Baby You Can Drive My Car…Maybe

 

As we get closer and closer to Beezus getting her driver’s license, I am pretty jazzed to attend the upcoming Drive it Home Show, presented by the National Safety Council and Allstate Foundation, Thursday, April 4. If you have tween, teen, or are concerned about teen driving safety, it will be an informative (and entertaining!) event. Please feel free to share this post with anyone who might like to attend. Details are as follows:

What: Drive it Home Show, presented by the National Safety Council and Allstate Foundation

When: Thursday, April 4 from 7pm – 8:15pm

Where: Jean Runyon Little Theater (1400 J St, Sacramento, CA 95814)

Price: FREE! (no tickets required)

Parking: Parking for the Sacramento Convention Center Complex is available at the city-run Memorial Garage at 14th and H Streets and privately owned lots within walking distance of the facilities. Parking rates vary by location and event. On-Street parking meters are also available and surround the Convention Center. Parking for visitors with disabilities can be found in the parking lots and at meters.

BONUS: You can enter in the sweepstakes at the event for a chance to win gas cards and a brand new car!

 If you’d like to attend, click here to register and let them know that Clever Girls Collective sent you. Hope to see you there!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

wonderful

 

easter

I’d be lying if I said that I feel completely relaxed after this Easter weekend. In fact, I think I am more tired than when I started it.

But there was so much goodness and awesome, I’m actually having a hard time writing it all down.

Family
So much time spent with family. I enjoyed every second of it. Saturday afternoon BBQ to welcome visiting family. Easter brunches that last all day. It was pretty fantastic to spend so much time with everyone. And it was good to see the kids having such a great time!

Friends
One of the best things about living next door to one of your best friends is being invited to their epic Easter egg hunt Sunday morning. Even the adults get to participate! We weren’t able to stay very long, but we had a blast with all of some of our favorite people!

Coolest Easter Weather Ever
Thunder…lightening…giant rain drops…sunshine and warmth? This weekend’s weather had it all. It’s been a long time since I enjoyed weather so much. (What a nerd.)

Lazy Saturday Morning
It’s not very often that we have the luxury of taking our time on Saturday mornings. So of course that means bacon and pancakes. And the most delicious berry and lemon topping, if I do say so myself. We took turns playing tic-tac-toe as we ate and just enjoyed the laziness for a bit.

Easter Basket Stuffs
A little before Christmas we became a household where everyone now knows that Santa, Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are all part of the mom and dad gig. I felt a tiny bit sad over it during Christmas, but we were all so excited about the puppy. However, as The Dude and I shopped for Easter, I missed buying stuff for the littles. It was a bit weird, really, when you realize you’ve passed that part of parenting. Filling Easter baskets will still fun. Just…different.

I have a lot coming up this week, and starting it off so tired is probably super ridiculous. But you know what? How can you regret so much awesome all crammed  into one weekend? You really, really can’t. I loved every second…and I hope you all had a wonderful weekend as well!

Living the Unplanned

I wasn’t sure that I was going to have more the one child. It’s not that I didn’t want more kids after Beezus was born, it’s just that I didn’t know if we were meant to. I had always dreamed of having a big family. But being so young and unprepared…and after struggling so much to just survive, I shoved all those dreams in a drawer. Whenever I got asked if we were having more kids, I just got in the habit of saying no. It was easier that way. I said it with such conviction, I think that I even started to believe it. Somewhat.

Deep down in my heart, and in the very back of my mind, I grieved the big family that I’d never have. I watched friends get married and starting their families. I often wondered what that felt like. They made married life look like such fun. And then when it was time for them to start having kids? Excitement. Everyone was so excited for them. Including me. I was. I really, really was. But I couldn’t help but wish it had been that way for me. And I knew…I KNEW that it was part of the deal. Unplanned, teenage pregnancies don’t get celebrations. They don’t. And they shouldn’t. I knew this. But that doesn’t make it any easier when you believe that you will never have that. That you will never be on the receiving end of that kind of joy and celebration.

