It’s true, I’m making an appearance on my own blog. What will she write about after being MIA so long, one would ask. There really aren’t enough words or time or ears with that much storage to spare. So let’s cover a little bit of my favorite things and call this a trifecta cameo!
This is the time of year everyone is talking about thankfulness. Well, not everyone obviously, seeing as how I got flipped off in traffic a few days ago (caring means using your blinker, Mr. Pushy-Pants). So I thought now would be an opportune time to reflect on the last year and take in all that I accomplished, since I’m more prone to thinking about everything I still haven’t crossed off my to-do list.
Turns out 2015 was a productive year for me minus only a few She-Won’t-See-This-Coming trick plays and Underwhelm-Her-With-This-Whistle-Blow referee calls. Plus, I managed to get my kids almost all the way through another year of me parenting them. Don’t get me wrong, my husband has been a trusty life-force throughout this whole child raising gig. But I’m just going to reminisce for a hot five minutes about how I completely dominated parenthood this year.
1. I didn’t yell the fifth time my son kicked me in the face during a dead sleep.
By the fifth time, I realized it must be his version of tough love. Because the first four times I screamed initially in surprise and subsequently in pain. When I didn’t yell out the next time…he stopped. “That’s just life, momma dukes. But I love you anyway.”
2. I mastered perfect hygiene so that whatever I am wearing/eating/drinking/looking at/touching/breathing does not smell bad.
You would think that after being raised by a clean set of parents, spending my adolescence in girls’ locker rooms, sharing a dorm space with three other females and tackling my fair share of day-after multiple bar nights in my early 20s, I’d have the whole hygiene thing down. Negative. Apparently I needed my 4-year-old to simply say a specific sentence one morning while agitatedly waiting for me to unbuckle her from her car seat: “Mom, I don’t like the way your face smells.” Well that’s not nice. Nowadays I wake up extra early just to immerse my entire body in a tank of hospital-grade antiseptic. I dry myself off with a box of Lysol disinfectant wipes and then put on my mouth mask so as not to irritate the Queen.
3. I finally went ice skating.
I know, you’re thinking I’m kind of ridiculous. The childhood that molded me was glorious, however my single ice skating experience got pushed to an ominous compartment of my memory recall and the only time I talk about it is in a safe zone. Which exists nowhere in the present. However this past year I finally put on my Big Girl Skates after watching my daughter glide around taunting me on the ice for several minutes (other witnesses tell me she was in fact quite sweetly beaming and asking me to skate with her – but whatever). One small icy sashay for mom-kind!
4. I refrained from verbally accosting Barbie and Ken in front of my daughter.
Never mind that what I really wanted to say was that Barbie and her entitled boyfriend are whiny losers. The point is I didn’t verbalize my feelings and in this case it was a triumphant thing. Instead, I convinced my daughter that she can’t watch episodes of Barbie on Netflix because the TV breaks every time it’s on. That wasn’t exactly a lie, because it does freeze up – on apparently the only phrase Ken was taught as a self-absorbed punk: “Dude, that is so not fair.” Fast-forward to this month as she has learned to use the remote and navigate Netflix by herself. Dang kids and their motor skill development.
5. I figured out how to do my daughter’s hair.
Kind of. We have three selections: A ponytail, an Elsa braid or “down like Rapunzel.” I have watched 3 billion tutorials on how to do a fish tail braid. I have cursed 3 billion times inside my mouth.
6. I killed a spider with my bare hands and looked cool doing it.
Don’t judge me, spidey-savers out there. Earlier this summer those sneaky creeps were infiltrating the house like mold on cheese. I had probably just got kicked in the face out of a dead sleep and had possibly already taken my antiseptic bath so you can imagine my apprehension when yet another one of those guys tried attacking my son’s Ninja Turtle. My fist came out like a blur on the floor and when I lifted it up to see what I’d done my son looked at me with his proud baby blues and whispered, “Whoaaaaa!” No regrets.
7. My kids were exposed to new experiences.
Let’s not focus on the fact that one of these experiences involved gambling at the horse races and let’s not focus on the fact that my kids are actually kind of addicted to winning at the horse races and my daughter is a bookie. Let’s simply remark at how ironic it is that she was almost born at the horse races. (But Yours Truly needed a sandwich before delivery that night, so we left.) I know a lot of parents whose kids aren’t exposed to this charming, exciting past-time and maybe there’s comfort in knowing their kids are not yet aware of what the words win, place and show mean. They have their successes, I have mine. Meanwhile, my children are mapping out their trip for a certain weekend excursion to Kentucky…
8. I threw a birthday party at the zoo.
Sure, it was 105 degrees in July and Elsa was melting as was everyone’s face and SWACK was deemed appropriate dress code that day. But it was a birthday at the zoo and we all survived! If you’re still wondering what SWACK is, just think of it as the reason you don’t wear light colored pants on a sweltering hot day.
9. No one played with power tools.
Earlier this summer we began a semi-major remodeling project and there was a sea of Home Depot you-name-it on our kitchen table for about three months. Looking back it’s quite remarkable neither of my children built a shelf into the side of our dog. They really should give responsible parents some rewards points.
10. No one has pooped in the tub (so far).
Do I really need to expand on this point? Counting my blessings.
11. I didn’t forget _____.
Oh, I’ve forgotten a lot of things this year. But I didn’t forget the important stuff like Project Day (when we do Kelly Kits at home) or Library Bus Day or Color-While-Mom-and-Dad-do-Wine-Taste-Trials Day. “Mom…sometimes you forget things,” uttered my daughter in the car earlier this week. Yeah well, sometimes I remember things too. Like the really embarrassing photo I am waiting to show everyone of you on your Graduation Day.
12. Neither of my kids have been hungover.
Yes I do realize they are only 4 and 2. It’s the small victories over here. Considering both my kids are around wine all the time and my daughter could even tell you what good wine versus spoiled wine smells like, I’m happy knowing neither of them have acquired a taste for it yet. There’s that whole child services thing I’d have to deal with, after all. Luckily, my kids are just kids – who love them some milk.
