Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mommy and Me--Take 3

Take One

Back in November, I enrolled Emily in a Mommy and Me dance class. The first few classes went fairly smoothly (if you don't count that one wardrobe malfunction). With the tuition paid, recital costume ordered, and tutu positioning corrected, we were off.

Or, so I thought.

That's when something happened around class number 3 or 4, and Emily decided instead of dancing, she would rather cling to me and scream--loudly.

At home, she continued to dance and be happy. Each week I would mentally pump myself up, hoping that week would be different.

Each week grew more painful. A few times we left early because I couldn't take it anymore (and I don't think anyone else in the class wanted to take it anymore either).

We didn't go a couple of times.

I sent Marty in my place. He left after 8 minutes.

Was our 18 month old destined to be a dance class drop-out?

Take Two

After talking to other parents, including the dance studio's owner, we decided to take her back after Christmas for another try--with a twist.

This time around, Marty would take her. We agreed my nerves weren't ready to take it again it would be good bonding time for them.

And, wouldn't you know it? She was a dancing machine for her daddy!

Was it timing? maturity? Daddy's influence? a weird alignment of the stars?

It's a mystery to me.

Take Three

Since things are going so well, you might be wondering why there's a Take Three here. After all, why mess with a system that's working?

Well, tonight we had our first hockey-dance scheduling conflict. Marty had a hockey game, which left me to decide between skipping dance or taking Emily myself.

Believe me, I wanted to skip.

Emily has picked up this new phrase, "No! Go away!" (I am blaming this new phrase on daycare since I have no idea where she's heard it). I could imagine her telling me to "GO AWAY" in the middle of dance as the other mothers looked on in horror.

Visions of those awful classes full of screaming and clinging danced in my head.

If I can be completely candid, thoughts of inferiority waltzed in my head, too.

For the last month or so, Emily has been all about DADDY. One night at story time, she took the book from my hand, gave it to Marty, and said, "No. Daddy do it." I get teary-eyed just remembering it.

After a few rebuffs, I even researched why toddlers might prefer one parent over another. (Yes, I researched it).

Apparently, it's pretty common. And temporary.

And painful.

One of the suggestions, which I had already been trying, was to carve out more time just for the child and the parent who is currently out of favor.

Taking her to dance seemed like as good of an opportunity as any I might have.

The stakes were high.

Would Mommy trip and fall or glide gracefully through?

My Mommy pride (and heart) were on the line.

As we pulled in to the dance studio parking lot, Emily said, "Mommy. I wanna dance!"

And, dance she did.

Well, she ran around and spent a good amount of time in front of the mirror laughing and smiling at herself. But she didn't cry, cling, or scream. She didn't ask for Daddy either.

She even did her curtsy at the end and held my hand as we walked out.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Quitting, Starting Over, and Winning

Whenever I don't blog for several days, I always feel like I have to offer a reason.

Here it is:

Life--in all its messy, beautiful glory.

We've been busy with all kinds of spring fun--bunnies, ducks, parks, flowers. We even worked in a spur-of-the-moment beach trip this past weekend, complete with fresh seafood and sleeping in.

There have been other less fun things, too. We are battling yet another round of ear infections, and yes, the doctor finally mentioned the dreaded "tubes." All the while, I feel the dark cloud of anxiety that I have been battling for the last year slowly creeping back in. In the middle of it all, we have just kept moving.

Notice I said moving. Not jogging.

That's right. I quit my Couch to 5K training plan. One snap of cold weather and I was finished. I don't like the cold, and I certainly don't like running in it.


I have kept moving.

I have started over with a new, more sustainable plan. I have started walking with the babies most afternoons for at least 30 minutes. Pushing the big double jogging stroller has to add some additional aerobic benefit.

I may not run the 5K in April, but I will walk it while pushing almost 60 pounds of baby and metal.

I will walk it honor all of the women and their families who keep moving.

We have a winner!

The winner of the Cole and the Crooked Flower book giveaway is Erin of Two Possums and a Bug!

