Tag Archives: humor

We win, fake food, we win!

My family headed to the Great Wolf Lodge for an overnight this past weekend to celebrate Braden’s 4th birthday! The windchill outside was -20 degrees, schools were closed, people were advised that even 10 minutes of exposed skin could lead to frostbite. And there we were…. running about in our bathing suits in the tropical waterpark air.  It wasn’t Jamaica, but it wasn’t too shabby. (By the way, this was an online winter deal and cost just over $100 for a one night stay and passes to the waterpark for four- totally worth it!)

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This mini-vacation was so many things at once. A much-needed break from the cold. Essential time away from email, facebook, and all things work-related. A pseudo-outdoor adventure (or as close as we’re gonna get to something-like-the-outdoors when the weather is so cold you can’t actually stand outside for more than 10 minutes.) A chance for our little 1 year old to experience a waterslide for the first time. And a window into our now 4 year old’s soul- where he can’t stop smiling, laughing, and racing for each new ride without hesitation. He is a water-baby through and through.

It was also a reminder that Justin and I are the grown-ups now. We’re not the ones running down the hotel hallways, giggling and yelling (yes, fellow guests, those are my kids waking you up at 7am.) We’re the ones shouting, “That’s far enough!” as our kids run into the pool. And “Stay where I can see you and you can see me!”

One thing Justin and I are learning about is how to balance our responsibility with our desire to have fun. Sometimes it feels like a colossal joke that we are actually the ones in charge. We try to sound authoritative when we talk to our kids. You know, like they should listen to us instead of doing whatever they want when they want.  As in, say, bobbing up and down like a buoy in the middle of a giant wave pool without an adult in sight. We try to remind them that, like, we’re the bosses now. Yes, us. The girl who did bong hits for breakfast in college and the guy who just a few years ago went sledding off a roof on purpose.

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We are very responsible when it comes to our kids safety. (Wear life jackets in the waterpark.) But a little less responsible when it comes to their diet. (2 hot pretzels for lunch? OK.)  In fact, meal planning and getting nutrition into those little bodies is one of our greatest challenges. My family often eats like we’re on an expedition – we’ve found that our kids will usually eat food that packs well. Cashews, portable pouches of mashed fruits and vegetables, Clif Bars, pretzels, cheese curds, summer sausage. I’m never sure if I should be happy because my kids are eating, or feel worried because they won’t touch most vegetables and entrees.  So it was with no small amount of pride that on our last day at the waterpark, we achieved a small (big!) victory on the We’re-Responsible-Parents front.

We had already checked out of our room so we had a change of clothes in a bag with us by the pool. It was almost time to leave and we needed to find a way to keep Braden in one place long enough for him to dry off a bit and get ready to go home. So, of course, I bribed him with food. I said, “Brady, we’re going to sit here at the table and you can have some Froot Loops while mommy changes clothes. Then it will be your turn to change.” (Justin had smuggled a box of Froot Loops out of the breakfast buffet earlier.) And Braden says,

“What is a Froot Loop?”

VICTORY!  VICTORY! VICTORY!  High fives all around.  My children may eat hot dogs for breakfast some days, and very often eat noodles with butter for dinner. They eat peanut butter on a spoon for protein pretty much every single day and regularly ask for Campbell’s canned soup. But, my son has lived for four years in America and does not know what a Froot Loop is. We win, fake food, we win!  And for that matter, we win, obnoxious advertisements, we win. We are responsible enough to shield our kiddos from most junk foods and, even more importantly ads for junk food.

Roof-sledder & Bong-queen: 1
Fake Food: 0

Who would we be without our best teachers?

My mom was recently interviewed for a blog. She has been an educator for many years and I keep insisting that she write a book so that her wealth of knowledge and wisdom can be shared in written form with future generations! Some of her most important work has been teaching graduate students who are seeking teaching certifications. Among other things, she teaches them that being centered and present as a person in the classroom- to be a listening presence- is more important then any content they will teach.

She credits one of her inspirations as Mary Rose O’Reilly who has some fascinating work available. One her quotes is below:

“The ‘secrets’ of good teaching are the same as the secrets of good living:
seeing one’s self without blinking, offering hospitality to the alien other,
having compassion for suffering, speaking truth to power, being present and being real…
I would like to ask what spaces we can create in the classroom
that will allow students freedom to nourish an inner life..”
-Mary Rose O’Reilly

Taking a moment to really honor the wonderful teachers who have softened the tone of our inner dialogue, cleared our walking path, and helped clarify our future goals…that is a moment worth taking.

