Blueberry Farming

blueberry group shotRemember I had that list of things to do before I turned 30? Well late is better than never, right?

Besides, if ever there was an excuse for putting something off temporarily, the total implosion of a marriage might be it. That or death. Or just plain laziness. But it was definitely the marriage thing in this case.

So here I am, a day late, but not a dollar short (metaphorically at least — this chica is on a budget), and I’m back to trying to do some of the things on my list because gosh darn it — life is for living.

C running through blueberriesVisit a ‘You Pick’ orchard and pick too much fruit

Last week, one of my BFF’s Nancy and I packed up all six of our kids and visited a blueberry farm. That’s two car seats, two boosters, half a bottle of sunblock, 12 shoes that are bugging at least seven feet, and that’s only because the other five have been kicked off at some point. Oh, and two mamas with cameras. And cameras I mean iPhones. Because it’s 2013.

So we got the place and sauntered shambled in to find out how the process worked. Each kid was given a small bucket. Each bucket had a capacity of two pints. Each pint cost $5. Six kids, six buckets, sixty dollars.

YOU MAY ONLY FILL YOUR BUCKETS LESS THAN HALFWAY!

We screamed that at them as they tore off down the rows of blueberry bushes.

We needn’t have worried.

blueberry spoilsI’m going to go ahead and guess that blueberries are friggin expensive because they’re so dang hard to collect. After 10 minutes or so, the kids all had at least three blueberries each.

Eventually we ended up with four pints of blueberries altogether, which may or may not have been too many, but when you think about it … who can have too many blueberries?

And if you do, you put them in the freezer and make pie out of them in December.

P.S. The kids pretended they were ninja power ranger super spy blueberry farmers. They had a blast.

P.P.S. The majority of them declared afterward that they hate blueberries and how dare we suggest they eat them.

Good Morning America & Nail Polish & Tutus (The Important Things)

Oh my, what a crazy couple of days! In case you missed it, the Good Morning America spot aired yesterday. Then an article went up in the Daily Mail. Why yes, it is surreal to see your own face on websites that you check daily for news, why do you ask?

For my eight readers that are asking, I will have the opportunity to do more media on this to expand and clarify my position. I can’t say when or where or what yet, but I’ll keep y’all posted.

It does crack me up that I’m getting so much attention for talking about underwear. I’ve been blogging about news and politics for over four years now, having probably at least touched upon every topic there is to touch upon, and I’ve even worked on a presidential campaign as a senior copywriter. But panties?? LET’S TALK ABOUT THAT!

In all seriousness, I do believe it’s a topic worth addressing, and I’m looking forward to doing so in the near future.

For now, please enjoy this picture of Furbaby, back from the doggie spa. Yes, her nails are pink. She tried to lick the polish off. Is it wrong that I laughed at her? Then I don’t want to be right.

 Furbaby Pink Nails

And this one of Thing 2 dressed up as Thing 2 for Dr. Seuss Day last week in her kindergarten prep class. Because if you’re going to dress up, always find a way to incorporate a tutu. And pom poms.

Thing 2 Dr Seuss

Seriously — I die of cuteness on a daily basis.

Turning 30 & Other Chatter

So I didn’t get my list done. I mostly blame that whole campaign thing. Did you know you barely have time to breathe when you’re working on a campaign, let alone go shooting or ride horses or take a helicopter ride? Then the whole drama of coming home and everyone needing to readjust to the normal again.

Plus the holidays.

But it’s not the first time I’ve set out to do something and failed, and it certainly won’t be the last. So Imma gonna keep my list and try to keep on trying new things, because what’s the point of life if you don’t?

I haven’t been blogging much recently because … well because I haven’t really felt like it. There’s personal drama. A few of my closest friends are going through their own dramas. My political party is basically a circular firing squad at the moment, and everyone’s either yelling or ignoring each other. My taxes are going up.

“Hey everyone! Things are sorta crappy right now, but thanks for stopping by!” <– Didn’t seem appropriate. Neither did putting on a fake happy face and pretending everything’s hunky-dory. So I’ve shared a story here or there about something cool that happened, but I haven’t been sharing the ins-and-outs of my life like I normally do, mostly because there hasn’t been that much worth sharing.