Erin has been busy spreading kindness all around, and it makes me happy to be able to send a little something back her way. If I know Erin, she'll find a way to share this book, if not with her own three, sweet kiddos, then with some other very special children.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Kid Wisdom

We were out running errands one night last week. While Marty went to the sporting goods store with Drew, I took Emily and hoped to get in a few quick minutes of shopping at Marshalls. Marty needed a hockey stick, so obviously I needed a new shirt. Time was ticking. If Marty made it out before I was finished, well—that was just one conversation I didn’t need to have.

I was lost in fabric and in my thoughts. I found a nice rack of colorful cardigans.


Spring colors.

My size.


That’s when Emily reached out, grabbed the sweater, and yanked it from my hands.

“Emily. Really? Please…”

As I contemplated whether this sweater wass worth the wrestling match that could ensue as I tried to take the sweater back before she stretched it two sizes, Emily looked up at me, holding the sweater in her little hands and said, “Ma-Me—pretty.”

Thank you, Emily, for reminding Mommy to enjoy the “pretty.”

Marty usually does daycare drop-off, and I do pick-up.

I prefer pick-up for several reasons (mainly because it makes feel like a heroine).

The only downside to pick- up is that it happens at the end of the day when I am tired and usually coming off at least an hour drive home.

Until recently, though, pick-up was still relatively easy. That was until Drew decided to become a runner.

Last week as we were leaving, he did a sprint down the hall while Emily and I huffed and puffed to keep up. Once in the fellowship hall, which is on the way to the car, he ran in and out among the tables, laughing, daring me to put Emily down and chase him.

I indulged him for a couple of minutes. (He is so darn cute).

Then I tried all the tricks—like asking him to help me find the car, asking him if he can hear the dog outside, and telling him I am leaving as I open the door and pretend to walk out.

No go.

Instead, he turned around and ran back into the daycare part of the church.

"Drew. Really? Please…”

As I contemplated leaving him there until the next day when I had more energy to deal with him, I scooped Emily up and ran after him.

He turned the corner before I could catch him. Gone--

I found him standing in front of the director’s office, smiling and waving “bye-bye” to the ladies.

Once they returned his sweet bye-bye, he turned and followed me to the car.

Thank you, Drew, for reminding me to slow down and make time for the simple gestures of kindness.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dear Drew

Dear Drew,

Today you are 21 months old.

In honor of this very special day, your daddy and I have compiled a list of 21 unique things about you that we love.

While each of these items might seem small to you when you are, say, 21 years old, please remember that, once, each of these things was very big, very important, very special. From numbers 1 to 21, each brought us joy beyond measure.

1. You loved all the toys you got for Christmas, especially the trucks.

2. You love riding on Papa’s “gah-cah “ or golf cart (or your four wheeler or your school bus or…well, anything!)

3. You always say “ta-tu” while also doing the sign for THANK YOU.

4. You love books. You will sit in the recliner and read all by yourself.

5. When replying “yes,” you often use the sweetest little “mmmhmmm.”

6. You can throw a pretty good tantrum when you don’t get your way.

7. When I pick you up at daycare, I often have to wait until you put away all your toys because you won’t leave until everything in its place.

8. You love trains and will make the “choo choo" sound whenever a train is even mentioned.

9. I am “ma-ma.”

10. Since Christmas, you only want to drink out of big people cups.

11. You love “Em-ma.”

12. And bananas and food at daycare.

13. You do this funny thing with your eyes where you will look down and then cut
your eyes up.

14. When we pull into the garage at the end of the day, you say “beep! Beep!” which is my sign to beep the horn for Daddy.

15. You make the softest “meow” when I ask you what the cat says.

16. During bath time, you dump water on Emily’s head.

17. If I ask you if you’ve pooped, you will wave your hand in front of your nose.

18. You picked out your Daddy’s new hockey stick, carried it around, and started whacking stuff with it.

19. You’ve started telling people to “sit!”

20. You love Elmo, which is odd since you have never watched Sesame Street.

21. The owl says “who who who who.”

Love, Mommy and Daddy

Dear Emily

Dear Emily,

Today you are 21 months old.

I can imagine you much older, like 21 years old, looking back on this list, scrunching your nose, and groaning, “Mom! Really. Did you have to mention poo?” Oh, yes, dear Emily. We loved it all—poo included.

