How Do Kids Grow Up SO Quickly?

I’m sitting here looking at the aftermath of my girls’ second birthday party, watching my big toddlers run around and laugh.

But if I close my eyes, I’m at the hospital seeing them for the first time.  I’m looking down at a tiny newborn hand gripping my finger.  I’m watching them learn to roll over, pull up and start crawling.  I’m holding out my hands to catch them as they take their first steps.  I’m lost on Pinterest looking for first birthday ideas and then watching them smash their first little birthday cake with the duck on it.

And it all seems like yesterday.  Or the night before last.  Or a week ago.  Anything but the two years which have really passed.

I always thought it was a cliché thing when parents said, “It goes by SO fast,” but now that I’m living it, I realize it isn’t cliché at all.  It’s reality, and it’s amazing and yet bittersweet.

I have a theory why it goes so fast.  Nothing scientific–just a few thoughts which have been rolling around in my brain after every conversation I’ve had with a friend which has included the phrase, “It goes by so fast.”  (Which seems to be almost every conversation I’ve had with my mom friends since the girls’ birthday has been on the horizon).

My little theory is as follows:  We adults are living in our slow motion world in which nothing happens quickly.  High school takes four years to complete; college takes another four years (if you’re lucky!).  Planning a wedding takes months if not a year.  And Lord knows pregnancy is an eternity in and of itself!

Meanwhile, children are newborns for only a few weeks.  Then they’re smiling and noticing the world around them, and a few weeks later they start to roll over.  They are on a milk-only diet for just a few months.  They outgrow clothes and diapers every 2-3 months, and they crawl for a few weeks.  Then they’re cruising, taking steps and then walking within another few months.  The difference in a newborn and a one-year-old is drastic, and the rate at which children move from one stage to the next is amazing.

Then the second year comes along, and they learn new skills and words daily.  Little mannerisms and favorite toys change weekly.  Before long, they are running and speaking in sentences, singing their favorite songs and getting excited for their birthday party.

So when we adults living in our long-term world of waiting for months and months for things to change witness the daily and weekly changes in these little people we are raising, it’s startling, breath taking and flat out incredible how quickly it all seems to go.  The adult world moves at a tortoise’s pace while our children grow at the hare’s pace.  So yes, relatively speaking, it goes by SO fast!

I still love to stop and think about those tiny newborns, chubby infants and wobbly new walkers while saying a little prayer of thankfulness for my beautiful children and the joy which they bring into our home.  I try not to close my eyes too long, though–I don’t want to miss a thing since it does, after all, go by so fast!  (And because two-year-old twins are into EVERYTHING…eye closing is just asking for a disaster).

Here is the link to the original post:

http://www.greeleytribune.com/news/feature3/9965196-113/months-birthday-fast-goes

 

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The Ultimate Broncos Sin…

Blog pic 1.23.14

Dear Broncos Fans,

I owe you an apology.  A really big one.

You see, I’m not a Colorado native.  I’m a Texas girl, and I grew up watching the Cowboys with my dad on Sunday afternoons.  I’m learning to like orange and blue, and I even own a Broncos t-shirt.  (Notice that is singular, but I plan on buying a new one for the Super Bowl).

I tell you this so you’ll understand that, despite the huge mistake I made, I am really trying to join the Broncos Nation now.  I promise!

Before moving to Greeley back in 2007, my husband and I visited your beautiful state for job interviews and to look for housing.  We spotted a Texas Roadhouse and just couldn’t resist dining in a familiar restaurant.

Someone who really loves your team painted a mural in the front of the Greeley Texas Roadhouse, and it’s a big mural.  In case you haven’t seen it, the mural covers the entire wall in the waiting area near the entrance to the restaurant.  There are three big, tough guys on this mural, and they looked somewhat familiar to me.

While we were waiting on our table at Roadhouse, I stared at the mural for a while to try to figure out how I knew these guys.  The one in the middle looked especially familiar.

