A month or so ago my dad said some beautiful words to me.  “You and Hubby ought to plan a trip for this summer and Mom and I will watch the kids.”

My hubby and I used to travel a lot before we had kids, mainly to South and Central America, but also around the United States.  After our son was born, we continued to travel for the first two years of his life.  But once the twins came, our traveling days were done.  I always imagined we’d go on an epic international adventure for our tenth anniversary, but instead  we found ourselves in our own real-life “Survivor” adventure as we made alliances with each other in order to survive infant twins on top of a three-year-old.  We haven’t gone away alone together since the twins were born four years ago.  So the thought of a vacation with just the two of us is almost too good to imagine.

Today I found myself daydreaming about all the places we could go.  Do we go back to somewhere we’ve been, maybe Panama or Ecuador or Peru?  Do we try somewhere totally different, like Iceland or a Argentina?  Stay in the US or go abroad?  There are too many choices, but all of them sound too good to be true.


Dear Flu

Dear Flu,

I don’t know how to say this politely, so I’m just going to say it: you have officially overstayed your welcome here!

When you arrived at midnight EIGHT days ago, I was a little annoyed at the inconvenience, but not totally surprised.  After all, you haven’t stopped by at all this season, and I knew you would be coming eventually.  You didn’t seem put off by the fact that we don’t have any extra beds to offer (there is literally no room at this inn).  No, instead you decided you would just make the rounds, starting with the oldest and working your way down to the youngest.  How kind of you for not leaving anyone out.

If you must know the truth, what is really getting to me is your sneaky ways.  Quite honestly, the unpredictable nature of your stay is making it hard for me to be a good host.  On more than one occasion, you seem to have completely left for 12-24 hours, only to return obnoxiously in the middle of the night.  If you had just let me get a little more sleep, I might not be at the end of my rope now.

I’ve picked up on your pattern, though, and if my calculation is correct, we have one more day of your company to tolerate.  Enjoy your final hours as our guest, because I don’t want to see you again for a long, long time.


A Tired Momma

Vegan Meat

My husband took a bite and chewed slowly, a confused look on his face.  “This chicken tastes funny,” he finally said, swallowing.  “Here, try a bite.”

I leaned over and took a bite, immediately recognizing that it was definitely not chicken.  We were standing around the back patio of my husband’s favorite local bike shop, which tonight was transformed into an Asian Cajun Pop-Up, eating fried rice, gumbo, and “chicken” wings.  “That’s some sort of meat substitute,” I said.

“I think it’s Satan,” the man standing next to us chimed in.

“Huh?” My hubby cocked his head to the side as he continued to eat the mystery meat.

“Seitan,” the man said, pronouncing it slightly differently this time.  “Although some people call it Satan, depending on what they think of it.”

“Vegan meat,” I added for clarification.

The way my hubby shook his head, I could tell it wasn’t making sense to him.  “Wait, what does Vegan mean?” he asked me.

“No animal by products,” I said.  “Is this vegan?”  He nodded.  “Oh, well, that makes sense, then.”

Later, on the way home, my husband was still thinking about the Vegan Meat.  “Did you know it was Vegan?” I asked.

“Yeah, but I guess my mind wasn’t registering what that meant. My body needs real meat.  Can you call and order some teriyaki chicken for me to pick up?”

So I called our favorite teriyaki place and he picked up his second course, this time with real meat.

Going Out in Public

I zip my coat up over my pajamas, snap on my helmet, and follow C on his bike to school.  Walking up the stairs and down the hall to his second grade classroom, I smile at the other parents, teachers, and kids in the hallways.  Inside, I am laughing to myself because no one knows, but…I am not wearing a bra.

If you had told my 20-something self that someday I would voluntarily go out in public without a bra, I would have laughed at you in disbelief.  But now that I’m a 30-something, I do it almost every morning that is cold enough to require a jacket when I take my son to school.  Sometimes I go to the grocery store late at night without one, too.  It’s not like you can even tell once I get my jacket zipped up, but I still find it humorous.  And, I can’t help but wonder…how many of those other moms in the hallway aren’t wearing a bra, either?

