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My Favorite Things

  • Naptime
  • Caffeine in various forms
  • Italy
  • The Beach
  • Family camping trips
  • The gym
  • Storytime at the Library
  • Rachael Ray
  • Running

Monday, May 5, 2014

I Just Wish I Could Be With You All the Time

I sniffled and surreptiously wiped away tears last night,not for the first time that day. "Are you crying?" my husband asked. I shook my head no, determined not to let him know that Toy Story 3 had again reminded me of sending Captain Destructo to kindergarten.

Have you seen Toy Story 3 yet? If not I'll summarize it for you. Stupid Andy grows up and leaves his sweet, beloved mother behind while he goes off to college (it's possible that other things happen involving the toys but that was my takeaway). At the end of the movie, Andy and his mom walk into his empty room and look around. "Oh, Andy," his mom says, crying "I just wish I could be with you all the time."

That line pretty much sums up my feelings on the upcoming school year, when Captain Destructo will officially not be with me all the time and will go to kindergarten. The state of Texas hates mothers and so insists that 5 year olds attend full day kindergarten. I have tried everything I can think of to avoid this. Just this past week, I was determined to homeschool her to avoid sending her away. I have considered keeping her home an extra year. I have hoped that we would move to another state that allows part time kindergarten. If there was a way to avoid this that didn't involve wrapping her in 5 year old size Baby Bjorn and carrying her with me everywhere I go I have researched it.

In case you wondered, yes, I do realize I am being overly dramatic about kindergarten. Friends, I was a public school teacher. I used to laugh at parents like me, back when I was a cocky 23 year old with no children of my own. As a teacher, I saw how happy the students were in school and how much fun they had. In my 4 years of teaching, I think maybe once or twice did a kid cry that they missed their moms. Yet I still can't wrap my brain around MY daughter being in school 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. My list of fears includes, but is not limited to, the following:
-what if someone is mean to her?
-what if she gets lost trying to find her classroom?
-what if she can't get her yogurt open at lunch and no one helps her?
-what if she is sad or sick and misses me and I'm not there to make her feel better?

And then there are other, bigger fears too big to be named that I'm sure every other parent has had to think of, given recent events in schools in our country.

I'm trying to focus on positives, such as spending more one on one time with New Baby (who is actually 3 and not a baby). It's occurring to me that she may need some attention. She may or may not be still potty training. And it's possible that she needs to work on some skills that I mastered with Captain Destructo....New Baby counted yesterday and it went like this: "1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 10, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1." Oops. And as my husband pointed out while staring at disgust at the dust accumulated on the fan blades, I'll "have more time to clean next year."

So help me. Have you sent your kids to kindergarten? Were they ok? Were you ok? How did everyone cope?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

5 Year Parenting Anniversary

Captain Destructo turned 5 a few days ago. FIVE. She's technically no longer a preschooler, yet not yet an elementary schooler (and thankfully not yet a tween, which is the time when I will be hiding in my bedroom and rocking myself). Actually, she's not really Captain Destructo anymore. She hasn't destroyed much of anything in the past few years, and has turned into a sweet, people-pleasing, princess-loving little girl. In between all my thoughts of "ohmygoodness, my baby is growing up and is going to leave me and get eaten up by the cruel, cruel world," I've had many thoughts about the past 5 years and how they have changed me. I've learned many, many painful lessons. Here are a few highlights.

1. No one cares.
Were you breastfed or bottle fed? Did you eat only organic food? Watch more than 30 minutes of TV a day? Potty trained by 2? Rear facing in your car seat? Yeah, I don't know either. (Actually, it turns out that I was not potty trained until I was 4. Had to ask my mom. Suddenly felt much better about not being able to get New Baby to sit on the potty for more than a second.) And you know what else? It doesn't matter. Seriously, most of the stuff I am stressing about-the teeny tiny details of how to get through the days-will not make a lick of difference in 10 years. It will matter if I teach my kids to love Jesus and to love and respect others, and not much else will. The college applications they will eventually fill out will not have boxes where you can check breastfed or not.

