The Last Day

Summer.  As it comes to a close, we celebrate the ‘last’ of everything.  The last day that Cedar Point is open during the week.  The last day for Soak City until next summer.  The last hot day.  The last morning XC practice.  The last Summer Shandy (which apparently was on everyone else’s mind this past Labor Day weekend, too…because there was none to be found in Huron or Sandusky.).  The last summer festival.  The last day before school starts.  The last haircut of the summer, to get rid of all the damage the chlorine and sun have done all summer long.

Growing up, my family had a boat on Lake Erie.  We kept it at Cedar Point Marina.  That was the hardest ‘last’ for me.  The last Sunday night that we pulled out of the marina, saying goodbye to the boat as it was pulled from the water for the winter.  I vividly remember gazing out the window of our van as we drove off.  The rides were quiet, the air was chilly, the docks were emptying out.   The lump that welled up in my throat, and the warm tears that streamed down my face, signified my first experience in letting go.  There’s something about the lake that crept into my heart and set up camp when I was little…and it’s no wonder why I am about to move to where I no longer even have to walk down the street to see it…rather gaze out my front porch.  Just knowing it’s there makes my day an automatic thumbs up.

So why do I have that same lump in my throat?  Why are the warm tears beginning to stream down my cheeks?  I no longer have to say good-bye to the lake for the winter.  No.  Now, I have to say good-bye to something that means much more to me than that.  Something that has not only set up camp in  my heart…but, rather, taken over it.  The last day of summer means the last day with my daughter, Brianne.  It’s back to school, for her, this week.  And, I have to tell you, even though it’s just pre-school, our time a part each weekday is a little bit longer every year…and it’s a little bit harder for me to say good-bye to her on that first day each fall.

This year, I lose my ‘toddler life’ schedule.  The one that allows me to pick up and go to the zoo on a weekday when everyone else is in school.  Or, hole up inside on those gloomy rainy fall days…or snowy winter cold ones.  Brianne will go to school now Monday through Friday morning.  My heart is breaking because I know this is only preparation to let go of her for all-day-Kindergarten next year.  And, I don’t like to let go of her.  As much as I trust that she’s in God’s hands…it’s so bittersweet to kiss her good-bye as she happily skips in to class to play with her friends.

Much like there are few words to describe the way I fell in love with my children before I could even feel them move in my pregnant belly…there are few words to describe how it feels on the last day.  Not just on the last day of summer, but in those moments when I know I’m witnessing the last time.  The last time she rode her tricycle before we gave her a big girl bike for her birthday.  The last time she played in Choo Choo Lagoons at Soak City…trading it in for water slides and deep water pools.  The last time I had to help her get dressed, or dry off after tub time…the last time she played with her favorite farm animal toy she loved so much as a baby and toddler…the last time she needed a glass of warm milk before bedtime…the last time she needed to stop for a break when out running a mile with me…

Although I’m surrounded by ‘first times’ that are equally thrilling as the ‘last times’ are sad, watching Brianne grow up is so bittersweet.  I look at my cousin, who I held as a baby, who’s in 8th grade now…or my nephew, who I remember watching run in junior high…18 and a senior in high school this year…I know my turn is coming.  I know that letting go isn’t going to get any easier as each fall approaches.  And, I’ve come to grips with the fact that I’ll be emotional each fall as I kiss her goodbye that first day of school.  It’s true, what all mom’s say…”if I could only find a way to freeze time…”

All of the work I do as a parent to try to be the best example for my girls…all the praying I do that they will lead healthy and happy lives…all the reflecting I do on the fun we’ve had….the rushing around to fit in the experiences I don’t want them to miss out on….the life I cram full of life lessons, chore charts, coaching, volunteering, play dates, grocery runs, library story times, cross country meets, dance class, Cedar Point…it’s a busy life, but a happy life.

“Mom, can we please have a girls night tonight?  Can we please, please, please….pretty please…have a girls night tonight?  Just me and you and Lo, Mommy?”Brianne asks.

It’s music to my ears.

“Absolutely,” I tell her.  Every time.  And, I drop what I’m doing.  Because any day could be ‘the last’ time she asks.

Do you know what else is hard to put into words?
How proud I am of Brianne.  And how thankful I am that, as hard as I try to be a good mom, I’m never alone in my efforts.

High five, God.  High five.

Happy Back to School…



Run, ABC.  As I was looking to create the most adorable team shirts for my little girls to wear to our first XC meet, I stumbled upon the iron-on and couldn’t resist. ( Bonus for the props to RUN DMC…whom I actually listened to when they were really cool the first time.)

I have to admit, the shirts came out even better than I expected.  And then I realized, it’s really an appropriate theme to my life right now….literally and figuratively.  My children are learning at light speed…Brianne to write her alphabet and Lauren to recognize them via flashcards.  Little Lo is full f ledge communicating now, and Brianne is ‘writing’ me notes.  Love.

