The Storm Returns

A game plan for when the game becomes a complete shit show.

It has been a hell of a week, so it seemed fitting for me to resurrect the blog. Sorry for the extended hiatus. A baby, a new career and a remodel project all but eliminated my free time.

This week my company was forced to lay off 55 employees. I, for better or for worse, was retained. My friends lost their jobs. My office is a ghost town. Of course I am grateful for my continued employment. But wow, the emotions that come with it are overwhelming. There’s guilt, but then confidence. There’s heartache, but then hope. I’m comforting my friends and also building my plan of attack. It’s a difficult dynamic to say the least. Some days I feel like an asshole. Other days I feel like a rock star.

Miss Macy Gray, our beautiful, raspy-voiced feline

Because that wasn’t enough drama, we also had to put our cat down this week.  Macy was 15+ years old and her health started deteriorating rapidly over the last few days. We’d tried several measure to prolong her life over the last year, but ultimately, we knew it wasn’t fair to her. Having to explain that to a three-year-old is one of the shittier things I’ve had to do as a mom. Sometimes she’s more together and mature than I am, which she reminded me of when she said, “You don’t have to cry, mom,” as I wiped snot and tears from my face over and over. That kid is my rock, or as my friend likes to say, my anchor. She’s keeping me sane during insane times. Saving me from just totally blowing off course.

Today, I’m trying to see the little things that make this kind of bullshit worth it. I’m reading a good book, I’m thoroughly enjoying Stranger Things, and I swear I heard my youngest say “mama” today. I’ve survived worse things in my life, so I’ll persevere.

My friend has been helping me through this very stressful, anxious time by teaching me to take small bites. If you’ve ever eaten a meal with me, you know that sounds very out of character. But, thinking about what I need to do only in the immediate future is what’s keeping me from totally losing it. What can I do in the next hour? What can wait until tomorrow? Small bites = big wins.

 

Moms Doing Awesome Things on The Internet

I saw this article in the Star Tribune the other day and I just thought, “Moms are awesome!” We do all these regular mom things every day PLUS we are killing it online. Check out these two examples that are guaranteed to make you say, “That is SO me.”

The Wild Morning 
This is a soon-to-be book and cool Instagram account that chronicles morning routines for moms in my neck of the woods. I mean these women are much more photogenic than I am, but basically we all tackle the same stuff while we’re trying to get caffeinated and make sure our humans are properly cleaned.

Cat & Nat: For Moms Like Us
The #momtruths on this YouTube channel will likely result in you peeing your pants (note: the chances are higher among moms of multiple children). Check out their website, I promise you’ll want to be friends with these two.

Child-Rearing by Sara Walters: Advice on Preschool from Your Weirdest, But Most Direct Friend

I am a weirdo, which results in me having a limited group of close friends. My humor is similar to that of a 14-year-old boy, so not a lot of grown women are into it. I’m also a little overly direct. No fluff happening here. And inappropriate. Definitely inappropriate. Also REALLY LOUD. But I do have some pretty awesome ladies in my squad that keep putting up with the strange shit my brain comes up with. Here’s a snippet of text messages to give you a little sample of what they endure.

Me at the hospital trying to get fluids while battling the stomach flu:
Sara: I told her I was I was “pro IV” and she just stared at me.
D: Well that probably was taken differently than you meant it…
Sara: Thought of that after. I’m now part of a narcotics investigation. I looked like shit, so I’m sure that helped convince them I was a dope fiend.

Upon learning that there is such thing as “porch pirates” who steal your delivered packages:
Sara: I just ordered one. Great. I’m getting delirious from staying up past 8pm.
K: Bahahaha. I love that.
Sara: Hopefully it doesn’t get stolen by an Iranian man in a pantsuit.  

And then most recently, me giving parenting advice in regards to the pros/cons of 3K:
Sara: Just read him some books and teach him to say please and thank you and you’re good. That’s my plan. 

Basically, if you can put up with the bizarre stuff from samples 1 and 2, you’ll get the valuable nugget in 3. The friend who I gave this advice to said I should blog about it because she is one of the rare ones who knows I’m not a total lunatic and maybe even occasionally benefits from being friends with me.