And so I pretended that kind of sadness and disappointment didn’t exist. I continued surviving and fighting for my little family of three. It was hard. God knows it was hard. There was so much baggage to deal with. So much uncertainty. So much hurt. And I kept on being happy for my friends and for my family and all of their joy and triumphs. I threw myself into being supermom. Or trying to be. Whatever that is. But I never stopped wondering. No matter how deep back in my mind those thoughts were, I never stopped thinking about it.

All of a sudden it was time to celebrate Beezus’ fourth birthday. We were planning a (cup)cake decorating party. The family would be there of course, but a lot of preschool friends would be joining us this year as well. I used my lunch hours to run all the errands. And the Friday before the party, I was finishing up. I was busy making sure I had everything on my list. I had one more stop to make when I started to feel awful. I remember thinking “If I don’t eat something RIGHT NOW, I’m going to puke.” And then I couldn’t think of anything else. And then I started counting days and months and…realizing that maybe there was a reason that I was feeling like I might be sick. And then I worried. And wondered about all those little pills I took every day. Well, then that would be impossible, right? But that small percentage people would talk about? Would I really be a part of that small percentage that could get pregnant on birth control pills? Of course I could. Because, of course. And all of a sudden, there was one more errand I would need to run on that lunch hour. Not that I needed it. I knew what I would find out. And I knew that I was already at least a couple months pregnant.

I kept it from everyone at first. And I’m not even sure I slept at all that night. But I had a party to get ready for and a four year old to celebrate, there was no time for me to feel any feelings or tell anyone about what was going on. I think my sisters suspected something. My husband suspected nothing, bless him. But thankfully, the party went off without a hitch and the kids had a blast. I ate plenty of nachos to ward off any morning sickness.

I can’t remember if I told my husband I was pregnant later that night or early the next morning. To be honest, I don’t even remember how I told him. Just like I don’t remember how I had told him four years prior. Once again, we were looking at a pregnancy that we hadn’t planned. At least this time we were married. And in our twenties. And owned our own home. But we were still unprepared for this turn of events. There were about two to three hours of “HOLY. SHIT.” before something changed in both of us. And then it was “this is ok!” and we thought of the office and how it would need to be turned into the baby’s room. And then it was “we’re having a baby!” and it started to get exciting. And then we were excited. My heart pounded.

My dad happened to call a little later, just after we had told Beezus the news. My older sister had stopped by their house and I think he invited us over as well. My brothers were already there – they still lived at home, so we called my younger sister and told her to meet up at Mom and Dad’s. We said nothing and gave them no specific reason, but practiced with Beezus what she would say while we drove over. I think we were the last ones to get there. And as we gathered in the kitchen, Beezus suddenly became shy and forgot everything she was supposed to say. And so I brought my face close to hers and whispered the prompts in her ear. In the tiniest of voices, Beezus announced.

“My mom. Is having. A baby.”

My mom said over and over how you could’ve knocked her over with a feather she was so surprised. She had believed me when I had said no more kids. My sisters knew something was up from the birthday party. My brothers probably reacted just as you would imagine teenage boys would. And even if my family was still worried about us, or were in disbelief, they were happy for me. For us. There wasn’t the sadness and disappointment and fear that had been there years before. It was my moment. Right there, in the kitchen in the home I grew up in, my family handed me my moment of joy and celebration that I never thought I would have.

I know it might sound a little silly. And the more I read over this, the more I wonder if I’m going to hit publish because it makes us sound like the most irresponsible little turds on the planet. But somehow I have to find a way to let that go. Because what I’m learning as I go back and write about all of this, is that I’m the person I am now because of all the unplanned. We are this awesome family of four made out of the unplanned. For whatever reason, this is how our family was blessed to be ours. It wasn’t meant to be easy. But this is part of our story. An important part of our story. And as unconventional as our family is, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Easter Something

Easter is in four days and I’ve done nothing to get ready. No decorations. No candy and gift shopping. Nothing.

Yes, we’ve been busy. Yes, I had so much laundry to do. But I am sitting her surprised at how little time I have left to get festive.

