The ‘Holidrama.’

You needn’t have a calendar to know it’s December.  Just observe the nearest toddler, if not your own.  No kid in their right mind can maintain a calm status in December.

No.

Way.

My very own little toddlers deserve a little slack this month…which I probably won’t give to them…but still…on top of it being December we’re about to move.   So, what happens when you take Santa Claus, presents, the Elf on the Shelf, the decorations, the Christmas TV specials, the Christmas performances at church and pre-school, Christmas cookies, Christmas parties, Christmas cards, and so much talk of baby Jesus’ birthday coming that my girls lose it in a cuteness meltdown of “Aw, baby Jesus” every time we drive past a manger scene…what happens when you take ALL of that…and add to it…MOVING.

Behavioral Meltdown.  That’s what.photo(157)

All be it we’re only moving, literally, a half mile down the road, it’s a big deal.  In fact, it’s such a big deal to me that if we move before Christmas…if we actually pull it off…I’ll cry tears of joy just to open my own new front door on Christmas morning…and then walk in and NOT trip over everyone’s shoes…and then proceed to hang my coat up in …A COAT CLOSET!!!  Shut up, I’ll faint.

So, besides having the perfect equation for my kids to melt down this holiday season, I’ve got my own disastrous mix brewing under the surface.  A constant wreck of ‘what can I pack?’-‘what painting projects can I get done?’-‘make the Christmas cookies-wrap the presents…wait-put the presents together (yep, we’re there) and then wrap them…but what house will we be in?  Where does Santa leave them?  One?  Both?’

Slippery slope…and it hasn’t even snowed yet.

The normal toddler life drama continues through it all.  Starting bright and early at 6:30 am each morning.  Each day, I naively expect that my daughter is going to get up, go to the bathroom, brush her teeth, get dressed, and make her bed while I’m out running.

Each day.

Brianne's Pink Room

Brianne’s Pink Room

It’s happened once.  I came back from my run and she was ready for breakfast, and we walked into pre-school early.

One time.

With Christmas on the brain, we’ve been late everyday so far this December.

Maybe when it’s actual detentions she’ll motivate herself to get dressed on her own, before it looks as if my head’s about to pop off and roll across the kitchen floor.

And what’s with the blank stare?  It’s as if she’s transported herself mentally to the North Pole and is just chillin’ there until I bother her back to reality.  I can almost see the little elves playing tic-tac-toe with her, surrounded by cartoon woodland creatures and candy cane trees or something….

I guess I should be grateful I only have to nag her around a one story house right now.  In a few short weeks, I’ll be screaming up stairs at her.  No way, when we’re separated by that much space, will we ever make it to school on time again.

No chance.

All that said, Christmastime is still my favorite.  Even though it’s cold and disgusting out and life is wonderfully chaotic, I love it.  With each Bing Crosby sung Christmas Carol, I am transported to my own imagination…where I can still hear my Grandma singing along with Bing…loving every minute of Christmas just as much as I do.  I guess I do need to cut my kids some slack around the holidays.

Lo's Purple Room

Lo’s Purple Room

They want to surround themselves with the magic of the season just as much as I want to surround myself with the happy memories of singing Christmas songs with my Grandma in the kitchen.  She’s definitely smiling in heaven that my little Lo will only accept Frank Sinatra’s version of ‘Jingle Bells.’  Any other version and she says,

“No, Mom…the real Jingle Bells.”

Through all the Holidrama…I feel my angel in my Grams more than ever this year.  Keeping me sane.  Reminding me to laugh at some of the frustrating stuff like I watched her do.  And when my girls and I are jammin’ to Bing’s Christmas Carols in the kitchen…I feel like I can hear her singing along with us.  I am beyond blessed that I will soon get to fill a new space with all of these happy memories.

Happy Christmas 🙂

Megs

The Foo.

“Mommy, you a foo-foo, head.”

It all started with a made up word meant to spur a laugh in an obviously frustrated Mom (me) at the end of a long day.  By the end of those kind of days, no matter how nicely I started to direct commands in the morning…they become short, delusional quips by the end of tub-time.  My two-year old has a knack for making me crack a smile, even when I’m most aggravated.

This time, the last laugh is mine.  “Foo-foo,” struck her older sister and I so funny that night that we all started shouting it across the house in fits of laughter.  Now, every time my two-year old, Lo, does something hysterical…we dub her “Foo.'”