SEE?? NOW I’M DEPRESSING MYSELF. Gah.

So here’s what I know:

  • Barrack Obama only has one term left
  • This too shall pass
  • Getting older is better than the alternative, which is dying
  • I have some amazing friends that I wouldn’t trade for their weight in gold (that’s saying something in this economy)
  • My girls are amazing

Thing 2 cute story — This morning she hopped into bed with me after Leif went to work, and while nuggling asked me, “Mommy? You wanna know who I love more than even you and Daddy?”

“Who’s that, baby?”

“My sissy. Because she always knows how to calm me down when I’m crying, and then she makes me laugh.”

My heart melted. I want nothing more than for my girls in this life to be close to each other, so moments like this totally rock.

Other things I know:

  • Ashley is going to visit me in a few weeks — YAY!
  • Duck Dynasty is one of the greatest shows on TV right now
  • Convincing myself that cheese for lunch is a good idea because it’s not carbs is backfiring in the form of tight waistbands
  • I’m going to have to start running again
  • Something about endorphins

I just got off the phone with Justin, and mentioned my lament about my 30 List. He said, “Hey, you’ll still be in your 30th year, so you have time!” I told him he was wrong, it would be my 31st year, since a baby is in it’s first year of life, and immediately replied, “Well, by Obama math…” See? I have awesome friends.

More things I know:

  • Nancy is taking me out for my bday tomorrow
  • My mom is taking me out Sunday
  • Leif is staying home from work on Monday (the BIG day)
  • It’s atrocious that I have to turn 30 on a Monday
  • I looked it up, and at least I get to turn 40 on a Saturday
  • My dog desperately needs a bath
  • Sniff sniff … I, um, could probably use a bath too

Sorry.

Here’s to a better 2013, everyone!

New Chapter

It’s 8:22 a.m., and I have the next six and a halfish hours to myself. No one asking for a third cup of chocolate milk, no one throwing a tantrum because it’s nap time, no one asking me where something is, only to have me get up and find it exactly where I said it would be.

I’ve been home from Boston for almost two weeks, but this is the first day of the New Normal. The girls were out of school for the entire week of Thanksgiving, and even though they went back yesterday, we had a parent-teacher conference at 11:30, then Leif was home the rest of the day.

Side note: Thing 2 is doing extremely well in K-prep. Her cognitive skills rock. Also, her teacher says she shares well and doesn’t get her feelings hurt easily, to which Leif and I asked, “Who??” 

Anyway. This is my first day where I can just get crap done. And oh boy, do I have a laundry list. And laundry. That needs to get done too. And I need to finish Christmas decorating. Write some things. Call some people about a job. Maybe I’ll even have it together to have snacks ready for when we get home from school.

I’ve always heard that it’s life changing when your littlest starts fulltime school — and even though I’m only 20 minutes into it, it’s kinda awesome.

This morning when I went to buckle Thing 2 into her carseat (because they have to stay in them until they’re old enough to drive the car themselves in California — it least it seems like that), she told me that she could do it herself. I rolled my eyes and then watched in disbelief as she did it herself. For nine years, I’ve watched with naked envy those moms that could just tell their kids to get into the car without having to buckle them all up.

I’m officially in the Mom of School-Aged Children Who Can Buckle Themselves Into the Car Club.

Don’t even think about asking me when I’m going to have another baby.

Home From Boston

I’ve been home two days. It’s weird and dazy and strange and hard to believe that less than two week ago, my biggest worry was trying to figure out if I could make a bicoastal commute somehow work within the confines of my family.

Mitt was headed to the White House, yo. And I was going to be part of it.

There are a million reasons I could ponder on as to why we lost. Actually, there’s only one – we didn’t get enough votes. I know! By all accounts, it doesn’t make sense.

Now I could contemplate how we could be so wrong about our numbers and voter turnout, mention Obama’s superb ground game, or wonder why my generation seems more concerned with government-sponsored birth control than borrowing from our Children’s piggy banks, but that would be boring.

Instead I’ll just cliché it up: Nice guys finish last.

I don’t feel like the end of the world is here because Obama got reelected. I just feel like it’s going to be on hold for four more years. At best.

