Manic Monday Blogarrhea

The other night Mr. Lindstrom and I were lucky enough to be out and about and we found ourselves at a concert (I say that as though we hadn't purchased tickets months and months prior and secured a babysitter at the same time. As though we just "happened" upon a concert. Yeah, that'll never happen again...). I noticed a guy walking down the aisle back to his seat in this full theater, he must have thought that none of the hundreds of people seated around him a) could see him or b) were looking at him because he reached his right hand to his rear end and scratched. Now, I don't want to offend, but I want to be clear, this was not just a little rear end cheek scratch due to... say... dry skin or something. I hope you understand what I'm getting at, or rather what he was getting at. In that moment, it became crystal clear to me what I am doing as a parent: I am attempting to not raise butt scratchers.

This actually happened a couple of weeks ago, and I still laugh every time I think about it, so I want to share it with you.
I was busy putting the babies down for their naps, and the phone rang - the caller ID showed the name of my Mother-In-Law's church. I was afraid it might be an emergency (though, I cannot say I could imagine what emergency it might be, but you never know...)
the person on the other end of the line said my mother-in-law's name as though she figured that was who she was speaking with.
I said, "no, that's my mother-in-law."
person: "well, can I leave a message for her?"
Me: "She doesn't live here."
person: "Did I call the wrong number?"
Me: "Uhhhh - yes, I'm her daughter-in-law, her son is my husband, we live at our house, and she lives at her house."
person: "Well, can I leave a message for her?"
Me (rolling my eyes, and not quite sure what is so difficult for this woman to understand about the fact that my Mother-In-Law doesn't live at my house, and she could probably just call my mother-in-law rather than depending on me, a complete stranger, to pass the message along): "sure."

So the end of the story is that I did call my mother-in-law, managed to get the whole story straight (let me tell you, the message was pretty long and involved), and came to find out that immediately after I hung up with this woman (and had taken extremely diligent notes) she called my mother-in-law's house and left her the very same message. She must have figured it out.

Just think about what an awesome world it would be if instead of hearing the words, "get back to your pre-pregnancy weight" over and over again, you heard the words, "try to get back to your pregnancy weight."

Did you see Betty White's speech at the SAG awards last night? I'll try to find it and post it, but let it be known, I want to be Betty White when I'm 89 years old.


Food For Thought Friday: Bangla-where?

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

Forgive me for this short story about the four year-old: I was asked to substitute teach our son's Sunday School class last Sunday. I don't think I did any permanent damage to those young minds, nothing in our midst burst into flames, and we were somehow able to avoid the lightning bolt that surely was chasing us. Mr. Lindstrom and I are enthusiastic sinners. In any case, I was still trusted with these little people. The Sunday School classes are learning as part of our Mission Month about the country of Bangladesh. Our church has a close relationship with the country and does a lot of mission work there, so members of the congregation had put together a festival where the children could experience Bangladesh. It was totally educational for me as well.

During the festival, I felt a tug on my shirt. One of the more shy children in the four year-old's class had a question. "Teacher," (I snorted quietly...) "do they have crayons in Bangladesh." Stunned, I quickly grabbed the first person I saw in a Sari. I recognized her as one of the people who had spent some time in Bangladesh, and thought she could surely answer his question. She did, (yes, she believes that some of the children do have some crayons in Bangladesh, but not nearly as many as children have here). Not to be outdone, as soon as my four year-old realized that questions were being answered, he chimed in, "I know, I know, are there rocket ships in Bangladesh?" My first instinct was to tell Woman In Sari that she did not have to answer my child's question. I stopped myself. Whether or not I think his question is a silly attention grab, it's an honest question. He's really into rockets, and for goodness sake, he's trying to make sense of this world. Why would I intervene with that?

On the ride home, he continued to pepper us with questions about Bangladesh, "are there big trucks in Bangladesh? Are there babies in Bangladesh? Do they have toilets in Bangladesh in case you need to go potty?" He was observing what he knows of our world, what he appreciates in our world, and wondering if the people of Bangladesh have all of that to appreciate. Suddenly, I was in his head, trying to understand what "another country" is, and what "the world" is, and what "another culture" is. For us these concepts are small, but for him, they are big. I began to think about how much we talk at home about other cultures. I mean, if we are eating an ethnic food (which we almost always are... because, really, what's American food?) we completely miss an opportunity to talk about another culture.

It happens that this month, the four year-old's preschool class is also taking a "trip around the world." As a parent, it is my responsibility to take this cue and seize these opportunities to expose my child to information and experiences of different cultures. We live in a culturally rich country, and in the city I live (the beautiful city of Minneapolis) we are fortunate to have many opportunities to experience other cultures, I really have no excuse. Sometimes I plod along blindly as a parent, doing what we're doing, managing the status quo - and missing wonderful opportunities to offer my children the opportunity to become compassionate and understanding people.

