Fright Night

There aren't many days of the year that you are actually allowed to completely embarrass your children. In fact, I can only think of one. Halloween. No matter what you wear, do, or say, you're totally cool, because everything goes.

This was not really an issue until my oldest daughter got into 2nd grade. Suddenly, Mom is still cool, but only when being 'cool'. But if I'm trying to be cool, she thinks I'm a dork, and tells me just to be like Mom. So then when I just go about my usual Mom stuff, preparing everything for the kiddos the way I always do, there is always a kink in the rope now. Something that was okay before is so not okay now. It's so confusing trying to be cool for your kids.

I got out all of our cute little pumpkin baskets to go trick or treating. My youngest two girls snatched them up with huge smiles, ready to fill them up with every possible thing to rot their teeth and make their grandpa Pops shiver (he's an orthodontist). But not my oldest. Nope. The pumpkin baskets are apparently now 'stupid'. So, being the 'cool' Mom that I am, I calmly collected myself and offered to go to my closet and find something more appropriate for her to carry around. I struck out there too. No backpack suave enough and no purse pretty enough. Finally, I did what I usually do, throw my hands in the air and say "Fine, just get whatever you want." Which turned out to be some pink and purple sparkly messenger bag completely not matching her costume or the customary idea of a Halloween bag. But, I guess she felt cool.

We are now at the point where the oldest ran about ten miles ahead of us, with a friend, house to house, so they could feel like they were 'by themselves.' Good Lord. Already? God help us!

I have noticed, though, that I am suddenly so much cooler when I dress up for Halloween. So the hubby and I joined the fun. We try to do it most Halloweens. And I have a feeling that as the years go by, our cool factor is going drop and drop, so we are going to have to keep up-ing the ante each year. But this year, we got the thumbs up. So at least we weren't soooo embarrassing that she was willing to get into the car with us for a ride home!

And the best way to know that you're still cool to your kids, is when you get home, and they still crawl into your lap, and snuggle in for some Mommy time.

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Guilt! Guilt! Guilt! Guilt! Guilt! Guilt! Help!

You know how it goes if you're a mother. We feel guilty about eating a piece of chocolate because we know we are going to skip spinning class today (which we feel guilty about) because if we were to go get some exercise, then we'd probably have to neglect either our children or our house (which again would make us feel terribly guilty), but since we don't go exercise we neglect our own selves instead and feel really guilty about it.

And while we're pretty sure that our butt just tripled from one bite of chocolate, we can't figure out whey our husband still wants our floppy, wrinkly bodies in bed, so we feel guilty that we want nothing to do with them because we spent all day holding babies on both hips and letting them crawl all over us and pick at our noses, poke at our eyes, and suck at our breasts. However, had we not let them crawl all over us all day, we'd have felt guilty that we weren't giving them enough attention. Instead, we have to feel guilty that we don't give our husbands enough attention.

Then we try to sneak away to the bathroom to have privacy, and if we shut the door, either our children or our husbands are standing outside the door yelling at us, batting at the door, or trying to tell us about some really important thing that happened at work or that the stock market might crash again, and finally we feel so guilty for making them stay outside of the bathroom that we tell them to just come into the bathroom. And so now the baby is standing up holding onto your thighs while you are sitting on the toilet and your spouse is standing at the door trying to communicate about the status of his latest big deal, and your three year old is now sitting on her little 'potty' next to you screaming for someone to wipe her, you are fantasizing that you are on a white sand beach really, really, really, far away from all of these people and you are ALONE! And you feel guilty that you are imagining yourself minus all of this responsibility and yet feel a sense of relief and happiness inside about it until your ear is blown off by the other two kids fighting in the kitchen over who will get the last cookie.

All you wanted was to go to the bathroom by yourself for about two and a half minutes.

Tell me, how on God's Greener Grass earth are we supposed to win?

I had to share this article written in the New York Times. Mostly because I don't ever want to forget that I read this in the New York Times. An article about the incredible guilt we feel as mothers. It starts when you become a mother, and apparently never ends. Here is the article. Then I shall share some of my own insights and observations.

The article reads:

October 26, 2011, 8:23 pm
Neglected Children, Messy Houses and Guilt

In case you missed it, the Working Mother Research Institute surveyed 3,781 women and issued a report called “What Moms Choose.” It quantifies a lot of things we know, and a few that we don’t. Here are a few statistics to throw out over dinner, if you belong to one of those families who have civilized, discussion-based dinners (I tell myself that will happen when the children are older):

•55 percent of career-oriented stay-at-home mothers would prefer to be working
•71 percent of mothers equate work with something done only to pick up a paycheck

•51 percent of working mothers feel guilty about not spending enough time with their children
•55 percent of working mothers feel guilt about the untidiness of their house

•55 percent of stay-at-home-mothers feel guilty for not contributing to family income
•44 percent of stay-at-home moms feel guilt about the untidiness of their house

Guilt and tidiness seem to be pretty powerful themes here. And there’s more on both:

•49 percent of working mothers and 47 percent of stay-at-home-mothers agreed with the statement, “I am my worst critic”

And finally,

Working mothers feel most judged about
1) How clean my house is
2) Not taking care of myself
3) The amount of time I spend with my children

Stay-at-home mothers feel most judged about
1) My contribution to family income
2) How clean my house is
3) Not using my education

It’s kind of impossible not to notice the weird emphasis on cleaning here. Why do both sets of mothers feel so much guilt about the house? Is it because they want a clean house or because they think they should have a clean house? My house is clean-ish, but cluttered, which drives me crazy, but doesn’t make me feel guilty (perhaps because I blame it on my husband, whose reluctance to throw away anything should be studied by anthropologists).

Is this a vestige of the 1950s, where women greeted men with cocktails, a warm meal and a meticulous home (oh, if my husband could only go back. In lieu of a highball he gets: “Bathe a kid! Cook some beans! Read ‘Ladybug Girl’ 22 times, and then once more!”).

On the guilt theme, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. It is the working mother report from the Working Mother Research Institute. But I can’t help but wonder, would the working dad institute ask whether fathers feel guilty about the cleanliness of their homes?

Can I just say...Hello, this is a nutshell!

Some main points:
"55 percent of career-oriented stay-at-home mothers would prefer to be working

This is me. I am fortunate to stay at home, but not fortunate enough to be content with it. I want to use my brain and contribute to our family's income. I also want to show my daughters that they can do whatever they wish outside of the home. I want to be a mother AND a real life role model. Is it really possible to be both?

"•71 percent of mothers equate work with something done only to pick up a paycheck"

This is not me. I am quite grateful that if I do go back to work, it will be something that is very much a career, and not a go-nowhere job.

"55 percent of stay-at-home-mothers feel guilty for not contributing to family income"

So I'm like sitting in the front row raising my hand high to sky on this one. It's like a complex. Our mothers didn't feel this obligation. Why do we? Generational? Feminism? Lack of financial control? I don't know. I just know it drives me whacko to not be a participant in this.

"44 percent of stay-at-home moms feel guilt about the untidiness of their house"
"55 percent of working mothers feel guilt about the untidiness of their house

Obliviously when I do go back to work, this overload of constant guilt is never bound to change until the kids move away and my husband hires himself a maid.

With four kids, I even feel guilty when I leave two at home to take the other two to an activity. Or make them skip out on the grocery store so that I don't have to drink an entire bottle of wine just to deal with the chaos of shopping with four children. I feel guilty leaving the house for evening with friends, or even with my husband, unless we are only gone for a couple of hours. I mean, what really are they missing by us being home that few hours. At least they might not be fighting with a babysitter there and they get more practice at authority outside of their own parents. Or maybe they practice their negotiation or manipulations skills with the babysitter. Maybe that's what we are worried about! The babysitter, not the kids! Who knows why that guilt creeps up and takes control when you've only been gone 30 minutes from the house. But it does. And it's awful. It's life controlling and keeps mothers from having a life.

