Oct 202014

The 1-step change to finallyI love my husband a lot.  He’s a good man.  He’s a smart man.  Some of the things he says makes me want to scream. Sometimes I do scream.

You see, he has this lovely gift of practicality and perspective. God decided to skip those traits in me.  I got ginormous thighs and a bent towards being ferociously emotional instead.

Often the things that I’m most passionately frustrated over my husband eradicates with a simple sentence. This is both a gift and highly annoying.

Most recently, I’ve had my panties in a bunch over my perceived lack of hours in the day. One particular evening, channeling my inner-Caillou, I broke into a rather heated whining rant, “There is just no way I can get everything done! I am slamming out every second of the day and still can’t keep up…I can’t keep doing this.”

My husband answered easily, “Then don’t.”

The screeching as my mind did an about-face was almost audible.  Whaaa?? “What in the world do you mean?”

“Stop. God didn’t design your life to be this way, tired and stressed all the time.  There are 24 hours in a day, and if you can’t get everything done you need to in that time, you shouldn’t be doing it.”

Scary red flags of indignation started waving wildly.  How dare he? Who does he think will drop his children off at school and wash the excessive number of dishes he insists on dirtying? Would his boxer shorts start washing and folding themselves?

I huffed away. I was right, and he was wrong, of course. Certain of his cruel insensitivity to the magnitude of responsibility I shoulder each day, I thought loads of helpful thoughts, like “Typical man!” and “He will never get it!”

My thoughts weren’t wrong; he is a man, and no, he won’t get it–just as I will never fully get his work.  But, as it turns out, as I allowed my rage to chill (frantic slamming of pots and pans around the kitchen always helps), he wasn’t wrong either.

In fact, he was very right.  Right in the punch-me-in-the-gut kind of way.

Crap. Darn. Shoot. I loathe it when he’s right. I more loathe it when it’s time to revamp my way of thinking because I’ve been completely wrong.

When your husband is right @meredithspidel

For days, for months, for years even, I have been approaching each day as a beast to be tackled. Something that if I plan just a little bit more, a little bit harder, I can form it into something smoother. Maybe even easier?

Wrong. The truth is, this life is never going to quit. There will always be another task that needs to be done and another ask from someone seeking something. Whether it’s my children needing their bums wiped or the Home and School committee looking for Book Fair volunteers, it’s never going to end.

I will always have a to-do list.

It will always be long.

I won’t get it all crossed off.  As long as I’m living and engaging in life, I’ll never get it all crossed off.


So this is just the way life is.  And last I checked, there were no plans to add more hours to the day. And God is pretty darn wise; He knew what He was doing when He designed this whole ball game. 24 hours was and is the length of our day–the way it was meant to be.

Knowing that the circumstances of busyness nor daily time limitations won’t change, it appears there may be a distinct truth to my husband’s words. If the circumstances aren’t going to change, that means I have to change.

I don’t know how to make my days or my lists manageable, but I can handle waking up every day, and saying a silent prayer, “I don’t know how to do this. Let what is important get done. Help me not to panic about the rest–or at least send a sturdy paper bag my way to breathe in.”

And do you know what? When I do this, when I say this prayer, when I finally let go, the frenzy of the day dissipates.

No, my to-do list doesn’t magically shrink. There are no sweet miniature helper elves who come to my aid. Darn. But I am able to put one foot in front of the other.  And somehow the important things, the really important things manage to get done.

So that is my secret, my trick to finally, for once and for all, not allowing your to-do list to dominate your life. Let go of it. Allow a peace to prevail.

It’s a choice and you can do it–paper bag in hand if you need it ;)


First image credit: depositphotos.com, ID:21915393, copyright:gpointstudio

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, ID:49375597,copyright:Dmyrto_Z

Oct 152014

Handling Your Kids Imaginary Friends @meredithspidelFriends, I need to introduce you to someone.

His name is Luke, and he is VERY IMPORTANT.

He has become the newest member of our family.  No worries! I haven’t gotten myself knocked up again. I know, we can all exhale together now. No, Luke is the product of my daughter–her imagination, that is.

