Let it Go: The Authorized True Story of How One Toddler Became a Disney Princess/Pop Star

Kids are like little mirrors. Parents can look at them and see exactly how they’ve acted, good or bad. This is super alarming and has made me spend a significant amount of time questioning my dance moves.

My mom’s family has the musical gene and only a small portion came my way. I was in band in high school and can play the piano, but that’s about the extent of it. I’m not totally tone-deaf, but I’m not about to karaoke anytime soon.

Like many little girls her age, Caroline is OBSESSED with Frozen and the hit song, Let it Go. I dig it too, so I get it. But this weekend a trip to Grandma’s meant listening to the song on repeat. Luckily for us, it also meant that we got to witness this performance multiple times:

If we’re looking at my mirror theory here, I have to assume that at some point my child saw me sing with my eyes closed with my fist in the air (has she seen the photos from our wedding reception?) I couldn’t really put this together because mostly we just sing I’m a Little Teapot in the bathtub. No dramatic ballads to report.

But then today I turned on my 90’s Pop Pandora station and jumped in the shower. The Pandora Gods were looking down on me and gave me two excellent shower jams in a row, brought to you by the likes of Mariah Carey and Celine Dion. It was halfway through Because You Loved Me that I had my light bulb moment. This is where she gets it. And then…OH GOOD LORD, THIS IS WHERE SHE GETS IT!

We’re either going to have some very interesting Christmas programs in our future or we’ll be trying out for America’s Got Talent. Only time will tell.

Funcle

Everyone should have an uncle Will. My little brother (not that little, 6’5″) was made to be an uncle. He’s got every cartoon voice down to an art, he has unlimited energy and he’s built for rough-housing. Caroline loves him. Next to Grandma, he’s her favorite baby sitter.

I had a work party last night, so Will came to spend a few hours with C. In anticipation of his visit, Caroline announced, “I really like Will!” She then proceeded to color a picture, which she wanted prominently displayed next to our wedding photo (I mean it’s good kid, but not that good) so Will would see it.

By the time we returned home, every room in our house was covered in toys. Caroline had chocolate smeared all over her face. Will was sprawled out on the floor, exhausted. And then Caroline happily announced, “Mom, want to see me dunk?” Will taught her how to put her stool in front of the basketball hoop, jump off of it, and slam it home. “She only hit her head once,” Will told us. Right, I bet.

After he was gone, we put C to bed. I checked on her a few minutes later and she looked like she had stumbled home drunk and just face-planted onto her bed. She was laying the wrong direction with her legs dangling off the side, passed out cold. And that right there, is what uncles are for.

 

Heart Melter

My kiddo is the real Sweet Caroline. She’s just full of love. At Christmas, she said to my parents and siblings, after big hugs for everyone, “I really love you guys.” And she means it. She sometimes just wakes me up by gently stroking my cheek or my hair. She cares about other people at a level that is inspiring. I slammed my finger in the bathroom door last weekend and she asked me if I needed a Band-Aid for three straight days. She’s also been smuggling Milkbones in her pocket to share with the daycare dog, Toby. There’s so much love to go around.

I’ll keep the sappy post short, but how awesome are kids? In the sales world I’m exposed to so many sleazeballs. I’m happy to come home to someone who just says, “I like you, Mom,” instead of, “Don’t call here anymore.” It’s a nice change of pace.

I’ve had lots and lots of parenting fails. Caroline probably watches too much TV and doesn’t eat enough vegetables. She’s a little bossy and still has a pacifier. But in today’s world, the fact that she is kind feels like a huge win for me. I hope that’s something she never grows out of and that I can continue to nurture. We could all use a few more Sweet Carolines in our lives.

I Can’t Cut Pizza

I feel like I need to preface this post by saying my husband is incredibly hard-working, and I’m not just saying that because I married the guy. He is ALWAYS busting his ass for his family, working extra hours, taking on extra projects. I totally love him for it. He’s also the apple of Caroline’s eye. He’s an active participant in parenting his daughter, which has been particularly evident while I’ve been pregnant (I have a pretty serious napping schedule to adhere to). I’ve never ever stressed about leaving him in charge. I mean, sometimes he even takes Caroline with him to the grocery store ON A WEEKEND…BY HIMSELF. Like, whoa. The dude is  a champ.

That being said, long hours for Andy equals an extreme demand for mom. Most days I can hack it. Caroline, as far as toddlers go, is a pretty easy kiddo. She’s wonderful at being independent and playing by herself. But when we’ve gone a stretch of a few weekends in a row with minimal dad time, she seems to forget that Andy is also capable of getting her more milk, or opening her fruit snacks, or putting on her hat and mittens. Apparently you must have special mom powers to do this stuff.

In my short time as a parent, I’ve learned that your kid reaches a point where they go from a cuddly little lump to a full-fledged human. And like everything else, it happens overnight. We passed this point a while ago, but now we’ve seemed to reach a new tier, which appears to be classified as “tiny human with the ability to mimic regular-sized-human qualities/tendencies/mannerisms.” Case and point: this weekend Caroline, while cutting me a piece of pretend pizza, said, “Mom, I can’t do it. I’m really frustrated!” This kid is 2 years, 9 months old. And she just used “frustrated” perfectly in a sentence. Say whaaat?

The takeaway for me from this interaction was that although I’m glad C’s vocabulary is rapidly growing, I might need a new approach to solo-parenting. I’ve probably vocalized my frustration a little too frequently and now it’s influencing her ability to cut pizza. I mean, if you’ve ever seen me try to use a pizza cutter, you’d understand my concern. For real, I have to use a scissors (much to Andy’s amusement) so that I don’t maul the whole thing. It’s more likely that I can adopt a better attitude about being the go-to parent than I can the skill required to cut a pizza. And if I don’t teach this kid to do it for me, I’m doomed. I can handle a little more mom demand if it means I can prepare pizza without adult supervision. #worthit

That’s Good! That’s Bad! 2016 Edition

A recap of the year, for better or for worse.

