If You Can't Stand the Heat, Shut the Oven!

I don’t know if I’m ready to be done having babies. Just to give you a visual, my husband is currently reading this and shaking his head (because it’s the first he’s heard it and I believe it’s perfectly healthy to passively bring things up over one’s blog). Also, he’s likely cursing. Here’s the overview, I have had five pregnancies – three “full-term” (the Twinstroms were just short), one lasting 8 weeks, and one lasting 20 weeks. Between July of 2004 and December 2009, I was pregnant 1,013 days out of 2,007 days. In other words, I spent 2 ¾ of those 5 years pregnant. I have three living children as a result of this hard work who I could not possibly love more.

My point, aside from showing you that I have mad math skillz, is to say that I have plenty. I have more than I ever planned on. I should know in my soul (as I am so quick to say when I am asked) that we’re DONE. Closing up shop. Hanging up the maternity pants. Settling into my new size 8 shoes, and vowing to never again deliberately grow a shoe size. All that said I have a really tough time accepting that I’ll never be pregnant again. I am not afraid to admit that aside from all the things that people usually tout about pregnancy (the bonding, the spiritual experience of creating and sustaining life, etc. etc.) there are a couple of unconventional reasons that I love pregnancy. First of all, the swelling of the mama’s belly is celebrated. I have tested this, and when my ass grows from doing a couple lines of thin mints, nobody cheers for me. So, there’s that. Then, there’s the fact that when you’re pregnant, it’s the closest to royalty you’ll ever feel. Even when you really feel up to doing all sorts of things (like cleaning, lawn work, cooking, really anything that requires you to be in an upright position) nobody will let you. It’s phenomenal. I wish I’d have taken more advantage of it (back to my husband, who is shaking his head and cursing for an entirely different reason right now).

I have a couple of friends who just had babies, and I am not too proud to say that I am completely jealous of them right now. The early days are so focused on that mom and baby bond. There’s this coziness of that period of time in the early days when your only job as a parent is to feed them, dote on them, and respond to their needs. It’s so romantic in my memory (despite the lack of sleep), and I know that I’ll never have time like that again in my life with my children. We have responsibilities, places to go, people to see, things to learn, we are far out of that isolated, cozy, get to know ya time - not to mention the fact that they are on the move... big time, so 8-12 hours of uninterrupted cuddling really isn't in the cards. Am I really ready to NEVER do that again???

I also have a difficult time accepting that my babies are growing so quickly, and every stage we pass through is the last time we’ll pass through that stage. I am not unique in any of this. I know that this is part of becoming a parent, and if we decide in life to become parents, this is what we’re signing up for. I am just in a period of self-examination regarding how to be completely sure that “this is it.” I have always said that I am one box away from becoming a hoarder. Now, if you were a guest in my house, you would assume that is an exaggeration. I may have a flare for the drama when it comes to exaggerating. What I mean is that one box could just tip me over the edge, and I’d be happily on my way to the point of no return (or at least, a starring role on the hit A&E reality show, “Hoarders.”) I manage to keep myself in check, and separate the emotional from the logical with a routine purge, and that prevents me from finding myself on that road. As someone who is very guided by my heart, I fear that the emotional pull to make babies and raise them may over-ride the logic that tells me that we are at capacity. Really, that is all that stands between me right now, and becoming Octomom. (Another exaggeration?) And yes, I am actually equating hoarding stuff to having more children than one woman can financially, emotionally, and psychologically manage. I feel like I should apologize for this, but I won’t, because in the same way that I see hoarding as evidence of a psychological disorder, I see the Octomom’s inability or unwillingness to call it a day in the reproducing department evidence of a psychological disorder. I have given myself a Doctorate in armchair psychology from the University of My Opinion.