Here is a post about one of my greatest teachers….Enjoy!

Postpartum Jeans Shopping – Part 2

Continued from Part 1  (yesterday’s post)

Ok- this is embarrassing- but it was ridiculous how attractive I thought I’d look in skinny jeans.  Those skinny jeans models and celebrities look so good in skinny jeans!  When I saw the jeans on the hanger, in my mind I saw those women, wearing their skinny jeans like they do.  In the dressing room, as I was pulling on said skinny jeans, I looked super awesome from the knees down.  I was thinking “Hotblooded, check it and see! These skinny jeans are going to make me look skinny!”  But as I kept pulling, tugging, yanking upward it became evident that my postpartum body is in no mood for skinny jeans.  The tops of my legs looked like water balloons packed neatly into a nylon stocking.  The Foreigner song in my head scratched abruptly off and I got angry.  Skinny jeans? What is this concept anyways?  Only skinny people look good in them. Back to the curvy fit boot cut.  Only two sizes bigger than I was three years ago.

There’s a little culture shock from the blessed body acceptance during pregnancy where no matter how much weight you put on, it’s beautiful.  Endearing.  Sexy. My butt was three times its normal size with my last pregnancy and I regularly heard how beautiful I looked.  Size did not matter.  Being big symbolized and embodied life, renewal, and miracles.  But now, postpartum, I feel a pressure to get skinny fast. (And, by the way, how long can I keep saying that I’m postpartum as an excuse?  I’m 24 months postpartum doesn’t seem acceptable.)

Every time I look in the mirror, I hear my thoughts echoing ridiculous cultural expectations: “I could stand to lose that back fat.  It should only be a few more months before I can wear my old jeans.”  When I hear myself judging, I have to stop myself: “What the hell? Have I learned nothing from the monumental experience of birthing a child?  Am I really going back to the mindset I learned in adolescence that women need to be thin like Barbie?  Bah.”  That mindset did some major damage to me, not to mention the millions of other girls who struggle with body image.

Today I will pull on my yoga pants and t-shirt and wear them proudly.  I have two gorgeous kids and an amazing husband who thinks I’m beautiful.  I’m a great mom. I’m gorgeous. (We all need to say this to ourselves.) Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Muffin top- gorgeous! Cellulite- gorgeous! Big ass- gorgeous! Double chin-gorgeous! If I am overweight 48 months postpartum, guess what I will be: GORGEOUS!

It is so important for me to love this body of mine: my soul’s only home for this lovely life I have.   It’s been said before, because it’s true: we must teach our kids to know that women love and respect their own bodies.  Because as my boys see me respecting my body as it changes, they will grow and become short, tall, big, or small- and hopefully see they must love and respect their own.

Postpartum Jeans Shopping – Part 1

Looking fierce in skinny jeans.

Looking fierce in skinny jeans. Photo by Edward Liu.

My everyday clothing for the past six months has been exceptionally casual due to my expanding and contracting waistline, the general business of having a newborn, and the lack of time I have to spend on my appearance.  I mean, I care about how I look but not enough to be uncomfortable in any way.  I’m really one step away from pajamas most days.  So those of you in need of style guidelines from a woman six months postpartum of her 2nd child, here they are.

1. If my jeans are roomy enough that I can’t feel my muffin top with every move and flexible enough that I can pull them over my hips without unbuttoning them, these are jeans that are a “good fit.”

2. If said jeans are on and my maternity t-shirt does not have poop, urine, spitup or breast milk stains, this is called an “outfit.”

3. If I have not only shampooed but also conditioned my hair, this is called “primped.”

4. If my nursing bra does not smell like breast milk, this is called “lingerie” and is appropriate for a date night out.

I went shopping at Macy’s recently for jeans, as my pre-pregnancy jeans are too small and no longer fit me, and my maternity jeans are too big.  The experience was sobering.  It seems there’s a difference between checking myself out in a mirror from the waist up after putting on an “outfit” as I’m running to catch a screaming toddler and actually being alone, viewing myself in a full-length mirror in a well-lit dressing room.   Even though my maternity belly is no longer there, the rest of my body still looks pregnant.