Standing on the chair to reach grab a piece of candy out of the Halloween bowl on the counter, so much so that…at two…she has established a candy stash of “chocolate chips” somewhere in her room that I cannot find.  Foo.

This morning, when I walked in the front door from my run, instead of a “Mommy!” and a running hug tackle…Lo tip toes into my line of sight grasping onto a roll of Smarties in one hand, and a Tootsie Pop in another.  “Hi, Mom,” she said with her stance communicating that she was ready to bolt the minute I stepped any closer to take her candy.  Foo Foo.

At the mall playground the other day, who decides to jump off the highest thing she can climb…straight to her knees?  Not even attempting to land on her feet?  Foo Foo Head.

Today, I cleaned the whole house for Thanksgiving.  Even the sliding glass door, which I normally neglect because my toddlers can smell Windex from the other end of the house and come sprinting at it with sticky fingerprints.  Not only did Lo mess up the part of the window that she could reach…but she stood up on the tippy top of the bench to reach the very top.  Smudge all the way from top to bottom.  Foo Foo.

Can you guess which one is Foo?

Every time she does something funny, we laugh.  Then, she realized that she thought we thought she was funny and laughs again.  Sometimes, Grandpa will add a “Lo, you’re funny.”  To which, she responds, “I know, Grandpa…” and rolls with laughter all over again.

She’s a Squinkie addict.  If you don’t know what a Squinkie is count your lucky stars.  They are the tiny little rubbery toys in all sorts of shapes and characters that get lost all over my van and my house.  It’s also all Lo wants for Christmas.  “What do you want Santa to bring you, Lo?”

“Minnie Squinkies, ” without hesitation.

“What else?”

“Minnie Squinkies.”

Why Minnie?  Because she threw a fit in Target one day and launched a package of ‘Minnie Squinkies’ onto the floor in protest of whatever battle she was trying to achieve the upper-hand on.  She lost.  The Squinkies remained on the floor where she threw them…and she watched them fade out of sight as I kept pushing the cart through the store.  Foo Foo.

Lo can’t fall asleep at nap-time or bedtime before she has successfully snuck down from her bed, retrieved a pile of books or toys, and taken them back up to bed with her.  What’ s funny is that she’s so sneaky in the execution of her plan, but then busts herself out immediately when she wakes up.

“I just played.  I just read books,” she’ll inform me, with her arms up in the air and shoulders shrugged.

As trying as two is, these are only a page full of reasons why I don’t even have time to blog once a day…once a week…sometimes even once a month.  My life is full of toddler madness.  And I’m loving every minute of it.  Lie…not every…but most.

My source of never-ending laughter…

I knew being a Mom was going to be awesome. It’s all I ever really wanted to do.  But, I never realized how often my kids would remind me how important it is just to let go and laugh.  Thank God for them, and thank God for laughter.

Happy Holiday…and Toddler…Madness!

Megs

The Earrings.

Every little girl remembers getting her ears pierced…well, at least, I do.  But not as clearly as I remember my sister get hers pierced.  Marked by the insane screeching and blotchy-faced toddler with tears gushing out of her eyes.  It’s in memory of her experience that I decided not to say a word about it to my girls…ever.  After all, who wants to by the mom gripping her child in a sleeper hold to get her ears pierced?  Not necessary, right?  And, who wants to be responsible for cleaning said ear piercings whilst they heal for the next 6 weeks (if nothing goes a-wry).  Note-this also tends to require versions of the sleeper hold to clean and ‘turn’ the earrings 3 times a day.  Three times a day!  How about NO way.

Two-shay.

About a year ago, my oldest Brianne, then 3, was admiring my earrings.
“Mom, can I get my ears pierced?”

I quickly explained to her that they take a little tiny ear-piercing gun…that kind of looks like a stapler…and they punch a hole in your ear.

“I don’t very want to get my ears pierced yet, Mom,” she said.  “Maybe when I’m bigger.”

That was enough to last the next 6 months.  Then, she asked again.

“Yep, but it only lasts for a little second, Mom.”

So, I explained that after that we have to clean than and turn them every day for a long time before they are healed.

“I think I’ll wait until I’m bigger, Mom.”

Cool.

And that was it.  It didn’t matter which friends had their ears pierced, or how cool the earrings were in the store…nothing was enough make the whole process worth it.  I was relieved.