How do you create cultural experiences for your family? What places do you go or traditions do you have? Do you make a point of fitting other cultures into your day to day or week to week parenting?


Food For Thought Friday: Tiger Mom, Lion Mom, Bear Mom, Whatever...

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. Be sure to check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge as THE post-partum and newborn experts.

Here's something new and exciting! Welcome Baby Care has entered the twitterverse! Make sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!

Have you heard all the buzz about the Tiger Mom? I can't even really get into all of it here, but it's got people talking. Read all about Amy Chua's assertion that Chinese Mothers Are Superior here.

I've sort of looked it over, semi scanned it, and decided (like I do with most literature about parenting) that it's not for me. I can honestly tell you that there are only three books about parenting that I have read cover to cover. 1. The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp 2. Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and 3. Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman. The rest which I was gifted, purchased, or handed down, I thumbed through, and passed along.

Here's what books about parenting are missing for me, a chapter on MY KIDS. Here's what they're missing for you, a chapter on YOUR KIDS. Mr. Lindstrom and I have been thoughtfully working through an issue regarding our four year-old. We have sought out the right people to ask the right questions to, looking for information that will guide us to make the right decision for our son. Overwhelmingly, professionals have chosen not to answer our actual questions, instead answering us with words following this statement, "the trend is..." My response has become, "I don't care what the trend is for everyone else, at my house and in my family, the trend is making informed decisions about what is right for our children and our family." No "trend" can tell me what is right for my children. Seriously, there is a serious jeggings trend going on right now in fashion, and I'm not wearing them, BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT RIGHT FOR ME!!!!!

In my opinion, in the realm of parenting, always going with "the trend" is lazy. It's thoughtless. Because parenting is not one size fits all. Kids are simply not one size. So, when I am thinking about what I skimmed of Amy Chua's essay on the superiority of the Chinese mother, I am thinking - that's all right for some. Breastfeed, don't breastfeed, send to school, homeschool, be a SAHM, or work outside of the home - WHATEVER. As long as you are making informed choices about what's right for you and your family instead of just going along with the "trend" - it's gonna be all good in your 'hood!

Just a little pep talk from your friendly mom lovin' blogger!


Moms Are Annoying

Oh my goodness, did I just seriously say that? I have a story to tell you.

The other day, I was out on one of my new and exciting dates. I sort of made a New Years Resolution to take myself out on a date a couple of times a month. Just me, my Kindle, some sushi, and my mighty good eavesdropping ears. I LOVE to eavesdrop. There is nothing more interesting than other people’s conversations. I have finally trained Mr. Lindstrom in my eavesdropping ways, and we now have a catch phrase that we say when we want the other to be quiet so we can eavesdrop. “Did you hear about the Monk?”

I was on a date with myself, and I was listening to a conversation happening at the table next to me. Two women who clearly had been friends for some time. It quickly became clear that one of them was a mom, and the other was not. Even more specific, the one who was a mom was a very very new mom. So, her side of the conversation included such fascinating topics as the frequency and consistency of her son’s bowel movements, the length and frequency of her son’s naps, the noises that her son makes, the faces her son makes, and really a general overview of her son’s development and how far above par he is. So… I’m a mom, and I was bored to death. As you can imagine, her friend was desperate to talk about anything else. She brought up movies, vacations, shopping, exercise, and as a last ditch desperate effort, she even brought up her yoga studio “which has a yoga class for moms.” Still, the mom was obsessed with talking about her son’s clothes, his daycare, his car seat, his weight… and on and on and on. I wanted to buy the non-mom a drink, and give her a hug. She probably would have loved the drink, and thought the hug was a little overboard… but really...

I realized: Moms are annoying. I am annoying. See, I’ve so been guilty of this. It is the right of the mom to think that her kids are fascinating to everyone. They are not. They just aren’t. Sorry.

Parenting is such a special and difficult vacuum. New moms love to talk about their children. They are just in the phase of seeing this journey with new eyes and realizing how hard it is and what real exhaustion and true love is. Seasoned moms love to tell new moms about what’s ahead. They have the advantage of hindsight and the confidence that can only be gained with experience. It’s a rite of passage. It’s part of the joy of parenting. It’s part of owning our roles. That said, when I talk like that, to people who obviously don’t care… I annoy myself. I find myself thinking to myself (in real time), “Goodness gracious, I need a hobby.” But like an addiction, I cannot stop myself. Is it that we are so immersed (and rightly so) in this adventure of parenting that we have little else to focus on? Is it that we want to be accepted into the community of parents? Is it that we want to prove to the world that we love our kids? I don’t know, but I do know this: I need a hobby.