I took all my child psych classes and fully get that imaginary friends are “normal”, but it’s still a mind-bender.  A mind-bender in that my son never even came close to having one.

In that she never falters in her dedication to Luke’s reality. We reached a new level of Luke-ness last week when she wrote him notes and put them in our mailbox one evening. The next morning, as we checked the mailbox on our way back from the bus stop (as she always insists on doing), she found the notes and became convinced that he had sent her mail. There was no rationalizing; in her mind, my daughter had begun written communication with her love.

In that her brother totally accepts and almost shares the delusion:

“Isaac, I saw Luke at your school today!”

“Oh yeah, was he there?”

In that, while everyone says it’s a natural part of childhood, very few of my friends’ kids have actually had such a committed imaginary friend.

In that he is omnipresent.  We “see his house” multiple times a day–in different towns. His dad not only mows the lawn at preschool, he works at the bank as well.

In that everyone in our life knows Luke. My sitter will text me, “Just saw Luke at the grocery store!” My sister asks how Luke is doing.

In that he is an opinionated soul. “Luke does NOT want me to wear the green outfit today!”

In that she most definitively uses him to process things in her life that she is not able to otherwise process. “Luke’s grandma died. But he’s not that upset about it.”  This makes me tear up; I won’t lie. Why shouldn’t the sweet young thing find a way to process her grandma’s premature death? My own grandma died before I was born and I still ache from the unrecognized pain of that.  Go you, daughter, for figuring out a way to address the sadness.

I like to think my recollection of my education is pretty accurate (please tell me I didn’t throw thousands of dollars down the drain for nothing), but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t off in my general acceptance and appreciation of Luke.  I asked Dr. Tricia Groff to weigh in on imaginary friends:

 “Is an imaginary friend normal?”

It is common for preschool children to invent imaginary friends. The imaginary friends usually disappear during the grade school years. Rather than being a problem, the presence of imaginary friends often illustrates a child’s creativity and use of imagination. Imaginary friends provide a way for children to relate to someone their own age and/or to discuss issues that they may not be comfortable saying directly to an adult.

 “How should parents handle it?”

Rather than trying to ignore or minimize their presence, adults can use the imaginary friend to better understand the child’s thoughts and emotions.

 “When are imaginary friends a concern?”

If children have mean or angry imaginary friend, the child may be experiencing deep emotional distress which should be investigated. Similarly, parents should be concerned if the child plays with the imaginary friend at the exclusion of developing friendships with real children.

With Dr. Groff’s input and my awareness that Luke is not mean, angry, nor preventing her from real-life friendships, I feel pretty secure about his existence.  I am so thankful for her confirmation and information. Dr. Groff is one of the experts that truly get it and care, and I can fully recommend any counseling she provides.  Thank you, Dr. Groff.

All of this in mind, I am outlining some key strategies for handling imaginary friend, from the perspective of being a mom, no expertise assumed:

1) Accept. It may not be real, but your kid believes that it is. Go with it. You’ll save yourself a lot of frustration.

2) Acknowledge, but don’t encourage. It would be so easy, so many times to say, “But Luke wants you to do what Mommy is saying!” Yet, I have always had some innate awareness that Luke is her delusion, not mine. I’m not sure feeding it is wrong or right, but it is her thing. I need to allow her to develop and use it as she will.

3) Allow conversation as your child offers.  As Dr. Groff said above, imaginary friends are a tool parents can use to better understand their kids–use it as such.  If my gal wants to tell me all about Luke’s lawn-mowing dad, why not? It’s obviously something that matters to her; whether I get it or not.

4) Listen. Dude, I would be an idiot not recognize the way she uses Luke to process her own grandma’s death. I am relatively new at this parenting thing, but I have heard getting your kids to talk about their inner feelings is a beast.  This one is right there, and she’s giving it to me–I’d tune my ears into what she actually saying.