Then, it hit me.  Of course!  It was Troy Aikman, the famous quarterback from the years I was watching the Cowboys play back in the 1990’s.  I was so proud of my recognition skills that I loudly announced to my husband (and apparently many of the other patrons in the restaurant), “Hey!  It’s Troy Aikman!  Why is he on a painting in Greeley?”

I should have known when my husband shushed me with ninja-like speed and several people around me choked on their complimentary peanuts that I made a huge mistake, but I didn’t realize how grave it was until later.

“Mel! That’s John Elway!” Dustin whispered while looking around to make sure his potential employers weren’t in the crowd to hear his wife’s public insult.  “He’s like Colorado royalty!”

Oops.

I gulped and stared down at my shoes for a while in hopes we wouldn’t be kicked out of the restaurant.  Who knew?  Both quarterbacks have nicely chiseled jawlines and really could be identical twins, right?

So, Broncos fans, now that I have lived here for almost 7 years and understand how passionate you all are about your football, I understand why that was such a big deal.  I can now recognize Elway and of course Peyton Manning, and I’m working on learning a few other players in time for the Super Bowl.

I think I may even make some flash cards and some sort of Guess Who? game with the players’ faces so I can be slightly more proficient in my Broncos knowledge for the future.  I’ll even add John Elway in there for good measure.

Please accept my deepest condolences.

Sincerely,

Your Newest Fan

Party Planning and a case of Acute Pinterest Overload

The over-achieving parents out there have found an outlet to make the rest of us feel terrible.  Or just annoyed.  Or stricken with a terrible case of acute Pinterest overload.

Let me explain.

My girls turn the big t-w-o this month, and I thought it would be a good idea to search Pinterest for Dora birthday ideas.  (Yes, Nickelodeon, you have an opportunity to make even more money off of me.  We are now adding birthday party items to the insanely huge collection of Dora junk gear we have purchased.  You’re welcome.)

The search gave me thousands of results.  Or millions.  Who knows.  It was late one night after I put the girls to sleep when I started looking, and my estimation skills are seriously lacking after 11 p.m.

So after I started looking through the Pinterest results for this Dora birthday party, well, let’s just say I was better off before I ever typed in those three little words into the search field and hit enter.  I feel morally obligated to warn ALL mothers who are considering getting birthday ideas from Pinterest so they can avoid the misery of acute Pinterest overload (or APO for short).

In fact, my case of APO was so terrible that I have written the following public service announcement to be released to all major social networks IMMEDIATELY:

Acute Pinterest overload, or APO as it will be called henceforth, is likely to strike all under-achieving mothers, particularly those who were formerly over-achievers and have joined the under-achieving team after having children.  Those with limited time to devote to meaningless tasks, those who are unable to shower daily and those who are not exceptionally crafty should proceed with extra caution as they are even more susceptible to APO.

APO will likely disguise itself in the beginning as excitement, elation or even glee at finding hundreds and thousands of ideas on Pinterest devoted to the exact topic for which one is searching.  The mother may even think to herself, “This is fabulous!  I never dreamed I could plan such a fabulous party for my child who is too young to ever remember the occasion!”  The higher the number of search results, though, the higher the likelihood of developing APO.

The mother will almost always create a new Pinterest board devoted to the new topic at hand, likely a Dora-themed second birthday party or other equally important event, and will quickly pin ten, twenty or even one million ideas to the said board in a very short amount of time.  Fellow Pinners who notice their Pinterest home page flooding with pins related to this said event should act immediately to prevent the pinning mother from falling victim to APO.

The mother will likely experience a few minutes of ecstasy as she encounters many pins which might include: 1) beautiful food tables sitting picturesquely below ceilings draped with yards and yards of coordinating fabrics, 2) life-sized Dora pinatas filled with homemade candy  and 3) two-story-high murals created by linking together hundreds of inflated balloons.  Shortly thereafter, the victim is likely to start to enter the second phase of APO known as the “You’ve got to be kidding me” phase.