13. I didn’t give in…
…To nothing and everything. To other peoples’ expectations, to my own “Am I doing enough?” dark thoughts, to my kids calling the shots instead of me, to worrying about everything under the moon happening and stifling my mother’s intuition, to the bad days, to overlooking a laugh when my kids need to laugh/a hug when they need hugged/discipline when they need self-control, to trying to do it the “right” way instead of the way for our family. And I surely haven’t given in to the whole Barbie and Ken nonsense.
The month of May has proven to be a harried one so far, with wine events and farmer’s markets and dance recitals (well, there was one) and holidays and studio time and advising at health screening events (this last one is not hard work, just time-consuming), and oh, I have children. I’m not saying this is any different from the norm – I recognize nearly everyone could say the same thing about their life, at least at some point during it. And let’s get this straight – I’m not complaining. I don’t think I would know what to do with myself if I wasn’t in a constant state of “Who/What/When/Where/Now!” But sometimes it’s nice to tell work to just back-the-toy-dump-truck-up and chill out to play with my whippersnappers.
Then there are these questions: “What should we do?” If all we have is one afternoon with cooperative weather – do we go to a park or create our own fun at home in our yard? If the weather isn’t conducive to outdoor time, do we dance to sing-a-long songs or do we do a craft? How can I best serve my children with my time and attention, away from computers and smart phones and televisions?
One way we answer that question is with Kelly Kits. Thank you Kelly! I don’t know you but you make us all happy with the goodies you send each month!
Kelly Kits is a monthly subscription service (you know how I love me some of those) that delivers crafts for all ages straight to your door step. Lila is a big fan. And no, I don’t get any kick back from the company to tell you about them. They’re that good.
Lila is at a fun age where I can let her go with stuff, like glue sticks and tiny scissors and small paint brushes. Luke still just wants to paint a mustache on himself and/or the dog, so this project happened during his nap time.
This was my finished maraca, but I must say Lila’s was even prettier because it had exponentially more glitter.
Okay, that’s great Crystal. You make your own maracas – been there done that. What else do you do with their childhood?
Our current favorite thing: Fence painting.
No, I’m not referring to actually painting the fence. Although that would be a super brilliant way for me to get the fence stained. Hmmm….
This is fence painting:
And then, there are obstacle course days. Lila was very nearly born at my boot camp class, so it’s only fitting she gets a kick out of running ladders and doing various other athletic things most adults pay professionals to make them do.
These photos were from a semi-decent day earlier this year during late winter.
Of course, there are always bubbles. Lots and lots of bubbles. Something about these shiny, soapy, floating balls of bliss make even the grumpiest of grumps feel like a kid again. Had a bad day at work? Bubbles. Remember Professor Coldheart (Mr. Freeze) from Care Bears? The dude needed some serious bubble time.
If all else fails, we get our Hopscotch on!
Usually Luke makes our Hopscotch time more interesting by spraying us with the water hose and laughing hysterically. Stay tuned in 16 years for his childhood recap, which I’ll appropriately title: “How We Handle Diabolical Behavior Around Here.”
Some helpful resources I like to refer to for fun kids activities:
If you’re a parent or a caregiver of any kind, you’ve probably been faced with some of your darkest days. You’ve looked deep into your minion’s eyes and tried to get to the belly of their inner beast, only to find your own. It’s not pretty. Everything you thought you knew about yourself, everything you thought you could take on and overcome like a flawless action figurine, gets pooped on before you even figure out how to say bilirubin. (Go ahead, look it up. I’ll wait.)
But I suppose some of the best teachers are the ones you think are A-holes at the time. Not that my children are ever A-holes. Except a few times I’ve thought maybe they’re practicing for it. Then I feel like an A-hole for thinking that about my own flesh and blood because the moment I’m thinking it is the moment they do something ridiculously adorable or sweet or genius or remarkable or appreciative. And I become the A-hole. I’ll do better tomorrow.
In the meantime, I thought I’d reflect on what my little teachers have taught me about myself so far. I’m only about four years into this parenting gig but I can tell you we parents learn a LOT in that first week. Such as how to refrain from asking the nurse 500 times how anyone expects you to take this baby home and know what to do with it. They really don’t like to be asked that.
16 Things My Children Have Taught Me about Myself
1. I don’t actually want a perfect/better/ideal body.
You know how when you’ve had maybe a little too much wine and you’re happy and laid back and loving life and you’re with your best people and you say things like, “Who cares if one boob is smaller than the other? It’s what makes me ME!” No? Okay me either. Anyhow – I don’t think I got off to a good start with this one so let me re-phrase.
The point IS: I hear many the mom talking about herself like she isn’t good enough or as though if she just lost five more pounds she’d be perfect, and that’s just not the way I want my daughter to think about herself. Nor do I want my son growing up to judge other women by their weight. Therefore, I don’t say it about myself because I don’t want my kids to hear me say it and think I’m not happy with who I am. Not saying it has translated into not thinking about it.
Let’s not confuse this with my other goals for my body – like staying strong, being healthy and fit and respecting what my body can do – those are the things I would like my kids to learn from me. But having children has taught me that there are more important things in life than having a perfectly flat stomach 365 days out of the year.
2. I have no clue what boys are really thinking.
Having a boy has convinced me that I will never truly understand the way my husband thinks. Likewise, I know. But I’m slowwwwly learning to stop speculating. Men are painfully simple. Women not so much. As soon as I think I know what my son is thinking he reminds me how complicated I’m making it. Just the other day I thought he was maybe thinking, “Man I really love playing with dirt.” When in fact he was thinking, “Playing with dog poop is wayyyyy more fun.” Note to self: What you think the men in your life are thinking and what they’re actually thinking are not the same thing.