5) Don’t cry over goodbyes.  My daughter has yet to bid adeui to Luke, but there are days he doesn’t come up at all, nor does his dad drive by in the mower.  Again, this is her thing.  There are days that she may need him and there are days that she may not. I don’t get to choose when Luke shows up.

I don’t determine how my children present in this world, but I can allow them to explore it with the safe reassurance that I’m here, whatever here is–imaginary friends included.  And honestly, what they bring to the table is often pretty darn cool. Who wouldn’t want a friend who can change his hair color by the day and be in ten places at once?

Modern day super-hero? Maybe.  But for today, we’ll just call him Luke.

Image Credit: depositphotos.com, ID:4890633, copyright:gjohnstonphoto

Oct 132014

Coordinated Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids and Dogs @meredithspidelI fully enjoy most of my eccentricities.  And truth told?  I don’t have enough energy to humor the notion of change.  That I can only sleep with purple ear plugs in every single night? I am a light sleeper. Stashing chapstick in my bra? Convenient.  And my stubborn refusal to take down last year’s Christmas cards until I have time to update addresses in my book? This makes sense to me–even if they are still up and it’s October.

I like stuff the way I like it. And I like coordinated Halloween costumes.

I suppose it all started in college when my roomies and I decided to channel the Spice Girls as a group.  Yes, I’m that old.

Then I got married and we got a dog.  While this was really a bit of a dry spell, as he dressed up solo sans coordination with others (my obsession only extends to dressing others up; not myself apparently), I always made sure he embraced the holiday.  I squeezed the poor 70+ lb. pooch into an endless parade of XL costumes. This larger size was still too small for his frame, but I refused to recognize defeat and stuffed him in anyway.  Apparently the costume industry doesn’t recognize the value of turning chocolate labs into Western cowboys.  They are wrong. 

Then…then it was my year.  I had had a child.  With my infant son AND my dog at the ready, it was finally time to let my coordinated Halloween costume fascination actualize.

The first year I went tame.  Pumpkins, but still pretty cute.

Coordinated Pumpkin Halloween costumes kid and dog @meredithspidel

The second year I got a tad more creative.  A bear costume for my little guy, a bee suit for the pup, and a hand-painted honey pot for a treat basket? I could feel the momentum building!

Baby Boy dressing as bear for Halloween with Hunny Pot @meredithspidel

The dog was a bit shy this year...

The dog was a bit shy this year…

Then I got knocked up again.  While this was largely a blessing, it was a bit dicey in that my daughter wasn’t due until mid-July. Any coordinated Halloween costume-planner worth her salt knows you must start strategizing months in advance.  I decided to play it safe since I wasn’t sure of her gender: I secured matching monkey costumes in appropriate sizes well in advance for both kids.  The costumes had bananas sticking out of the pockets, so it only made sense that the dog would be well suited as a banana split.  The children, of course, rocked banana treat bags snagged on Pottery Barn clearance.

Year two of having two found us celebrating our Mickey and Minnie obsession–with the dog moonlighting as Goofy and adorable little matching treat bags found on Etsy.  (Yes, I’m crazy).

The year no one would be photographed.

The year no one would be photographed…

Dog dressed in Goofy costume for Halloween @meredithspidel

Last year was the first my husband solidly balked at my plans, “You can’t keep doing this forever. They are going to want to pick their own costumes.”  So I did it, readers–I pulled out all the stops and went for the Big One: “What if we did Luke, Leia and Darth Vader?”  His protestations immediately fell silent, very silent. It significantly helped that I had purchased the dog’s Vader costume 1/2 off the year before in the event that the Star Wars route would be necessitated.

Luke, Leia and Darth Vader Star Wars Halloween costumes @meredithspidel

It’s that the dog is so dignified…

This year, I knew I was pushing it–REALLY pushing it.  My husband is right–they are outgrowing this.  Rapidly.  I am going to have to adopt cats in bulk or something to further the cause in future years.  But surely, I could eke out just one more year? In desperation, I forewent sleep, scanning the recesses of my mind for inspiration (not really, but it’s always fun to sound a little dramatic, right?). Brilliance hit me! A win for everyone: Son–knight, Daughter–princess, Dog–dragon (okay, the dog might not be so thrilled).