I don't mean that moms shouldn't talk about their kids. I think it's necessary for moms to connect on that level. I just mean that we should a) know our audience and b) know when enough is enough both for ourselves, and our conversation partners. So, just for fun. Just for a little challenge. I am going to try to go 24 hours without talking about my children to anyone besides my husband, my kid’s grandparents, and my kid’s teachers (read: people who care). I’m also going to have to find a hobby, a really really interesting one. Is there a catalogue for that?


Manic Monday Blogarrhea

If you are a parent or a parent-to-be, or a friend of a parent or parent-to-be looking to buy a gift, I am going to save you some money here. You know those adorable little chairs that everyone loves because they are miniature versions of big people chairs? Little barcaloungers, little overstuffed chairs, little couches. Yeah, don't buy 'em. KIDS NEVER SIT DOWN!!! Sure they're cute, but kids aren't couch potatoes, their parents are. You're welcome. Now, if you'd like to buy the one that I bought thinking that one day I'd have kids that sit still for a moment, I am selling it on craigslist.

When it's cold outside, the last thing I want to do is run in and out of my car. Traveling with kids makes that even less desirable. Once, when I was pregnant with the Twinstroms in the dead of winter, the four year-old and I were on our way home from preschool, when I remembered that we were out of milk. Here was my train of thought (all-aboard!), I wish there were a drive-thru convenience store where you could just roll down the window and order some milk. Wait, fast-food places have milk!" And with that I took a sharp and quick right to the Taco Bell that was just ahead, and went through their drive through ordering... just... milk. They did look at me like I was a little crazy, but hey, I got my milk, and didn't have to waddle my too (two) pregnancy self through the supermarket. Now, if you're needing a gallon of milk, you'll need 16 of those little fast-food milks, so I don't really recommend that method for the full gallon, but when you just need a little to get by before you can run out again... just tuck that away in the back of your brain.

It also makes me think of a time when I drove through McDonalds and ordered myself a cheeseburger and one fry. I really just wanted one french fry, because I love the taste of their french fries, but I knew if I ordered a whole order, I'd eat them, and I didn't want to feel the way you feel after eating an order of McDonalds french fries. So, I asked for just one. I told them I'd pay for the small order, but I really just wanted one. A) I'm glad I had this conversation over the drive-thru, because I'd have been too embarrassed had I had it at the counter. B) You'd be surprised at how difficult this concept was to grasp for the people at the window. The outcome: I drove away with a cheeseburger and four fries. I guess they didn't feel right giving me just one.

Also, is there anything better than ordering fries at Burger King and getting the random surprise onion ring?

I recently wrote a post about the fact that nothing good comes after the words "at least." I still stand by that whole heartedly, but want to amend it momentarily. I went to grab lunch at the supermarket the other day when I was at work. On the way out to the car, with my hands full, I slipped and fell in the middle of the parking lot. (you'd be surprised how often I do this kind of ridiculous thing). All I was thinking was, "at least I'm not this chick!":

If that didn't get you giggling enough, have a giggle at my expense by reading my guest post for The Marketing Mama on what it's REALLY like to be a Mother of Multiples!


Food For Thought Fridays: Fitness

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. Be sure to check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge as THE post-partum and newborn experts.

Oh, the alliteration. So annoying isn't it? But it's true, fitness is AS important as the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the amount of sleep we get. I was with my Pilates trainer on Thursday and said to her, "when children are born, they should be assigned a therapist and put on the reformer." (The reformer is the apparatus developed by Joseph Pilates to help get the principles of his fitness method "in the body." And let me tell you, after an hour on that thing, if the principles aren't in your body, then I don't know where they are because that thing is genius). We are given these amazing bodies and rarely reminded how to best use the muscles in them. That is never more true than when a body has been stretched to the limit by pregnancy.

Fitness is not only imperative to our health, it's imperative to our mental well-being. In research conducted at Duke University in a study of people suffering from depression over the course of four months, it was discovered that 60% of the participants who exercised for 30 minutes three times a week overcame their depression without using antidepressant medication. (I want to add here, that this is a good reason to include your doctor in your exercise regimen. If you have been put on antidepressants by a doctor, or if you believe you need antidepressants, please involve them in any experimentation around dosage as it relates to your fitness. There is nothing wrong with being on antidepressants - in my opinion.) The release of endorphins during exercise is what makes a runner get what they call a "runner's high" (I still don't believe it... but I'll take the runner's word for it), or gives one that sense of great satisfaction and happiness once they've completed a workout. For new moms, especially, getting moving again following the birth of a baby (slowly, of course) can make all the difference in managing those baby blues. (That said, post-partum depression and anxiety disorders are REAL! If you're looking to find out more about it - please listen to this last edition of the Gyno Show on My Talk 107.1 where we talked with my friend Liv Lane from Choosing Beauty about her struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following the birth of her first child.)

