The Grass Is Always Greener in the Doughnut Shop

Sometimes I get envious of the lady that works in the Doughnut Shop around the corner from my house.  I know that sounds strange, but I think about her sometimes when I'm having a particularly hairy day.

She wakes up at 3:30 am and goes to the shop in the quiet of early morning.  In the still and dark, she turns on the television in the doughnut shop and listens to the news while she prepares a pot of coffee. The first cup will be for her, the rest for the throngs of customers who flock to enjoy the delectables which she will begin to prepare at this early hour.  She takes most responsibility for the apple and cherry turnovers. They are not easy, but she has perfected her technique, and has turned so many over that she barely even notices that she's doing it anymore.  Like breathing she completes this task without ever stopping to think about it. Her daily variety comes in the form of her customers.  She's never sure exactly who will come through the door of the shop.  There are regulars, to be sure, and they will certainly pick the conversation up where they left it yesterday. But there are new people, too. Elderly people out for their morning walk, mom's with their babes in strollers stopping for a treat, teenagers skipping school in favor of one of her famous raised glazed doughnuts. She greets everyone with a smile, like they are her friend. At noon, she will leave for the day and run a couple of errands before she returns to her home, she will hunker down to "watch her stories" on TV, prepare a small dinner just for her, and then hit the hay at 7:00 pm sharp so she can wake up and do it all over again.

Each day for her is almost the same as the day before.  Each day, she goes the same direction she has been going for the past dozen years, and she has virtually no complaints.

Some days this sounds nice to me.

Except that I know that a few years ago, she lost her beloved husband and companion six months after a diagnosis of stomach cancer. He went so quickly, and left her with such a huge hole in her heart.  He was young. Just 62 years old.  She says she misses him most when she prepares that small dinner, just for her.

Everybody has stuff. We are all a little broken, but we are all trying our best. When I'm feeling really stressed, and pulled in a million directions, and down in the mouth about the challenges I've faced, I think about my friend at the doughnut shop, how I sometimes think her life sounds pretty nice, and remember that she once told me that she was a smidgen envious of my life.


Manic Monday Blogarrhea: 'Tis The Season...

  • of layering a little bit of every season into your attire because the day may begin winter, and end summer or vice versa.
  • for figuring out which TV shows you are going to stick with following the fall premiers.  (I'm for sure sticking with Up All Night and The New Girl. Person of Interest is turning my crank, too.)
  • for answering the question, "is it going to be Halloween soon?" Or, "can I wear my costume today?" Over, and over, and over, and over, and over...
  • for chili. 
  • for chilly.
  • for wondering if this will be the last day that the leaves fall, or the first day the snow will fall.


Food For Thought Friday: To Celebrate?

It's a big weekend here at the Lindstrom house! The Human Cannonball turns FIVE tomorrow!  Party preparations are underway, and each morning we excitedly announce the countdown, I am not quite sure that I have adequately wrapped my head around the fact that the Human Cannonball has been rocking my world for FIVE years.  To me, he's still my baby and I know he'll stay that in my heart forever.

I am a big birthday planner.  I like to throw parties. To be fair, I'll throw a party for any reason, it doesn't have to be a birthday or an anniversary.  One rainy day when the Twinstroms were just teeny bits, the Human Cannonball and I threw a "Surprise, We Love You" party for Mr. Lindstrom.  We just grabbed things around the house, making flowers from coffee filters, a banner with construction paper, we made a cake and decorated it with sprinkles, and threw together a special dinner just for daddy.  When he came home, we all shouted surprise, and surprised he was.  Who expects a party on any old rainy Tuesday? But, I believe we all deserve to be celebrated on occasion, celebrated just because we are who we are.

I used to work with someone who really felt that the world is excessive about birthday celebrations.  She thought the birthday celebration was "just dumb." She thought it was ridiculous to throw a party for someone "just for being born."  She was afraid of the message we give children by celebrating their birthday. She thought we were turning them into self absorbed, greedy creatures. I could not disagree more.  Throwing a party for someone's birthday says, "I'm glad you were born, the world is a different place because you are here, and I want to celebrate that!" What could instill more confidence than that.  Saying, "you are here for a purpose! We need you!" The birthday is a logical time to have a celebration, but I am of the opinion that we don't celebrate each other enough in this culture.

I think about all the bullies in the world who use their words to hurt other's because they are hurting themselves.  They could use a celebration of their gift to the world. Or the children who are being bullied, being told they are less than, let's celebrate their gift to the world.  I want my children to know that they are unique and special people. I want to celebrate that every year.  Of course, The Human Cannonball is looking forward to opening the gifts, he's looking forward to the cake, he's looking forward to having everyone's eyes on him, but I know that under all of that, he is feeling the generous love of all of us, knowing that life would have been much different (possibly boring) had he not graced us with his presence.

How do you feel about the birthday? Is it excessive? Or are you the celebrating type?

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!


Things I Do When My Kids Aren't Home

  1. Watch adult television. Get your mind out of the gutter. I mean like The View, or The Nate Berkus Show.
  2. Think about cleaning.
  3. Imagine what my house would look like if I could have breakable precious things at eye level or below.
  4. Shower. For an hour. With no interruptions.
  5. Miss the heck out of my kids and wish they were home in our comfortable chaos!
What do you do in the rare occasion that you are home without kids?


Wordless Wednesday: Five

My little Swashbuckler turns FIVE on Saturday.  His story is so important to me. Read a little snippet at It's My Baby Blog, today. 


Manic Monday Bloggarhea: The Restaurant Edition

I am an enthusiastic supporter of restaurant dining.  What's not to like? Food, brought to you piping hot by a willing party, prepared by a trained professional. I mean, they do everything but feed me (wait, I feel a restaurant concept coming on...) However, I've spotted some faux pas in my restaurant travels which need to be brought to light:

1. The chip or bread to dip or spread ratio is generally off.  Too frequently we find ourselves having to ask for more chip or bread to go with the dip or spread. Why can't they just bring the appropriate amount in the first place? It would save the servers the time and energy of going back and forth to the kitchen.

2.  I don't know about you, but I rarely find an odd number of people sitting at a table when I dine out.  Usually  people dine in pairs, or even numbers.  So, why is it that so many appetizers are brought in odd portions? I can't tell you how often Mr. Lindstrom and I order some sort of starter and find three of it on the plate. I am confident that 99% of arguments that occur in restaurants are over that last egg roll.

