You Don’t Eat Food Off The Ground & Other Teachable Moments

There are so many things you don't realize you have to teach your kids until you're in the moment. And it's exhausting. Over the weekend we took the kids to a local interactive science museum thing. It was their cheaper admission day, as well s Super Bowl Sunday, so we thought what with everyone watching sport ball and chowing down on bean dip, it’d be less chaotic and more fun. We were right.

The kids had a great time playing with all sorts of cool science-y things, and I made it about two hours before becoming socially overstimulated and over it. A good time was had by all.

We were just about to our van when Levi noticed something on the ground. Someone had spilled a good pile of popcorn right outside of his door.

“Popcorn!” he exclaimed with joy.

“Buddy, you can’t eat that.”

“But it’s popcorn.”

He looked at me confused as if to say, “But, Mom, it’s popcorn. I’m two and even I can recognize that it’s food. What’s the problem? Why can’t I eat it?”

It’s strange the things you have to teach your kids that you don’t even think about. I mean, when you’re pregnant or have a baby you think about teaching them to talk and walk and about colors and shapes and whatnot. Those are the givens that everyone thinks about. But other teachable moments surprise you when they’re looking you in the eye.

Like you don’t eat food found in a parking lot. And you don’t squirt hair gel all over the bathroom. And you don’t wake up at 2 a.m. and decide it’s time to play. And you most definitely do not scream for me from the living room saying you need help instead of calmly walking to the office where I am right now and asking nicely for help. Not that that’s what’s happening right now at all.

There’s always something to teach kids. Always. And it’s exhausting. We’re moving past the middle of the night wake-ups and into the realm of why this and why not that and I think it’s almost more exhausting than cuddling at 3 a.m. because it requires me to think of ways to explain things to a small child that I take for granted for already knowing.

Not gonna lie; These days I think I’d prefer a teething baby to attempting to explain the color turquoise to my three-year-old.


I Took My Kids To Story Time And Lived To Tell About It

Story time with toddlers is not for the faint of heart or anyone with any sort of social anxiety, but I braved the ordeal for my kids and survived. Barely.We’ve recently moved and if my circle of friends was small before this move it is minuscule now. I really only have two close mom friends. One in Colorado and one in Idaho. I have a handful of close friends but I don’t see them often because I can’t drive (poor eyesight – this is important to the story) and the drive is a bit much for my closer in proximity friends to come up.

Instead of sitting around with my two toddlers all damn day, every day, I’ve decided in 2016 I will go and make mom friends. I will seek them out and drug them and drag them back to my lair where I will force them to drink coffee with me.

Points for honesty?

And how does one make mom friends, you ask? In my mind, they find them by going and doing kid-related shit you don’t want to do. I could live a blissful existence spending most hours of my days by myself but kids aren’t down with that plan. Additionally, my daughter is so social and so badly wants other kids to play with and it breaks my heart so, damnit, I will venture forth into the world and meet people.

Ugh.

So today we went to story time at the local library and it was a bit of a shit show. I’ll start from the beginning.

I checked the web site and story time began at 10 a.m. I am an annoyingly punctual person and believe something one of my high school teachers pounded into my head: “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.” I do my best to always be 15 minutes early to any and every event because I’m terrified of being late and missing out or being a distraction or causing a commotion.

I immersed the children in head-to-toe rain gear because it’s raining because we live in the Pacific Northwest and OF COURSE IT IS. Remember how I don’t drive? That means we have to walk 7 blocks in the rain to the library. Seven blocks isn’t that bad of a walk — even with two toddlers in tow — but in the rain it sucks. They were amused for a bit by the water falling from the sky and the puddles but after about three blocks we were all over it.

But we pressed on.

Despite whining and hand holding and, “Please walk faster!” said a million times, the library was in sight. The beacon of warmth and light and hope for future friendships. We all got a little more pep in our step and headed to the front door only to find it locked.

The library doesn’t open until 10.

The same time that story time begins.

It is 9:46.

A very kind lady peeks her head out the door and says, “Hi guys! We don’t open until 10.”

“Oh okay. Story time is today, though, right?”

“Yes, at 10. So in about 15 minutes.”

“Okay. Great.” Not great. You’re really going to leave us out here?

“Did you guys walk here?” My kids look like drowned rats. What do you think?

“Yep.” Glimmer of hope…

“Well it looks like you’ve got some cool rain boots! See you guys in a few minutes!” And the hope dies.