As I was cleaning the attic one day, meticulously going through every single box and crate since we’ll be moving soon, I discovered a small treasure I thought I’d lost along life’s path somewhere.  I small box with “Best Friends” scripted on it…and inside were all the 14K Gold earrings my parents and my Grams had given me when I was a little girl…very soon after I got my own ears pierced at around Brianne’s age.  Looking at the tiny gold crosses I wore for my First Communion, and the little gold unicorns my parents got me for pulling my quickly sinking little sister out of the pool (the second time), brought back a tiny flood of emotion and nostalgia.

Funny how when you find something like that you feel like you are living in those memories again for a moment.  I could remember the smiles on faces as I opened the earrings, and the look on my face in my bedroom mirror as I admired them.

My daughter Brianne, now 4, loves to go through any box full of anything that used to be mine when I was a kid.  So, we sat in my room together and sorted out all of my old treasures.

“Mom!  Look!  Unicorns!” she exclaimed.  “Look!  It’s Jesus’ cross, Mom!  Oh- AND TURTLES!!!!  MOM!  CAN I HAVE THESE SOME DAY WHEN I GET BIGGER AND GET MY EARS PIERCED?” she yelled all in one enormous breath.

“Sure, Brianne.  When you get your ears pierced, they’re yours.”

It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that she trounced happily into my room and asked if she could get her ears pierced.  I reminded her, again, of how they did it and how I’d have to clean and turn them.  Still, she insisted that she was ready.  But I wasn’t.  So, as toddlers often do, I waited for her to forget about it and move on to the next thing.

She didn’t.

Like a little mini version of her dad, she came up and asked me a question that didn’t require a yes or no answer.  She straight up tricked me.

‘Mom, when can I go get my ears pierced?”

And as the words are coming out of my mouth I’m trying to take them back….”Tomorrow after school?”

“YAY! YAY! YAY!”

My last-ditch effort was a, “you better ask your Dad just to make sure he’s OK with it.”

She did…before the sun came up that next morning.  And, he quickly agreed.

Ready to get her ears pierced.

So, after school that day, we picked up Grandpa (who wouldn’t miss this…and like me, could not believe she was ready to go through with it…) and went to the mall to get her ears pierced.  She skipped happily up to Piercing Pagoda, picked out a pair of red earrings (for Christmastime…of course…), and hopped up on the chair.

Now, I knew…and Grandpa knew…that the first ear would be one thing.  And it was.  Immediate shoulder jerk and eyes popping out in surprise.  But, the second ear…we feared…would be left blank.

“OK, great job!  Now, time for the other ear, “the woman said.

All of the sudden, the brave little girl who barely needed mom for the first ear now needed blanket, Kermy, and Mommy…and it still wasn’t enough.  I tried every Jedi-mind toddler trick I could muster up to get her to lower that right shoulder down just enough so the woman could pierce the other ear…but she wouldn’t…couldn’t…get over the shock of the first ear and lower her arm.

So there I was.  In the middle of the mall.  My child on my lap in a sleeper-hold-like position…gripping her while the woman pierced her other ear.  One small tear dripped down her cheek as the earring went through…and then…

She smiled.

“You are so brave!!!!!!!” I told her, a tear of my own working its way out.  And down from the chair dropped Kermy and blanket.  Brianne didn’t even notice.  Looking at her new Christmas red earrings in the mirror…lollipop and sticker in hand…I felt like my little toddler turned immediately into a little girl.

I was not ready.

In that moment, as a mother, I realized I’d have many more of these milestones to face.  Moments when she is more ready to grow up than I am for her to.  Not only is she not a baby anymore…she’s not a toddler, either.

She went to sleep that night talking at a blistering speed about all of her girlfriends that she couldn’t wait to show her new earrings to at school the next day…and what she though each of their reactions would be.  The next morning as I opened the door to the van to take her into school, she was leaning out the door yelling across the parking lot…

“I got my ears pierced!!”

And yes, cleaning and turning them is going just fine.  She was ready.

Happy Ear Piercing…

Megs

The Meet.

Full circle moments.  Life is full of them. And, today was a full circle day.

Growing up as a little, little peep, my closest buddy was my cousin, George.  Three months a part in age, we spent lots of time, proven by many adorable pictures, together as kids.  And though there was a space that grew in between us growing up, our Grams always kept us informed on what the other was up to.

Little Buddies 🙂

Coincidentally, though he was into wrestling and I was into dance, we both ended up being distance runners in high school.  We would cheer each other on at meets, and that carried over into college as we both continued on with the sport after high school.  Even when my college coach decided to host a meet on his property…of the three schools that were there, Kent State was one of them…and that’s where George went.

