One Hot Mama

This afternoon I decided  to brand my “look”. I’m calling it “One Hot Mama”. It’s sort of an unaware casual. Casual meaning my jeans are on their third day in a row. Unaware meaning I am unaware that my lovely beige nursing bra is hanging out of my shirt in the front, and that my disposable nursing pads are peeking out of the bra (sort of like maxi pads for my boobs). Unaware that there is spit up crusted on my shoulder, down my back, and in my hair. Unaware that my shoe is also covered in spit up and that my shirt is slightly hiked up in the back from our last nursing session, exposing a tiny bit of flesh that hasn’t entirely lost the baby weight.

Sleep deprivation has created those sought-after dark circles under my eyes that the hottest drugged-out party girls are sporting, but mine are from awakening every three hours at night. The hot chicks might get a only few hours of substance-induced slumber on the weekends but I am running on four or five hours of sleep EVERY DAY. Yeah, I totally rock this look and guess what? I feel great! So there. I’m one hot mama and I’m going to bed now.

Love,

Danielle

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FML

Okay, this acronym really pisses me off. I mean, it royally pisses me off. I generally see it on Facebook, and generally posted by someone who is kvetching about some dramatically drastic occurrence in his or her life.

For those who don’t know what it means, the acronym stands for “Fuck My Life”. In an increasingly self-centered culture wherein discomfort is to be avoided at all costs (I feel a future rant coming on), it seems that “fml” is used to express even minor frustrations.  I can’t stand it.

Listen, someone somewhere worked really hard to give you life. Regardless of your childhood or your current circumstances you do have the power to make a change. “Fuck my life” is an overreaction to life’s happenstances. I have empathy for people’s pain, suffering, discomfort, sadness… you get the idea. I do not have a lot of sympathy for those who must publicly moan about their situations and so cavalierly dismiss their lives. Your life isn’t your problem, your attitude is. I can bitch with the best of them and I am really good at throwing pity parties for myself, but you will never, ever, EVER hear me say, “Fuck my life”.

I have a little post-it pad that I use rarely because I want to save those little pieces of paper for as long as possible. The saying on it goes like this, “Attitudes are contagious … is yours worth catching? The next time you’re tempted to post “fml” remember that a: you sound like a self-absorbed idiot, and b: it is incredibly  immature.

Rant over.

Love,

Danielle

Alphabet Homework

Today our three year-old had homework. It was a dry-erase board with the alphabet printed at the top and copybook style lines to guide a child in writing his letters. He was super excited to have homework so I gave him free reign to write whichever letters he wanted. I took the rare opportunity to read the newspaper.

He was carefully forming letters with his left hand, tongue sticking out the side of his mouth, concentrating on his shaky lines. My husband, Alex, walked past and stopped, looking over Tommy’s shoulder.

“He’s not doing it right.”

“Hmmm?”, I muttered, not looking up from the newspaper.

“He’s not doing it properly. He’s supposed to be writing the letter ‘N’, but instead he’s just writing whichever letter he wants to.”

“That’s what I told him to do. What do you mean about writing the letter ‘N’? I didn’t see that in the instructions.”

“Look, it’s written at the bottom of the board, clear as day – ‘WRITE ‘N WIPE BOARD’.”

I stared at him. At least ten seconds passed before I started giggling. “You’re so funny!”

“What?”

“Hahaha! ‘Write N’! That is so funny!”

“What the hell are you talking about?” he asked, with a slightly dumbfounded smile, wanting to appreciate the joke, I guess.

And it dawned on me that he really didn’t know what was so funny.

“Honey, the ‘N’ stands for the word ‘and’, as in ‘write’n wipe’.”

His smile widened and turned sheepish. He blushed a deep red and chuckled. We both had a good, hearty laugh at his expense and I was smug in the knowledge that my incredibly intelligent husband had said something so ridiculous.

I did not have the last laugh.

“Honey?” he called.

“Yes?”

“Come look at Tommy’s letters. He’s really done well.”

“Just a second, let me finish this article.”

