Tag Archive | parenting

11 years a mom

My first daughter is officially 11.  Last year birthday stuff got absolutely lost in the ‘magic’ of moving.  Each had a party, each was celebrated, none got a proper blog post and we never did do our adult friend/family party (people that would be invited to all 3).  This year we are in a much better place to pay proper attention but this time I hesitate to write a full-on letter publically to #1 because other things have changed.

  • She is pretty good about me sharing stuff but she is also shy about somethings so like all internet parents I need to make some boundaries
  • I am a bit more of a public figure, not that school board is the same as president however my name is more out there locally and the kids don’t need the extra microscope on them
  • There was a really scary local thing where a man spotted a kid getting off the bus and decided he would kidnap her.  They had no relation otherwise, he just saw her one day.  He broke into her house a couple weeks later, shot her parents, kidnapped her and there was a multi-week search and most had given up.  She rescued herself in the end, she was locked in a room but figured out when he was gone and got out and made it to a road and got help.  She is ok as can be expected but the safety we all feel is a little less secure.  Not that *not* blogging about my kids could have prevented something like that, however, less info as the world gets smaller is probably better.

On the other side of the coin, this is my record of what we do and how I see the world.  The title reflects that – I have been a mother for 11 years.  It has been a really interesting 11 at that, I’ve learned, made mistakes, apologized to nearly everyone in the world for something I felt I did badly, let go of some notions, adopted others and generally aged a decade in the process.

For this birthday we had the good fortune that it was on a Sunday so I let her sleep in and we did a nice breakfast followed by picking out a bike from the shop (to be delivered next week) and picking up a friend for a rock climbing adventure.  We had a little time at our house while I cooked the pie that needed hours to chill and the girls decided to have some impromptu sewing time.  They made a pretty reasonable elephant pillow with minimal supervision.  11 is really good like that, the basic sewing machine set up and a 2-minute lesson of ‘follow the line and go slow’ and they were good.


Rock climbing was a blast.  The place is just far enough away that we won’t do it often but it is a great thing to try.  They have harnesses that are super safe for solo climbing and give just enough upwards pressure that I had no problem with the climbs beyond figuring out where to put my hands.  I’m very glad I work out though, however, I wish I had my 6-year-olds weight to strength ratio.  She was like a spider on the wall and even did the free climb.


free climb area, to practice the extra crazy overhangs


pink shirt up there is her, note the overhang she got around!

Yesterday I spent from 11:30 on at school or with the birthday girl.  I did lunch with each daughter and then took #1 out for our mother-daughter afternoon.  We got a pedicure and then found pants that fit her.  The day was shorter than other years because I still had to pick up her sisters but we had a nice time.  The day was capped off by her getting a home visit from our SCA queen and she was given an award of arms, normally an adult award but she has earned it over the past few years doing pretty much everything she was allowed to help the group.  It was a pretty special night overall.  Not bad for an 11-year-old.


Home visit queen

This weekend we will have a friend party and I have no idea how many kids are coming.  A bunch.  20 were invited.  I’ll just make a lot of pizza rolls and stay out of the way.  They are taking on some of the planning so I’ll be hopefully a support system instead of a cruise director.

Otherwise, I did exciting things like meet with our tax guy.  Next for me is party prep and that is mostly cleaning because that is NOT in this particular 11-year-olds wheelhouse…

Where am I?

Good question!

I’m about 17 different places.  I think I’m developing ADD because I do a little bit on a project then run to the next thing and do something and off to the next.

Yesterday I laid out all the Halloween costumes to make sure I had all the bits and pieces and I didn’t so I had a crafty afternoon.  Still a bit to do but nothing too major.  When I post daily in November I’ll have DIY Batgirl, Poison Ivy, and Supergirl posts.  I’m already too late for this year, might as well do them right instead of rushing.


still missing a few things, better pictures to come!

