Wordless Wednesday: Mom's Day Out

As an extra special treat today, I received three chopsticks in my pack. I decided that is even luckier than finding a four leaf clover.


Parenting Obstacle Course

Before people decide to become parents, they should have to complete this obstacle course:

First, they will read the directions to this complicated obstacle course while a chorus of sweet cherubic voices chant, "Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy" at increasingly loud volumes.

Once they have finished comprehending the directions (this is sure to take hours, as it is impossible to concentrate when anyone is yelling that loud), they will dodge toddlers underfoot to meet a screaming baby. They will have to figure out what the baby needs. A new diaper? A bottle? A pacifier? A good ol' burp?

 Once the newborn is soothed, the potential parent will complete the "drive the carpool" challenge, wherein they configure the proper car seats for each age and stage, transport the children from shelter through extreme weather to the car, and secure them safely in the vehicle.  Realizing they are late for their destination, they will have to find the proper route to avoid traffic to the next stop.

The next stop is a grocery store, where they will have to figure out how to successfully restrain three children in a grocery cart while they complete a shopping list of 10 items. While shopping they will dodge slow browsers who take up the entire aisle, abandoned grocery carts, judgmental grandmas, sample ladies who will offer the children in the cart delicious goodies.  They will have thirty minutes to complete this task, as the children will become hungry, restless, and will begin to misbehave.

Next, they will encounter an inquisitive four-year-old who will ask questions constantly as the potential parent tries to complete the next task. The potential parents will be asked to prepare meals for four picky eaters while simultaneously sorting and doing the laundry for a household of five.

The next task will be scheduling a babysitter so that the potential parents can have a night out. They will be given the phone number of another parent, and will have to pry a list of five potential babysitter's phone numbers out of this other parent who also needs a night out and is reluctant to share her trusted and protected list of sitters lest new potential parent steals said list, and consequently the sitter, leaving the other parent without a date night.

Once a babysitter is scheduled, the potential parents will have to get themselves ready for a nice dinner while dodging scattered toys, cleaning up diaper blowouts, playing referee for physical or mouthy siblings, and manning the time out chair.

Once potential parents are ready for their big night out, they will receive a call from the babysitter. She has a low grade fever. She feels well enough to take care of the kids, but wants all parties know that she could be contagious.  There are two options here, potential parents can take the sitter despite her unexplained illness, enjoy a nice dinner in the midst of the obstacle course and return to a house full of tears and puke, which they will need to manage until the next day breaks. OR potential parents can cancel the sitter and continue the course by completing 2 child baths, reading 7 stories (2 of them will be read 3 times each), and tucking the children in for the night.

The course will begin again after 6 hours of fitful, interrupted sleep, and will continue FOR ETERNITY. *

I think that should weed out some of the riffraff.

*Some scenarios collected from my life.  


Food For Thought Friday: Stranger Danger

The Human Cannonball is taking Karate lessons.  Among the multitude of important lessons he learns at each of his sessions, he is learning a lot about self defense and stranger danger.  On the way home from a recent lesson where stranger danger was the sole topic du jour, we had this conversation:

Human Cannonball (HC): Are there bad guys in this world?
Me: Unfortunately, yes, there are.
HC: Are there superheroes to get the bad guys in this world?
Me: Well, there aren't really superheroes to get the bad guys, but there are really good people who help keep the bad guys away from us, like police officers, parents, teachers, and other nice people.
HC: Are there bad guys in Saint Paul?  (we live in Minneapolis)
Me: Yes, there are bad guys everywhere.
HC: Do they have superheroes?
Me: Just the same kind of nice people we have in Minneapolis.
HC: What about in China?
Me: Same thing.
HC: How about Florida?
Me: Same thing...

and so on, and so forth, just like a normal conversation with a four-year-old, until he found something else to distract him and ask twenty questions about.

