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Thanksgiving

I’m back.

For those of you who know the horrific summer I experienced, hello. For those of you who don’t, ask, and I’ll tell you.

The last few months have been Hell on earth. I’ve never experienced so much pain, frustration and mental and emotional anguish. But I’m here. And it could’ve been so much worse.

The days at U of M Burn and Trauma Center dragged. Mindless TV filled the hours of drug-induced therapy. It was fine — then. But now I’m here. Trying to recover lost memories of  a summer vacation gone bad.

So here I am. Thanksgiving. A time to give thanks for everything I’ve had and have. Now seems the best time to jump back into the blogosphere.

  • My dad. Although he’s gone, I’m thankful for the years of carving turkey, and frying stuffing leftovers. I miss you, but I’ll never forget.
  • My mom. She is amazing. She has reinvented herself after a horrible tragedy. She still cares for me as if I were a child, and I can always count on her. I love her. And thank God I can talk to her.
  • My sister. What can I say? She is gorgous. She is strong, talented, brilliant, funny, kind…it goes on and on. She has dealt with life’s toughest moments,  but has overcome them with pride I admire.
  • My friends. I don’t have a ton of friends. But the friends I have are my world. Jacquie: You know how I feel. Without you, I’d be lost. And Lana: After all these years, I still love you. And Kristin: While I don’t understand your decision to play G.I. Jane, I love you. And Mandy, well, you know how much I love those Up North Trips. And Rachael: I don’t even have to explain how much I value our talks, our El Az lunches. I love you all.
  • My husband. I don’t even know where to start. We hit rock bottom, but you kept us from sinking. Thank you for the amazing support, care and unconditional love you’ve shown me. I am blessed.

I know there are people I’m missing. And there are moments I’m missing.

But for now, here it is:

White whine — solace at the end of writer’s block
Mindless TV — My life really is normal
Diet Coke — How I love you at 3 p.m.
Chocolate — I love you all the time, especially at 3 p.m.
Skip-bath-nights — O.K. I’ll admit it. After a day of regimen, it’s nice to welcome Friday-night lets-be-happy-in-our filth. Germs are good, right?

As we all spend time with family and friends, let’s take time to remember those with whom we’ve shared life’s most precious moments.

Thank you to everyone who has  blessed my life. I love you all.

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As if my have-to-be-to-work-by-8 a.m. mornings aren’t enough, my children incessantly beg for breakfast. “I’m so hungry.” “I want cereal and juice.”

So, it got me thinking. What if I create a “kids’ cupboard,” where bowls, spoons and snacks are at their reach? Would it empower them to serve themselves or do they need mom to cater to them?

In this cupboard, I would place granola bars, fruit snacks, Nutri-grain bars and Cheese-its. Or, is this the precusor to “I’m not hungry” at dinner time?

The convenience of a kids’ cupboard is tempting. But is it worth the “I’m not hungry” at dinner?

What do you think?

Summer bed time

Crickets chirp, fireflies dance and the moon fades after 9 p.m. in the summer. So, of course, this means my children refuse to go to bed. “But it’s still light out, mom.” “I can still hear kids playing in the pool, mom.”

Ugh. I hate the summertime bedtime ritual. While I love sleeping in an extra half hour before work, I miss my alone time at night — to do homework, read, watch my junk T.V. and to reconnect with my husband.

So as my boys play “spy” until 11 p.m. or insist on watching “just a few more minutes” of  iCarly, I secretly curse summer. It’s such a paradox, since I love the warmth, sun and water fun it brings but hate the childhood freedom it affords.

Maybe I’m missing something. How do you stick to your schedules during summer? Or am I obessing over a useless cause?

After three children, thousands of diapers and hundreds of bottles of Ibuprofen, I’ve developed some  parenting favorites. These simple, but fabulous, things have made my job as a mom so much easier.

Zoo pals plastic silverware — Yes. They endure the heat of the dishwasher and the sun, the filth from the bottom of the diaper bag,  the teething of toddlers and curious hands that want to see if they bend. I love this silverware. The various animals (from lions to elephants) make eating fun for my kids. And they’re great for potlucks and parties. We have “nice,” “adult” silverware, but it’s so much easier to give the kids plastic, especially when they insist on cutting their own food. And, of course, there’s plenty of pink to choose from, which makes my 2-year-old princess very happy!

Diaper wipes — Although we’re past diapers, I continue to buy these miraculous inventions. Did you know that diaper wipes clean marker off counter tops and walls? They even clean floors pretty well. And they’re perfect for car trips filled with apple dippers and summer nights when I’m just too tired for baths.

