Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What's For Lunch?

I am off my game. It took an hour to make kid lunches for tomorrow, start to finish. So instead of going WHEW I have decided to record it here, for posterity. Some day I can show my children
See, I loved you SO MUCH I spent an HOUR making your lunches every night.
Of course I will then edit this post and delete the fact that I am hoping to use it as Good Parent proo

edit: had to pause to go yell at Ox for singing at the top of his lungs when he's supposed to be sleeping. Just keeping it real.


. . . an hour later
The real reason it took me SO long to make lunches is that I couldn't find ANYTHING! No bread. No carrots. No lemon juice. No little mini tupperwares* Add that to the fact that my brain is still trying to wrap around the requirements I now have to deal with:

  • no nuts whatsoever at Little Frog's preschool (I sneak in hummus instead of mayo on sandwiches though. Apparently garbanzo beans constitute a nut in some realms)
  • no hummus for Ox (apparently the one serious allergy in his class is garbanzo beans)
  • an afternoon snack for kindergarten
  • my own neurotic compulsion that they both should have fruit, veggies, a little sugar, something crunchy, and as little plastic as possible at every meal (*have yet to purchase the LunchBot rounds to fulfill my anti-mini tupperware standard).

No bread? Hummus? Mayo? - Ham and cream cheese tortilla wraps.

No carrots? (dang it, this was my veggie/crunchy two-in one!) - just amp up the fruit & veg them at dinner

No lemon juice (crap, can't give 'em apples then, Ox has a loose tooth so I would have to cut them up, hence the lemon juice to keep them pretty) - canned peaches mixed with cut-up strawberries.

Plus Peek-a-Boo packs of mini-marshmallows and (peanuts for Ox, craisins for Little Frog)

and finally a LunchBot snack of Cheez-Its and craisins for Ox's kindergarten snack.

I'm done. Time to read (Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield - SO GOOD!) 


Saturday, September 3, 2011


How long does it take for the germs of a new school year to sink in? Less than 5 days apparently. Ox doesn't start school officially for another 3 days yet he has already had Foot-Hand-Mouth disease along with Little Frog and Mastermind himself (who, despite his illness, is currently painting our dining room).

I will forever love this First Day of Preschool picture.
Little Frog got better just in time for her first day of preschool at the Montessori attended by Ox for the past 2 years.

I had just enough time to enjoy the feeling of my first "real" Friday of the school year before the sniffles came on and am currently typing this in a Sudafed/generic Excedrin daze.

Although I have to admit I was feeling a bit dazed to begin with. It is such a surreal feeling to have both of my kids in school. It is truly like we've all entered a new phase of life. I didn't expect this feeling, or the pre-kindergarten dreams (my own, not Ox).

I'm not sentimental about the kids growing up, I'm very excited for both of them. It is going to be interesting to be on the parent side of a school rather than the teacher side. Ox's open house was overwhelming and good at the same time. Despite the teacher guilt I've decided to volunteer in Ox's school for his first day, for the peace of mind of both of us. I told my principal I'd take notes, though, I have a professional excitement to see how another school handles all the little details.

My sniffles are taking over, so this is it for now.



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Guilty as Charged

It seems every star is guilty of something

(raises hand)

I used to be a perfect mom, until I had a baby. 

I'm guilty of being a mom, and in August that mama-guilt comes on really strong, because in two days I cease becoming a Summer-time Stay At Home Mom and once again become a full-time working mom.

And I feel guilty.

I'm trying to shake it off, I know we did a lot of fun things this summer. Ox's first step into kindergarten and Little Frog's initiation in to preschool are good things. They're ready to learn, and I'm ready to be on the parent side of things rather than the teacher side. I'm really, truly, very excited for both of them.

But I feel guilty.

If I were a better mom I would be able to stay home with my kids without going crazy, and they would both be reading by the time they were 2 1/2 because everything we do is language rich and they never, ever get any screen time.

Hah. We've watched Pippi Longstocking maybe 8 times since last week. But hey, she's a literary character, so it's almost like reading a book, right?

The thing is, I love my job. I don't want to give it up. I have serious doubts that I'm any good at being a SAHM, if the state of my house by August is any indication. And obviously despite the fact that I am a teacher, a library media specialist in fact, my 5-year-old can't read very well yet. I'm sort-of done trying, lets give his teacher a turn (but I still feel guilty).