Being an official Assistant XC Coach this year, I feel I’m learning the ABC’s of coaching beginning runners the ABC’s of how to run. So far, I’ve learned that instilling the same discipline techniques on them as I do my toddlers works 90% of the time.  Even counting to 3.  I’m serious.  Instill that one.  Don’t think about it…just do it.

The head XC Coach is due to be a mommy mid-season.  My good friend and running buddy, I got into baby celebration madness this summer…digging out tiny little onesies…having a XC pep rally to celebrate and helping out on the official baby shower.  So excited for my friend to experience the joy I feel every day from my kids…I started to reflect on how fast the time is running by me…even though I try to pay attention.

I read the smartest and best advice in a parents magazine the other day.  A mom was reflecting on the 2 hours a day she spent shuttling her kids around, and simply vowed not to stress out about it…but to embrace every opportunity she had to not only be with her kid in the same car…but witnessing them participate in something they were passionate about.

Really cool mom.

You can learn a lot from other moms if you check your ego at the door.

I feel God answers my prayers through them…a lot.

Today, as my kids ran beside me cheering…me pushing an empty double jog stroller which I feel made it’s last meet today…I found myself overwhelmed with emotion.  These brilliant, beautiful, determined little girls…ran all over the course today to cheer for our team…Lauren literally climbing out of the stroller at times to run up and yell beside Brianne and I.  Right down to the last runner in.

The joy of running.  It’s been such a gift to my life, and to see it trickle down to my girls is unbelievably cool.  Because I know running.  And I know that it teaches you to embrace what your passionate about and stick with it to the end.  Through the bumps, the injuries, the bad races…  They may not always run…but I know they’ll never give up.  (And if they do run…we’ll be State Champs in 10-12 years or so…and I’ll be watching my kid run for Oregon…hey, parents can dream big, too…)


I think I”ll stick with that for a while.

Happy XC Season!!  Yay!!


I’m Sorry.

This one is for my friend, Heather, who is going through the same challenges with her beautiful 4 year old daughter as I am with mine.  Seeing the teenage years flash before our eyes, we are clutching dearly onto the innocent moments of childhood…their childhood.

The older mine gets, the more stubborn she becomes.  Digs her feet it, as I like to say.  Especially when it comes to apologizing.  Why is it so hard for a 4 year old to say, “I’m sorry?”  It’s like, kid, all you have to do is say a quick “I’m sorry” and your totally off the hook.  Hug it out, milk some cuteness out of it, and there will be no time outs.  But every time, my kid refuses to take the bait.  She senses it’s too easy. Afraid that after the ‘I’m sorry’ is delivered there will be more extreme ramifications.

It’s especially aggravating for me, because my daughter get’s a lot of practice at apologizing.  She has a little sister.  And, although they are besties for life, they argue a lot.  Some deserved, some accidental, but they get into pickles that require an apology at least 20 times a day.  So, when they not only refuse to apologize to each other, but to their other friends as well, it makes me want to pull my hair out.

Forced “I’m sorry” hug # 94 of the day…

There’s no way to convey to another parent the amount of work that I’ve put into teaching my kids good manners.  And when they refuse to display them in public it makes my blood boil…and, it’s flat out embarrassing.  The only relief I get is witnessing another parent deal with the same situation that I deal with 20 times a day.  Even better, when I hear the same words I say come out of that other parent’s mouth.  It’s instant comfort.  Like. omg…I am not alone.  My kid is not a terror, and I’m not a terrible parent.  Silent thank you upwards…

Happy Apologizing…


Stinky Water

Summertime is awesome, especially by…and in…the water.  Lucky to grow up submerged in the life experiences of a Lake Erie boater, and now a resident of a Lake Erie lake town…I have to say it’s a tough life to beat.  Splashing into the lake  is an easy trade for sweating it out on land.

With temps in the 90’s this summer, there’s no other place to be than out on or swimming in…the water.  My kids are loving it.  Brianne has mustered up the courage to hold her nose and go under water, and Lauren is happy to hydrate herself by lake water, alone.  Kind of gross, even when there isn’t a looming algae bloom.

This year, I finally feel comfortable enough juggling 2 toddlers to venture down the rocks to the beach at the end of our street to take the girls swimming.  It’s rocky bottom, but it’s crystal clear because of it on warm days.  The green slimy algae showed up a month or so ago, and on days when the water’s just recently been kicked up, it’s everywhere.  Mmmmm…nothing like the smell of seaweed cooking on the beach in 90 degree heat.

“Stinky,” my little 2 year old observed.

Yes, stinky.  Seemingly too much even for the fish lying done-so on the beach surrounded by it.  Usually when we can see green crap rolling in with the waves, we turn around.  ‘Stinky Water’ days.

In the age of water quality paranoia, I know have an app on my phone that tells me where it’s OK to swim each day.  Either that, or Lo will give me a ‘Stinky Water’ report.  Unfortunately, that one’s not as accurate.  I may have driven home the point a little to efficiently.

Lake Erie is shallow a shallow lake to begin with.  But, where the beaches are sandy or mucky, it turns brown when the water is kicked up.  Lo has that classified under ‘Stinky Water.’  It’s a little bit of a problem…because we swim at sandy beaches a lot…all summer long.  And there’s been a lot of ‘Stinky Water.’