I have the most admiration for people who decide not to be parents. I think often about how people develop the ability to shut out the noise of our culture which begs people to be fruitful and multiply, and doesn’t see, “when are you going to have babies?” as the rude and intrusive question I believe it is. What I admire the most is the self-knowledge it takes to make that decision. The amazing self-trust and inner-knowing that it takes to put up with the commentary and stand strong in their desire to enjoy the children of others, but not have any of their own. I like to honor that decision, because I think it is equally brave to the decision to become a parent. I wish I could say with such self-trust and inner knowing that I am done having children.

To be clear, I really am done. I tearfully gave away my maternity clothes, regularly sort, sell, and give away baby clothes, and have taken measures (though not entirely permanent) to be sure that I won’t have any stow-aways in this uterus again, but coming to terms with it is a real process. I know I am not alone, I suspect that every mother goes through this process as they watch their babies grow. Like grief (because, it basically is a form of grief), we probably go through it over and over and over again in some form. So, Mr. Lindstrom, you can stop banging your head against the nearest brick wall, and planning your escape plan. I know that this baker is retired. But friends, I can’t promise you that if you let me hold your babies that I won’t close my eyes and pretend just for a second that they are my own. Just for a second. I promise I’ll give them back (after 8-12 hours of uninterrupted cuddling).


Manic-Monday Blogarrhea

It seems to be a habit over the weekend, that I collect thoughts and then my brain wants to drop them all over the interwebs. So, from hitherto forward, I will be making Manic Monday Blogarrhea a regular feature.

- The almost four year old is actually four. We celebrated a ton this weekend. I am beat. We had a train themed party where all the guests were train conductors and they went to different stations to do crafts. They made a train whistle, decorated a sugar cookie, did spin-art, assembled a train frame (which we filled with a picture of the four year old and each guest), and got inked (temporary tattoos). I am of the opinion that with young children, more planning means less opportunity for chaos. So, I had everything planned, down to the nano-second. Why can’t I be so detail oriented in my own life?

In any case, what I learned from this is that someone could make a pretty penny planning these kinds of birthday parties and then putting them on for kids in their home. Because I would have gladly paid a mint to have not had that kind of stress during the planning period.

- A conversation between the four year-old and me about becoming four:
Me: Ollie, you’re four now.
Ollie: Yep, I am, and I’m getting bigger every day.
Me: But no matter how big you get, you’ll always be Ollie.
Ollie: You mean, I still get to have my name?

- We watched the movie Babies on Sunday. The whole family. We talked a lot about how different each culture is with they way they raise their babies. Different equipment, different attitudes, different everything, and yet, the four year-old’s favorite part of the movie? (Spoiler alert) When the Mongolian baby was lying on his back with no pants on and he peed. His second favorite part? Watching the American baby strain to poop. Because, after all, he IS four.

- The four year old had a babysitter the other day, and when I returned home, she reported that after he dropped a bunch of stuff on the floor, he exclaimed, “DAMP!” It appears as though my technique of mispronouncing swear words is working quite well.

- My husband loves football. LOVES football. He also loves baseball. Like gets-depressed-if-the-Twins-lose loves it. The other night he ordered the UFC fights on Pay-Per-View. I don’t understand. I want to understand, but I don’t. I think I need a sport to love. I cry at the beginning of Wild games when the kid skates out to center ice with his little hockey-stick flag and then pounds it on the ice. Maybe I’ll try loving hockey. Then again, it sounds like too much work, and let’s face it, my DVR is pretty full.

- Keeping Her Cool trivia, the post that brings the most people to my blog through google – THIS. I am amused and disturbed – probably mostly disturbed.


Four Actually

Four years ago, my world was rocked. His name is Oliver "Ollie" Lindstrom, and he is my second child. He entered the world swiftly, without a push, the doctor barely had one glove on to catch him. It sounds like a fable, but it's the darn truth. I opened my eyes after a short snooze, sat up in the hospital bed and said "HE'S COMING!!!!!" Fifteen minutes later I was hearing the cries of my spirited child. He has attacked the world with the same gusto ever since.