When you feel exasperated by my sentimentality in all of your young adult wisdom, please forgive your old mom, and just remember, she did it all—every minute of every day—out of love for her sweet Emily.

1. You love to sing, especially in the car, and will sing whole songs even though we aren’t sure what the words are.

2. You have intense conversations, full of inflection, that sound like you are speaking in complete sentences even though we aren’t sure what the words are.

3. We have this routine when I pick you up from school where I always read your daily report aloud and clap at the end. Today, your daddy picked you up and you handed him the form and said “READ!”

4. We also practice our ABC’s and numbers in the car. You love to repeat every letter and number after me and you always clap when we get to 10.

5. You love jewelry. You already have your own bracelet and necklace.

6. You love your brother, "DOOO."

7. When you go to get your coat, you get his. When you go to get your computer, you get his.

8. But, you’ve also learned the word “Mine!”

9. And, sometimes you like to show your love by taking care of him, like when you chased him down to wipe his nose.

10. Your “Mommy and Me” dance class has become your “Daddy and Me” class since you seem to behave better when your Daddy takes you.

11. You’ve even learned to curtsy.

12. Daddy is often the preferred parent. Mommy is working on developing a
thicker skin.

13. You love “cook-ies.” You had your first cookie on New Year’s Eve and you haven’t missed an opportunity to ask for one yet!

14. You do this cute thing where you scrunch your nose. I think you got that from me although it looks much cuter on you.

15. Your teachers at school love you.

16. You recently started saying “I pee,” which really means, “I pooed.”

17. When you and Drew hug, you will put your head to his and say, “ahhh.”

18. You love you “pud-zuls” or puzzles and make quick work of all of your “For
ages 2+” puzzles.

19. You have started imaginary play, saying “I cook” and sipping your “food” from the spoon before bringing us some to sample.

20. You have learned to say “again.” So now, it’s “More. Again. Please!”

21. You love “wah-ter” and you have really enjoyed using our new water cooler, filling your little plastic cups—over and over and over again. We have “wah-ter,” "wah-ter" everywhere!

Mommy and Daddy

Another perspective on solitude

Before you groan over the fact that it's Monday AND we lost an hour this weekend, take a deep breath and relax. MaMe Musings has just what you need this Monday morning to help you get the week moving in the right direction. (Actually, I don't, but my guest blogger today does!)

Please join me in welcoming Courtney of Baxtron{Life}! Courtney is here today sharing her thoughts on solitude. In typical Courtney fashion, her piece is full of wisdom, power, and beauty--all things we can use, especially on a Monday. Be inspired and then hop over to Baxtron{Life} for more!


Why is does it seem so elusive for us mothers?

Perhaps, we make it more complicated than it has to be.

What exactly does solitude require of us?




My first reaction to the possibility of finding time alone.

[Insert list of reasons why here.]


What can we possibly give if we are not taking the time to be refreshed?



How can I give myself ten minutes of quiet each day?

If I start with five minutes is that okay?


I will not feel guilty for taking this time out for me.


My mind is finally free to be me.

Oh hello lovely thoughts, restful sighs and tensions eased.


Is this vacation for my soul?


A content, rested mother (& wife) is one highly praised.

Today, take those five minutes…or even ten.

Set down your burdens.



Courtney is a wife and mother who cannot thrive without daily moments of solitude.  You can visit her blog: Baxtron{Life} to connect with her more.

MaMe Musings

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Squishy Bags!

Last night we added another Friday Family Fun Night to the books, and I am starting to think we may have ourselves a new tradition in the making.

I found this week's activity on a great blog called Quirky Momma.

I know. I know. You were totally expecting me to say it was another Pinterest find-- not this week-- although I fully expect to be pinning lots of new ideas from this blog in the very near future!

The babies had so much fun with the sensory box a few weeks ago that I decided to look for a similar (but less messy) activity. Quirky Momma has LOTS of ideas!

I finally decided on Squishy Colors.

We had most of what we needed. Back in the early 90's I probably would have had the hair gel-- you know for scrunching my perm. Twenty years later, we had to make a trip to Target to pick up an extra large bottle of clear hair gel. Can you believe you can get a bottle that big for only $1.89?? At that price, it's a wonder more people don't use it!

While we gather the supplies, my little Wolfpacker waits patiently!