3.  I don't mind when a server asks me if I've been to their establishment before.  Especially if the question is followed up with a simple, "well, welcome to ___." What really bugs me, though is when they follow it up with instructions on how to "use" their restaurant.  So, I may not have been to your restaurant before, but I have been to a restaurant before. Generally, the concept of ordering food and having it brought to my table is not foreign or complicated to me.

4. The only thing that's worse than that is when a server tries to shove the restaurant's interesting or new "concept" down my throat, I'm not really interested.  How about just make some good food?  If the food is good, I don't really care about the concept.  Actually, if the food is bad, I don't really care about the concept either.  I really only want to eat good food.  Good food kind of makes a restaurant succeed in my book.

Call me nitpicky, but this is the kind of stuff that occupies my mind.  I like to fixate on it when I can't handle the real stuff that is taking up my brain space.  If I were running for President, the issue I would support would be a regulation of the chip or bread to dip or spread ratio.  Think of how much happier we'd all be. World peace doesn't seem so far off now, does it?


Food For Thought Friday: Sticks and Stones

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." I remember singing this little rhyme to myself growing up. Trying to remind myself that words were not weapons.  As an adult, I have to tell you, I think this is a load of crap.

We always skip a page in one of the Human Cannonball's favorite books, "Fox In Sox." Page forty something.  Fox says to Mr. Knox, "...you don't have to be so dumb, now." Last night, as I read him the book, partly because he can sound out words these days, and partly because he has a memory like you wouldn't believe (especially for rhyme) and inevitably has picked it up when his dad or I have accidentally dropped it, he pointed to the word and said, "Mom, that says 'dumb', why don't you read that page?"  I told him that the word "dumb" isn't a kind word, and I don't want him using it.

I didn't tell him that I remember just about every person in this world who called me "dumb" or some variation.  So many people, hurling the insult effortlessly like a ninja, my brother, my father, a teacher, kids in the schoolyard, a neighbor that I looked up to, and more recently anonymous emailers who are not creative enough to come up with a legitimate particle of constructive criticism, all confirming a fear that I held about myself.  I am dumb.  Words DO hurt.

Now, do I actually think I am dumb? No.  I know I am not dumb.  I'll spare you the list of my successes, but I will tell you, a "dumb" person would never have accomplished all of this. But the words left their mark. What if people think I'm dumb? I hate feeling misunderstood.

As an adult, I understand that what we are trying to teach our children when we say "words will never hurt me," is that what other people think of you is no match for what you KNOW about yourself.  Words, even ones that are meant to hurt, cannot break your strong spirit.  We tell them this, and simultaneously try to instill the value of not using their words to hurt others.  There are adults who cannot reconcile this, how do we expect our children to?  Words DO hurt.

There are bullies everywhere, at the grocery store, at your work, in your churches, hiding behind their computer screens, reading this very blog (and likely getting ready to comment under the ever-popular moniker "anonymous"). Here is what I know about these bullies, they use words that hurt because they don't feel very good about themselves.  Their hurtful words say nothing about you, they say EVERYTHING about them.  This is a lesson I'd like my kids to learn sooner rather than later, but frankly, I'd rather people were just nice to each other so that I didn't have to teach them the lesson at all.  Words DO hurt, and sometime it can take a lifetime to undo their damage.

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!


Food For Thought Friday: The Biggest Challenge Can Be The Strongest Gift

I'm pretty sure I was a challenging child. Emotions that tended toward the dramatic, an enthusiastic storyteller who would often fool people into thinking that my stories were true, an ever moving mouth spilling my thoughts in a constant loop, an independent spirit with an itch to move constantly (I filled every open space with movement). I sometimes imagine what it may have been like to parent me. Then I need a nap.  I don't think anyone ever had a conversation with my parents about medicating me because of my "challenges."  

Now I am grown, my emotions give me sufficient fodder for a blog where I tell my true stories of life, my constant moving mouth has given way to a career in talk radio, my itch to move constantly led me to dance classes and ultimately to a major in dance, with a special talent in choreography (filling space with movement).  When my mom was up to her eyeballs in my "challenges" when I was a child, she didn't know the end of the story (and believe me, we're only in the middle of the story...)

We know enough to be dangerous these days, we have plenty of labels that we can slap on kids and then we can react to them accordingly.  We use them to write children off, excuse their difficult behavior, and find order in the difficult world of child rearing.  I shudder to think of what labels would have been applied to me when I was a child.

The world lost a very important man last week.  Dr. Peter Benson. I am lucky to have known him in life. He is the father of one of my dearest friends.  His legacy is the concept of the Spark. Each child has within them a spark, when it is ignited they shine so bright.  I have a spark, you have a spark, the person behind the counter at the coffee shop has a spark, the person in the car next to you has a spark, each of us, our own unique spark.  When we harness the energy of the spark, we are unstoppable.  My "challenges" were my sparks.

I am an extremely involved parent. I actively pursue education about parenting methods so that I can parent to my unique children. I don't want my children's lives to be easy, but I want their interactions to be comfortable. The Human Cannonball is aptly named, he takes the world by storm. To be frank, I am tired of implications that there may be something "wrong" with him from teachers and other parents alike. I'm not saying that there aren't challenges, or that I should not pursue avenues to help manage and teach different behaviors, I am saying that there is so much focus on what's "wrong" with our children, and not enough focus on what is RIGHT!  For each of us, our biggest challenges frequently turn out to be our strongest gifts. It's a long, winding road, but it doesn't have to be.  If we parent to our children's sparks, how can we go wrong?

What is your child's spark? What is your own spark? What were your "challenges" as a child, and how have they become your gifts?

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!


Wordless Wednesday: A Real Life Dog Whisperer

I see this guy walking all these big dogs in South Minneapolis all the time.  He's pretty amazing!


A Marathon of Manic Monday Blogarrhea

I LOVE Marathon day in Minneapolis.  It's like a holiday for me.  We skip church, eat a special breakfast, and plan to stand and clap for as long as we can.  I grew up one block off the marathon route (on about mile 9 or 10), and now again live one block off the marathon route (about mile 12.5). For those of you who aren't in the Twin Cities area, it is a well known fact that the Twin Cities Marathon route is one of the most beautiful 26 mile runs in the country.  Near the lakes, hugging Minnehaha Creek, and alongside the powerful waters of the Mississippi, all on a crisp fall day when the leaves are really beginning to turn.  It almost makes me wish I liked to run. Almost.