I’m mid-major library wall project.  We would be further along but we got all the shells up and decided the center unit was too small so we had to go back to the store and that is a trip all on its own.


All of the tall ones will get taller, we were just doing the layout.  Don’t mind the clutter, yes, that yellow is last min Halloween costume making… 

Campaigning is an on and off thing.  I’m not a ‘major candidate’ but I still feel like I need to attend everything and keep an eye on issues on Facebook.  This grabs chunks of time and attention at unexpected times.

I have an entire post in my head about how we have entered the ‘taxi’ phase of parenthood.  A quarter of my brain is dedicated to the logistics of getting 3 other humans to the places they need/want/have to be.  It is fun overall and the things I hear in the car are priceless, especially when I have an extra kid in there.

Random house projects are still chugging along.  The garage has quite a bit of shelving now and we can, most importantly, park in there now.  I have acquired curtain hardware for the entire house, and fabric for upstairs, and we are working through getting that done.  Given we live in a giant field, privacy isn’t that much of an issue and now that the sun isn’t rising until past 7am I think we actually waited out the situation.  Curtains might be waiting until spring when I get a 5am face full of sunrise.


Family and friend dynamics, like always, are ever in need of attention.  Happily given but those who feel maintaining kids, marriages, friends and family and hobby relationships take no effort might look around one day and have very few.  Same with the poor neglected blog; I feel guilty that I can’t do more with everyone, the house is like a newborn!  Thankfully I hope everyone who matters understands.


And that is all I have time for today.  I need to get back to all the things before they get worse and spawn dangerous things for the neglect…

I’ve had a hard week/month

I think it is catching up with me but I don’t actually have the option to stop or I create different problems.

To focus on what we HAVE accomplished is a more positive outlook but a shorter list. Too often over the past month (of moving) or week (of actually being in the house), something I thought would be an easy thing to get done turns into a massive game of this then that and then another thing and possibly finally, after a trip to the store, something gets done.

I had to step back and choose a thing to see through to the end because all the half way was killing me.  The biggest thing on the list was to empty storage and so I gave the kids free reign of the TV and did many many trips in my intrepid minivan.  Apparently August is the month of rental because I could not find a trailer or a big truck anywhere BUT an awesome friend loaned us her trailer and an even more awesome friend helped do the final push with the big things I could not do solo.  Between Tuesday and Friday this


became this;


the scale is hard to see but if you look in the top picture, that odd blue floral pattern thing is a queen size mattress and box spring that are extending long way into the unit and they are about 1/4 of the way from the front.  Anyway!  glad all that is now in my garage ready to be sorted through.

I wish I had more pretty pictures to share but it was a fast-moving team effort to empty the onsite storage so things got crazy fast.  I can happily post that we have all beds now up and assembled – Niamh’s was in the waaaay back of storage – and I’ve done laundry and many meals have been cooked and cleaned up, we are living here now, even if we don’t know where 1/4 of what we need for any given task is.


Master bedroom and exercise spot.  


Fiona’s room, top bunk is just for sleepovers and stuffed animals


Day 1 before allllll the things


the very first action in the new house was this load of camping laundry….


this looks more like real life.  More work to do on the boxes but getting there!


On other life-related things, I’m just overwhelmed and over sensitive.  There are people that have been excellent and they should totally overshadow the people who have basically turned their back on us but it still hurts.

I have tons to do today so I must get to them.  Focus on what I can affect, keep positive, and ignore the urge to bunker.


ps. Lars set up the internet and my computer so I’m at a real keyboard again!

pps. despite the pictures, Lars is not always in the kitchen


Happy Second Christmas

We are home!

One of the tricky things about travel over Christmas is what to do about gifts.  Do you do them before the trip or after or drag them along on your trip?  This is doubled or tripled by what does your family do?  Give in person or ship to your home?  Complicate that more by variables unique to each situation and you get quite a situation.

