The Pusher.

Here we go.  Four years old, and a week out from two.  My girls have entered ‘the rivalry zone.’

“Mom!  Lo pushed me!  She just pushed me!  Mom!  Lo just pushed me again!” Brianne complains.

“Mom!  Bee…is….pushing…me…..Mom….Beeeeeeeeee…..iiiissss….ppppuussshhhhiiinggg…meeeeeeeeeee.”  Lo whines.

This is the scene all day long.  Like building up the stamina to run miles at a time, I’ve attained the ability to tune them out.  At least until 5:30pm.  My husband doesn’t get much of a chance to build up his tolerance, being at work all of the time.  He is toast after a half an hour.

“It’s my day off.  I just want to relax.” he’ll say.

“It’s my life.  I just want to relax…”  I’m thinking…probably out loud.

It’s hard for me to believe that Lauren has already caught up to the age that Brianne was when she was born.  Brianne, along the way, has been impatient to wait for her little sister to be able to keep up with her.  Little sister is always ‘too slow,’ or ‘too wiggly to read books,’ or ‘too whiny….’  If Lauren could have talked along the way until now, she would have been complaining about how her big sister is ‘too bossy,’ or ‘too pushy,’ or ‘won’t share her toys with me…’

I remember telling Bri, like every other mom tells their older kids, “you had better learn to share now…pretty soon you’ll want to play with your sister’s toys and she won’t let you.” Or, the classic…

“Just wait until your little sister hits you back…see how you like it.”

Brianne, hurt feelings and in tears, after Lo hauls off and pushes her for no reason at all accept to start drama, is experiencing her first “I told you so” moment.

And, like many other parents grasping to get the reciprocity point across, I say….

“Now, how does that feel?  Not so good, does it?  Don’t hit…either of you.”

(And that is my first, ‘omg I’m turning into my mother’ moment.)

I knew they would start squabbling sooner or later, but I really figured that Brianne would be the instigator of the two of them.  She’s not at all.  More times than not, she’s the victim.  Lo will determinedly march into big sister’s room, grab whatever toy she’s playing with out of Brianne’s hand, and take off running.  I can hear the chase down the hall until she’s been caught, and the toy has been taken back.  Then little sister runs to me….

“Mom!  Bee took that from me!  It’s mine!”

Lauren hits, pushes, and flat out screams in her sister’s face all day long.  Tug of war over toys, stealing each others snacks…it’s relentless.  So strange, because they love the crap out of each other!

When they wake up in the morning, or from naps, the first thing they do is look for each other.  When I make one of them cry, the other one is mad at me for it.  When other little kids are around, they look out for each other, and include each other.  Now, I’m not sure how long that will last….they’ll probably swap getting along at home for sharing friends…but it’s at least we have some balance.

All of the sudden, my two little girls are playing in the kiddie pool in the backyard, watering the roots of a friendship that will last for the rest of their lives.  In some ways I feel they’ve figured out more about being friends than some adults.  Maybe, being sisters, they learn to get over their squabbles quickly or they’ll have no one else to play with.  They have unconditional love for each other.  It’s sweet.  I hope they never grow out of it.

Happy Sibling Rivalry…




Aware that I say it over and over, I’m still going to say it again.  My kids remind me that the small stuff is the best stuff.  Most recent reminder?  The Butterfly House on Mackinac Island.

I truly expected it to be some ‘Chevy Chase Ball of Twine’ stop to kill time while the horses pulling us along on our carriage tour rested.  Instead, I was as filled with fascination as my kids were.  Apparently, it’s ‘good luck’ if a butterfly lands on you.  Flitting and fleeting all around us, my little girls smiles were as huge as I’ve seen them as they danced around with the butterflies.