Parenting magazine mentions that exact thing as a major area of guilt for mothers: having a life. It's true. We want a life outside of home and kids, but we don't want to suffer the incredible guilt that comes along with having a life. That's how we pay for our pleasure. We drown in a black hole of neverending guilt that our children will turn out to be mass murderers or depressed psychopaths, naughty womanizers, or self-destructive abusers if we have a night out with our girlfriends every now and then. Or if we have a career. Or a hobby.

Where does all this guilt come from? From the idea that we want something for ourselves, but part of us feels like we should be like the women of past generations that handed their husband a cocktail and the paper when he got home, instead of the children, some shampoo and a towel! But something inside of us won't let either go. It won't let go of the idea that we can be more than mothers and at the same time, it won't let go of the guilt.

Parenting magazine recently published an article about releasing Mommy Guilt. One of the sections really hit me, because it referred to a feeling I'd been having a lot lately. The feeling of craving FREEDOM!!! Here is the section:

Guilt Trip: Wishing you were free

When Christina Bess's kids were 2 years old and 10 months old, she was invited to spend a week in London with a girlfriend from graduate school. "She had a hotel room all paid for by her employer -- all I had to do was buy my plane ticket." But the prospect of leaving her kids at that point struck her as outrageous. "I thought, 'How can I do this? Something terrible will happen!'"

Who among us hasn't wanted to simply walk away from the sleep deprivation and the crying and the chaos -- at least sometimes -- and then felt guilty about feeling that way? But this is an example of guilt trying to tell you something: It's important to take some time for yourself to recharge.

Give yourself a break: The experts all agree -- schedule regular "you" time, and keep it sacred. "I write in the mornings and I exercise a few afternoons a week," says Collins. "That's my time, and my family knows that if I get to do that, then I'm a nicer mommy to everyone."

Caroline Poser, a mom of three in Groton, Massachusetts, recently declined to teach Sunday school in her kids' class at her church. Instead, she joined the choir. "I go to church for myself, too, and I want to enjoy it," she says. "We're supposed to feel guilty if we don't make the 'right' decision, but I realized I need to take care of myself as a person, not just as a mommy."

In the end, Bess did go to London, and her mom and her husband took great care of the kids. And after a week spent recharging, she was happy to see her family again.

I want the freedom so bad, but I am so resistant to making it happen! Am I worried about Andrew being too small still? Maybe. Am I worried about how my husband will handle everyone while I am gone? Probably. Do I wonder if I even deserve it? Most likely! Am I worried I will feel GUILTY while I am gone? Definitely!!!! Ugh!

So, what are we to do? I have no idea. But maybe for a start, when that little feeling of guilt starts to rise up, we should just tell ourselves, "I am a person too." Maybe that in itself is enough.


One area where you can really see and hear yourself is by watching your children interact with others. I have especially noticed this in the area of negotiations. This is a wickedly important skill in raising children, but I'm not sure how I feel about how quickly my own children are catching on.

Chloe seems to be the real trickery girl, picking up on this faster than Harry Potter on his broom. I often watch her work her magic on her little sister. How about if you have the little squirrel, since it's the cuter one (yeah, right!), and then we'll trade. Or, Tootsie rolls aren't as yummy as suckers, so I'll let you have the sucker. Haha! Sucker is right!

We were at the pumpkin patch the other day with Chloe's class. We were trying to get around to all of the fun activities. Chloe's negotiation skills were really kicking in. She kept working hard to convince her friends that the biking activity took a little bit less time and effort than the big trampoline, so they should save the tramp for last. Then maybe they should consider the corn maze for the longest amount of time, in case they get lost (but really because it is right next to the bunnies!)

She cracks me up. But what cracks me up the most, is where (or should I say whom) she is learning it all from. :)

Proud Parents

You just have to love those times when everything seems to be going great with the kids. Or at least 50 percent of them. Actually, 75 percent. We DO have a three year old. The baby is pretty consistent. Yay for that!

Every now and then parents deserve some serious bragging rights. I feel like I currently have those very rights, in fact an obligation, to share just how amazing and brilliant my children are!

My little Chloe--six years old and in Kindergarten--achieved Super Camper status last week. She was the second child in her classroom to achieve this. The first child to achieve this was in Kindergarten last year and also with their same teacher. So he already knew what to do to earn such an honor. So, I asked my sweet Chloe how she became the second Super Camper. And she replied, "I knew Makoa was on his way to getting Super Camper the first week, so I just watched everything he did. And when it was time to compete for a new Super Camper, I just did everything he had done." Kudos kiddo. I think you just learned a major life lesson! Not to mention Mommy's appreciation for you super behavior in school. Proud. Proud. Proud.

On to Clare. Each week her classroom has a spelling test on Monday, and then they study the words all week so that they can re-take the test on Friday. There are even bonus words. She has aced the spelling test on Monday of every week, including the bonus words, the entire first quarter. Her teacher is now making up a couple of harder words for her to study just to give her something to test on Friday. She is the only kid in her class that has passed this test every Monday. I have no idea how she is doing it. I am truly starting to believe there is a photographic memory in the precious little head. Regardless, I of course feel she in on the road to certifiable braniac. Beaming. Beaming. Beaming.

Gotta love the proud moments.

My Sweeter Side

The purpose of Greener Grass Mama blog is mostly my rant on the part of motherhood that most us only talk about in small groups, with close friends, so that the world will think we really do wear aprons, bake cookies, keep a perfect house, and freshen up before our husband gets home from work. This blog is my escape from having to uphold some image of my motherfulness to the outside, and have the ability to discuss real, hard, challenging, stuggling issues of motherhood. We love our children, but let's face it, it ain't all rosy all the time. But what in life is?

I have a family blog that is the Dr. Jeckyll to this Mr. Hyde. I write about all the fun things we are sharing as a family, and the wonderful lives of our children. So just to prove I really do have a sweeter side (and it really is the side that I am able to share wtih my family day-to-day; well, MOST of the time!), I wanted to post the four sweetest faces in the world, well, in my world anyway, I understand the faces may different in yours! These are the faces that rule my every thought, decision, circumstance, and motion, until they are old enough to handle it all themselves.

But in the grand scheme of things, these four faces are what makes my grass REALLY SUPER DUPER green; so much it sparkles! (Ok, ok, my husband makes it five!) :)

Venting Machines

With a stressful beginning to our school year, and my anger-o-meter always slightly dipping into the red, I dug deep into my parenting books so I could get myself 'reset' on how to handle all the daily battles with the kiddos. Once again, I was reminded that anger is what the kids are aiming for, and therefore, it achieves nothing. They push buttons, and if they are successful, they will only push more. After all, it is fun and fulfilling to succeed!

So since we aren't suppose to vent in front of our children (to avoid them gaining satisfaction that they can accomplish their goals by misbehaving!), and we are supposed to remain calm, despite we might blow up inside. Where do we vent? Where do we release? A yoga class? Sorry, we can't wait a single minute sometimes, let alone a few days or hours. I think we Moms need a sacred spot in our own homes to sneak away from the kids, have our small vent session, and return to them all calm and cool as a cucumber. After all, it seems to be pretty general agreement in the parenting world that if they can't rattle you, they won't battle you.

So, I thought what we need is a venting machine. We need to be able to deposit our frustrations and anger and stress and out comes something delightful. When we put money into a vending machine, we choose something delicious, or soothing, or nutritious (well, not usually I guess), but anyway, we walk away happy. So with a venting machine, we could receive some peace, in some form. I haven't worked out exactly what yet. I'm still working on the kinks.

But when I googled 'venting machine', I realized that I didn't in'vent' this idea at all. I came across these images on a blog called Mental_Floss. Maybe this is what we need in a shed out back, where we can go to count to ten, take a withdrawal, release our anger, and return to our children all smiles.

I don't usually feel the need to break something when I feel angry, but I guess lots of people do, hence this machine's purpose. I tend to fall into the 'screamer' category, where I just want to yell at the top of my lungs, RELEASE! So my machine would need to suck in a really big scream and dish out some dark chocolate in return. Then I can return to my kids, grab a glass of milk, and have a nice conversation with them.

