when it rains..it pours

At least in the Northwest. It has been raining HARD for 3 straight days. I will gladly take our good 'ole fashion drizzle over this!!

While on the topic of falling water...I would like to discuss showers! Yes, I am in need of one daily! Somehow, it is the first thing that enters my mind to "drop" off the to-do-list when there is no way to get it all done! Today, I choose the shower over working out and I am still mad about it!

The set-up: I stayed up with Aaron last night until 11pm. Me watching DVR recordings of Oprah, while he worked. (I KNOW...tough work but it had to be done!) Staying up late meant I wasn't getting up to work out at 5:30am. Instead I slept in and snuggled with Will (who crawled into my bed at 4am). Then breakfasts, unloading dishes, clothing children, brushing teeth (my own), and out the door to drop off kid 1. Stop by grocery store in the 20 minutes I have before dropping off kid 2. Ooops, I forgot to eat breakfast. Home to unload groceries and eat. Then I was in my crux....shower or work out. I only had 1 hour before picking up kid 2, so I could only do one. Since the rest of my day consisted of picking up kid 2, then kid 1 and friend early from school (noon release) and being home with 3 boys most of the afternoon, laundry, kitchen, dinner, and meeting at 6:30-it had to be the shower!

Lessons learned: Don't stay up late with my husband. Don't sleep in. Work out at 5:30 am. Shower before the boys get up. Have AmazonFresh deliver. Clean the kitchen at night. Teach the boys to do the laundry. Use my slow-cooker. Stop volunteering.

tomorrow is another day. thank goodness!


getting it together

Sir William James and Sir Henry Vaughn. Their personalities shine through in these pictures.

Life is truly an ebb and flow. During my last posting I certainly was feeling defeated. Usually my boys go through their 'phases' separately, so I can manage it better. Unfortunately, they are BOTH in horrible places right now and we will leave it at that! Because today I more hopeful. Even though the rain comes down in steady streams, I am smiling and feeling a bit relieved. Relieved that we seem to be getting it together....a bit. I look forward to spending time as a family this weekend and hope that the moments of joy and laughter outnumber the meltdowns and timeouts. A mother can hope!


purpose driven mothering

I began reading the book...but didn't finish....A Purpose Driven Life. I love the title. Should there be a book titled Purpose Driven Mothering? I haven't had many lows in a long while. I am blessed with healthy children, a kind and loving husband, and a fairly easy life. I say easy because I don't work outside my home, we live comfortably (more than comfortably), and we don't struggle to meet the basic needs of our family. Nonetheless, I am struggling. I struggle everyday to mother with purpose. I have written about this before and find myself writing about it again.

These little men of mine are true gifts. I cannot put into words my understanding of the task at hand. The task of raising them and loving them. I sometimes miss the days right after they were born. When I could hold them, if I wanted, for hours and hours. I remember just staring at them in amazement and awe. How could this little guy really be...here? These days those moments feel like they were in a different lifetime. (This may also be why some women have more babies. But I digress!) These days I feel like I don't have any answers. My brain knows that you can't be a perfect mother, that kids are not perfect, and NO ONE has ALL the answers. I know that intellectually, but my heart does not feel that. I am desperate to do right by them. Although not logical, I take most of their shortcomings as personal failures. Again I know this in my head as crazy; it is my heart that has a hard time believing.

As the season changes here in Seattle, it has turned damp, gray, and bleak. At the moment, that is how I feel. The joyous, boisterous holidays are right around the corner. I know my spirits will lift. I know that in the weeks to come my boys will enter new phases, maybe ones I am better equipped to manage. I know that my life is good and that these boys are true treasures. I know that one day I will look back at THIS time and think about how simple and lovely my troubles were. I know these things in my head....I just need my heart to believe them as well.


is it the swine?

**I sent this as an email to friends almost 2 years ago, but seems appropriate in light of the H1N1 mania! I laugh reading it. I was obviously still struggling with my place in life and staying home with young crazy boys!**

Will, Henry and I were eating lunch in a small (and I mean small) diner yesterday. I love going to this place because it is family owned and they are always so good to me when I am there. The boys love it because they can get breakfast for lunch and they bring toys to the table. Like any mother of small children, eating out is always an adventure and the timing of everything is crucial. All in all the meal was going well (or at least as well as can be expected!) Toward the end of our lunch a party of five sat down right next to us. Remember I stated that is place is small, so their table was literally 1 foot away. There was a woman (probably in her 40's) with who I assumed was her husband and son (10 or 11 years old). An older couple joined them-which I am guessing were his or her parents. The following interchange occurred soon after they sat down...