Camouflage bandages —  They even come in pink! I can’t tell you how many “owies” these bandages have cured. I realize it’s a mental panacea, but when my son is convinced his leg is going to fall off, these things do the trick. To boot, they feel like tough “Army guys” because they’ve got cool bandages (Band-Aids). And my daughter loves to cover her “skeeto bites” with the pink ones. I’ll easily pay less than $2 for mental and emotional peace.

Spray sunscreen — O.K. I’ll admit. This stuff is expensive. But it’s not messy! I hate applying sunscreen because it’s such a production. The kids can apply it themselves (with supervision) and it makes summertime fun so much easier.

A plastic bag  (without holes) in the car — I know it sounds strange. But we always keep a hole-less garbage bag in the car. It never fails. Someone eats too much candy and gets sick. Or a potty-trained kid suddenly can’t wait any longer. If nothing else, it works great for drive-through trash. Remember to check for holes: I learned this the hard way after a beach-, bacteria-filled vacation. 

Cool sticks and boxes — Who cares about fancy, expensive toys when you can find sticks in the yard and boxes from the new T.V.? My kids have turned sticks into swords, golf clubs, microphones, bats, light sabers….and on and on. And I think they enjoy the boxes their toys come in more than the toys. After all, boxes can serve as hideouts, forts and shields. In fact, when my oldest son was 2, I discovered he was stealing Pringles and eating them in this box fort, later named “Chip World.” So, I’m tempted next Christmas to put sticks in their stockings and wrap empty boxes.

Oxiclean — What diaper wipes don’t clean up, Oxiclean will. This stuff is amazing! What is it? I’ve gotten chocolate, blood, juice, ketchup, spit up and grass stain out of so many clothes, thanks to this cleaning miracle. I add it to my whites and I’m shocked at the results. So, to the makers of Oxiclean, thank you for saving me money on new clothes!

These are a few of my favorite things. But I’ve got more. Stay tuned. What are your parenting must-haves?

Summer is here

Today is the first day of summer. As I sit here and watch a fly swirl around my brand new lamp, I’m reminded of the pesty intruders that come with summer.

But I’m also listening to crickets chirp and frogs croak. I’m watching the drapes move in the summer breeze. And tonight, I heard the first illegal firework. I love the sounds and feel of summer.

My kids are tan. They’re rested. They’re smiling when I get home from work. And they’re exhausted from spending all day in the pool, riding bikes with friends, eating popsicles until their arms turn purple. 

Remember those days? Remember only caring about which swimsuit to wear, which sunscreen to use and which fire fly to catch?

If only I could return to the simple days of summer. Who knew those days would be so precious. Who knew I would cherish the longest day of light, the most beautiful sunset and the smell of summer rain.

Summer was the catalyst for my favorite memories: bathing in the lake while camping, learning to water ski, fireworks with caramel corn.

I hope someday my kids appreciate the peace of summer and the tranquility of childhood.

Thanks, Summer Solstice, for reminding us of what really matters.

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Today is a tough day, for me and for my husband: Neither one of us has a dad to celebrate today. And we’re only in our early ’30s. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

We both lost our dads, three months apart, almost five years ago. And while the pain has mostly subsided, it’s days like this that the emotions, the memories, the laughter and the tears make a swirling return.

My dad was the best man I know. He was patient, kind, humble, intelligent, loving, respectful….I could go on and on. But, like everyone, he had flaws (which I realized as an adult). But in the eyes of daddy’s little girl, my dad moved the world.

So at our house, Father’s Day was a big deal. (So was Mother’s Day.) I realize now it’s because my parents respected each other and truly loved each other. They instilled in their daughters the importance of saying “I love you.”

Usually, the day was filled with homemade cards filled with mispelled words and smelly stickers, a boat ride (pre-boat it was a bike ride) and some of dad’s favorites. But what I remember most is the priceless gift of time. I remember dad’s smile as he thanked us for the cards. Or his laughter as we told him why we loved him so much. Or dad’s look of discomfort as he filled up on seconds.

And this is why I miss my dad. These are the moments I cherish. These are the moments I so wanted my kids to have with their grandpas.

But, at the same time, my kids are lucky to have these moments with their dad, who is also caring, loving, gentle and kind. They’re lucky to have a dad who can wrestle with them one minute and wipe away tears the next.

So, today, thank you to my husband for being an amazing dad.

And thank you, dad, for the memories. I’m sending Father’s Day wishes to heaven, complete with kissing hands from your grandchildren.

I love you.

Tip: (For those of you struggling with this, too, here are some good resources: http://www.parenthood.com/article-topics/fathers_day_without_dad.html.)