The Marathoners begin in downtown Minneapolis, weave through the natural beauty of the Minneapolis parkways, and then cross the river into St. Paul absorbing the historic beauty there. One time, I watched the Marathon at mile 23. It was frightening.  I mean that in the kindest way possible.  In Minneapolis, the Marathon runners look like anything is possible, in St. Paul, they begin to show the wear and tear.  I haven't crossed the river to watch since.  Two words have kept me from doing so, bloody nipples.

Each year I forget how emotional I get when I watch the Marathon. For the bulk of the runners (save for the ones who have already finished the whole darn thing before the largest pack have even hit the 10 mile mark - those are the pros) this is a true test of what they are made of.  It usually began as a nagging thought, or a casual proclamation, maybe arose from a conversation with a friend who issued a challenge. It started as a goal. I feel geekily privileged to have the opportunity to watch people realize a huge goal like that.  So while I'm clapping my hands loudly and hollering at people who are going for a really long run, the second I realize what they are really doing, how big this moment actually is, I kind of tear up. Okay, I flat out cry.

Imagine how awesome it would be to have a street full of strangers cheering for you every time you went out to accomplish a huge goal.  The person who cut you off on the highway and then flipped you a rude gesture the other day could easily be standing at mile 25 shouting words of support at YOU. Everyone loves each other on Marathon Day!  It almost makes me wish I liked to run.  Almost.


Food For Thought Friday: Silence is Golden

As one who talks for a living, I was overjoyed when the Human Cannonball began to talk. Finally, we could communicate verbally, my favorite thing to do.  He is a wonderful asker of difficult questions, "Mom, why are there eyelashes in this world?" or "do they have video games in heaven?" He seems to have a constant flow of thoughts exiting his brain by way of his mouth.  It has almost always delighted me (a little peace and quiet sometimes would be nice, and teaching him not to interrupt has been a major challenge).

So, it surprised me when he started going to school (preschool, Sunday School, all types of school), that when I picked him up and asked him what his favorite part of the day was, expecting to hear the flood of words fall from his constantly moving lips telling me every detail of his day, his response was a short, "I don't want to tell you."  Here, I had let my heart go walking around in the cold cruel world all alone, and he didn't want to tell me what it was like? Ouch.  Now, on the one hand, I respect the fact that his experiences when he is apart from me are his. The instinct to not share is one I can appreciate. On the other hand, I wanted to know how his day was, gosh darnit! I wasn't asking him for the frickin' secret recipe to the Colonel's fried chicken.  Seriously.

For whatever reason, he just wasn't ready to share his day.  So, I ignored my natural instinct to pepper him with questions, and told myself that when he was ready, he would tell me.  I reminded him every day that I cared by asking him the same question, "what was your favorite part of your day?" I paid attention to what he wasn't saying with his words, I asked his teachers how his day was, I looked for clues in the moment to moment.  Most of all, I kept a caring silence.  Reminding myself that when he was ready to tell me, he'd tell me.

Now it's been over a year of doing this dance, and the past week, each day when I pick him up at school and ask him, "what was your favorite part of your day?" He has answered.  First it was just one quick statement, and then I'd go back to listening between his words. Then it was a couple more things, and I'd keep listening when he was done speaking. Now, today, he could not stop telling me about his day. I sat quietly and listened TO his words this time.  It was almost magical.

As parents, it's easy to think that the sound of our voice is important. Reading aloud with our children, saying what is right or wrong, telling them the right way to handle a situation, being stern with our voice in discipline, and joyful in celebration. All of that is important, however, I think that what we say and how we say it is 20% of what's important, the other 80% that really matters is what we do with our children when we are silent. The silent moments are golden.

Do you consciously tend to the silence in your family? How do you communicate with your kids without using your words?

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!


Why Four-Year-Olds Don't Carry Calendars

The Human Cannonball came bounding out of school at pick-up yesterday skipping, and singing, "tomorrow is picture day, tomorrow is picture day." His very un-photogenic mom (that's me) felt the anxiety bubbling up. Residual anxiety from my own years of school pictures. Never feeling like I looked good enough for the snapshot that would represent that year of my life each year. For the pretty girls, I always imagined this day felt almost pleasant, a chance to flash their cute grin for the shutter, and knowing that it would always capture their best side. For a funky looking redhead who was teased for her freckles and called "carrot-top," whose smile revealed an "open bite" and various orthodontic appliances through the years (I actually remember my 9th grade picture, taken just 2 months after I'd had major jaw surgery. The swelling had not totally subsided, and my cheeks looked like little chipmunks) picture day was a nightmare.

The Human Cannonball was so darned excited about picture day, I set aside my vicarious anxiety and celebrated with him (also pushing away thoughts about how I wished I'd known sooner what the dates of pictures were, the Human Cannonball is desperate for a haircut... oh well).  He looks at himself in the mirror and sees what I see, a handsome, joyful, perfectly made young man.  He has no reason to dread picture day.

I have had an unsettled feeling since yesterday, needing to frequently remind myself that my anxiety is around my own feelings about the weight of picture days from my youth, and those are not his. The truth is, I will adore a picture of the Human Cannonball even if his hair is sticking up, because he is perfectly who he is, and he is perfectly my son.  When he is eighteen, and we are celebrating his high school graduation, and we look back at this picture, I will remember the precocious, smart, hilarious, joyful child he is now.

So this morning, as he was getting dressed, I felt calmed as I was pulling the picture form out of his backpack. I began the process of looking through the different picture packages, and something caught my eye.  October.  It is still September.  PICTURES AREN'T UNTIL NEXT WEEK! I can't believe that I took a scheduling cue from my four-year-old.


Food For Thought Friday: Sleep Matters

I have to say that I don't think sleep gets the praise it should.  In a culture that seems to value productivity and connectedness at the expense of sleep, I'm afraid that we are becoming of the opinion that sleep somehow is synonymous with laziness.  I had a coworker once who told me I was lazy because I took a 45 minute afternoon nap every day.  I was pretty sure she wasn't the only person who thought that way, and that told me everything I needed to know about how our culture values sleep.  My fear is that we will begin to ascribe this "cultural value" to our children.

Sleep, in my opinion, is the key to world peace.  People can't get along? They probably need more sleep.  Feeling sick or in pain? You probably need more sleep. Indecisive? Sleep on it. I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that sleep is definitely the key to Lindstrom peace.  It's one of the ways we try to maintain the delicate balance of happiness in our house.  When the human cannonball is more cannonball-y than usual, we immediately prescribe a nap.  When the Twinstroms are acting a little more "two" than usual, they go off to bed for a good long snooze.  Sleep does amazing things.

The most amazing thing about sleep is that getting more sleep doesn't rob your children of more sleep later.  Sleep begets sleep.  The more they get, the more they'll get (up to a point).  So, it pays to have a working knowledge of what those sleep recommendations are for each age group.

