Guys aren’t strangers

come on in guys!

come on in guys!

I came across a post recently that reminded me of how precarious our kids understanding of things like safety, danger, and strangers can be. You can find the post I’m talking about here. Go check it out, I’ll wait……..

Now, how do you think your kids would act in a stranger simulation???

I started talking about “stranger danger” as early as possible with the kids. It is one of those lurking fears we mothers have…

Right now, Sammy is 5, and we’ve been tossing scenarios back and forth with him for years now. We’ve talked about how his body is HIS body, and no one is allowed to touch it. We talk about strangers, and even people who aren’t strangers possibly making him feel uncomfortable. Always harping on the basics….

What do you do if someone tries to grab you?

His answer usually includes some form of ninja death chop….but then he remembers that he should really run away, screaming for help.

What do you do if someone DOES grab you?

Scream more, kick, bite, cry-loudly-, fight and struggle!!!

What do you do if a really nice little lady comes by to show you her cute puppy?


Even scenarios with neighbors or friends… if it doesn’t feel right…. it’s ok to NOT do it, and TELL TELL TELL!!!!!

We talk about it a LOT.

So… with that in mind……….

One day about 3 months ago, I was upstairs with the youngest. Sammy is downstairs, and the doorbell rings.

(I don’t hear it)

I happen to come downstairs right after, and find two young men standing in my foyer. Sammy had let them in.

Thankfully, they were not killers. (as far as I know)

Once they left, I didn’t yell at Sammy. I sat him down, and started talking about strangers. Why it could have been VERY dangerous to let those guys in. Why he should NEVER answer the door (which he already knew…I thought).

He listened to my impassioned lecture, letting me calm down before he responds.

“But mom, they weren’t strangers….. they were GUYS!”


What I hate about parenting…..potty training :(


Potty training.

Have I mentioned this? Yes, once or twice.

I am stuck right now, obsessively fixated on potty training, SURE that I am screwing up my 2 year old beyond repair. I hear people say things like “just don’t worry, your child will TELL YOU when they are ready to use the potty”. But I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it will happen without mental agony on my part. This is the only way I know how to do anything….is with a healthy dose of psychological pain. It’s my process.

Jenna herself seems fine. She actually goes several days without having an accident. This is because I take her potty often. And catch her trying to hide when she wants to poop. Then it’s all good natured fun “Oh mom, you caught me again!” Jolly laughs on the way to the potty.

If she happens to wet herself, she tells me-probably during the act-that she has to go potty. Then we go to the bathroom, find that her pants are wet, and it’s big eyes all around, “how did THAT happen???!”

Can I just say that she USED to tell me before she had to pee. Like, a year ago. And I don’t know why that doesn’t happen now.

So I worry about it. Worry that I’m screwing up, that I’m not getting it right. I MUST be doing something wrong… right??

Yesterday, I tried to just let her tell me when she had to pee. We have been wearing cloth training pants with a diaper cover. Diaper cover is NOT water proof, as I came to find out.

I asked her a lot if she needed to pee. “Nope!” is her gleeful reply.

Then she pees herself, and decides to tell me she needs to pee. No big deal, accidents are a necessary part of training. I know this.

Later, I take the kids grocery shopping. She had just peed, I gave myself a good hour to get there and back. Kept her in the cloth pants, because I don’t want to confuse her.

We were on our way to the register, cart FULL.

“Mommy, I have to go potty”. Which means, I just peed. I picked her up, and saturated my shirt. Huh… guess there is really no point to diaper covers.

We get home, wash her, she takes a nap.

Upon waking, Jenna decides she hates everything in the world, and refuses to do anything she is asked. I don’t want to push her, so once her tantrum started-after I took off her pants to use the potty- I just walked out of the bathroom to let her calm down, or follow me, thinking when the urge hits, she would go sit on the potty.

I hear this noise…Sammy is standing next to me. He knows what it is before I do.