Brianne, 4, was in awe of the girl that worked at the Butterfly House.  She had a huge butterfly tucked just inside her shirt…’napping’, as she explained to my curious toddler.  She taught her how to put her hand out so they’d crawl on for a ride, and put some in her hands so that she could hold them.  In true toddler fashion, Bri spent the rest of the time chasing the butterflies out of every plant and hiding spot possible trying to get them to leap onto her tiny hand, becoming frustrated that they didn’t want to leave their dinner as she shoved her hand in their face.

All the while, my two year old, Lo, is absolutely freaking out.  I witnessed her follow one butterfly around until she made herself dizzy and lost sight of it.  “Aaaaaaa-wwwwww!  Where butterfly go?”

She is at that age where everything simply amazes her, and butterflies took her over the top.

“Butterflies, MOM!!!!!  Butterflies, MOM!  Butterflies, DAD!  Butterflies, BEE (Bri)!” she exclaimed over and over again.

Hundreds of butterflies, beautifully wafting through the air, spreading their magical ‘landing luck’ upon us.  Luck, to me, is more of a direct blessing, and I truly did feel blessed.  Right in that moment.  Coincidentally, we were the only ones in the little greenhouse at the time.  It felt like God, Himself, just pulled our little family aside for a moment…snapped us out of our rush to see and do it all on vacation…and allowed us a brief moment of sanctuary.

On the way out, Brianne got some mini butterflies in the gift shop.  The largest one has made a home tucked just inside her shirt, ‘napping.’  Amazing how the little moments, short in time and scope, are often the ones that produce the largest impact.  Toddlers are especially in tune with these moments because they are often on their level, and aren’t afraid to express exactly how it’s affected them.  That’s why I’ll keep repeating….over and over…how thankful I am that the small stuff is the best stuff.

Happy Butterfly Chasing…


It’s Taking Too Long!

Toddlers take to long car rides like they do naptime.  Sometimes they go right along with it, and I feel that I can, in fact, hear their inner-monalogue saying, “Yes, I really am tired, Mommy…thank you so much for laying me down to sleep.”  Other days, it’s a 10 minute meltdown of screaming until they fall dead asleep in between sobs.  Although there’s no way to be sure what kind of attitude I’m going to deal with at naptime each day, one thing is assured…there will be naptime.  For Mommy’s sanity and everyone else’s…naptime or bust.

Long car rides are the same way.  There’s inevitably going to be one in order to get to ‘vacation.’  Which, for us, is 5 to 6 hours North on the Upper West Coast of Michigan.  Sometimes they handle it well, watching movies, reading books, and sleeping all the way there.  Other times, I spend more time turned around dishing out snacks and orders than I do buckled up.

It may or may not help that in our house, we build up vacations long before they actually roll around.  Vacation Dance included.  (yep, we have one.)  So when it comes time to get in the car and literally go on vacation, everyone is wired.  The most recent journey?  Our trek “Up North” to Charlevoix to celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary.  Capped off by a boat ride over to Mackinac Island, where we got married…and just so happens to be a ball for the kids (must have something to do with no cars allowed…only horses…), so we decided to take them along with us.

This year, my four year old had us questioning that decision very early on in the drive.  She is starting to put the pieces together on how long it takes to get there.  The first, “MOM…this is taking too long,” coming out of her mouth when we hit Toledo.

My younger daughter, just shy of 2, caught up on half a lifetime’s worth of sleep on the drive.  But not Brianne.  We woke her up at 4:30 am to leave, and she closed her eyes for a max of 20 minutes the entire way there.  As round two of “MOM.  THIS IS TAKING TOO LOOOOONNNNGGGGG!!!” kicked in around Ann Arbor, I could almost hear my Dad laughing the ‘payback’ laugh.

The car ride ‘favorite.’

When we finally got to Charlevoix, Brianne was so tired she couldn’t even react in excitement upon our arrival.  Down on sleep on top of a long car ride equals a very whiny 4 year old.  Having no sympathy for her was her younger sister, Lo, who was wired on sleep.  A little push here, swipe a toy here, pull a little hair there….