I’ve been investigating a 3K for Caroline in the last couple weeks. We found one we liked at our church and I’m sure she’d love it. But she’s got a great daycare and I’m not sure she’d learn much more than she’s getting now. So we’re not going to send her and I refuse to feel guilty about that. Andy and I are pretty hands-on parents. We read C books, talk about colors with her, count things together, show her how to do daily things like brush her teeth and put her dirty clothes in the hamper. When kids are 2 and 3, do they need more than that? I’m not sure they do. We make her say please before she gets a snack and she has to clean up her own toys when she creates a tornado. I know I’ve stressed out about learning and education and structure and all that stuff, but my new motto is if she’s happy (I mean in general, when you’re a good parent your kid is going to be pissed at you sometimes) then I’m happy. When she’s truly unhappy, we’ll figure it out. If you’re active in your kid’s life and make an effort to teach them to be kind, you can do whatever you want about school. Send them to 3K, that’s great. Don’t send them to 3K, that’s great too. No judgement here.

And make sure to get a friend like me who can blow up your phone with weird texts and the occasional reassuring tidbit. That also helps.

 

Puke Buckets and Sleeping Bags: The Stomach Bug Strikes

Caroline came home with a stomach bug yesterday. She was a little extra snuggly and never asked for a snack. She was vomiting within the hour. When little kids get sick, it’s so hard. She doesn’t really know what’s up and she just wants mom. Meanwhile, mom is trying to simultaneously comfort and clean (try this Clorox Urine Remover next time you have a barfy kid, I know it says urine, but it seriously works). Andy is a great helper and both of us handled it like champs–much unlike we did on his 26th birthday. Let’s just say our neighbors were probably wondering why we were washing our car in the middle of the night.

C’s fine today after a night spent camped out in sleeping bags on the living room floor, bucket in hand. But the whole experience of dealing with the stomach flu had me feeling a little reflective, hence the “Evolution of Puking” timeline above (not intended for the queasy).

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.

Caroline’s Custom Kitchen

I don’t mean to brag, but I’m a good shopper. Andy would probably correct that sentence to say “good spender.” This last Christmas we were discussing what to get for Caroline. We just wanted to do one big gift (less toys to clean up, always an ulterior motive) and we had decided on a play kitchen. I, of course, thought I would just Craigslist one (it’s kind of my thing). But Andy had a better idea…DON’T TELL HIM I SAID THAT. He immediately pulled up some images online and showed me how he could build a kitchen for Caroline instead. I can’t be trusted with a pizza cutter (more on this), let alone a power tool, but he’s good at this kind of thing, so my skillful shopping would have to go on the back burner. Sorry for the bad kitchen joke, I couldn’t resist.

I relinquished control to Andy and put him wholly in charge of this project. He didn’t disappoint. Here’s a breakdown on what he did to pull this off, as told by a person who did 0% of the work and has absolutely no technical knowledge.

  • We scrounged up an old cabinet that served as the basic structure for the kitchen. One cabinet functions as a cupboard, where we store play food, and the other as an oven. Andy rotated the hinges to the bottom on the oven side. He installed chains on the inside so that the door wouldn’t fall to the ground and smash little toes.
  • Burners for the stove were created out of cork board, black spray paint and adhesive spray. Oven knobs are real replacement knobs, attached with screws so that they can still spin. 
  • The sink is a stainless steel bowl, dropped into a cutout that matches its diameter (it hangs down into the cupboard side, but takes up little space). Andy added a faucet with twistable knobs to help it feel more real for Caroline.
  • The oven rack is fashioned out of a cooling rack. Andy also added a battery-operated motion sensor light to the top of the oven so that when you reach inside, the light turns on. Caroline loves this part.
  • All surfaces were sanded and repainted and we purchased new hardware. Total, the project ran us about $60-$70. It was worth every penny.

Not only does this look better in our house than a plastic kitchen, it has been a major source of entertainment for Caroline this winter. I’m actually attending a picnic with food prepared in her kitchen as I write this. Gifting it to her was also one of the best Christmas memories I have to date. We honestly sat and watched her play with it for hours, just happy to see her so happy.

If you want actual details on how to build this, send me a message and I’ll let the expert respond. You know, the guy who can actually cut a pizza.

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