Chicken Toe

“Owwwwww!” P howled as I was ushering everyone to the table for dinner.  “My toe!  I got a splinter!  OWWW!”

“Let me see,” I said, kneeling down next to her to inspect her toe.   “Which one?”

“My pinkie toe, it hurts!” She cried.  “Get it out!”

I turned on the lamp above us and searched the little toe over, but couldn’t see any splinters or cuts.  When I asked her to show me where it was, she pointed to five different places.  Finally I stood up and carried her over to the table.  “P, I can’t see anything.  Let’s eat dinner and see if it feels better.

After a few minutes at the table, P tugged on my sleeve.  “Can I whisper in your ear?” She asked.  When I leaned my ear towards her, she put her hand up and whispered in a loud voice, “I think my toe hurts because a long time ago I ate a chicken and now it’s making my toe hurt.”

I looked at her very seriously.  “You’re saying that you ate a chicken a long time ago and now it’s making your toe hurt?”  She nodded.  “Chicken, stop hurting P’s toe!” I ordered, wagging my finger at her feet.

Everyone at the table started laughing, including P.  We finished dinner without further comment on the hurt toe or the chicken causing it.  After dinner P insisted on putting a bandaid on her little toe.  “It was a teriyaki chicken,” she told me while I wrapped the bandaid around her toes.

“Oh yes, you used to love teriyaki chicken,” I agreed.  “Feel better now?”

She nodded, happy once again.

Spider Webs

“I’m sorry,” I told my coaching partner, holding my head in my hands.  “I’m so tired, my brain isn’t working.” We were trying to discuss our plans for an upcoming professional development session, but my brain felt like it was covered with spider webs.  Partially formed thoughts kept getting stuck in the sticky tangle of threads, where they were promptly wrapped up and turned to mush by the exhaustion crawling around in my head. I shook my head, trying to break through the mess and find some clarity.

For the past three nights my sleep has been severely impacted by my son having the flu and my girls being afraid of the dark.  I’ve only gotten 15 hours of sleep since Sunday, and last night I got less than four.  Today it was showing.

Tonight I am going to bed at 8:00 when the kids go to sleep.  That way, even if I get woken up by fevers and frights, I will still get more than four hours of sleep.  I’ll leave lunches, dishes, and all the other things I usually do after bedtime for tomorrow.  For now, I am looking forward to waking up in the morning with a clear head after sleep exterminates the exhaustion that has taken up residence in my brain this week.


My heart sunk when my son crawled off of the couch and sprawled out across the hardwood floor.   I know C is really sick when he is lying on the ground.  “It feels so nice and cool against my body,” he once explained to me.  Still, it breaks my heart to see my normally energetic, playful, talkative boy lying listlessly on the ground.

The first time I remember him lying on the ground was the first time he really got sick at the age of two. Before then he had had runny noses and minor coughs, but never a knock-you-out illness.  When I came home from work and saw C lying on the ground, not moving, I was taken aback.  “Wow,” I told my husband. “He must be really sick.”

The saddest time I remember C lying on the ground was Christmas morning when he was six.  Halfway through opening presents, he ran to the bathroom, feeling sick.  He ended up sleeping the majority of the day on the floor of the bathroom, too sick to play with his new toys or go outside in the snow.

I laid my hand on C’s forehead; it was hot to the touch.  His face was flushed and his cheeks were burning bright red.  “Oh, Bubby,” I whispered, stroking his arm.  After a moment, though, I pushed my emotions to the side and shifted into nurse mode.  “I’ll be right back with some Tylenol,” I told him.

“The good one?” he asked, meaning the grape flavor, not the berry flavor.

“Yep,” I replied.

“Okay,” he sighed, closing his eyes as I headed to the medicine cabinet, all business now.  When I returned, I helped him sit up a little to down the purple syrup.

“Time to sleep,” I instructed.  “I love you.”

“Love you, too, Mommy,” he whispered.

3 Generation Cake

The great thing about having a birthday within days of your mom and grandma is that you can make one big birthday cake and eat it to celebrate all three days.  This year, my kiddos and I made a Pinkalicious strawberry cake (from the Pinkalicious Cook Book, of course), which turned out as pink and delicious as the name implies.

