Picture Day

Great picture, right?  “Like a magazine cover photo,” said the photographer this afternoon.  If you only knew the mental strife behind that photo.   What we had to do to get her to cooperate….Oh….my…3.

I thought I had escaped the wrath of the terrible two’s.  My daughter is a very good kid, and extremely well spoken for her age.  That’s part of the reason her new-found ‘streaks of independence’ are becoming so…let’s just say…challenging.

It used to be that a simple, “Go to your room,” was enough to get the disciplinary point across.  Then, she realized all of her toys were in her room and it really wasn’t all that bad of a punishment.  Next came time out, then taking things away…early bed-time…taking blanket away…no toys from the dollar bin (a crisis in itself), and now we’ve circled back around to time-out.  I’d spank her, but that would leave me feeling bad and her most likely laughing.  A friend of ours just looks at his boys and they scurry in their ‘well-behaved’ positions.  I’m outwardly jealous.

5 time out’s yesterday.  2 today, and we’ve only been home for a few hours when she isn’t napping.  That left the Portrait Studio to feel the wrath of her “I’m 3, listen to me” nonsense today.

Let’s step back a few paces so you can appreciate the full experience.  Her Daddy works.  I stay home.  She has started missing Daddy more when he’s at work lately, which is sweet and I empathize with her.  How quickly she learned to float that into a plea for mercy when she get’s in trouble.  “I want Daddy.  I very miss Daddy.  Daddy.  Daddy.  Daddy.”  As if it’s not hard enough to discipline a 3 year old without feeling bad.  Relentless.  (Note:  3 year old’s have no mercy.)

Imagine my joy when my husband has the day off and I get to leave the house for a couple hours…giving her time with her Daddy.  Sounds like she’d be all for that, right?  Until I get a call in the grocery store from a sad little 3 year old that misses her Mommy.  “I just very miss you, Mommy.”  Ugh.  (Note…No, you can’t win.)

Last night I let her wait up for Daddy to get home from work.  We showed him the pretty dress she was going to have her pictures taken in, and how pretty and pink her finger and toe nails were for picture day.  She was even practicing her smile.  Ha, I thought.  We’ll just see about that.

This morning she even let me put the sponge curlers in her hair…and kept them in until we got to the picture place 3 hours later.  They called our name, we put the pretty dress and new flip flops on…unpack-aged the brand new hair clips…took the sponge curlers out…and practiced smiling.  She was actually excited.  Now, to figure out how to get her to part with her dinosaurs for the photo shoot.

In walks the photographer, and Brianne is not having it.  Will not stand, sit, or even meander around the background for even a second without clinging to my arm like she’s falling out of a plane unplanned.  At this point she’s not being vocal about it, just shy with a vengeance.  You parents know the look. Sensing she’s in trouble, out it comes…”Daddy.  I want my Daddy.  Daddy.  Daddy.  Daddy.”  Not in a sad tone, but more a demanding…do it or I’ll flip out…tone.

The photographer just gives me this look, like…ummm…I’m at a loss, here…and says “I’ll give you a few minutes.”  Knowing that time-out is looming in her near future, the sadness sets in and the waterworks ensue.  “Daddy.  Daddy. Daddy.”   I whip out the phone and call him.  God love him, even though he’s at a car auction in Columbus, he picks up the phone and somehow has the patience to talk to her.  It seems to work, and the photo-guy re-enters.

Cling.  “Daddy.  Daddy…..”  The poor guy is trying to be patient, even holding my 9 month old’s bottle while I try to reason with the older one, but is obviously not having a surplus in that department today.   He gives me 10 minutes to coerce her, but then gives up and moves on to the next person in line.  “I’ll let you stay here for a minute if you want in case she comes around.”  Gee.  Thanks.  I can now feel my own eyes beginning to water in frustration and embarrassment.

Leaving is not an option.  It’s a 35 minute drive…curlers in the hair…9 month old sister to bring along with her own lot of disgruntles…today being a nose that’s gushing like the fountains in Vegas…It’s time-out time.  Time-out, 2 packs of fruit snacks (which we have to sneak because they don’t allow food there), another call from Daddy on speakerphone…a video from Daddy…and that’s when I hear in the distance…”you try that one and see what you can do.”  Oy.

In walks photographer number 2.  We’ve had this one before, so I’m hopeful.  “Can the dinosaurs be in the picture, too?” she asks.  I’m quick to reply… “At this point, if she’ll take a picture I don’t care at all.”  Bonus number one…she likes kids.  Bonus number two…she has her own kids.  Ahhh…sweet empathy.  Instead of the high pressure, ‘get your kids act together I’m on a schedule here’ attitude…all the tension melts away into a game.  A dinosaur game.  And the old “don’t you do that….”so they will do it, trick.