We have been doing this for years and have come up with a few things that seem to help so if you are thinking of traveling during Christmas and wondering what to do here is what works for us;

  • If we are traveling very close to Christmas we do gifts before we leave
    • Also if something that is a Christmas gift but also needed on the trip
  • If we are leaving well before Christmas (like this time) we told the kids the gifts would be waiting when we got home and we would do Second Christmas
    • To make this work well I wrapped gifts well before we left and put them out so they could be shaken and wondered about, physical proof gifts exist
    • Had a friend put out the last few gifts and arrange them a bit and text a picture so on Christmas morning I could show the kids that Santa had come and set the gifts out just like normal and there they were, waiting for them.
    • “santa” still came to us in Hawaii, but, for us Santa fills the stockings so that wasn’t hard to do there
  • Make Second Christmas a real deal – We got home late and groggy and cranky from travel and I made the kids wait one more night so this morning we woke up to Second Christmas where we had fancy pancakes and talks with relatives as we opened gifts and I’m treating the whole day like a private Christmas.
    • Also talking up the fact that we have an extra Christmas day full of family time and nice food etc helped them feel good.

Bottom line is that we talked honestly about what would happen and how and why over and over to make sure they knew.  Also, a good time to work on the fact that a trip to Hawaii and all the fun things we did were part of their Christmas, and, spending time together is better than spending money on gifts…  However, that is a concept that is beyond many adults so I had realistic expectations for my kids and they did really well.  Especially well now that they have their second Christmas 🙂


twas the night before 2nd Christmas

They did thoroughly enjoy what we got them and what was sent from family.  It seriously sounds like Christmas here today with all the playing with all the toys.


final moments of torture waiting for Fiona to finish breakfast!


super tight bows are hard…


Grandma wins for most interesting and creative!

Next I need to tackle the unpacking.  Our flight was nasty timing, departing at 11:50 pm meant that we couldn’t really have a normal bedtime but on the positive Zoe and Niamh and Lars slept.  Fiona kept half waking up and freaking out so she and I did not get much rest.  Landing in LA at 7:30am with a 2-hour layover was not too bad.  You need at least 30min in LAX to get to the right place so we had enough time for a little breakfast and getting where we were going.  I was a zombie and Niamh kept falling asleep everywhere but we did ok.  Thankfully we had Vacation Mom to pick us up and we got home and ordered pizza and told the kids to eat and watch TV while we went to sleep.  Lars actually ended up sleeping on both flights so he was reasonable when we got home and went to work to pre-catch up.

I’m, not unexpectedly, unsure on what day it actually is but I know we have a weekend and new years day to go so we have plenty of time to readjust to this time zone and weather.  The house is decent, I need to grocery shop, but I did leave my sisters with clean laundry so I’m going to enjoy this day.


PS. this day for me made possible by my prents getting married 38 years ago.  Happy Anniversery!

Fiona is 4


Dear Fiona

You turned 4 on May 31.  Right now we call you Fiona, FiFi, Feefers and you also like Fi-yonce. I should add that if we call you anything but those names you object and announce the list of acceptable names. In the last month you saw your sister’s birthdays and have a good concept of what was going on this time.  When we asked who you might want to invite to a party your exact words were “the people in this house” and to clarify you said “You, daddy, Niamh and Zoe”.  I suppose for you the world is very full of your sisters and parents and while you enjoy time with friends you never really ask to go play with anyone (yet).