Oh, and I got a letter in the mail saying that my doctor no longer accepts my medical insurance. And my premiums went up about 30% last year. But Big Bird and binders!

Seriously guys, how did we lose this?

Double whammy for having worked for Romney: 1) He lost, and I’m out of a job, and 2) He lost, so companies aren’t hiring because they can’t afford to pay for everyone’s birth control and sex change operations.

I wasn’t there when my kids heard about Mommy’s Governor Romney’s loss, but I’m told that they said, “We may be poorer, but at least we have Jesus and our family.”

Love those goobers.

Meanwhile, I wrote about the 5 Stages of Election Loss Grief over at The Stir. I think I’m somewhere between incredulous and annoyed at the moment.

The Shoe’s On the Other Foot

The number one question I’ve gotten from people when they hear I’ve (temporarily) moved to Boston is, “Where is your family?”

“Home in Sand Diego,” I say, and the response is almost universally, “Oh wow.”

Oh wow is right.

My main hesitation in accepting this position was missing this small chunk of my kids’ lives. Of course I’ll miss Leif, but he and I have a lifetime together, and he’s not growing and changing everyday in the same way that children do. I am missing two months of my kids’ lives that I will never get back.

It’s a heavy thing to realize, and the guilt! I couldn’t wear mascara the day I left, because it would’ve been running down my face with the tears I cried when remembering their tight little hugs and sad little faces when we said goodbye.

Sniff sniff.

I’ve been here a few days now, and have been in touch via phone and little FaceTime. The girls seem ok – happy even. As it turns out, the world keeps on spinning, even when I’m not there. They’ve gotten to and from school, friends’ houses, and spent afternoons at Gramma’s. They’ve done their homework, brushed their teeth, played with Daddy, and got tucked in every night.

They’re ok. And I’m ok, because instead of looking at this as time I’ll never get back, I want to see it as time that Leif gets to be the primary caregiver. Their relationship with him is going to grow even stronger as they depend on him in the way they normally depend on me. The bonds that form between their hearts as they figure out how to survive without Mommy will remain intact for the rest of their lives, and no one will ever be able to take away the knowledge that their daddy stepped up to the plate to take care of them.

So yeah, I miss my family like crazy. But I am so grateful for Leif to know that center-of-your-kids’-universe feeling. It’s crazy hard, for sure, and I know they’ll have their good and bad days, but they will learn to trust and love each other in ways that they never would if I were there.

Maybe I’m spinning, maybe I’m in denial, but I’m going to go ahead and call this one perspective.

Now I’m going to say a prayer that they all survive.

Cruel Summer

I love these little handfuls

I know I’ve been sporadic at best in updating my blog this summer. Honestly, it’s been challenging enough just keeping up with my regular writing duties over at The Stir. Just talk to my editors … I feel like I’m always just a little behind schedule.

Sorry, ladies!

It’s fair to say that this summer has been a bit rough. Being home with the kids most of the time has taken its toll on my sanity. I told you I couldn’t hack it as a stay-at-home-mom. It’s nothing really in particular; just the day-to-day inconsistencies wrought from the lack of any real schedule. There were a few day camps, a couple work trips for me, and days here and there with the sitter, but for the most part, the kids and I were forced to cope with each other for the majority of the time.

I really hope it made all of us stronger, because it sure as heck almost killed us.

Let me remind you all that I friggin love my kids, and I’d walk across fire for them, or worse, stay home all summer with them. I kiss their booboos, love on them, comfort them, feed them, take them fun places and give them treats, and I discipline them when necessary. It is hard, and it is not my forte.

Everyone always says every kid is different, and before you have more than one, you kinda sorta know that’s true in the back of your mind, but there’s no way you can really fathom how incredibly different two people from the exact same gene pool can be.

The only thing my girls have in common is their blond hair, their daddy’s eyes, and their stubbornness. Which I’m pretty sure they also get from their father. Just saying.

When I was about eight months pregnant with Thing 1, I reached that weird state of pregnancy where my belly started to have angles, as baby’s rapidly growing knees and elbows practiced flexing. There was this one area under my ribs that she would stick her foot out, and you could see the bump on my belly. Since it was our first baby and we had invented pregnancy (because all first-time parents think this, of course), we’d watch the bump on my tummy as I pushed it in, then slowly it would go right back in the exact same spot.  Nothing would deter that girl from her way. “My foot goes here, thank you very much,” she told us in vitro.