As I watch how well it works I start to realize I spent too much time focusing on her negative behavior, instead of making it fun….or, having fun and tricking her into getting her picture taken.  Back when she was my only kid, I would have been on the ball with that idea early on in the process.  With her baby sister with us, I rely on my older one to know the right way to act…forgetting that she’s only little herself and still needs just as much coercion as her little baby sister.  Shoot.  Coupled with her new found independent streaks, she almost requires more.

I think sometimes even as grown people we expect each other to be on certain levels…for certain things to be ‘common sense’…to be on the same level as parents, co-workers, friends, even husband and wife.  We take for granted the fact that we’re not carbon copies of each other, and sometimes simply don’t understand certain point of views.

The trick with Brianne is to teach her to respectfully listen to me, even if she doesn’t agree with it or understand why.  It’s like breaking an argument down between two people, but on a 3 year old level.  Accepting consequences.  Following rules.  Being respectful.  Shoot…being nice….which hopefully stems to non-judgmental….perfectly behaved child/teenager/young adult, right?  Oh, if only it were that easy.

Hopefully we’ll get through the ‘independent streaks’ without war breaking out in our house.  It’s a test of patience.  Holding back my temper with her feels like the end of a race…if I can just gut it out a little more maybe she’ll stop writhing on the floor in a manic craze.  I feel like I get to know her more with every new stage that she grows through.  I learn more about myself, tool.  Having a 3 year old is a good look in the mirror.

Well, this will be a picture day for the books…and a picture that will bring back more than just the memories of how fast she’s growing up.

Just smile and repeat….”Serenity, now…”

Happy Smiles,


The Hurty Chokes.

Well, that does it.  I can no longer cast looks at other parents who bring their hacking, runny-nosed child out to the store…or to playgroup…or in my case, for Friday night pizza.  Armed with hand sanitizer and a gigantic wad of Kleenex, we toughed it out. Call it part of my “I now have 2 kids so just about anything goes” coming of age.

Parents empathize, and those who aren’t parents have these moments etched in their memories under the “I’ll never do that when I have kids” file.  I realize.  Full circle moments.  Parenthood is full…rather, built out of, them.

So, there I am…my daughter hacking so loudly she sounds like she’s gonna gag and barf.  Nose dripping…me harping, “elbow!” (I’m ruthlessly training her to cough into her elbow so as not to spread germs.  Oh, the things I attempt.)  She can’t taste pizza, much less have the time to sneak in a bite between needing a Kleenex, sneezing, and bouts of the ‘hurty chokes.’  But one thing remains a constant no matter how bent out of shape she is.  She wants to run.  Around the table…up to the counter…to ‘tell’ her babysitter-who-works-there (and the best one ever, Steph :)) ‘something…’

And all the while my 9-month-old, who refuses to eat baby food even though she hasn’t popped a single tooth yet, is sneaking bites of her sister’s uneaten pepperoni pizza.  As she runs out of pieces she can reach, her volume begins to rise. Oh, the joys…

The thing is…it really is joyful for me.  I”m ready for the challenge of raising two of the cutest little princesses that have ever lived.  This is my life’s goal coming to fruition.  Motherhood.  All these experiences are, in one way, maddening.  What parent would trade them, though?  This time is so fleeting, and the memory of ‘hurty chokes’ will make me laugh for a long time…when she goes to school and starts to become ‘too cool’ for mom…when she has her first boyfriend…I can get a lot of joyfully embarrassing miles out of that one.  Just a notch on the wall.

I equate it to running…sometimes it hurts more than it should to run slower than I think I’m able.  Trudging through training is just part of the discipline that goes along with distance running.  But then I’ll bust out a race even faster than expected…and I know all the ‘trudging’ was worth it.

On the way home I said to my husband, “How much pizza did I eat,” trying to assess my own hunger.  I had no idea if I had eaten too much pizza…and it would have been nice to extend ‘Miller Time’ a little.  Home at last and in their pj’s…my 9 month old pats me on the shoulder to hug me.  As if to say, ‘Good job, Mommy.  I appreciate you.’  Good stuff.

3 years and 2 baby girls.  Planned parenthood…ha…spend your spring break with me, ladies (hopefully you’ll get to experience a day when I don’t shower until 9pm because I’ve been barfed on throughout the day by one and snotted and coughed on by the other…meanwhile scrubbing the house and doing all the laundry and linens to ‘kill’ the germ so the sickness will leave and my somewhat normal of a sleep pattern returns…)

…you’ll think twice…or…THRICE!!! (that was for you, Conan…because you faithfully read my blog.  tee hee.)

Happy Empathizing…


Threshing Machine $1.00

It’s a racket, isn’t it?