How is the sleep situation at your house?

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!


My Phone Rules. No, Seriously...

4:30 pm Tuesday, I walk out of the gym after my Pilates Reformer session, ready to tackle the world.  I'm going to have a glass of wine with one of my ladies at her house.  I've been there a couple times, I kind of know where I'm going, but I'm planning to use the navigation on my phone. Walking out to the car, I get a text from my babysitter, "should I feed the kids dinner?" I write back, "yes, please." and then remember that Mr. Lindstrom is on his way home soon, and he can do dinner with them, "wait... no." I reply, and then notice I have a voicemail. It's from the Director of Children's Ministry at my church wondering if I can volunteer the next night, and could I get back to her soon. I get ready to dial her back when I notice another text from my sitter, "I texted Mr. Lindstrom, and he said to feed them. What should I do?"

As I settle myself in the car, I make my mental list:
1. Enter Superawesome Girlfriend's address into phone navigation system to get directions.
2. Text back babysitter before pulling the car out of the spot.
3. Call Director of Children's Ministry and chat about volunteering.
4. Call Mr. Lindstrom to notify him of whereabouts and plans.

As I'm attacking #1 of my to-do list, the phone freezes up, and dies.  I tried to resuscitate. I did everything short of performing mouth to mouth. Nothing.

Here's what makes this all funny: The next few minutes went like this in my head, I need to call the Sprint store. Can't -- phone doesn't work.  Well, I should at least call Mr. Lindstrom to tell him my phone doesn't work. Can't -- phone doesn't work.  Ugh. My poor babysitter is probably confused by the conflicting information, I need to quick call her... CAN'T -- PHONE DOESN'T WORK!!!!!

I don't know that I have a healthy relationship with my phone.  I thought I did.  I thought I could act independently. I thought I could quit at any time.  I thought I'd be okay without it.  But my phone has sucked me in. With the constant facebook and twitter updates, the handy camera, the map system that ensures I will never be lost again, the games to keep me busy should my hands ever go idle, not to mention the ability to be constantly accessible to friends, family, and business associates.  How did I ever live without it?

The four hours without my phone were agonizing. Rather than being relaxed because I was inaccessible, I was anxious because I was inaccessible.  When I got home, my first priority was to activate my back-up phone (if I were on a couch in an office, talking to someone with lots of letters behind their name, they would point out to me that this is an excellent indicator that my relationship with my phone is unhealthy.  I have a back-up phone for emergencies.)

Should you be concerned, I managed to get to my friend's house un-aided (perhaps I followed the scent of good friendship and red wine), and no emergencies ensued during my time sans phone.  It really made me wonder how we ever lived without these tiny little computers on our person at all times.  Can you remember?  Is it better or worse now?


Manic Monday Blogarrhea

You know when you post things on craigslist and you have to enter the words they request in order to finalize the post so they know you are not a robot or something? Today, I was posting a couple of things and the words I had to enter were, "eat us." Disturbing.

One of the things I was posting was our Aquarium themed baby swing.  I google-imaged it to post an image (instead of taking a picture myself. I am lazy like that... or efficient.) One of the images that came up was of this shoe:
I need this in an 8.

My kids are milk-o-holics. This actually comes as no surprise, because they are descended from two self-described milk-o-holics. It's in the genes.  It used to be that we had a fridge full of milk; skim and whole. Mr. and I drank the skim, and we pumped our kids full of the calories and fat from the whole.  Well, in recent weeks, I've just stopped buying skim for the Mr. and me, because we are spending half of our monthly income on milk. What we really need is a cow. I just want to chalk up the lack of milk in my diet as one of the very serious sacrifices I've made for my kids.  I know, the martyr wins Mother of the Year.  (If I were the kind of blogger who incorporates emoticons, I would use this one ;-) to show you that I was being sarcastic.)

Whenever I see an actor or actress who looks familiar, but I can't place where I know them from, I say to Mr. Lindstrom, "I think they were on Night Court." You know Night Court, the late 80s to early 90s. Yes, for some reason, I think that all familiar actors and actresses at one time had a bit part on Night Court, and that I remember them clearly from that role.  Does anyone else do this? I should also state, for the record, that Mr. Lindstrom (who has an equally obscure knowledge of pop culture) can almost always tell me with a certainty both that they were, in fact, not on Night Court, and what I do know them from.  Also, I haven't watched an episode of Night Court for more than a decade.  


Food For Thought Friday: Food... For People...

We are a lucky family. With five hungry mouths to feed, Mr. Lindstrom and I are able to make enough money to put food on the table.  For so many people this is easily taken for granted.  I'm ashamed to say, that for us, it often is too. Despite the fact that I am a meticulous meal planner, and try to plan meals so that we have no waste,  I feel sick when I clean the refrigerator and throw away food that has gone bad because we actually have too much. On a day to day basis, we take for granted the fact that meals and snacks are not hard to come by at our house.  I don't know what it is like to be hungry. I don't know what it's like to not be able to feed my family.

The other day, the Human Cannonball came home from school with a note in his bag.  In our particular public school system, at our particular school there are food programs for less fortunate families.  This note gave instructions on how our family could receive 30 pounds of food a month per student we had enrolled in the school system.  This gave me pause, 30 pounds of food a month.  I picked up the Human Cannonball to give him a hug.  He weighs 45 pounds.  This feels a lot like the weight of the bags I carry in from the grocery store once a week.  I looked around our kitchen. We have food that we can't fit into the cupboards decorating our counters.  We are so lucky.

The fact is that one in five families right here in Minnesota has trouble feeding their entire family.  As I picked the Human Cannonball up from school today, and I watched the parade of kids going to their buses, I wondered which of these kids isn't going to eat a healthy dinner tonight?  One in five families.

Our family has volunteered in a few ways to help facilitate the conversation about hunger in our house. One thing we have done, which was not through any organization, was to make "blessing bags." We simply filled some small brown paper bags with snacks, a washcloth, some hand sanitizer, chapstick, lotion, and bottled water to keep in our car. When we stop at a stoplight and see someone holding a sign that says they are hungry, we roll down the window and hand them a bag.  Many will argue that some of those people aren't really hungry, and frankly, I don't care. What my kids are learning from that experience is more valuable to me. They learn that we care about people in our world, and that when someone is having a tough time, we can reach out.