Today, he is four. We are four. When Ollie was born I was born, too. You see, I had to begin to really trust life again. Our first child, our beautiful daughter, Brady didn't live to see her first birthday, she didn't even live to see four months. So, on October 22, 2006, my son brought with him hope. And today, and every year on this day, I am reminded (in the words of James Baldwin) to, "trust life, and it will teach you, in joy and sorrow, all you need to know."

Ollie IS joy. So much joy that I am virtually bursting at the seams.


Mom-gyver Giveaway!!!!

I was inspired by my story in my last post about my girlfriend who Mom-gyvered a diaper into a hotpack to soothe her mastitis on a long flight. It got me thinking about how creative folks are (and no, you don’t really have to be a MOM to be a MOMgyver, you just have to be an innovative person who thinks creatively – I just thought the term Mom-gyver was cute). Necessity is the mother of invention, after all, and how many times have you found yourself in a spot where you needed something different than you had, and had no time to get out and get the proper thing?

Here’s my example: I Mom-gyvered a dress once. Yup. I had just had my son (who is now almost four), and I was feeling less than thrilled with the way I fit into all the stuff in my closet. A month after his birth, we were going to my company holiday party, and I needed to make a maternity dress (from Target – which is how I roll) look… not-so-maternity. So, I raided my craft drawer, and found some embellishments in the form of ribbons and the like, and I pinned, basted, and stitch witchery-ed to my little hearts content. What came out of the deal was a not so bad, and in fact, kinda cute dress that I got at least one and a half compliments on (I had planned on zero). I wish I had a picture to show you, but I was not in the picture posing mood at that time post-partum, but you’ll have to take my word for it.

I’ll take your word for it… all you have to do is share your Mom-gyver story with me here to enter for YOUR chance to win some awesome goodies that my arty Mom-gyver friend Liv from Choosing Beauty sells in her etsy shop, and she magic-ed this up, just for you. Here’s what you’re Mom-gyvering for:

The "Store Hope" necklace
(made from recycled bottle caps -- see, a true Mom-gyver)

Set of 10 itty bitty thank you cards

Be sure to include your email address or a link to your contact info in your main entry. Enter by Tuesday (10/19) at midnight CDT. One winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday (10/20) at 8:00 CDT. Once you’ve shared your story – up your chances of winning this awesome art by:

(leave an additional comment to let me know if you do any of the following for each bonus opportunity)

following @coachcolleen on twitter = 1 entry

"like" Keeping Her Cool on facebook = 1 entry

link to this contest on twitter or facebook = 1 entry each

follow this blog (see followers in side bar) = 1 entry

Good luck and happy Mom-gyvering!



I have a ton of things to blog about, but none that I am in the mood to say enough to necessitate their own post. So, I bring you blogarrhea…

- The other day I skinned my knee (to answer all your questions, dry pavement, slippery shoes, and… yes… margaritas – 2 to be exact). I highly recommend that every mother do this at least once in adulthood. Holy crap. It hurts so much more than you think it does when your kid does it. I draw the line at knee skinning. If my kids break something or need some kind of surgery, I don’t plan on being a method mom in that instance.

- The other day in the car, my (almost) four year-old was frustrated with something and grumbled, “Oh Trap.” That was not a typo. He actually said, “Oh Trap.” My new technique for uttering swear words is to just not enunciate. That should do the trick. Either that, or I could just not give a ship…

- I generally don’t like to think of myself as an entitled person (really, who does?), but I have to share a dirty little secret. My gym has about 10 (okay 5, I like to exaggerate) locker rooms, but the one that I “belong” in is the women’s locker room. This locker room has communal showers and lots of naked people in it. I have nothing against nudity, but I get a ton of it at home with the whole pants optional thing that my (almost) four year-old initiates regularly. I do, however, have a thing with privacy. I have never liked communal showers. I really feel like showering is one of those things that nobody should have to watch anyone else do (along with going potty, putting on spanx, and pulling up nylons). So, I have been regularly using the family locker room that has private showers and changing rooms. Yeah. Just me. Without the rest of the people who make me a family. I’ve been checking with people I know to see if there’s anything morally wrong with this (I only do it when that locker room is basically deserted. I pay special attention to the schedule and would never use it during swim lessons or other family programs). Mostly people have said that they think it’s okay, but I haven’t actually asked anyone of authority at my gym. I just keep waiting to get found out, and ousted.