Everyone is happier when the tension is low. So, venting machine or not, my focus is giving my kids my good energy, and helping them to recognize how not to drain it!

Reference and recommendation: Love and Logic books. They are fantastic!
Mental Floss blog post (images) -

Yes! I'm THAT Mom!

I am totally THAT Mom.

The one that lets them sleep in too late to catch the bus.
The one that leaves my kids in the car with my oldest sometimes for five minutes (only at safe places when I can park right in front and always see the car, of course) while I drop one off for an activity.
The one that has to have a drink at night to wind down from the chaos.
The one that allows my kids to be in way too many activities, even if they are tired, so they are able to have opportunities and make knowledgable choices and decisions for themselves someday.
The one that yells back when they are fighting, but they still don't listen to me anyway.
The one that will let my child eat a cheese sandwich every single day and night for months on end if she'll at least eat something.
The one that doesn't shower if it means that I'll get that 10 extra minutes at my sewing machine.
The one that lets her children sleep with her, because one day they won't want to anymore and I'll be glad I let them.
The one that lets her three year old steal the binky from her brother, because she used to be the baby, and now she isn't anymore.
The one that will allow my seven year old to drive the four-wheeler, as long as she keeps it 10 miles per hour.
The one that doesn't always make them do their homework before they watch TV.
The one that sometimes does let them play video games for hours on end.
The one that doesn't get her kids to eat enough 'greens'.
The one that lets them drink Sprite and Coke, and eat Cheetohs and Fritos every now and then.
The one that doesn't allow sleepovers all that much.
The one that will let her kids choose their own activities, even if I'd prefer they be into something different.
The one that doesn't put up baby gates, because I think they need to learn to navigate stairs, among other things.
The one that does allow her kids to climb upon the counters when they're little. If they can get up there at 18 months, then consider them in training for something great.
The one that puts them to bed, even if I know they forgot to brush their teeth sometimes.
The one that will give them an extra brownie.
The one that will let them learn a hard lesson.

So, don't judge me. I mother my family and my children the way I think is best and the way I feel comfortable.

How did this post come about? The other day, I could feel another mother judge me. You know how you can tell, by the questions they ask, or the tone in their voice. She is a stay-at-home mother of ONE child. I run around crazy like a chicken with my head cut off running around four. I would feel confident to say that she and I cannot relate, and she could not possibly understand why I mother the way I do.

I hate how it makes me feel, or should I say how I allow it to make me feel. We as mothers should ONLY respect how each of us must travel the path of motherhood our own way, none right, none wrong. And if it differs from our own, we should bite our tongues and encourage instead.

Because I can tell you that:
I am the mother that can take care of my own kids.
I am the mother than can give my own kids what they need.
I am the mother that they count on.
I am the mother that they listen to (okay, well sometimes listen to).
I am the mother that listens to them (okay, again, I try to listen to them most of the time--kind of hard when all four are 'talking' at once).
I am the mother that knows what is best for each of their unique selves,and for our family as a whole.
I am the mother that they want.

So I suggest that if you are a mother, and you ever feel judged, and you struggle to let it go, to brush it off your shoulder, the way I failed to let it go, read this. Or call me.

'Professional' Mom

I was listening to K-LOVE via internet and noticed the person 'On Air' was a woman who called herself a Professional Mother. God instantly delivered to me a new perspective.

Here we are, slaving day to day, emotional messes, rarely a shower, going a million miles an hour and if someone asks us what we do, we say 'Oh, I'm just a Mom.' Just a Mom.

How many other jobs must you listen to your children for twenty minutes on the way to pre-school tell you they don't want to go, over and over, and then when you drop them off, they scream and cry as the teachers tell you to 'Please just go ahead and leave. They'll be ok.' You get to spend the rest of your day with your heart shredded in more pieces than any financial office will shred papers in a year.

And what about trying to feed these tiny people? All they want to eat is crap. And we're supposed to make them be all healthy.

I spent all day trying to rework my kid's schedule so that they can do the Fall play they love, with the friends they want to do it with, and ensure they don't have to drop their other favorite activities, also with the friends they want to be with. This included exchanging emails with other parents, teachers, activity instructors, and I even accidentally emailed myself. Twice.

We have to remember what day hot lunch is, when library day is, what homework is due when, when the milk ticket is due, when early out days are, which days the bus comes early, when spirit week is so they can dress all crazy on the proper days, when school pictures are, clean PE shoes, rain jackets, snow jackets, rain boots, snow boots, hats, gloves, snowpants, oh and then take it all back again because Spring is here, and please Moms, help me out, because I am sure I missing 235 other things we remember about school.

So as I thought about what she said, about this Mom thing being a profession, my chin got higher, my chest stuck out, and I suddenly felt really important. Just because the hardest job in the world doesn't pay a dime doesn't mean we shouldn't acknowledge the pressure, the skill, the effort, the achievement, the failures, the successes, and feel the satisfaction of a hard day's work. And reap the reward.

Of course, our reward is better than money anyway. So tomorrow when I'm all strung out because I've been playing Barbies for two hours and trying to 'get stuff done' at the same time, I will remember, what I'm getting from the Barbie-time is where its at.

P.S. My house still looks like it did yesterday. :)

Does your house look like this?

I often get that question, with the subject of four kids in mind, "How do you do it?!" Well, let me tell you. Then let the pictures show you. I am rarely home alone. Therefore, I rarely pick up the house. Why bother? Ten minutes later it will look the same way it did before you picked up. I wait instead until an optimum moment, like before we are going somewhere fun, and make the kids help me. Doesn't always work out, but it's worth the wait. Or, if I am home alone and Andrew is sleeping, I might pick up around my workspaces (where I write and do projects), because my mind works better in a non-cluttered space.

The next 'how does she do it?'. House work. Simple. I don't do it! Ha! Okay, so I do try to keep up with it. But I hate it. Not my cup of coffee. I prefer it black and sitting next to my computer, where I'm writing instead of cleaning. So I just skirt by. Note my laundry room at the moment. I'll get to it. When I know my daughters will have adequate time to put their own clothes away (this can take many hours of probing and then additional hours of actually making it happen!) So, I figure, they've got plenty of clothes. As long as there is at least one item of clothing in their closet to cover their body, they're good to go. If they need something, they know where to find it. Dig through that massive pile!!

We were at a party the other day and I sewed a pair of pants for my sweet niece. They turned out so cute. I'm gonna make a bunch more. Maybe sell them. I also sew ribbons and button on plain t-shirts to jazz them up. This is fun for me. I love sewing. It gives me joy. How do I find the time? Once again, note exhibit A and B in this post. I let all else go. If I'm in the middle of a project or focusing on writing, I let all else go, except the required attention and feeding of my children. Which , of course, that can be intense too, and throw everything off for weeks!

I use to obsess over my house. Not because I am a neat freak. I'm far from it. But because I thought I should be. So now, I just try to be somewhat organized. I hate it when someone comes whining to me about where is my this and where is my that (this includes my husband), so I just want to at least have a general idea of where that item might be. So I don't drive myself crazy. I spend enough time searching the house over eighteen times to find 'that one doggy that has the blue eyes and the tiny paws with brown on the bottom and the orange nose'. Oh yeah, that one.

So, it goes in phases. I have moments (well, maybe A moment here and there) where I work the whole house over, and it's all sparkly and shiny. But it's always a disappointment, because the moment a tiny foot steps in the door, it's all over. So why bother?

I hope you've let it go too. I hope your house looks like mine.

Beautiful Things

Now a slight departure from my usual tone...however, so related.

I joke about motherhood alot. Mostly about how it really drives us all darn near nuts. It's just so hard. I don't care if you have one kid or twenty, it's all relative and it's all hard. Everyone has their own struggles. We have good days and horrible ones. Some days we know we are the absolute BEST mother in the entire world--without a doubt. But most days we feel so mediocre.