Speaking of sisters, you spend a vast amount of time and energy trying to get them to notice you and you have not figured out yet that being mean or loud won’t really help.  You steal the ball and run away, you tag along when they try and run and if they out run you, you cry loudly.  Cry loudly is still your #1 offense and defense and fall back position when tired or hungry or just woke up or the stars don’t align…

On the positive side, you are probably the most housekeeping minded of all 3.  Maybe I don’t remember your sisters at 4 clearing their plates or putting things away but you are actually quite good about it.  I doubt you remember when all three of you were home all the time and the majority of your memory has Zoe away at school too and you and I spend our days together doing things.  You mimic my cleaning, you help me fold, you are still in love with watching the washer fill and spin, and I have a feeling you could probably bake a cake given the number you have helped make.  Like a cat and the can opener, you hear me take out the kitchen aid and you are at my side with your stool ready to pour, watch and most importantly lick.  When we make other foods you taste all the way too, including uncooked rice and other things I tell you won’t taste good.  If I’m being slow about things  you go smell all the spices in the cupboard (learned about tasting those at least).  We spend the most time together alone, more than either sister, because in your entire life I’ve only worked from home during your rest time.

In so many ways you get babied still, but, you are pretty accomplished.  There is nothing you can’t climb if you can even reach it at all and if you can’t reach you are very good about finding something to stand on.  Your legs are super long, they just sprouted over night rocketing you from 24m to 3T completely skipping 2T size.  I think your legs (or sisters) make you a good runner too, but, you walked early and ran before you were 1 so you had no place but faster to go. We often walk a mile to the park and you are just fine with that. Physically you can also mix, stack, build, use the remote for easy things, operate the iPad and Kindle, and navigate netflix no problem.  Some days you watch a bit more tv than I wish, but most times you will choose to play with your babies or ponies or barbies – of which you have co-opted every one in the house to live in your room but you have no problem with sisters joining (until they feel you are not following their rules and then please see the screaming section of this note)



this was the first, you are better now, even use lower case but I don’t have a picture!


You can spell, write, and recognize your name and you have about half the alphabet actually known (you sing the song no problem).  Memorizing stuff is a cool feature of 4 and you can sing the entire Frozen “Let it go” song pretty well and you will often have a factoid that you tell everyone like when we were going to Texas you would tell everyone “its a state”.  Since before you were born you have heard the state song I sing and a few months ago it became clear that you knew the words but not the meaning so that leads to some cute mispronouncings like ‘Clover’ Deleware and ‘indi-apples’ Indiana.  You speak well enough that everyone understands you no problem but you still have a few baby words here and there.  You can’t say pancakes, you say something like pampams and you are absolutely positive that Gatorade is pronounced AterGater and has magical properties (we even gave you a bottle for your birthday).   Zoe actually made up the word ‘snoot’ as her word for the male organ, but you have taken it and ran. The topic of snoots come up way too often in conversation so we had to ban it as a ‘potty word’.  Funny story, you decided that potty words were ok to say in the bathroom so every bathroom we enter you immediately start yelling POOP! among other, as you exhaust your potty word stockpile.  I applaud your finding of the loophole and I’m pretty glad your vocabulary in that area is limited enough not to be super embarrassing!

Since we are home together you remain a snuggle bug.  You want to sit on me all the time and that’s just fine with me.  I’m not keen on your ninja ability to sneak into my bed at night but we are working on that.  Bedtime has gotten pretty easy recently and unless you get over tired you are ok with it.  Earlier this year was a horror and if I never hear the “I have to tell you something” phrase after 9pm again it will be ok by me.  Bedtime over the year of 3 started good, declined to bad, spent a month or two in terrible, and after some retraining and long talks got back to ok and now are actually good.  Good thing you are not my first, I had some tricks prepared, but you still conned me into sitting and watching you fall asleep and I still end up cleaning your room singing all the songs while you drift off because the entire thing takes about 7 minutes now so I don’t mind.  I sing you your ‘I’m a little tiger’ song and then ‘Wonderwall’ and often both sisters songs too and occasionally you want the states song but then you are out like a light for the night (or 3am).  Back to the snuggle, being the youngest you claim my lap and since nobody forced you out so you end up being held or sitting on me 110% more than either of your sisters.