I did find out the other day, though, that I have questionable morals because on one of my radio shows, I shared that I occasionally grab 2 or 3 tampons (even if I don’t need them) when I am in restrooms that offer free tampons. Listen, I have also been known to grab a handful of Kleenex, so I really don’t see the issue with this. However, a caller did, and she called me on it BIG time. I am not, however, the type of person that visits the free sample station at the grocery store more than once – and if I did, I would definitely pretend like I had never been to that station.

- My husband and I are trying to plan an overnight out of town without the kids. We will be gone for no longer than 36 hours, and we have put more work into planning what is going to be happening at home than we have on what we’ll be doing. I guess this is what I signed up for when we shared that special kind of hug and then crossed our fingers that one or more babies would come out of the deal, but my goodness, I need an extra vacation just to rest from the planning of this vacation!

- The other day my girlfriend told me something that was so amazingly innovative, I had to share it: She was on a flight with her infant and she was suffering (and believe me, it is SUFFERING) with Mastitis. She wanted to put a hot pack on it, but didn’t have a hot pack. So (here it comes… it’s pretty ingenious) she asked the flight attendant for some hot water and poured it in a diaper, then she used that as a hot pack. So, it was hot against her body, but waterproof on the outside! AMAZING! I bet that there are so many millions of things that diapers could be used for that we’re not even thinking of! If we could harness the true power of diapers… just think…

- The other day I posted this video on my facebook page and said it was me. I'm afraid that some people thought it actually was. It's not. It's from a public access show that was aired in 1982, I was 5. I am also a redhead. I did have a couple costumes that looked like that, though.


Mother of the Year, Reporting for Duty...

There are days that the day is easy and rote. I am a slave to our routine. There are other days that start with a bomb, and you think there is nowhere to go but up... and then you realize...

Here was my facebook status today:

If you ever feel like a horrible mother, give me a call, I'll make you feel like a million bucks. That's a promise.

As I look back on the day... maybe it wasn't so bad, but it was definitely funny. I have a solid rule that if you're going to laugh about something later on, you should laugh about it now, so... I'm laughing. I'd like for you to laugh too, at my expense.

(Full disclosure, Mr. Lindstrom just read over timing, and was all Oprah to my James Frey. So, I will note, times are approximate - and this is my version of today's events).

7:30 am - My husband has to wake me up because I have been up the greater portion of the evening suffering as a result of a dinner date out on the town with said husband. I'm not going to lie, we were at a dinner with a bunch of strangers that was served communal style. Number one on the list of things that I both hate and am not good at: Small talk with strangers. When the lady across the table from me started judging me for keeping my cell phone at the ready for constant contact with my babysitter, I may have made some poor choices regarding wine consumption. BTW, in the modern days of cell phones - I fully endorse moms keeping their cell phones silent and on the table for contact with babysitters. I fully recognize that this was no way to handle my woes. However, damage done... moving on...

8:00 am - Everyone around the breakfast table, eating together. Feels pretty good - 'cause we're on schedule... for now.

8:15 am - (almost) 4 year-old arguing with me about going to preschool. Hint: He "doesn't want to go." My position in this debate: Yes, you do.

8:30 am - as I'm removing each twin from their highchair, I smell a familiar odor. Uh-Oh, this odor comes with a mess. BLOW-OUT X 2!!!! (Oh yeah, and we're supposed to be in the car right now).

8:33 am - in record time, both babies with fresh diapers and fresh outfits.

