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The Pumpkin Patch is for Suckers!!!!- October 12, 2015

Monday, October 12th, 2015

Every autumn when the air gets crisp, parents like myself yearn to dress up their babies and nestle them between pumpkins for darling photos. We dream of pretty preschoolers clutching their younger siblings who just discovered the magic of a leaf that changed colors. Surely our round, bald babies will flash gummy smiles in their jack-o-lantern onesies that show off those delicious rolls. And the baby pumpkin hats! Oh, those hats! Yes parents, Pinterest has taught us that annual pumpkin patch visits will make for photography gold! Won’t our Facebook cover photos be amazing!? We’re all like, “It’s October! I better grab the DSLR I barely use because if I’m being honest, using my smart phone is way easier.”

I’m here to tell you today, the pumpkin patch is bullshit. It is not the rolling orange paradise we have imagined. Want proof? Here, take a look at these photos of my family.

pumpkin patch

TRUTH TOLD HERE! I photoshopped the kids together in the shot on the right.

They are lies! They are photoshopped lies! These darling pictures are in no way indicative of our pumpkin patch experience. I’m exposing this annual tradition for the fall farce that it is.

We all go into pumpkin patch outings with dreams of gourds magically turning our children into Baby Gap models so this year’s Christmas cards will really pop. I dressed up my sweet babes and we ventured a few miles down the road to our local patch. The kids raced through rows of mums before excitedly picking up small, decorative pumpkins they could hold. It all started off cute enough. I asked them to do a few good pictures and then we could pick pumpkins of our own.

The questions began. “Mama, can I get three pumpkins!?” “Waz dis? Mama, waz dis?” Not unusual. They’re excited. No biggie. Then my 4-year-old spotted the ultimate distraction from our goal for this trip. She saw a chinzy version of her idol. There was a teenage girl dressed as Elsa painting faces. Ugh! Okay. I feigned excitement and took her picture with the artificial ice queen to remind her that PICTURES (and I guess pumpkins, whatever) are the point of this trip.

Then my son noticed how close we were to the road. He screamed,”Cars!” before barreling toward a six lane road under construction. Our pumpkin patch visit quickly became a mommy-daddy game of Block The Toddler. I thought about telling the pumpkin people that I would pay more per pumpkin next year if they fenced in the patch.

We corralled the kids to the photo area with special fall decor. That’s when it turned ugly. Our photo session became a mommy-daddy game of catch and release with our son. It turned in to bribery and verbal threats with our daughter. You know those sentences you never thought you’d say? “If you don’t smile and sit on this hay bale, we will NOT let Elsa paint your face!” He screamed. She whined. In fact, let’s take a look at some outtakes.

fall outtakes

In my head I kept saying, “This is supposed to be fun!” “Relax, enjoy these memories.” “It won’t be like this for long! They’re your babies!” Then I smelled a poopy diaper and my preschooler talked back to me. I thought, “Shut up head. This sucks. Let’s get some pumpkins and get out of here.”

When my daughter, who did NOT deserve a pumpkin at this point, finally found the perfect one among the hundreds I picked it up. That’s when I saw ants swarm up her Mary Jane’s and socks. Yep, she picked the one pumpkin on top of an ant hill. I gasped and took her over to some grass to brush her off. As kids do, she saw the ants and flipped. “Get ’em off Mooommmmyyyy!” I was unbuckling a Mary Jane when I felt the familiar burn of fire ants on my toes. Yep. My shoes had little holes in them. She did not get bit, but I did. I limped over to my husband who had just finished an extra cardio workout after chasing the boy who now had mud on his face and on his fall sweater vest.

I slung the kicking, screaming toddler over my shoulder and literally carried him fireman’s style over my shoulder to the car while dragging my daughter. My husband, sweaty and angry, paid for our pumpkins. Her wails were indecipherable. They were something about not getting her face painted by the fake Elsa. I reminded her of the talking back and whining. This just sent her into more hysterics. Finally, being the fantastic parent I am, I said, “That wasn’t even the real Elsa!”

When my husband got to the car, the children’s cries continued and we lamented being victims of the “Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2015” after having paid $30 for three pumpkins. We resolved to put up the artificial tree for Christmas. There was no way we were doing this again in December.

Screw the stupid pumpkin patch. I could have quickly grabbed some from outside the grocery store and taken pictures of the kids on the front stoop with the pumpkins. Parents, do not be fooled by the photos you see on Facebook! I witnessed multiple crying babies and disgruntled middle schoolers begging to just go home. I heard other dads complaining about this year’s price per pumpkin. I saw moms just put the DSLR back in the bag and call it a day.

I will say, later that afternoon we were in the calm after the storm. After everyone had had naps and snacks, my daughter came to me. She said, “Mommy, I’m sorry I wasn’t good when we were taking pictures. I’ll be better next time. I promise.”