I spend 15 minutes trying to entertain my kids in 45-degree wet weather. We sing songs, they whine, we run up and down the ramp, more whining.

“I know you’re cold, honey. I’m cold, too. No, it’s not time to in yet. Just a few more minutes. Hey, look, a squirrel! Yes, I wanna go inside too. It’s not time yet…”

Another group of children show up at precisely 10 and FINALLY we are allowed entrance and all of us begin to thaw.

We follow the gaggle of kids upstairs to the children’s area. There are chairs around a large alphabet-dredged carpet and I urge the kids to take a seat. They’re cool. They like it. They’re just sitting there next to each other watching more kids wander in and get name tags and I find a spot on the floor opposite of them so I can watch. Another mom sits next to me and opens a book and I think, “Damnit! Why didn’t I bring a book?!”

Before the whole thing starts the kids migrate towards me. Lily takes a seat in one of the chairs and Levi sits in my lap. Soon the stupid thing starts. There’s a song. My kids look at the librarian and at me as if to say, “What are we supposed to do? Are we having fun? Is this what fun is like?”

They start to get the hang of things and begin doing the hand clapping, stomping thing everyone else is doing. I breathe a sigh of relief. This is going to be good.

The librarian pulls out the story to read. Penguins! It has penguins on it! My kids are excited because they are related to me and therefore love penguins which is an excuse I use for some of our Christmas decor still being around the house.

She gets about three pages in before Lillian tells me she has to go potty. Of course she does. And, since she does, Levi has to pee also. So I ask the book-reading mom next to me where the bathroom is and we head over to the other side of the room. “Hidden” behind a shelf of books is the other half of the small room which has paints and crayons and crap on tables because after the story will be an art project.

I would say this was the beginning of the end.

I wrangle the kids into the tiny bathroom where they fight over who gets to go pee first, exclaim that the water is too hot, they didn’t get enough soap to wash their hands, and attempt to open the door while I myself am sitting on the toilet because, hey, I’m here so why not.

We begin our trek back to the neon carpet but Levi isn’t having any of that.

“I want to color!” he screams.

And screams and whines.

And whines and screams about how he wants to color some more.

For, like, forever it seems this happens.

Lils eventually gets bored with Levi’s charade and heads back to the carpet while I become that mom in the corner trying to console her son in the loudest whisper imaginable.

“Levi, I know you want to color. We’re going to get to color after story time is over. You just need to wait.”

Cry, whine, scream, repeat.

I’m sure the whole thing lasted less than five minutes but it felt like a fucking eternity. Everyone can hear him and everyone can hear me and in the name of all that is holy, son, please just stop.

Somehow, by some miracle, I get him to calm down and head back to the carpet.

Okay that’s a lie. I didn’t do anything. He just sniffled and said, “Where Lily?” and goes off to find his sister.

I remain on the floor trying not to cry because this is our first time here and I feel like a shitty mom and my clothes are damp and this is dumb and I hate everything.

I take a deep breath, regroup, and head back to the carpet.

Now everyone has scarves that they’re tossing and swinging around to some song but we were all in the bathroom so we have no scarves and damn if that just doesn’t make my kids sadder than a snowman in Florida. Somehow Lillian acquires one that was on the floor but Levi has nothing and begins to whine some more until book-mom goes behind the singing, scarf-wielding librarian and retrieves a scarf for him.

Once again they are pacified.

They sing a few more songs and read another story and honestly I must have blocked most of this out from being overwhelmed with how my kids were behaving because I have no recollection of the last 10 minutes of story time. Finally it’s arts and craft time! Each kid got to paint (“Mom! We get to paint!”) a penguin and glue on eyes and a nose (“Look, Mom, glue! Can I have the glue please please pleeeeaaaase?” and all is well for seven seconds until my kids realize there are now TOYS on the carpet and off they scamper to get into all the things.

I stood in the back and watched and sighed and tried not to cry because I just wanted my kids to have a good time and it’s so damn hard to tell because they have the memory and attention span of a rock. I couldn’t spend much time feeling sorry for myself before Lils needed help with a puzzle and I headed over to assist. They played with books and cars and crap until it was time to leave and I’d say, in the end, they were happy.

So happy, in fact, that when it was time to go, Lillian began whining and didn’t stop whining until we got home.

Seven blocks of whining seems like an appropriate indicator that she had a good time.

In the end, the only person I talked to was the librarian (why didn’t I talk to book mom?!) who I apologized to for Levi’s meltdown. She assured me it wasn’t a big deal, that it happens to all the kids, and I shouldn’t worry about it. Of course I did, and still do, but I feel a little better.