3. I am a really fun mom, until you mess my $#@! up.
I’m the mom who loves to do crafts with the kids or play with glitter and sand and make galaxy dough and paint windows with colored soap or make elephant toothpaste (it’s all fun and games, though, until someone gets peroxide in their eye). But as soon as somebody messes up my homemade paper mache maraca, I’m no longer stoked about the situation. Call it immature, but the inner child in me still doesn’t like my creative focus disturbed. Which leads me to…
4. Sometimes the only way to save the day is to bake stuff.
It’s a weird thing, this baking love of mine. It’s really evolved. I used to bake to eat the goodies. Now I just bake for therapeutic reasons and then feel shocked when I find two dozen double chocolate chip cookies sitting on my counter. My children have taught me to embrace the tried-and-true cure for a bad day and just bake it out. They’re happy, I’m happy, and loved ones everywhere are left trying to figure out why their trainer friend just pushed 800 calories into their laps and ran away to get back to baking some more junk that she won’t eat.
5. I am better at the hard stuff vs. the easy stuff in life.
I’ve always been this way but my tiny people have really alerted me to this fact. I have no problem quitting a salary-paying job for unreliable income, or accomplishing lofty long-term goals or teaching boot camp up to the day before giving birth. Yet most mornings I can’t put on mascara without poking my eyes out, I get sweaty palms at the thought of clothes shopping and I’m nearly incapable of long phone conversations anymore. Parenting makes you figure out what you’re good at so that you can focus more on those things. I’m hoping to use this insight to get out of helping my kids with their math homework in a few years.
6. I still don’t understand why girls are so freaking mean.
I thought it was a junior high thing/high school thing. I’ve been corrected. Girls can be just as mean at 3 and 4 years old, it’s just that they don’t hold quite the grudges yet. So even though Lila may come home from preschool and tell me yesterday’s friend is no longer her friend, I’ve learned that they’ll forget about it tomorrow and be good to go. Fast-forward to the aggressive line of cars waiting to pick up kids after school: Yep, girls are still mean. And I still don’t get it.
7. I’m not a mommy-group person.
Maybe since I’ve never been a group type of person the whole mom group thing just doesn’t appeal to me. I think they’re great and they can be very useful tools for many moms and kids, especially if they’ve just moved to a new town. When I was pregnant the first time I figured maybe I’d find me a good mom’s group. But the post-partum me realized I already had a pretty great mom’s group – they’re my married with children/married without children/unmarried with children/single friends. And they don’t judge me if I tell them all my kids ate for breakfast was toast and cheese.
8. I will probably never be patient enough.
*Sigh* I want to be that patient person/wife/mom. I do. And I’ve gotten better. But my patience could use some work and I’ve come to realize I may have passed that trait down to my daughter. Luckily my sense of humor gets me through it. But even Jiminy Cricket would deem me a hopeless cause most days.
9. I don’t know everything.
I know, I know, this is shocking to all of us. Becoming a parent makes you sickenly aware of all you don’t know. Want to give someone’s confidence a kick in the jewels? Hand them a baby and make them raise it. “Oh, you think you know everything, do you? Well, Google called and they’d like you to start paying per click.”
10. I have a lot to learn.
This goes right along with the above but I’m so abundantly aware of it, I thought I’d address it all on its own. There are so many things we can’t possibly wrap our minds around and yet having any number of children makes you feel like you must learn it all NOWNOWNOW! And yet, the only thing you truly want to do right now is maybe snuggle a bottle of wine and catch up on mindless television shows (which you haven’t watched for over 4 years, but whatever). From business skills to self-improvement to toddler hair how-to, from fitness resources to recipes to how to make and stick to a family budget – plus all the things beyond and in-between – I’d like to go back to school now because this real world stuff is some restless subject matter.
11. Carbs are NOT my enemy – flu viruses are.
Seriouslyyyyyyy. Let’s re-examine our true adversaries, everyone! Saltines become your FRIENDS when you have kids! Woke up with diarrhea thanks to Junior who came down with a stomach virus last week? Saltines for breakfast. Can’t even summon the energy or desire to eat real food because your princess brought home the ‘ol fever/chills/slow death combo? Saltines for five days. I’ve learned to stop treating any kind of food like the devil because sometimes toast is what’s for dinner.
12. I still really enjoy a good puzzle.
I’m completely ok with my husband making fun of me late at night because what began as me picking up after the kids in the living room resulted in me finishing all their puzzles for 30 minutes. No shame.
13. I am my mother and my father and it’s ok. Usually.
I know what you think about your children sometimes – you wonder if you’ll pass down all your worst traits and hope instead that they only take in the good ones. About that: Both outcomes are inevitable. While I’m actually quite proud I take after both my parents in certain ways, becoming a mother is like walking around with two thought bubbles following you around all the time. It gets super complicated when those thought bubbles start arguing with one another. Many times I just stop and stand there thinking, “Who’s going to win THIS internal battle, Mom or Dad?”
14. Being a wife is easy. Being a great wife takes serious self-reflection.
Fact: I am a serial monogamist. Marriage works for me, I like having a husband and I enjoy being a wife. It was just much, much easier being a great wife before kids. Kids, although remarkable and rewarding and wonderful, can unexplainably take up every room, thought, moment and ounce of energy. Kids change a marriage – sometimes for the worst but optimally for the better. I vow for it to always be for the better, which takes focus, introspection and being humble and putting the marriage first. So put that in your oatmeal and chew on it.
15. Teaching my children to laugh in life is more important to me than teaching them to obey every rule.
Don’t get me wrong, I was a rule follower and I spawned a rule follower (jury is still out on Luke). But sometimes I find it more valuable to teach my kids that laughing at mistakes and moving on is more essential than focusing on what they might have done wrong. Unless what they did wrong was not listening to me. Then that’s crap.
16. Never wipe a crumb off a kid’s face and eat it.
What? You think this one’s a no-brainer? Well let me just tell you that although it should be common sense, sometimes you’re not thinking quite clearly as a parent. So when you wipe what you think is couscous off your son’s face and in lieu of a paper towel you just lick your finger….well, don’t. Because it’s not couscous.
Like most households with small and unpredictable children, we have our good and bad days over here. Sometimes you see the bad day coming (the morning after Grandma and Grandpa leave town). Sometimes you’re blind-sighted by it (four teeth show up overnight – coffee anyone?). What’s a parent supposed to do with all the crying, the tantrums, the break-downs, when JUST the day before you were convinced you had entered a new phase because everyone was so cooperative and happy? Well I think I’ve come up with some solutions for how to get your kids to stop crying, forever. They’re based on pure insight and speculation, which counts for nothing. But enjoy anyway!