Knights, Dragons, and Princesses! Oh my! @meredithspidel

So glory with me, friends.  I think this is the last one, but I’m going for it, and I’m going for it big.  Tiara and sword at the ready, we’re coming for you, Halloween 2014!

Oct 062014

A Morning in Bed @meredithspidelI remember in the early days of pregnancy reading an adorable article in one of my parenting magazines that discussed the brilliance of parents being able to sleep in. With some careful planning and some strategically placed boxes of Cheerios that kids could easily grab by themselves for breakfast, the glory could all be yours!

I thought it was a fantastic plan and eagerly looked forward to being this kind of parent–the kind of parent who wakes up fully rested on a Saturday morning.

I even told a friend with older kids about it.  Why she didn’t punch me in the face, I’ll never know.  If I could go back in time, I would punch myself in the face.

Because then I actually had kids.

And I learned.

I learned the cold, hard truth: I will never be fully rested until EVER now that I have children.  By the time they make it through the night sans hysterical fits over blankets falling off beds or imaginary monsters plaguing dreams, we will likely have moved onto early morning soccer practices or some other meet-the-sunrise fun.

It’s a doomed existence to exhaustion.

That’s cool.  I signed up for this.  Table the gorgeous Star magazines and bubble baths–I’ll catch them in retirement. Maybe.

But the thing of it remains–I miss my husband.

Surely, somehow, by some wild stretch of imagination we could eke out one prolonged morning in bed?

So we tried this past weekend.  We really did.

Our son woke up. He’s five, so we barely humored his awakeness–he’s five and can totally handle independence, right?

Our daughter woke up.  She is three.  We told her to go potty.

That took 10 seconds.  We then told her to feed the dog, who was dedicatedly working himself into hysteria as his parents were clearly neglecting him by remaining in bed an extra 4 minutes.

God knows if she actually fed him or how much she fed him.  It may have been an entire 40lb. bag. We didn’t care.  It bought us at least an extra entire full minute of cuddle time before the psychotic, neurotic dog rejoined us in the bed, rolling his 70+ lb. body on top of mine in panicked fit that we had completely forgotten his existence on this earth.

My husband yelled at the dog. My daughter insisted I help her dress in a tutu. My son wanted eggs.

It was futile.

We had tried.

We had been bested.

It was time to call it a morning and get out of bed. Maybe someday Cheerios can work their magic and Mommy and Daddy can cozy up under those sheets.  But for now?

There just ain’t no rest for the weary, friends.  No rest at all…Bottoms up with that coffee cup.

Image credit: Depositphotos.com, Image ID:24640397, Copyright:monkeybusiness

Sep 302014

Enfagrow Premium @meredithspidel @enfagrow*****I received compensation and free Enfagrow products for this post. I am grateful to them for introducing us to their product!*****

I try with my kids, I really do.  Amidst their crushes on lollipops and Hershey’s kisses, they have managed to eke out a love for fruits and veggies.  But when Enfagrow asked me to check out their newest toddler products that help young ones get proper nutrition, I was thrilled.

In the mess of all the day-to-day, we insist on those fruits and veggies, protein, calcium and daily vitamins.  But…I still worry.  I’m a mom of this generation.  A mom of infinite access to the latest and greatest information about all the supplements kids need and what is truly best for them. A mom who tries to provide optimal nutrition…but probably fails more days than not.

Would this be our solution?

Would this be our solution?

Enfagrow helps ensure young ones get DHA they need (one nutrient commonly missing from toddler’s diets–they only get about 25% of the brain-nourishing goodness that would be helpful). When I hear the facts:  “DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid and a  building block for the brain. Since 85% of brain growth happens within the first three years of a child’s life, it is important to maintain the expert recommended levels of DHA through the toddler years. It can be challenging to close this nutrition gap. Food options naturally having DHA are limited because DHA is mostly found in foods such as fatty fishes, which many toddlers don’t eat.”, I feel panicky.