Finding time for exercise in your schedule is imperative to your wellbeing and that of your family. So, how are you going to make time for exercise today? I'm willing to bet that you just spent 5 minutes reading this blog. Not that I'm saying I don't want you to read my blog, I do... desperately, but perhaps you can find 10 more minutes to run the steps at your office? Or if you're at home, maybe you can split the laundry into four piles and carry each pile from the laundry room to your bedroom one at a time. These are techniques I have used. These days, I see a trainer, and do a lot of cardio at my local YMCA. Additionally, I do a lot of weight lifting - only I don't need weights, I have tiny people! Before you run off to fit in your fitness, take a virtual skip over to my friend Missy's blog, Marketing Mama to read my guest post on what it's REALLY like to be a Mother Of Multiples.


Nothing Good Comes After “At Least…” or What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say…

I can put the brakes on a perfectly good conversation. I know it, because I have done it. In fact, I do it regularly. I wish that I didn’t have this skill… but I do. It just happened last week, for example. I was having a conversation with a pre-school teacher at the four year-old’s school. Someone I don’t know who was talking to me about a decision we are trying to make regarding the four year-old.

Teacher: “Awwww, he must be your first.”

Me: “No, he’s not, but we never [had to make this type of decision] with our first.”

Teacher: (laughing), “Well, what’s wrong with your first?” (May I pause to say that there are so very many things wrong with this question, especially when delivered by someone who fancies herself an expert in early childhood development.)

Me: “She’s dead.”

Teacher: (stunned silence)


Then only a week later, while introducing myself to some other moms as we were talking about our kids, I just flat out broke down. In tears. With strangers. Met by a collective gasp on their part when I told them that our first died of SIDS (I left out our third child, our daughter, Parker, who we lost as a result of a fatal chromosomal abnormality. I won’t get into the extreme guilt I had to work through about not including her in my list of children), and a desperate attempt on my part to re-normalize the vibe in the room. I hate it.

I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.

(Caution: Self pity ahead) I cannot express with words how much I hate that I don’t get to talk about my children like normal parents do. I will never get to talk about my children like normal parents do. Because I am not normal. We are not “normal.” What I have been through is far less common these days than it was in pioneer days and before. In some ways, I wish I could go back in time. In those days, when you had a child that died young, or didn’t live through pregnancy (both of which, I unfortunately have), the rule was that you didn’t mention them. You moved on. You “got over it.” That was back when a) the death of a child at many different stages was FAR more common, and b) we didn’t have the sophisticated understanding of grief and the necessity of working through it and dealing with it. These days, it is quite rare to be in the club I’m in. The club that is full of the greatest people I never wanted to know. We are bereaved parents.

I have been in support groups with these wonderful people, and there is a theme that runs through our conversations… the things that people said accidentally, meaning to be comforting, that instead turned out to be so hurtful. There is an even more common theme: Those comments almost always start with the words, “at least.” Here’s a sampling (all of which I have heard from people regarding the SIDS death of my 3 ½ month old daughter, and the loss of my second daughter at 20 weeks gestation.)

At least…

- You’re young and you can have another.

- She was young and you didn’t really know her yet.

- You weren’t there when she died.

- You have each other.

- You didn’t do anything wrong.

- You have [the four year-old].

- You know you did everything you could to try to save her.

- You know you’re fertile.

and on, and on, and on. The words “at least” operate in our vernacular the same way the words “bless your heart,” or “with all due respect,” or “I don’t mean to be rude, but…” They negate the statement that follows by trying to minimize the emotion or cancel it altogether. “At least” says, “well, it could be worse.” There are many other variations on the theme, such as:

- You know, people die in war everyday, and imagine how their mother’s feel.

- It would have been so much harder if she had been sick.

Or my very “favorite,” and a common “favorite” of bereaved parents:

- She (he, they) is in a better place.

I had one person say to me, “you know marriages end because of this type of thing.”

All of these words say one thing, “it could be worse, and here is how.” This is our way of attempting to fix or minimize pain in others so that we can avoid dealing with the feelings around it ourselves. Grief is a whole bundle of big feelings. Many of them feel unmanageable. As we witness the pain of another, our natural instinct is to try to take it away. To “fix” it.

This is the truth, and if you read and understand nothing else of what I have said here, please read and understand this; we cannot fix or eliminate someone else’s pain. We are not so powerful.

So, what do you do when someone around you is grieving? How do you show support without obeying the gut instinct of trying to “fix” or “take away” the pain. It is far more simple than you can imagine. You do this: You walk along side of them. You tell them that you are sorry that they have to feel this way. You tell them that you don’t know what to say. You honor them and their feelings, and you leave your perspective and judgment out of it. You remind yourself that this is their path, and then you feel honored to be near them while they travel it. You can even silently thank your lucky stars that you are not traveling that path yourself. And most importantly, you love them. That, my friends, is the very best you can do, and it is more than enough.


The Legend of the Rack is Way Hardcore!