I also found that my understanding of my own body was in a time warp.  I had selected some roomy looking size 10’s and some slimmer 12’s thinking, “These are cuuuute.  These will look great.”  Not so.  My mind had been fondly remembering the pre-baby butt, the pre-stretched belly.  It became crystal clear that my brain had some catching up to do.  Reality check: those 14’s are the only ones you will be able to pull over your widened hips.

Will she buy the 14’s? Will she run screaming from the dressing room? Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow….

Squishy Chair Etiquette

I would like to talk for one moment about squishy chair etiquette. By squishy chairs, I am speaking specifically about those soft comfy chairs found in coffeeshops and libraries. They are usually set apart from the four-top tables, and are sometimes set up in groupings like a friendly family room.  Like you could be sitting in your pajamas or boxers and it would be just fine, because you’re in the squishy chairs. You know what I’m talking about.

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I love the squishy chairs. When I’m going someplace to write, as soon as I walk in the door, I scan for them. Is there one empty? Good, it’s mine.

According to the book of etiquette that I have written in my mind, if all the squishy chairs are empty, you have a right to sit in any one you choose. But if there is one squishy chair occupied, you have a right to sit anywhere except directly next to the person who is already sitting in the said chair.

Let me give you a real-life example. I walk into my second favorite library the other day to do some writing. I’m excited because I am by myself! I have an hour or maybe even two to be in my own space and write! No one is crying or smashing toys together or eating day-old cheerios off the floor! Obviously not your typical Thursday evening for me.

I find the quiet reading room where there are: two work tables and chairs on one end of the room, and a fireplace and eight squishy chairs on the other end. The squishy chairs are lined up against two adjoined walls, so they form an “L” and all of them face the fireplace.  In other words, no seat is worse than any other- they all face the fireplace, they all have a view of the door- not a bad seat in the house.

When I first walk in, I have the place to myself and I choose the chair furthest from the door, in the far corner of the room. So there is one chair directly next to me and six chairs on the adjoining wall. I am blissfully writing when I glance up to see a very nice looking lady walk into the room. I immediately look back down to my screen to let her know I’m all business, no chitter-chatter to be found here. She pauses for a second and walks past the two tables and six empty chairs and sits down right next to me.

To me, this was the approximate equivalent of sitting in my lap. This kind of squishy chair intimacy was totally uncalled for. The appropriate social distance would have been to sit with at least one chair in between us, if not more. But the line had been breached and now I was listening to her breathe and turn pages from a distance of not more than 24 inches. My bliss bubble popped and I powered through my work and headed out.

If this were an isolated incident, I probably wouldn’t be writing this post, but I tell you, I have some concern because the exact same thing happened again today, just now, in fact. I was sitting on a squishy chair in a coffeeshop, this time we were dealing with a rectangle formation- two chairs on one side, one on the other, one on each end and a coffeetable in the middle. I’m again blissfully writing, when all of a sudden a sweaty yoga guy comes and sits directly next to me. Three other empty chairs not next to me and he picks the one where I can reach out and touch him…Too close, my friend, too close!

Is this a direct result of social media? Are we so far away from each other metaphorically that now we have to sit in a stranger’s airspace like we’re on an airplane in order to feel connected? I’m disturbed. Because the etiquette book in my head distinctly states that there really isn’t an appropriate response to this behavior other than staying put. Getting up to move into a different chair as soon as someone sits down next to you is rude.  As is saying something like, “I’m saving this seat for Daniel Craig.” Plus, what if you get up and move one chair over and they get up and move next to you again, following? That’s just awkward.

I must ask, is this a normal trend? Is your etiquette book different than mine? Am I just so attractive that people can’t keep away from my airspace? I’m looking for answers, people! I await your responses.

Camping Success!!

In June, my family set out for our first camping experiment as a family of four.  We went to PJ Hoffmaster, or HR Pufnstuf as I liked to call it, a campground on the Lake Michigan shoreline of southwestern Michigan.  The campground looked significantly thinned out since our last visit just two years ago, due to the removal of trees that had been affected with oak wilt, emerald ash borer, Asian longhorn beetle, and beech bark disease.*  Though even with the removals, PJ Hoffmaster had retained its overall beauty and family friendly atmosphere.