So I just had the priviledge of scoring a free download from KLOVE. "Beautiful Things" by a band called Gungor. The primary lyrics say: You make beautiful things out of dust. You make beautiful things out of us.

Does it just nearly make you want to explode at the truth in that? God can make anything beautiful. Most of us have dark corners in our past. Just stop a minute and think about how God has shined the brightest light into that corner. How now, it is your favorite corner, because you gained so much wisdom, or strength, or love, or just something more beautiful than you had before. If you can think about what this is for you--what God took of yours that was scary, or sad, or tramatic, or shameful, or just lonely,and turned it into something amazing--and not shed a tear, I will find it so hard to believe. Let yourself ponder it, and reflect, and cry, and be thankful to God. That in itself is so beautiful.

This blog is dedicated to how crazy life is with children. I joke about all things gone wirey, or out of control, or how easy it would be to just give up. This song just reminds me that even all of that is beautiful.

We all get caught up in our daily lives, forgetting that all around us, God has made beautiful things out of dust. If you haven't heard the song, I highly recommend it. It is sure to help you stay thoughtful about how we are made beautiful.

A Toast to 10

As I sit with a chilled glass of chardonnay on a hot summer Saturday, I feel quite happy about the number 10. Right now in my life, I feel extraordinarily good about this number.

For one, Andrew, who was born in the 10th month of 2010,is going on 10 months old, and he is 10 times sweeter than any other little man in the world!

I have only 10 plants that I have to keep alive this summer. And as I peer through my dusty, rain-spotted windows, I can see they aren't going to make it if I don't get out and water them as soon as I finish this post.

Yesterday, I had to get my phone replaced, because one of our canines mistook my old one for a hamburger. I paid about 10 times more for my new one than I did for my old one, but I got an iPhone (woot woot) on my husband's upgrade, and Clare seems to be really enjoying it. I'd enjoy it too if I ever got to hold it. Of course, my previous phone was cheaper than dirt--you got it; $10. No, really, if you have to buy dirt, it costs more than that!

I love that everything is the 'Top 10 of this' and the 'Top 10 of that'. That is enough reason to love the number 10.

As I approach 40 years old, I realize that I feel about 10 years younger than I really am, which I've heard just thinking this way can add years to your life, and decrease maturity. We all need some of that, right?

I went to garage sales today with my mom, and my two oldest daughters, and I think there were quite a few items that we didn't pay over 10% of what they were asking. Or what is might be worth. Score!

Nearly 10 months of the year is winter or like quasi-winter in Montana, so , well, maybe that's where 10 kinda fails us.

My hubby and I are coming up on our 10 year anniversary. Big kuddos to the number 10 there!

But, I am ready to let you in on my little secret; why the number 10 is so nastalgic for me today. BECAUSE THERE ARE ONLY 10 DAYS UNTIL SCHOOL STARTS! HOORAY--with a cherry on top.

Now, I know all you home-schoolers are shaking your heads and planning your curriculums and buying 10 times(there it is again) the number of school supplies as I am, but I can only say that I am very glad that I am not you. I WILL say that I admire you, I nearly worship the ground you walk on and pray to inherit at least 10% of the patience that you must have. You are many of my friends and I love you dearly, but I'll continue to leave it up to you. My kids, I like to think they THRIVE in school, with teachers and stuff, and who cares what else, because they aren't home! Ha! Just kidding, I do care. My kids are smarty pants, but they adjust well to whatever activity and are very socially well-rounded. I LOVE their teachers at Cayuse Prairie, and feel tremendously blessed that I will have two kids in school (finally, at least half) with fabulous teachers, and they will be having a great time. So I am a lucky one. My kids love school. When I ask a lot of kids if they are ready for school to start as summer is winding down, they all seem to say "no way!" You ask my kids that and you'll get an enthusiastic "yes!" I don't know if that means they are just bored out of their wits at home, but I do believe that even if there is a little bit of that, it's probably only about 10%. :)

My kids love school. And I love it when they are there. Mommy gets to have a life again, like exercise, and cook, and do my art and writing and reading. Mommy is a person too. But I only get about 10% of mommy time in summer.

We've had a great summer, but today, I love the number 10. Everyone loves to be number one--and number one, I love you too, but I'm gonna love you the most in nine days!

Pulling the Plug

There are just those days when you feel like a terrible mom. These days seem to quadrouple in the summer, when the kids are tired and whiney, the house looks like a national disaster declaration, and when you're even more tired than they are so you just throw them a bag of cheetoh for dinner. Usually, I wake up the next morning, and it's a new day, and I can make up for it somehow; you know, like put milk in the cereal today.

But these are the little things. The things that are just day to day, you know some days will be better than others, and you know you can tweak them just by adding a little more love to a certain area, whether it's preparing a healthier meal, or doing an extra load of laundry.

So what about those big steps we have to handle? Their first step. Potty training. Off to school. What if we don't nail these on the first try? Again, for the most part, we can wait awhile and then try again. They are gonna get it eventually.

However, I'm in the midst of a new struggle. The binky.

Our three year old is over-the-top addicted to the thing. It's her comfort, her blankey, her teddy bear.

When my second daughter knew the binky monster was coming, she gladly placed all of her binkys into an envelope and put it gently under her pillow, as if not to disturb all the precious binkys that would now be going to the babies in the world that really needed them.

Not my three year old. She wanted nothing to do with that envelope. She hoarded her binkys and started hiding them. The binky monster even came during the day when she was gone, and left her a toy. That lasted 10 minutes. She was begging for binky.

Now she just steals her baby brother's binky. She's ruthless. He could be wailing, but she won't give it back.

When she starts pre-school, she won't be able to have it. That's on our side. But will she forever be sneaking binkys? Will she be 13 and stealing them from the kids she is watching? Or worse, will she use the money she earns to buy more?

Okay, okay. I know, it's just like the potty training. All in their own time. It will happen. It is time to pull the plug, but sometimes when you pull it, it doesn't's just all blocked with guk and slime. You need a plumber, outside assistance. I think that will be the key. Outside assistance. The places she wants to go this fall that won't allow class, pre-school, a day at the park.

We think we are terrible parents when our kids will do things for others that they will not do for us, but that's where we have to let go, realize it's a blessing. It shows they do understand, and they do know right and wrong. They'll get there, some kids just gotta pull the plug themselves.

Santa In Summer

We as parents know how hard summer can be. Kids home, fighting, wanting stuff to do, leaving the house a mess, forgetting to brush their teeth without me hounding them, going to bed late, sleeping in, waking up the baby, crawling in my lap when I'm on the computer, slaming doors,and if only we could just get out of the house more-- they want to go places and it can be just too hard to take them there due to the baby.

Therefore, I am grateful to Santa. He has showed up in our lives twice this summer. The first time was at the St. Mary's campground. He was a bus driver for a youth camp. He hung out with us a bit, and was sweet to the girls. Clare just knew he was the real one. She even checked his cell phone when he wasn't looking, and sure enough, the name on it was 'Santa.'

A few weeks later we were driving to Bigfork, and a Santa was red hot on our tail, driving his red Mustang convertible. He was following us super close and finally passed.

That sealed the deal. The kids knew that Santa really was watching them. "Do you think it's because we've been fighting so much this summer?" They asked.

"I don't know, but I would say that's a very good guess."

The fighting has actually been better since. Not gone completely. Not perfect. Not even great, but better.

Thanks, Santa. Clearly, you were in my summer survival kit.

Nothing more to 'Dread'

Sometimes the solution is simple, but we still struggle to make the simple choice.

My daughter has this beautiful curly hair. From a baby, her white curls have been a piece of her personality. But as it grew, despite how lovely it could be when brushed, it started to form dreadlocks. Daily.

The battles began. She wanted nothing to do with a brush, or comb, or pick, or even my fingers. We would soak conditioning treatment on it for an hour. Rinse. Still no good. Every now and then, I'd chase her around the house, trying to brush the hair, her sweet little eyes dripping in salty tears.