In true Step Brothers fashion, 2016 made me want to stand up in a crowd and yell, “This year is horse shit!” I do exercise some restraint though, believe it or not, and I’ve basically saved the drama for my mama (and my husband and my co-workers and my closest friends, sorry guys).

There was a lot of heartache and hardship, but looking back, a few really great things happened, too. Here is a recap of my year, as inspired by the Margery Cuyler book I loved as a kid, That’s Good! That’s Bad! It’s the story of a little boy’s adventures—some good, some bad—at the zoo. If you’ve never shared this with your kids, you should put it on your 2017 reading list. It’s a little bit scary, but in a “let’s talk about why we don’t crawl into a gorilla exhibit” way. Lord knows we don’t need another Harambe.

That’s Bad! 2016 was the year of the dead appliances. Our washing machine, water heater and microwave all crapped out.
That’s Good! We’re enjoying the benefits of cleaner clothes, warmer baths and a brand new surface on which to splatter uncovered leftovers.

That’s Bad! Andy and I sadly lost a baby in May due to a partial mole. It was the most heartbreaking thing that’s ever happened to our little family and it was a tough go for a few months as I endured weekly blood work and follow-up appointments.
That’s Good! Ultimately, I became much more in tune with what my friends are experiencing because, let’s face it, more people than not are struggling with infertility. I’ve grown more sensitive and realistic and hopefully a little more helpful to the people who need it.

That’s Bad! Donald Trump.
That’s Good! Maybe he’ll get a new hair stylist now.

That’s Good! Our miscarriage broke our hearts, but our faith was restored when we received news of a healthy pregnancy only a short time after our ordeal. Since then we’ve had several wonderful ultrasounds where we’ve been able to check on our baby girl, whom I’ll refer to by her initials, MJ. In an awesome turn of events, MJ is due on Mother’s Day, only two short days after the one year anniversary of my D&C. Everything happens for a reason, right?
That’s Bad! Nothing to report! We’re so excited!

That’s Good! We upgraded to a king-sized bed to accommodate the extra bodies (both human and animal) that share the space with Andy and I.
That’s Bad! Somehow, my square footage did not increase. Everyone else seems to be getting a little more leg room except for the mom with the growing belly.

That’s Bad! What I thought was going to be an amazing career opportunity fizzled out after significant time and effort spent.
That’s Good! I learned an important lesson about getting everything in writing. I also learned that my brain is still capable of learning new things, which is reassuring as I assess what my next career move will be.

Cheap Entertainment

When did I get so lame?

I used to know a lot about movies. For many years I worked as copywriter at a DVD distribution company, so writing film synopses was my jam. I was up on the Oscar® nominees, went to see big new releases and could tell you when something was coming out on DVD. Since I had Caroline, I’m so behind the times. I’m sure this happens to every parent, but when did I swap knowing the casts of summer blockbusters for knowing the theme song to every show on PBS? I went to two movies in the theater in 2016, The Secret Life of Pets and Bad Moms. One was to appease my kid, the other to escape her. So that’s probably a wash.

The reality of my decreasing entertainment knowledge hit me hard last night as I sat down for my first viewing of Finding Dory with Caroline. Somehow this is the best movie I’ve seen in six months. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I loved it. But I’m 28 years old, how is a movie about a separated fish family the top-ranking movie in my recent memory? Also, when did I become such a softy? Sweet Dory loses everyone (spoiler: it’s only temporary) and I totally lost my shit. The only movies I couldn’t really watch before I had kids were comedies about divorce (probably the least funny thing I can think of). Now apparently I can’t handle undersea adventures. After baby #2 I’ll probably have to stop watching PBS, too. The educational value will likely bring me to tears.

Smarty Pants

Mornings with toddlers are THE worst part of the day. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kiddo. She’s wonderful, and as far as overall behavior goes, she’s a breeze. But she’s smart. You’re probably like, “Are you complaining that your child is intelligent? My kid is a dumb ass, do you want to trade?” I love that Caroline is totally enthralled by books and often has a better vocabulary than her father. But I hate that I can’t trick her. She knows all my games, never falls for my bribes and according to Andy, “plays me like a fiddle.” BUT SHE’S SO BELIEVABLE!

Today was no exception. We’ve been transitioning after a long weekend of holiday festivities and mornings have been treacherous. Caroline cried about brushing her teeth, about what Milk-Bone the dog got to eat and where the seams fell on her socks. I get it girl, it’s hard to go back to work after a break. I mean, look at me, I’m over here writing a blog entry instead of attending to my clients. Awesome role model.

I’m always late, this morning included, and it’s like she could sense that. Every time I said, “Mom’s going to be late for work,” she dialed her speed down and increased her whining volume. The straw that broke the camel’s back was Mom v. Chocolate Milk. As the minutes ticked by, Caroline casually sipped her chocolate milk like she was on a coffee date with her long-lost college roomie. HURRY IT UP, PLEASE! I mean, this wasn’t gourmet, it was Nesquik. I finally just picked her up and asked her to drink it in the car, to which she screamed, “I WANT TO PUT IT IN THE SINK!” Again, you’re probably like, lady, are you complaining that your kid wants to clean up after herself? No, I’m not. I’m complaining because she wants to do it at the most inopportune times, which I guess is when toddlers do everything. I set her back down, she finished her drink, put it in the sink and we hit the road. I was sweating and she had tear-streaked cheeks, but we made it out the door.

The cherry on top? I forgot the kid’s hat and mittens…in December…in Minnesota. #winning.