There are many things about this world that frighten me for my children. Stranger danger is one of them. Consider this; as difficult as it was to explain what a stranger is when we were young, there is the added dimension now of the internet.  Strangers are lurking every which where. Some strangers will turn into friends, and some may turn into very dangerous acquaintances. Scaring children too much on the front end may prevent them from being open and meeting new people, and being too relaxed around it could lead to over trust and bad decision making.  It's a teeter-totter, and it's getting even tippier by the generation.

Listening to the Human Cannonball work through his questions and try to make sense of the make believe world he loves where the superheroes always win and the bad guys pay for their actions, and apply it to our world, which is not always so just, makes my head spin with all of the lessons he has yet to learn about people. How absolutely wonderful we can be, and how absolutely horrible we can be.

What are your family strategies for teaching stranger danger?  What have been your challenges, and how have you addressed them?


The Making Of a Family Story

Two things that you must know about me before I begin: 1) I am a slave to my routine. How do I maintain a fitness program? Routine. How do I retain my (relative) sanity with a four-year-old and twins? Routine. How do I manage my household? Routine. I am not a fan of improv when it comes to life, but I am abundantly aware that the routine is going to get shaken up whether I like it or not. 2) I am a firm believer that if you are going to laugh about something later, it's best to laugh about it in the moment.

In the midst of an enormous record breaking heatwave here in the twin cities, we fell victim to the inevitable power outage.  Less than an hour into losing our air conditioning, I was definitely not keeping my cool, nor was the rest of the family. Sweats were breaking, tempers were flaring, and kids were waking. At about 9:30, I put on my matriarch pants and marched the whole fam damily out to the car which would carry us on our adventure to find a cool place to lay our heads.  Lacking internet, but utilizing our smart (and alarmingly slow) phones, we headed straight to a hotel laden area of Minneapolis right near the Mall of America.  To our dismay, each hotel notified us that it was going to be tough to find a hotel for the evening.  Every other sweaty person with no power had the same idea we had, the ENTIRE TWIN CITIES METRO AREA was sold out of hotel rooms.  We were still in a relatively good mood.  I wasn't really trying to think about the fact that these kids were all going to need to get settled in somewhere new and fall (hopefully) soundly asleep again. We called my mom who lives in a wee little condo (compared to the space that we are used to rolling around in), and headed off to Edina.  We have other family closer, but they are on the same grid as we are, and also had no power.

We arrived, divvied up the sleeping arrangements, and then tried our darndest to get to sleep.  Without sharing every detail of what followed, I will only tell you that the Twinstroms are used to sleeping only in their cribs. In their 18 months, they have only slept away from home for a week when we went to Florida, and it easily took them two days to adjust to the new sleeping arrangements there.  When they are asleep in their own cribs, they are amazing sleepers (remember what I said about routine? Yeah, that), but away from home in pack and plays, not so much.  We finally did get a wink of sleep, but it was just that, a wink.

In recovering from our little adventure, it occurred to me that THIS is what makes those family stories. The ones that start with, "remember that one time..." The status quo doesn't make the headline of the family news, it's those little adventures, those times that the routine gets thrown an amazing curveball, and everyone has to adjust.  Going with the flow only makes the story better, because if someone goes too far beyond pouting, the story gets lost and becomes a bad memory.  We're not in the business of making bad memories in the Lindstrom family, we would like to collect the good ones. Now that we are cool and well rested, I am laughing. This is definitely one for the "remember when" file.


Manic Monday Blogarrhea: The Baseball Edition

I have a problem. I think it either requires therapy or a support group, though I'm not sure either exist for this type of... thing. When I am a spectator at a professional sporting event, during that oh-so-important moment when the team is being introduced (I feel like there has to be a more ceremonious description of the event), I am the one in the bleachers crying. Yup, big ol' fat tears rolling down my big ol' fat cheeks.  Why? I HAVE NO IDEA!!! Since I am a Minnesotan, I am a Twins fan. Have you ever heard the Twins theme song (is that what it's called)? It's as cheesy as all get out. Still, I'm a virtual puddle during that campy tune while the team takes the field.  It doesn't matter if they win or lose, or if they're good or bad, and there is no other time of the game that I have this reaction. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME???