8:35 am - (almost) 4 year-old arguing with me about the character on his underwear. (This, only after I realized that when he dressed himself earlier, he had opted for the never offered "no underwear" option.)

8:45 am - getting into the car. Three children are crying.

9:05 am - 5 minutes late to school. Drop Twinstroms off at their morning program.

9:07 am- walking down the hall and into the preschool where (almost) 4 year-old attends, director reminds me of open house with refreshments in fellowship hall.

9:08 am - drop (almost) 4 year-old off at his classroom, and then run quickly back to the car. Consciously skipping open house (even though the refreshments sound lovely).

9:30 am - arrive home. Skipping gym workout in favor of a nap (see 7:30 am wake-up call).

11:05 am - cell phone alarm goes off. I "press snooze."

11:30 am - oops. That wasn't "snooze." That was "off." phone rings. Another mother/friend, calling to tell me that she's stuck in traffic. OH SHIT, thanks for calling, or else I wouldn't have WOKEN UP. Supposed to be at school NOW to pick the kids up. It is a 15 minute (if the wind is blowing correctly and I hit EVERY green light) drive.

11:31 am - Front door unlocked, dog un-kennelled and left to pee freely in my home. Driving. On the parkway. Speed Limit 25. My speed 40. Call husband. "Hi, call school and tell them I'm running late, please." He says, "Do you know the number?" I say, "NO. THAT'S WHY I'M CALLING YOU!"

11:45 am - haven't fixed my hair since I woke up. Run into mother/friend who woke me up with phone call. We laugh (mostly at my hair, but also at the situation). I breeze in and pick up kids. Apologize profusely. Nod apologetically when they make note of the traffic (does that count as a lie?)

noon - almost home, but have passed a McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendy's. (Almost) 4 year-old is YELLING at me to stop so he can eat. (Note to self: stop buying this kid fast food).

12:25 pm - Everyone is in the house (it takes at least 2 trips), and at their kitchen table spots. Short order cook (me) is making lunch. (Almost) 4 year-old reminds me that my cooking doesn't resemble that of Ronald McDonald (thanks. See note to self, above).

1:00 pm - Thank God we made it through lunch with minimal sacrifice in the way of clothing.

1:15 pm - Twins sleeping. Argument begins with (almost) 4 year-old about what our afternoon plans will entail. Settling on reading a book together.

2:00 pm - book we are reading contains the words, "booger face."

2:01 pm - (almost) 4 year-old has discovered a new term.

2:02 pm - I'm ready to run away from home if I hear the words "booger face" one more time.

4:00 pm - Everyone's up, at 'em, and LOUD.

4:05 pm - (almost) 4 year-old has called both is brother and his sister, "booger face." I can't entirely blame him. They are kind of boogery.

4:25 pm - husband emails me about details regarding the day that the (almost) 4 year-old turns (actually) 4.

4:30 pm - I share details with (almost) 4 year-old. (Train ride, etc.)

4:31 pm - MELTDOWN. (Almost) 4 year-old does not want to ride train. He wants to have birthday at our house. He does not understand me when I tell him that that means I have to clean. What is this cleaning that you speak of, Mom????

5:00 pm - husband arrives home.

5:05 pm - short order cook prepares 4 separate meals for 5 separate people. (I take the blame. This needs to stop).

6:00 pm - Bath time. I blow up the Twinstroms bath apparatus with my mouth (it's a little ducky, and we haven't used it before because they couldn't really both sit up confidently. FINALLY we're good in that department, and this way the (almost) 4 year-old can bathe with them).

6:05 pm - Almost pass out due to above noted blowing up of bath apparatus. (Note to self: Don't skip the gym workout in favor of the nap.)

6:10 pm - Twinstroms = clean.

6:11 pm - (almost) 4 year-old is using all his usual words to tell me how angry he is that I got soap in his eyes. "Mom, I don't love you." "Mom, you are not the best." "Mom, that was really not cute."

6:30 pm - Twinstroms sleeping.