“Mom, Jenna is peeing on the floor.”

Sure enough, she is standing there, peeing on the floor. (the floor I just washed, of course) By the way, there are TWO little potties in there, one on either side of her. I really think she was making a statement. A statement of my supreme failure.

Don’t ever Google anything about potty training. Every mom has a story, either horrific (My adorable 7 year old little Charlie is just so stubborn, we still can’t get him to use the potty!!), or depressing to the rest of us loser moms (My triplets were all potty trained at 6 months. Right after they learned how to knit and speak Japanese. They each have a different dialect, it’s so cute!)

Today, it was back to just taking her potty when I thought she might need to go. No accidents….but I know she’s not the one being trained here…

Squeezing in together time

It’s here people….. ice cream time is here!! To be very honest, the ice cream place by our house is open all year (yay!), but we generally don’t walk up there until all the snow is melted. Takes a while in Ohio….

Yesterday, was the first trip. ALL 4 kids came with me, none able to withstand the lure of blue cosmo, cookies n cream, or that peanut butter banana smoothie. I love…. LOVE when I can get the 4 of them to go somewhere with me. Especially because now, the clock is ticking. The oldest is counting down the days until she flies the coop for college, having them all together after that is going to be a lot less frequent.

So in honor of our togetherness, I forced encouraged them to smile at the camera as I tried to snap some candid moments around the ice cream table.



Most of the time, these are not amazing pictures. It is impossible to get them all to look at me, or smile, at the same time…or at all sometimes. But I keep them, because I am that emotional mom who likes to think back and start crying sometimes when I reflect on how much each child has grown/changed over the years….. I think they like it when I cry….

I am also that embarrassing mom who likes to save these pictures, and them bring them out and show everyone how much they’ve grown or changed since last year, or years ago.

For example, I just so happened to remember that just last year…. we were sitting around a table at this very same ice cream place, and I also made them asked them to smile nicely for the camera…

last year

last year

Isn’t that so cute!!!  Can you believe Jenna FINALLY has hair? Can you believe how long her tongue was/is??

People, I live for this stuff. It’s what I do.

Christmas then.....
Christmas then…..
Christmas now!

Christmas now!

See what I did there??

I know one day, I’m going to miss having all these kids under my roof. (I keep telling myself this….) So I do my best to keep a record of the times they actually LOOK like they are getting along, as they grow up, and before they grow away.


Pee Nazi’s

from the book: Potty, by Leslie Patricelli

from the book: Potty, by Leslie Patricelli

Usually when I ask Sammy about school, he isn’t very forthcoming with his answers. Probably because my questions are boring and predictable.

What did you do today? Nothing. Did you have fun today? Yes. Did you learn anything new today? No.

When I’m not badgering him, he will sometimes just open up on his own and tell me all sorts of interesting things.

Like how his teachers might be Pee Nazi’s.

It started with him talking about nap time at school. He takes his naps seriously, and was complaining about some of the other kids who wanted to talk and play instead of napping, ruining the quiet time for everyone else. As he went on, he also brought up how rude one little girl is, for always wanting to use the potty at nap time. The teachers want her to wait until they all get up, so the girl cries.

This got my attention. If there is one thing I can’t stand, it’s not letting kids pee. I’ve blogged about this before.

I immediately speak up for the little girl. “Sammy, if she needs to pee, they should let her pee.”

He looks at me. Obviously he knows better.

“Mom, they want us to pee after nap. I pee after nap. If I have to pee before nap, I just hold it. We need to practice holding it.”

We go back and forth. Me explaining that sometimes you NEED to pee, and it doesn’t matter if you’re napping, or eating lunch, or playing. I’m trying to reassure him, that if he is in that situation, it’s OK to pee!

He thinks I’m stupid.

The way he responds to me… he’s being patient because he has come to the conclusion that poor mom just doesn’t get it.

We don’t pee the same way you did back in the day…… now we HOLD it. duh.