While I was at a game the other night, I witnessed a disturbing trend. Short Jorts.  In other words, short jean shorts.  The kind that are so short that there is a constant fear of a stray butt cheek.  What is with our recent inability to keep buns covered? If it's not the short shorts with the butt cheek falling out, it's the low ride with the butt crack peeking out.  I have news for you, there isn't a part of any person's butt that I (or anyone else) want to see. If I were to be in a pageant, my platform would be keeping the buns covered. My talent would be putting together Ikea furniture.

I would also like to take this moment to publicly thank Mr. Lindstrom for not proposing to me at a sporting event on the jumbotron.


Food For Thought Friday: Balance, It's Mom-plicated

It's an age old story, really. Mom trying to strike a balance between work, parenting, life, marriage, and house management.  Is there really such a thing?

No, seriously, is there? Because I've been working on it myself for the duration of my parenting.  Sometimes I can get a little "balancey" which to me, means that I am in a zone where everyone is getting robbed a little, but not enough to be totally ignored.  How sad is that? When I tell people that I work on the weekends, and have a flexible schedule during the week so that I can be home with my kids for the most part, even I think it sounds blissful. In fact, I often tell people that it's perfect. I mean, it should be, right? The truth is, a lot suffers because of my particular schedule, and I'm pretty certain you feel the same way about your own schedule.   

I'm not going to list out the job description of a mom, though there are some people in the world who could benefit from it.  What I'll say is that parenting young people who require so much attention (and they deserve it!) makes it difficult to be the wife, employee, friend, homeowner, housekeeper, fill-in the blank person you want to be. Not to mention that on top of all of that, we always think that someone else has it better because they have a nanny, or they are a stay at home parent, or they have a cleaning service, or they have a husband with a lucrative job, or they get summers off...

From where I sit, it seems like the balancing act of parenting is just that... an act. For those who don't look like they have anything together, I think we need to cut them some slack (eh-em... I am talking about myself here), and for those who look like they have it wrapped up tight with a perfectly tied little bow, I think we need to compassionately support them for the areas that probably aren't but we don't see.  

How do you keep balance in your life? Do you think you can have balance as a parent? What does balance mean to you?  

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!


A Little Reminder... For Me... and For You, Too!

I am finding myself getting caught up again in the "parenting race." I've done it in the past, and it's never productive. You know the race; so and so's kid is potty trained, and thus and such is already speaking Spanish fluently, and what's her face is going to be president in like five minutes.  Meanwhile, the Human Cannonball is still being described by my friends and parenting peers as "a total handful" (though, I think he's got a lot of spunk, and is brilliant and loving. Honestly, it really hurts my heart when other people describe him in that way -- so that hint of defensiveness you detect is definitely there.), Thing 1 knows when she's got a dirty diaper - but has no interest in the potty, and Thing 2 (having just gotten ear tubes to help him hear better... or at all) has only a small handful of clear words.

It can be really easy to think that my parenting is being judged by the skills and abilities of my children.  The truth is, in some cases, it probably is. In those cases, it's my business to ignore that judgment because the fact is that my kids are my kids. They are all different from each other, and from other children. They will do things and become things at their own pace with my assistance on their cue. They are individuals, learning and growing at their own pace. None of them are going to go to college still peeing their pants, or grunting instead of using words, right? (Fingers crossed.)

Just a little reminder for me, that I thought I'd share with you, in case you needed the reminder, too.


Wordless Wednesday: Our Family In Shoes

Pop over to It's My Baby Blog and stand in my shoes for a quick moment. I have reposted one of my favorite stories of early lessons in loss.  


I Could Not Possibly Twi-harder!