Sigh. I do love the smell of fresh cut Christmas trees.

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Motherhood Has Made Me Gross and Weird- September 28, 2015

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Before I became a mother I found gross things gross. I wasn’t squeamish about too much, but I was repulsed by the repulsive as most normal people are. During birthing class with my first child I couldn’t stand the childbirth videos that showed the mother kissing the baby with afterbirth all over it. I thought, “Ugh! Come on! Let the nurse do her job and clean that up before you put your mouth on it!”

Then I birthed a baby of my own and kissed her fresh and wet without hesitation. I’m quite certain the cord was still attached when my lips met her shiny forehead. I didn’t know it then, but that was the beginning of lowering my grossness threshold. Poop on onesies and smeared boogers naturally became a part of parenthood along with car seats and knowledge of Disney Junior programming. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in showering and good grooming, but yucky stuff has just became less of a big deal. Drop a cracker? 5 second rule. Baby poop on your elbow? Wash it off and move on.

Last week something I did made me realize how bad it has become. My son got his cast off. After nearly four weeks in what we dubbed the “Hulk arm,” a technician used a scary saw to cut off the his green cast. I held him and held my breath as the saw went through the plaster, or whatever material casts are made of these days. I didn’t breathe not only because I wanted to hold still enough that my baby didn’t get cut, but also because I didn’t want to inhale the scent of rancid toddler cast. You can imagine how icky that thing was. Keeping a child under age 2 clean is a task in and of itself, but a toddler in a cast?! The bread bag on his arm in the bathtub only went so far. His cast got moisture and grit in any number of crevices at his wrist and elbow. Poor little guy. I cringed at the open blisters and sores that had made spots on his skin raw. I hated seeing the atrophy at his wrist. In my opinion his arm still looked a little crooked, but I’m not an orthopedic, so I don’t know any more about bones than what a game of “Operation” taught me. (The charley horse is the toughest to remove. No, it’s not the wishbone. Don’t start that argument with me.) The tech threw the cast in the trash.

Wait, he didn’t even ask me if I wanted to keep it. Do people keep casts? I feel like people keep those little baby casts when babies have crooked feet, right? My sister kept her cast when she broke her foot in middle school. Wait. All her friends had signed it, though. Come to think of it, I thought that it was kind of gross that that thing sat in a plastic bag in her closet. Ew. Right. I don’t need the cast. That’s gross. The tech left us to wait as he got a lighter and washable brace for my son’s arm.

That’s when things got strange. The little guy was entertained by my phone as I wandered over to the trash can and peered in. There it was. That tiny green cast. I thought about how his arm would never be that tiny again and how one day I’d forget he was ever that small. Sappy, yes. Not that unusual though. I’m his mother, of course I feel sentimental about odd things, but what I did next was over the top.

I picked the damn thing up out of the trash and held it. Then, making sure no one was looking, I kissed it goodbye. I KISSED IT! I pulled a piece of garbage out of the can and TOUCHED IT WITH MY MOUTH! What was wrong with me?! It’s trash! Granted, the cast was on the top of the trash in relatively innocuous looking wastebasket, but it’s garbage nonetheless. It stinks! I stood in a doctors office with my son, cuddling medical waste.

I came to my senses and put it back in the waste basket before going to checkout at the front desk. I was like, “Heh, heh. So funny. I heard people keep old casts. So gross, right!?” The receptionist replied, “Oh, we have people keep them all the time. It’s not unusual.” Validation. That’s all I needed. Validation for my gross need to keep that thing. I requested the staff retrieve it from the trash for me. They wrapped it up and brought it out. I gratefully tucked it in the stroller and got out of there before they could identify me as the freak I am.

Motherhood has made me so weird and so, so gross.

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Tire Change- August 17, 2015

Monday, August 17th, 2015

I completely forgot to tell you all about my new job. I love that 2015 has turned into my “year of getting fit” so much so that I am now a Stroller Strides instructor with FIT4MOM. Seriously! Remember how I lost all that weight and got healthy with FIT4MOM through Body Back? Well, it lead me to instructor training for Stroller Strides and I’m having a blast planning and leading classes.

The one piece of equipment that is crucial for Stroller Strides is obviously a stroller. I love my single jogger. I have a Bumbleride Indie. It’s a great stroller and gets the job done for class. It was cute how I started this back in February, 2014 when Henry was 3 months old and I was like, “I mean, I’m not spending a ton on a BOB double jogging stroller. It’s not like I’m going to be doing this for long!” Ha! The joke was on me when I cheaped out and bought a chinzy knock-off for $100. I have the seats tied up with strings so that the kids sit upright and don’t go flying out the back. I have replaced the tires at a local bicycle shop multiple times.