We mixed 4 different colors by adding food coloring to the hair gel.

I then added the colored hair gel to Ziploc bags.

The hardest part was keeping the babies from squishing the bags until all the gel was in place!

Let the squishing begin!

Overall, I would say this family night fun activity was a success (even though they only played with the bags for about 5 minutes before moving on). I put the bags away and planned to take them back out for more play later.

After putting the babies to bed, I settled down for a little blog reading. (I've been really behind with blogging due to a crazy work schedule and my renewed commitment to limit my online time when the babies are awake.)

Turns out, we're not the only ones engaging in a little squishy bag fun. Ashleigh over at Happiness Is had just posted about making squishy bags with her adorable twins. I loved how she had taped the bags to the windows making them suncatchers, too! Inspired, I pulled the bags back out this morning, taped them to the window, and watched last night's craft become new again!

Linking up with Mama Loves...hop on over and be inspired!
Manic Mother

Don't forget to leave a comment to enter into my giveaway of Cole and the Crooked Flower!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Fun

Yay! It's Friday!

As if that fact alone isn't awesome enough, this Friday has been extra awesome for several reasons. First, work for today included a very informative technology conference. In addition to learning about various tech tools I can incorporate into my job, I also learned about some tools that have some great mommy blogging applications. (I can't wait to share them with you!) Then, my NC State Wolfpack beat Virginia in the ACC Tournament! We celebrated by picking up the babies, getting a little Coldstone ice cream, spending a little cash at Target, and heading home for Family Fun Night. Tonight's activities included making squishy bags and dancing to LMFAO. Pictures of squishy bags (not dancing) to follow.

Just when I thought the day couldn't get any better, I discovered I had been tagged--and I didn't even have to run!

Tasha from One Day at a Time tagged me in a game called Pass It on.

This is how it works:

1. Answer questions asked of me by the blogger who tagged me.
2. Create a list of questions and tag a few fellow bloggers, hoping they want to play the game too...thus...
3. Passing it on.

Here are the questions from Tasha along with my answers:

1. What time do you wake up in the morning?
By 6:00. I am continually amazed that we manage to get it together morning after morning. It helps that I can get ready in less than 20 minutes. I am also lucky that usually Marty plays an active role in morning duty including daycare drop-off.

2. Favorite season? And why?
Summer--hands down. I love warm weather, flip flops, the beach!

3. Lamp lighting or overhead lights?
Most of the time, it's overhead lighting. I love lamp light, though--everything looks better and more relaxed by lamp.

4. When is the last time you wrote a letter/card and actually mailed it?
Last week. I sent a couple of get-well cards to some dear friends.

5. Last theater movie?
Act of Valor. I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. I left feeling a renewed sense of gratitude for our military.

OK now it is time for me to "pass it on" and tag someone else!!! Tasha cheated on this part, and so am I...

I am tagging all of my readers. Want to play? Answer the questions, *write your own, and PASS IT ON! If you decide to play, let me know so I can check out your answers!

1. If you could change one thing about your typical day, what would it be?

2. If you could go back to high school and relive one event as you wish it would have happened, what would it be?

3. If the US had to sacrifice one state, which one would you give away?

4. If you could have any view in the world visible from your bed, what would it be?

5. If you could have a lifetime 50% discount at any single store in your local mall, which one would it be?

*Or borrow some like I did. My 5 questions came from this neat book called If2.

Don't forget to enter my Cole and the Crooked Flower giveaway. Then head over to Tasha's and enter for another chance to win. Help us spread the word about Progressive Infantile Scoliosis!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Causes Close to My Heart

As many of you may remember, last April, Drew was diagnosed with idiopathic infantile scoliosis.

Full of fear and worry, I began looking for any information I could find. One of the first organizations I found was the Infantile Scoliosis Outreach Program.

Through this organization, I found Tasha, a mom to twin boys, one of whom has progressive infantile scoliosis. We initially connected through her blog, One Day at a Time, and over the past year, she has not only supported me through Drew's scoliosis journey, she has become one of my dear bloggy friends.

She is currently giving away a wonderful book that was written by a mom whose son also has infantile scoliosis. Cole and the Crooked Flower is the tale of a little boy who finds a crooked flower in his garden. After many attempts and finally a little help, his flower becomes the tallest and straightest in the garden.