I know mama guilt is a part of being a mom. It is probably ingrained in us so that we keep trying. In parenting there is always something more that could be done.

But I could be doing a heck of a lot worse.

So when I feel guilty I'm going to focus on what I've seen from my kids this summer:

Ox and Little Frog playing house for hours on end. Granted Ox has a garden hose sprayer that he uses as a gun to shoot all the bad animals (oops), but Little Frog, always the mom, says "Sweetie, go get that bear sweetie" or "Sweetie please don't yell at me sweetie."  For hours. Now punctuated by Pippi Longstocking songs due to their recent addiction.

Now tell me I'm thinking too much, and let it go, because in two days I'll have wished I spent my time doing something else rather than feeling guilty.

Like teaching myself to knit (hey, winter comes early in MN)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Dressed for Success

I might have a problem. I've become addicted to buying clothes (online) for Ox. And since I believe in keeping my skeletons out of the closet, this post might be a bit much. But at least it's not about meth.

In my defense, when I first walked in to Babies R Us after little baby Ox was born, I was frustrated to discover that stores just don't sell nice clothes for boys. Babies R Us is one of the worst for anti-baby boy merchandise. Gymboree is a close second, followed by SuperTarget, because these stores devote nearly all of their kids' clothes section to girls clothes. Don't believe me? Walk by the boys section the next time you go to Target. Then walk by the girls section. HUGE difference.

And you know what? I'm sick of skulls and skateboards and don't get me started on basketballs. Skulls were "cute" for awhile, when Ox called them bone zombies, but that was 2 or 3 years ago. MOVE ON ALREADY!! (stores, I'm talking to YOU!)

(generalization coming up)

I am convinced that this is the #1 reason that men do not like to shop. From the time they're newborns there just isn't much for them to choose from, so they give up.  This is not a genetic gender role, men don't start out like this! It is a clear example of Nurture vs. Nature!

(generalization over - and disclaimer: I hate shopping in stores and I am a woman - it stresses me out, always has. I hate even more when people assume I like to shop just because I'm a woman. Ugh.)

The beloved Boden Bear shirt - his "need to be brave" go-to.
Ox, on the other hand, likes clothes and has a soft spot for cool shoes. When he was feeling nervous about preschool he would wear his fierce bear shirt and it made him feel braver. His DinoSoles made him feel that he could run faster. He's also held on for over a year the fact that I told him he could get Sketchers Hot Lights for kindergarten, when I wasn't willing to spend the $40 last fall. He has not forgotten those shoes. 

I've gotten a few "looks" from people when I say that my son likes shoes - which makes me mad. Who says boys can't like shoes? What's the problem with that? I will turn Mama-Bear on anyone who thinks this is an issue. 

When I first discovered Boden I went a little crazy and spent waaaay too much on clothes for Ox - then I came to my senses and started looking for Boden clothes on Ebay (they get snapped up fast). I've toned down a little since then.

But. . .

With the arrival of the Kindergarten supply list I realized it was time to invest a bit more (time, not money) in my boy's wardrobe. I made a grievous error when I bought a ton at Old Navy only to discover that Ox is juuuust growing out of the size I bought. Ugh.  So I determined not to buy anything without a discount of some type.

I discovered:

1) Crazy 8 - this is a Gymboree store, just a bit less money (Gymboree : Crazy 8 :: Gap : Old Navy). Nice boys clothes.
Recent Zulily purchase: the dinosaur shirt

2) - Zulily offers major discounts on select (overstocked, I think) items like Crocs* and Oilily, PLUS for every friend you refer, you get $15 credit. Woah. I've found so many great clothes for Ox because of my Zulily lurking and shameless spammy attempts to pull in all my friends. is also good - but for heaven's sake!! If you want to buy from them use my code so I can get the credit! (see, I'm shameless).

3) Gymboree will give you $25 credit if you spend $50. Woah. Dangerous. Maybe it was a special deal, but OH BOY I took advantage of it!

4) As annoying as they are, it is sometimes worth it to receive email updates from clothing stores. You can get some majorly good deals.

5) Buy a little at a time - and buy big. Kids clothes don't go out of style  - anything goes. This does occasionally backfire, like all the size 6 pants I bought him that are all 5 inches too long. . . but he'll grow in to them eventually.

