Wednesday, August 29, 2012


This kid...

melts my heart.

Those big blue eyes, those soft yellow curls, those wide chubby cheeks.  The way he asks why, the way he laughs, the way he hugs.

He's one big ball of emotion.  He can go from pissed off to giggling on the floor in seconds.  He can hug as hard as he punches. 

This age can be trying.  He rarely knows what he wants or how to ask for it.  He throws fits and screams NO in my face.

But he also says "I lud du mommy" and "I go wish du mommy" and "I want du do it mommy."  He's my little shadow and I couldn't ask for a better sidekick.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Story About a Minnie Mouse Purse and a Hello Kitty Necklace

I don't really remember how old I was.  Young.  So I'm going to go with 5 or 6.  I'm pretty sure we still lived in the green house on the creek.  The one with snakes in the basement.  And we moved out of that place when I was 6.  So we'll go with 5.  Plus Ainsley's 5 so that makes the story better.

So I was 5.  It was Christmas.  We were on our way to my grandparent's farm to exchange gifts and visit with our cousins.  I sat in the back seat with my brand new purse.  It was black, patent leather, with Minnie Mouse on the front.  I remember the strap being so long that I could wear it like a messenger bag.  Actually, Ainsley would call it a satchel.  I also remember the mouse ears and the big red bow. 

We stopped at a store just down the street from the farm.  I don't remember why.  But I do remember walking through the aisles.  I don't remember taking the purse off.  I don't remember putting it on a shelf.  But I do remember heading down the road and realizing it was gone.

I begged to go back.  My dad refused.  I cried.  He still refused.  We headed on our way, and my purse was gone.

That purse probably would have ended up in the bottom of a toy box.  I don't remember ever being crazy about Minnie Mouse and I don't remember loving to carry purses around.  However, I remember that moment when my stomach just crashed and this thing that I loved for the day was gone forever.  My dad spat lessons from the front seat, "You need to take care of your stuff," "I'm not keeping up with your stuff," "You're old enough to know better."

And all that was true.  I don't remember ever leaving something behind like that again.  So I did learn the lesson.  But it was a tough one to swallow at 5.

Yesterday, we left Target and as we pulled out of the parking lot Ainsley spoke up from the backseat.

"Oh no!  My necklace," she cried.
"What necklace?" I asked.
"My Hello Kitty necklace is gone.  I think I put it on the princess doll."

My initial reaction was, oh's just a dumb little necklace.  But before I could say anything, Clif pulled into another spot.

"You put your necklace on a doll in the store?" he asked.
"Yes," she cried.

He was irritated, but he got out, opened the van door and took her back into the store.

They were gone for awhile.  They checked the toy aisles, the bathroom, the lost and found, the girls section.  No necklace.

Ainsley came back red eyed.

We drove on, the sadness in the car heavy.

"Ainsley, maybe we could get a movie and eat popcorn when we get home," Clif said as he glanced at her in the rear view mirror.

"Yes!" Ainsley exclaimed.  So we stopped and got the movie - The Smurfs...again.  Got back in the car and headed home.

It was a dumb necklace...just like it was dumb purse.  But I bet Ainsley won't be thinking about it 30 years later.  She probably won't have a story like this to tell because I'm sure the details will fly from her mind.  At some point in her life, she'll be angry with us.  She'll pull away and try her wings.  She'll throw fits and we'll have arguments.  She'll break the rules and we'll punish her. 

But somewhere deep inside, she'll know that Daddy was always on her side.  That he always had her back.  That he was always willing to do whatever it took to make her smile.  And that will be the story that she tells her kids.

Okay, so this post was meant to show you what an awesome father Clif is.  But this story actually has a very funny ending that I absolutely have to share.  After picking the movie and heading home, Ainsley found the necklace...on her neck!  Imagine that.  It had fallen below her shirt and she said "It must have just disappeared and then came back because it knew that I loved it." 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Stepping Out

I've talked before about how I have anxiety stepping out of my comfort zone.  It amazes me how far it reaches.  I mean, why should I care what anyone thinks of me in a town that is 600 miles from where I live.

Why do I care what anyone thinks of me anyway?  Why do I even think people notice the things I do?  Pretty sure they don't.

So I flew to Chicago on Sunday, by myself, for work.  I don't fly much.  I fly by myself even less.  I'm not scared of flying, but it does make me nervous.  And every little bump we hit, I'm praying - begging - to make it out alive.

I got there in the afternoon with nothing really to do until dinner time.  I was starving because I had missed lunch.  I found an Irish Pub, but as I stood at the door...I felt the anxiety start.  What if this isn't what it seems?  What if there's no bar to sit at by myself?  What if it's full?  What if people stare at me for being alone?