It was always a wild, crazy mess. So finally, we chopped it, into a precious little A-line bob.

We've been dread-free ever since. It's even more perfect for her personality. She lets us brush it, and style it, and no tears. We've lost a lot of curls--it's more wavy now--but we gained a happy relationship between her hair and my sanity.

I'm not sure why we waited so long. But I guess some things are just hard to let go, when letting of it means letting go of a chapter of a sweet little life.

Summer Projects

It seems like everyone in our family always has some kind of project going. Or if you're my husband, you have 50 going all at once.

Like this blog; this is my project. A friend recently said to me, "I don't understand writing blogs. Like, who reads them?" As I'd been listening to her about her hours and hours of painting in her house, I was thinking the words back to her 'Why paint your bedroom? Like, who sees it?' But what I actually responded to her was, "I don't know. I guess I read it. I think my Mom and Dad do. Maybe Stan occasionally." Good thing God blessed me with a filter so my smart-ass remarks appear in writing instead of out of my mouth! And I really am glad that she is so happy with her painting projects. But that is just it, we get a little bit fiesty about our projects, don't we? We defend them to the death. They are our babies.

Anyway, my point is, we have projects because they feel good to us. We like the idea, we sometimes like the process. Other times we feel we've become slave to it. But if we put the correct amount of love and positive affirmations into it, a few 'om's every now and then, we sparkle over the result.

Clare's project right now is painting. She is on the front porch painting one of our hanging flower pots. She's totally into it. She's got an easel, canvas, and smock in full force. She's using different artist tools. I can't wait to see the finished product. I'll post it on our family website when the artiste has completed her masterpiece.

Chloe is into crafts that have to do with animals. She likes quicker crafts. The instant gratification types. I think she and Stan are tracing pictures of animals right now...a slight pause for Stan from his long list of ongoing pursuits.

For me, aside from some writing and to help Clare create a music video this summer, I plan to be ridiculously focused on the vine plants that will hopefully be growing up our front porch. I've tried this for a couple of years, but I think I eventually forgot they needed water. So here are the two most promising areas of the porch now, with baby sprouts beginning to grow up the porch. I'll post it again at the end of the summer and we'll see how I did on this project. We'll see if my thumb is as green as my grass!

Raw Talent

They say (I've always wondered who 'they' is) that kids can unconsciously reveal their talents and potential at a very young age. I'm fairly sure we've discovered the future of our super determined toddler. At the age of three, I am certain that we can place our bets on Hollywood. And I don't mean as an actress. I'm talking behind the scenes, where the magic happens.

As you can see, there was not going to be any Mommy painting this face; no way. Little Miss "I CAN DO IT" was set on trying to reinvent a photo from the facepaint book onto her own sweet, precious facial canvas. The look she was going for--from the book--was dracula. A green and black dracula. But green just doesn't cut it in her little princess world; a creative and unique mind was behind the pink dracula.

After very careful execution, which I believe clocked in just under two minutes, she was incredibly proud of herself. So proud that I couldn't grab her before she b-lined it to the bathroom mirror and left black and pink handprints all over the beach rental house cupboards and countertops. Of course, nothing is really all that fun in the end if we didn't leave a complete mess for Mommy to clean up.

As I mentioned before, it's quite obvious to me. I see Makeup Artist all over this. I'm talking big time--blockbusters--and by the look of things, probably horror films.

But this little person has many talents, each dwelling in her little soul in equal amounts. So no matter which direction the pitter patter of these tiny feet shall lead her, it is sure to be the path less travelled; and my money is on her.

Mom's 'Crazy' Face

I was reading a book the other day, and I flip through so many books here and there that I can't even remember and give credit to the one where I saw this, but the author was referring to those days when she would be so over the edge that she would have what her kids called "Mom's crazy face". I chuckled when reading about this at first, but then I froze. Do I have a 'crazy face'? And if I do, what does it look like?

'Mom Crazy Face' happens when you are gripping for patience for seconds, minutes, maybe even hours, until finally you lose all control of your facial muscles and vocal chords and everyone around you is pretty sure your body has been taken over by serious child-hating demonic forces. It is the point of no return, when you think at any second your head will explode open and snakes with wicked venom will seap from your temples. Your kids will run and hide as you are wailing with all your might and voice something about "this being the last straw!" The house whirls around in a tornado as you finally remove yourself to the pantry where you remember what your therapist said and slowly count to five. Then you smile and return to whatever you were doing, wondering where everyone has gone.

This is why we do not know what our own 'crazy face' looks like.At that moment, the last thing we do is think, "I should hold this face, and go see what I look like in the mirror." Instead, we transport ourselves into some evil form, and luckily something inside of us transports us back.

I had to get to a mirror and try to mimic what my own crazy face might look like. As I scrunched my face around and narrowed my eyebrows, I could never transform into something that looked all that scary. But I know I have it in me, I've seen the fear in the eyes of my children.

This is the unfortunate part of life that we as moms must endure. So much of our emotion is spontaneous. We can't act out this mom thing. It just happens. No matter how ugly it gets. There is no way we will ever get to see our own crazy face. But we sure do feel it. And based on how that moment feels, I'm not sure I could ever 'face' what I must look like to my kids.

So, this became a good lesson for me. So last time I felt crazy face coming on, I thought of medusa, and crazy-eyed snakes, and the exorcist, and I reminded myself that my face should NOT be the one my kids see in their nightmares. And it really did help, it lead me to laughter at what I must have looked like all those times before. So, instead of the usual 'escape route from mom', my kids actually stopped their fighting and stared at me blankly. Were they just evoking crazy face all along?

I think this will be a much prettier way to go about it. I'm sure crazy face is not gone forever, but if my fine lines don't benefit from less crazy face, I know my blood pressure will. The grass is always greener where there's smile.

The two and a half margarita playdate.

When I had my first child, nearly eight years ago, I received so many lovely, precious baby gifts. I was sure to have the nursery in place complete with every unecessary baby item ever brilliantly marketed to new moms (and grandmoms). The diaper pale, wipe warmer, burp pads, pink baby washcloths, baby mitts, baby bath, baby this, baby that, baby baby baby baby baby baby.

Well, one person knew better than to give me one more damn pink blanket (I know that sounds really unappreciative and ungrateful, but just know I really did love all the pink blankets). My best friend, now of 20 years, gave me a book. It is called The Three Martini Playdate. This book has many great, and mostly sarcastic and comical, ways to handle your child's behavior as he gets older. But for the new mom who is now firmly planted on a sofa with a baby's mouth attched to her breast 20 out of the 24 hours each day, just the title of the this book was a blessing.

So, no, I did not arrange playdates for my six-week old with other six-week olds as an excuse to drink three martinis. But nearly eight years and four kids later, I am still grateful for this book. Just as the business man likes to 'go for a beer' with his peers after work, we moms like to 'go for a drink' at one of our peer's homes, only we have to keep working. Now, before you go calling Child Protective Services, please know that we only have two and a half drinks at our 'happy hour' playdates. Three--at a playdate--just sounds almost self-medicating, even though there is no doubt we could use the remedy.

Let's face it though, how is a mother of four who has had minimal adult conversations in the last eight years supposed to stay sane? The way I see it, there are usually two options offered in the advice I'm given when I've had a stressful day managing the antics and voices of kids; take a bath, or take a drink. They both have advantages, and if I could say that I got to be alone in the bath, that might be the better option. But since three (and sometimes four) other little bodies usually cram themselves into the already small ceramic bowl, now full of luke warm water, alone time in the bath generally lasts about as long as a bull rider hangs on for dear life. In fact, I think in those eight quiet seconds before I am discovered in the bathtub, that is exactly what I am doing, hanging on for dear life.

In fact, there is a comical book for new moms called Sippy Cups are NOT for Chardonnay. Despite my sadness for the author's battle with alcoholism, I'm still not sure I agree with the title. There has been many a camping trip where the tall, plastic Minnie Mouse cup housed the perfect margarita.