As Tasha writes, "Scoliosis is the curvature and rotation of the spine. Progressive Infantile Scoliosis is a rare form of scoliosis affecting approximately 1 in 10,000 children from birth to age 3 years. Unlike the more commonly known form of adolescent scoliosis, infantile scoliosis is a very serious condition that requires immediate treatment. Children under 3 still have lots of growing to do, and without treatment their spines will continue to curve and rotate as they grow. This unfortunately can result in rapid progression of the condition potentially leading to physical deformity, discomfort, respiratory and heart problems. The good news is that in the majority of cases this rapid growth can also be the CURE."

All proceeds from the sale of Cole and the Crooked Flower go to Infantile Scoliosis Outreach Program.

Not only does the sale of this book help raise funds, each copy also helps raise awareness--not only for early diagnosis but also early treatment.

Please join me in supporting this important cause. It's simple:

1. Visit Tasha's blog and enter her giveaway. The book would make a perfect addition to your child's library or a generous donation to your local children's hospital or pediatrician's office!

2. Leave a comment here and I will enter you in my very own giveaway of a copy of Cole and the Crooked Flower. Now you have two chances to win a copy!

3. Purchase your book directly here.

In case you are wondering how Drew is doing, we are very fortunate that each visit to the pediatric orthopedist has shown an improvement in his curve. His scoliosis does not appear to be progressive. As long as his curve continues to improve as he grows, no treatment will be necessary. While we are happy for Drew's positive prognosis, our hearts are still with all of the families who are living with progressive infantile scoliosis.

Did you know that today is World Kidney Day?

Neither did I.

Thanks to another terrific twin mommy, Erin at Two Possums and a Bug, I didn't miss it entirely.

Both Erin and I have personal stories of why kidneys are particularly important to our life stories. I'll let you visit Erin's blog to learn her story since she is much better with words than me. (Plus, you don't want to miss her Kindness Project--really).

For me, thanks to a precious, donated kidney, I still have my daddy. In 1999, two years after starting dialysis, my daddy received a living donor kidney transplant from his sister.
Daddy, me, and Mama on my wedding day

Love beyond words.

Papa and Drew

Are you a registered organ donor? Want more information? Please join me in supporting this important cause. It's simple:

1. Visit DonateLife and register to be a donor.

2. Share your decision with your family.

3. Hug your loved ones.

MaMe Musings

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Real Superheroes

Tomorrow is Superhero Day at daycare. Our two will be representing the real superheroes!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Drew's First Haircut

After much deliberation and even a period of public input, we decided to get Drew's hair cut for the very first time on Saturday.

I scheduled the appointment for 9:00 am when I knew both babies would be well-fed and well-rested.

We enjoyed a nice, leisurely family breakfast at Panera and arrived at the salon 10 minutes early. I include these details because I think the relaxed pace and extra time helped contribute to the ease of the entire trip. Usually, we are running around, running 10 minutes late, and looking for some item we need but didn't pack. Not on Saturday. Thank goodness!

Drew picked out his seat...

The salon had TVs for each chair where kids could watch their favorite video while getting their haircut. Drew didn't seem the least bit interested.

The only time Drew acted like he even knew something was going on was when she wet his hair with the water bottle. The look of confusion on his face was priceless.

He listened so well during the entire haircut. He wouldn't sit down, though. Any time the stylist was cutting, he was standing. She would stop snipping and he would sit down.

The whole process took less than ten minutes, and in that short span of time, my little baby Drew grew up right before my very (tear-filled) eyes.

A little off the top, a lot off the back, and trimmed around the ears...

Drew and Mommy...

Another keepsake for our memory box...

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Image Credit
"Service...Giving what you don't have to give. Giving when you don't need to give. Giving because you want to give." -Damien Hess

When I started 12 in 2012, my goal was to post a new value on the first day of every month. Here it is, March 4, not but three months into the project and I am just now posting this month’s value. (Good thing I never said punctuality was a core value of mine, right?)

Ironically, part of the reason I am just now posting this month’s value, service, is that I have been, well, serving.