(I must preface this by saying that we have been battling a cold in cough for weeks. Will has been coughing all of the time and I tell him maybe 100 times a day to cover his mouth when he coughs.)

Will, sitting across from me, was coughing . He did not cover his mouth or cough into his arm. The woman in her 40's looked across the table at the older woman and states, " I know...it is disgusting". She said loud enough for me to hear and I knew she was speaking of Will. Something in me snapped.

I said to her, "He is three years old."

She responded, "Well he is going to get us all sick!"

The older gentleman says, "Come on he is just a baby." She says, "I am not talking about the baby."

Again I state, "He is three years old and I have told him probably 100 times today he needs to cover his mouth." Then I was on a roll!

I continued, "I am doing the best I can. Obviously you raised perfect children and you are perfect mother. Please give me some advice on how I can do a better job."

At this she crossed her arms, looked away, and said nothing more. Who knows what she was thinking!!

Please know that I do not excuse the fact that my son was spreading germs by not covering his mouth! It was part Momma Bear protecting her cub, but mostly it was my sheer astonishment that this woman could so quickly forget what it was like to have a small child! I was shocked by the total absence of empathy.

I send this embarrassing story to you in hopes that you will know that we are all in this together. We are not perfect people, so naturally we cannot be perfect mothers. I know your hopes and dreams for your children can keep you up at night and you worry endlessly if you are doing a good enough job! Let me be the one to tell you that, "Yes, you are doing a good job". Today I will be the one to thank you for the meals you prepare, the dishes and clothes you wash, the noses and bums you wipe, the tears you dry, the baths you give at the end of a long day. (For those of you who have older children I won't even pretend to know the challenges you face!) You do hundreds of little things each day that go mostly unnoticed by those who live with you. I know what you do each and every day and I say....you are amazing.

**A few days later Will was diagnosed with walking pneumonia. Mother-of-the-year!**


I really love my.....

This is the title of a page on people.com that I find hilarious! It is an image slide show of celebs wearing the same outfit or shoes or carrying the same handbag twice or...wait for it.... EVEN three times! My goodness!

I would literally lose my mind if I had to carry a new handbag every day. I usually get a new purse once a year. It is a PROCESS of transferring all of the contents from the old, sad, sometimes sticky bag to the brand new one! There are consistently a few problems.
1. The new purse has a totally different storage configuration. It is usually a different size, there a new pockets or less pockets, no zipper or many zippers, deeper sections or wider sections. It takes a site plan to decide where all of your "stuff" will live in this new handbag.
2. I have to re-train myself on carrying this accessory . My newest bag has two short handles. Do I wear it on my shoulder, carry it like a bowling bag, or hang it in the crook of my elbow like all the movie stars do?
3. Inevitably I loose something. When the transfer occurs, a card or key or a kid's pacifier gets forgotten, usually never to be located. Plus, I don't discover this until paying for something or the kid is total and complete melt-down!
4. There is always a longing for the old bag! No matter how much I LOVE my new purse, I long for the old one with its familiar places where my keys hide.

If I had to switch every day, so I wouldn't be caught by the paparazzi, I would be a serious whack-a-doodle! Good thing there are no TMZ or People photogs lurking in the bushes waiting for me to drop my kid at school. The headline would have to read, "Mom carries same knock-off hand bag for 100th day in row!" (Not to mention the article containing criticism of me not showering, wearing workout clothes, and pushing a squeaky baby jogger not worth more than $25)


amazement in the ordinary

Observing my two year old watch, with admiration, the trash collector and his truck reminds me to be aware of my own biases and judgments of others. If you were introduced to man or woman for the first time and you learn that this person is a garbage collector what would your reaction be? I doubt you would be envious that they are able to drive an enormous truck all day. Would you assume the person uneducated or unmotivated? Do you inconspicuously (or so you think) inspect every inch for tattoos and dirt? Do you begrudge him or her for the money they make? You went to college and barely bring home the same amount. Would you take the time to learn more about this person? Or do you think that your judgments might interfere in your openness to allow someone to be more than what they do for a living. Kids have an uncanny knack for being amazed by the ordinary. It is refreshing, and also quite humbling.


last first time

When was the last time you did something for the first time? As adults we can't say that we do this very often. Quite honestly, most of haven't done anything new in so long we can't remember what it was that we did. Some "grown ups" continually challenge themselves and push out of their comfort zone more often than not. I applaud them! But what is astonishing is how often kids do something for the first time! Can you imagine the amount of adrenalin rushing through their little bodies ALL of the time? Constantly daring themselves to be "brave" just like we tell them. Are we at all helpful in our encouragement when we ourselves don't ever really step out on the edge and push ourselves?