2. But also everyone cares.
I learned on day 2 of being a mother that children make you open to continuous public scrutiny. I was at Target, sleeping on my feet while shopping for such exotic items as milk and bread, and wearing my adorable, teeny tiny baby in a sling. A woman walked up to me and I smiled proudly, ready to show off a sleeping Captain Destructo. Then she said "you better be careful having that tiny baby out! I work in a hospital and see sick kids all the time." Cue hysterical post-partum crying and wondering why I wasn't a good enough mother to think of that. A few months later, I was told "aww, what a cute baby! Are you breastfeeding her?" I got the side-eye for exercising when pregnant with New Baby one day, then asked how much I worked out a few weeks later. I was told not to give the baby a pacifier (yet the binky was given to her by a nurse at the hospital when she was 1 day old). I've been criticized for vaccinating, for saying "no presents please" on a birthday invitation, for not freaking out when New Baby ate Goldfish off the floor , for using cloth diapers, for using disposable diapers, for breastfeeding in public, for not breastfeeding in public. Now, 5 years in, I'm "seasoned" enough to not care what people think, but it makes me sad to think about that new mom, stuffed into her too-small fat jeans and feeling uncertain and insecure.

3. Every stupid parenting cliche is true.
I remember stumbling into a CVS with a 6 month old New Baby and a 2 year old Captain Destructo. New Baby had been up (no exaggeration) 15 times the night before. I was nursing the baby, Captain Destructo was potty training, and my arthritis was flaring so bad I could barely walk. A sweet older lady walked up to me and said "enjoy it! It goes so fast." I wanted to laugh and yell, "it goes fast?! Do you know it's 10 AM and the only thing I've done all day is sit one kid on the potty and stick the other one on and off my boob? I wish it went fast!" And yet it seems like I blinked and it's done. I have a 5 year old and an almost 3 year old. My big girl will start kindergarten next year and my time as a stay at home mom will be over soon. It's ridiculously true what they say-the days are long, but the years are short.

4. Kids like to make you look like a liar.
True story-I picked up New Baby from church a few months ago and, after swearing she wasn't potty trained, was informed she'd gone on the potty like it was nothing. Both kids climbed the Chick Fil A play tower as I was in the middle of telling other moms they were both scared of it. I bragged to a friend about Captain Destructo's good appetite as she walked up and informed me she didn't like raisins anymore. What can I say? Sometimes kids like to keep you humble, I guess.

5. But mostly I've made myself a liar.
Another true story-before kids, I rolled my eyes at people who fed their kids fast food. Do you know how many times we had Chick Fil A for lunch last week? 3. I also swore my kids wouldn't watch too much TV, and yet as I write this, mine are parked in front of Disney Channel. On the short list of things I swore I'd never do but am currently doing-feeding the kids "kid food" for dinner, using Pull Ups on my almost 3 year old, buying princess crap out the wazoo, letting both kids use a pacifier, giving New Baby chocolate milk, etc., etc. Turns out I was a bit of a judgmental b before kids. So I'm sorry if I ever gave you the side eye. I'll assume those who judged me don't have kids yet either (and I'll laugh when they do, just like others are laughing at me now. It's the motherhood circle of life).

So it's been 5 crazy, terribly hard yet terribly wonderful years. Happy birthday Captain Destructo! I'm so thankful for you and the many lessons you've taught me.

P.S. I've been around the internet the past few months. You can see me here, here and here

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tips for Surviving your Family Trip to Disney World

Two weeks ago, I finished my first marathon and then headed to Orlando for a week's trip to the happiest place on Earth. I'm still not sure which was the bigger accomplishment: the 26.2 miles or surviving the week. I'm leaning towards the latter. Now that I've had a chance to catch up on some laundry, pay an ungodly amount for a disk full of pictures, and unpack, I've been able to come up with some things I wish I would have known before heading to Disney.