Fast-forward a few years to about the same stage of my pregnancy with Thing 2. Oh hey! I remember that little foot! Let’s push it in and see what happens … oh that was interesting … there was no slow creep back out this time. Instead, it was a very sudden kick back out to a place near the original spot, but not quite. Thing 2 was saying, “My foot goes out, end of discussion, fine I will play by your rules, but you never said my foot couldn’t go there.”

My now fourth grader and pre-kindergartener have retained those same personalities to this day. Thing 1 is quietly stubborn – patient and relentless in pursuit of something she wants. Thing 2 has been nicknamed The Destroyer. Just because I never said you couldn’t jump off the barstools doesn’t mean that you should try it, sweetheart.

Between these two, the keeping up with my regular job, and other various matters I won’t bother to get into in order to protect the innocent, I’ve been spread a little thin.

But I’m pretty sure I’ve kept BevMo in business.

Cheers to the end of summer, and Happy School Year to moms everywhere.

Kids Need to Learn to Tie Their Shoes Before They Take On the World

I was clicking through links the other day at The Stir when a headline grabbed my attention: My Kid Has More Important Things to Do Than Learn to Tie His Shoes. The author makes the case excuse that it’s totally fine that her eight-year-old can’t tie his own shoes because, like, Velcro and lace locks.

That’s just about as nonsensical as saying kids don’t need to learn basic arithmetic anymore because everyone has a calculator in their cell phones, or that teaching penmanship is unnecessary because most documents, letters, and other forms of communication are typed these days.

There is an entire generation of children that are not being raised to be self-sufficient, independent individuals. The mom of the second grader that can’t tie his shoes says, “I’d rather lace him up with double knots myself then send him out to work on his skills at shortstop than sit on the sidelines trying to get him to perfect the perfect knot.”

Come on, people, you’ve got to walk before you can run. How does a kid with the dexterity necessary to play shortstop not know how to tie his own shoes? Of course he has the ability, but has never been encouraged to master a routine, boring task with efficiency and grace so that he can move onto bigger, better things. Tying shoes, making your bed, clearing your dinner plate … these are all mundane things that keeps the wheels of our lives turning.

No wonder we have the Occupy Wall Street children, who instead of hitting the books at the library, volunteering to help others, or apprenticing themselves to learn new skills, just whine and moan that life isn’t fair. Who said life was fair?

Parenting is hard. Teaching life skills to little ingrates wears on my patience. Yes, it is easier to tie my kids’ shoes for them, clean up after them, bathe them, or even do their homework for them than to tell them 18 million times to do it themselves. Yes, I inwardly cringe when the job isn’t done as well as I would’ve done it. That’s not the point. The point is to teach my children to be self-reliant, to help them understand the feeling of accomplishment over something so small as learning to tie their own shoes or floss their own teeth or put away their own toys.

It isn’t about shoe tying. It’s about teaching the values of discipline, practice, patience, overcoming frustration, determination, and eventually affirmation.

God has entrusted me with these little people to raise and send off into the world, and I want them to go into it and make it a more beautiful and wonderful place. And before they step out that door, they’re going to have to tie their own shoes.

Thing 2′s New Teeth

Remember that time I went to Las Vegas to run a half marathon because I needed motivation to run regularly so I can still fit into my skinny jeans because I love food way too much to do so unless I’m pounding the pavement? That was the weekend that Thing 2 knocked out her two front teeth.

Because that’s the way life goes.

My mom was taking care of her that day, and they were at bible study. Thing 2’s class was on the playground, and apparently the little dare devil decided to jump onto or off of the monkey bars. The details remain unclear, but Thing 2’s account of it was, “I was on dah playgroun’, an’ I was on dah monkey bars, an’ den I went ‘weeeee!’ Den nobody catched me.”

(I was going to play a video here, but I can’t work the technology, which is totally annoying, and also why I need a technical assistant. Interested in applying? I pay in gummy bears. Meanwhile I’ll just put up a photo.)