Today Will went off the competition diving board into the deep end of the pool.....for the first time. This is a kid that would not get his face or ears wet in May of this year. He just decided this evening to go for it with his dad and did not falter in his determination. The board is about 3 or 4 feet off the surface of the water and is very springy! Dad went first. Not a pretty dive by any means, but impressive nonetheless to Will and Hank! Will was next. He walked to the end, waited for a countdown from Henry and me, and then bonsai! Jumped in, popped up, swam to dad, and asked to do it again. Astonishing! In the end, he was pulling off impressive cannon balls and swimming to the edge without an adult in the pool with him. (He even tried a dive, taking us completely off guard, and experienced his first belly flop. Ouch!)

On the way home, I was thinking to myself, "What a HUGE the afternoon for him!" He did something for the first time. We had no way of knowing and he will never be the same. It is such hard work being a kid. But there are such amazing payoffs. He will go to bed a very proud boy!

And now I ask myself, "What can I do for the first time?"


the soda flows downstream

My dad tells the story that no matter where he was sitting at a table, any liquid spilled would defy gravity, take nasty turns, and end up in his lap. That was during an age when kids were given drinks without lids. Why was that ever an option? Up until tonight, I had never had a drink spilled on me. I say, up until tonight. It is bizarre to say it, but it could not have made me happier.

Why you ask? The unfortunate incident brought out the best in Will. As he picked up the ketchup he accidentally knocked over my diet coke. My plate was already cleared, so it was an unobstructed path to my lap! It happened so fast and I was truly surprised. William instantly jumped from his chair and said, "Mommy, I am so sorry. I didn't do it on purpose. Are you ok?" HELLO? Love this kid. Could all of my hard work be kind of paying off? He was so darn sweet he even asked the waitress if he could help her clean it up. Seriously? I knew there was a kind-hearted young man lurking in there somewhere! Hey, I will take damp, sticky jeans any day of the week, if I can witness will.i.am showing compassion for others.


the baby proof

I am mothering in an age of protection. This is something I cannot escape, and I am surrounded by suggestions, guidelines, rules and laws regarding such protection. Always put baby on his back to sleep. Don't put anything in the crib with him. Never turn your back while baby is on the changing table. Backward facing until age one and 20 lbs. Front facing in car seat until 30 lbs and 38". Booster seat in the back seat until he gets his driver's license. No bike, scooter, or push car without helmet. Locks on the cabinets, doors, toilet seat. Gates on stairs. Seriously, right? I have been conditioned to be fearful of the worst happening. I hear of horrible accidents to children and feel such empathy for the family. I know that it could easily be us. Thankfully, so far, it has not been.

I was a rebel without a cause. When we moved into our home 2 summers ago, I did not baby proof. Gasp! No gates, no locks on cabinets or toilets, and no bumpers on BIG brick fireplace hearths. (I did cover our outlets because Henry- at age five months-was already "experimenting" with conductors.) All and all, it was a great decision. My boys are fine. Henry learned to navigate stairs like a champ at 6 months and my house remained unscathed from screw holes and annoying locks! There have been hard lessons learned (picture illustrates such event. Toddler vs. brick), but I would like to say they will be better for it.

I do acknowledge the need for child protection. Our children do ride safer in cars and on their bikes than we did. But on the other hand, this uber-protection extends beyond just physical protection from bodily harm. I fear my boys may not have similar personal experiences that I once had as a kid. For example I was allowed to play outside with my friends until sundown. The rule was you had to be in for lunch and dinner. At the end of the day you had to be in when the street lights came on. We were distinctly aware that no one should have to come looking for you and it was up to you to pay close attention. There were consequences if you were late and we knew it! I sincerely believe it help build independence and responsibility that has served me well in my life. Will my kids have that? We are lucky to live in fantastic niche in the world that may afford our kids this luxury. However, will I be able to let my boys "go" on their own. I hope so. But there is this little quiet voice that repeats, "What if?" What if?