Despite sneaking in vitamins and baby carrots, I know I am not fully meeting my kids’ nutritional needs. I love my kids.  I want them to have the best.  More specifically, I want them to have the best shot at their lives. Knowing that Enfagrow makes a line of toddler drinks (in both powder and ready-to-drink boxes) that helps their healthy brain development, I was eager to give them a try.  These drinks have DHA to make sure little ones get  DHA, as well as  important nutrients like calcium, vitamin D and iron for healthy growth, and a prebiotics blend designed to help support digestive health in just two servings a day.

Could I pitch these drinks to my kiddos as a new kind of milk drink?  One that they would love and that would allow Momma to relax a little, knowing that her kiddos were getting the nutrients they need?

Let’s go for it!

A win-win for everyone?  This could be very cool!

A win-win for everyone? This could be very cool!


Bottoms up to that healthy reassurance, baby!

Bottoms up to that healthy reassurance, baby!

As we hang out here, loving on our new option to our nutritional needs, grab up some brain-growing fun for yourself by winning an Enfagrow pack!   To score a Toddler Transitions Can (21oz.) and Toddler Next Step Natural Milk Flavor Can (24oz.) for yourself, leave a comment below about why you want your toddler to try Enfagrow. Make sure to check out the Enfagrow site too and chime in with your own ideas for handling tricky toddler nutrition–we can all use all the tips we can get!  Giveaway* will be open from September 1 to September 10. All entrants have to win.  One winner will be selected from all commenters on this blog post, and announced within three days of the giveaway close date of 10/17/14 at 11pm.

My family is wooed by Enfagrow, but don’t take our word for it–go check out the nutritional goodness for your own family. Here’s to the Enfagrow option!

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I received compensation and free Enfagrow for this post. Enfagrow would be happy to help you with your question. Please contact them at 1-800-BABY-123

*****I received compensation and free Enfagrow products for this post. I am grateful to them for introducing us to their product!*****

Sep 292014

Halfway there to sanity @meredithspidelI’m at a weird stage with my kids.  What stage isn’t weird, right?

They are 3 and 5. In sum total, I have four hours each week when they are both at school at the same time.  My self of two years ago would hate my current self for saying, “It almost isn’t worth it.”, because sometimes it feels four hours aren’t that big of a deal.  But that’s silly, of course it’s worth it.

Mommy feeds on time alone.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve only found myself cherishing privacy and alone time and being able to do wild things things like buy tampons without help.  In general, my work goes more smoothly when there are less juice cups to fill.

These four hours of alone time have given me a taste of sanity.  And it’s not just the time alone, to be honest.  It’s that my son has now mostly started wiping his own bum and that my kids now do adorable things like hold hands and walk around the yard together while I watch from the window.  It really is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

I am less needed, and I am sure this is part of the mothering gene I’m missing, but I’m in no way sad about this.  Maybe someday I will be, but for now, there are still too many pee accidents to clean up and peanut butter sandwiches that need to be cut into five perfect strips.

I’m still largely too needed.

And the non-sweet moments with my kids are still too non-sweet.  As my daughter fully realizes her three year old-ness, I’m fully realizing the meaning of “unnerved”.  My nerves are shot, frayed, and shaking as her powerful tantrums often leave my heart racing.  When I’m “on” as a mom, I’m so on, in such a way that leaves me totally wiped and pitifully crashing by 8pm.

So this is where the weird part comes in…

I have one foot on the ground of sanity, which gives rise to glorious things like being able to spread the laundry out over the entire living room floor without somebody kicking my neat piles.  I said it was glorious.

The other foot is still in the muck and mire of all that is tough and exhausting, the genuine preciousness of their ages, and sticky blue lollipop hands.

The result is I’m left doing some sort of extreme stretching maneuver, and I was never really very flexible.