I literally saw Lo push her with the force of a feather and send Brianne into a tearful meltdown…

“Mom…Lauren just very hurt my feelings when she pushed-ed me like that….it just very hurt my feelings……” she whimpered.

Thankfully, my husband is a living trip ticket, and always has something on the ‘to-do’ list to rescue everyone’s mood.  After driving through hours of rain and 17 million “THIS IS TAKING TOO LONG’S,” we were hiking through the woods and onto some hidden sand dunes off the coast of the beautifully blue Lake Michigan…under sunny skies.

Vacation Day 2:  4 year old trembling with a fever.  One minute she’s smiling in her star sun glasses at the Memorial Day Parade, the next she’s trembling in 90 degree weather.  Isn’t that just family vacationing?   I sent Daddy to the beach with #2.  Three hours later, after napping and a cold towel rotation via Mom, she was up and demanding to go to the beach and swing on her favorite swing.

Clearly still a little out of it (she refused to take her tennis shoes off on the beach), she had me push her on that swing for a long time.

“Thank you for pushing me on my favorite swing, Mommy.  That’s all I wanted to do the whole time, is just swing on my favorite swing.  I just very love this swing, Mommy.”

Shortly after, she was sacked out in her beach chair.

Hey, I’d rather be dealing with a sick, whiny toddler in Charlevoix, MI than in Huron, OH.

On Mackinac Island the last day, Brianne walked all the way up an enormous hill to the Grand Hotel all by herself.  Not realizing what a big deal it was until we made it one, she insisted on taking little sister’s seat in the stroller the rest of the day.  But in between complaints, impatience, and belly aches, we had a blast.  Brunch at the 125 year old Grand Hotel, historical carriage ride, butterfly house, fudge samples, and of course…souvenir toy shopping.

Vacation is vacation.  Whether the slightly tragic and maddening moments or the calm ones in between, these are the moments that will bond us together for life.  They are the stories we will tell around the table at holidays, and to embarrass the girls when they are older. ( No, I would never do that…bah ha ha.)

I wouldn’t trade it.  Not the whining in the car, not the overtired toddler, getting sick on the nicest beach day of vacation, demanding to be carried very long distances…  Soon, they’ll be grown up and gone, and I won’t be able to put cold towels on their heads when they are sick…or pick them up and carry them when their feet are tired.  Every moment with them is a gift.

Leaving to come home, while Lauren waved bye-bye to the lighthouse, Brianne’s little eyes welled up with tears.  “Can we just stay here just one more day, Mommy?  Just one more day?”

With tears in my own eyes, I conquer.  Through all the madness that is family vacationing, there are such magical bonds formed by the tests we endure together.  Times of enchanting laughter that glues us closer together.

Even my 4 year old knows that although it seems to take too long to get there (Charlevoix), it goes by way too fast.

Happy Long Car Rides!


The Ear Muffs

Ah, summer mornings.  When I can open up the back door and let the kids out…for as long as they’ll stay out.  But, every summer, they have to re-adjust to the unexpected mass of bugs that jump out of the grass to greet them as they run around.

“Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!   MOM!!!!  BEES!  EVERYWHERE!  GROSS!  EW! MOM!!!!”

Living by the lake has mostly advantages, but there are a few pesky things I could do without.


We have bug seasons here.  Mayflies, Muffleheads, Canadian Soldiers, Noseums…They have many names…but no matter what you call them one thing is clear.  They are annoying, and they are everywhere.  Just like the ‘summer people’ who show up in droves and forget how to drive.  (Funny, they can all find their horns, though…)

First are the Muffleheads…and I’m just going to call them what I’ve always called them even though it may not be their real name.  They gather in massive clouds around the lights at night, and swarm the grass and bushes in the morning.  They leave green spots on cars, boats, houses…anything you leave out at night.  I sympathize with my kids on this one.  I run through swarms of them in the morning, occasionally getting blasted in the back of the throat with one.  It’s tough to know whether to try to cough it up, or just swallow it and be done with it.  Gotta stick to dark pants while they’re in season, because there’s no way to avoid sitting on one.