Woman’s face cream?  Retailers seem to pin a bulls-eye on our backs when we hit 30, and keep the pressure at level ‘insane’ until we’re ‘allowed’ (by their standards, it seems) to relax and embrace our wrinkles around age 70.  I used to think I was cleverly avoiding this by using face lotion with sunscreen in it, and overnight lotion that Clean and Clear made up until last year.  For $10 I was set for a month.  The sunscreen lotion has disappeared, too…boo you retailing giants.  I feel like I’ve been caught red handed.  Now, I’m forced to find another option.

Don’t even get me started on the gray hairs popping up all over my head.  Even though one of my best friends owns her own salon…and will undoubtedly do an amazing job taking me back to my natural color one day…I’m just not ready to undergo the whole process.  I’ve never dyed my hair.  I’m going to try this product Avon makes for touch ups…if it works I’ll let you know.  Until then, I name each one as I pluck them out and ceremonially bury them in the trash like they never existed.

Gray hair say what?  Wrinkles say what?  Dark eye circles that make me look like I just got back from a week in Vegas say what…WHAT?  (I love Hannah Montana, but she’s not making the reality of aging any easier.)  Age.  Like pregnancy with a broader scope of knowledge…it’s so beautiful in so many ways…and in other ways not so beautiful…if you get my drift.

Old...old...old car ferry on the way to Charlevoix, MI.

At the suggestion of my mom, whom age has taught me is correct 90% of the time, I became an Avon rep.

I said I’d never…

I’ve always been a fan of Avon products, just not a regular.  I find it inconvenient to hand write my order, turn it in, and wait for it to arrive…when?

On the flip side…Avon has told me upfront that I won’t make as much selling to people online. Ummm…ok…who DOESN’T buy things online?  The first people that traveled on the car ferry in these pictures?  Yea, they probably didn’t shop online…but, wow, have we humans evolved since then.  🙂  I’ve become too much of a technology junkie to let this fly…

Never one to just ‘go with proverbial flow,” I decided instead to set a record for number of customers served around the country…online…by one rep.

Face to face selling/delivery is no doubt more effective…but not always realistic in our hectic lives, or distance between us.   (E-mail, Facebook, and blogging have allowed me to keep in touch with my friends and family for years…why can’t I pass deals onto them…oh, wait…I can.)

Once again, I’m out to bust through another door.

Who would have thought that trying to find cheap face cream would lead me on another quest…ha ha ha…probably anyone that’s spent 15 minutes with me, I guess.

Happy Door-busting!

(If you’d like to contribute to the cause, or reap the benefits of my door-busting skills, visit my online store.)

Swim Goggles

Little Girl Big Dreams

My oldest daughter, Brianne, is about to turn 3.  For her birthday, she would like swim goggles and a pair of running shoes.  God Bless her.

This is the third year we’ve taken swim lessons, and Brianne is still afraid to go under the water.  Even in the bathtub, she get’s mad when water get’s in…or scarcely near, her eyes.

I get it.  Water in your eyes is uncomfortable.  Closing your eyes underwater detracts a sense we’re used to.  Brianne is more afraid of the darkness than the water in her eyes.  She wants to go under water…she just wants to be able to see while doing so.  Maybe she wants swim goggles because she knows she’d love to swim if she could just see under the water.  Who am I do discourage her?  Amazing, that at 3, she has found the solution to her own problem and asked for ‘swimmy goggles.’ (the purple ones.)

Don’t we all feel that way, sometimes?   I wish I could have swim goggles to see more than just under water, though.  It’d be nice if they could decode conversations…and intentions.  Those would be some handy goggles. I’ve lost countless hours pondering how to avoid being misunderstood.

The other spectrum…why does my 3 year old want ‘running shoes’ for her birthday?  In her words:  “Because I’m faster than the other runners.”  (The ‘other runners’ she refers to is the high school distance runners that I volunteer to help coach.)  It sat as nothing but a cute sentiment until she literally started to leave on their run with them this past week.  I had to chase her down, her 8 month old sister on my hip, to get her to stay at the track while they went out for a run.

It was then I realized how serious she was…and who am I to tell her it’s a pipe dream?  Maybe she has already discovered a passion for running.  After all, she did pretty much skip walking and went right to running as a baby.  Two steps on the track and her little feet just start striding along like they were built to do so, and before I know it she’s yelling at me from the goal posts at the other end of the field.

It might be a stage she grows out of, but then again it might not be.  Proud of myself for taking the time to listen to my toddler, I found myself wishing adults would listen openly.  Ahhh, the things I learn from my kids.

Brianne knows she’s afraid of going under the water… so she asked for goggles, which will eliminate that fear so that she CAN go under water.  What a brave little 3 year old to find a solution to the problem instead of running from it.  And for her to recognize that she loves to do something so much that she wants new shoes to be able to showcase that talent just floors me.  In asking for swim goggles and running shoes, has she addressed her talents and shortcomings, or just begun the quest of self confidence?