Without any official measurements or guidelines, I feel like I’m about halfway there.  Halfway to being started on the road to a more sane existence of being able to complete thoughts in my own head and not jealously look at moms of older kids and think, “I don’t care if the teenage years are hell, I’ll bet they can reach the refridgerator door handle by themselves.” But I’m still pretty invested in where I’ve been for the past five years, spending a lot of time opening and closing that fridge door.

As for the four hours?  It’s a cruel tease, and on days when it’s raining when I run in for drop-off and pick-up, I’m really not always sure it is actually so utterly fantastic.  Though I do love sporting my pretty rain boots.  And I’m honestly not sure we, as a family, are ready for more than four hours anyway, as much as I think I want it.

But I am sure I’m going to crank through all the moments I do have alone like it’s nobody’s business.

Halfway there–the blurred place we are exactly.

Photo credit: depositphotos.com, Image ID:12298003, Copyright:everett225

Sep 162014

Pull-Ups @meredithspidel #PottyTraining #sp @PullUpsBigKid AcademyPotty training.


Potty training.

You see, in regards to potty-training, I adopt a very hands-off approach.  Otherwise known as Mommy-buries-her-head-in-the-sand-and-pretends-this-is-not-happening.  The problem is, I just don’t get it.

I don’t get why risking a poop-in-pants is better than suiting up with a Pull-Up.  Even when my daughter has humiliated me by pooping in said Pull-Up at preschool. With my favorite teacher, no less.  The shame.

Indeed, Pull-Ups are a crutch for me and my kids.  A safety net. And I love them.

While I’d love to have my 3 yr. old daughter solidly in pretty princess panties, we just aren’t there yet.  So in the meantime, embracing those adorable Doc McStuffins disposable underpants works just fine for us.

Truth be told, I’m just not ready to go whole-hog.  To chance the panties-mess and force my daughter’s carers to baby-wipe their way through the mess.  Being that she’s not fully potty-trained, we need those cutie Pull-Ups in all their Doc McStuffins sweetness.  While part of us would love to boot them, we need them.  So we delight in them, stock up on them, and stash them in Mommy’s purse as back-up.

Someday, I hope to get there.  I hope to be so cool as to eschew all disposable diapers and be all “My kid is potty-trained!”, but for now…

For now, I need the Pull-Ups Big Kid Academy and all it’s advisement.  I am a disaster left to my own devices.

I shoot for all the things I know I should do:

Remind my daughter every 30 min. to use the potty.

Praise her endlessly for successful waste passages.

Fully invest in cotton panty-usage and suck up the nasty results of accidents.

Letting her watch me and develop a natural interest in the world of potty-usage.

Having her familiarize herself with the potty and all its elements. Hand-washing fun, anyone?

I do all of these things.  I do them dedicatedly. We still need Pull-Ups. 

Every kid is unique. That’s why when you enroll at the Big Kid Academy, you’ll get a personalized “My Pull-Ups®” page with potty training activities and advice customized to your point in the potty training journey.

The Big Kid Academy pulls from the knowledge of parenting experts, medical professionals and parents who have been there to offer you suggestions for:

• How to talk to day care providers about potty training
• Solutions for nighttime
• Potty training on the go
• The best clothing for potty training

So, go enroll. This potty-training thing is a beast, one that is not easily conquered.

We can do this fellow parents! In the meantime, I’ll be there with you–struggling through horridness of potty-training known only to moms on-the-scene.  Someday we will be on the flipside of this wetted-panty hell.  For now? Doc McStuffins on, loves.  We’ve got this.

Really…we’ve got this?


*****Thank you to Pull-Ups for sponsoring today’s post and helping me Potty Train with the Big Kid Academy.*****

Sep 102014

Knowing how to take the next step; one foot in front of the other @meredithspidelI feel dishonest of sorts.  You see, while I have shared about the challenge Kindergarten has presented to us, I have failed to tell you how it has utterly, totally slayed me.  I slam out my mornings in a vigor known only to moms terrified of misstepping the intricate school system and then, by the time lunch is squared away and I demand “rest time” of my kiddos out of desperation, I too am passing out come 1pm.

Entirely unproductive.