So, here's how it started. We (I) are (am) in the midst of a huge winter purge and reorganization. Typically, I do this kind of thing in the Spring, but I think that the cabin fever is getting to me, and little things are nagging at me and turning into big things. The other day, I was rifling through our spice cabinet thinking a) I bet most people don't have an entire cabinet (like 3 shelves) for spices and b) I bet most people don't have 5 jars of poultry seasoning. You see, we have no counter space, and what we DO have we need for food prep. SO, spices got hidden in a cupboard and then when we needed something for a recipe, if we weren't willing to dig too far into the cupboard to see if we had the spice, we'd just write it on the list, buy it (again), and shove it in the cupboard. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I was tired of cursing every time I opened the cupboard door, and seeing valuable storage space wasted with who knows what. So, I emptied the cupboard and made a list of all the spices we have (and use). We had 25. I found these little containers that have magnets on the back and clear windows. I have seen these in tons of magazines, and you can actually buy spice racks with magnetic stands and these containers, but they are about $30 for a set of 12. Again, with NO counter space, this wasn't going to cut the ground mustard. So, I purchased 30 (just in case we find some more spices) for about $1.50 a piece. Frankly, I probably could have found them for less, but I was in a hurry. They are available at most container or organization stores, but also can be found at office supply stores. I found half of these in the kitchen section of the store and half in the office section. They come in two different sizes, and if you're willing to pay a couple dollars more per container, you can also get them in stainless.

I was especially excited to note that they have an opening for sprinkling and pouring [insert "you have no life" commentary here - because I SERIOUSLY was excited by this], so you don't have to pop the top off every time you want to use what's in it. You just rotate the top so the slot on the inner ring lines up with the coordinating slot that you want to use on the outer ring, and voila!

Then I consulted my list and made a label for each spice we had, using this handy label maker my mom once gave me. I love this label maker because it gives me the illusion of organization. Make no bones, though, it's an illusion.
I picked a font I liked (from the limited selection), used italics (because I think it's fancy), and added the border option. (Thanks mom, for getting me a label maker with bells AND whistles.)
I cut them to size and affixed them to the front of each container. Here's where I made my first mistake, I should have used the white tape rather than the transparent tape because once the spices are in the container, it's hard to see the words (you'll see what I mean later). But, live and learn... moving on...
I bought this amazing magnetic paint at my local "big box store that carries paint," it's possible that it rhymes with "comb creep-o." In any case, I was convinced that it comes in a spray can, but I didn't see that, and in the end, I'm glad I got a can. It's a lot easier to control. So, I think I paid about $20 or so for this, but I have a TON left and now I'm an addict, so it's a win/win. It is technically a primer, so it is meant to be painted over. You can prime a wall with it, and then paint a wall cover over it and magnets will just stick to your wall. CRAZY! Even cooler, you could use chalkboard paint over it, and make it a magnetic chalkboard. That's probably the coolest thing ever. But, I just left it plain. The can says that you can do 3 coats. That didn't feel like enough for me, so I put on about 7 or 8 coats in the end. The good part is that you can apply another coat 30 minutes after you've applied the previous coat. So, I just set a timer, and dropped what I was doing when it went off to spend 3 minutes covering the 12" by 24" space I was covering.
(Oops. I just realized that I was using the obits as my drop cloth. My apologies to everyone I dripped on. Rest In Peace.)

Actually, in between coats, I filled up the spice jars. I let the last coat dry overnight, and woke up in the morning, went directly to the new spice wall without even collecting a cup of coffee for passing go, and stuck them up on my new magnetic wall. (Here's where you can see that the words are not very easy to read when they are on top of the spices -- cinnamon is especially difficult - and if you take the words "cinnamon is especially difficult" out of context, it's actually kind of funny).
I'm kind of in love with it. Now, I want every wall in my house to be magnetic. Would that be overboard? Don't answer that...


Manic Monday Blogarrhea

I think there may be only one butt related thing that I like less than seeing someone’s butt crack peeking over their low-rise jeans (remember, crack kills), it’s watching a hot and heavy couple have sexy-time in public and play a fun (for them) game of grab-ass in full view of complete strangers. I am not at all opposed to PDA’s, as long as the butt grab doesn’t make it’s way into the mix. Yes, I caught an eyeful of booty squeeze recently. I don’t just come up with this stuff out of the clear blue.

I have something that’s been weighing on me, and I need to confess it, so that I can move on with my life. I have a serious shame crush on Michelle Duggar. Yes, the 19 Kids and Counting Michelle Duggar. I want to call her up and go to Perkins with her. She’s adorable. For the record, the shame crush is usually non-sexual and can really be on any noun (person, place, or thing). I know this, because I made the shame crush up.

Is there a diagnosis of a condition for people who hoard organization tools?

How long before fluorescent lighting is abolished? It was either created by a man, or a woman without cellulite.

