Wordless Wednesday: First Day Of School

Quickly fly the days...

Some thoughts on birth over at It's My Baby Blog today. Stop on over!


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?


Food For Thought Friday: Can You Hear Me Now?

Neither of my sons could hear very well until they were about 18 months old.  They both passed the hearing tests administered in the hospital, and we trusted that they could, but they could not.  We discovered it differently for both of them.

The Human Cannonball was a relatively early walker, he was walking just shy of 10 months, and by 10 1/2 months, he was running.  There was never any trace of balance issues when he was walking. It was at the same time that he began talking. His first word was "puppy" only it sounded like "conky." We thought it was kind of cute, and laughed a little every time he said it. Until he started to say some other words, like "daddy" which came out sounding like "gagn," or "mommy" which sounded like "ngaaang." He would say his version of the word, we would repeat it to him correctly looking at him directly, and he would repeat very confidently and deliberately his version of the word. I knew that boys are often later talkers, but my gut told me that wasn't the case with him. He was trying so hard to communicate, and the words didn't sound right to us, but they did to him. Once I put my hands over my ears and asked Mr. Lindstrom to say the words, they sounded exactly like the Human Cannonball was pronouncing them.

Thing 2 was a little different. He walked much later than his twin sister (I know I'm not supposed to compare them to each other, but it's really hard not to), and once he did start walking, he weaved back and forth like a sailor back on land for the first time in months.  That wasn't really what tipped me off. It was the fact that if I was standing on one side of him and said his name he absolutely had no reaction. If I was on his other side, I had to say his name a few times loudly and he would slowly turn his head as if he was only slightly aware that someone was trying to get his attention.  Because I had already had a child with hearing issues, I didn't hesitate. We went straight to the doctor.

Both of my boys had bilateral tubes at 18 months.  It was the magic bullet for us.  Immediately as we left the hospital we noticed each of them taking in the world in a different way. With one of them it was a horn honking that sent him flying, the other was following the birds sounds in a way he never had in the past. His head was darting back and forth every time he heard a song, like he was following a bird with his eyes, only they were hidden away in the trees, so I knew he couldn't see them. He could hear them. Before, they could only hear in black and white, but immediately after surgery, they were hearing in color.

Up until those moments, I had been the mom at the park yelling at the top of my lungs to my boys, while onlookers no doubt thought I was the "screamy mom," I was only trying to make a sound loud enough for them to hear. Now, the doctors have told me not to worry about delays in communication or speech for a while, because kids are so adaptable. I have to disagree.  I am watching my daughter who has no hearing issues learn to communicate, and she is leaps and bounds beyond where my boys were at this age with comprehension. I used to watch other moms communicate with their boys of the same age, and they were hearing and obeying. It took the Human Cannonball a very long time to learn to listen (which is different from hearing), try using his words first (vs. throwing, hitting, or biting), and undo some of his default sounds that he used when he couldn't hear. I am seeing some of the same behaviors with Thing 2, and it is definitely a parenting challenge that isn't any easier the second time.

Usually when I tell people that my boys had tubes, they assume that they had chronic ear infections. The Human Cannonball was only treated for one, and Thing 2 was treated for the same one for about 6 months.  It really was the hearing issues that tipped me off, and after doing our due diligence (waiting through an allergy season to see if the fluid found a way out), both were cleared for the surgery, and for us, it was the best decision we'd ever made.  Both boys had major language explosions within a month of the surgery, and there were some subtle changes that we noticed right away. Even though the challenge of introducing them to language (imagine if you spent most of your life communicating with people in Greek only to find out that they only understand English, and even worse, you thought you were actually speaking English...) is definitely a challenge, it's definitely a good challenge to face.

I tell you this story for two reasons:
1. So that you may pay different attention to how your children are developing. If there is anything that is concerning to you, ask about it. But, here's the key: don't stop asking if you are told that it's normal. Keep asking. Because, at some point in their development it may cease to be normal, and then may be treated. Whether it's hearing, or something else.