I did Easter so well last year. (I owe most of that to Courtney and our whirlwind Michael’s trips. Also the family visiting from out of town, maybe.)

eggs
I got CRAZY with a pencil and egg dye last year

I read a blog post the other day about Easter being a time for new beginnings. I’ve always felt that way, but I feel it especially this year. Ironic that there has been a lot of new for me lately. This website. Being more open about it. Big decisions. New goals. Daring greatly. Loving much. Opening my heart and my mind just a little bit more. It’s all very timely.

I took the day off today because my kids are on spring break. I’ve been awake since 5:30 thanks to a weird noise the dog made. Sure, we have errands to run (someone is getting the rest of her braces off) but having a calm morning jump-started my brain. I’ve had a few hours to just think. Think about a lot.

Yesterday I felt unsettled. One of those days where you feel like you’re doing everything wrong. Or at least you’re not doing anything right. And sometimes all it takes is a good night’s sleep, a 5:30 wake up call, and a prayer that never left your heart to remind you that you’re not doing everything wrong.

And since I couldn’t just NOT decorate something. I went to the garage to grab the tub of Easter stuff. If nothing else, there is a duck to wish you a Happy Easter if you come to my house now. And nothing says “we love you” and “Happy Easter!” like a duck, plastic eggs and embroidered Easter basket.

easterbasket
quack and eggs

 Or something.

 

 

Weekend Update: Bullet Point Edition. (Because connecting sentences and paragraphs are hard.)

  • I am ridiculously tired and I have no good reason for such exhaustion. I blame the hormones. Which, now that I think about it, is a pretty damn good reason to be so tired. Well, it’s a reason anyway.
  • I spent a million hours folding laundry this weekend. A million hours is an estimate. As luck would have it, when a softball game and practice get cancelled, you do laundry. Lots of it. Because you actually have time to do it. You also watch a million hours of Oprah-related television. If you know me at all, you know this is strange, unusual and HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. I’ve never been the biggest Oprah fan (ever) but when I wanted to watch more Brene Brown? Well, that means you put up with Oprah. And then that means that you keep watching Oprah because she was interviewing the Wayans family. And LL Cool J. And Dave Letterman. And Jenifer Hudson. I think that’s it. Please note that I did NOT watch entire episodes of these interviews. I did, however, watch ALL of last week’s Once Upon a Time. (There was a lot of laundry.)
  • Paisley had her first trip to a dog-park this weekend. It was also the first time that she got to meet her doodlest friend ever! It’s crazy how alike they look! (Allie is the very reason that we have a Paisley. And I’m so, so glad that we do.) We had a blast hanging out with Allie’s family. We just adore you guys.

    pups
    Paisley & Allie. So cute!
  • I’m really grateful for my mom. I’m grateful she called me right after she got home from her trip to Utah to see when she needed to watch my kids. I’m so, so, so lucky that she’s my mom. (THANK YOU, MOM!)
  • I’m still thinking about the amazing dinner I ate last night. Wonderful and lovely company, of course. But I’d like another expensive steak dinner, if you please. Y*U*M. The only downside of things was that my dear husband took ill and stayed home. I actually think he had some sort of migraine. (Which he’s never, ever had before.) I really like hanging out with that guy, though…and I really missed him at dinner. But I’m pretty grateful that I could still have a great time with some of my favorite people and I never felt likea third (or seventh) wheel.
  • Poopy mornings happen every once in a while. And I think poopy mornings have to happen to remember what good mornings feel like…and also to practice ridiculous amounts of patience. I had about five minutes of completely losing it with my children, but then I pulled myself together and told them to go sit in the car and wait for me. (I wasn’t even dressed at that point, but I just figured that if they continued fighting, I wouldn’t be able to hear it if they were out in the car.) Hooray DAY1 of spring break! I’m hoping for less fighting, more listening tomorrow morning. FINGERS. CROSSED.
  • Remember how I told you about saving my sister’s life when we were little? Well, after she read my post she wondered which time I was referring to. Apparently, I saved her life on the regular when we were kids. Okay, there was ONE other time. (That I didn’t remember. Of course.) But I figure that twice in our childhood counts as “on the regular.” Also, hard candy is dangerous. In my sister’s words:

“As soon as I read the first line, I thought, ‘which time?’ You were also there when I choked on a piece of candy. You pounded on my back and Pop! Candy flew out of my mouth.”