Will I go back? Yes. Will I enjoy it? All signs point to no. But next time I vow to say something to someone other than the librarian and maybe, just maybe, make a new friend.

To My Son On His Second Birthday

To My Son On His Second Birthday

To my son,

Today you are two. It seems like you’ve been two much longer since for the past couple of months when people ask me how old you are I say, “Almost two.” But today is the day. Today you are finally two.

We haven’t always had the best of times. Like last night when you refused to go to sleep and almost pushed me over the edge when you woke up your sister. But I forgave you. I always do.

You are smart and active. You were army crawling at four months and pulling yourself up at seven months. I knew in those moments that you were going to be a troublemaker and I’m pleased to say that, as always, I was right.

You are both a slow and fast eater. Sometimes you shove so much food in your mouth at once that it takes you forever to finish the bite. Other times there are too many other things to do that you can’t be bothered to merely sit down and eat.

You have comedic timing well beyond your years. You understand the concept of “pretend,” can count to ten, and know most of your colors.

You are always moving. While your sister drowsily lies on the couch when she has a cold, you maintain your usual energy and instead leave a trail of snot in your wake.

You love books more than any other toddler I know.

You are not much of a cuddler. My favorite part of the day is when you stumble out of your room after waking up from a nap and ask to curl up with me for a few minutes while the remains of dreamland fade.

You enjoy jumping, wrestling, and all-around roughhousing. You enjoy smashing things, banging things, and throwing things. Anything and everything; you do not discriminate.

You are a mystery to me. I am still unsure of the best way to discipline or affirm you. The most effective tactics appear to change every day and perhaps that’s how it will always be. You will always keep me on my toes.

You are compassionate and aggressive, adventurous and untamed.

You are funny and bright, curious and easily excitable.

You are my baby, my son, my buddy, and I love you. I look forward to the next year as we learn more about each other and grow to love one another, and like each other, even more.

Happy birthday.

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Do You Just Want to Pee Alone?

toni-hammer-i-still-just-want-to-pee-alone-2 Luke was gone the majority of this past weekend at some tech-related thing I can’t tell you about. Not because it’s super top secret, but because I’m not sure I understand what it was. The point is he was gone and it was just me and the kids for pretty much three days straight.

Friday night after the kids were in bed I patted myself on the back the way I normally do: by making myself nachos for dinner. I like nachos. A lot. Chips, cheese, salsa. Who doesn’t like nachos?

The answer to that question would be my stomach.

Around 5 a.m. the Gastrointestinal Gods began to attack. I should’ve gotten up and, well, taken care of things, but I refused. I drifted in and out of sour stomach sleep until I finally had to get out of bed because toddlers.

My coffee had barely finished brewing before I found myself hurling up greasy, cheesy salty grossness into the kitchen sink. Shortly thereafter I was in the bathroom. You know why.

And like every mom--every person–I just wanted to do my business ALONE. I did not want an audience. I did not want cheerleaders squealing, “Good job, Mom!” I did not want questions about what that smell was. I just wanted to be by myself with my pain and my anguish and my apologies to my bowels for eating nachos the night before.

The piece de resistance came when my daughter brought in one of her dolls. She set the doll up against the bath tub where it had the best view and said, “Mom, Dolly wanna watch you poop.” My daughter left me to my issues while lifeless doll eyes stared at me in silent judgment for my dinner decisions.

I couldn’t just be alone.

Have you been there? Have you ever just wanted to pee alone? To be alone? Do you need to know there are lots of hilarious other moms who share your grievances about being a mom, a wife, a woman?

Then you should get your booty over to your nearest book purchasing place of choice and get a copy of I Still Just Want to Pee Alone. This side-splitting and heart-warming anthology is filled with 40 women who share their stories on motherhood and womanhood and everything in between.

This is Harmony of Modern Mommy Madness, one of the authors, trying to pee alone. It's not going well.
This is Harmony of Modern Mommy Madness, one of the authors, trying to pee alone. It’s not going well.

You will laugh. You will feel validated. I promise.

I just told you about diarrhea. I have no reason to lie to you.

And if you don’t believe me, or you need to save your money for toilet paper, you’re in luck because I’m giving away a copy of the book!

All you have to do to enter is either leave a comment here on this post or on the Facebook post or on the tweet you may have followed to get here with your answer to this question:

“You have 30 uninterrupted minutes by yourself. What do you do?”