So, last night, we had one more successful 'Two and a half margarita playdate.' The drinks were delicious, the kids were wild and crazy and, the best part, mostly invisible, as they played and laughed and danced around. We all got to complete our sentences and say really smart words--like grapholagnia and diphallic terata. Okay, so we didn't use these exact words, and if you knew what they meant, you'd believe me, but we did get to laugh at something that only a mother would think was funny. And we got to discuss OUR dreams. Think Sundance Film Festival, no kids. Even though the Festival in the winter, I think the grass might be pretty green there, with a bunch of girlfriends, no kids, and a margarita in hand.

So we love our kids, but it's just too easy for us to lose ourselves. So go find a fun mom, and bottoms up. Cheers!

DISCLAIMER: OF COURSE, we encourage everyone to always drink responsibly, unless you are at home all by yourself, are not supervising children, do not have to use any type of equipment or utensils to cook for your husband, and you've had the kind of day where half your hair turned gray and you almost gave your kids away for good. In that case, have at it.

Word Up.

All the motha's out there. Check it.
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Start talking Sex? She just started walking!

When they start talking, you start talking. Yes. That's right. The first impression children receive of something is the one that sticks. And it's really hard to 'undo'. Of course, the content is age appropriate, but it's the beginning of a converstaion that should never end. According to Stanton and Brenna Jones, authors of How & When to Tell Your Kids About Sex, this conversation can't happen soon enough in today's world. Your four-year-old should know that his wee wee has a biological name, and that it is the name God intended for it instead of the lovely four letter nicknames they will hear it called once they hit school age.

Prevention of devasting events in early life is the key to this, of course, and why early childhood developmental programs now discuss themes like 'no touching' in their safety curriculums. Thank goodness they are doing this, but parents need to open their mouths too.

My jaw dropped when this great Christian-based book told me that by age 8, I should have discussed in honest, serious detail what 'intercourse' is with my daughter, and that I should include the real explanation of where babies come from. My heart stopped and I got butterflies. Would I even have the nerve? By God's lovely grace, she walked in and my efforts to hide the book, since she always looks at my book titles, failed, and all my inner voice said to me was, "ok, here goes." So I used the real biological words for our private parts, told her it was important for her to understand it from me rather than stuff she hears at school, and explained it just like Mr. and Mrs. Jones told me to. To a tee. And she looked at me and said, "I don't get it."

Oh boy. I'm stuck. I have no idea what to say and I can't exactly say, "Hold on while I flip to page 43 of my handy dandy notebook." So all I could say was, "Well, you will one day. We'll talk more soon."

I choked! This is hard stuff people!! But it's important. They need to hear it from us first. So these great authors have written a book for the super critical age of 8-11 called What's the Big Deal?, which is the cover photo on this post.

I'm ordering it today.

With statistics like 72 percent of kids today are nonvirgins by senior year of high school, one adolescent pregnancy begins every 35 seconds amounting to to more than 1 million teenage pregnancies each year, and that in 1985, nearly 500,000 abortions were performed on women ages 19 & under (How & When to Tell Your Kids about Sex; Jones, Stan and Brenna), I think every parent in the WORLD needs to buy this book. and then there's STDs, drugs and alcohol, rape, and lifetime emotional effects of teenage sex!

I'm pretty sure that left to the media, entertainment, and planned parenthood, this ugly ball just continues to roll downhill.

That straightened me right out. No more fear in talking with an 8-year old. Just facts. And probably some rosy cheeks and light beads of sweat.

Booby call.

OK. So I know it's potentially a little distasteful, but when you're up every night three to six times dealing with babies and toddlers, my mind just 'goes there'. Words bop through my head like my 7-year old on a pogo stick and I frankly just can't help myself.

So last night as I once again scooped up my 6-month old for a 2am breastfeeding, these are the words that came to my mind. Up again for Andrew's 2am 'booby call'.
I had to laugh. Those words brought back vivid memories of the college days, and of what everyone joked about being 'the booty call'; the extremely unfortunately event that occurs as a result of dialing the phone after a late night out with friends, usually to your latest crush. Generally, nothing comes of the 2am 'booty call', with the exception of your head buried in your books at your 8am biology class the next day to shield embarassment. In fact, you think you just might die if the person on the other end of the line only 6 short hours ago was able to get out of bed and to class at all. Whew...thank goodness those days are long gone!

The'booby call' is ever so much less humiliating. It is actually beautiful. So where my dilema is in the 'booby call' is a result of reading Dr. Marc Weissbluth's Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I'm not sure how I escaped knowing the existence of the fascinating and potentially life-saving book prior to my fourth, yes fourth, child, but it sure would have been nice to discover say, eight years ago, when I was pregnant with number one!

Despite I have only discovered it now, it has helped tremendously in developing sleep habits for our 6-month old that in turn help us deal with the rest of the clan. Although I do not follow it exactly. Being co-sleeping parents for nearly eight years, I can't let him cry through the 2am 'booby call'. Dr. Weissbluth so tenderly pleads (and I mean he actually says "please do not go to your baby at 2am"), but unfortunately, I just can't do it unless I'm so dog tired I barely hear him. I may be sleepwalking, but my body, soul, and mind just can't refuse that sweet little cry. I try to do the 5, 10, 20 minute check thing, but then you are losing sleep anyway. I know everyone says that if you can endure three days, then you're good to go. Obviously, I can't even endure three days.

But, of course, the caviat is, I'm exhausted, our toddler still doesn't sleep through the night, and sometimes our 5 and 7 year olds wake claiming 'bad dreams.' We could do some serious damage in a musical beds competition.

Yet, other writers of pro-co-sleeping books, claim that kids will eventually settle into their independence if you don't push them out of your bed too early. Like when? When they go to college?

But if you're like me, the 'booby call' is just too hard to resist. But I'd sure love to get some sleep.

So where is the grass greener? Let them cry and eventually they'll just sleep through it? Or keep going to them, and giving in to that nuturing instinct? And just accept that you might share a bed with your husband alone again when you're at retirement age.

I guess I'm just a softy.

Be consistent. Be exhausted. Be rewarded.

There are a gazillion books on parenting with conflicting ideas, points of view, suggestions, and styles, and as parents, it is up to us to choose which one fits our values, beliefs, and physical and mental ability to comply. Co-sleep/don't co-sleep, let cry/don't let cry, spank/don't spank, let siblings fight/don't let them fight, potty train by age 2/potty train when they are ready, eat only organic/fine, eat some Cheetos ever now and then. Sheesh! If there were ever an area of life to which the widely known saying 'more than one way to skin a cat' is applicable, it would be to the daunting, yet ever so critical role of parenting.

However, there is one area in which all books actually agree. Across the board, they will all say that 'consistency' is key. It is crucial. It is do or die. Not one book that I've read, and trust me, my library of this child psychology/parenting stuff is cluttering my existence these days, but not a single one says, "whatever you do, don't do it consistently."

Well, duh. You would think, right? Once it is no longer broken, why re-fix it? Well, because we are exhausted, overwhelmed, mentally and physically drained parents and sometimes our kids just simply have more energy than we do. Simple enough. But unfortunately, no one wins that battle.

My husband and I have struggled to get a bedtime routine that works for years. We have fours kids of varying ages, which definitely deepens the cavern of nighttime despair, but we still slave away at a strategy that will finally be 'the one'. I've read many sleep books that vary in beliefs, from Three in a Bed to Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child to much harsher 'let them cry' philosophies. I am not sure how many times we have had a fairly successful evening at bedtime and as we plopped into bed, not even up to brushing our own teeth, and said, "Okay, that worked. Let's stick to that." But then the next night, something comes up, and one kid is on strike to brush teeth or put on pajamas, or they want juice, or water, or to build a fort, or show us their new gymnastics move that we have to see right that minute, and by the time we say 'no' a million times, it's late, we're tired, and we totally shift the routine so we can 'just survive' the night. Then we decide we are tired of being tired so just forget it, let the kid rule the dang household for all we care!