Another thing we have done as a family is make sandwiches for an organization called 363 Days.  This organization is founded on the notion that people are hungry 365 days a year, not just on Thanksgiving and Christmas when many people flock to the shelters to feed the hungry.  The other 363 days, people are hungry too. So, on your own time, with your own resources, as a group or as a family, you make sandwiches. Then, you drop them at one of many local Drop Locations and they are distributed from there to many shelters in the area.

Something we are planning to do this year, on Thanksgiving with the family is the Walk To End Hunger.  This walk, which takes place at the Mall of America, is an excellent time and space to open up the discussion of what hunger is, and how we can help.  The Walk to End Hunger is presented by the Twin Cities Hunger Initiative which is a coalition of many hunger relief agencies aiming to raise awareness and collect non-perishable food items to help fight hunger.

When I was young, we frequently talked about the children who were hungry in other areas of the world. The fact is that people are hungry right here.  In homes in our neighborhoods, at our schools, in our churches.  This is our community. I encourage you to open up the conversation of hunger in your homes, and consider what you can truly do to help.

How does your family talk about hunger? What kinds of things have you done to facilitate conversation or lend help?

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!


Manic Monday Blogarrhea

I am wondering when children should stop being called babies.  My "babies" are 20 months, and they are definitely more "toddlers" than "babies."  Still, every once in a while we refer to them as "the babies." In fact, at our house, they are probably far more frequently referred to as "the babies" than "the twins." What's the cut-off? Is it a period of time, like 2 years of age? Or is it more an experience or milestone situation, like when they are out of diapers, or don't sleep in a crib anymore, or start rolling their eyes at you?

I ask this question all the time, and if I were an Anthropologist, this would be my area of study (and since I am primarily a talk show host and blogger, I'll just ask about it): Who figured out that sex was what made babies? How did they figure it out? There is a major delay in cause and effect with sex, pregnancy, and delivery.  Many women don't even know that they are pregnant until they are a couple months in and some never know at all until the baby emerges (don't even get me started on the level of denial that that must take).  So, I brought this up at a little party the other day (because I'm that girl. The one who brings up weird questions at the party.  I usually hang out somewhere near the guitar guy and the loud cackling girl.) and my one girlfriend says, "well, when Laura Ingalls and Manly had sex..." and I fell apart because I totally understand using television shows as a reference to history, and am amused at the fact that Little House On The Prairie is as far back as we can go... Thank you, Michael Landon.  For the record, I still don't know the answer to my question.  Probably because there has never been a popular TV show to clear it up for me.

The other day I was bumming around the adorable city of Excelsior.  Who am I kidding, I haven't bummed around since I was 20. I don't even know what one does when one "bums." I was actually in Excelsior for a very important meeting with a very important friend (Katie from KeikiB Salon Spa, you must go to there) and we witnessed a gentleman wandering in full Captain Jack Sparrow regalia.  Katie spends a lot of time in that neighborhood and she assured me that this is quite normal behavior for this young man.  The thing is, he looked like a darn good Captain Jack Sparrow. He was handsome, and his costume looked real, not like something he'd purchased on clearance last November first at his local party supply store.  I was impressed.  He may stick out like a sore thumb wandering around looking like Johnny Depp dressed up as a pirate, but I bet this guy pulls serious chicks. And honestly, when I hear the words "Captain Jack Sparrow," I think of this:


Food For Thought Friday: Going It Alone...

You may (or may not) have noticed that I disappeared from Bloggy-ville this week.  I like to try to post between four or five days a week. This week, I'm chalking up an unimpressive one post. The list of excuses includes the fact that it was a holiday week, and I worked at the radio station a little more than usual, but the real reason is that Mr. Lindstrom has been away on business for the last three days.

Now, I want to be very clear about this, women and men who are single parenting do it 24/7. I parented alone for three days.  I cannot say "Oh, I know what it's like to be a single parent" because I only did it for three days. I think it's an insult to call the temporary type of parenting alone "single parenting." I parented alone for three days. I did it with the knowledge that after three days, my partner would be back and we'd fall back into the same routine of partner-parenting that I think we do pretty well.  For so many reasons that I hope I don't have to outline, parenting alone for a few days is different from being a single parent, please know that I do not claim to understand the myriad of challenges and intense emotions that the experience of single parenting is fraught with.

I think I got the teeny tiniest glimpse, though. As I was between drop-offs and pick-ups the other day, plotting and planning a day that included some conference calls and meeting arrangement in addition to lunch making, kid bathing, and outdoor playing, I suddenly felt this wave of isolation.  Of course, my kids were keeping me good company, but I missed the companionship of an adult.  I missed having that one person there who knows as well as I do what life with my kids is like. This is no small thing.  The physical act of parenting is a hard and tiring job, I find it exhausting when my co-parent is present and involved.  With him away, I reached a new level of physical and mental exhaustion.

To my single parent friends, I want you to know that I don't always have the level of appreciation that I should for the hard work that you are doing. In so many ways, I don't and can't know the true challenge of what life is like as the one and only for your children. I know that you have amazing times with your children, but that the hard times are doubly hard, and I want to honor you (and give you a high five, buy you a drink, pat you on the back, whatever floats your boat) for your parenting, and for being my friend because all of you are not only amazing parents, but all around super great people.

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!


Food For Thought Friday: Saying Goodbye to the Baby Stuff

I'm shedding a couple of tears this week. As I type, I'm selling off all the itty bitty baby gear in a garage sale.  I am no longer really attached to stuff (my mom is laughing right now because I used to be a first class pack rat), and often tell the story about how I threw away entire unopened boxes when we moved from our old house. Stuff, in my opinion, weighs you down and doesn't allow you to move forward.

But this stuff that is surrounding me right now with price stickers on it, this is the last six years of my life.  I am looking at the chair that our first child, Brady (who died of SIDS in 2005) played in. I remember watching her learn to reach and react with joy when she touched a toy and it made a sound.  I had that memory each time my other three sat in that chair for the first time. The human cannonball jumped for hours in the Jumparoo.  Some days I wish there could be a bigger version. It would be nice to keep his jumping contained.  When the twins came along, we borrowed another Jumparoo, and the Twinstroms would jump side by side and giggle away the hours.  Now, that Jumparoo is going for $40 (I think I priced it with my emotions, I can be negotiated with).

The hardest part, of course, is the clothes.  Folding each piece of clothing and remembering when each of my babies wore it.  The hardest of all were the clothes that my first daughter wore, and now my last daughter has worn.  This ritual cleaning out of the baby stuff is a rite of passage for a mother.  Dare I say that it is part of the grieving process when you have decided that your childbearing years are behind you.  Six years worth of life as I have known it, is in my garage waiting for a new home. Thankfully, my memories aren't for sale.  All this stuff has a cameo in my memories, but the real memories are locked up safe and I get to keep them forever. I am happy to sell it off to someone else, so it can have a role in the memories they will create.