In my head, right now...all those What if's seem so stupid!  But in that split second, where I almost turned around and went to the Chipotle around the corner and then back to my room to eat, they were extremely valid.

I made myself go in, sit by myself, at the bar, and order a beer and french fries.  They had Sam Adam's Cherry Wheat on tap!!!  I could have missed out on that - one of my favorite beers - ON TAP!  And the french fries were so amazing.  Especially with the homemade BBQ sauce they served for dipping.

I had decided before I left that I would go jogging Monday morning before my meetings.  I was so excited to be in a brand new city, see new things, and jog along Lake Michigan.  But then, as it got closer, I started doubting myself again.

What if the path was dangerous?  What if I got lost?  What if I end up in a bad part of town?

I almost backed out.  Almost didn't go.  Almost missed some amazing skyline views of a beautiful city.

Almost missed a chance to walk on the beach.

Almost missed a beautiful sky over a beautiful lake.

In that moment when my anxiety creeps in and almost takes over, all I want to do is stay in bed.  I'm finally getting better at putting it aside and pushing through.  Maybe one day I'll actually be one of those people that doesn't think twice about a comfort zone or stepping out of it. 

Okay, we all know that probably won't happen but a girl can dream can't she?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Danger! Danger!

Last week I stumbled upon this post. 

Okay, really I didn't stumble upon it.  Really I read Tracy's blog every day, because...well, she's awesome.  Her stories are funny and sweet and every once in awhile, make me shed a tear.  Also, poke around a bit over there at beautiful are her girls?  I have bloggy love for her.

Anyway, back to the post.  Go read, if you haven't already, then come back.  I'll wait.

When I read things like this I get so angry.  I really hate how we've gone around the bend on safety issues.  I mean, car seats...I get it.  Helmets, I get it.  I was never in a car seat and I never wore a helmet, and somehow I'm still alive to talk about the horror of it all...but I do get it.  When it comes to things like that, I'm extremely diligent with my kids.  But some things are just ridiculous.  Guess what  They're going to get hurt.  It's part of the job description.  It's part of growing up.

About a month or so ago I had a conversation with my Aunt about her state outlawing swings on public property.  Hold up?  Swings?!?!?  Swings are OUTLAWED!  What did swings ever do to anyone?  Are we seriously ready to raise an entire generation that can't pump their legs?  What's next?  Monkey bars?  Slides?  Seesaws?  Oh wait, I've also heard that seesaws aren't allowed on many playgrounds.  And come to think of it, I haven't seen too many monkey bars lately.

It makes me sad.  Yet...

When we first moved into our new house we found a tick on Ainsley.  It was not embedded.  It wasn't engorged.  But I FREAKED.  I lost it.  How could I have let this happen?  How had I not noticed?  I felt like a terrible mother.  This disease carrying insect was on my child...where had I gone wrong?

I made a decision to stay out of the woods with the kids.  Check them constantly for ticks.

So, how am I any better than the state outlawing swings or the stranger scolding a mother for allowing her kids to climb trees?

As parents we want to do whatever it takes to protect our kids...

My kid slipped off the Monkey Bars...remove them all!
My kid fell out of a tree...cut them all down!
My kid was bit by a dog...stay away from all dogs!
My kid had a tick on her...don't go near the woods!

We want to tear down the mountains and build the bridges to make their lives easy and worry-free.  But that's not really life is it?

Kids are going to get hurt.  They're going to fall down hills, crash their bikes, get stung by bees.  We can't protect them from it all.  I'm not a bad mom because my kid had a tick on her. 

And if we protect them from all these "dangers" are we really protecting them or are we just setting them up to fail?  To expect a life with no road blocks or obstacles? 

Shouldn't we instead teach them that some things are worth the risk?  That some actions come with consequences.  Yes, you could fall off the swing and break a leg...but isn't the wind in your face and the feeling of flying worth that small risk?  Yes, you could find a tick in your hair, but isn't the beauty of the forest worth that possibility?

I think it is.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

According to Ainsley...and Freddie - Snakes

We're in the car...

Ainsley: Freddie!  You do not want to go in that tall grass.

She points out the window to a wooded area, preceded by a field with higher than average grass.

Freddie: My go der Aidey.
Ainsley: NO!  Freddie, do not go there.
Freddie: Why?
Ainsley: That is tall grass.  Know what lives in tall grass?

She pauses without a response.

Ainsley: Freddie?  Are you listening to me?  Freddie, look at me right now.

Freddie cranes his neck to peek around his car seat.

Ainsley: Know what lives in tall grass, Freddie?
Freddie: What?
Ainsley: SNAKES!!!
Freddie: Oh no!  My no yike nakes.
Ainsley: Freddie, snakes are so bad.  Don't ever go in tall grass.
Freddie: Okay Aidey, my no yike nakes.  My no go tall gwass.