The “You’ve got to be kidding me” phase is characterized by sheer awe that some mother somewhere had the time and energy to devote to hand-sewing each child a purple backpack and map as a party favor AFTER making herself an adult-sized Dora costume to wear while leading the party-goers on the two-hour long Dora scavenger hunt she created.  The mother may wonder if some of the pins she is finding are jokes or advertisements placed by professional party planning companies in Beverly Hills where someone might actually spend the money to give each toddler a hand-sewn Dora backpack as a ridiculously over-priced party favor.

“You’ve got to be kidding me” will likely be overheard multiple times during this phase, especially if the mother finds a pin with meticulously decorated cake pops to look like Dora’s face or hundreds of tiny Dora flags designed to be printed at home, cut out and glued to toothpicks and stuck into cheese cubes on the beautiful food table.

Next, the victim will likely begin to experience feelings of rage or anger directed at the over-achievers who have put all of the ridiculousness on Pinterest in the first place.  Professionals refer to this phase as the “Hating on the over-achievers” phase, and it may last longer in mothers with anger issues or who are still at odds with their own under-achieving lifestyle.  Mothers who have finally learned to let things go and enjoy life as an under-achiever may not spend much time in this phase and may move quickly into the final stage of APO.

Once the rage and anger has subsided, the victim will hopefully being to enter the final stage of APO known as the “Forget it all and go shopping” phase.  Behaviors characteristic of this stage include purchasing boring birthday décor at Wal-Mart, Target or the Dollar Store, ordering cupcakes at the grocery store bakery, using a web-based invitation service like e-Vite and calling the party planning complete.

APO is a serious ailment, and all mothers should help one another to avoid falling victim to this preventable condition.

Have you had a similar experience with Pinterest?  Did you struggle with planning a birthday party or other event after experiencing APO?

Link to the original post on the Greeley Tribune website:  http://www.greeleytribune.com/news/feature3/9764688-113/apo-pinterest-party-dora

The Out-the-Door Rodeo

Lost shoes? Check. 

Missing sippy cups? Check. 

Pulled off socks? Check. 

One last poopy diaper? Check. 

Using every minute of the two hours planned to get out the door? Check. Check. Check. 

I thought it was hard getting out the door with infant twins. Ha! Little did I know, the chaos and stress of being somewhere on time with two infants in tow was just practice for leaving the house with toddlers. 

Oh. My. Goodness. 

Chasing children who can pull off their own socks and shoes, carry off the sippy cups and snack baggies by the door and run away screaming when you bring them their jackets is not for the faint hearted. Or the weak. Or the slow to react. It takes ninja-like reflexes, an hour (or longer) of planning and preparation and the patience of a calm nun on Xanax to get my twins ready to leave for any outing. 

I keep thinking I just need to start preparing earlier, but here’s what typically happens NO MATTER WHEN I start getting us all ready to leave: 

Look at the clock and count backwards from when we need to leave, allowing a ridiculous amount of time to get everyone in their car seats and all of our gear in the car. Think to myself, “Amazing. I can easily make it out the door in one/two/four hours. You got this mama! You’re on track to be early!” 

Start filling drinks for the road, packing goldfish (even though the girls could probably skip lunch simply by munching on the hundreds of goldfish stuck in their car seats) and throw a diaper or two in the bag. (I’m so over the days of leaving the house over-prepared…I don’t have the time or energy anymore to pack three extra outfits, piles of wipes, Motrin, books, bibs, burp rags and the million other things I used to think were necessities. If we have two diapers and I am wearing a long sleeved shirt to wipe up any disasters, we can survive anything. Not kidding.) 

Get everyone dressed, fight with one fiesty toddler over the three outfits she managed to wrangle out of her closet and find four socks and four shoes to wrestle on to little feet. 