How have you said goodbye to the baby years? What did your ritual cleaning out rite of passage look like?

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!


What Would You Say?

Last night, sitting around on the couch like I do when evening falls, Mr. Lindstrom (who was checking Twitter on his smartphone) hollered to me, "fake pregnant woman drinks beer at the state fair." He was remarking about this article on wcco.com. Basically, an organization that is trying to educate people about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome planted a fake pregnant woman at the MN State Fair, and had her drink, looking to see how people reacted.

Now, I am going to share some thoughts with you here, and this is all just my opinion.  Feel free to agree or disagree respectfully.  Please understand, I am not saying that I think pregnant women should drink.  I am saying that if a pregnant woman drinks, that is her decision.  I honestly think it's virtually impossible to dodge the overwhelming information that women should not drink during pregnancy.

I liken it to this, as a mother of a child who died of SIDS, more specifically, a child who suffocated in her mattress at daycare after being placed to sleep on her stomach, I am virtually (and unfortunately) an expert on SIDS risk reduction. I cannot tell you how many of my friends and peers don't take the guidelines seriously and are doing things that I know increase the risk of SIDS.  Or do take the guidelines seriously, but don't really think anything bad could happen to them.  It makes me sad, and it makes me angry, but I bite my tongue. It is not my job to save babies.  Parents are fiercely protective of their decisions and methods, and I have to trust that they are well informed and are making choices that are right for them, whether they are right for me (and the majority of the general public), or not. Sure, you won't see a baby sleeping in a bassinet with bumper pads at the State Fair in order to intervene, but I've had friends boast to me that their newborns sleep better on their stomach, friends who know that the one time my first daughter slept on her stomach, she slept forever.  Friends who know that the recommendation is to place babies on their backs to sleep.

Now, you may think, "well, a baby sleeping on their stomach, and a mother drinking alcohol and potentially harming her baby in utero are two totally different things." You see, to me they aren't.  I don't personally know anyone who has a child who was affected by alcohol in utero, but I know plenty of moms who lost their children when they were suffocated by stomach sleeping, bumper pads, or rolled over in a shared bed (and no, alcohol wasn't involved).  In fact, there isn't one mother I know who isn't intensely informed about the risk of drinking during pregnancy, and they all seem to be equally informed about SIDS risk reduction, and frankly, I see mom's violating both sets of suggestions. At the end of the day, I can only be responsible for my own pregnancies, and my own babies (BTW, that ship has sailed as I will never be pregnant again or have infants).

For info on safe sleep for babies, please watch this video:

And to see the Twinstroms in their TV debut (over a year and a half ago), hear a little more about my beautiful Brady, and learn about the most recent strides in SIDS research, please watch this:


Manic Monday Blogarrhea

This is not blogarrhea in the traditional sense where I have a bunch of unrelated thoughts, strung together. This is just a stream of consciousness rambling about some thoughts that I have, and if I think too hard about them, I'm afraid I'll edit too much... so I'm just going to go ahead and write it without thinking... blogarrhea style.

I don't consider myself a SAHM. I don't totally identify with SAHMs.  Most of my friends call me a SAHM, but I am more of a WAHM and I work part time while simultaneously caring for my offspring.  I work in the home on weekdays, and out of the home on the weekends.  Think that sounds like paradise?  It is... in theory. Here's the reality, it takes me 10 times as long to complete a task as a person who is sitting at a desk job away from home.  When I call my boss or have a conference call, I have to keep the phone muted while the big wig is talking, and then take it off mute for 13 seconds while I spit out my opinion and quickly mute again lest the big wig get an earful of the Human Cannonball's fourteen verse song about "poop." My house is not clean. Not nearly as clean as it would be if I cleaned my way out the door in the morning, dropped the kids off at daycare, and then walked back in to the house the way I left it and unleashed the tornados on it. My tornados are doing their damage on Lindstrom-ville all day.  Then, after they go to bed and I'm done picking up after them, and there's a little time for grown-up time, I usually have the computer open on my lap doing the work I couldn't get done while my kids were crawling around me because I don't want them to think that their mother has a glowing Apple logo for a face.

However, I read this blog post today, and promptly sent it to my husband who does not understand what I mean when I say that going to work is like a "break" for him.  When I go to an actual workplace on the weekends, it is most certainly a break for me.  It is the most relaxing time of my week. Take a second to read this, you won't be sorry.  It could not be more true.

Here's the thing, though. Remember all that complaining I did up there? That's the downside of my situation. The upside is that I get to see these sweet faces that I made all the time.  I don't have to look at pictures of them propped on my desk or wallpapering my computer screen and wonder what major milestone they are hitting, because I'm mostly with them. I don't have to cram a days worth of activities with them into the hour or two before bedtime, because I have the whole day to work around their schedules and be with them. I get my share of cuddles and then some.  I have the luxury of being able to wash a couple loads of clothes or dishes during the day if I have the time (I rarely have the time, but the option is there). I don't have to get a bosses permission to be at their school concerts, or doctor's appointments.  Yes, all that is totally awesome.

There is a major debate in this world between moms about who has it the easiest.  Whether we want to admit it or not.  I feel like I am constantly trying to tell my work outside the home mom friends that I don't sit home all day and eat bon bons. I'm gonna go ahead and tell you this (I've done it every which way in the past six years, so I feel like I can speak for everyone), NOBODY HAS IT THE EASIEST.  NOBODY. If you are a mom, it is hard. Period. End of discussion.  So, let's stop with the grass is greener stuff, and just support each other and try to understand. Kumbaya.


Food For Thought Friday: So We Don't NEED Art????

I had a heartbreaking moment yesterday at my son's elementary school open house.  Mr. Lindstrom and I were trying to chase two toddlers who were not keen on being in their strollers, and keeping track of the Human Cannonball who was practicing (and perfecting) his Human Cannonball ways, when a teacher stopped me in the hall. "Would you be willing to volunteer for our art program?" I stopped short. I love art. Art is what kept me interested in school.  Would I be willing to volunteer? Heck yes.