*Reader discretion: If you do not appreciate sarcasm, you will not like it here.*
The situation: Your 20-month-old wakes up and instantly begins crying in his crib until you come get him.
The solution: When you put him to bed that next night, fill the bottom half of his crib with things he can throw. He’ll be so happy when, upon waking, he sees these items and realizes he is free to break things. Then you will know he’s awake not because he’s crying but because you heard glass shatter. Good job. So far so good.
The situation: Your 3-year-old can’t get her coat on by herself but she insists on getting her coat on by herself. She is FREAKING out.
The solution: Hide candy in her coat sleeves. You will fail as the parent trying to feed your children healthy things but she will be so happy and distracted, she’ll allow you to put her coat on for her and get the heck out the door. Sometimes success comes in confusing packages.
The situation: Both your children are crying because they knocked each other over the head with plastic and surprisingly sturdy character dolls from Frozen.
The solution: Go back in time and don’t give them plastic Frozen dolls. Don’t ever let them watch Frozen. In fact, forget that Disney exists. Your children may be socially unaware and feel left out momentarily but that’s going to happen at some point anyway, it might as well be now. Plus, you’re secretly pissed over how hard you cry each time Bambi’s mom dies, too. Disney = tears. Clean it up, people.
The situation: Your son is starving. Never mind that he just ate 10 minutes ago. Big tears of rage are happening.
The solution: Go to the pet store immediately and purchase an automatic dog feeder. Fill it with your son’s favorite food and leave him be. Maybe pick up a water bowl too. He’s happy – forever.
The situation: Your daughter fell down for the 143rd time that day. She is physically unharmed but emotionally scarred and may never recover until she makes sure she fake-cries Meryl Streep out of a career.
The solution: Pad the walls with that annoying bubble wrap that comes in everything these days. When you are finished padding the walls, pad your daughter’s knees, feet, elbows, hands, head, shoulders and bum. The bubble wrap doubles as a tracking device – you will know exactly where she is based on the random popping and giggling. Also glue Velcro to the bottom of her snow boots as well as to your entire icy driveway. Worry about looking like the neighborhood wack-job later.
The situation: One or both of your children are hysterical because you told them it was time to go and/or to put down whatever they were playing with.
The solution: Give them bubble gum. Works every time. Who cares that they are too young to properly navigate bubble gum with their mouths? Look at those sticky and gross happy and non-crying faces! Extra points for making sure it’s pink or green or blue. Don’t bother looking to see if it’s all over your upholstery, hair or car seats. What you don’t know will definitely make you cringe.
The situation: Your child wakes up in the middle of the night crying because they saw a monster.
The solution: Record your voice saying something like “it’s okay honey, monsters aren’t real” and run it on their CD player’s repeat setting. Unrealistic? If someone would have told me 5 years ago what I’d accomplish in one day of parenting, I would have told them THAT was unrealistic. So you’ll have to do better than that excuse.
The situation: You have no idea why they are crying. No $#@! idea.
The solution: This is your fault. You did not employ the previous solutions successfully, because if you did your children would not be crying. Start over, do it right. Geez. Also, get used to everything being your fault.
*When all else fails: Hugs and wine, my friends. Hugs and wine. Oh, what about the kids? you ask. Probably just give them hugs…*
When we brought Lila home from the hospital over three years ago, I remember how the first two weeks felt like an eternity. What do I do? How do I know what she needs? Will she ever stop crying? Will we ever sleep again? I can’t believe my house looks like the show ‘Hoarders’ and I’m letting people see it this way. When will life feel normal? When will I cease to crave peanut butter and Nutella?
Then we quickly entered a new phase which I’ll adequately title “Figuring This S*** Out.” Followed up by the “Figuring Out Which Solid Food Doesn’t Cause Diarhea” and “When Will I Shower More Frequently?” phases. Every phase felt like a LIFETIME. It felt like a bottomless pit of love, adoration, exhaustion and spit up. Then just as suddenly, we were out of it and into a new one. I don’t think I even remember realizing we were out of any one phase. I just knew we were in a different, much more advanced one.
As a parent you learn to accept that everything is a phase. So I’m trying to accept this new phase because it’s proving to be a real doozy. Right now we are in a “Let’s Tear Stuff Up” and a “Let Me Tell You About Every Little Thing” phase. Are you familiar with these? My guess is, if you have or have had two kids under 3 years old, you’re well aware. But if you do not or have not, let me explain.
In these phases, your mornings may look like this:
Your 3-year-old plods into the living room rubbing her eyes and orders you to shut off all the lights even though it’s 6:30 am and dark outside. “It’s too bwiiiight!” Apparently she has been up drinking all night. Meanwhile you hear your 19-month-old stirring in his crib so you go to get him and he’s sitting up, smiling at you sweetly and grunting something that you trust means, “Good morning Mom, I love you!” You approach your adorable boy with morning hair and are greeted by a punch in the face. But in case there is any confusion as to why you were suddenly assaulted, he’s smiling at you and holding out his arms. That should clear it up.
Breakfast happens. Actually, breakfast happens when your 3-year-old says it will and your 19-month-old spends ten minutes eating and twenty minutes throwing everything he did not eat. Since he’s a fan of food, he decides that when he’s out of arsenal to fling he will simply take out whatever is currently in his mouth. Your daughter eats her cereal or yogurt or toast or peanut butter and makes sure she tells you fifteen times that she has brown cereal NOT black and she does NOT need more milk yet because she wants to get it herself and when she’s done eating she will go potty and dress herself in the pink shirt NOT the red one because she is wearing shorts today. Shorts and red shirts are not complimentary. Understand that now and you will get 14 minutes of your morning back.
In these phases, your car rides may go like this:
Your toddler manages to peel off his shoes and socks. You don’t know this because you actually see him do it (because you’re attempting to be responsible and look at the road instead of your kids), you know this because you see one shoe hit the windshield. He’s screaming but not because he’s mad or sad or uncomfortable. He’s screaming because he’s happy and it sounds funny. Meanwhile, you and your daughter sing nursery rhymes and she’s getting frustrated with you because you don’t sing the song right. You know, the one about Mary having a little tree, little tree, little tree? Never mind that you grew up singing the same nursery rhymes and at no point did anyone ever inform you that Mary’s lamb was indeed a tree. So you sing the tree song but you don’t sing it loud or quiet enough. At this point you’re thinking Mary is about to get a spanking.