It is hard to say what your personality ‘is’ right now because you are pretty different depending on the situation.  You are goofy, adventurous, outgoing, independent with regards to helping yourself to snacks or playing alone, easy going when the mood takes you and you know what to expect, loving and even helpful.  You actually do a decent job at finding things and follow directions pretty well.  Tantrums have more or less degraded to anger or frustration fits but you can be talked down in under 5 minutes and unless you have a good audience or are at the end of your rope, you get over things pretty quickly *only to bring them up many many times in the future*.  Places are defined by what we did there or if something happened to you.

This is getting long but you are only this age once…  You like dancing and dance to lots of music.  You adore the movie Home and Shark Boy/Lava girl.  You read every night to your babies and babies are still the toy you go to first.  Next year you will go to school 3 days a week and you are both excited and scared.  You are just starting to realize that I won’t be there to wipe your bottom…. (oh, 100% potty trained day, not so much nights).  You reluctantly gave up your crib this year and we are talking about a big bed soon.  Naps still happen but you fight them hard, however you like the down time at 1 and request it still.  Tomorrow is your well child and I expect you to be 50% finally for height and probably low for weight but thats ok by me.

We love you all the times.  Even when I’m sleeping and you whisper, because I’m sleeping, and ask me questions that you expect answers to.  You changed our lives, all of ours, and we are super happy that you are here.



Mom and Dad


ps.  I forgot your fashion!!! you look adorable in everything, your short hair is because you twirl your hair and break it but it looks perfect on you.  Basically every day you wear a skirt but you also want layers and have no fear of mixing every color or pattern.  Unfortunately your only real issue is with breathing and allergy but they don’t keep you down, you can even do the breathing machine alone now and we zertec every night.


send wine….

so want to know about lice?  I know a ton now, I took a crash course! As I walked out of Costco on Friday with a detailed yet doable to-do list Lars called and said the school nurse found a live lice on Niamh and he was going to go pick up Niamh and Zoe.

Que the over-reaction.  The stress reflex.  The idiotic shame over something I and they can’t control.  The google of ‘lice removal’ and ‘lice today party tomorrow?’.  Oh, and the laundry.

We called in Vacation partner (because life isn’t always a vacation) because she knew more than I did and we team washed, treated, inspect/combed all 3 kids and ourselves AND based on CDC saying kids can go to school post NIX treatment decided to have the party.  If you are googling and find this here is what we thought;

  1. CDC recommendation of treatment seems reasonable
  2. We were going to keep Niamh – the only one with any real sign – with hair up tight and away from the kids
  3. It was Zoe’s birthday and we really didn’t want to wreck the sister bond they have by having her big sister need to cancel the party.
  4. Almost all the party guests are classmates so they saw Zoe yesterday, and, as one parent said “we roll these dice every day anyway with school and gymnastics and sports etc”

So we greeted each parent with the situation and I think the winning line was “better yesterday than tomorrow” because, in reality, we were very safe post treatment.  It didn’t change the party really, the weather was nice so we were outside a bunch and they loved all the party games and activities.  I wish I could have enjoyed it more myself but I think they all really did.  There were many moments throughout Friday and Saturday getting ready that I wished I could quit but there is no quitting in baseball or motherhood and I powered through.

Sunday, the actual day of Zoe’s birth, we all woke up still stressed out but with some nice plans.  The way the killing shampoo works is that it kills everything alive BUT it does not kill eggs so you have 3 days or so before eggs hatch to get rid of the eggs.  I was under the impression our NIX killed the eggs BUT NO OVER THE COUNTER BRANDS DO THAT!!! so hello stress again!  Clock ticking I try the dr to call in a prescription.  They refuse because they have not seen Niamh in a year (her well child is next Monday by the way) and they say to go to urgent care.  Fat chance…  Then I find a place locally that will remove the eggs.  I mention it to Lars and Niamh over hears and jumps on it like a starving lion.  She is feeling guilty and sorry and like she caused it all and she just wants it over. They have Sunday hours so I book it and we head out.  Sorry Zoe… your birthday just went off the rails.