So, I stood (or wiggled while I tried to keep Thing 2 occupied) and heard the teacher's pitch.  It started like this, "Since Art classes have been cut from the budget..." (cue record scratch), she said a whole bunch of stuff after that about how they ask for volunteers to present art lessons in classes once a year, but I was still stuck on her first sentence.  I guess that having not had a child in the public school system until now, I hadn't paid too much attention to what the budget cuts were actually cutting. I know that sounds irresponsible, but I have been really preoccupied with making people. Now I am getting educated on the education opportunities for these people whom I have created.

Mr. Lindstrom and I have always been advocates of the public school system. Having both been lifelong residents of Minneapolis, and both (successful) products of the Minneapolis Public School System, we border on snobby when it comes to the public school system.  We both treasure our experiences even beyond education given to us through our school system. We both hope that our children can have similar experiences in public school.

They aren't going to, though. Not without Art (among other things). It breaks my heart to know that while the suits were sitting with their calculators in a board room and carrying ones, and solving for X, they decided to subtract ART. Likely thinking that Art was the least useful subject, clearly the one that could be cut most easily.

I learned a little about art in my art classes.  I learned about focal points, and shading, and I could draw one heckuva face. But, what art classes did for me went beyond the mechanics.  Art class was an opportunity for this free thinker to experiment and test.  Art class was a place where the rights and wrongs weren't so defined, and there was room for interpretation. Art class wasn't so... rigid.  I needed that.  I needed a place to feel confident in school so I could begin to feel confident in other areas of school.  I applied lessons from my art class in my real life far more than I applied math concepts.  To this day that is the case. And to think that our children will not be presented that lesson is seriously a tragedy.

Education is a right, not a privilege. But as essential areas of study are cut back because there simply isn't the money, a well-rounded education is becoming more and more a privilege.  In discussion with this teacher who was recruiting volunteers for this yearly art presentation, I also found out that last year, they could not get a parent volunteer for my son's grade, so they skipped the presentation altogether, that sealed the deal for me.  This is what I can do NOW to expose my son's peers to art, and you better believe I'll keep finding ways. How are education cuts affecting you, and how are you handling it?

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!


8 Parenting Truths

- Sleep is a privilege, not a right.

- 20 questions is really too many questions.

- A ponytail IS a hairstyle.

- If you are doing fewer than 6 things at any given time, then you are lazy.

- The laundry is not now, nor will it ever be "done.

- There is such a thing as a "really cool" minivan.

- Your kids will always be more well dressed than you.

- A really good coffee machine is essential to your health and well-being.

Got any more? Please add...


Wordless Wednesday: Really? Baby Sale?

1. Isn't it illegal to sell babies?
2. Only $5? Mine have proven to be waaaaay more expensive.


I Got Answers

Yesterday, I told you that if you had a question for me, I'd answer it. So here goes:

1. What is your best advice for brand new first time moms?

My best advice for brand new moms is follow your gut, find your own voice, and use it.  Everyone has ideas and techniques that worked for them and their unique child. It can be so easy to feel pushed and pulled with the parenting undercurrent. At the end of the day, decisions regarding your children and your parenting are yours to make.  Find the power in that, love it, and protect it. Learn from your mistakes (or rather, the times you didn't listen to yourself) and allow that to strengthen your resolve to parent your child, your way. 

2. Is it hard to have "real" friends as a public person??

I think it's hard to have "real" friends as a person. I am aware that I am considered a "public" person, but on the public person spectrum in this town, I'm a really little tiny fish in a big pond.  Since I was young, I have always had trouble discerning who my real friends are.  I like people, and want to believe the best in them, but I would say that I really only have a small handful of real friends, and a big handful of really nice people to hang out with.  Also, being a mom has really changed my friendships.  Friends that don't have children often (not always) have a hard time understanding the amount of advance planning it takes to get together when you have kids. Friends with kids are often busy with their parenting role and it's hard to fit in the time to connect.  I guess I would define the "real" friends as the ones who just understand each other and you can pick up with whether it's been a week, a month, or a year.  

3. What is your favorite color and why?

I think it's green.  I don't quite know why.  I think I know that green looks good on me, and I'm Irish.  I tend to gravitate to green a lot in clothing and decorating.  

4.  When can we get the Get Real Girls back? (For those of you who don't know me outside of this blog, Get Real is a Saturday morning radio show focusing on living your best life that I have done for the past five years with my dear friends Liv Lane and Joan Steffend.  The show was cancelled 2 weeks ago to make room for a new show, the Weekend Dirt which I am hosting that goes in an entirely different direction.)

I don't have a definite answer for you here, and I'm sorry about that.  Please know that there is a lot of work, and many conversations behind the scenes happening to try to give you more Get Real in a different package.  We have a website set up so you can join the mailing list to find out where we land next.  Please stay tuned, and again, know that there are plenty of conversations happening right now around the best way to get the same messages you heard on the radio to you in a different way.  Trust me.  

5. How do you cope with working, 3 kids, husband, household and all that goes with it? I find it so overwhelming a lot of the time. Maybe I am doing something wrong. with 4 kids.

If you could hear the voices in my head (and the voice on the phone to my mother regularly), you would not call what I do "coping." I love being a mom, but at present, each day feels more like "survival." Just like you probably think I have all my shit together, other people probably think you have your shit together. I feel like that could not be further from the truth, and you probably feel the same way.  Right?  You aren't doing anything wrong, you are doing your best. I have to repeat this to myself for hours on end. THEN, when I don't believe it, I call my mom and have her tell me. I am extremely lucky because I have consistent help. I have a wonderful nanny who is really more part of our family. She rescues me far more than I thank her for.  I also have a husband who goes above and beyond, and a mother, and in-laws who regularly drop everything to give me a hand when necessary.  It really does take a village, and it still feels overwhelming.  I keep reminding myself that someday I'll regard these crazy days as "the good old days." So, if they're going to be those someday, why not make them that today... (Also of note, my standards for housekeeping and organization have gotten extremely low, this helps a lot... sometimes.)

6. What do you like to do on Friday nights?

Friday nights are sacrosanct for Mr. Lindstrom and myself.  Remember the nanny I mentioned earlier? She's in charge of the kids on Friday nights and Mr. Lindstrom and I have a date night. Every Friday. So, we do date things.  Every Friday. This is the key to keeping our marriage together and keeps us connected in the middle of our otherwise crazy lives. 

7. Do you ever get sick of marketing yourself?

Yes. I do. Marketing yourself feels sort of weird. But, I am my business. I actually believe that whether we realize we are, or not, everyone is always marketing their "self."  Especially with facebook and twitter now part of the common experience.  Each time you put something out there, you are telling people about what kind of person you are and what they can expect from you. When you are at work, you are constantly showing why you are the right person for the job you have. When you're meeting a new friend, or going on a first date, you show that friend or date you at your best.  That's marketing. Maybe not in the traditional sense.  It's still you, it's just you at your best. I call it "being on." I think it is tiring. This is why I think it's important to have a person, or group of people in your life with whom you don't have to be "on."  