In these phases, your kids may wake up from their naps in this fashion:
Your 19-month-old is awake (you know this because he was screaming at you from across the house) and thinks his sister should be too so he takes it upon himself to smack her in the face. When you tell him to stop being naughty and to tell his (hysterical) sister he’s sorry, he gives her a hug and promptly spins around and throws her Elsa doll across the room, where it strategically lands in the garbage disposal.
In these phases, dinner time may go like this:
You and your spouse get dinner on the table and you both finally sit down to eat when you are interrupted by your 3-year-old loudly announcing she has to go potty. After you tell her to excuse herself and you start to eat your dinner, you are in mid-chew when you hear “Mommmm! Come wiiiipe meeee!” If that doesn’t cheer you up, when you open the bathroom door to help her she immediately asks you why her poop hurts and what color it is.
In these phases, the bed-time routine may go like this:
You get both kids in the bathtub with their bubble bath and dissolving bath colors and assorted bath toys. You wash their hair and bodies and let them play. While you are taking a moment to somewhat relax for 30 seconds, you are brought to your senses by the feeling of a wet towel slapping you across the face. By the time they are out of the bath, your entire bathroom is under flood watch.
You and your spouse manage to get everyone ready for bed. You let both kids watch a show together for 15 minutes while you clean up. All seems peaceful and you are actually getting a chance or two to take a couple swigs from your wine glass. You walk into the bedroom to check on the kids and your 3-year-old tells you she wants to kiss you like princesses and princes do it. You are afraid to ask her what she means and how she knows how they “do it.” You obviously have not had enough wine. So you simply freeze and let her make out with you while your 19-month-old kicks you in the solar plexus.
After everyone is in bed, you lay awake for an hour contemplating how you’ll answer the question you know is coming next – the “where do babies come from” question. Which isn’t so bad in and of itself but you know it will soon be followed up by “how are babies made” and then birds and bees and all the in-between. You quietly check in on both sleeping little people and they look so sweet and angelic, so you forget about all that crazy stuff for now. Until tomorrow morning, anyway. When you know you’ll be accosted for no reason and get asked at least twice why butts get itchy.
You do this until the next phase comes and silently you kind of want to relish this phase because you’re not convinced the next one will be as comical. But hey, at least you’re not inhaling Nutella anymore.
Let me just clarify something up-front: There are a LOT of things I never should have said I’d never do once I became a mom. Guaranteed I have done every one of them. I also once said I’d NEVERRRRR marry a farmer because I grew up in the country surrounded by farmers and I thought there might be more to life than farming. Guess what, I (happily) married an urban farmer (who would love to become a rural farmer if the opportunity presents itself) and I’m more than good with it.
There are so many things my pre-mom self was just clueless about and sometimes ignorance really is bliss because in time we all learn what and when we need to. That being said, there are a few things I still agree with my pre-mom self about.
Parents are annoying.
In my 20s before I had kids I would go to my niece’s soccer games and witness all these parents getting worked up about the team dynamics, talking behind other parents’ backs, complaining to the coach and trying to come up with the PERFECT snack to bring the team the next time they were put on snack-duty. “What the?” I used to wonder why it had to be so dramatic. Annnnnnnnd…still wondering. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of down-to-Earth parents out there and we’re lucky to be friends with some of them. If only some parents wouldn’t attempt to ruin it for the rest of us who just want to show up, give our kids a creative and healthy outlet, maybe have some adult conversation and get on with the rest of child-rearing. Some parents are annoying, I stand firm on that.
Kids are gross.
My own kids included. I mean of course kids are cute, they’re funny and they smell good after a bath. But around that 1-year mark when the sweet baby smell wears off and they start really truly sweating, things get real. Feet stink in a way that only industrial quality bleach can remedy. But of course we can’t bleach our kids’ feet so they just keep on stinking. Snot mass-produces, bodily functions get more potent and their breath should come with a warning label. They’re constantly rubbing their hands on you, especially if you are wearing any color other than black. For some reason they start licking you. A lot. As many times as you pull off a wardrobe change, wipe noses, wash hands, and brush teeth, kids are still gross (yes, even cute kids).
Dance recitals should have mimosa bars.
I grew up spending many a day at dance recitals since I danced until I was 12 years old. Not that I was a mimosa drinker then (I have SOME class, come on now) but I always thought there should be some kind of draw for the parents at those things. Fast forward – I figure the solution should be mimosas, because don’t mimosas solve most problems? Particularly in the morning when an army of small ballerinas are running amok in a hot and crowded high school gym. This past May we attended our first dance recital as parents and I am confident in saying my pre-mom self was a genius (but sadly, no mimosa bar was present).
I hate highly dislike Barney.
As a child he freaked me out. As a teenager he creeped me out. As a non-mom I wanted to drop-kick him. Presently I’m a bit terrified my kids will actually want to watch the Barney show and I will have to be the evil mom who denies them that. Is it his voice? His purple-ness? His frustratingly catchy sing-a-long-songs? I don’t really know. But I really, really can’t handle Barney.
Moms who judge other moms are bizzare.
I never understood why becoming a mom should mean you get to judge how other moms do their mom-thing. So a mom wants/financially needs to stay home with her kid – more power to her. A mom wants/financially needs to go back to work – awesome. I’m not going to judge because I’m really just figuring this whole parenting thing out as I go. I don’t know what works for your kid, I barely know what works for my kids and some days I’m apparently clueless. As long as you’re not complaining to me about the situation you chose or will not do anything to change, I’m judgment-free and happy to co-exist with you. Don’t judge me because my kids go to day care and I won’t judge you because your kids don’t. My pre-mom self never could figure out the judgmental mom. These days if mom-judging is occurring in my vicinity, I will be the woman swiftly sashaying out of the room or park, fading away from conversation and never inviting the offender to drink wine with me.