What I’m trying to tell you is that I’m handy to have around when you are swimming or eating hard candy. Of course, I may only be helpful if you are my little sister. I’m just not sure.

I’ll keep you posted.

A Bad Case of the Forgets

When I was about seven years old, I saved my little sister’s life.

I have no recollection of this.

At all.

As my sister tells it, we were swimming in the neighbor’s pool. She lost her balance? Fell off the step? She’s flailing in the water and actually starting to panic. I ever so casually (all calm and cool, you see) reach down, grab her, pull her back up to the step. Ta-da! One little sister saved!

She tells the story well. I’m sure she’s probably quite grateful. I just wished I had some sort of recollection of this.

I can remember getting in trouble in front of the entire class for failing a math test in 2nd grade. I can remember an embarrassing flub-up in 3rd grade as I led the class in saying The Pledge of Allegiance. I can even remember the “popular” ring-leader calling be a bitch in 4th grade.

But somehow, I can’t remember anything about saving my sister’s life when we were little.

A couple weekends ago, during a family dinner to celebrate my dad and The Dude’s birthday, another couple of stories were told that I had no memory of ever happening. Like babysitting trickery that I apparently pulled on one of my little brothers. By his story I learn that I had asked him to pick up some toys. He refused. I pretended to call my dad on the phone and tell on him. My brother hurried to clean up all the toys. I sent him to bed. I guess that I felt so guilty for tricking my brother, I went in his room…clearly upset. I am the George Washington of sister-babysitters and admit that I cannot tell a lie. I confess to him that I didn’t really call Dad…and that I’m so very sorry I tricked him.

I’m idiotically honest. And forgetful as all hell.

I don’t believe that I should remember every aspect of my childhood. But you would think that I would have SOME sort of memory filed away of these events. And yet. I’m beginning to wonder if I mostly save room in the memory banks for the bad things. Because I need to remember those? Because I’m only good enough to remember the bad or uncomfortable? I mean, I do have good memories plugged in. I know I do. But these fun or important stories? This isn’t the first time I don’t have any sort of memory of a story that I’m a part of.

I have no idea how to purge the memory file cabinet of the dumb, bad or uncomfortable memories. But I really want to try. I’d like to make so much more room for the great and important memories of SAVING MY SISTER’S LIFE.

And even if I completely botched it at the end, I’d really like to have the memory of me swindling my brother. That’s just too much fun to not remember.

finding beauty…and quoting Madonna

greenery
the view from walking the puppy yesterday. I love where I live.

In a previous blog-life, I was searching for beauty amidst this life of chaos. As I started moving toward this next big adventure, and with the help from the dearest of friends, I came to realize that telling the stories of us didn’t have to focus on the chaos of us.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of chaos…but it’s not my focus any longer.

What hasn’t changed is looking for beauty wherever I can find it. I love pretty things. Pictures, clothes, people…nature. What is it that Madonna says in Vogue? Beauty’s where you find it?

I couldn’t agree more.

 

Meanest Parents Ever

Discipline is the worst part of being a parent.

I wonder if kids ever realize that. I’m not sure that I did growing up.

I think that’s where the anger comes from sometimes. When the choices that they make necessitates discipline. And it makes us all feel like crap so we’re angry that we even have to do it.

But we do. We have to do it.

We have to teach our children about consequences. Because plenty of children (and adults) live believing that they don’t have to take responsibility for their own actions. There are news stories today that are a shocking reminder of that. Do they think they are above the law? Do they just not care? Are they just that stupid?

It is my job as a parent to teach my children how to be respectful, law abiding, kind adults. It is my job to make sure that they follow the rules of our family so that they grow up and know that they need to follow the rules of our world.

In the past couple of weeks, both of my children have tested boundaries. Nothing terrible. And nothing that will keep me up at night. (Yet.) But these incidents have reminded me how important those boundaries are. I have been reminded how much kids need those boundaries. Even when they think that they don’t. And I’m so glad we have those boundaries in place – even if they do need to be adjusted every now and then. (Now. They are being adjusted right now.)

