The Article (Part One)

"When life gives you lemonade, make lemons. Life will be all like: WHAAAAT?!?!"
-Phil's-osophy (from the T.V. series Modern Family)

Recently, a writer from Southwest Metro Magazine contacted me about interviewing me for an article she was writing. (Yes, you can laugh now.) While not on my bucket list (although, like any good 'to-do list' keeper, I quickly wrote it down just so that I could cross it off), I enthusiastically agreed.

The topic(s): Stress Management and Balance

Hee hee hee.....I know, right?! Apparently she hasn't read the blog (ever) or she would know that my form of stress management looks a little like a drunken sailor in a row boat in the middle of a hurricane who thinks maybe if he blinks ten times real fast while clicking his heels together that it will all suddenly disappear until he realizes he forgot the glittery shoes and doesn't even have a dog named Toto. (No offense to you drunken sailor: you're doing a great job....)

According to the editor of the magazine however, if I can qualify for the Boston Marathon while raising five kids, etc., etc., then certainly I know something about finding balance and managing stress. She obviously has not seen me running wilding into Ashtanga yoga on Friday mornings, hoping I haven't missed anything only to find that I am the first one there, have ten minutes before class starts and oh, I forgot my deodorant, again.....breathe (but not too deep because eeeew)....

At any rate, I gathered my thoughts (like four single spaced pages worth.....I think I could have written the entire article actually) and chuckled a whole lot in the process. I mean, let's be real: stress management with five little kids in the house is as much about containment (as in, keeping kids contained) and having healthy outlets to let off steam as it is about balancing everything perfectly in order to avoid stress. With a full house, there is always stress somewhere (I usually see it following the Solomonster around like his own personal shadow....you know, the kind of shadow that jumps out at other people and makes them run their shins into something painful before landing on that hidden lego with bare feet).

And balance? Really? If you mean balanced like the little runt of a kid flailing her arms and legs wildly at the top of a teeter totter while the larger than life bully just sits there at the bottom laughing, then yeah, I have that balance thing TOTALLY worked out.

Those are attainable goals perhaps on the very best of days and far fetched dreams that get swallowed by chaos on the bad ones. And I can talk till I am blue in the face about being intentional and proactive, yet flexible, and about taking necessary breaks, keeping fit and maintaining a nutritious diet, regularly challenging yourself and your family and most importantly, finding the humor in everyday life. (For crying out loud, laugh a little more y'all!) But truth be told, this is a work in progress at best. I would even venture out to say that for most of us it is a never ending work in progress.

I heard it said recently that you shouldn't compare the inside workings of your family with the outside view of other families. The truth is, we all have strengths and weaknesses and most of us are pretty darn adept at keeping those weaknesses tucked just out of view. So if for any reason I have ever come across as "stress-free and balanced" (which you, dear reader, know is laughable) you can trust that I certainly have some rather big kinks in my personality to work with (gosh darn that Myers Briggs!) Just ask my husband. Or anyone else who has ever interacted with me, ever. And those kinks permeate our entire household and mix with everyone else's kinks and guess what? (No, we are not a kinky family....) We continually fail to manage stress or keep any sort of balance and the house teeters precariously close to completely out of control more often than even I will admit. (Although, I just did....Phew, there, I said it. What a load off!)

Anyway, although a tad outside of my comfort zone, the interview was both interesting and enjoyable and after forty minutes or so she had what she needed. And I was all: "But wait! I haven't gotten to the best parts yet! And then one year, at band camp...." Kidding, of course. I was, however, left wondering if I would walk away from the experience sounding like the idiot that was me on the phone or if perhaps she had picked up some brilliant tidbit to quote me on, while she browsed the internet....

And then there was the photo shoot.....

--To be continued-- (Don't say I didn't warn you!)


Bye-Bye Bikini

We wandered through the summertime, And drifted into fall
We never thought of winter at all. How foolishly we tossed away
The buttercups, the time -Who'd have thought
We'd have no more songs to sing, Hills to climb?

We summered in each other's arms, And slumbered in the glow
We never heard the whisper of snow. But summer's not forevermore
No matter how we tried -The trouble with hello is goodbye
--The Trouble with Hello is Goodbye, Sergio Mendes (1975).....also June Christy (1977)

Ok, so now is a good time to stick your finger down your throat and GAG! But if you liked the cheesy music in the 70s, feel free to look that one up on your own and reminisce at your own leisure.