Children’s toys are the coolest.
I can’t tell you how often pre-mom me offered to open any one of my niece’s new toys because I wanted to be the first to show them how it worked. Kids have seriously cool stuff! And everything I played with as a kid is now back in style, so Lila’s pretty stoked that I’ll play My Little Pony with her. There’s the Wii, there’s Twister, there’s really cool Lego’s and big soft blocks and glitterly markers and crafts and Nerf guns and puzzles and interactive books…the only problem is I get offended when my kids don’t want to play with me. Jerks.
A screaming child is the uncoolest.
You know the drill – your kid is screaming bloody murder and throwing a grade A fit in the grocery store/library/movie theater/anywhere and you want to crawl into a fetal position and hide somewhere – anywhere – before you have to deal with the non-parents who are looking at you thinking, “Control your child.” Whether you are the parent this is happening to or the childless bystander, it’s uncool. Sometimes parenting is all about leaving things up to a higher power and just taking a big humble leap into the grocery store/storytime hour/latest kids movie in the hopes you’ll all get out of there alive and not be asked to never come back.
Got anything you could add to this list?
Oh and if you want to laugh hard in agreement about a list of things people with no kids really DON’T know, watch this:
Woohoo! Take a congratulatory lap, you’ve survived another Monday! Since it’s too early to drink wine to celebrate (says who?), instead I’m posting some random thoughts. So much randomness in this world, why not highlight a few bullet points?
That crazy earthquake in Napa
If you haven’t yet heard about it, Sunday morning a 6.0 magnitude quake hit Northern California and shook Napa Valley hard – so hard that unofficial reports say the valley could be looking at a $100 million economic loss. That’s a LOT of wine.
There was reportedly a barrel containing $16,000 of pinot noir that crashed to the floor. I’m a bit of a fair-weather pinot noir fan, but re-reading that last sentence makes my stomach hurt.
Check out this Washington Post article for more on the crazy quake that hit at a VERY unfortunate time, as wineries were gearing up for harvest (not that quakes ever hit on an appropriate occasion).
2. Bulu Box, anyone?
I’ve just discovered a little mail service over at Bulubox.com, which mails custom fitness and health goodies to you for $10/month. For those of you familiar with Birchbox or Nature Box, this is the same idea. I’m seriously contemplating signing up because #1 – I love trying new healthy goodies, and #2 – I crave variety in my fitness routine. My only reservation about this? Finding out after committing to a 3-month subscription that it’s loaded with supplements, which I’m not a fan of. I don’t even take a multi-vitamin anymore, let alone rely on any weight loss or fitness enhancing-pills. Has anyone out there tried this yet? Or should I just dive in completely and utterly unwarned?
3. Meal planning – questions and answers
I get a lot of questions from clients about meal planning and how to go about it. Here’s what I know: Sitting down for 10 minutes to plan out the majority of the week’s dinners will seriously save you time every day. I spend about 20 minutes on Sundays making a list of what to have for dinner all week and then writing a grocery list. Then off to the store we go.
I don’t plan every breakfast unless I have some mornings where I don’t have to rush (ha!). Breakfast is usually a green smoothie, oatmeal (overnight oats recipes are HUGE timesavers and scrumptious, more on that soon), or a Greek yogurt and fruit parfait.
Lunches are always leftovers from the night before because we purposefully cook twice as much as we need, unless we didn’t have enough (aka: the Luke monster ate it all) or had the occasional evening out, then it’s something thrown together if I’m at home (cherry tomato and cucumber salad with cottage cheese and avocado toast = happy woman), or a sandwich from Subway or Jimmy John’s if I’m at the studio or running errands. I really try not to spend money on lunch if I don’t have to.
Back to meal planning. I try to use whatever we already have on-hand so that what we buy at the store ends up being mostly fresh veggies. We’re lucky to have some freezer space so we always have lean beef, lamb (yes, this trainer mama eats lean red meat and LIKES it), chicken, some fish (it doesn’t freeze well as long as other proteins), and shrimp. Occasionally we’ll buy tofu to do a stir-fry or lean sausage to mix into pasta.
Here’s my takeaway tip: If you can think about having one protein, one green vegetable (even if only its leaves are green), and one healthy carbohydrate, you can get the job done. I typically give us one or two nights to play with depending on our schedules and I try to be flexible because there are often times where chaos gets more chaotic and dinner becomes totally impromptu.
For example, here’s what our dinners look like this week:
Sunday: Lamb chops, roasted carrots from the farmer’s market, 5-ingredient corn bread (If you’re going to indulge in corn bread make sure to read the ingredients list, many corn breads on the market have hydrogenated oils in them, which is trans fat.)
Monday: Grilled chicken breasts, kale salad (a family favorite – see this post for the recipe!), and quinoa made with chicken broth and garlic
Tuesday: Shrimp sautéed in jalapeno wine (so good!), soba noodles (Love these! Very quick and healthy!), sautéed spinach and roasted bell peppers
Wednesday: Grilled steak salad (with a boat load of chopped veggies) and grilled sweet potatoes
Thursday: Ground beef-stuffed acorn squash with wild rice
Saturday: Family in town, it could be anything, or it could be whatever we pick up from our fellow vendors at the Boise Farmer’s Market earlier that day.
As you can see, there’s nothing special here. Make it simple and as affordable as you need. Frozen veggies are great in a pinch. Some nights just clean out your fridge and have whatever leftovers you need to eat up. If your work week starts on Sunday, meal prep on Saturday or whichever day you have off. It saves a lot of time, headache, and money this way. Trust me!
Over the weekend Von needed to bottle wine and luckily we live just a few blocks from the winery so I laced up my running shoes, the kids hopped in the jogging stroller, and we hit the greenbelt to pay our winemaker a visit. There’s a playground on this route so it’s inevitable my kids beg to stop there on our way home. Thanks to teaching boot camp years ago and trying to help my mom clients find a way to fit in fitness while entertaining their kids, I have a few playground obstacle courses stored away in my noggin’ that make my kids happy and give me my fitness fix. Granted, it can be challenging to duck your way through playground equipment intended for miniature versions of you, but I find it’s a great way to get exercise and make your kids think you’re the coolest mom ever. Plus, it’s kind of the point for it to be challenging.