Look at the clock and think, once again, “I am SO on track to be on time if not early!” 

Finish the final bag packing and make a move toward the door. Sweetly tell the girls it’s time for us to go. 

Herd the toddlers to the door where the packed bag and cups are sitting, ready to go. Look down at their feet and notice one has pulled off her shoes and the other is missing both socks and shoes. Search for the missing shoes and socks, find three out of four shoes and one sock, sigh and grab new ones. 

Get back to the door and realize one child has now taken off her jacket while the other one has pulled both sippy cups out of the bag and is wandering away from the door. Try again to encourage the girls to come sit to get their socks and shoes back on so we can be on time to go. 

Realize sweet talking is a waste of time and chase down the shoe-less escaping toddler with the sippy cups. Catch a whiff of a poopy diaper. Throw down the newly-found socks and shoes to stop everything and get a clean diaper on the runaway. 

Carry the now-clean toddler back to the door to sit while I go and catch her sister and find the socks and shoes I had to abandon to change the diaper. 

Find toddler 2 sitting in a puddle as she bangs her sippy cup on the ground to make it drip milk. Clean up the milk and tote twin 2 back to the door to finally get all of the socks and shoes back on little feet. Finally. 

Take a deep breath and look at the clock quickly. Realize I can still be on time, but it’s going to be close. Get the shoes and socks back on, convince the picky toddler to put her jacket back on, grab the bag and try once again to herd the kids out the door. 

Smile with gritted teeth to encourage them to try to go a little more quickly so we can be on time. Hear, “I pooped!!” and try not to have a complete mental breakdown when I peek at the diaper and realize she’s right. 

Drag both children back inside to change the second diaper as fast as possible. Catch a peek of the clock and panic. Now we can only be on time if we don’t catch any red lights and have a little luck. 

Carry both toddlers out the door this time to save a few seconds, and fumble with the car seat buckles while trying not to actually panic. Those buckles seem to tangle themselves on days when the clock is ticking (which seems to be every time we get out of the house). 

Pull one toddler off of the tricycle she decided to sit on while I was putting her sister in the car. Hear the milk cup/toy/blanket she managed to sneak out of the bag hit the floor and roll under the car when I pick her up. Buckle in toddler 2, crawl on the garage floor to fish out the runaway item and throw myself exhaustedly in the driver’s seat. 

Stare at the clock in disbelief. How is it possible to spend hours getting ready and being “on time” to now be running seriously late? 

*Sigh.* 

It doesn’t seem to matter if I pack the bag the night before or the morning before, lay out the clothes early or recruit reinforcements to help. In fact, after nearly two years of trying, the only logical conclusion I can reach is that it is scientifically IMPOSSIBLE to be on time anywhere with two toddlers. 

But I’m not ready to give up trying. It may take some therapy and some divine intervention along with setting the clocks in our house an hour ahead to get us on time anywhere, but I’ll try anything. 

Do you have any tips that help you get out the door on time?

The link to the original post on the Greeley Tribune website: http://www.greeleytribune.com/news/feature3/9669961-113/door-shoes-socks-bag

Why It’s OK to Not Have It Together as a Mom

Re-posting my favorite blog of 2013!  This one had the biggest response from my readers, so hopefully you’ll enjoy seeing it again, too.