I looked up and Tommy proudly handed me his “Write ‘N Wipe” board.

“He doesn’t know what he wrote…”

(I don’t really think he wrote ALL the letters there, do you?)

Love,

D

Intimate Apparel

This past September we added a third child to our brood and welcomed Susanna Mae to our family. Some say that going from one to two children is the biggest shock and that the third is easy, but others say that going from two to three is the most difficult. I feel younger and more capable than I’ve ever felt in my life and Susie fits right in. That said, I can tell you that getting in the car and going somewhere for the first time with your newborn and her siblings is still terrifying.

I decided that our first trip should be an excursion to Target. We went early on a Saturday morning to buy birthday gifts. This involved the dreaded toy aisle. In the car I was prepping for the inevitable nagging and begging that would ensue, when I happened upon a brilliant plan.

“Hey, kids?”

“Yes, Mommy?”

“Yes, Mommy?”

“We’re buying presents for our friends today, not toys for you. I’ll tell you what, though. If you’re good I’ll let you each pick out your very own box of tissues for your bedroom. What do you think about that?!”

I waited a tense moment before they both erupted into excited chatter about what color box they would choose and were they really allowed to keep their very OWN tissues on their night stands.

Not only did the baby sleep through the whole trip, but the other two were on their best behavior, sitting in the cart together peacefully, allowing me to peruse clothing and other departments that I normally skip in the name of practicality and efficiency. Yes, I was on top of my game in and total control of the situation. Hell, I even felt that (with a little help from mascara) I looked the part of a well-rested, well-adjusted mother of three well-behaved children. This was going way better than I had expected.

“Mommy?” Sophia asked.

“Yes?”

“What does i-n-t-i-m-a-t-e-a-p-p-a-r-e-l spell?”

“Intimate apparel.”

“What does that mean?”

“Underwear. Intimate apparel means ‘underwear'”.

“Oh.”

I turned away from the cart for a moment to look at a t-shirt and I heard my three year old, Timmy, telling someone, “I LOVE intimate apparel.”

I looked over to see two young men in hooded sweatshirts walking by.

“For real?” one of them asked politely as he shuffled past.

“Aw shit! Check it out, bro!” the other hooted, pointing to the sign in the underwear department, “Little man loves bras and shit!”

“I LOVE intimate apparel!” Timmy said, delighted with their reaction.

“Aw snap! This kid makes me weak! He sayin’ he likes underwear!”

They ambled off, chortling and looking back over their shoulders at my son. Timmy, ever the comedian, was thrilled by the attention and proceeded to attract more of it as he began loudly telling anyone who would listen that he LOVES intimate apparel. I pushed the cart down the aisle as employees and shoppers laughed at Timmy, who was now hollering, “I LOVE INTIMATE APPAREL!”

As funny as he was I did shut the comedy routine down before he became downright obnoxious. The kids were angels and spent a fair amount of time choosing their tissue boxes. I was satisfied and smug. I had successfully reached the end (or nearly) of our shopping trip and bribed Sophia and Timmy for a grand total of less than three dollars. I could DO this. I was able to take all three kids out in public without any major meltdowns or traumatic events. Almost.

I had benevolently added a six-dollar trip through the car wash as an extra incentive. Note to anyone who makes a trip through the car wash with kids: be sure to engage the childproof locks on the rear windows before entering.

Simple Ideas

On Sunday morning Sophia and I were making eggplant lasagna to bring to our weekly cookout/pool party. I was enjoying the time with her and the satisfaction in knowing that I was teaching her to prepare healthy food with ingredients from our garden. I was just about to enter “mentor mode” and begin a conversation about the relationship between sustainable gardening and healthy eating when she interrupted my reverie.

“Mama?”

“Yes, dear?”

“Can we bring something else, too?”

“I guess so. What did you have in mind?”

She pondered for a moment,  standing on her step stool, one delicate finger at the side of her mouth as she frowned and stared hard at the counter. Then she looked up at me with bright eyes and a huge smile as she announced, “Bacon! Let’s bring bacon!”