First we ate it in celebration of Grandma M turning 101!

Next we ate it in celebration of myself turning 36.

Then I put two big slices in containers to give my mom tomorrow, to celebrate the fact that she turned 57 last week.

Happy birthday to us!

St. Patrick’s Day Blunder

I opened the girls’ closet and saw the kelly green vests that my mom brought back from Ireland hanging on the rod. I suddenly remembered what day it was. “Hey,” I called out, “it’s Saint Patrick’s Day!” I ran out of the room and over to the table where my family was eating breakfast, ready to give each family member a playful pinch.

“What?” My seven-year-old son’s voice stopped me in my tracks.  I looked at his face and saw tears building up in his eyes, threatening to spill over.  The problem dawned on me as he said the words, “We didn’t set a trap!”

I hadn’t thought about St. Patrick’s Day at all in the previous days, and apparently neither had C.  In years past he has spent weeks carefully planning and creating his leprechaun trap.  But this year we hadn’t talked about it at all, until now, when it was too late.

What can I do?  What should I do?

C went on watching cartoons, wiping the tears out of his eyes and grumbling about missing his shot at the leprechaun.  “I’m not happy,” he said to no one in particular.  “I’m mad!”

I grabbed my phone.  “Let’s see,” I said, ideas spinning in my head.  “It’s St. Patrick’s Day all day long until tonight.  Maybe we can put a trap out tonight.  Let’s see what we can find on the internet.”  I typed I forgot to set my leprechaun trap into Google and “read” a couple of the blurbs that came up on the screen.  “Oh, good!  C, it says that leprechauns love the challenge of trying to be caught, so if they come to your house and you didn’t set a trap, they will come back the night of St. Patrick’s Day to give you another chance.  So it’s fine, you can set a trap tonight.”

A look of relief washed over C’s face, setting off a wave of relief in my mind.  Grumpy morning averted!  Later in the afternoon he carefully constructed a trap made of pieces from our marble run set and a lot of double-sided tape for the leprechaun to get stuck in.   Now C is in bed, dreaming about the leprechaun he hopes to find trapped in the morning.  I just hope he doesn’t wake up super early to check the trap!

Skate Party

“We want to skate!” my four-year-old twins exclaimed excitedly when we entered the skating rink.  We were there for the 8th birthday of my son’s friend.  I had thought that my girls would play with the birthday girl’s little sister during the party and not actually skate.  I should have known, though.  They want to do everything their big brother does.

Reluctantly I approached the skate rental window and traded two pairs of “cowgrill boots” for two pairs of skates.  “Can I go out in the rink with them in my shoes?” I asked the man working behind the counter.  I couldn’t imagine holding them both up while wearing skates of my own

He shook his head.  “You can go out there in your socks if you want,” he said.  My toes immediately curled under in my shoes as images of the girls rolling over and falling on my feet flashed through my mind.

“Okay girls,” I told them when I finished lacing up their skates, “we’re going to start by skating around on the carpet here outside the rink, then when we get the feel of it we’ll try going in the rink.”

Their eager faces beamed as they looked at each other and stood up cautiously.  They each took one of my hands and took a step forward.  “Whoa!” they giggled as they wobbled and swayed, clutching my hands to help keep their balance.  They managed to stay upright for about 5 feet, where we had to cross a stretch of wood floor to reach the rest of the carpet.  As soon as their skates hit the wood, their feet were flailing all around.  One grabbed the hem of my shirt and the other grabbed the back pocket of my jeans, holding on for dear life.  I tried to hold them up, but I could feel my clothing start to slip and stretch.  Worried I was about be exposed, I let go of their hands and let them fall into a tangled heap at my feet. I looked down to see what the expression was on their faces.  Looking up at me were two happy, laughing little girls who were already trying to get back up.  I laughed along with them and helped haul them back up on their feet.

“Falling’s part of it!” P declared once she was back up on her skates.

That was the first of many falls this afternoon, but by the end of the skate session, both girls were skating around the rink while holding hands with myself, their big brother, or dad.

“That was fun,” my hubby said as we left the rink after the party.  “We should come back every once in a while.”

Hooray for trying new things and finding new activities to enjoy as a family!