How do I complain about something that he seems to have no problem with?

“Um, yes…. my son apparently has no trouble waiting until after naptime to pee, even if he actually has to pee while he is laying there on his little cot….in fact, he seems to think I’m a little slow for not understanding that nap time is not PEE time…but can you please let that poor little girl pee??”

I still try to explain to him that no matter how impressive his bladder control might be….. sometimes you just need to go. Like now. And if he ever, EVER needs to pee, and he is told no….. he is still allowed to go, and mommy will talk to the teachers.

I’m pretty sure he doesn’t believe me, because he is well and truly brainwashed by the pee Nazi’s.

Don’t text my kids!

When people get married, have kids, get divorced, and then move on to date or marry other people…sometimes things can get messy.

The ex is a bit of a player. He’s been dating the same two women on and off for years, sometimes one at a time, sometimes both together. Sometimes they know, and sometimes they don’t.

My kids don’t know EVERYTHING about his private life, because it’s private. When they aren’t with him, his actions are his own business. I thought.

Until he broke up with the “nice” lady, and blocked her number….in turn driving her crazy and causing her to reach out. TO MY KIDS.

And my 13 year old came down in tears, from her “goodbye” text message that started out so sweet, and ended with “by the way, your dad is dating *name of “bad” lady* again and I know you don’t like her….have a good life”

Can I say that I felt the crazy wake up inside of me???

On one hand I feel for this lady, she always did seem to be on the short end of the stick. But, that was a low blow. You don’t use someone’s child to keep the drama alive. I know she must be so hurt, and angry, and not thinking clearly.


Not my kids problem.

So I got her number, and I texted her. Believe it or not, I was not horrible.

But I did tell her to please not contact my kids, and they would be blocking her number.

I’m really proud of myself for being a grown up, because inside I still want to smack her for making my son cry, for manipulating him in order to get back at his father.

Guess what? I got a text back….. a profuse apology and acknowledgment of how awesome my kids are….

Yes. They are awesome. I hope awesome enough to learn from the mistakes of their parents, they sure seem to have more sense than us sometimes.

Spanish lesson

image courtesy of:

image courtesy of:

My 13 year old is taking Spanish class.

He is the master of Spanish Class.

He sometimes asks me to give him a sentence, ANY sentence, and he will translate it in Spanish.

I start with some basic stuff that I will know as well. “Where is the bathroom?” “Give me a pencil.” “Your dog smells bad”

He doesn’t know the word for “smells”, argues that it’s not an important word when having a basic conversation. I think if you are in fact with someone who only speaks Spanish, and you smell gas or a fire…. it could be a really important word to know.

I move on.

“Your cat is stuck in my throat”

He smiles, “Su Gato es stucka en la garganta”

I run to Google translator. “Ok!” He’s laughing…. “it’s really not es stucka!” (no kidding)

but I was still impressed.

cat1 cat

And can I just say…. I had NO idea I could actually find an image to go along with having a cat stuck in your throat, or a cat about to be stuck in your throat. But there are many. So this is a phrase that may well come in handy, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Hell nights

If I was given one wish right now, I might wish for Jenna to sleep at night. I am desperate for it.

We are back in a cycle of night waking, crying, wanting to go downstairs, then walk over there….then over THERE… all the while pointing and crying relentlessly if I don’t comply. There is really NOTHING over THERE. She just doesn’t want to be HERE, wherever we are at the time.

I feel very close to that kind of tired that comes with having a newborn. The kind of tired that has you noticing the sunny day around you, yet not feeling the brightness penetrating the gray haze you are trapped in. The kind of tired that might contribute to falling asleep at the wheel and driving into a light pole on the way home from work. Ahem. Anyway….

It’s really…. Annoying.

I asked my husband the other day, “Can you imagine how much better life would be if we actually slept a night through? All the way through??”

I might have seen a tear in his eye…. and I think it was probably just too painful for him to contemplate. So he didn’t.