My name is Colleen, I'm 34 years of age, and I am a Twi-hard.  I just finished the Twilight series for the second time. Both times I read them within the space of two weeks putting them down only to sleep and care for my children.  I've been reading another book for two days, and I still have to remind myself that the characters aren't vampires.  To make matters worse, I have had to remind myself that I am not a vampire, nor is my husband, nor my neighbors and friends. My children are not half vampires. We do not have werewolves (or "shape changers") in our midst, and I am not trying to keep any secrets about what or who I am.  I couldn't Twi-harder if I tried.

When you are a Twi-hard, you have to pick a team. Team Edward (the Vampire) or Team Jacob (the Werewolf).  I am prepared to say that I cannot imagine why on earth anyone would ever be on Team Jacob. Yeah, I said it... game on!

Here's the thing about Edward; Okay, so he may be a little stalker-ish, but he does it from a place of protection. He is gracious in that he doesn't want to control Bella, he only wants to keep her safe. He is strong, intelligent, and level headed (when he doesn't want to suck her blood).

Jacob is immature, rude, and self-absorbed. I just don't understand the appeal.

Unless, of course, you are talking specifically about the actors who play those characters. In which case, I am on Team Jacob, because I don't care who you are... this:

beats this: 

any old day of the week.  But let's be honest, I wouldn't kick either of them out of bed. 

What do you think... what team are you on? Or do you think all this Twi-madness is Twi-outofcontrol?


Manic Monday Blogarrhea

- I have a new favorite quote:
No woman will ever be satisfied because no man will ever have a chocolate penis that shoots out money.  ~Author Unknown

I mostly like the visual of a chocolate penis that shoots out money, so if you're looking for a theme for my birthday cake next year...

- It frustrates me that the weather channel and my local weather people are always disagreeing over the week's forecast. I'd really like to get them in a room together, give them a bottle of wine, and see if they couldn't agree on just some really moderate temperatures and sunny weather.  

- I try really hard not to be judgmental of other people's parenting.  All parents are different, all kids are different, and I don't know who I am to have a say in how everyone else "should" be doing it. However, when I spot a wrong, I call it out. This one is a doozie.  The other day, my husband and I were having some leisure time sans children at a local park with a little restaurant.  We were seated on the patio near a mother with a young son (possibly 3) and the mom had a friend along. The little boy kept asking to be taken to the bathroom, and the mother kept telling him that she was busy. For about 15 or 20 minutes this went on, when finally the young boy wet his pants, she rolled her eyes, and then proceeded to change him on the crowded patio in full view of everyone. Wow, right?

- If you are not watching Curb Your Enthusiasm, you need to figure out how to get HBO and start watching it 5 minutes ago. The scene from last night's episode where Larry David is trying to explain to a young woman how to use a tampon is enough reason.  It never occurred to me that men have absolutely no idea how we operate those things! While I'm on the topic, do me (and possibly you?) a favor and watch Love in the Wild on NBC. It is so horribly awesome!


Food For Thought Friday: Congratulations, You're a Big...

You know how it goes, your bestie just had a baby, it's her second, and you want to bring the new babe a gift. Such cute things to choose from when it comes to buying for the baby... and then you remember... the big sibling. You gotta get a gift for the big sibling! It's customary. Whether it started being the case because you don't want the big sibling to feel left out, or the big sibling deserves to be congratulated on their new role, the world may never know, but it would be rude NOT to get the sibling a gift, right? But what?

I am an enthusiastic gift giver, a passionate de-clutterer, and a mom who is up to her eyeballs in toys! When friends ask what to give big siblings as a gift, I have but one answer, "books." I have never once heard a parent say, "we have too many books!" I have, however, heard the refrain, "THERE ARE TOO MANY TOYS IN THIS HOUSE!!!!" Mostly I've heard that from myself, but I have faint memories of hearing it at my house growing up and the homes of my friends.  I'm not anti-toy, for sure! I am guilty as charged in the area of buying toys for a big sibling, but I'm trying to recover from that, and find new and exciting ways to honor the big sibling.  