Well, it always backfires, and we'll have to wade through a few nights of deep waters until we find the shallow end again, but then we flop onto the bed, barely able to move our limbs, and say, "Okay, this time, really, we are sticking to it." Urch! Not so fast. If there is one thing we are good at, it is that we are consistent at being inconsistent.

I wish inconsistency was the 'new black', but it's out and has been forever as far as child-rearing is concerned. There is around-the-world agreement that kids thrive on routine and boundaries. And when raised with both of these, they have the best chance of turning out to be responsible, compentent adults.

So, we continue to work hard each day to keep as much routine as possible to their well, routines. And we're totally spent, tired, exhausted, bleary-eyed parents. But one day, maybe when we're 90, we'll rest easy. Just maybe if we can continue to just give our best effort at consistency, not even perfection, just effort, then maybe even as soon as 20 years from now, we can sit back and enjoy that foreign concept called 'relaxing', and reap the rewards of our exhausting hard work.

How We Bring Our Children Into This World.

In leiu of my birthday this week, it got me thinking about, well, birth.

I didn't give much thought to child development, behavior, and psychology until I had one growing inside of me. But four kids later, I can't help but wonder how much of their development, behaviors, and psychology is determined by how we bring them into this world. How much do the choices we make for them in the beginning affect how they turn out in the end?

Well, there's no doubt that this is a very deep, complex, comprehensive topic full of scientific research and statistics. For example, if you look up 'Natural Childbirth' on Wiki, you can find stats like, "A recent study revealed the rates of medical intervention in childbirth in the U.S. found that 93% of mothers used electronic fetal monitoring; 63% used epidurals; 55% had their membranes ruptured; 53% received oxytocin to stimulate labor progress; and 52% received episiotomies." And then you can say, great, but how did these women feel their choice impacted the future of their child? And, how are those kids doing now. Well, there are a gazillion of online communities that have another gazillion differing opinions on that subject. And let's face it, most kids who came into this world by a calm, drugged-up mother are just potentially brilliant as the one who was pushed out with momma on her hands and knees, wailing in pain, flailing her arms and legs in utter disillusion, and screaming for God to just 'take her now'.

At, they offer up all the reasons, that are stated as factual and not opinion, why I chose to have my first baby naturally. I was in a hospital, but I received no medical intervention. Check it out at They say at the bottom of the page that they hope these facts are disturbing. Well, of course they are, but so is the hair that grows out of my mole that I don't see for about a month. We get a little overcome by all that is going on in our lives that we miss the details every now and then, even on the truly important things. Not to mention that some of us are just wimps.

So rather than get into all that, let's just discuss it from how we mothers, on a day-to-day reality-check basis, must deal with our children's arrival, and the thereafter. Let's find where the grass is greener when it comes to that crucial moment of saying hello to that human being that you suddenly love more than anything else in the whole world, and knowing that everything you just did in the process has an everlasting effect.

I will do so by giving personal examples.

My first child, as I mentioned before, was a natural birth. Not a home birth, but one free of drugs, tools, and machines. Just me and the hands of my midwife. I was the woman described earlier. You could hear me for miles. I'm pretty sure I saw one nurse covering her ears. My daughter faught my urges for her to enter this world, getting a shoulder stuck and just hanging out when I was at a 10. She took her sweet time. She wanted to come into this world perfect; and what do you know, afterwards all everyone could comfort me with, despite all my pain and misery and exhaustion, was that I had a TEXTBOOK labor. Well, woohoo.

To this day, her teacher's say she takes such time and caution with her work. She can navigate any situation with ease, stay in the driver's seat, and doesn't feel the pressure to be hurried. She is a perfectionist, and will work through her frustration to get it right. Yet she is compassionate, and kind. When it comes to the supposed myths of birth order of the first child and the type A personality, she's textbook.

The second time around, I didn't want to go all nat-u-ral, but I couldn't convince myself to do the epidural. So I labored for hours and hours and finally got the intrathecal; just a spinal block. Ahhhhhhhhhh! Baby came three hours later. It had worn off then, so the end had a bit of a bite to it, but at least I had some relief prior to it, a calm before the storm.

This child has a compassion and sweetness undefined, and many comment about her being 'an old person in a young person's body." However, she is not passive. You mess with her or her friends and family and she 'bites' back. Hmmmm.

Number three. Okay, I must admit, I just wanted to be reading people magazine and, boom, out pops the babe. So I got the epidural. But surprise, surprise, it didn't work. So my right leg was high as a kite but my birth canal was on fire. The epidural didn't cooperate, and guess what, neither does my third child. But she's still precious and only three years old, so let's just call her 'spirited'.

Here we come to the euphoric ending. My fourth. My only boy. This time, I was reading People magazine, and my midwife came to check me and said, "oh, well there's a head". Peaceful. Easy. Lovely. Quiet. Instantly breastfed with ease. And at 5-months old, he is still all of these things. Thank you, God!

So, in regards to point #1, does our childbirth choice affect our babies. I'd have to say yes, it does. For point #2, where is the grass greener in childbirth choices, I'd still have to say that it's debatable and personal, but for me, and remember, I'm a wimp, the fourth time was a charm. And despite four totally different birth experiences, I have four charming children.

The Birthday Bash at 38.

Boy, have birthdays changed. If you've read Koren Zailckas's book Smashed, then you'll get the idea of how I spent my birthdays from about age 18-28. Horrifying! Last Saturday night was much more like it.

Even a few years ago, I felt like having a night out with as many girls as possible, swigging IPAs and staying out late enough so that my husband had to put the kids (and himself) to bed was the perfectly manicured lawn of birthday parties. But I think I finally stumbled upon my grassiest birthday.

Last Saturday night, a friend and I had decided to finally try to get together and do a craft project we had been discussing for 18 months. I pondered a babysitter to watch the kids so we could have focused 'adult time', but decided to invite my mom too, who ensures that my crafts don't look like my 2-year-old did it, and also she was watching my niece and nephew that night so it's always fun to have them over to play with my kids. It was all set and then I ran into a neighbor, a single mom with one boy about the age of my oldest, and offered for them to join us.

Well, after we four women devoured two bottles of wine, it was project time. The kids were happily fueled up on pizza and sprite, wrecking havoc on our upstairs, which at the time I had completely blocked out from my conscious.

The two year old was the first to discover our project. We were doing decopauge, which involves glue, water, and basically equals a total nightmare for anyone ages 3 and under. Pretty soon, my toddler was in my lap, holding my paintbrush, glue in her hair and mine, my decopauge all wrinkled and ripped, and when it was finished, she held up the wine-corkboard we co-created and said, "It's so beautiful!" How could she NOT be right?! By now, all of the other kids were on top of each other around our kitchen table, grabbing everything from our craft drawers and inspiring one another's creativity, making everything from bunny rabbits to indian headbands.

So much for adult time.

Now I will never forget my 38th birthday, when I laughed harder than all the rest combined, and ended up with a 'beautiful' joint project that will forever mark a unique moment in the relationship between my sweet little toddler and me.

I also gained a new nickname. Before Caitlin decided to be my decoapuge assistant, I was already halfway though gluing on the wine corks before my friend even finished one side of her frame in decopauge. Of course, this was because she admitted to her obsessive-compulsiveness and how it had to be perfect. I commented that I don't have time for perfect, so when it comes to things like this, I alwasy just 'bust it out.' My hilarious neighbor yelled out, 'BIO, that's totally you'. My new nickname. It's perfect, BIO is my BIO, because with four kids, I have no time to write a BIO. That's my life, I'm just busting it out.

Everyone left by 10:30, which was already one and one-half hour past my bedtime, but my sweet mom had cleaned up my kitchen and my kids were dragging me to bed with them.

So what do you think? Is your birthday party grass greener with or without kids?

The only gifts I received were the laughter and joy of being with a couple of friends, my mom, and my husband and kids. That beats the gift of a hangover anyday.

Cloth vs. Disposable

Ok. So there is really no question as to what is obviously greener, in environmental terms, anyway. But this blog wants to know where the grass is greener for the mama.