It’s not always this bad. Jenna has cycles of horrible sleep, followed by cycles of ok sleep. But no cycles of great sleep. Not yet.

I have been told we are at fault because we all share a room. Also, because I have held her too much. Also, that she is manipulative….VERY manipulative. The upside of this would be that she is also very intelligent.

I am going to say that I doubt all children who share rooms are bad sleepers. I also doubt I have spoiled her into this behavior. I also don’t believe she is manipulating me. She is not evil. Well, I am saying this now, but in a few hours I will absolutely agree that she is the most evil child in the world because I will be exhausted and she will be tossing and turning, wanting a drink of water, wanting to go potty, wanting to go downstairs, wanting to watch Paw Patrol on my computer, and then ONLY sleeping when she is lying directly on top of me, clinging like an octopus.

I have Googled the hell out of this phenomenon.

Learning about things like sleep regression, and “wonder leaps”… all good excuses for your kid to sleep like crap. Can’t blame it on teething anymore…she’s done.

I suppose it helps to know there are other parents with similar issues. I love the advice: Cry it out. DON’T cry it out! Hold them. Don’t hold them! Lock them in their own padded room. Let them sleep in your bed. Melatonin. Sleep therapy. Lobotomy. (just kidding, I made up that last one. Pretty sure no ones tried that yet)

lobotomy free!!

lobotomy free!!

I am telling myself it will be so much better by age 3. Sammy was up a lot too until then. One more year.

(determined look on face, followed by huge yawn).

Love Day


Valentine’s day is coming up. The day to express our depth of sentiment with chocolate hearts, roses, pretty pink fluffy things.

I asked at Sammy’s school if he could pass out his valentine’s tomorrow, and was told the school doesn’t celebrate holidays, so the teacher had to ask first.

I thought about it all during the day yesterday, what if they say he can’t?? I already promised we would get valentine’s for his friends, we debated on writing just his name on the back vs writing the name of the friend and then also his name. What kind of candy or treat will we choose? Both of us giddy to have something fun to prepare for sharing with the class.

I remember Valentine’s day in school. We prepared an old shoe box with colored paper, heart cut outs, glitter and tape, turning it into a container to hold our cards. We all got up and passed out our cards and candy to our friends, then walked home eating goodies from school.

I remember the drama when one well intentioned boy wrote “I love you” on all of his cards, probably under direction of his mother…..and the class erupted in giggles and shrieks. Some of us were secretly pleased to have a real admirer, before we realized everyone got the same message.

No more valentine’s in school?

I felt bad for Sammy, and wondered how I’m going to break it to him?? I want him to have that experience, that bit of fun and feeling special. Already planning on what we can do instead of class valentine’s if he really isn’t allowed. And why are we seriously not allowed to celebrate anything anymore??

I hate that some people get offended about everything, causing schools to stop celebrating at all.

Chill out people. Go have some Dove chocolate.

All for naught…. I was later emailed that he is allowed to bring valentines.

I will save up my pre-formulated arguments for another time. Instead, we are headed to the drugstore after school today, to debate the finer points of sponge bob over teenage mutant ninja turtles and their respective messages of love.

The Courtship

They met on Facebook. Then texting, finally talking on the phone.

I was kept updated as things progressed. As she went from hundreds of candidates, to one.

They had so  much in common. Went to the same concert once, sat in the same row. Was it fate??

Both embarking on a journey, deciding if they want to share the experience.

Finally. It was time to meet.

They met at my house, and drove together from here. Big smiles and “hello’s” all around before they left.

And then the waiting.

A text update to me during a bathroom break..”I’m so nervous!”

More updates later: “We went shopping and now we’re at Mitchell’s. We’re bonding, I think this is going well.”

Dancing around the BIG QUESTION…. feeling each other out.

And then, it happened.

“Mom, we’re rooming together!”