1. You can make fun of Disney geeks all you want until you realize they are the ones that have it all figured out.
You know the kind of people I'm talking about, right? Maybe you are even one of them. You see them driving around town with Mickey Mouse antennas and the pictures of their family members with mouse ears. In the parks, they are wearing matching shirts with Disney characters and maybe even cute sayings like "I'm his Minnie" and "I'm her Mickey" (I actually saw those, BTW). You are super cool, so you snicker under your breath at these people. Until you realize that while you are waiting in a 90 minute line to ride It's a Small World, they are walking through a line marked "Fast Pass Plus only" and getting right on the boats. They are trading Disney pins with cast members like it's their job and pointing out Hidden Mickeys while you are standing in 85 degree weather with a 30 lb 2 year old on your head hoping to catch a glimpse of Goofy's feet in the parade. So while you may be calling them nerds, they are calling you sucker.

2. Your kids will only remember what you didn't do.
My kids are in a bit of a princess phase. The Little Mermaid is playing right now as I type this. To that end, we planned most of our days around seeing princesses. We went to not one, but two, princess dinners. We saw 4 different Cinderellas. Yet, if you asked Captain Destructo if she met the princesses, she will say "we didn't see Mulan." I heard her tell her Sunday School teacher that today and my jaw hit the floor. She looked at me and said "we have to go again and meet Mulan, right?" I started to launch into an explanation of how I really didn't think Mulan should count as a princess, and then just sighed and said "right."

3. Say goodbye to things like nutrition and discipline.
On our first morning, we jaunted down to the quick service restaurant in our hotel and I saw a little boy walking out with a Mickey Mouse-shaped waffle covered in chocolate chips, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. For breakfast. In my head, I was disgusted that anyone could consider that a meal, let alone breakfast, but somehow I found myself ordering two of them. That, however, was not quite as bad as the time we had Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwiches for lunch while waiting to ride the Toy Story ride (hey, they were sandwiches). And discipline? Ha. Be honest. If you had planned a trip to Disney for months and months, planned to have dinner at Cinderella's Castle, somehow got the stars to align in such a way that you got a reservation at Cinderella's Castle, and then your kid throws a tantrum right before dinner, are you still going to take them? Of course you are. If you're me, and you've been using Disney World as the ultimate threat for months, you're pretty much stuck. I just started playing the Santa Claus card for discipline. If there are Christmas decorations out in Target, I figured it's not too early.

4.Everyone is at least a little bit sick.
Along the same vein as discipline, if you've planned and saved for this trip for months and your kid gets sick, of course you're still going to go. There was so much sneezing, coughing, and snotty nose-blowing. We attempted to wash our hands a lot, but short of carrying a can of Lysol (which I considered) or wiping every hand rail with Clorox wipes, I don't see how you can avoid them. Sure enough, 2 days after returning, New Baby and I were down for the count with fevers. One day, while leaving a dinner show, we saw one poor little girl sprint out of a restaurant and lose her dinner all over the sidewalk. So sometimes terrible nutrition + tons of germs = disaster.

5. Sometimes the pressure of "The Happiest Place on Earth" is a little too much for everyone.
To beat the crowds at the parks, you really need to be there when the gates open, which usually means 9 AM. Everywhere in Disney takes a million years to get there, so you need to leave your hotel by 8:30 at the latest. Then you spend the day riding rides, seeing shows, meeting characters, and waiting in lots of lines. At night, there are parades, dinners, more shows and fireworks. After all this, you return to your hotels between 10 and 11. What sounds like so much fun for your kids can be completely overwhelming. And lots of times, parents have saved and planned so much that they are heartbroken when their kids don't love every single second. We met one dad who told us "we're not having such a good time. He's being a brat" while pointing to his 4 year-old. I saw one poor mom with 4 kids under 7 spend 10 minutes trying to get her 3 year old son just to get off the boat from the hotel to the Magic Kingdom. On our last day, we heard 2 people saying to their kids "I just want one good family picture! We've seen this same show 4 times! Just stop watching it and come stand in this line." (one of those people may have been me. See "good family picture" below). Bottom line? It's supposed to be fun. When you're fussing at your kid to stop crying and give Cinderella a hug, no one is having fun. We wished we would have scheduled a day to stay at the hotel, sleep and go in the pool (which we never did!).