Toothless Wonder

One tooth was lost on the playground, the other shortly thereafter at the dentist’s office. And a molar was cracked. A molar not ‘scheduled’ to fall out until she’s twelvish. I was just going to let it be, until I found out that without a bridge, she could develop speech issues, and speech therapy is way too much to wrestle into my schedule, so new teeth it is.

Only insurance doesn’t cover a bridge, because it’s cosmetic. Oh, and they don’t cover porcelain crowns either, only silver. And this is a tooth she will have until middle school. All said and done — close to $800 in dental work. Thank goodness we keep an emergency fund for rainy day expenses like that.

See? That’s what some people do. They forgo fancy restaurants and fun new toys so that when unexpected expenses occur, they can cover the cost. If we were too poor for whatever reason, the group of mamas and grammas at bible study that day all offered to pitch in their own money to help us out, even though it was none of their faults. Communities rally, given the chance.

And I’m sure the dentist would’ve been willing to work out a payment plan, had it come to that.

Anyway, today was the big day that Thing 2 got her new teeth. She was a trooper, the dentist and his assistant were awesome, and my little hooligan is so proud of her new teeth.

When we got home, she climbed onto the kitchen counter and jumped off. Time to start socking away cash into the rainy day fund again…

Smile, Cheese Ball!

Happy New Year, and Watch Out For DUI Checkpoints!

A couple of years ago, Leif went off to hang out with some guy friends to sit around a bon fire and smoke cigars, drink brandy, and talk about manly things like power tools and video games. My husband picked up a friend on the way, who happens to be married to one of my friends, so she and I had a marathon phone chat date once our respective kids were in bed or otherwise out of our hair.

Eventually, the boys texted to say they were on the way home, and my friend and I got off the phone. It took Leif way longer to get home than it should have. I was still trying to decide whether to be mad or worried at him taking so long, and mulling over that decision with (another) glass of wine when he finally walked in the door.

“What took you so long??”

“I got pulled over.”

Horrified, I gasped, “Did you get a DUI?”

“Yes, Honey. Then they let me get back in the car and drive home.”

Oh. Total blonde moment.

Anyway, we were headed home from wine tasting drinking with friends yesterday when traffic came to a standstill two blocks from our house. We had been driving for 45 minutes, I was not the least bit sober, and Thing 2 had been crying most of the way, because apparently that’s what she does now. Leif had had some wine earlier, but he was my designated driver, so he was careful to stay within his limits.

A block away from our house, the police had set up a sobriety checkpoint.

Since I’m me, I immediately notified Twitter of the atrocity, and then told Thing 1 to keep her lips absolutely zipped, and if she said one word out loud, I’d send her new bike back to the North Pole. I could just imagine, “But Daddy, you did drink wine!” and I had no desire to explain to Mr. Just-Doing-His-Unconstitutional-Job-Policeman that that had been hours ago.

She just nodded. Even Thing 2 stopped crying. It must have been a really good mom look.

We finally pulled up for our turn. Leif rolled his window down.

“Evenin’, Sir,” said the officer.

“Evenin’,” responded my sober husband. I kept my mouth shut, because if I opened it, I probably would’ve gone off on the fourth amendment and unreasonable searches and seizures.

“Have you been drinking tonight?”

Two heartbeats later, Leif answered, “Yes.”

Gah.

The officer peered into my husband’s drained face, saw eyes glassy from listening to a three-year-old scream for 45 minutes straight, and I swear he was about to ask him to get out of the car and take a sobriety test, which of course he would’ve passed, but we all just really wanted to get home at that point.

I did the only thing I could do. I snorted. “I’d hardly call one glass of wine four hours ago drinking, Honey. Officer, if I were driving, you’d totally have to arrest me, but my husband is my designated driver tonight.”

The dude looked at me, and then suspiciously back to Leif. Thing 2, bless her heart, chose that minute to start screaming again. The officer looked in the back seat at the children, one of which had obviously been crying for some time, then back to us.

“Get your family home safely and have a good night.”

30 seconds later, we pulled in the driveway, threw the girls into bed, turned on How I Met Your Mother, and banished Leif’s sobriety with some more wine.

Bah humbug to illegal DUI checkpoints.