I’m so glad that The Dude and I take our job as parents so seriously, even when we have to be “the meanest parents ever” at all times. It completely sucks to enforce all the rules and handle all the discipline, but it is so necessary and so important. Heaven knows we’re not perfect parents, but we have been blessed with two amazing kids. And I pray that the boundaries we set for them help them to be the most amazing adults.

But if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna need to take a break from imagining them as adults. Because you know I’m not ready for them to be grown up and live far away from me yet. Boundaries and consequences still apply, but let’s take that grown-up children part a little slower.

Green Weekend

Nothing says spring like the opening day of softball for Little League. Ramona’s first game of the season was a huge success! I was so stinkin proud of that kid.

photo
Playing third base LIKE A BOSS
photo 3
SWING!

It’s hard to believe that this (almost) 11yo kid in these softball pictures, is the same kid who once wore her daddy’s Guinnes hat to cheese it up for the camera. I stumbled across this picture last week, and it became my St. Paddy’s Day inspiration.

photo 1
Happy Saint Paddy’s Day, indeed!!!

We didn’t do much in the way of celebrating the luck of the Irish, but I did paint my nails a lovely odd shade of green. I wasn’t sure that I had much green in my closet, so why the hell not?

photo 4
Please ignore the messy cuticles

But as it turns out, we were able to celebrate like the Irish of yore with cupcakes from our favorite spot. Tradition might be recorded differently in your books.

photo 5
yummy, yummy luck

This weekend was surprisingly low-key. Well, I mean low-key for us. There was plenty of things and events going on. But it was nice to not be double or triple booked for once!

We have a lot going on this week (nothing new) and I feel completely unprepared for it. (Could someone PLEASE take care of my grocery shopping?) But you know what? We’ll take on this week just like we do every week: flying by the seat of our freaking pants.

Have a great week, everyone!

 

Life Isn’t Fair…Never Has Been

Do you ever worry about being fair to your children? Not in the “life isn’t fair don’t complain” kind of way. It’s more of the “am I giving myself equally to each of my children?” kind of fair. Is it ridiculous to believe that you will be? Is it fair to yourself to be so worried about it?

Whether or not I’m being fair to myself, I’m been thinking a lot about how I work for and treat both of my daughters.

My oldest is a ridiculously busy child. Water Polo, soccer, softball…a very demanding school and homework schedule. We are constantly driving her from one place to the next. She needs to pick up this supply for a project that is due. She needs a book for English. There’s a fundraising even for her travel softball team. Oh, and can we take her to school early tomorrow? She’s making cupcakes for her softball coach and she needs to drop them off early.

She’s good at pretty much everything she touches. But holy crap, that child is busy. Busy Beezus. And so are her parents. We do our best to keep up.

But is her first-born status, and therefore the first to achieve many of these activities, fair to her younger sister?

Ramona isn’t quite so driven. But there are times that I worry that it is because Beezus did everything first. Why bother if someone has already perfected it? I might be reading more in to it than I should, but I can’t help it. I worry that Ramona feels like she gets the short end of the stick. She doesn’t need to be running from one thing to the next, so we don’t? But have we given her enough chances to try?

I’m trying to remind myself that Beezus wasn’t this busy when she was 10. She really wasn’t. But even with their age gap (almost five years) I worry that Ramona will be so sick of living in her sister’s shadow, she won’t even want to try.

(And now I want to go back and see how many times I used the word worry in the post. It’s a ridiculous number of times, I know it. I just can’t seem to help myself. I’m a really good worrier.)

The reason why I write any of this out at all is to help myself process the worry. And come up with a solution and a plan of action. Of course I should be worried about my children, but I shouldn’t let it overshadow the awesome individuals that they are.

And I think that right there is the answer.

We have a job as parents to care and nurture these beings we were blessed with. Their personalities are so unique, they deserve equally unique life experiences.

I need to stop trying to make it fair and focus so much more energy on making it unique. Yes…uniqueness. That’s quite a focus.

And, for heaven sakes, I need to stop with all the worry. That’s just no help at all.