2. Follow your mom gut.  With both my boys, it was no more than a gut feeling that there was an issue. Most medical doctors take Dr. Mom very seriously. They realize that they only see a snapshot of your child in their office, while you have the whole picture.  Trust yourself, and speak with authority.

You know your child better than anyone, and some of the fixes for what seem like big huge problems are so simple.  For us, this has been life changing.  What major event has been life changing for you as a parent?

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!



Christmas Shopping

WHAT? Did I just say CHRISTMAS SHOPPING? I know, it's August. Enjoy the summer, Lindstrom. Come on!

Psssst... here's my secret to low holiday stress... I start my shopping in the summer. This started two years ago when I was expecting two simultaneous stork deliveries right around Christmas.  In fact, we were just praying to make it through Christmas with the Twinstroms on the inside.  So, I spent the late summer and early Autumn months making sure I had all of the Christmas shopping all tied up because I didn't know how mobile I'd be come December.

The benefit, I realized, was that by the time December DID roll around that year, the only thing stressing me out was the fact that I couldn't pull my underwear up without assistance. Also, I had spread that holiday spending across the course of five months instead of one. Our bank account was thankful for not having been asked to run a marathon.  It worked out so well that I did it again last year, and wouldn't you know it, holidays were stress free. *Editor's note: The Twinstroms were born four days after Christmas, so my stress comes the day after Christmas when I am charged with the task of turning our house from Christmas land to birthday land swiftly. 

I have some shopping guidelines that help me to organize my shopping:
1. Online shopping is not only okay, but encouraged.
2. Never pay full price, UNLESS it is that ONE thing that they are dying for, and it NEVER goes on sale.
3. Each child gets one present for their birthday (I have an October birthday and the two aforementioned December birthdays, so birthday shopping gets lumped in), one present to open on Christmas Eve from us, stocking stuffers from Santa, and one "big" present from Santa.
4. Try to keep the spending and item amounts even for all the children.
5. Keep an organized spreadsheet of gifts for moments when memory doesn't serve and also to prevent impulse buys.

Then, I have color coordinated rubbermaid containers that are hidden in child-free areas within which I hide the presents for safe keeping until the unveiling.

As I mentioned, I never pay full price, and I do a TON of online shopping.  Here are my sites:

- Woot is a site that sells off one discounted item per day. They have a few sites including kids.woot where I will frequently find great things for my kids, wine.woot where I never find things for my kids,  and sellout.woot where they usually have things I've been personally coveting like projectors, computers, robot vacuums, and things I've never even heard of. I check the woot sites early in the morning and then think on it for most of the day before I decide to go back and purchase there. This rule prevents me from making impulse buys.

- 1 Sale A Day has five different categories of items they sell per day. I always check the family site for toys, movies, etc. In August one year, they had 100 Silly Bandz (or some approximation of) that they were offering for shipping only. I bought a few packages, and kept them on hand that year for Halloween trick-or-treaters, party favor bags, and stocking stuffers.  I have also seen Amazon Kindles and Barnes and Noble Nooks on that site for great prices.

- One of my favorite sites for kid's stuff is called Zulily. You must sign up with your email address in order to shop at this site, but they feature great discounts from multiple retailers on things for babies and moms, including clothing, toys, and jewelry.

- If you remember nothing of what I share with you here, remember this. EVERY TIME YOU SHOP ONLINE, go to ebates FIRST. If you link to your favorite retailer through ebates, the site automatically collects a rebate from your purchase (a percentage of the purchase), and sends you a BIG FAT CHECK (that's what they call it). Anytime I do online shopping, I stop at ebates first to link through them. They have tons of retailers on their list that they are affiliated with, and I have gotten lots of money back from buying stuff that I was going to order online anyway. Sometimes the cash back only covers shipping or tax, but if it was something I was going to order online anyway... I'll take it.

- If you are looking for something original, handmade, or personal, etsy is your place. Different online shop owners host their shops through etsy. In fact, one of my favorite etsy shops is my dear friend Liv's etsy shop from Choosing Beauty.