A couple ideas: Use the stairs for, well, running up and down the stairs. Use a high step for step-ups. Create a course for you and your kids to run through and it may or may not include the slide. Use any elevated surface for pushups, monkey bars for hanging and bringing your knees up toward your chest (core strength!), another step for tricep dips, lay on your back on the ground and place your feet on the bottom of a slide to do bridge-ups, do jumping jacks between exercises/obstacle course rounds, jump rope (you don’t actually need a rope), perform box jumps on and off a step or bottom of the slide…you get it? Check out the above video for some visuals. And in case you’re wondering, I no longer teach boot camp in the mornings. Now that I’m a mom I reserve that hour for arguing with small people and exercising my non-morning-person patience.
I recommend you save this one for a time when the playground isn’t swamped and you can play freely with your kids on the equipment without some judge-y Debbie Downer parent tsk-tsk’ing you for not paying attention to the sign that clearly points out adults are not permitted.
5. Being a winemaker’s wife
I’m sure many wives or husbands of winemakers are much more glamorous than I am. Honestly, I don’t do glamour well anyway. I’m too sweaty half the time and the other half I’m laughing too hard, talking too loud or cleaning the mashed-up banana off my shirt. But I find it suits our business well since much of our time is spent at the farmer’s market talking to people, laughing about the un-believability of jalapeno wine, and sometimes doing all that with our sweet holy terrors in tow.
Last Saturday I headed down to the market to our booth like every other Saturday, where Von was pouring our wines and chatting with everyone and I was so excited to see one of my most favorite friends on this Earth. She spotted me first and immediately cracked up at my ridiculousness – pushing two kids in TWO umbrella strollers (for every good idea I have, there are two bad ones) and trying to look as though I have my wits together. It’s moments like those that I truly appreciate good friends to laugh with me about how un-glamorous our lives can be amidst a bunch of hype about people doing glamorous things.
Sunday after Von bottled what will be our next super fun wine release, he brought home a bottle so I could taste it (and make a margarita out of it, of course). I love being able to taste wines straight from the barrel or just freshly bottled. It’s probably the opposite of glamorous, but in reality I think the most glamorous things happen when they are just left to be what they are.
Honestly, being a winemaker’s wife looks a whole lot like making business decisions after 9 pm, writing proof for labels during naptime, holding a kid in one arm while pouring wine samples with the other and holding the fort down at home while the winemaker does the heavy lifting.
Really it looks a lot like what every other parent on the planet is doing in some aspect or another. It’s completely unglamorous, a whole lot of work, and surprisingly rewarding.
I’ve decided that by the end of this year I’m going to figure out a house cleaning system I can actually stick with.
Are you laughing yet?
If you’re laughing, you’re either on the same mission as me and the mess of your house is making you hysterical, or you’ve given up and you’re wondering why I even care at this point (especially when there’s wine to be drank instead). Or maybe you’re laughing because you’ve figured it all out and your house is spotless and you’re wondering why I’m making it so difficult. “Just clean, Crystal. Just spend a little time each day cleaning.”
My turn to laugh.
You see, I’ve read all the blogs (ok so I’ve read two blogs) with the tips about cleaning a little bit each day so that it all adds up in the long-run and you don’t end up overwhelmed. I get it, I do. It makes complete sense to me and that’s how I’ve been trying to operate since I started caring about my house again, which was right after I stopped breastfeeding because I’d had plenty of time to sit and look at my filthy house while nursing my insatiable son. So I’ve tried that theory and here’s how it breaks down for me on a typical day when I’m not working at the studio or on the winery and I’m home with the kids:
Wake up to picked-up living room and the quiet before the storm, kids wake and eat breakfast. Walk away to get ready and return to formerly cleaned area to find it’s been demolished by 18-month old via yogurt tossing and soggy raisins (all thrown impressively from high chair in kitchen).
*workout/kid’s activities/lunch time/nap time/shower time and a load of laundry later*
Clean a little, walk away, return to said cleaned area and find the entire contents of 3-year-old’s room instead.
*kid’s activities/work phone calls/snack/errands and a load of laundry later*
Do the dishes to make room for more dishes which will need cleaned after dinner. Make dinner, do dishes. Bathe kids, get them ready for bed, put them to bed, prepare client’s workouts/winery to-do list for tomorrow, put toys away in living room, feel minor accomplishment, pass out.
Sooo…I’ve got a handle on dishes and the living room is picked up at night when no one is around to see it. Laundry is on a constant rotation. End of story. So I guess I’m saying I’d like to branch out a little so that when we have company over we don’t have to spend hours power washing the entire house. Is this achievable? Who out there knows the secret to a clean house with toddlers/preschoolers running amok? Or is the secret that you just have to not give a hoot? I’ve tried that way and as it turns out, I give a hoot. No matter, I’d love to know what you’ve come up with.
I have signed up for these emails in the past, back when I only had one child and thought I had a messy house. Ignorance is bliss. I obviously didn’t implement them though…maybe that’s when Luke arrived, who knows. Apparently this woman breaks the daunting task of cleaning down into small, doable steps and simplifies it so that you can stay on top of cleaning, laundry, organizing, and family schedules. I have just signed up and got blasted with 20 emails. That does not make me feel organized, it makes me feel manic. But I’m going to give her method a try.
I like the look and feel of this blog, that’s as far as I’ve gotten. Though one of her posts appealed to me right away – How to Get a Handle on Paper Clutter. Yes, please. With a house as small as mine, two businesses and two kids that make a lot of art, paper clutter is a big ordeal. Within this post she’s got a tip for clearing the kitchen counter which I plan on utilizing this weekend, I promise!
I think I could like this woman, mostly because she’s honest about the fact that she hates to clean, doesn’t have time to clean, but knows she needs to pull her @#$! together and clean. She’s also tried Flylady in the past, so maybe this one’s a winner. I have a lot of reading to do, which is time I should probably spend cleaning, huh?