At any rate, a friend reminded me today (speaking of clothing) that if you don't absolutely love something or haven't worn it in a while (try a decade!) then get rid of it.

I'd like to tell you, dear readers, that I am the master of this, that I get rid of anything I haven't worn in a year, that my closet is almost bare because I don't hang on to anything past its fashionable expiration date. But then, I would be totally full of it. And my hubs would call me out on it in front of you, skeletons would fall from the closet and a huge internet scandal would erupt....or not.

But today, a friend handed down a pair of jeans she no longer loves, which I am gratefully wearing as I type, and so I went into my closet to see what I could maybe part with when what to my wondering eyes did appear but a miniature swimsuit and not from this year! Actually, not from this decade. Actually, not from this millennia if you really must know.

You see, I always thought that after having kids I would be one of those lucky ones who could get back in shape and squeeze my way back into my beloved bikinis, which by the way are still super cute even 15 years later. (Just not on me!) Alas, here I am, almost ten years since having that first child and no matter how much I work out (which is all the darn time), no matter how fit I keep myself (my resting heart rate is 45 bpm while rocking a kid, if that counts for anything), and no matter how much I use my Jedi mind tricks and Superwoman powers to will it to be, it simply ain't happening folks! Having kids has simply changed me. I mean, the shell of my former self is still here but whoa.....While bacon certainly transforms turkey into something close to divine, it doesn't crisp up the skin on turkeys or graceful chickens.....They say kids change you, ya know. I suppose it just takes some of us a while to really accept that change for ourselves.

So, here I am, with three super fun bikinis that, truth be told, even if I did feel comfy in, I wouldn't wear them in public ever again now that I am older and have more modest tastes, to say the least. (And I am certainly not going to wear random bikinis around the house, I mean, who does that? Crazy moms, that's who!)

And so, I just wanted to share with you a parting of the ways and tell you that I am putting these in the donation pile that will go out in the morning....

Because if I post it here, then it must be so.

And so I am going to do that now. Any moment.

I am going to just give them up for good......embrace the changed me.....embark on the path toward maturity and a lighter closet, one free of last-lifetime's stuff.....really, I am.

Ok, tomorrow....I'll do it tomorrow.....

No matter how we tried -The trouble with hello is goodbye.....


Better With Bacon

It's almost sacrilegious, but every year I contemplate breaking from tradition and leaving out the turkey from our Thanksgiving feast. I know, I know, I hear it every year: "But Moooom, you HAVE to have a turkey on Thanksgiving!" What kind of American am I without a Turkey-day Turkey? I mean, there are charities in place whose sole purpose is to provide a turkey dinner to people who cannot otherwise afford it. Leaving it out is almost as crazy of an idea as us Southerners forgoing black eyed peas and rice on New Year's Day....almost.

But, you see, no one in the house likes turkey. Not even the kids who tell me yearly we must have one. Don't get me wrong, it is not that any of us hates turkey. We don't turn out heads in disgust when we see it on the table. Admittedly, we even like some of the left overs. It's just that, if given the choice, ANY.OTHER.MEAT.WOULD.BE.BETTER! (With the exception, for the kids, of fish.)

And every year I think I should add something new to the table in hopes that it will fill the Turkey void when I finally take the plunge and exercise my right as house chef of creating the perfect Thanksgiving Day menu sans Turkey. Last year, I made Cornish Game Hen in hopes that the novelty of everyone having their own little bird would do the trick. Somehow, because of how "cute" they were, it did not.

So, while talking about Thanksgiving to my physical therapist as he bruised my leg up yet again, he casually mentioned knowing someone who made Bacon Wrapped Turkey.

Wait. A. Minute! HOLD THE PHONE!

The fireworks in my head were exploding: "Well DUH! Everything is made better with bacon!"

Breakfast? Better with bacon.
Burgers? Bacon!

And so, this year, while we give thanks that Lilly is nut-allergy free and we fill our house with pecan pies rather than epi-pens (I plan to force feed her Pecan Pie and Yams with Pecan Crumble Topping and Cranberry Salad with a Side of Pecans JUST BECAUSE I CAN!) we will be attempting to liven up the old Thanksgiving Turkey tradition with a huge HUG of BACON. Worse case scenario, we still don't eat the turkey, we enjoy a big plate of crispy bacon, and we can blame Rusty* for something other than the bruises on my leg! Win-win! (Thanks for that, Rusty!)

[[[And here is where you have to imagine a picture of the pre-cooked, Bacon-Hugged-Turkey.....apparently I am out of free storage space on Google....I'll post pics once I figure it out.]]]