There are tons more out there, these are just a few of my favorite tricks. Many online retailers feature a daily deal. That can be a good way to get a nice discount on gifts as well.  Remember not to go overboard and that if you are prone to impulse buying you must know thyself.  This may not be the greatest way to shop for you. For those who are looking for a way to keep your holidays stress free, I have found that starting the shopping early, and getting in on some nice discounts has made for a really happy family. I have the Twinstroms to thank for this revelation (and so much more).

Disclosure: I have not been compensated for ANY of the featured links included in this post. However, I have used some referral links where I may be rewarded for sales that originate from these links. Each site is a site I have bought from or used (multiple times) and have had great experiences with.


Manic Monday Blogarrhea

I have heard it said that the most annoying sound is a toddler whining. While that is certainly annoying, I disagree, I think that the most annoying sound is adults baby-talking to children. I don't mean the over emphasized sing-songy talk that parents often do while they describe the world to their children, I mean the squeaky talk-to-the-child-like-they-are-stupid voice.  Do you know what I mean? Even worse when an adult does it and there isn't a child in sight.

This morning I saw a dude in the lake near our house with a metal detector under water.  He had waders on and the whole nine yards.  I'm fascinated by this hobby. My first thought is always, "I wonder how much metal they have to find and trade in to make up the cost of the gear?" Is it a lucrative hobby? Maybe I should take it up...

For the third time in the past year and a half, an employee at a store I frequent (eh-em) has told me when I've gone through her checkout lane with the Twinstroms that she remembers when I bought the pregnancy test that no doubt told me I was expecting.  While I appreciate that she has a fond memory of a moment that we shared, that information belongs in the "keep it to yourself" file.  However, I am open to the fact that it may be that I shop at this particular store (eh-em) a little too much.

And here's one for the "bring it up in therapy" file: I am not a hoarder in the sense that I buy and keep things I don't need. I am also not an extreme couponer in the sense that I don't stockpile things that I get at a deep discount. However, I combine these two concepts inasmuch as I save the receipts from shopping trips that tell me how much I saved because I get a little high from it. So I guess I hoard a pile of receipts that show me how good I am at couponing.  This is not normal.


Food For Thought Friday: Dance Moms

I'm watching this show on cable called Dance Moms. I really started watching it because the name drew me in, I was a dancer growing up, and I encountered more than a handful of "Dance Moms" or "Stage Moms" as we called them.  They were the ones who were sort of living vicariously through their children.  They had blinders on about their child's skills, abilities, talent, and most importantly LOVE for the craft, and were laser focused on making sure their child was in the spotlight at all times.  They would construct arguments based on what was "fair" or "unfair" and argue with anyone who got in their child's way.

The show nauseated me (not enough to stop watching, I've got a season pass to this one) because the mother's behave like pre-teens and their children, who are disciplined and focused on doing their best, are more like adults.  It was all too familiar.

As a side note, I cannot for the life of me figure out how these girls are so good at what they do when their instructor (or "coach") did not rise from a seated position the entire show. Oh wait, there was one time that she came at a child with a bat to help "correct" her. WHAT? Parents, if your child dances at a studio where the teacher never leaves a seated position except to threaten your child with a blunt object, you are wasting your money. I don't care how good your child is.

As a child, dance taught me confidence, appreciation for art, coordination, and discipline. As an adult, dance taught me about history, communication, and more discipline.  The lessons of dance go far beyond the dance studio. The mothers on "Dance Moms" seem not at all interested in those lessons. They want "the best" for their children, but rather than focus on the myriad of learning experiences, they are focusing on their child getting the brightest spotlight.

It got me thinking, isn't that what we want for our children? For them to shine their brightest? Sure. But isn't it also true that they will likely learn more in their dimmer spots? Life isn't always fair. Life is full of bumps, and pain, and surprises that pull the rug out from under us when we are busy shining our brightest, and throws us into a dim spot. We do our children a disservice if we try to interfere with their fortune of hanging out in a dim spot or two. That's where the greatest and most valuable learning takes place. It is a fine line between supportive and destructive.  I think that the best we can do is be aware of that line, and which side of it we are on as parents, and remember that the best for our children is sometimes the hardest for our children.

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!