In between bug rounds the spiders are slowly beginning to take over.  If we don’t have a professional come out and spray a few times a summer, the front door with be covered with webs by mid-June. Even with applied chemicals, anything left out in the back yard  has to be hosed off each day before the kids will go near it.  Again…can’t blame them.

After the Muffleheads come the Mayflies…or Canadian Soldiers?  I get them confused.   But, they get so bad around here they have to be shoveled off the streets in places.  Especially on the islands.  You can’t miss them, because they freeze in place when the sun comes up, wings sticking out flapping in the breeze.  Although they make for easy fishing bait, it’s nasty to hear bugs ‘POP’ under your shoes when stepped on.

Like anything, the kids become numb to the bugs after a while, and start giggling when the Muffleheads land on their arms, and quite enjoy ‘popping’ the Canadian Soldiers under their shoes.

“Mom!” Brianne laughs…” there’s an Ear Muff on my swing! ha ha ha ha!”


It’s really a mass of bugs at the lakeshore.  Biting flies, mosquitoes…all kids of stuff.

However, small price to pay to live by the beach.  And, have a constant laugh watching my girls react to constant battering of insects.  If you come up to the lake to vacation?  Buy sunscreen with bug repellent.  I can sell you some real cheap if you can’t find it.  lol.

Happy Bug Seasons!


Ocean Motion.

Parenting is full of full circle moments.  Watching my daughter ride ‘Ocean Motion’ at Cedar Point for the first time with her hands straight up in the air is now added to my log full of those moments.

It just doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was on my first ‘Ocean Motion’ ride, totally freaked out…and definitely not sticking my hands straight up in the air.  As CP Marina people, my family and I would go to the church services inside Hotel Breakers every Sunday…and on the way back to the marina, we would all ride ‘Ocean Motion.’  AND the potato sack racing slides…but Planet Snoopy now sits where that ride once was.

Brianne and her Daddy on Ocean Motion

Lots of people call my 4- year old my ‘mimi-me,’ and to a certain extent, that’s true.  She looks exactly like I did at that age, and she’s very loud, dramatic, head-strong, and …. well, hilarious.  Her giggle attacks make me flash back to childhood in a snap.  But, one thing that sets us a part is her courage.  She doesn’t over-think or over-analyze things…she’s just simply not afraid.

Except for the occasional bad dream, which Grandpa takes away with ‘Grandpa Magic,’ she’s an extremely brave and strong little kid.  Just as soon as she is tall enough to ride a bigger Cedar Point ride, she’s in line…on the ride…hands straight up in the air.  Which is why, now that she has just cleared the height requirement for ‘Ocean Motion…’ we’ll be riding it a lot this summer.

“Mom…don’t hold on to me…mom-don’t even touch me…I’m fine.  MOM!  Am I tall enough to ride this by myself yet?”

She is so little in that big ride, I can’t help but want to hold onto her in fear that she’ll fall out!  Take her back to Jr. Gemini and let her ride that 10 more times in a row.  (I’m not exaggerating…it was actually 11 times in a row last trip in the park.  Only got off when they had to let someone else on the ride…)  Kiddie rides?  That’s getting to be too boring for her, now.

It’s all happening so fast.  And, as I watch her ride the little kid rides with her little sister…I’m struck by how little ‘little-time’ I have left with Bri.  And the ‘little-time’ I have left with Lo will go even faster, because she’s right on Brianne’s heals trying to do everything her hero, ‘Bee,’ does.

Ocean Motion.

Who would’ve ever thought it’d become a reminder to soak in every moment I get to stand outside the gate and watch my little girls have fun on rides.  Before I know it, they’ll be dragging me on rides I’m terrified of.  For now, I just get to sit back and relax…sip my coffee and let them argue over who’s going to beep the horn or ride in front.

Happy Thrill Rides…