Week before last, a colleague asked me to help her out by taking on a huge presentation. Usually, this request would be no big deal. In my job, I often facilitate large professional development sessions for teachers. There were a couple of unique challenges with this request, though. The time frame was practically impossible—the presentation was scheduled for a week from the day she called me. I had regular job responsibilities that left me absolutely no open days to plan. Then, there the content. I’d never presented on this topic before. I would be starting from scratch. Finally, when I read the feedback from teachers, it was obvious they expected a top quality show.

I said yes.

It was a tough week as I struggled to get the presentation together, keep up with my regular school visits, and be a mommy to two very active toddlers.
Friday came quickly, and ultimately, the presentation went better than I thought it would. It wasn’t my best presentation, by any means. But I had given it my best effort, and I hope my sincerity and transparency made up for the lack of polish.

What I love about my job, what I love about service, is that I find I always get much more than I give. Sure, I left work on Friday tired, but I also left feeling renewed.

I can only I hope the teachers who were involved learned as much as I did.
Throughout March, I plan to be more intentional about service—not just in my work life but in other areas as well. Specifically, I want to be more intentionally about serving others through love and kindness.

I must confess that I’ve been inspired by Erin, a fellow June 2010 mommy, who has been quietly changing the world with her Project Kindness. For the past two weeks, she’s been serving others through random acts of kindness, and in the process, inspiring others to find ways to pay it forward.

As I’ve read her beautiful reflections, I have been struck by the realization that the act of extending kindness to another, without expectation of reciprocation and without feelings of superiority, is the essence of service.

Service comes from a place of love, of believing that we are all worthy of love.

And, while we can transform the world through service, we also transform ourselves in the process.


I know I usually list some tangible goals I hope to accomplish during the month’s focus. I am intentionally skipping the list this month. I have no idea where this idea of performing random acts of kindness, I mean, service, is going to take me.

I am sure Erin will give me some good ideas. I’ve found 100 more ways here.

Something tells me when I open my eyes and start to focus on ways to serve, the opportunities will be all around me.


MaMe Musings

Friday, March 2, 2012

Solitude & Service

Reflecting on February

Even with an extra day this month, I still didn't accomplish much in the way of focusing on solitude.

I started the month with a family vacation, and when I say family, I mean not just MaMe, but MaMe plus grandparents, my sister, nephew. In total, we had 11 people in our group. We felt very blessed that so many people could agree to go on vacation with us on such short notice, and I wouldn't take anything for the memories we made (or for the help they were able to provide in watching the babies while we were away). That said, I think you can understand how the whole experience wasn't conducive to solitude.

The closest I came to being alone the whole trip was when I was in the shower. Oh, there was that one day on the cruise when my mom kept the babies for an hour so Marty and I could finally go to pool and have a fruity umbrella drink (without a kid pulling on my leg wanting a sip).Once home, it was tough getting back into our daily routine. First, Marty and I were sick. Then, the babies were sick.

One thing I learned is that it is tough for me to focus on a value when it seems the only one benefiting is me or when there isn't a tangible outcome for my efforts. Focusing on organization was easy. It was easy to say the time invested was worth it because I had a clean closet, an organized pantry, and a labeled craft area to show for it. Why can't I prioritize a clear mind in the same way?

The month wasn't a totally wash, though. I was able to begin a few things from my list:

• Changing my wake-up time to have more “me” time (which has resulted in a corresponding increase in my coffee intake).
• Cutting back on my social media time (sorry if this has meant I visited your blog less).
• Starting my 5K training (3 times in a week is a good start, right?).

As a family, we have also started something that is too new to call a tradition, but I like it, and it's a version of solitude.

Usually on Fridays, we are busy--going to hockey games, shopping, eating out, visiting family, running errands. For the past two Fridays, we have stayed in and had a family fun night. We've had meals the babies could help make (homemade pizzas and tacos) and then activities we can do with them (sensory boxes and finger painting). Granted, I am not alone, but it's pretty close when I can say I am alone with just my husband and my babies. And we're focused on only each other. I can't think of a better way to end the week.

Looking Ahead to March

This month's core value is service.

On Sunday, I'll be sharing my thoughts on service and some concrete ways I plan to make service my my focus for March.

MaMe Musings

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