Picture This

The Lindstroms just had our very first family picture taken. The Twinstroms are 19 months old, and we just got around to having a professional picture taken of the fam damily. We didn't even do it because we wanted to, we did it because we had to for our church's directory. Even so, I put it off until the last possible date. We have snapshots of the family, and we have oodles of pictures of the kids, and even a handful of pictures of my husband. I'm usually the photographer because I don't like to have my picture taken. I am not so easy on the eyes.

You know what the worst part of the family picture is? It's coordinating the outfits without looking like you're matching. I suck at this task.  It also stresses me out.

At one point I was so irritated because I hate doing the outfit coordination so much, when I realized that either I would have to do it, or it wouldn't get done. While the Lindstroms don't mind sticking out like a handful of sore thumbs, we're not ones to go nude in the church directory (though, that would shake things up a little).

After about three days of thinking and coordinating (and amazingly, very little shopping) we got it all figured out, and I'll be damned if my kids didn't all smile at the same time.  It actually turned out okay, and I'm sure our fellow congregants are content to continue to be in the dark when it comes to knowing what we all look like naked.

The family photo is one of those things that you wish you had when it becomes too late.  I don't necessarily mean that someone has to die or something before you realize that you wish you had a picture of the whole family. I mean that in four years, when the Human Cannonball is eight, and the Twinstroms are five, I'm going to be darn glad that I went through the headache of finding coordinating (but not matching) gear for the five of us.  It was a small price to pay (especially when you compare it to the amazing load of cash I accidentally dropped on the purchase of the very best of the best photos) because you can't turn back time, just ask Cher.


Manic Monday Blogarrhea: The Keys To Crazy Town

I am a person who believes strongly that if you are going to laugh at something someday, you should laugh about it now. I have a story for you, and it's a doozy.  I'll give you the end first, we lost a set of keys.  Two house keys, two car keys, one key chain. Gone. The story isn't that we lost them, the story is HOW we lost them.  It is a story of what happens to the brain when the brain is in the head of sleepy parents raising three energetic children. Many things had to go exactly wrong in order for this to happen.

We go to church as a family on Sundays, but this Sunday was a little different, one Sunday a year our church holds church outside in one of our beautiful parks by one of our 10,000 lakes.  It is my favorite Sunday of the year, but packing for this event takes a little more than our typical Sunday load.

I had gone out to the garage to find our picnic blanket. As I passed the car, I realized that I was seriously annoyed with our neighbor's tree branches that have been hanging over our driveway and whipping me in the face every time I get in and out of the car.  I decided to stop fantasizing about clipping the tree branches, so I grabbed the clippers out of the garage, along with the blanket, and some camp chairs which we were also packing in the car.  As I loaded the car and clipped the branches (cursing under my breath... and maybe a little over my breath), I placed my husband's keys on the hood of the car.

I don't think I need to tell you the rest of the story for you to know what happened to the keys. They are gone. They are somewhere between our house and the park two cities away.  I have driven freeways looking for a set of keys, I have walked the neighborhood in the middle of the street looking for keys, I have been on my knees in the bushes LOOKING FOR KEYS. The keys are gone.

After I set the keys on the hood of the car, the following chain of events happened:
- We walked out the front door, each holding a twin, and keeping the human cannonball in line.
- Mr. Lindstrom asked me if I had keys.
- I reached into my purse and handed him my keys so we could lock the door, and mentioned that he should grab his keys from the hood of the car where I (idiotically) placed them for "safe keeping" while I (angrily) clipped the branches of the neighbor's tree.
- Mr. Lindstrom and I had to trade twins in order to get them in the proper car seats (which took a surprising amount of coordination).
- We chatted with a neighbor who was passing by looking for his lost dog.

Then we absent-mindedly got into the car, and screeched away as not to be late for "outside" church.  It wasn't until we got to the parking lot for outside church that Mr. Lindstrom looked at me in ernest and said, "you know what? I don't think I ever grabbed the keys from the hood of the car."

Realistically, losing your keys is not really more than a gigantic pain in the ass.  But we learned a valuable lesson: This, my friends, is your brain on parenting.

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