the first thomas boy in my life

Aaron and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary this week. It is mind-boggling to think he and I have been together for over 13 years. As we navigate our way through parenthood together, I am determined to remain a couple in love. This is no easy task, but instead a choice made everyday. Don't get me wrong...every day is not love and roses in the Thomas household! I don't have expectations that could only be achieved if we lived in a romance novel. I am talking about simple affection, respect, communication, and fun. (We could all use a little more fun in our relationships!) I am looking forward to another fun-filled year with my great husband!


knowing what is possible

I truly love talking to women who have children that are older than mine, specifically older boys. One such friend gave me a great tip, "only try to do what is honestly possible". She used the example of grocery shopping. If you can't make it through a trip to the store (no matter the length) without your kids losing, you can't go with them. You have to go late at night, trade kids with a friend, or get a sitter! The most important thing is knowing what is possible. Children don't like shopping with their moms for hours, they don't like running boring errands, they don't like visiting friends' homes who don't have toys, they don't behave at meals. If I have to (or want t0) do something I know will trigger my boys to become little devils, I now rethink how it can be done. Thank goodness for GREAT a babysitter whom my boys love, Amazon Fresh, and a supportive husband. I am slowly learning what is possible and accepting it for what it is!


"Don't Fight the Ocean"

This is my motto for the summer! It came from a recent trip with my boys and wonderful girlfriends ( and their kids). We visited Seaside, OR in June. Now the weather was typical Oregon Coast weather...gray, windy, and a bit cool. The kids could care less and for the most part I didn't mind either. It wasn't pouring, the party was on! Since the weather wasn't warm, I dressed my children appropriately-long pants and sweatshirts. The first night we were there my kids went headlong into the frigid ocean-fully clothed-and then preceded to roll in the dry sand. Fun times! The walk back the house was quite a trek and the boys were miserable. They had to be stripped at the door and thrown in the bath to thaw out. Their 5 minutes of fun created more work for me! Bitter, moi?

The next day we are frolicking on the beach once again. And I spent the entire time screaming at Will and Henry to stay out of the water. They continued to press toward the water line and eventually attained their goal! Soaking wet! I began to fume and my dear friend, Chris, looks at me and quietly asks, "So, you are getting upset because they are getting wet at the beach?" Ouch! Only a true friend can present the truth in such a calm way and make it undeniable! Love that! And yes...I was mad at them for getting wet at the beach. I couldn't simply enjoy the moment with them because I was thinking of the aftermath. The screaming, the falling down on the way to the house, the blue lips, the sand, the bath, the WORK! Who does that? Well, a mother who mistakenly believed she was going on vacation.

I came to the realization and accepted that I, in fact, was not on vacation. I had only moved the location of my job. My KIDS were on vacation. Hour 36. I had my come-to-Jesus moment and the rest of the trip was great. CRAZY, loud, chaotic..but GREAT! I learned not to "fight the ocean" and I was a much happier women. Yes, they were going to be kids and get dirty. And yes, it is my job to help clean them up!
(Plus, who could stay mad at these two! I also got smarter and put them in their suits. If they thought it was warm enough to swim; it was warm enough to wear a swimming suit!)


behavior coach, snack manager, party planner

These are the titles that could been posted below my name if I sat at a cubicle!

I spent a LARGE portion of my day (and every day) coaching young boys on good behavior. I will spare you all the details because most of my strategies prove to inefficient! However, I only lost my cool once today. That was when I was forcing Will and Henry to shove down a McDonald's Happy Meal in less than 10 minutes. Will put his straw in his juice upside down and then was surprised when the juice went every where. Henry's banshee screams disrupted another customer's conference call (which I will not even BEGIN to go into-since it is RIDICULOUS to think you have a right to be annoyed by a loud child when you are taking a business call in freakin' McDonalds!!!! I digress!), so we departed without finishing lunch or getting a treat! Bummer for everyone!

If I am asked for snacks less than 5 times a day....that is a good day. Fruit and carbs....I would ask for snacks all day too! On a road trip, snack managing is a higher art form. You are traveling 75+ mph, steering with one hand, and reaching in the back to replenish dwindling snack supplies. Finding snacks that all can enjoy, without making a disgusting mess in the backseat, and can be self-fed by a two year old-this is a challenge! I injured my shoulder quite badly during our trip to California because I was sitting in the passenger seat and my left arm is not conditioned to reach into the backseat hundreds of times. This snack managements is serious business and is not for sissies! (I am serious about my arm being injured and how it happened!)