It’s kind of an ideal campground.  Beauty, smiling faces, roomy sites, a beach within walking distance, and (let’s get down to brass tacks) clean hot showers and fully functioning flush toilets.  It was a great place to try out our massive virgin REI six person tent.

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The campsites are a short walk to the Lake Michigan shoreline on a path through a forest of beech, maple, and pine trees stretching skyward. The removal of those threatened trees on our site resulted in it being a bit more exposed than we would have liked.  That is, if you like shade on 90 degree days.  Here is a picture of the lone shade tree on our site.  (Just ignore the other tree you see in the background…that is the forest a ways off- and the shade did not reach our site.)

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At least once a day, we made our way to the beach by walking the ¼ mile path through the woods.  Pushing my kids in the double stroller is a cinch on most surfaces, but on sand things can get tricky.  Even with our moderately deluxe (the best that money can buy at Target) off-road stroller, when the gravel path started becoming less like gravel and more like beach, the wheels stopped moving.  Now pushing the stroller became more like pushing a 90 pound rock through sand.  I had to lean comically hard into it- my body at a 45 degree angle in order to get it to budge.  I used my brute strength.  My husband encouraged me. “Put your legs into it.”  Because the alternative was carrying at least one child, the beach shelter, and the three bags of beach paraphernalia up a hill, down the dunes and to the beach.

What we really needed was a sled with all our stuff on it and some dogs to pull it. My once a week tennis game was not enough training to carry me through the physical challenge of getting our children and our stuff to the beach.  We abandoned the stroller (after taking the children out, don’t worry) along with the other strollers and bikes on the side of the path.

Our three year old could walk the remaining 1/8 mile.  Though it would take an hour to walk it because once the forest gave way completely to sky-high sand dunes, he would want to run up and down them twenty times. Especially the one with the big dead log with all the pointy deadly sticks jutting out of it.   He also took off his shoes at the very top of the 50 foot dune and left them there (“You can get them, Mommy.”)

Our eight month old would have to be carried, though.  He is a big boy- 25 lbs at his six month check up.  While being carried, he doesn’t hold on or offer any assistance with his legs or arms.  They just dangle no matter how many times you try and encourage him to wrap them around you.  Justin says that carrying him is like carrying 25 pounds of water in a loose bag.  It’s just not a tight operation and makes carrying anything else, in addition to him, more than cumbersome.

Lake Michigan was gorgeous – just clean and sort of a bluish-green that day.  Looking across the water, we got to see one of my favorite sights: the absence of land on the horizon.  This was the camping beach, so it wasn’t too crowded.  Just mostly families scattered around near the shoreline and around a little inlet or pond of water that had formed just in front of the lake.

Our kids are easily identified on any beach because they are the ones wearing the most clothing.  My three year old has no fear of water and is therefore required to wear a life jacket at all times.  My eight month has a hat with a brim the size of a basketball hoop.

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Swimming was totally refreshing and quite perfect, actually.  When it was time to go back to the campsite, the sun was starting to set.  It took us what seemed like hours to get back to our stroller but once we made it there, we could strap both kids in and walk leisurely back to our site, have a little grub, and get ready for bed.

I’m not gonna lie, some chaos ensued in trying to get the kids dressed and ready for bed.  But, honestly, that’s not unusual even when we’re not camping.  We stayed two nights at PJ Hoffmaster.  First-time family of four camping……Success!!

*Recently, the emerald ash borer was found in Mirror Lake State Park which basically means it will be coming to Madison too.  We will be saying goodbye to all of our ash trees just like every other area that has been infected with these critters.

Top 10 Signs That I am Now Old-ish

 

In no particular order.

  • I talk like Ned Flanders. I’m not sure if this is a symptom of parenthood or of growing older.  What I do know is that if my 20 year old self could hear my now 39 year old self, there would be mocking.   Most of the time, my speech now is G-rated, predictable, and probably a little annoying- like a movie with talking animals. I say things like (and I’m totally not kidding here): “Skoodle-dee-doo!” (translation: hurry up) and “Hey there, mister, is that a sad face?”  and “Now it’s time for lunch-erino!” What has happened to me?

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