The tires. That brings me to the point of this post. In Stroller Strides class last week I heard a “pop” and was suddenly unable to push the stroller without incredible drag. The front tire was flat down to the rim. No running for me in that class. I’m just glad I wasn’t teaching. I brought up the rear of all the moms in the class as my kids road the bumpiest ride of their little lives.

The flat eventually led me to the bicycle shop. Meanwhile, all the moms with BOB’s in the class were like, “Oh my God! Your tire! How do you get that fixed?!” They clearly haven’t had the tire issues I have and are not as familiar with the bike shop.

This was awhile ago when I got a tire on the single repaired after it an appropriate 4 years of ownership versus 3 times in a freakin' year like I have with the double!

This was awhile ago when I got a tire on the single repaired after an appropriate 4 years of ownership versus 3 times in a freakin’ year like I have with the double!

At the store I strapped Henry in the seat and PUUUUSHED the flat stroller to the back where their repair center stays busy. We waited as snooty “bike people” turned their noses up at my little ones and my stroller. Whatever. I’m not dropping $2,000 on a bicycle only to have people in cars get super pissed in their larger, faster killing machines as they zoom past me. We just waited. Henry was getting really antsy. The tire check for the Lance Armstrong wannabe ahead of me was taking forever.

When he finally got to us the repair guy was like, “Uh, can you take him out of the stroller?” I said, “Oh no, you don’t want to unleash the beast. It’s probably best to keep him strapped in. The last few times I was here they just replaced the tire while he sat lopsided in the stroller. Is that okay?” He laughed at my “unleash the beast” comment and continued. This dude was taking forever. My little beast was lopsided and going nuts. I caved and pulled out my phone so he could watch “Thomas and Friends.” I tried to get some WiFi. I asked the repair guy for the password. He said they weren’t allowed to give it out and they get no cell signal. They can’t even text inside the store.

As if Henry understood what all that meant, he lost his toddler mind and started with the thrashing and screaming. I pulled him out, preparing to chase him. And chase him, I did. Through the seats, weird cleats and ugly cycling shirts. He darted past a display with a $7,500 bike. I chased him screaming to find his sister. Oh yeah, I also had my 4-year-old, Charlotte with me. She found the $300 kids bikes (What the hell? No.) She was playing with the streamers you can buy to put on handlebars. Naturally, she chased her brother with them.

This was one of my worst parenting days. Let me say, my children are NOT the children who run amok in stores. People hate those kids like they hate snooty cyclists on major roads. Maybe it was the wait, but they had lost their minds and any smack I laid down was futile. I wrangled them and threatened them. At one point I had to wipe a booger from Henry’s face as he sped by. A snooty cyclist lady was looking at me. She knew I had a booger on my hand. Dammit! I did what I had to do. I wiped it on the inside of my t-shirt when she looked away. Sigh.

I checked on our progress with Henry screaming in my arms. I asked for another tire to be replaced because it was looking weak. The guy swore to me it just needed a new tube. Okay. Whatever. Let’s get on with this. When the tire was finally repaired I paid WAAAY more than expected. I wrangled them out the door, yelled at my daughter to step off the $300 bike. I reminded her of her super awesome “Frozen” bike that was like, $70 at Target by-the-way. My toddler wailed as I rolled out the door and heard a familiar “pop!”

I TOLD that guy the third tire needed replaced! My daughter whined. My son screamed. I sweated. I had one of those “How is this my life?!” moments. UGH! It had been 45 minutes at this point. I wheeled back in the store. He replaced it. He acted all generous by only charging me for the tube this time. By now I had paid nearly $75 for stroller tires, which was getting close to what I paid for the stupid stroller to begin with.

No, I’m not buying a new double jogger any time soon. Charlotte is going back to preschool in a few weeks and I’ll be down to the single jogger in Stroller Strides classes.

The moral of this story: If you cheap out on a stroller, make sure the bicycle shop near you has good WiFi or you could end up with a booger on the inside of your shirt. 

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Make Your Own Christmas Wreath- December 11, 2014

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

wreath 5

I have never thought about making a Christmas wreath, ever. I have an artificial one. I think I got it at Target at a post-holiday sale a few years ago. It looks pretty awful. When Fairview Garden Center offered me a spot in their very popular wreath making seminar as part of our Weeds to Wow Family Garden Project. I was like, “Yes! But, I might be totally terrible at it. I will have no idea what I’m doing.”