6) I buy boys pants at Once Upon A Child whenever I can. He wears through the knees so fast there is no point in spending much. Maybe more expensive pants wouldn't wear through so quickly, but I'm not willing to find out.

7) Find someone you like to pass on the cute clothes - you can justify buying cuter stuff if you know not just your own kid will enjoy them. Or even better, find someone who has a kid a bit older than yours who also has a thing for Boden. . . 

That's it for now. Don't judge me, or my shoes. Because of course my own shoes are actually falling apart.

*The Crocs I bought at Zulily had a pretty blue trim that peeled away after a week, so Zulily refunded me the price of BOTH kids' Crocs, plus $10 extra for my trouble! I bought Little Frog a fancy winter coat and fleece-lined hoodie with the credit (MAJOR POINTS for customer service!). . . poor girl, I buy hardly anything for her a part from a few essentials. She gets a lot of hand-me-downs and lets be honest, cheapo clothes for girls are pretty darn cute - so why spend the extra? Besides, if I even start to go there with her, I'd be totally out of control with all the cuteness available. I just can't let myself even look at girl clothes.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Vacationing . . . Star Style

I would first like to point out that I love camping. . . but more in theory than practice. I loved reading The Boxcar Children growing up, the idea of living off the land (or off a rich Grandpa's left-over vegetables) was incredibly enticing and fresh-caught trout sounded so fantastic.

That being said, a week in a tent has wearied me to the bone. And that's with an air mattress.

Don't get me wrong, I really do love parts of camping. Mainly the daytime parts. During the night my mind gets WAY too active and I think about

1) Do I have to pee?

2) remote wilderness would be a good place to hide if I were a serial killer.

3) Hm. I might have to pee.

4) That guy from the next site over looked at me funny, as if he might be a serial killer.

5) What the HECK is that ringing* sound?!?

6) Crap. I might as well brave the 5 minute walk to the bathroom just in case it rains in an hour. I wouldn't want to walk through that.

. . . aaaand repeat.  I seriously went to the bathroom 5 times during one night - and 3 of those times it wasn't until I was nearly there that I woke up and realized I didn't have to go. I took a muscle relaxant the next night just to calm the heck down.

But we got lots of good pictures to show the kids when they're older so we'll be able to prove to their therapists that we did indeed provide positive family experiences such as: 

Copper Mine tour: hard hats are to protect against the zillion bats

Awkward Family Photo.
Little Frog sinking to a Lord of the Flies level of grime and mayhem.

Okay so it really wasn't so bad. I do like camping. Just maybe not in a tent for 6 days. I still feel a little crazy.

*That ringing sound we heard for 4 days straight (mostly at night) was a bell attached to a buoy out in Lake Superior, at least a mile away. Ring Ring Ring RingyRing Ring Ring Oh My Flipping RING.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

For the record: no Academy Awards here

Okay so every star takes the off role every once in a while, for whatever reason. Parents are no different. We're not always happy, organized, healthy, or clean. But. . . it happens. Time to move on and focus on the good things (and hopefully that is what the kids remember, too). Don't let MamaGuilt take over! It Will Suck You In!

The more I schedule for our day, the better. I actually think this is the problem this week: we're staying home so that I can get organized for camping (hah!) which I know usually backfires, but hey, it's almost Friday.

Things We Like To Do-

The Library:
Ox and Mr. Norm. Note: Ox picked out his own outfit.

I LOVE the activities that the library has planned for kids! Story time is good, but their Tuesday afternoon programs are better!

Plus the library has AC and clean bathrooms - making it an ideal stop whenever we're out.

Swimming Lessons:
Little Frog practicing her backstroke.

I LOVE swimming lessons! If only because it is a good activity to do in the morning. Last year was rough, when Little Frog wasn't old enough to participate. This year rocks so much that I'm spending another $140 for the kids to do another session.

Downside: The other parents get chatty, one even asked for my phone number. Nuh-UH!

Red and Blue make Purple Sidewalk Chalk!

I am not one for doing crafts and projects and activities. I think it's important for my kids to learn to play without being overly managed* but making things is fun for all of us. Sidewalk Chalk was a fantastic activity, unlike making superball chunks last week.

Plus, that green food coloring actually washed out of Little Frog's shirt, so all is good.