Tim, of course, thought this was a great idea. “Everyone loves bacon. Let’s bring a big tray of bacon next time, they’ll love it!”

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. The little girl who wanted to bring bacon to a cookout is the same little girl who, the day before when we jumped off the boat to swim, hollered, “C’mon, Mom! Get in the water,  y’old hippy!”

Love,

Danielle

You Can’t Poop on OUR Parade!

Sophia was sitting on the back lawn playing with some pink tree blossoms while I watered and weeded the vegetable garden. It was an idyllic picture.

“Mommy, what stinks? It smells like Rocket Dog poopies.”

It should have registered that she was sitting in The Poop Zone but I was just sort of blissed out and peaceful so I didn’t really take note until it was too late.

“Honey? What’s that on your dress? Stand up!”

“I think it’s peanut butter.”

“Sweetie, you didn’t EAT peanut butter this morning.”

We looked at each other and then it hit us. Tim helped her out of her dress and tights and took her into the house to change. I found the source of the trouble; Rocket Dog had the runs.

It doesn’t matter how peacefully the day starts out, someone inevitably tries to shit on it. The key to survival is learning to see the humor in an unfortunate situation.

Have a peaceful and love-filled day.

Love,

Danielle

Stranger Danger

A few weeks ago I was asking a friend how she taught her children about stranger danger. “Oh, the kids know to yell, ‘You’re not my mommy!’ or ‘You’re not my daddy!’ if someone they don’t know approaches them in a threatening way.” This sounded easy enough. I had a talk with my children, ages two and almost four, the next morning.

“Do you guys know what to do if someone you don’t know tries to grab you or take you somewhere?” I asked.

Timmy, my two year old, just looked at me and wiped the snot off his nose. Sophia, the four year  old, piped up. “Run away?”

“Well, that’s a good start, but you should also holler, ‘You’re not my mommy!’ or ‘You’re not my daddy!”

I don’t know what I did wrong. Perhaps it was our practice session in the backyard when they delighted in hollering at the tops of their voices. The following day we were in the grocery store and Sophia and Timmy were unusually well behaved. I hurried through the store, racing the clock, knowing it was too good to be true and couldn’t last long. I was right.

As we rounded the corner from the produce section and into the bakery, Timmy, seated in the front of the cart,  shouted at me, “You’re not my mommy!”  He repeatedly yelled this at me while Sophia, who was practically apoplectic with laughter at this point, starting hollering, “You’re not my daddy!” at a hapless elderly man who was merely trying to choose a loaf of bread.

Somehow there has to be a way to teach my children the importance of stranger safety without running the risk of being arrested for kidnapping them.

Love,

Danielle

Conversations with an Almost Four-Year-Old

Sophia – “Daddy, I wish all the squirrels would just die.”

Tim (blinking incredulously) – “Um, why, Honey?”

Sophia – “Because then they would quit eating all the pecans off of our trees. I love pecans!”

Tim – “Well, perhaps instead of wishing they would ‘just die’ we could wish that they would ‘just relocate’?”

I love his diplomacy. I would have used this as an opening into a conversation about “Why We Don’t Wish Ill on People or Animals”, or “It’s Really Rude to Wish Death on Anyone”. I was so relieved that Tim handled this one. Of course, I was paid back tenfold when I suddenly found myself in a conversation about where babies come from. I wasn’t expecting THAT talk for another three years or so. I always knew I would try to be as honest as possible but she really threw me one out of left field. We were driving in the car and the following exchange unfolded;

Sophia – “Mommy, could you tell me all about this great big world since you were here first? I want to know everything. But wait, how did I get in your belly?”

Me – “Well, God put you there.”

Sophia – “How did she get me in there? ” (yes, “she”, and I’m not addressing that because I love it!)

Me – “Well, you grew from a little seed. Okay, actually it’s an egg and all women have them. They are so tiny you can’t even see them. You grew like a little sprout from that egg.”

Sophia – “How did she make sure the egg stayed in? Did she put it on your mouth and smash it on your tongue so it wouldn’t roll out?”