After a trip to the North Side of Kelley’s to swim where it’s crystal clear…I thought we had it licked.  Lo swam and swam and swam…until we got to the sandy part of the beach.  No part of her body touching the sand at all…gripped to me so tightly I didn’t need to hold on to her.  Swimming back to the boat…fine.

Later that afternoon, we set her in the water in a different spot.  Sandy beach…’Stinky Water.’  It was so hot, and she had so much fun swimming earlier, she forgot about it and begged to splash in.

“This is fun!  I”m swimming!!!” little Lo happily screeched as she bobbed up and down in her life jacket.

Problem solved.


Sudden shriek of terror.  Problem not solved.

Assuming she had swallowed too big of a gulp on the last wave that passed, I took her up to the beach to play, and she flipped out all over again.  Now, it was no beach and no ‘Stinky Water’ at all.


There went my older one.  It was obvious something had brushed up against her leg as she was testing her swimming skills around the anchor line.  Easy explanation.  Right?  Good enough for her…off she swam.

“I just got bit by a fish again!” our friend exclaimed…followed by another friend…”Oh, yeah, they’re biting today if you stand in one spot too long.”

Seriously.  As if we don’t have enough ‘Stinky Water’ drama.  The fish are biting?  What on earth…

“Papa!  I swimmin’ and fishy bit me-ouch! Stinky Water!” Lo animated to Grandpa later on…

Swimmin’ like a little fish 🙂


Needless to say, it took half a day of trying to dip her in as she kept her feet out of the water before she gave in to the hot temps and started having a blast in the water again on the 4th of July.  There’s just one thing I don’t quite understand about Lo’s theory.  If it’s too ‘Stinky’ to swim in, how is it not too ‘Stinky’ to bend over…without any other part of her body touching the water, mind you…to take a drink?

Happy Water Testing!


Birthday Poo

Ahhh, the sweet smell of 2.  In the first 12 hours of being 2 years old, my daughter Lo tried to eat my razor (which I hide behind shampoo bottles that apparently she can now reach-luckily no damage to the child…), and covered herself in poo.

I get carried away for my kids birthdays….on purpose.  It’s a celebration all around.  I love remembering the day they were born, and celebrating the year they’ve had.  Each year, the parties get more and more elaborate and creative as I get more experienced at throwing them.

Party day is crunch time.  I wake up early, and let myself go into a creative tornado…finishing projects on the list and creating others that never before existed.  For Lauren’s 2nd Birthday, I started a few days early.  So, when party day came, there was no distracting me from party set-up zone.

Lucky for me, Lauren decided to take an early nap and Brianne was taking full advantage of the amount of TV she’s not normally allowed to watch.  I got to prepare without being bothered.  Streamers, dog bone cut outs, Snoopy’s House…if you haven’t read a couple blogs back you should go check out the pictures from my daughter’s Snoopy Party.  A visual on my madness.

Half hour before the party started, I went to wake up the birthday girl.  As I got closer to her room I picked up on a different kind of cry.  No.  I knew that cry.  Crap.

I did not feel like changing a poopy diaper right before everyone showed up.  Since Lauren had been taking it upon herself to potty train, I hadn’t had to change one in a while, either.

I opened her door to be hit with the stinkiest wave of poo air I have ever been smacked in the face with. What did I feed her this morning…yesterday…oh, no.

There she was.  Sitting on her big girl Tinkerbell bed with a frightened look on her face and poo all over her hands….legs..belly…I stopped checking there and headed straight for the tub.  Poor Lo.  She hates poo.  She looks at it in the toilet and tells me, “that is so disgusting mom.”

Rinsing her off in the tub, I noticed that she’d been at this for quite a while.  It wasn’t coming off!  The poop was stuck to her skin!  Sacrificing a loofah overloaded with way too much soap, it took some serious scrubbing to get it all off.  She’d made an attempt to scratch it back off…apparent from the poo lodged underneath her nails that I then had to clip.

So much for the birthday outfit I picked out.

“Lady bug dress, Mamma!”  she cried as we went to her room to get clean clothes.  She had asked me to wear it that morning, but I said no and put something else on.  Funny how she won that battle, I thought.

Instead of sitting down to enjoy all the hard work I’d done, I was vacuuming poop off of my daughter’s comforter, and saturating it with Lysol.  Only other moms will appreciate this…but thank God is was a crumbly poop and not a smeary one.  Whew.

The party goes on, and it was a blast.  I’m a little thankful for the distraction, actually, because it’s been hard to realize that my little baby is 2.  As I watched her face light up as everyone sang her ‘Happy Birthday’ around her ‘Snoopy Cake,’ sitting there with a smile on her face in her favorite ladybug dress, I wished I could stop time.  Stop her from growing up one more minute.  I love her so much.

I knew God’s love before my kids.  But they cement it.  Remind me of it.  Over and over again.  How great it is.  What a gift it is.

Happy Pre-Party catastrophe’s…