whatsoever, they both started cleaning up. I swear. It was like an honest-to-god miracle.

By the time we'd listened to maybe 4 songs, everything was put away. EVERYTHING. There is no way this has ever happened before. When I complimented them on the hallway and living room (where most of the pillows were), Liam was like, "You should see our room!" It was also clean. I am still sort of in shock. It's one thing to get it done but to get it done that fast? A total first in my house.

I now have a go-go playlist and a new lease on life. And if stops working? Barney on repeat.