Me and my awesome team of judges will choose the winner and make the announcement Sunday night on my Facebook page.

Good luck!

Questionable Parenting Decisions

As a mom, I have a mommy instinct. We all do. It’s what tells us when our baby is hungry, tired, in pain, or just being a jerk. It’s a gift. It’s a curse. It’s done me some good and it’s hosed me a few times. It’s part of motherhood.

My mommy instinct has oftentimes caused me to turn left when everyone else said to turn right. I’ve made some questionable parenting decisions and for the most part they work out. Kind of. I mean, my kids are still alive and happy and healthy so I must be doing something right.

My kids started sleeping in the same room in a spur of the moment decision brought on by my mommy instinct. Neither had been sleeping well for a week. It was 5:30 p.m. and they were both already so exhausted. I couldn’t take the whining anymore and I was desperate to get a good night’s sleep. So without any grandeur, I put them in the same room one night about a year ago and, wouldn’t ya know it, they both slept the whole night through. No wake ups. No cries. My mommy gut told me that if they did wake up, they would notice the other one was with them and thus they wouldn’t feel the need for me. Winning.

My mommy instinct is what convinced me to switch Levi to a toddler bed when he was only about 18 months. Lils was in her crib much longer than that so it seemed crazy to move the kid when he couldn’t even climb out of his crib jail yet. But one night Lils was at Grandma’s and it was time to put Levi to bed. He climbed right into Lily’s toddler bed and slept through the night like he had been doing it forever. No big thing. We converted his crib to a toddler bed the next day and have had minimal problems. I mean, both he and Lils get out of bed when they should be in bed, but at least now I can watch them on the baby monitor and see who instigated the breakout.

One kinda cool thing about them both being in toddler beds is I get to witness moments like this where Lily climbed into Levi’s bed and they both fell asleep. My heart grew three sizes when I snuck in and saw this. My mommy instinct made this happen.

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Also this week i started cracking open both their bedroom door and mine at night when I go to sleep. What was happening was Lillian would wake up and just cry at her door, waiting for me to come get her, and then she would wake up Levi, and then I’d have two sad, tired toddlers instead of just one. My thinking was that if I kept the doors open, Lils could just come into my room and alert me to whatever faux disaster she was having.

I trusted my mommy gut and went for it… and this one may have backfired.

The other morning I woke up with one pillow on the floor, the other one mostly on my nightstand. My head was on one corner of it and I was clinging to about three inches of the mattress. I glanced behind me and there was not one, but both of my kids snoozing next to me.

I have no recollection of that happening.

I vaguely remember Lillian coming in and saying she had a bad dream, but Levi? I got nothing. I don’t remember if he climbed into bed or if I put him there. I don’t recall him making any noise.

This has happened pretty much every night this week. I think we’re all sleeping better, though. Maybe. Well, they are. I’m not, but I haven’t slept well in years so I’m used to it. Plus it’s kind of cute waking up to them next to me. I know I should put an end to this behavior and I will. Someday. When I’m not so tired and can actually remember my kids waking up and coming into my room and sleeping next to me..

I wish my mommy instinct had told me to buy a king-sized bed instead of a queen. It definitely failed me on that front.

I’m Not a Badass But I Play One on TV

_DSC7506Disclaimer: I try really hard not to swear on my blog or any of my work, but the term “badass” is the only appropriate word to use in this context. My apologies.

I went through a phase a couple of years ago where I wore a lot of skirts. I was a tomboy growing up and always favored t-shirts and jeans to dresses. I was in my late-20s and decided–well, the internet probably told me–that I should start being a woman. I should wear skirts and pretty shirts and heels and embrace the conventional term of “pretty.”

I liked it. I liked feeling pretty. I liked feeling feminine.

But.

I didn’t feel like me.

I felt like an imposter.

People would compliment me on my outfit or on how long my hair was getting because, you know, short hair isn’t feminine. My husband liked it which is always a perk.

Still, despite the positive reinforcement surrounding me, it just didn’t feel right.

Since having children I’ve discovered my true self.

My true self wears her hair super duper short and dyes it an unnatural red color. In the summer it is styled as a faux-hawk.

My true self prefers to wear blue jeans and black tank tops whenever possible despite the fact it makes my already pale skin look even more pale.

My true self prefers dark eye make-up (when I choose to wear it) even though the “no make-up” make-up look is in… I think.

My true self prefers knee high black boots to heels.