The place we went, nitpickers, could not have been more professional and understanding.  It is expensive but I think worth it to know that we really really are clear of it.  Fortunately, Lars finished the event he was at and joined us in time to take Zoe and Fiona out to the mall for some birthday fun while Niamh and I finished our treatments.  Poor Niamh, waist length hair is not easy and she had a lot to get out.  They did me because they found 2 eggs and probably more because who would take care of the mom in a family?  Fiona had zero, and Zoe had 6.  After dinner when they usually get a show Fiona  actually said she already watched too much tv because for 5 hours that what they did to stay still…



lets just call it a spa day….


I think Zoe still had a decent birthday, there were presents and cake and all but it was not up to my standard.  She opened brown packing boxes from amazon and closed her eyes as we handed her unwrapped gifts.  She accepted brownies with a single candle and pizza at the mall instead of the out to dinner we were planning.  We held it together… just… but I’m holding on to my sanity with a slippy grip.  What is NOT helping is the freakouts from everyone else around me.  Guess what?  they can’t live off a human head so rather than bleaching everything; get a good check of your head if your head touched her head.



those black sticks were sparklers


Today I called the school nurse to tell him what we did but also confirm that he checked the rest of the class and he avoided that question.  I forced him to answer and even though he told Niamh he would, he did not.  Poor guy – he got a bit yelled at.  They are ‘keeping an eye on people itching’ and I told him that was not even really a good symptom because plenty of people never itch!  lice are nocturnal and are dormant in the day…  I read a very informative book on the subject in the 5 hours I was sitting there.  I’m not an expert but I know a lot more now and I feel like I might as well turn this horrific stress party of a weekend into a semi-positive that now I know how to deal with something and I can also list here some facts I got from the book that might help you not be so much of a stress ball.



Enter a caption


  1. lice like to, no love to, stay on the person they are on.
    • they actually CAN’T feed from a person with a different blood type, it kills them
      • they could lay eggs and then die and those eggs would tune to the first meal so that is probably why I didn’t get this much because I’m O and Niamh is A.  Rh factor is also a thing too so different is good here!
  2. They have to feed every 4 hours but after 2 hours they are so dehydrated that they can’t lay eggs so you don’t have to go crazy cleaning because if they somehow got off, they are basically dead
    • eggs can’t hatch once they are out of the ‘goldy locks’ zone of perfect heat about a quarter inch off the scalp.
      • unfortunately if you think “I’ll just shave my head” you need to bic it to skin because you will miss eggs if you don’t.
  3. They move to a new head by hair or head touching when there are too many on the host head because remember, they love to stay where they are.
  4. Lice prefer dark so thick hair is their favorite, and, they dislike curly hair or dirty hair.  Short or thin hair where you can see the scalp are not a favorite either so if your balding (male or female) think of this as a side bonus.
    • However! live lice can’t be showered off, they can survive 2 hours under water and cling like crazy to your hair.
    • the olive oil or mayo method is a maybe because it makes it too hard for the eggs to adhere like ‘dirty’ hair

I can’t really describe what each stage looks like any better than the internet at large but I hope these tips help you not freak out like I did.  You don’t really need to wash everything they ever touched.  You don’t need to take things away for weeks to ‘be sure’.  You DO need to clean where they have been in the past 4 hours – I was cycling things through the dryer and hot washer until midnight the night before a party and then all morning too and that was just wasted energy!

Tomorrow I’m sure I’ll be back to normal.  I didn’t get to work out or eat right all weekend so that added to my stress load.  I had a nice morning with some friends and Fiona is being sweet and the sun is shining so I think we will have good afternoon and an early night and tomorrow I can be happy-shiny about Zoe’s puppy party.  I’m also buying a pro lice comb and we get to do some checks every 2 weeks for the rest of their lives…

11nncznc3bl with twisted teeth to really kill the buggers!