We lived in different states after college as we started our own families, but have once again been brought back together by distance running…and the Browns.  Tailgating games in honor of our ever-shitty pro-football team that we’ll never give up on…because we’re actual Cleveland Browns fans.  And, now, we both coach high school Cross Country.

So, through childhood, and distance running, we have this unspoken bond that keeps us together.  Like Grams, up there in heaven, is still to this day keeping us informed on what the other is doing at all times.

Today, at Tiffin for the Regional meet,  wishing George good luck…talking about how my nephew Matt and his top guy would be close competitors for the State Qualifying mark…full circle moment.  Regional Open Race, Tiffin 2013.  Look out…here we come. lol.

The race his team and my nephew ran in…it’s the best of the best…in the state. And it’s always been that way.  No one will ever be able to relate to how it feels to run faster than the state qualifiers from other regions and not make it out to state…accept those who leave that finish line teary-eyed.  It’s intensely competitive.

I’ve spent the last four years trying to get that message across to the distance runners in my small little lake town…but being back in the midst of the tradition of excellent running today lifted my spirits from the disappointment in how my own team competed this season.

My daughter Brianne, and Matthew

Watching my nephew…who has been dedicated to his sport longer than most people are dedicated to anything their whole lives…watching him smoke people as a middle school-er…winning by huge gaps of time…watching him learn how to race at that big Tiffin meet…watching him overcome injury to come back better than ever before.  Matt literally inspired me to coach.  After watching him win a meet in junior high…me running all over the course to cheer…I realized then that I still had more to give to this sport.  And, that I better find a team to coach or Matt was going to be really sick of my advice by Senior year…:)

My sister-in-law is the big sister I never had in life.  And Matt’s running bonded us even more.  It made me feel like part of the family…distance running isn’t something everyone gets.  In fact, it’s a sport that no one gets unless they compete in it themselves or watch their kids do it.  So, how cool is it to bond over running with my Sees like that.  It’s cool.  Now her son…District Champ…and now, after today, top 10 in the Region.  The best Region.  The toughest Region.  And on to State.  It brings tears to my eyes, because I KNOW how hard that is.  Not just to make it to State, but to make it to State here.  At Tiffin.  Senior year.  Where there is no more room for learning how to race…no room for doubt…just guts.  Especially today, sliding in the mud, just trying to do everything possible to fight for that spot to State.  That spot that he’s been gunning for for many years now…many years that we’ve all witnessed.  The ups and the downs.  And now, the sweet triumph of accomplishment.  Go, Matt. 🙂

Needless to say, an emotional day. THAT’S why I got into coaching XC.  Because I relate to my cousin and his team, being disappointed in missing state by four points because one of their runners bit it down the mudslide of a hill before the mile mark.  Because I am motivated myself to stick with my sport after watching my nephew Matt persevere through years of hard work and pain to now finally take that spot to State that he has earned.  The example of humility that he sets, congratulating other competitors and teammates, and stopping to take a picture with an admiring little cousin of his own in my daughter.  (I was dead serious today when I said this might be her in 14 years.)
And, when I hear my daughter explain to me that when she raced (a kids mile fun run at our Conference meet)…

“I never quit, Mommy.  I never stopped.  I never gave up.”

Lots of full circles.

THAT’S why I love Cross Country.  For whatever reason, all roads lead me back to the sport that has taught me the most about life.  And it’s my hope, that I can pass that on…that I can plant that seed…

Like my Daddy always told me…

“Megan, Just Run.”

Check.

Happy State Bound Cross Country Running!

Megs

Dinosaur in the Laundry.

There is a reason I start my day like this.

The peaceful beginning to my day.

Ah, having toddlers.  When the world reminds you that even dumping the laundry basket into the washing machine is no longer a luxury you have in life, evident by the dinosaur that I discovered in my daughter’s hamper tonight.  At least, I now know to check before listening to it mysteriously clunk through the laundry cycle.  I’m glad I caught on to the ‘toys in my hamper’ trend before it turned into ‘dirty diapers in my hamper.’  What would have happened if I hadn’t found that before it expanded beyond capacity with soapy water.  Ugh.  The horror.

Nothing is easy.

From birth on, even the things that were seemingly easy at first sneak attack you when you least expect it.  Then, they learn to move, talk, run away, and negotiate.  Hard.  Harder.  Harder still.  Hardest.

“Don’t put the dinosaur in the hamper, Lauren.  He’ll get wrecked in the washer and dryer.”