May your Thanksgiving be Happy, with or without the bacon!

*Full disclosure: I completed an 8 mile run today, with mile four pretty much entirely uphill and into a strong headwind and I only slowed to an 8-min pace......While I cannot yet vouch for his recipe suggestions, Rusty, from OSR (physical therapy) obviously knows what he is doing and I would highly recommend him to anyone with physical therapy needs**.....No, I don't get a referral fee.....Yes, I am actually being nice.....Make sure you tell him I sent ya..... Actually, on second thought, you probably shouldn't.....

**Disclaimer: While there COULD be fear of retribution if my opinions were not what they are, I promise my opinions are very much my own......seriously.

Happy Thanksgiving!


This Is (Not) the Day

Every morning I think: "This is the day. This is the day that I will get my house completely organized, top to bottom. This is the day that the floors get mopped, the kitchen drawers get sorted through, the blog post gets written. This is the day that I take half an hour to sit down, relax with a cup of hot coffee, read, think, write, meditate, pray. This is the the day I will stop doing whatever it is I do that doesn't accomplish much of anything and simply get everything else done."

And then the kids wake up and I am struck by another, equally powerful, gut twisting thought: "Holy Buckets! That day won't be here for another 16 years!"

And since I haven't the time to sit and write I thought I would share a thousand words (in pictures of course) to explain why I can't sit and write. (Even as I type this, I am standing.....)

What? What is that, you ask? Why, that is the ENTIRE BAG of bunny litter spilled all over the basement floor. 

Thanks be to Solly.

This is how the Solomonster has chosen to sleep recently. His head resting with his nose smashed against his crib. It beats the other favorite position which is falling asleep where his screaming left off: standing with his head resting on top of the crib's side bar....yes, he can and he does.

This is how you know a Solomonosaurus isn't feeling very well. He is not only still, but totally passed out on the stairs, at 2 in the afternoon.....yes, I know he is still in his PJ's, cut me some slack, will ya?

This is the fruit of my labor.....oh wait, no, this is just the mess made while making the fruit of my labor.....Madeline's birthday cake was well worth it....no, I don't know why there are headphones on the kitchen counter.

Homemade cake, Birthday Celebration #1
Costco Cake, Birthday celebration #2, Slumber Party....with six other little girls: Ella, Elsa, Ellie, Lilly, Lily, Mia, Sophie and Madeline (You think she could just choose girls with the exact same name to make it easier on us.....and had the other girl she invited shown up, we'd have had another Lily in the house.....) But none of that was nearly as exciting as having my very own Lilly awake me at 1:00 in the morning because she didn't feel right. I took her into the bathroom to inspect and found a caricature of my Lilly....her lips and mouth were so swollen she looked like a Simpsons cartoon character....after a phone call to the nurses line and an hour of watching her post-antihistimine after shuffling Lilly and her friend back into their room since the friend had decided to join in and I found them curled up, asleep on the bathroom floor after talking to the nurse.....and then another hour of listening to Solomon cry in his crib since apparently he was feeling left out, I started wondering what the heck was going on and WHAT ON EARTH WERE WE THINKING? At any rate, Lilly had a blood draw yesterday to rule out a possible allergy to pecans since that was the only unusual thing she ate the night of the puffy lipped Lilly....results next week.....if only I had thought to take a picture, then this caption wouldn't be novel-long! Sheesh!
Liam takes eating a palate of colors to a whole new level......"Look Mom, there are LOTS of colors next to my toast!" (Remind me to invest in a good dental plan.....)

Salsa looks so happy when he cleans......

And for a not-quite-two year old, he has pretty darn good form.....he must have a great teacher.....

Really, he could teach lessons.....

Well, until the urge to ride the broom outweighs the fun of using it correctly.....I only wish he didn't need to pour out the entire box of cereal in order to have something to sweep.....I guess he thinks the house is too clean otherwise......
See, Kurt? I told you so.

And that is why this is NOT the day....and neither is tomorrow, or the next day, or the one after that......

Next up? Hopefully a post about the magazine article we are going to be in next month....assuming I can actually catch a good night's sleep in order to remember what it is about and why we are in it.....


Car Confession, Take Two

I realize, while my last post was authentic to the core, it did not cast me in a favorable light. But how many of you have felt that exact same way? How many times have you wished you could tell the inconsiderate or dangerous driver in the other car exactly what you thought? And be honest, haven't you ever thought, "If only I could ram them, just a little!" Or is it just me? (Road rage anyone?)