My true self says “screw you” to anyone who thinks I should look and dress and act a certain way simply because I have a vagina.

My true self wants to feel like a badass and these things–hair, fashion, make-up–help me to feel like that.

When I feel like a badass, I feel empowered. I feel like I can get stuff done. I feel strong and confident and that I look good. If I look good, if I see myself in the mirror and can say, “You look awesome,” I’m more apt to be happy. And if I’m happy, I’m more likely to be happy around my husband and kids and friends and family.

I don’t know if I’m actually a badass, but I know that when I feel like one, I feel like the most amazing woman on the planet.

I’m not saying you should ditch the dresses and heels. What I’m saying is that you have to do whatever it is you need to do to feel like you. I know that’s a confusing sentence so I’ll say it another way.

Do whatever it is that allows you to feel at your core that you are a woman warrior capable of opening doors, cleaning house, taking names, and being your most awesome self.

For me it’s a red faux hawk. For you it’s something else. Whatever it is, do it without shame or fear of what society will think. Society is full of wannabes trying to fit in and, as a mom, I don’t have time to mess around with those people.

Be a badass.

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The Silver Lining to a Bad Day

photo credit: brandsvig via photopin cc
photo credit: brandsvig via photopin cc

Monday night I said my famous last words:

I’m going to go to bed early tonight.

I thought of all the things I could do and should do and thought, “Nope. I need a good night’s sleep so I can be the best mom I can be to the kids tomorrow.”

So at 8:30 I climbed into bed and was ready to wake up in the morning happy and refreshed and ready to face the day. And that would’ve been great except…

My kids chose to take turns waking up every twenty minutes. To make a long story short, I didn’t end up falling asleep until sometime after 2 a.m. It was a long night which made for a really crappy Tuesday.

I’ve learned that if I don’t have enough sleep, there’s not enough coffee in the world to make me happy.

Yesterday I had a short temper with my kids. I got angry and uptight and frustrated.

I didn’t spend enough time with them cuddling on the couch or playing with their toys or tickling them.

I didn’t really enjoy my kids. I just kept looking at the clock trying to figure how early was too early for bedtime.

I was not a good mom yesterday. At all.

There is a bright side, though. A silver lining. And that is…

Tuesday is over.

Today is Wednesday and it’s a new day. What happened yesterday is in the past and today is full of new possibilities and opportunities to right my wrongs from the day before.

If you’re having a bad day, a bad week, a bad month, whatever, please know that every day holds the potential to be a better day than the day before. It may not happen for awhile, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. A day where you will go to bed at night and think, “That was a good day.”

I hope today is that day for me. I hope today is that day for you, too.

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The Other Person in My Bed

photo credit: demandaj via photopin cc
photo credit: demandaj via photopin cc

When I was pregnant with Lillian and friends would tell me about the sleep regressions kids go through, I would always silently guffaw at the notion. That’s silly, I’d think, they can’t regress. They’re just babies. How far can they actually regress? Besides, I’ve heard they don’t really sleep in the first year anyhow.

Now that I’ve managed to keep two babies alive and into toddlerhood, I can tell you that sleep regressions are real. There’s just so many things they’re doing and learning and thinking and dreaming. I liken it to when I start a new book or project and I’m just so excited that I can barely sleep. Same goes for babies–except they are excited about EVERYTHING.

So I’ve gone through sleep regression with my kids and we’re all still alive.

Alive, but broken.

My two-year-old is especially broken. Her sleep is, anyway.

For the last two weeks she has opted not to sleep like a normal human being. She’s tired–exhausted, really–but she won’t go to bed at night. She’ll wait until Levi falls asleep, softly knock on her bedroom door, and while sleepily rubbing her eyes say, “Mom, me awake.”

Well, yes, you are, but you really shouldn’t be.

This went on for hours the other night. I think it took her until 10 p.m. to finally stay in bed.

And how did I keep her in bed?

I caved and let her sleep in my bed.

And the next night, too.

And… well… she’s been spending a lot of time in my bed. Naps, too. It’s ridiculous.

What’s even more ridiculous is the time she doesn’t spend in bed. Like the other morning when she woke up at 4:30 in the morning. I woke up to her tossing and toning and I asked her if she was awake. “Me awake, Mom. Me play.” Um…

And then her nap was only an hour. One hour. She had been awake since 4:30 and she napped for an hour.

My daughter is broken and taking up my bed and not sleeping nearly enough.

I have no answers. I just wanted to get that off my chest. I feel better now. Thank you.

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