As I watch my professional life slide to the wayside and laundry pile up to my eyeballs, I feel stymied.  Will I ever find order again?  More importantly, will I ever remember to restock on mouthwash at the grocery store or am I destined to a life of halitosis?

I am tired.  My feet flail in efforts to find the ground and truly, the notion of a routine fled somewhere between the folds of preschool drop-off and Kindgergarten pick-up.

Also there is Letter L Show-N-Share day.  Good gracious. Why do we not have a stuffed ladybug readily at our disposal??

Vulnerability, true in state, can be a tricky thing.  Very few people are a safe landing spot, but when I shared my current disaster with a kindred spirit, she encouraged me, “Treat this like you did the early days.”  You know–the post-hospital days of horror, when you had no clue how tomorrow would figure itself out.  When you just had to trust that somehow, it would figure itself out.  That things would somehow start to make sense.

That if you just put one foot in front of the other, circumstances might start to sort themselves.

I have no idea why the emotional, physical, logistical, and social impact of this transition has been so traumatic for me.  For us.

That’s not totally true.

I have learned that big events in my life, post mom-dying, tend to bury me.  I lose all sense of logic, tend to burn things, and self-destruct in a cloud of unorganized grocery store lists and random Kohls promo codes.  Honestly, I think this disorder might prevail even if my mom still lived–chaos is a natural state for me.  

But…but.  I recognize it.  I get up every day, hopefully mix up my protein shake and fantasize that today will be The Day.  The Day That I Finally Get It Together.

It will not.  I will likely remember Show-n-Share and pick my son up on time.  I will remember to feed my babes apple slices with their lunch and push water intake.  I will then pass out post-lunch.  But, God-willing, I will manage to tackle one small thing on my to-do list.  It will not be a big thing, but the important thing is that I will have tried.

I will have put one step in front of the other.

Even when I didn’t know where that step should go.

Even when I didn’t know what the road would look like, where it was going, or what kind of footwear would be appropriate.

Even when I was scared, confused, and overwhelmed.

At least I made the step.


Image credit: depositphotos.com, ID:53667609,c opyright:miramiska

Sep 042014
EXACTLY my morning...

EXACTLY my morning…

I would be lying if I said this whole starting school business wasn’t slaying me.  After I finished supporting the Kleenex industry on the first day, I did figure on a general schedule upheaval.  I assumed my son would be more tired than usual.  I did not, however, count on how emotionally rocked we would all be by things like erroneous pencil grips, bus seating arrangements, and the tricky necessity of afternoon rest periods.

Nor did I figure that this would be one of the times in my life when I would entirely lose my capacity for reasonable thought.  It started on the eve of the First Day of School. I burned my hand trying to steam green beans, cried and vowed to never again serve veggies to my family.  This adorable inability to perform simple tasks continued throughout the week.  In short, I became stupid.

In this delightful state of mind, I found myself on my birthday morning, decidedly unbathed with yucky morning breath.  But I had gotten my son on the bus!  On time!

Feeling cocky from this intense victory, I became foolish.  What if I celebrated my day and tackled my grossness with a bath?!

I could do this, right??

I felt like I was running a covert op for the CIA.  I cued up Daniel Tiger, stashed up my daughter with Goldfish crackers and spoke in soft tones, lest I disturb the gods of potential baths.  I crept up the stairs, turned on the faucet, shut the door, and sank under the suds.

The door immediately slammed back open. My daughter walked in with That Face. She didn’t!  But in one sinking moment, I knew that she had.  She had pooped in her underwear.  Endless curses on this potty-training nonsense. Wear diapers until you are 25, for the love of God.

That situation, very wet and very nakedly, sorted out and I found myself back in the bath.  Albeit, a great deal grumpier.

Woe, the tragic injustice of electively having children and then having to care for them…

I relaxed back into the warm water, closed my eyes and worked to listen to the sweet silence of nothing.  I heard a small voice, “Mommy, can I watch you?”

My eyes flew open. “Um…sure?”

Does the lock on the bathroom door not work?  What insane person is running this house?