On a more serious note, I am so horribly troubled by the violent, hateful act committed by that young man in Arizona this weekend. My heart is broken for the families and victims of the shooting. As a parent, I worry about my own children, and whether or not I would recognize the signs if they were having violent ideation. What would I do? I have to be very clear that I believe that this type of activity is indicative of a serious mental illness on the part of the perpetrator, and unless and until we as a culture are ready and willing to address and understand mental illness, to educate ourselves on recognizing it and handling it, and do away with the stigma that it carries, I’m afraid that we will continue to experience this brand of national grief. I ask everyone to say a prayer (or send good thoughts, energy, vibes – whatever works for you) not only to the families of the victims, but to the family of the young man who committed this act of extreme violence. They are humans too, and likely ones who had no idea of what this young man was planning. They are now, like us grieving the loss of the people who have perished, but also the loss of what they knew of this person whom they love.


Food For Thought Fridays: If Only We Knew What They Were Saying...

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. Be sure to check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge as THE post-partum and newborn experts.

I have always wished I could hear what was going on in the mind of my babies. Mr. Lindstrom and I used to narrate what we though our babies were thinking, we would prattle on and on as though we were in their heads, "look, it's getting light outside, and I'm still in this cage. I don't really remember how I got here because my last memory is of that nice lady who likes to call herself 'mama' rocking me in that really comfy chair that moves. Maybe she'll come in and get me soon if I make that shrieky noise that stresses her out..." All day, on and on and on like that. With the twins, we get to narrate their dialogue, because we are pretty sure that they are reading each other's thoughts (and plotting against us). I like to imagine what "babybook" would be like if babies could have facebook pages. Yes, these are the thoughts that keep me up at night.

So, I found this site, which approximates that fantasy. It really is tongue in cheek hilarious, but it got me thinking about the fact that we should be intentionally thinking regularly and seriously about what our babies are thinking. I think sometimes we get in such a routine, and we forget to look at the big picture, and remember that in each moment we are sending our children a message about who they are and their position in our lives.

This morning, I got an email from my friend that linked to a story about parents spending too much time on their smartphones. The article featured this onesie. I think I am going to get a couple, for my own kids.


You Asked, I Answer

On Monday, I told you that if you asked a question, I’d answer it. So, here are the questions and my answers. I hope that you feel entertained… if not, then ask your question next time (there I go with that whole shifting responsibility thing. God that’s fun.)

What's your favorite fantasy of your children as adults?

This will sound like a cop out; I try very hard to refrain from imagining what my children will be like as adults because I don’t want to accidentally ascribe dreams to them that may not be their dreams for themselves. So, what I will say is that my fantasy is that they all turn out to be wholly who they are as individuals, and that they take pride in that. I like to imagine that we’ll spend functional (as opposed to dysfunctional) holidays together, and that they’ll think that Mr. Lindstrom and I are cool (instead of embarrassing and obnoxious), but I’m aware that that alone is the very definition of fantasy.

What is the best and worst part of having twins?

The best part: watching their relationship with each other.

The worst part: knowing that I can never fully understand or experience the bond that they have with each other.

I thought about this a lot, and I listed in my head a million wonderful things about having twins: never a dull moment, lots of laughs, getting to know their unique personalities, feeling like a rockstar when I conquer Target with all the kids, etc. And a lot of really difficult things: kissing goodbye to downtime, lots of crying, never having enough arms, feeling like a failure when I just can’t make anyone happy, resolving to allow my home to look like a daycare center. However, the truth is there is the most immense joy in watching them together, and there is a certain jealousy (though I’m not even sure that’s the right word for it) that their bond with each other, in many ways, is as important or perhaps in some ways more important than their bond with me.

How do you always remain so positive?

I would not say that I always remain positive I would say that I tend toward the positive.

My answer to this is relatively simple. I grew up with a father who was so negative that it was toxic. I have never shared that publicly before, but it’s the truth. To say that he saw the glass as half empty would be a gross understatement. I am not even sure he would have even noticed the glass unless it was broken and he was standing barefoot on the sharpest shard.

I have had some very very dark times in my life. Some I have shared, and many that I have kept private (can you believe that? There are things that I actually keep private!) I think that at a young age, I saw the damage of living in such a dangerously negative way. The misery it created for my family that permeated the climate in our home was crippling, and I made a choice to not live that way. I certainly have negative thoughts, emotions, feelings, and actions. I am human. However, I make conscious and deliberate choices daily, sometimes moment to moment to see possibility rather than defeat. I just don’t see anything productive about being negative. It seems like a good way to get nowhere, and I’m going somewhere, baby (I just don’t know where).

Can I have your hair? Because it's so beautiful, and mine is so ... not. :)

First of all, thank you. I am still practicing a resolution from 3 years ago to graciously accept compliments. Yes, Anne. You may. However, remember… the grass is always greener on the other side. Also, once you get it, be ready to spend a lot of time unclogging the drains. I know it’s disgusting, but it’s the darn truth.