After all, I may be over-analyzing…I mean, I am a mom…and overprotecting and justifying why my kids are the greatest is just what I do…but what if she really becomes a great runner down the road?  Better yet, what if she appreciates that I listened and encouraged her…even if I don’t REALLY think she can out-pace girls 15 years older than her…and that instills in her confidence to accomplish her dreams.  Whatever they may be.  Thanks to Hannah Montana, she’s big into dancing right now, too…so she could go in a lot of different directions.  We’ve got time. 🙂

Wouldn’t it be great if that kind of empathy could exist adult to adult?  If we gave each other room to make mistakes and genuinely listened…just listened…without our own agendas running through our minds at the same time.  Watching Brianne make up little dance moves in her room when no one is watching, and practice starts out of her make believe blocks, reminds me to submerge the urge to control what she’s interested in.  Over encouraging in a certain direction?…nah.

Some people are just naturally pesimistic.  I’m not one of those, mainly because of my faith.  I hate to think of how many Brianne’s there are out there dreaming up the same big dreams she is, and if they are being encouraged to do what they love and embraced for who they are…or being bullied for it along the way as they grow into adults?  I mean, if adults aren’t empathetic, accepting, and encouraging of each other…why would kids grow up to be?  They learn from us.

Word of the day…empathy.

The Skinny Jeans

Rain.  Is it worse than snow?  Yes.  Until March.  When you’re tired of avoiding your morning run for fear of falling on snow and ice and opt for dripping wet instead.  Come to think of it, rain has caused a little shift in my lane of logic in recent months.

See, I have this thing.

Although once obsessed in my youth about my pants being ‘flared’ and ‘long’ enough to cover all but the toe of my shoe…even when sitting down…, the grown up version of myself has just about chucked it all together.  Rainy days like this remind me why.  Wet feet suck, but not as much as wet pants that get your butt all wet when you sit down on your foot…and your floor all gross…and your furniture all damp…you get the picture, right?

It really bothers me.

Enter, rain boots. 

Honestly, one of the top 5 best inventions of all time…not to mention how fashionable they are…strike that…can be. For a while, I reveled in my spectacularly dry feet, proudly breaking out my snazzy rain boots every time it sprinkled…and after hard rains…and sometimes in the snow…to shovel the driveway…

Until one day, I caught a glance of myself in a department store mirror (who am I kidding…it was most likely Target), and noticed my cartoon-ish boot-cut jeans trying to escape from my rain-boots.  Ugh.  I hate those kind of reality checks.  I crammed the jeans back in the rain boots the best I could while my hungry toddler impatiently pulled on my arm to scan the toy-aisle, and moved on. The jeans popped back out within the first 5 steps.  I could no longer enjoy my rain boots.

Enter, skinny jeans.  Thank you, Lauren Conrad, for Style. After reading it , I said to myself, “Screw it.  Yes, I just had my second kid.  No, I’m not in the shape of my life…but I’m not that atrocious…plus I really want fashionably dry feet in the rain!!!”

Now, as a mom of two kids I do have to reality check myself when I buy clothes sometimes.  Example…just because I CAN fit into the low-rise jeans that are on sale (who am I kidding…clearance) doesn’t necessarily mean I SHOULD wear them.  So, the skinny jeans worried me a little.

Going for it anyway, I once again reveled in the majesty of my gloriously dry…and now fashionable…feet.  To compromise with my post-childbirth confidence, I pair the skinny jeans with long sweaters and button downs.  So far, so good.

Believe me, I’m aware of the world I live in, but I seriously got nervous the first time I went out in public in my rain-boot/skinny jean combo.  As if anyone even cares if I’m not the ideal figure to maximize the outfit’s potential.  I quickly realized…no one cares.  At least not in this neck of the woods…I mean, at least not in earshot, right?  Golden. Even if they did care…I’m 31 (I just had to use a calculator to remember…ugh) with 2 kids.  What do I care, anyway?

This quickly led to more than rain boots…I door busted flats…and winter boots…and for the summer (which will get here eventually…right???), sandals…those friggin’ rain-boots have inspired a wardrobe a makeover.  Which may sound ridiculous unless you just got done wearing maternity clothes for 20 months out of the last 3 years.

Thank you skinny jeans.

Thank you LC (no, not my 8 month old…the fab chica she was named after).

Thank you rain-boots.

Thank you rain.

Rain always looks so dreary and uninviting. However, had I avoided it all together I never would have had my own personal fashion revelation.  I believe there’s something to be said for that.

Now if I could only run in my rain boots…

…I hate how my toes instantly freeze the first puddle I run through…

…what if I tried to spray water-proofing stuff on my running shoes…