This simple line from the about page is what sold me: “The goal is to make a home, not a pristine house.” This blog provides short cuts to making and organizing a home you feel good about nurturing your family in. We’ll see about that.
That’s it, that’s all I can handle, and I’m not even sure I can handle all of that. But I’m gonna give it a go. Any takers? Any nay-sayers? Anybody got another way short of hiring Merry Maids? This is gonna take a lot of wine…
There are definitely a few things my kids despise that I can’t blame them for – ear drops (currently dealing with this debacle), me licking my fingers to wipe their face (which I swore I’d never do), a really @#$! hot seat belt buckle, sun block (I never have liked the feeling of the stuff, either), melted ice cream, and flies, among other things. But there are a few things they balk at and I want to pull my older-wiser-trust-me card and tell them how one day they’ll look back and wish they’d taken advantage of the situation.
Before I list off those things, let it be said I completely recognize that children hate these things for developmental reasons and their need for more autonomy and it’s all good for their self-confidence, blah-blah-blah. Let’s just put the child-rearing psychology aside for a moment and have a chuckle.
Feel free to add to this list if you have things your children hate and you not-so secretly wish you could trade places.
1. Time out
Whenever Luke hears “Do you want to go to the corner?” he promptly says “nuh” (no). Once he’s in the corner he cries as though we just told him he’ll never eat again. Pretty standard reaction from a toddler. But as an adult, let’s think about this: You’re telling me I get to go to the corner, by myself, not talk to anyone, and relax, until I feel like I’m ready to come out and engage reasonably with other people? Pfft! Hell yeah I want to go to the corner! Show. Me. The corner!!! I will stay in the corner all DAY if you want me to! Just slip a little food and water my way once in a while and you won’t have a problem with me again.
2. Nap time
This is a given but I couldn’t skip over it. Although instead of my daughter’s favorite stuffed kitty, just toss me a bottle of wine to snuggle up with.
3. Getting their hair washed
My kids actually love bath time, but when it comes to rinsing the shampoo out they each take a deep breath and wave their hands around as though they’re going into the deep end. I pour cups of water over their head and we do this as quickly as possible so that they’ll start breathing as quickly as possible. I’ve tried being more gentle about it but they’re all business when it comes to getting their hair washed. Not me. I can’t wait for that hair appointment every 6-8 weeks so my wonderful hair dresser will massage my scalp while washing my hair. Having my hair washed is heaven. I would gladly let my mom wash my hair for me again if it wasn’t at all weird now that I’m 32.
4. Having their outfit chosen for them
Luke’s still young enough he could care less what he wears, but Lila – my sweet, opinionated, princessy, giggly, short-fused spaz – has a very clear idea of what she wants to wear that day. I just don’t have a frickin’ clue what it is. Obviously, because when she tells me she wants to wear her pink skirt with the sparkles on it and I grab the pink skirt with the sparkles on it and she tells me that’s not the one, that she wants the other pink one (that’s really purple) with the sparkles on it (which it doesn’t actually have) and she melts into tears because I should know better…I want to grab her by her fairy wings and tell her how one day, ONE DAY, she will wake up in the morning, run to the coffee pot, run back to the bathroom to get ready for work and realize all her laundry is in the washer and she has nothing to wear but has to be out the door 5 minutes ago. Then, THEN, she will wish someone had picked out her clothes for her regardless of the pinkness or the invisible sparkles.
5. Being bored
I know I have only begun to tread into “I’m borrrrrred” territory. My kids don’t actually say it yet but I can tell when they’re bored. Luke starts throwing major appliances into the kiddie pool and Lila starts crying because her cup of milk isn’t in the same spot she left it in. The inside of our house has been toilet papered countless times because of boredom. All hell breaks loose and war is imminent. It’s up to Mom or Dad to think of something fast or no one is having a good day and there will be multiple wine bottle casualties. I only wish I could get bored. If I were bored I would get a lot of things done. Or I would catch up on a bunch of shows I started watching while pregnant the first go-around and haven’t laid eyes on since. Or I would just laugh at everyone else running around doing stuff, not being bored. Being bored would be a hoot.
6. Long, social meals enjoyed anywhere but home
We very seldom go out to eat with the kids. Mostly because we don’t want eye daggers, hate mail, or tire slashing from the restaurant staff. Once Luke has finished his meal and there is no more food left within a 5-mile radius he’s over it and tries to haul off anytime we look away. Lila gets restless, starts asking a bunch of weird questions and talking in what can only be described as baby-talk meets rabbit. The dynamics are a train wreck. I would love a good long sit-down meal with friends at a restaurant where we don’t have to cook or clean. Some day we will hopefully have those kind of outings again but in the meantime we’ll keep enjoying our meals at home so I can inevitably get pulled away mid-bite because Luke pooped.
7. Anything on TV not involving princesses, Mickey/Minnie Mouse, PBS cartoons, or sing-a-long music
Our mornings typically go like this: Lila wakes up, snuggles me for 5 seconds, plods into the living room with her slippers on, plops down on the couch and begins her first sentence with “I wanna watch…” You know what I want to watch? Something funny, or R rated, or something with anyone in it besides Elmo and crew. The entire last season of Dexter and definitely more cooking shows so I can drool over whatever America’s Test Kitchen is onto this week. The list is pretty long because we haven’t really watched anything without falling asleep. As it is, Daniel Tiger has actually appeared in my dreams. I’m pretty sure the only on-screen person who used to appear in my dreams pre-kids was Mark Wahlberg.
8. Saving money on the water bill
In child-rearing, everything is just a phase. Well we’re in this phase where our money gets flushed down the toilet. I mean I think it’s super sweet how Luke likes to be in the bathroom with me as I’m getting ready in the morning. He watches me, talks to me, throws my hair brush in the garbage, and flushes the toilet about 80 times because it’s hilarious. Then he proceeds to the hallway bathroom to climb up on his stool, brush his teeth and make sure the sink faucet runs for 15 minutes. The kid is adorable, really he is. And his adorableness is evident every month our water bill comes due. You know how before you had kids “they” always warned you how expensive kids are and you just smiled and agreed because, yes, obviously, that made sense? You had noooo idea, did you?
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