I am so thankful for our trip. We have lots of (good and not-so-good) memories, and luckily lots of lessons for the next trip.

Monday, September 2, 2013

10 Signs You're Taking Your Trip to Disney World Too Seriously

We are in the midst of our last fall without either kid in school, and to mark the occasion, we are planning a trip to Disney World. The mouse-shaped countdown (a theme at Disney World, I've noticed) informs me that we have 40 days until check-in. What began as a laid-back, just-set-our-own-schedule-and-relax trip has begun to turn us into people with mouse ears on their car antenna. There were several signals I noticed that alerted me that we were on our way to full-out, designing matching Mickey shirts. Here's the top ten.

1. Today I actually uttered the sentence "but we can't go to the Hoop Dee Doo Revue because we have reservations at the Bippity Boppity Boutique!"

2. I am taking a toddler and a preschooler to a place that charges $59 to make them into contestants on Toddlers and Tiaras.

3. Not only that, I had to fudge the age of said toddler to get her in to the Bippity Boppity Boutique because they don't accept kids younger than 3. I can't imagine why. 2 year olds love nothing more than sitting still and getting their hair done.

4. I am getting on the plane to the Happiest Place on Earth immediately after running my first marathon (if you've run a marathon, how bad of an idea is this? On a scale of stubbed your toe on an exersaucer to just gave birth to a 10 pounder, how much pain will I be in?).

5. I agreed to have dinner on our first night there at 9:30 just so we could eat at Cinderella's castle.

6. I have called the Disney reservations line so many times that I no longer think "have a magical day" is a ridiculous way to end a conversation.

7. I have actually looked up the best questions to ask the characters so they interact with us more. I am apparently so emotionally needy I have to have people in costumes like me.

8. Captain Destructo learned map skills because we looked at the free Disney map so much that she memorized it. In case you wondered, our hotel is exactly west of the Magic Kingdom.

9. I am straight up excited that Chip and Dale will be at our hotel campfire. EXCITED. To have a campfire with 2 fake chipmunks and a bunch of over-sugared, over-tired kids.

10. I have mapped out the best ways to drink in Disney World. In case you wondered, you can "drink around the world" in Epcot. Still haven't figured out how to get the kids as excited about that as I am.

Have you been to Disney World? Any tips for a slightly neurotic first-timer with a very patient husband and 2 overly excited preschoolers?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Training for a Marathon is Basically the Same as Being a Mom

In case you haven't been lucky enough to hear me blathering on about it in real life, I am currently training for a marathon. I decided to run one because I'm batcrap crazy, well, it was time to saddle up and finally do it. I've been contemplating it for awhile, and basically now is the right time. Captain Destructo is not in school yet, everyone sleeps at night, I'm still young-ish, so it was pretty much now or never. In case you're thinking to yourself "I could never do that!" let me assure you: if you are a mom, you have pretty much already trained. Here's how.

1. You're a master of going on little to no sleep
Because I am a genius who decided to train for a marathon in South Texas in the summer, there is a very small window of time when it's not 8 million degrees outside (give or take a few degrees). Basically that window is from 4-6 AM. So if I would like to not die of heat exhaustion, I need to be on the road no later than 5:30. Once my long runs get longer, it will need to be 5:00. Apparently, children have such ridiculous demands as being fed and paid attention to no matter how tired I am. Since the ship sailed on Captain Destructo's nap a year ago, and since I actually enjoy spending a few kid-free hours with my husband after bedtime, I am not getting a lot of sleep. Fortunately, I've been in the no-sleep bootcamp known as motherhood for 4 years now. My kids are starting to look the other way when I start to doze off in the middle of Sesame Street.