Turns out, the lady I chastised yesterday may have been the wife of the Swim Meet Director.

Still, even had I known that from the beginning, it would have been tough to overcome that more aggressive part of my inner being. (She-wolf has a tendency to say what she thinks and while 'rude' was probably not the best choice of words--inconsiderate, now that would have been better--it was the only thing that came to mind in the moment.)

At any rate, I realize that the anger I felt was not the passionate anger of Jesus as he overturned the temple tables. It wasn't about justice for all or speaking as a voice for the outcasted, oppressed and marginalized. It was really all about the inconvenience I felt (and I am sure the cars behind me felt) at having to wait for someone who had been a little on the thoughtless side.

Nonetheless, even though I couldn't control her behavior, I should have had better reins on mine. I should have acted with grace and forgiveness, modeling loving Christian behavior to my children. After all, the cloak of Self-Righteousness looks good on no one. And truth be told, most of us have been on the other side of that conversation in one way or another. But Bratty Inner Child, still completely convinced that the other woman was in the wrong, struggles with the lessons of Aunt Prudence. Why is rising above our own immaturity so difficult sometimes?

As it turns out, if we were all perfect, we wouldn't need grace. And the more comfortable we become with the grace we have been offered, the better able we are to offer it to others (even in the most difficult of moments). And sometimes it takes practicing grace in our own lives to accept it for ourselves. And that is worth the effort.

Sorry inconsiderate lady. I shouldn't have called you rude. 
(Even though it was....) BE QUIET INNER CHILD!


Voice of the Inner Child

Recently, I have been made acutely aware of the ridiculous nature of other drivers. Now, don't get me wrong. I am no perfect angel here. I tend to go heavy on the gas....but I don't text while driving and try to stay off my phone in general. I try to remember my children are learning from me and paying attention to the traffic rules (which they constantly question me about) and they see whether I model car safety, or not. And so I do the best I can.

But lately, well, I saw one woman reading a magazine while driving ON THE HIGHWAY. A few cars later I glanced into the cab of a truck to see the driver with a huge sandwich in one hand and watching something on his phone with the other....I am not sure how he was steering actually. (Yes, I know you can use your knees, but driving a huge truck? Going 65?)

And then a few days ago I was cut off by a man in the preschool parking lot and about two minutes later he cut me off again down the road. No more than ten minutes had gone by when yet another driver (also watching his phone) ran a red light in front of me and the other lane of cars turning left on our green light.

Seriously, it is a dangerous world out there. I keep telling Kurt, if ever we find ourselves with too much money, I may just start ramming into people just to prove a point or two. You know, not if it would jeopardize anyones safety but seriously. Maybe I need to consider joining the police force.

At any rate, today was the final straw and I played the role of Graceful, Like a Camel.....or perhaps it would be Graceful, Like a Pit Bull.

I had the four little ones in the car as we were trying to leave Aidan's swim meet. The parking lot was so full that people had parked in all sorts of random places leaving only one path to exit. As I was nearing the front of the building, toward the latter part of the loop, the car in front of me stopped and the driver got out. She began to unload the back of her vehicle and then completely left her car blocking the only way out. Had she pulled over maybe three more inches, the rest of us could have gotten past. Instead, there we were, sitting, waiting. The line got longer and longer, probably ten cars or more back.

"I wonder if I should just jump in her car and move it over," I said aloud.

"No Mommy, they might think you are stealing it," Lilly told me.

"Yeah, and you might get arrested," Madeline chimed in. (Does it count as partly my voice of wisdom if it is my children who say it????)

Five or ten minutes went by when she finally came out to gather more things. I rolled down my window.

"Excuse me, could you please move up and over about three inches so the rest of us can get by?" I asked, as politely as possible.

"No, you'll just have to wait," she said.

"Really? How very rude of you!" I said, completely losing my patience. She looked at me as if I had slapped her in the face (Minnesota is not known for people saying what they actually think.)

"I am dropping off food for the meet," she said, glaring.

"While blocking all the traffic," I replied. "It's just rude." (No, the irony of me acting rudely by calling her rude is not completely lost on me.)

"Well, I am getting ready to leave now," she said, closing her hatchback.

"Still rude!" I said, rolling up my window, leaving Wisdom and her posse in stunned silence.

As she was driving out of the lot, I couldn't resist offering a little reminder honk.

Point Bratty Inner Child.

(I told you it wasn't over!)

Oh, and kids? Do as I say, not as I do!