Sometimes we get so caught up in the routine of buying gifts that we forget the occasion and the intent behind the gift.  For me, giving the older sibling a gift is a way of saying, "you have a new responsibility, I'm excited for you, and whether you realize it or not, you have just grown up a whole lot." I've been trying hard to select gifts befitting of that message. 

Do you have a go-to sibling gift? Or do you forgo the big sibling gift altogether? 

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!


You Got Some 'Splainin' to Do!

I'm on a rant. It's not pretty.

Against my better judgement, we took the Human Cannonball to see Cars 2.  The movie is very heavy on the James Bond theme.  While I usually appreciate Pixar's ability to weave in adult jokes to their kids movies, the inside jokes were a little too outside for my taste.  There was a LOT of shooting, chasing, torturing, and using the phrase, "KILL HIM" (especially in reference to the beloved Lightening McQueen).  I'd heard the reviews (spoiler alert: The reviews are bad), I'd had friends tell me how disappointed (and downright angry) they were after taking their children to see the movie, I'd even thought long and hard about my personal beliefs as a parent (despite the fact that the Human Cannonball was all geared up for the movie - which we got him excited about before the movie was released, we are a family who does not promote pretending to shoot or kill). I'm here to tell you now, I should have listened to my gut and not taken him to the movie.  That's not what I'm all revved up about. Having taken him to see the movie was MY mistake.  I own that.

We are huge fans of the Pixar movie UP.   We have watched it on DVD umptifoo times, and the Human Cannonball will quickly list it in his top five favorites (likely behind all three Toy Story movies). I love the story of Up. I love the relationship between the curmudgeon Carl Fredricksen and the "boy scout" Russell (the Human Cannonball does, too. We have had a series of goldfish named Carl and Russell). I adore the theme of animal rights that weaves through the movie.  I am head over heels for the way the movie defines the big idea of adventure. I am even abundantly satisfied with the themes of death and grief that the film portrays.  I have very, very few gripes about this movie.  And yet, if you check the rating, it is rated PG in response mostly to the aforementioned themes of death and grief (as noted by the Motion Picture Association of America as Some Peril and Action).

Then there's Cars 2. The bulk of the movie is fast moving, shooting, bombing, torturing, action with dialogue about destroying and killing characters.  Yet, the movie carries a G rating. Whether the G rating came as a result of the fact that the cars in the movie are "imaginary characters" vs. "depictions of real people" in my opinion is a moot point. To my child, these cars are as real as I am. I have to agree. I attach myself the characters and their personalities because THE CARS TALK! They don't just need gas every too few miles, or pester you for an oil change every three months. They talk. They have friendships, they fall in love, they have self esteem, they are more than just cars.

Here's where I'm really mad: What is with our culture that we are so jammed up about talking to children about real death? Part of the cycle of life.  People die.  Babies die, Elderly people die, and people of every age in between die. Yet, it appears as though we are perfectly able to reconcile conversations about intent to kill and shooting. Are you with me here?  I was watching the faces of other parents in the theater and wondering if they were as disturbed and aggravated as I was at the theme of the movie and I was surprised that there was no reaction at all on their faces.  I can't tell you how many of my friends (whom I have always, and still do consider really good parents) have thought nothing of the violent themes in the movie. I have sat on countless panels on the topic of how to talk to children about death, and yet I have no idea how to talk to my children about violence and intent to kill.  While I know someday that conversation should and will come, I don't think it's appropriate to have now. I do, however, think that the conversation about death and dying as a part of the life cycle is a vital and appropriate conversation to have at every age and stage.

I'm not mad a Pixar (although, I can't believe that they failed so miserably with Cars 2), and I'm not really mad at the Motion Picture Association of America, after all, they were just responding to our culture.  That's who I'm mad at, our culture. A culture that seems to promote violence and intent to kill as entertainment, but views natural death as too difficult or (dare I say it) REAL to expose people too.

Where are you with this? Are you with me? Or do you think I'm so far off base I should send it an email and get GPS directions to find my way back? Or anywhere in between... I'm up for a civilized discussion...

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