7:05 pm - (almost) 4 year-old sleeping.

7:30 pm - Now planning 4 year-old birthday party which simulates a train ride, but is NOT an actual train ride. AT OUR MESSY DAYCARE HOUSE. Trying not to cry. Remembering that this is for him, and not me, but still feeling supremely inadequate.

7:45 pm - order invitations from etsy and only after placing the order, realize that the shopkeeper has at least a 3 week turnaround. (Party on October 23).

7:47 pm - Write pleading email. Promising extra money, and other favors, though they are currently undefined.

9:00 pm - 3rd glass of wine. Yup. And I'm not ashamed to admit it!


…and I want to be everything sometimes too…

I have a favorite poem I want to share with you. I discovered it in high school, and it has always meant something to me (though the meaning changes to me as I grow and change):

I Am Cherry Alive

By Delmore Schwartz

“I am cherry alive,” the little girl sang,

“Each morning I am something new:

I am apple, I am plum, I am just as excited

As the boys who made the Hallowe’en bang:

I am tree, I am cat, I am blossom too:

When I like, if I like, I can be someone new,

Someone very old, a witch in a zoo:

I can be someone else whenever I think who,

And I want to be everything sometimes too:

And the peach has a pit and I know that too,

And I put it in along with everything

To make the grown-ups laugh whenever I sing:

And I sing it is true; it is untrue; 

I know, I know, the true is untrue,

The peach has a pit, and the pit has a peach:

And both may be wrong when I sing my song,

But I don’t tell the grown-ups: because it is sad, 

And I want them to laugh just like I do

Because they grew up and forgot what they knew

And they are sure I will forget it some day too.

They are wrong. They are wrong. When I sang my song, I knew, I knew!

I am red, I am gold, I am green, I am blue,

I will always be me, I will always be new!”

I usually make it a personal policy not to comment or respond to anonymous comments. I also make it a policy not to delete them. Anonymous is always entitled to their opinion. Anonymous can sometimes be kind, thoughtful, and flattering, but sometimes Anonymous is just doing a drive by shooting. Spitting out their own mean spirited thoughts that are meant to do nothing more than attempt to break you down. That said, I am going to respond to this anonymous comment, because it actually got me noodling a little. I wish that I could thank Anonymous by name, but Anonymous did not leave me their name… oh well…

This was the comment: Are you often overcome with such silly delusions of adequacy?

This was my response: Anonymous,
I know you were trying to be mean spirited, but actually, the answer is, yes. So, there.

The truth is, I am very often overcome with silly delusions of adequacy. I suspect I’m not alone in this. My default position is to feel like I can’t be everything I need to be. I cannot be the mom I want to be because I am busy trying to be the wife I want to be, I cannot be the wife I want to be because I am busy trying to be the friend I want to be, I cannot be the friend I want to be because I am busy trying to be the ____ I want to be, and I cannot be the ____ I want to be because I am busy trying to be the mom I want to be. Lather, rinse, repeat. That is my neutral. So, in the rare moment that I feel like I am good enough… yes, it feels like a silly delusion. Are you with me, so far?

Here’s the secret: I don’t have to be adequate in the eyes of “Anonymous.” You don’t have to be adequate in the eyes of “Anonymous.” (It bears noting, that “Anonymous” is not by any means “adequate” in my eyes, because an adequate person would not hurl mean spirited comments behind the veil of anonymity.) Anonymous doesn’t care, and frankly, neither do I, because what matters is that we are adequate to ourselves, and to those that we care the most about. That is what unconditional love is all about. The tricky thing is being conscious about loving yourself unconditionally, and making THAT your default position, and believing that, yes indeed, you are adequate (and in fact amazing) even (and especially) when you are having one of those times when you want to be everything. And even if “Anonymous” thinks is a “silly delusion,” you can be sure that it is not. So, there. Thank you, “Anonymous.”

Have Keeping Her Cool Emailed to you!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Popular Posts