8. Margaret K said... Can we get together?

If this is the Margaret K who I went to college with, then yes! I would love to! 

9. Tell us some "behind the scenes" stuff about Mytalk 107.1 Who is friends? Who is messy?...

I get asked this all the time.  If you really want to get a feel for the environment at My Talk 107.1, I highly recommend you listen all day on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday this week. The weekday hosts will be spending 53 hours together in a Pleasureland RV at the MN State Fair, and it will be broadcast in multiple ways.  That will tell you more than I could ever tell you. Because I don't work regularly on weekdays anymore, I'm not really privy to much, but here are some little fun facts:

- Lori and Julia wipe down the studio like crazy every day.  There is an industrial sized container of cleansing wipes in the studio with Julia's name on it.  

- Katie K9 always leaves a treat in the studio on Sunday nights after her show with a note to those who come after her telling us to "have a good show." She's so nice, and has been on the air since the beginning of the station in June of 2002.

- Everyone has a really messy desk.  EVERYONE. There's always stuff coming in from PR companies. People don't always  know what to do with it all, so it sort of hides under desks or on top of shelves. I think that the neon green Borat swimsuit is still in someone's desk drawer.  

- Donny eats the stinkiest lunches in the entire world.  He is an extremely healthy eater, and is very focused on getting his omega 3s.  He eats tuna every other day.  I feel like he used to eat sardines, too, but he denies that.  I just know that you can smell his lunch if you are within 10 feet of his desk on tuna days. We all tease him about it.

- The coffee at the radio station really has to be doctored up in order to taste good.  

- People on different shows rarely see each other.  People come together at meetings and occasional parties, but on a daily basis, hosts really only interface with each other as they are changing over at the end of one show and the beginning of the next.  

- Cohosts try to avoid having conversations about what they'll be talking about on the air so that the reactions are fresh and authentic.  

See, nothing too juicy. Really, It's just like any office setting - a lot of people doing a lot of work to make the radio station awesome.  


Manic Monday Blogarrhea: Some Housekeeping

Housekeeping? That doesn't sound like fun? Well, usually it's not, but I have some blog housekeeping to do, and I thought I'd get it all out of the way, Blogarrhea style.

Remember the other day when I wrote about having our family picture taken? Many people asked to see the picture. The problem was that we had only just had it taken, and didn't have the evidence.  Now we do, so here it is:

This is the Cool family in a moment of bliss.  I was pleased to just get one shot of everyone looking at the camera, it is only a bonus that we all look alert and happy. I assure you that moments after the shutter clicked, the Twinstroms were wiggling out of Mr. Lindstrom's arms, and the Human Cannonball was practicing his Human Cannonball-ness. For this one second, though, we were all pretty happy. Hooray.

I just added a little tab to this blog called "Never Pay Full Price." This is one of my personal mantras.  So, you will find listed some of the sites that I use to ensure that I don't break the bank doing my Christmas shopping.  I only just threw this together, so keep checking back as I add more and more sites that I frequent in my effort to control my spending.

And last of all, I've been all laid up in bed with a bad back, and I've been on crazy drugs that have prevented me from focusing on blogging.  I need a little jump start, and I would love for you to help. We've done this before, and now... let's do it again. Go ahead and write any question you have in the comment section here, and I'll answer them on Tuesday (8/23). You have until midnight to get your questions in... ready. set. go!


We're Going To Need a Delorean For This Vacation!

I love Mr. Lindstrom, that's why we got married, but more importantly (in many ways), I really like my husband.  We are, as the cliche goes, the very best of friends.  He gets me, and I get him. We have always just loved spending time together.  Having kids has not changed the fact that we really like each other, but having kids definitely changed the fact that we don't get to spend the same kind of time together.

In 2002, when we were first married, Mr. Lindstrom and I would spend Saturdays and Sundays just hanging out.  We were always down for a trash talking game of Yahtzee, we could spend hours in the kitchen making one meal that would take us all of 15 minutes to eat, we knew all the best happy hours in the city, and if a Real World/Road Rules Challenge marathon was on MTV we were glued to the boob-tube for hours on end.  I'm sure we were stressed out about things like money, our mortgage, the responsibility of taking care of our dog, and countless other things, but I don't remember that.  I only remember the freedom and spontaneity of life before kids. In my mind's eye, it seemed simpler then.

Mr. Lindstrom and I have a pretty sweet arrangement with our babysitter, and have committed to spending a couple nights a week together without the kids.  This is essential for the health of our marriage, and I highly recommend it to others if you can make it possible.  BUT, when we are away from the kids, the kids are still there... not with us per se, but hanging out in our brains. They show up in conversations from time to time, we check in with the babysitter at reasonable intervals, and they are always present in our conscious. They are, after all, part of us. We would never change that.  

Mr. Lindstrom whisked me away for a birthday/anniversary weekend in Chicago (which, I should amend, was really only an overnight). The planning for a 24 hour trip required months of preplanning, and a willing team of grandparents and babysitters (our brood is pretty exhausting). It was lovely to be away, but I'm not sure I ever relaxed. I was tethered to my home wondering how everyone was, and missing them terribly. When you have children, especially when they are small, you give up that freedom and spontaneity that you had before they came along.  I am so very lucky to have my children. I love being their mother. I would not trade my life for anything in the entire world. I am only saying that I wish I would have had the full breadth of understanding before I had them so that I could have really enjoyed the freedom and spontaneity when I had it.

So, when I came home from work the other day, after interviewing a Marriage and Family Therapist who focused very much on how children change a marriage, I was pining away for those days.  I started to reminisce with Mr. Lindstrom about what it was like to be able to walk out the door in one minute, sit through an entire church service without disruption, cook an intricate meal for hours (and not have it land on the floor when small hands get in a throwing mood) and then enjoy it, make plans five minutes in advance of an occasion vs. five weeks (have to make sure we can get a babysitter), take a shower until the hot water ran out (and sometimes even... together), and on... and on... and on...  I know what we signed up for, and we love it, and I know we can take mini vacations from it from time to time, but the truth is that away is never really away.

So, Mr. Lindstrom and I are looking into a vacation back in time. Back to 2002. Just for a day. We need a Delorean, a crazy professor, and a flux capacitor. Does anyone know of a travel agency that deals with these types of vacations?

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