“I’ll help wash your hair.”


“Can I help with the razor?”

I madly searched for a paper bag in which to commence proper hyperventilation.

“I’ll draw pictures of the ocean for you!”

I especially enjoy the teal bathtub crayon, as it dyes everything a lovely aqua hue for at least a solid 24 hrs.

I love my kids. I do. A lot.

I also love baths.

Someday, perhaps, in the near 15 years, the suds and I will meet up again.

For now, it is certain that I must be locked in padded rooms whenever my children start Kindergarten vs. being allowed to make any decisions–at all.

The good news: I’ve got a “helper” who works a mean shampoo service.  And really, my skin is the most pretty shade of teal…

Aug 272014

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Party @meredithspidel Margaret's birthIn my very particular world of parents with young kids who maintain a intense-to-insane dedication to Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, the event of the century went down last week. Daniel Tiger’s little sister Margaret was born.

PBS pulled out all the stops for this one.  Somehow, my kiddos, who exclusively fan-crush on Daniel through Netflix, still managed to catch wind of the big day.  August 18.  AUGUST 18.  Forget our family day at the amusement park this summer or the start of school, a new baby was coming to the ‘Hood, and the calendar was marked.

The thing about all this hype?  I loved it.



You see, parents adore Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Give it up for public television; they hit it out of the ballpark with this one.   It’s a sweet show.  A kind show.  A non-annoying show.  The characters are cute, and aside from the fact that they are talking animals who wear clothes and adorable hair bows, they tread pretty closely to reality.  They deal with very real little-kid issues.  They get grouchy, they get impatient, they have to learn to use the potty, and go to bed.  And they have adults actively involved in their lives trying to help them figure it all out.

I wrote about the show last year, when we were first becoming acquainted.  I thought it was fantastic then; now we’ve gone and fallen in love.

The show is known for its catchy little tunes that stick in your head while reinforcing an important lesson.

“If you have to go potty, STOP! And go right away.”My daughter has actually made it to the bathroom on time more than usual after watching this episode.

“If you’re feeling mad, like you’re going to roar, take a deep breath and count to four”When my kids sing this to Mommy when she is feeling roar-y, I can’t say that she’s amused.

“Keep trying, you’ll get better”(with a considerable break, added syllable and up-note in the middle of “better”)–Listening to my son hum this under his breathe while working on getting the basketball in the net, I looked at my husband and said, “You do realize Daniel Tiger is raising our children, right?”  We were both cool with it.

Those who made the elite guest list

Those who made the elite guest list

So when The Show of our Children’s Childhoods decides to unveil a new addition…yeah, it’s time to make a big deal out of it.  Being a huge fan of celebrating the non-events in life in a big way because they are, in fact, the stuff of life, I understood a party was in order.

I began by texting my Mother’s Helper’s mom to tell her we would all be wearing red for the event (Daniel always wears his red jacket).  Being that my Mother’s Helper is the most wonderfully tolerant young lady on this earth, no one blinked an eye.  It also helped that she had hung out with us all summer and understood the mounting importance of this event all too well.

I then left the red-shirted crew and ran to the grocery store.  I was uncertain what the proper foods were to celebrate a tiger’s birth.  My eyes then landed on Baby Goldfish, and I knew a “baby shower” was the way to go.  Mini Oreos, the teeny-tiny baby-baby carrots, mini oranges (mandarins) and pizza bagel bites seemed like the solution…it was on!

Because apparently this is what one eats at a tigers birth.

Because apparently this is what one eats at a tigers birth.

Not a “go me!” situation at all–I only thought to shower-it-up very last minute and most of what I purchased for the event was processed crap, but…listen, I can’t promise not to go stupid over future silly stuff with my kids, and I can’t promise to do it well when I do, but I can promise to always get silly excited over occasions to wear red/buy mini carrots when I realize them for all that they are.

Everything is better in miniature, after all…

And I know everyone swoons after a baby is born, but really, Margaret is the cutest animated baby tiger I have ever seen…

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