“NO!  I WILL PUT HIM IN DERE, MOMMY,” she retorts back…toddler misspoken vocab and all.

“No, you won’t,” I calmly reply.

“NO!  DON’T SAY THAT!” she tells me.

“Lauren, you’ll be so sad if your dinosaur get’s ruined…..” and then I have to check myself.
I’ve been had.  Sucked into another mind-numbing toddler negotiation.  It’s like a Jedi mind trick!  I find myself calmly and rationally trying to reason with them over the dumbest things…only to end up in a frustrating battle of wills…me trying to ‘out calm’ my child, as they jack the volume up on me.

That’s toddler life, in a nutshell.  Let’s run down just today…

This morning, my 4 year old took 2 hours to begin to get ready for school.  “Do your morning chores (which are go to the bathroom…brush your teeth, make your bed, and get dressed.  Not rocket science. ) and then I’ll turn the TV or you can play before breakfast.  Repeat three times before my morning run.  Get back…she’s in her PJ’s playing Barbies.  Nothing is done.  It took a straight half hour of nagging to get ready for her to actually get ready.  Then repeat to get her to eat breakfast.  Repeat again to put her shoes and coat on….all the while trying to coral her 2 year old sister, who acts like I’m tearing her skin off when I remove her jammies in the morning.  Goes totally limp.  No help at all.  Dressing a squirming baby was way easier than this.

We are late for pre-school 99% of the time.  Morning shenanigans.

While Brianne is in pre-school, I spend the majority of the morning trying to explain to Lauren why she can’t play with Brianne’s toys, or in Brianne’s room, when Brianne is not here.  Or, we’re running errands, which means I”m then convincing her why it’s unsafe not to sit down in the shopping cart, and choosing to stand get’s her buckled.  Screams of “NO MOM!  DON’T SAY THAT!.”

Already, at this point in the day, I question why I try to calmly break things down for them instead of just smacking their butts and moving on with my morning.  OH….then I remember why…because I HAVE GIRLS.  Really dramatic ones, and the nuclear fallout of a spank sucks up a lot more patience than calmly breaking it down…time after time after time after time.

Pre-school pick-up, I spend a lot of time explaining to Lauren why she can’t stay at Brianne’s school (not retained from drop off), and wait for her to walk down every single stair by herself without help or she freaks out and screams.  Then we spend the next half hour waiting for them to be done playing on the treacherous cement handicap ramp with the hose at the bottom in perfect place to trip over.  I hope they are this sad to leave school when they get older.  Almost always at least one kid in tears when it’s time to go.  If not mine, someone else’s.

And on it goes…it’s too exhausting even to write.  Lunchtime, my daughter wants to eat something we either don’t have or I know she won’t eat.  Her younger sister eats nothing and opts out for naptime after a couple of bites.

Naptime, the older one wants to negotiate the length of the nap…long or short?  Little rest, or big sleep?  Doesn’t matter, she’ll sit and read the whole time most days anyway, before walking out of her room in her best “I was just sound asleep” impression.

And on it goes…through the bike ride down to the beach (Lauren had some tricycle drama), playing down at the beach (Lauren had some keep-your-shoes-on drama), Cross Country practice, dinner, bath time, bed time….it’s all out one massive string of negotiations.

By the end of the day, I’m so exhausted I find myself either wanting to laugh at everything or just cry right along with

them.  “I hate disciplining!  I just don’t want to anymore!”  Wouldn’t that be nice?  Maybe lay on floor and kick my feet up in the air.  Or, when they talk back, yell “DON’T SAY THAT!”  Or, maybe we could all just have a nice laugh about it and move on.

I’m making my kids out to be terrors, but they really aren’t.  In fact, my kids are completely normal, really adorable and totally awesome…but they’re still kids.  And, they’re 2 and 4.  And, more often than not, we end up in st

itches of laughter before bed-time…all totally drained from what we’ve put each other through all day.  Just slap happy.

I’ll take it.  When you stick with someone through all of that, everyday, you form a bond for life.  And, THAT, is why all I

ever wanted to do was be a mom.  All of the sacrifices…the degree shoved in the back of my closet…the career on hold…the dreams of being a full time writer…the goals of training for a marathon…ha-or even just a 5K…selling the boat…

The gain is exponential.  Me and my girls (and Daddy and kitty, as Brianne would add…)are best buds.

Always there for each other.  Tell each other everything.  Listen to each other.

Happy Negotiating…

Megs