I must admit that I have most likely contributed about 500,000 diapers to the landfills. Ignorance is responsible for my first two babies, and pure laziness for our third. But now, thanks to the unintended motivation by a friend, I've joined the cloth wagon. And it's fabulous. First of all, you can save $15o0 to $2000 in diapers over the life of the average need for them. That is green mama point #1.

Then, of course, we can feel good about our contribution to the environment. But what are the other reasons? Trendy? Cute diaper covers? Better for baby's bottom? You tell me. I say all of the above. I'm not even going to begin to go back and figure out how much money we could have saved by going cloth from the start. Pretty sure it's enough to have put at least one of our four through college.

It could be recent findings about disposables, like this one I found on the website of Nicki's Diapers, that read: "Disposable diapers could be the cause of the sharp rise in male infertility over the past 25 years, according to an authoritative scientific study..." Wow. Don't know about you but I be wantin' me some grandbabbies---someday---my boy is 5 months old.

But if it really is that you're an authentic tree hugger, then these outrageous statistics should be enough: one baby can produce 2 tons of landfill waste, there is serious threat contamination due to human waste spilling over from landfills, and diapers can take 500 years to decompose. That is like when, your great, great, great, great grandboy walks this earth; but who knows, by then they will probably have diapers made out of renewable bamboo, that change themselves and disappear into thin air.

And then of course, it really is about the trees; each baby in disposables consumes 4.5 trees in their life in diapers (all this info also from Nicki's diapers website.)

We do still use a disposable at night. Mostly because I am one-eyed cocked tired at 12am and 4am when I feed the little man, and if I had to change a diaper, it might end up on his head. Some day care facilities do not allow cloth. Our preschool does not do cloth, the ski mountain day care was more than happy to, but the healthclub was a no-no. I don't blame them; a blow-out in cloth diapers can take over the whole diaper changing station. While it takes some getting use to, I say cloth is greener grasses. It's way easier than it seems, despite its intimidating prowl. Once you run a load and accept the smell of lavendery-urine as your laundry room scent, you're good to go, and one more step for the planet and your wallet.

Gym Junkie or Home Video Vixen?

So where is the grass greener when it comes to toning up that baby tummy and shrinking back that butt? Gym or Home? Well, there is the logic component-money. Most gym memberships cost about $50 a month. Home videos can run you at least that much if you fall sucker to the tv ads that convince you that you need the 20 accessories to go with your video for $14.99. I'm pretty sure my husband and I could own a gym with all the home fitness equipment and videos we have. But guess what, I have a gym membership. Ha!

So, why would I have a gym membership? Well, I suppose two reasons. First, so I can see at least one other adult that day other than my husband or pre-school teachers (although I love my husband AND the pre-school teachers very much). And two, so I can get through two minutes of a workout without being asked for another cup of juice. Gotta love kid care at gyms.

The benefits of working out at home are pretty strong. Since I only go to the gym two or three days a week, I do like to do a yoga workout at home. It's just nice to walk out of my bedroom, still in my pajamas, baby rolling around on his playmat, and pop in PX90 or Shiva Rae yoga disc, no bra, no teeth brushed, no hair combed, mascara still smeared across my cheeks (how many moms have time to wash their face before bed?) and do a half-assed version of yoga because if I'm tired I just stop since no one is watching. Can you tell I'm hard core?

I also believe it is how you view fitness. If fitness is a full experience, and you have the sexy outfit, you likely want to be at the gym, because as I mentioned before, I do yoga in my pjs. I doubt you're going to put on the sexy workout outfit at home. Some people really do like to be watched when they are working out. It makes them feel good, and attractive. I personally can't stand when I am watched at the gym, especially while doing happy baby pose in the stretch area. I think I'll just stop doing that one.

The social componenet of the gym is nice, if you're social. I tend to be selectively social, meaning only when I feel like it, which really just sounds better than anti-social. In other words, I really don't make new friends at the gym, just chat with the ones I already know, which I could do without going to the gym. Therefore, for me, I suppose the green grass at the gym for me is the day care, which allows the ability to take a warm shower for more then 5 minutes.

To find your greenest grass in this area, ask yourself:
Do I prefer to exercise with others?
Is it okay for others to see me lifting dumbbells when I haven't shaved my armpits in a week?Do I really just need the gym to take a shower by yourself? ($50/month might be worth it)
If I 'exercise' at home, will I really just eat an extra donut and call it good?
Do I have cabin fever?

I would say if you answered yes to all of the above, then I would say a gym membership is pretty green for you. If you answered no to all of the above, then you likely prefer staying home and saying that each day, you will start your routine 'tomorrow.' Just kidding, that's just how I am about home exercise. I always something better to do. However, I have many friends that are able to do their treadmill every day.

In other words, no matter which route you go, there is really only one word...discipline. The grass is only greener where you have discipline.

So, I guess the greenest grass in the fitness area for me is a combo. If you have the will power to just buy the home video and commit to doing it three days a week, and don't mind going at it alone, home fitness is much cheaper. Both are flexible, semi cost efficient if you do it enough, and both produce results-but I suppose that is the key; we can talk about it all day, but we have to get off our hineys and get to it. I guess I've stalled enough-time for some yoga, right after I finish this cupcake.

Your kids sleep in their clothes?

I'm a BIG fan of pajamas...on the weekends. With four kids, getting out the door in the morning for school and preschool was a full on sprint. I am not a morning person, so getting up earlier was out of the question. I was usually sweating like crazy by the time I ran around helping everyone get dressed and socks and shoes and hair and lunchbox and backpack and well, you know the drill.

Then one day at an outing with a friend, we were at one of those jumphouse places so I was once again sweating, pregnant, chasing the two-year old so she didn't get nailed by some rowdy older kid, and the topic of mornings came up. I was explaining how I was already exhausted by 8:30am already from getting kids out the door. She looked at me smiling, and said, "Why don't you just dress them the night before?" My jaw dropped. Was I really not smart enough to figure this out? This isn't organic chemsitry here, it's dressing children, at night, in what they will wear to school the next day, and letting them sleep in it.

Whew. Well, that was life changing, to say the least. I say the grass is greener when kids wear their school clothes to bed, at least until they hop out of bed like a grasshopper and can change clothes in two minutes, which for my kids might be, like, never. Plus, it makes pajamas on Friday night that much more exciting.

Now I sleep in 15 mintues longer. I'm still not a morning person, but at least my tea is hot when I drink it.

Greener Grasses

So many days I ponder how I ended up being one of the fortunate women to receive four kids from God. Along with these beautiful gifts from above comes many choices to make that will impact their lives (and mine) forever. I was never the young women that was just dying to hold everyone else's baby. So how did I get four? How on earth did I get chosen to have to do this for so many little lives? And how on earth am I suppose to know what choices to make? I have no idea, but I do know that I have a very important job to do, and I won't be getting a whole lot of pats on the back for doing it until way down the line.

It is so hard to realize each day that the job I am doing has a major impact on the world. One day I will hopefully send four well-rounded, ambitious, compasionate young adults out into the great wide open and will pray for great things. Those four people can accomplish much and touch many. That is, if I do my job right for the next 20 years. No pressure, right? We mothers feel the pressure yet we are buried in lunchboxes and soccer jerseys. It's hard to stay super focused day to day when the paycheck comes in the form of another pile of laundry and the occasional commission pay when you get to go out to dinner without kids.

After eight years of mothering, staying home for half of it, working part time for the other half, I constantly am looking for the right choice in raising my kids. I try to anticipate the what's ahead and get our family prepared. We change things around, try it different, trial and error, until we like what we are doing. But I still see other mothers doing it different, and they look more calm, or serene, or just plain more happy than me, and it drives me to think that I'm doing something wrong, and that I should mix it up again.

I mean, is there a right or wrong?

So with this blog, I intend to examine a lot of the choices in our life, primarily with families and kids, and analyze which choice has the greener lawn, or is it ever greener on the other side?