Turns out, I am not totally terrible at it and I LOVED doing it! Seriously! Fairview’s seminars fill up fast so I was psyched to have a spot at the table. Anna led the class in one of Fairview’s beautiful greenhouses. She explained the plethora of plants that work for wreath making. For holiday wreaths we used a Fraser Fir base because, hello! It smells like Christmas. Fraser Firs make Christmas. Am I right?

wreath 1

Fairview offered many different plants to make a holiday wreath including holly, pine cones, sugar cane, juniper etc. Those are the main plants I used.

I learned that you start with a wire wreath base. The ones that Fairview gave us are more pliable than others. Anna said we would be able to wrap plant pieces better.

wreath 2

She explained how you make small bundles and wrap one with each wire, moving around the wreath. She emphasized moving in the same direction all the way around. Don’t skip a wire, or you’ll have a bare spot in your wreath.

wreath 4

I alternated a bundle with holly and a bundle with sugar cane to create a pattern. We used clippers to trim plants. The first bundle I made was too long. I said, “I want a big wreath, though.” Anna mentioned that was fine, but pieces that are too long can fall out. She was right. I trimmed up my bundles. If you want to add something after wrapping a bundle, use some craft wire to add additional decoration.

wreath 3

I LOVE how it turned out. I think with practice I could make all sorts of wreaths. Seriously. My mind was spinning with the idea of magnolia leaf wreaths etc.

wreath 5

wreath 6

If you want to participate in a wreath seminar or any class offered by Fairview, check them out! Can’t make a wreath seminar? Buy one of their beautiful hand-crafted holiday wreaths. They had more types and colors of poinsettias than I have ever seen.

If you want to see expert hands make a gorgeous professional wreath, check out this video of Fairview’s Jo Ann Dewar. She’s been making custom handmade wreaths for 30 years. Amazing!

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To The Starbucks Customer Who Paid For My Drink- 01/20/14

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 11.09.01 PM

Dear Starbucks Customer,

There is no way you could have known that when I pulled up behind you in the drive-thru this week that I was so weighed down. I was weary and overwhelmed when I stopped for another caffeine boost.

There is no way you could have known that every day this week I have left my home feeling panicked and frazzled. My heart was heavy and I sometimes wanted to go off and cry to let it out. Occasionally I did. I questioned my choices. I couldn’t get my groove. I longed to hold my babies.

As if the first full week back at work after maternity leave wasn’t stressful enough, I got the call that my dad would need emergency surgery. There was no way you knew I was on my way to hospital to be with him when I pulled into Starbucks.

When I got to the window the barista told me, “The car in front of you paid for your drink.” I looked at her grin and let out a surprised breath. I drove off smiling because of your sweet blessing, stranger. Your gesture made knots in my back loosen a bit. It was nice.

In the hospital room I stared at the lipstick stains on the plastic lid and listened to my dad’s beeping IV machine. I contemplated what was next for me. One thing was for sure, I wanted to return your favor. I just didn’t know when I’d have a chance to go to the coffee shop the rest of the week.

I got my chance on Friday. The sitter brought the baby to the office Monday so I could  feed him and snuggle him. It was a lovely little break in my day. I couldn’t wait for her to bring him in Friday. My coworkers admired my round little guy and his gummy smiles. I carried him down the three steps in the hallway. Three steps. That’s it. That’s all it took.

My heel caught the second step just the wrong way. I stumbled and tripped. My beautiful baby fell and hit his perfect little head on the rail. I was able to flip my body around before we hit the ground and he landed on me. “I fell! I fell!” I shouted. As if the loud thud, wailing infant and flying shoe didn’t give it away. My coworkers helped us up. We frantically searched his head for any signs of trauma. There were none. We went to a private room so I could nurse him. He stopped crying. The only thing was a little welt on his cheek. I called the pediatrician and made an appointment. He was fine. I knew he was. I was shaking as he was smiling.

I took him in as a precaution. I was driving and I felt like I was coming undone. He fell from my arms the week I went back to work. He fell! He fell at work! What was happening!? The appointment was at 2:15pm. It was 1:50pm. I didn’t want him in the germy waiting room for too long. I saw the green and white mermaid and could think of no better way to kill time than to repay the week’s good deed.

I told the barista I would pay for the person behind me. She grinned and said, “You know. The other day, we had a line of 30 customers who did that! It went on until the store closed!”

::pause::

Well, crap. I’m supposed to pay for the person behind me, right then? You mean I could have messed up some epic latte love line?! Ugh! I’m a baby dropping, coffee house faux pas!

I pulled into a parking spot and let it out. I cried, thinking of every deadline I scrambled to meet, each night I barely slept, my ailing father and my soft-skulled baby. Then I laughed. I laughed into my latte as I thought about my breach of etiquette in the Starbucks drive-thru.

So, thank you Starbucks customer for opening my eyes to the correct way to pay it forward. Thank you for helping me laugh through the tears of being a working mother.

Sincerely,

Amy

 

 

 

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