Weeks later, we are walking into daycare.  Her lawn is very nice, with a landscaped area around the sidewalk.

Freddie: Mommy...uppy! uppy! uppy!

I hoist Freddie on my hip.

Me: What's wrong bud?

He points at the bushes near the walkway.

Freddie: Me scared.  Me no yike tall gwass.  NAKES!
Ainsley: That's right, Freddie!  Don't go near tall grass.  Mommy, we should not walk this way.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Red Pens

I joined a sorority in college.  During my pledging and initiation we had to watch a movie about sorority hazing.  This movie was beyond ridiculous.  It was horrible acting and the storyline, although intending to be serious, was comical.

However, the movie doesn't really matter.  The part that matters is the movie there is a hazing ritual where all of the new pledges have to parade around in bikinis and the older sisters use red pens to circle trouble areas.  At the end of pledging those circles need to shrink or you don't get initiated.

So basically, all college Freshman are fat and need to loose weight...or so the movie would have you believe.

I am very critical of my looks.  Honestly, I don't do a whole lot to improve them...who has time for beauty routines?!?!?  I see a picture of myself and I pick it apart.

Ewe, my face looks blotchy.
Ugh, you can see my belly roll.
How can you have gray hair and acne?!?!?
Seriously I need to lose weight.
My nose is so big.
Hello eye bags and crows feet.
I look so old...

I always feel like I'm marking myself up with red pens.

But last night I took this picture.

I love this picture.  Not because my hair looks awesome or my skin looks flawless.  I could use a good 12 hours of sleep and maybe some whitening toothpaste.  I love it because we all look so happy and my kids were chanting "Love you mommy" while I snapped 2 or 3 just like this. 

It was a nice moment...then Freddie locked me out of the house.  That story for another day.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Larry the Cucumber Can Suck It!

Since we've moved, I spend a lot of time in the car with the kids.  We have a half an hour to daycare in the morning and 40 minutes or more from daycare to home at night.  This will all end come September 4th when Ainsley goes to Kindergarten and Freddie starts at a new daycare near our house.

That hour and 10 minutes of every day are some of the funniest, most exhausting, most annoying, sweetest times.  And seriously, I can experience all those emotions in the same trip.  So I thought I'd give you a little glimpse.  Since traffic was horrid yesterday (thank you fender bender on 66) I was sitting for a long time and was able to take notes on my phone.

Note: for the purposes of this story "Pfhh" will represent the sound of Freddie making short, quick, raspberries in the air.

Radio: Veggie Tales, Veggie Tales...
Freddie: Mommy, cose ya'eyes.
Me: I can't close my eyes, Freddie.  I'm driving.
Freddie: Jut do it.
Me: Freddie I can't...
Ainsley: Look Freddie, my eyes are closed.
Me: Thank you Ainsley.

Freddie pushes the button on his cup which pops open the lid to reveal the straw and he screams "SUPIZE!!!!"
Ainsley puts on her best excited face for him.  Such a good big sister.

Radio: We hope you enjoy (blah, blah, blah, blah) we bring you the story of Pistachio (really it's the story of Pinocchio, told Veggie Tale style)...I'm Larry the Cucumber...
Freddie: NO Stasho!!! Ah her Fweddie song.
Me: It's Ainsley's turn Freddie, we'll listen to Pistachio and then switch to your songs.
Freddie: NOOOOOoooooo! (fake cry...oh yeah, he goes there)
Me: Ainsley, do you care if we listen to Freddie's songs for a bit.
Ainsley: Sure Mommy, I am going to practice my ballet.
Me: Okay

I switch the CDs.

Radio: Who goes around the place and makes a silly face, I bet you know, it's Freddie.

I look in the rear view mirror and see Freddie beebopping to the tunes.