She picked a roommate for college. They picked each other. With wide and hopeful smiles, they then moved to picking out all the things they are going to do to their dorm room, to make it “theirs.”

I swear this was more stressful than a first date. At the end of the night, I felt like we should be announcing an engagement… felt so HUGE.

And it was, wasn’t it??


Thirteen Reasons Why, a novel by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why, a novel by Jay Asher

So, I’m still an avid reader. I stopped reading for enjoyment during my quest for that Masters degree. After school was over, I actually started using my Kindle to download books. Holy cow, I can’t believe I thought I preferred turning pages and holding a book in my hands. I have access to a world of literature at any second, I can read in the DARK! It’s become something of an obsession, I still don’t sleep until close to 2am because I’m busy reading. That is ME time, unless of course Jenna wakes up and needs to sleep completely on top of me because nothing else is good enough.


Sometimes I will read a book that I find amazing. Life changing. Powerful. Thought provoking. It pops into my head during the day if I leave it unfinished. I can’t wait to get into bed at night and get back to it. I watch the little corner of the screen to see how much of the book I have left, happy and sad to be close to the end, not wanting it to end, but NEEDING to know how it ends.

Sometimes a book will not be exactly enjoyable, but necessary.

I finished such a story today. One of those books that gets in your head and leaves you feeling a little “off” if you have to stop and attend to real life while the story just hangs there, waiting for you to come back. I knew it would have a message, but didn’t expect the impact. It was a book about a girl in high school, she commits suicide and leaves a message for 13 people to hear after she is gone. These people all had some impact on her decision to take her life, some big and some little.

I found it hard to read, and hard to put down. It made me remember things about high school that I would rather forget.

The book is called Thirteen Reasons Why. Written by Jay Asher.

I’d never heard of it before, but you may have. Looks like it has been a best seller at some point.

As I read, and as I finished, I thought a lot about how we treat each other at that age. In high school, middle school. It can be brutal. We focus more on bullying now than ever before, but so many of us have experiences that we will never forget, things that may not seem like such a big deal to anyone else.

I remember being miserable in high school at times. Didn’t help that I wasn’t thrilled with life at home either. I did think of suicide, but I never actually had a plan. I would bet most kids have had at least a fleeting thought. Isn’t that part of being a teen? SHOULD it be??

I will not tell the silly details of how I was bullied, the times I felt stupid, ugly, insignificant. I remember some moments very well, but these are not the things that come to mind when I read this book.

Instead, I think of a shameful moment I will never forget. A moment that I will always regret.

Sitting in class one day. A girl behind me who was a sort of friend. Less popular than even me. Maybe I was feeling particularly low that day, needing to make someone feel lower than me.

I turned around, looked into her eyes. And told her she was UGLY. That’s it. It was like I was telling her the time. I don’t believe it was premeditated at all, I wouldn’t have ever had the guts to carry that plan out. Her face crumpled. I scoffed, said something like “Come on, I’m just kidding!, Geez!” Made light of it, I remember her confused smile. She wanted to believe I was joking.

Why did I DO that?

Not only have I never forgotten that moment, I swear I think of it more now then when it happened. And if I can remember it so vividly, do you think SHE can? When she thinks back to her school days, will I forever be the girl who called her “ugly”?

I saw her years and years later. We were “grown up”, in orientation together for our new nursing jobs. I thought about what I’d done to her, thinking maybe this was my chance to make up for that. She was nice, just like before. Didn’t seem to remember or at least didn’t seem to care about that horrible moment. I never brought it up, embarrassed and also not wanting to hurt her again. There was no sense of resolution for me, didn’t lessen my guilt or shame, even if she didn’t remember.

I hate the me that did that. I have used that example in trying to teach my own teens about how/why the kids in school are sometimes so horrible to each other. Especially in high school.

Check out this book. If you have ever been in high school, I think you won’t be able to help relating to it. Let your kids read it, if they are old enough. Remember, the things we do and say can have a power beyond what we expect.