2. You're used to having an insatiable appetite.
When I checked into the hospital to have Captain Destructo, I was the size of a small country. I spent most days of the third trimester eating entire loaves of Italian bread. Even that hunger didn't compare to how hungry I was when I was nursing (and still buying the La Leche League myth that breastfeeding burns off all your baby weight!). So this eat-whatever's-not-nailed-down hunger I'm feeling while training is nothing new. But here's a fun fact I just learned: lots of people gain weight while training for marathons. Totally unfair, right? So that fact is burning into my brain and keeping me from putting away the bread like the good Italian girl I am. If I'm running 50 miles a week, I at least want the abs to prove it!
Also, I have a very clear memory of sitting in my hospital bed attempting to breastfeed Captain Destructo and feeling like I was so thirsty I could literally die. My mouth felt like it was full of sand. That is pretty much how I feel all the time now

3.You're used to dealing with disgusting bodily functions.
I honestly don't even blink when I watch other runners blow snot rockets, hack up loogies, or vomit. My main thought is "wow, it's nice to not have to clean that up!" And also, I'm just going to own this: I ran a 10k last weekend and peed my pants. Twice. Whatever. One of the best things about running is no one cares what you look like. And hopefully no one is analyzing whether that's sweat or urine on your leg.

4. Eating goo-like products are an everyday occurrence.
One thing that I'm currently trying to figure out is how to handle nutrition needs on the run. One of the most popular products is called Gu. It apparently has the consistency of, well, goo. Since I've become a mother, my palate has become less and less refined. I literally just ate an animal cracker off the floor like it was no big deal. I fed 2 babies goo, and did my fair share of licking the spoon clean. No problem. The flavor of Gu I bought for this weekend is called "Espresso Love" and even has caffeine in it. I may start eating it even when I'm not training for a marathon.

5. You're used to having weird pains in places you didn't know existed.
I rocked the Charlie horses pretty hard when I was pregnant. So it was no big deal when I started getting them after running. And remember when you were pregnant and you'd get random, shooting pains in your pelvis? I just started getting them in my hip, which is starting to hurt bad enough that I am getting the pregnant lady waddle. Aching back, puffy ankles, and throbbing calves are as normal for me during marathon training as they were when I was pregnant. But luckily, I am not sporting the baby belly, and can get a massage on my stomach!

6. You've experienced the perpetual state of disbelief before.
Maybe this is just me, but I know when I first found out I was pregnant with both kids, I really couldn't believe it. It was like I was in this weird place emotionally where people were telling me I was pregnant, I could see my body changing, I'd taken a million tests, but I kept expecting someone to yell "PSYCH!" any second. That is how I am feeling right now. When I tell people I'm training for a marathon, I say it like Ron Burgundy in Anchorman when they put a question mark on the Teleprompter ("I'm running a marathon???"). I just really can't believe it. Me. Formally chubby, arthritic queen of getting cut from teams because I was too slow. Me. I expect it won't feel real until I am at the finish line. Probably crying hysterically. Which leads me to...

7. You're used to rapidly fluctuating emotions.
I should preface this by saying that I tend to be a bit emotional anyway. I cried for pretty much the entire day I found out I was pregnant with Captain Destructo, her entire labor and delivery, and probably off and on for her first month of life. Last week I watched a movie called "Spirit of the Marathon" and cried through the whole thing. (Go watch it, it's great. Also, sorry, because when you're done you will go register for a marathon.) The thought of actually finishing makes me choke up. Even the thought of finishing my first 20 miler in training makes me misty. Which is bad, because I am already so, so thirsty.

So you see, moms? You're already pretty much trained up. Join me and we can be carbed up, crying, pants-wetting messes together.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Time The Power Went Out

The power went out this afternoon. For about 2 minutes. And the events that transpired make me extremely fearful for how my family would react in an actual emergency.

We were sitting at home. The girls were watching Sesame Street while I was staring blankly in the kitchen thinking about what to make for dinner. Suddenly, Elmo's high pitched voice shut off, and the soft hum of appliances stopped.

New Baby (pointing furiously at the TV): Mommy!! Mommy!! MOMMY!!! (starts whimpering) Mommy. Elmo. (repeat over and over)

The smoke alarms begin beeping, letting us know that the power was, in fact, out.