*This statement is not backed up by any real proof that it works - but sometimes results in my kids playing together nicely. Or in Little Frog earning a new nickname: Naughty Bird.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Date Night

The Mastermind and I are frequent Yelpers - in fact I was invited to be a Yelp Elite member about a year ago, which means I get to attend super cool events at local restaurants (we're headed to the Yelp's Far East at Little Szechuan in St. Louis Park -mmm free Chinese food)!

Truffled Tater Tots!
The Mastermind and I headed to The Bulldog N.E. this evening because he has a thing for nachos, and according to Yelp they have the best in the area. . . I was all about the truffled tater tots.

How can you go wrong?

You can't.

they were

Because the service was SO good, we were out of there with an hour to spare on the meter so we took a walk and ended up at Pacifier. This is a very dangerous store to go in to, if you're a mom of little ones, if you are a mom of old ones, if you were ever a baby, if you have decided that two is enough because this might be the store that breaks you. It has ALL the coolest, best, cutest baby things that you never needed but of course need now.

Like Tea Collection. I received a Tea Collection catalog awhile ago, and after a crazy afternoon when I actually thought buying $60 dresses for Little Frog was a good idea, I decided I needed to just throw the catalog away whenever it appeared. I've been tossing it faithfully ever since, but not without a longing for the cutest baby and kids clothes around.

Pacifier has them. On sale. But Mamastar walked away (and then found more to buy-I blame The Mastermind, he was all "don't we need a birthday present for. . .").

And  was thinking about it, though, because if anything makes you want another baby it's all those fantastic baby things (and baby clothes made out of bamboo - swoon!) - but it was a fleeting fancy.

Because a true star knows what scripts to send back unopened, and even if she has a stares-in-to-the-sky-thinking-whatifs moment about what fun it would be to be cast in an independent version of Blade III: The Mommy Years, she knows that would be a very bad idea.

Very Bad.

You know why? In case of zombie apocalypse, three kids would be really hard to grab and run with only two grown-ups.  You know it's true.

And now to finish this date night with some episodes of Lost. Because it is also true that watching the pregnant woman being all pregnant-y on a beach is way more exciting than going through it yourself.



Monday, July 18, 2011

An Afternoon in Pictures

When your kids wake up at 6am your afternoon starts at 10:30. 

Documented proof that they sometimes play nicely


The making of superballs, using Sunday School leper sticks (or were they shepherds?) as stirrers.

Braving the HEAT for the SAV Farmer's Market

 The St. Anthony Village Farmer's Market was sorely diminished today - most likely due to the heat index nearing 112 degrees, but we went anyway. The sellers that braved the heat got our money, and we got zucchini and hot sauce, so all is well.

Little Frog losing it while I'm making dinner - Note Ox laughing in the background.

Finally dinnertime: BBQ pork sandwiches & parmesan roasted zucchini.

All in all a good afternoon.The more we cram-pack our days the happier everyone seems to be (I can't think of a day that hasn't contained at least one melt-down from one of us-on good days they happen at home).


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Candy Making 101

It is one of the hottest days of the year, The Mastermind has hurt his back which has put him out of commission, I have a going-on-three-days headache so, and Ox is 5 going on 15 (can we say ATTITUDE?)
so. . .

Lets make candy!

I found a FANTASTIC blog called Making Memories that has all the cool tricks and tips for being a rockstar parent with very few ingredients, steps, and usually only a little acting required. Since I've never made candy before, I found myself trying to remember that one Dirty Jobs episode where Mike is making peanutbutter cups, and the specific steps for that perfect curlicue of chocolate on top. I don't think I perfected it. It looks more like a cow patty than a peppermint patty.

Here's Ox adding the green food coloring. If you look closely you might be able to see insects flying in to the window to put themselves out of misery rather than bearing this heat.
Ox with the minty centers and pre-melted chocolate.

Finished product. Pretty tasty, and not too ugly.

By the time we were done making our candy everyone felt better.We even braved the weather to cross the street to bring this plate of patties to our rockstar neighbors.

Not too many pictures of Little Frog, I know. She was not that interested in the candy making process, and threw away the one patty I let her eat. She chose to clean the floor with baby wipes instead:

Carry on Little Frog, carry on.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Rainy Day

About 6 hours in to this rainy day I've run out of ideas, and can barely remember this morning.