What was something that was most helpful for you when grieving the loss of your two girls?

There was, and still is just one thing that is the most helpful for me in grieving the loss of my children, it is my belief in the afterlife. Knowing that there is a place where I can hold them again, and even better, that they are with me right at this very moment. This is a gift from God. My belief is that God does not make bad things happen, God is there for you when bad things do happen. God’s tears were the first to fall. Truly I tell you, there have been days (even recent days) when that has been the only thing that got me out of bed in the morning.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be a lot of things when I grow up. I want to be funny, happy, creative, crafty, spunky, funky, and quirky as all get out. I’d love to be pretty, tall, and thin… but I think that my genes are working against me. I would love to dance again (and do it as well as I used to, but I think that ship has sailed). My dream would be to get paid (lots and lots and lots and lots of money) to write what I want the way I want. I have a silly dream about having a business planning kid’s birthday parties (I have had such a blast planning my own kid’s), and I also have thought about starting a business putting together Ikea furniture, I have a rare and impressive talent for doing it correctly without the directions, and in a fraction of the suggested time. When I was younger, I wanted to be on Saturday Night Live – I don’t really want to do that anymore, but I think it would be really fun to do stand-up, but only if I killed (that’s comic-speak for “make people laugh until they pee their pants.”) I have always sort of secretly wanted to be a Cruise Director (like Julie on the Love Boat), but I think that ship has sailed, too (pun completely intended). If I had the time, money, and energy right this very minute, I’d get certified to teach Pilates.

What television shows do you let your kids watch/watch with your kids? Do you watch those Baby Einstein dvds? Or Sesame Street? Or Yo Gabba Gabba?!

The Twinstroms don’t really do the TV thing. The four year-old is allowed to appreciate some Nick Jr. or Disney Channel right away in the morning, and just before bed. He likes Yo Gabba Gabba, Dora the Explorer, and Diego. I like the Imagination Movers and I tolerate the Backyardigans very well. I am happy to be over the Caillou days and glad that he has transitioned from watching Thomas to solely playing Thomas. I could get raked over the coals for this, and I’m ready to accept the punishment, but I don’t really have a problem with my kids watching TV, and I’d be lying if I told you that there weren’t days that I honestly left the TV on all day because for one reason or another it really was the best I could do on that day. I feel like there are already a million things to feel guilty about, so I try not to feel guilty when I have those days.

Do you keep in touch with Kevyn Burger? I loved the friendship you two shared on-air with all of your listeners and miss Kevyn's voice at 107.1. Just curious if you two have stayed connected.

I don’t keep in touch with Kevyn. I wish her the very best in her current and future projects, but no, we really aren’t connected at all.

How do you manage real adult conversations when you have kids? I feel like all of my talks end up being about my kids! I listen to you on the radio and admire you :)

This has taken a little practice. It’s important to remember that when I am on the radio, we do a lot of work around exactly what we are going to talk about. It’s not like a normal dinner out with people where you’re sort of left to your own devices to direct conversation. On the radio, we have spent hours deciding what we are going to talk about and how. The conversation is natural, but often the outline is manufactured. I actually have to work very hard NOT to talk about my kids on the radio. I naturally think my children are amazing and mostly perfect, however, I’m aware that to the rest of the world, they are just average kids.

In real life, honestly, I spend so much frickin’ time with these little people and their sounds and smells, that I want nothing more than to talk about anything BUT them when I’m out. Of course, they find their way into conversation probably more than I realize, but when I’m having adult time, I try to put all my focus on having adult time.

What inspires you?

This is fun: music, well-crafted words and sayings, laughter, obviously my kids, my grandparents (they are the most in love couple I’ve ever known, and their wisdom and life experience is astounding), the show Hoarders (I really don’t want to be one), the show the Biggest Loser (I’d like to be one of those), people who live with complete joy, and people who just love the heck out of life.

When are we having a sushi date?

Shannon-san, raishu no kayobi.

To make this private exchange more worthwhile, you will like to know that I was a Japanese minor in college. To make it funny, you will like to know that I had to go to google translate to remember how to say 'next Tuesday.' That's pathetic.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a radio personality?

I would say that the most challenging aspect is the fact that I know that there are people who just don’t like me based on what they hear of me on the radio. I get emails from them regularly, sometimes they even comment right here on this blog. People who actively seek me out to tell me how much they hate me, or how annoying they think I am, or how fat they think I am, etc. Once I had someone tell me that if I didn’t change my appearance, my husband would divorce me. I’ve gotten no fewer than five emails from people who have told me that it is my fault that Brady (my firstborn) died, each of them went on to “educate” me about SIDS and how my parenting methods likely contributed to her death. It doesn’t hurt me or upset me as much on personal level, as it makes me so sad that there are people like that in the world who have the time and energy to be actively hateful. I LOVE my job. I love being able to bring my whole self to work. I don’t need everyone to like me; I just wish that those who don’t would just silently turn their dials for the duration of my shift, instead of listing out my flaws for me.