Captain Destructo: What's that noise?! What's beeping? Something's beeping, Mom! Mom! What's beeping? BEEP! BEEP! (repeat beeping sound over and over)

Me, in my head: Oh my gosh, what do I do? The kids are looking at me like I should know what to do. Ok. Stay calm. Smile reassuringly. Um. We can go out to dinner, and then the power will be back on! Except I already took off my bra. And what if it's not back on? Ok. We can stay in a hotel? Yes. What hotel? Who else lost power? Did all of San Antonio lose power? How would I know IF I CAN'T TURN ON THE TV???

The lights come back on, the air conditioner begins humming, and all of our appliances beep back on.

Me: Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus.

Captain Destructo: (exasperated sigh) Yeah. Thank you Jesus.

So if you are a zombie, planning an apocalypse, you may as well start with my house. We'll be dead in about 2.5 seconds.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


I'll be the first to admit that I was not excited to turn thirty last year. In my eyes, the exciting part of life was over and all that was left was waiting around to hit 63 and collect retirement. I'm happy to admit that I could not have been more wrong! I am loving being in my thirties. I've made a lot of changes since my twenties. I read the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker, which punched me in the face, and then Radical, by David Platt, that finished me off with a swift kick in the knees. I highly, highly recommend both books if you've never read them. They made me realized that I was living a shallow, self-centered life instead of a people-loving, Christ-glorifying life. Not that I've got it all figured out now, but I have loved everything I've learned this year and the process of trying to apply it. I also became a certified personal training and am taking steps to work as a fitness professional. So it's been a busy year!

I am loving the phase that my kids are in too. Well, I suppose as much as anyone could love the 2 and 4 year old phase. It turned out pretty well that they were both girls (so, public, you can stop asking me if I wish I would have had a boy. Can we agree that it's bad form to comment on the children you wish you had while in front of the children you do have?) because they are both into the same thing. Generally, they play decently well together, thus allowing me to do wild and crazy things such as take a shower or clean my house. Just today, we went to the pool for a bit, and they were both able to meander independently instead of taking turns trying to drown like last year.

So the thirties are pretty fantastic! Except for a few little things that I haven't quite figured out. I'm hoping someone can offer some help with the following:

1. My skin
I was looking at a picture of me and Captain Destructo when I realized I was rocking some serious crows' feet. And smile lines. I will admit that I spent most of high school channeling my inner Daria (you will only get that reference if you are also in your thirties!) and scowling, which explains the wrinkles. So is now the time to get wrinkle cream? Because I also still have acne. Acne that is not quite as bad as pregnant me, but still too bad to go untreated. So do I also need Clearasil? Shouldn't you stop buying that when you graduate high school? What to do? Why is my skin like 3 different ages on one face?

2. Clothing selection
Here's the good thing about becoming a trainer: I can get away with workout clothes most of the time. I will also smell like a locker room most of the time, but that's a far trade off in my opinion. But what to wear the rest of the time? Can I pull off skinny jeans? Is there an age limit on these? And then what about the tops? Are tank tops in the summer ok or not ok? What about shorts? These are the questions that follow me as I wander through Old Navy. Which is why I go home, put the yoga pants back on and call it a day. But clothes, as confusing as they are, don't boggle my mind as much as...

3. Bathing suits
Bathing suits are enough to traumatize a woman of any age, but at thirty, I am starting to feel like I should question the appropriateness of certain suits. The main concern I have is this: what is the age limit on the bikini? I know Helen Mirren rocked one at 60 or whatever, but is it ok for the average woman in her thirties to wear a bikini? And if the answer is yes, are there restrictions? I own 2 suits: one bikini and one tank suit. Whenever I wear the tank to the pool, I feel like other women my age are in bikinis and I look like a school marm. When I wear the bikini (like today), I feel like the other women are in tank suits and I look like a hussy. I like the idea of the tankini, but I tend to look short and stumpy in them. So bikinis? Yay or nay? Discuss.

Like I said, in general I love, love the thirties. The insecurities and uncertainties on the twenties are over. I'm told forties are great, too, but I'm in no way emotionally prepared to think about that.

What are your thoughts? Should your style and skincare routine change in your thirties? Are you loving the thirties too?