So we're watching a movie, in the basement, in case of a power outage:

Little Frog ready for the lights to go out.
Don't get me wrong, the kids love a little power outage. Not that we've had more than one, but that was apparently pretty exciting.

Ahh movie time! I tried desperately to convince Ox to watch one of the Tinkerbell movies, but he was NOT convinced. Which is too bad. Awhile back I managed to convince him that boys like to watch Angelina Ballerina, and he's totally okay with that. I must have gone about Tinkerbell in the wrong way.

We finally settled on Fantastic Mr. Fox, and I know I'll have to put up with Ox trying to imitate that little whistle for the next week as a result.

A note on Little Frog: this morning out of the blue she told me that next time she wants to be a cat, but this time she's a little girl. Her nickname is derived from another early morning declaration: "Mama when I was a little frog I was crying in the mud because a tornado was coming."


Past life: frog. Present life: little girl. Future life: cat. Leave it to a 3-year-old to have the universe well-organized.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Chex Mix

I bought ingredients for Chex Mix a week ago and the peanuts were gone within 2 days, the pretzels are nearly gone, and so I have a lonely box of corn Chex in my cupboard.

(Question: do people actually buy a box of corn Chex, a box of wheat Chex, AND a box of rice Chex when they make Chex Mix? What do they do with the 3 boxes of Chex, two-thirds full?)

I briefly considered buying more peanuts and pretzels, but lets be honest, Chex Mix makes me poo.

So on the rare morning that I had time for breakfast alone I felt the need to commemorate:

a) Corn Chex with honey and skim milk in my recycled plastic bowl that sometimes leaves flakes of recycled plastic in my food and sometimes cracks, spilling its contents. But hey! I'm being green.
b) Tazo ginger tea in my AchieveMpls mug. Perfect tea, perfect mug.
c) The Latehomecomer: a Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang. I recommend it. Especially to people I've had to explain "why all those Asians are here anyway." Just read the book.
d) Retro blue/white-flecked table my mom bought for me at an antique store and is the perfect breakfast table (it was demoted from everymeal table when Little Frog came along and we needed more room for dinner).

Gotta get going. Swimming lessons this morning and then The Mastermind comes home from his trip to Nevada today and I have to pick raspberries and green beans because I said I would every day and didn't (hey I started picking beans, but there are huge brown spiders on the plants! Disgusting.), and maybe wash my hair. Not sure when I did that last (in my defense, Ma Ingalls only washed her hair once a week and if it works for Ma Ingalls, it works for me).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Just about a week before my son* turned five, I came home from work to a different kid. Something had happened/connected/developed in his brain and from that moment on I thought of him as five. Something similar happened to me about two months ago when I awoke from a daze to the fact that I am now a professional parent. After 5 and a half years.

(brief intermission while Mamastar gives Little Frog* a time out, scrubs smushed fishstick out of the carpet, actually finds herself hissing as she steps in said fishstick fallout, and forever bans processed fish product from this house)

what was I saying? Oh yeah, I'm a professional.

So I have a blog because:
1) Ever since Jon and Kate Plus 8 aired for the first time I've secretly pretended that I'm on camera to keep myself from going crazy (hey, if millions of people are watching me and scrutinizing my porcupine hair I might just do this whole Mamahood thing better, right?)
2) Every professional knows that reflection upon one's craft brings about true professionalism and awareness of one's strengths and weaknesses.

(and just maybe it will be a little bit fun)

Now excuse me while I take a walk with my children to retrieve the frizbee just flung into the neighbor's yard by Ox.

*For the sake of this and future blogs, my children will be referenced by their nicknames:
5-year-old has self-named himself Ox, short for Oxygen, an element which has fascinated him since he accidentally checked out a book on oxygen at the library last summer.
3-year-old will be Little Frog because of her strange fascination with frogs. I don't believe in reincarnation but if I did, she was for sure a frog in her past life.
Dear Husband will be referred to as The Mastermind. Not only is this actually his Meyers-Briggs personality type, but it is just who he is.

Monday, May 30, 2011

no title

I don't have a title. Had you already noticed? Sorry for the redundancy. I couldn't come up with anything clever or relevant, so I gave up trying. Really, what is the point of a title?