Me – “Um, not quite, well, Daddy, um, let’s see. Okay, your daddy and I got married and, ….hey, you wanna get some ice cream?”

I narrowly avoided that one but after almost four years with this little girl I know the conversation is far from over. While I am still at a loss to find a creative, nearly-accurate-but-slightly-altered way of explaining Tim’s role in her creation I am grateful to have a little more time to think about it.

Love,

Danielle

The Power of a Smile

There’s so much going on in my head that I’ve had trouble plucking a thought, like a string, from the tangle and developing it. The subject I’ve been the most preoccupied with lately is spirit. I recently had a crisis of faith and have had a hard time coming to terms with it. I realize that until I can resolve the issue I need to set my spirit free to grow on its own. I believe this is happening and while it’s exhilarating it is also a little scary. I’ll let you know how it goes. Anyway, I think this little story has to do with spirit.

About a week ago I stopped into a busy fast food place with the kids to kill some time. I got a cup of coffee for me and a biscuit for the kids and waited patiently while the frazzled staff struggled to fill the orders. The woman taking orders behind the counter was slow but efficient. I got my order and asked her for some honey. She handed it over wordlessly, no reply to my “thank you”, and no change in her expression. I remember wondering what she looked like when she smiled. She seemed like she would have a radiant smile, the kind that blooms across a face, lighting it up, making you smile right back even if you don’t want to.

I thought about that woman a few days ago and still wondered about her smile. “Geez,” I thought, “She sure would have come across a lot better if she’d just pasted on a smile or made small talk or something. A little friendliness toward the customer can go a long way.”  Then I thought about what I had just thought (see how I can drive myself mad?).  I had put the onus on her. Yes, she could probably smile and make the experience a bit better for the customer, but where was my culpability? I noticed that she did a great job. Did I thank her specifically? No. Did I take the split second it would have taken to acknowledge her efficiency and thoroughness? Nope. I was just annoyed that she didn’t return my smile.

In my quest to grow my spirit, surround myself  with peace, and to radiate love, the least I can do is find a small kindness for someone. I had been focused on thinking that she should smile when I should have focused on giving her something to smile about. Smiling at someone is a wonderful way to make them happy,  but a little compliment or acknowledgment of hard work can make someone’s day. It can be really hard to tell a stranger, “Hey, you do a great job!” without feeling awkward or goofy, but I am going to do it a lot more now. I figure what the hell, I have a lot of experience feeling awkward and goofy so at least I can try to cheer someone up and make them smile.

Love,

Danielle

Bedtime and My Time

A few days ago I read an article in a women’s magazine about the importance of reading to your child at bedtime. The author, a mother, either said she looked forward to getting the kids to bed or she dreaded the bedtime routine. I don’t remember which it was, but her point was that she learned to change her attitude, slow down, and enjoy bedtime by reading to and connecting with her kids. That sounded lovely to me.

I started thinking, “Maybe I need to learn from her. I should change my attitude toward bedtime and savor that bonding experience.”  Many nights this winter I’ve buzzed around tidying and cleaning while the kids watched a movie, usually with sippy cup of Ovaltine and some popcorn I cooked the old fashioned way.

After reading the article I tried to feel guilty. I told myself that I was creating bad habits, the kids were going to suffer in the long run, and I was somehow damaging them and our family dynamic. I tried to promise myself that I would be one hundred percent hands-on until the kids fell asleep at night. Surely I could be a better mother than this!

Listen, I’m home all day with these little boogers. I read to them, play with them, cook for them, and take care of every need (and most every whim) they have. In the warmer months we play outside until way past bedtime, but this winter we’ve been hibernating, and yes, watching movies. Am I destroying their brains? Am I spoiling them, ruining them, or somehow making them stupid or dull? Are they suffering undue stress because Mama and Daddy don’t always read a book before putting them to bed?

No, I’m not at all apologetic when I say I look forward to bedtime, and not a soft, fuzzy bedtime routine. I look forward to throwing their little butts into bed so I can have those last few precious hours to myself before it starts all over again. There, I’ve said it.

Love,

Danielle