Ainsley: (singing) I'm a butterfly that is...
Freddie: Pfhh, Pfhh, Pfhh, Pfhh...
Ainsley: Stop it Freddie.  (singing) On Christmas Eve, I am a happy child.  Santa Clause is coming to town...
Freddie: Pfhh, Pfhh, Pfhh, Pfhh...
Ainsley: Freddie!!  Stop it! (singing) Santa Clause is siiilly.  You can't wait to hear what he done...
Freddie: Pfhh, Pfhh, Pfhh, Pfhh...
Ainsley: FREDDIE!! 
Me: Stop yelling.
Ainsley: But Mommy, I am trying to practice my ballet and he is spitting in my class.  There is no spitting in my class.
Freddie: Pfhh, Pfhh, Pfhh, Pfhh...
Me: Ainsley, he's not spitting.
Ainsley: But I don't like him doing that in my class.
Freddie: Pfhh, Pfhh, Pfhh, Pfhh...
Me: Well then he's not in your class.  Just ignore him or learn to deal with it
Radio: I sure do like fishin', but I don't like the worms.  They're wigggggly, jigggggly, all together squiggggly...
Freddie: Pfhh, Pfhh, Pfhh, Pfhh...
Ainsley: (singing) I know what he du-uh-uhn.  He said Liddy, hiddy, bitty, pitty hid. A kid that is small, then tiny.  That a grown up hold her like this (arms crossed like holding baby).  Santa Clause is so silly at times...
Freddie: Aidey!  Top sinin.  My song!
Me: Freddie, if you're going to make weird noises, Ainsley can sing.  Stop yelling!
Ainsley: (singing) But the ballerina is at the gala, at the gala.  You can't wait for Christmas.  Christmas.  Christmas.  Christmas.  Christmas.  You get presents on Christmas!
Freddie: (clapping) Yay Aidey!!!!
Ainsley: No Freddie, you can't clap for me because you are not in my class because you were spitting.

Freddie: Mommy yook!  Choo Choo twain!  ( it's the metro train)  Aidey, yook, yook!  Chugga chugga too too!
Ainsley: Yeah Freddie!  Choo Choo train!
Freddie: Mommy, my ride dat choo choo twain?
Me: Yes, Freddie, one day we'll ride it.
Freddie: (mumbling to self) Yeah, my ride choo choo twain, one day, baybe (maybe).
Me: Look Freddie, there's another one.
Freddie: Mommy, twain station.  People wakin to cars.  Mommy, I go over der?
Me: Where?
Freddie: Over der!
Me: Where? To the station.
Freddie: Yeah!
Me: Not today, Freddie.
Freddie: Why?
Ainsley: Mommy, I'm hungry.
Me: We'll be home soon, Ainsley.  You can have a snack.
Freddie: My have nack?
Me: Yes, Freddie, you can have a snack too.
Ainsley: (groans) This drive is possibly taking forever!
Me: Sorry bug, there's lots of traffic today.
Ainsley: Just go cars!
Freddie: Go Mommy!
Me: I can't go Freddie, there are cars in front of me.
Freddie: Why?

Notice that I just ignore the whys now.  Really, he just likes to hear himself say it.

Freddie: Bye, bye choo choo twain, see ya'yater.
Ainsley: Bye train.  See you tomorrow!
Freddie: Mommy, Aidey turn.  Her stasho!

I change the CD, back to Veggie Tales.

Radio: Veggie Tales, Veggie Tales, Veggie Tales.  It's time for Veggie ta - aya - aya - ayales...

And on to the story of Pistachio...again...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

According To Ainsley - Shaving Simplified

I am reading to Ainsley in my room before bedtime (cause you know, she sleeps there now).  Clif walks in and takes off his shirt.

"Daddy, what are you doing?" Ainsley asks.
"I'm going to shave," he answers.

She literally jumps off the mattress and bounces into the bathroom.

"Can I watch, please, please, please?"
"Sure," he says.
"Why did you take off your shirt to shave?"
"So I don't get hair and shaving cream on it," he answers

I take this opportunity to fold laundry, pack my lunch, read my book, pick up toys lay on the bed and do absolutely nothing.

Ainsley perches herself on the toilet seat and waits for what comes next.

Clif spreads shaving cream across his face.
"Mommy, look at Daddy's face!  He is so silly."
Clif looks at me with white foam on his cheeks and chin.

"Daddy, are you going to shave your cheeks?"
"Are you going to shave that big hair on your chin?"

She's quiet for a minute.

"Daddy, why is that buzzing?"
"It's just my razor, it helps with shaving," he answers.
"When I am a grown up I can't wait to use one that buzzes," she responds.
"Well girls don't usually shave their faces," Clif tells her.
"Oh." She seems a bit disappointed.

Again, quiet.

"Daddy!  Be careful!"
"I'm being careful, Ainsley," he chuckles.

Her excitement can barely be contained.  She is up and down on the toilet seat, crossing and uncrossing her feet, jabbering on and on as I start to fall asleep.

I hear a crash and open my eyes to see her pinned between the wall and toilet.

Before Clif or I can say anything she yells "I'm okay!"  She jumps back up.
"Ainsley, just sit on the toilet and be still," Clif says holding back laughter.
"Okay Daddy, can I still watch?"

She leaps up again and throws her arms around his leg.
"Thank you Daddy!  You are the best Daddy!  I love you too much!"

"Daddy, you have some white stuff there," she points.  Clif shaves.
"Daddy, you missed that spot too," she points.  Clif shaves.
"Daddy, you didn't get all that big hair off your chin."
"I'm working on it, Ainsley," Clif responds.
"Okay Daddy, don't forget."
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