How do you knowingly plan a beach party for your child in June-when you are fairly certain it is going to rain? What am I thinking! I just ordered the "goodie" beach bags and beach balls from Oriental Trading company..no turning back now! I told Will his friends weren't going to bring gifts and he said, "OK." But, he had this look on his face that said....."then why do I always spend time finding the perfect gift for all my friends and then sit and watch them open it?" I guess I should really tell him it is because mommy doesn't want ANY MORE TOYS! Hmmmm....Is it horrible just to tell him that we are a kinder family and other people just aren't as thoughtful? Don't answer that!

What will my job titles be tomorrow?


what a great dad!

Will is Star of the Week at school this week. Aaron was sweet to be his special visitor during first choice. He and "the boys" played Legos for the entire time. Will was very excited to show him around his classroom and share him with his friends! What great dad!


the real reason

Yesterday I felt recharged. I rediscovered the real reason I had children. Fun! We woke up in the morning and had NO plans! What a gift! Aaron and I decided to so something spontaneous even though it was raining and dreary. We packed some snacks and rain gear and headed to Discovery Park. It was so enjoyable and the boys LOVED it! It was relaxing. When do I get to say that anymore? After, we stopped in Magnolia for pizza at a place we had never been. It felt like old times- when you could go to lunch on a Saturday without a 4-tier plan of attack. Ahhh. Maybe a little bit of our "old selves" are still there and we just need to relax to let them return?



Sunday afternoon we took the leap into riding a bike without training wheels. Will has been riding a tiny bike with training wheels since he was 3. He has outgrown the bike and desperately needs a bigger one. (Plus, Henry is CRAZY to get on that bike!) Being frugal and a hard liner, I told Will he couldn't get a new bike until he learned to ride on two wheels. Yesterday, I got the wrench out and took 'em off! I gave him a 30 second pep talk about falling, getting up, and not getting it right away. I fully expected major bails, crocodile tears, and a defeated little man. I ran holding the back of his seat for about 5 minutes in our cul-de-sac...the next thing I knew he was doing it! I was stunned. He was SO darn proud. By the end of our afternoon, he was riding around the large circle, turning, and stopping.

I take no ownership over his accomplishment! It was all him. Most things with him are not this smooth or easy, so it was SUCH a treat for both of us! Guess he is getting that new bike for his birthday!


Library Manners

Unfortunately, for boys, there are expected manners every where you go. Most specifically when you are in public! Henry has not learned the protocol when you browse at the library! He bee lines it to the same section EVERY TIME we go to the library, which is about once a week. He l-o-v-e-s the non fiction section focused on vehicles. Today he proceeded to take 3/4 of the books off the shelf before I even got into the kid's section.

Now I did make the effort to re-shelve the books the best I could. (Thank goodness for those dewey decimal system lessons when we were kids!) However, as I was re-shelving the vehicle books he was dumping the sea animal books. My re-shelving the books was actually creating MORE work! I had to finally give up! I did ask the librarian, as we were checking out, if I should bring the books that Henry "read" to the counter or leave them at the table. She thanked me, with a smile, and told me to leave them on the table. Little did she know it was about 50 books! Hey, I asked, right!?


Ever think you are the only one?

Why blog? Because the cool kids do it? No, I want to write as a form of free therapy! Often times at the end of the day, I wonder if I am the only one that needed to send a child to his room 8 times for not listening and talking back. Or if any other mother had to add a lock to the door into the garage so that her toddler wouldn't sneak out to sit in "daddy's car"! Or if am the ONLY ONE who feels like the hostess, waitress, cook, bus boy, and the dishwasher. And no one ever seems to leave a tip!

If you would like to "listen" in....I am happy to share! Any advice? I would be happy to take it!

After a Very Long Day!

  1. I LOVE MY KIDS. (This should be a mantra I chant to myself throughout the day!)
  2. I would love my signature drink to be a "straight up vodka martini with three olives". I have tried and failed miserably! Shall I keep trying? Yes I will!
  3. I had a much better name for my blog, but worried that I would be shamed had anyone outside "my circle" found out my blog address!
  4. I appreciate my girlfriends who are keepin' it real about being a mom! Love you dearly! You help me keep my sanity.

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