What advice do you have for a mom who has lost a child on how to celebrate her first birthday since she went to heaven. She would have turned 10. Different circumstances than Brady, the birthday comes in the dead of winter and 2 months after she left us.

My advice for this mom is – do whatever you need to do to get you through the day. It is a difficult day. They certainly get easier over time, but never become easy. That may seem like terrible advice, or no advice at all, but truly, it is the only advice I have. Everyone grieves and celebrates differently, and ultimately, the goal is getting through the day knowing that it will be painful, but that you will emerge from it. (I will say, that many parents like me have said that the anticipation of the date is almost always more painful and difficult than the day itself. I have to agree.)

What was high school like for you? What crowd did you hang with? Who were your enemies? Were you A) class president or B) a super-geek? If A, who did you beat to get there? If B, who did you envy and look up to?

I have fond memories of high school, and I would totally do it all over again, knowing what I know now, and without the homework. That said I don’t have very specific memories of high school or even of college. Honestly, after the trauma of my daughter’s death, I find that my memory of life before her is not very strong. I wouldn’t say that I hung with any crowd in particular. I had a lot of friends who were popular, and a lot of friends who would have been considered “geeks.” I don’t think I had enemies. I don’t think I’ve really ever had enemies. I was the Vice President of my class, and a super-geek all at the same time. I have never really related to the Saved By The Bell brand of stereotypes because I felt like I was equal parts Jessie Spano, Kelly Kapowski, and Violet (she was Screech’s geek girlfriend played by a young Tori Spelling, see, I’m a geek – I didn’t even have to IMDB that). I had a couple of boyfriends (not at the same time), but I never really thought boys really liked me. You know how there’s always the pretty friend and the funny friend? I have always been the funny friend. I had lots of crushes, most of which were unrequited. If I thought that he could read it without feeling awkward or embarrassed, I’d tell you all about my epic high school crush on the guy who is now my boy twin’s godfather. Instead, I will invite him publicly to comment here and confirm what a complete geek I was – this is also a test to see if he really reads my blog like he says he does. I was definitely cuter and thinner then, but I thought I was ugly and fat, so that was a waste of time and energy. Overall, I’d say that I was mostly the same then as I am now, but my prefrontal cortex is now fully developed, I make better choices, and I’ve gained some serious life experiences. I would also like to note that I would have been DANGEROUS in high school with a cell phone, a facebook page, a Twitter account, and a blog. I am terrified to parent that age.

* Funny high school related tidbit, Mr. Lindstrom and I went to high school together, but we did not know each other. We knew of each other (we say “by reputation,” which makes me feel kind of cool that I had a reputation), but we didn’t know each other. We were introduced after college by a mutual friend (who had no intention for us to date, much less get married), and the rest is history. After we were married, however, we realized that we had been in the same Chemistry class. No lie. It’s a good story… isn’t it?


Manic Monday Blogarrhea

Here’s how I know I’m not in college anymore. Today would be the start of January term, and I would still be behaving as though I was on vacation. Also, what is vacation?

I just realized the other day that I give my grandparents Gift Certificates to their favorite restaurants for Christmas and they give my family the EXACT same amount of money back in cash as their gift to us. Isn’t that kind of weird?

Whenever I hear a fellow parent type say that they know exactly what they are doing, I laugh a little, because they are liars.

My husband likes to watch concerts on TV. For me, this is like nails on a chalkboard. It’s too much media. If I want to listen to music, I will listen to music, if I want to watch TV, I’m gonna need a plot-line. If I am watching musicians play music, it’s just rubbing the salt in the wound that I am not AT the concert and am instead sitting on the couch in my big unflattering pants and watching musicians perform “live.”

Has anyone ever said, “I disrespectfully disagree” or “with all due disrespect?” May I please be the first?

When I was young, as a gift I gave an important young person in my life a “voice changer” toy. I thought it was hilarious. The other day, our dearest friends bought our son a “voice changer” toy for a Christmas gift. I am not laughing. (Dear Mayers, I’m kidding, kind of.) May I also note, that it is not only the four year-old that plays with it (eh-em 33 year-old husband).

Now that I have kids, this is what I call a “dinner party.”

Okay, here's something that I hope will be fun: On Wednesday's post, I will answer anything you want to know about me honestly. Please ask questions respectfully in the comment section of this post by Tuesday evening at 9:00 pm, and I will answer them on Wednesday's blog.

** I will not entertain or answer mean spirited questions, however, I will gladly answer respectfully asked challenging questions and any other questions. If you ask your question with a tone of disrespect or judgement, it will be deleted.

** This is either going to be awesome, or a big, fat flop. It depends on you (my goodness, I just LOVE shifting responsibility!).

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