Little crayon scribbled pictures displayed in a nice row on the refrigerator waiting to be filed in each child’s special box of memories, dinner in the crockpot from your homemade freezer meal stash, a sparkling and empty sink next to a happily humming dishwasher, children blowing colored bubble snakes on a freshly mowed lawn after painting the sidewalk with homemade scented paint…rainbows, butterflies, unicorns…you know…all of those realities that we moms enjoy every day?
Seriously…I think this is the way I pictured motherhood in my head in my delusional and judgmental pre-kid days…and probably why I have had many rough days adjusting to the lack of picture-perfect-ness that comes with the territory in raising children (especially my precious twin toddlers).
There is grape jelly on my couch from one of the dozens of PBJs I’ve made in the last few days.  It doesn’t really look like jelly, though…more like mud or some leftover science experiment dragged in from the backyard.  (It blends in nicely with the pen scribbles from last night…note to self: check pinterest for tips on cleaning ink out of microfiber).  I meant to clean it off today, but when I went to get a cleaning rag, the dishes and a major stench in my sink caught my attention, and I never made it back to clean the couch.  There are red crayon marks I found today on my kitchen floor after cleaning off the brown crayon on the wall and the orange crayon on the oven.  (These artistic expressions happened while I was vacuuming down the hallway for 20 seconds…it is counter-productive to clean with toddlers on the loose!). The load of laundry I started earlier today is still sitting in the washer because the dryer is still full of one of a million loads I’ve done this month but haven’t managed to put away. One of my daughters has a big bump on her head after yelling “one, two, free, dump!” (translation: one, two, three, jump!) and jumping off our bed that is way too high for a toddler to be on unsupervised while I was distracted by re-hanging the artwork her sister had pulled off the wall just seconds earlier.  I have a gym membership I am hard pressed to use, and it’s a fabulous day if I get to shower, much less wear makeup or blow dry my hair.  I really dislike crafting and cleaning, and even though I enjoy cooking, the mess and clean up are rarely worth the energy anymore!
Yep–rainbows, butterflies and unicorns!  Adjusting my expectations of motherhood to match the reality of motherhood has taken me almost every day of the 19 months I’ve had with my twin girls, and I’m still finding myself with an occasional day of dark despair over how crummy I must be at this whole parenting thing since I don’t measure up to the other amazing moms I know. Because other moms have it all together, right?
When is the last time I had a good laugh (or cry!) with a friend about the hard parts of motherhood?  Why is it that allowing a crack to show in the facade of “having it all together” is frowned upon and discouraged?
Many fabulous mothers, myself and my friends included, are feeling like we don’t measure up because we tend to leave out the imperfections, the struggles, the shortcomings and the challenges when we share our lives with each other.  Avenues like Facebook and Pinterest make it so easy to show only the warm fuzzies and the successes that we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves and are left feeling like failures.
Let’s be honest for the sake of our sanity–motherhood is incredibly challenging, and that’s ok!  It’s a huge part of the territory!  It tests us, tries us, breaks us down and leaves us wondering what in the heck we’re doing some days.  It leaves our houses in a constant state of chaos, our laundry baskets overflowing and our hair a little less fabulous than the pre-kid days.  But all of those things shouldn’t be seen as failures but rather part of the process of doing the best we can do to raise little people to be successful, independent and intelligent.  Let’s help each other to embrace the challenges, share the failures and cut one another and ourselves some slack.
Despite the marked-up walls and the forgotten PBJs drying out between the carseats, being a mom is the best job in the world and such an important role in the lives of our children.  We need to surround ourselves with friends who encourage us and will also be there to help us adjust and readjust our expectations to fit reality. We need to laugh together over the mess, have play dates with dishes in the sink, meet for coffee without wearing makeup and not be afraid to be have a heart to heart in last night’s peanut-butter smeared yoga pants.  True friendship is about encouraging one another where you are in life and not holding yourself or your friends to unrealistically high expectations of rainbows and butterflies.  Sometimes on those never-ending days of whining and exhaustion and “I think I just want to sit in the car for some peace and quiet,” we need to know that other moms have terrible days, too, and that it doesn’t have anything to do with our success or failure as a mother.
Help a friend out this week and share your honest tales from the trenches of motherhood.  Host a playdate without homemade veggie muffins–get out an opened box of vanilla wafers, put in a pot of coffee and open up your home and your heart to your friends.  Let’s be real with one another and embrace the challenges and chaos as a team!  Here’s to NOT having it all together!

The link to the original post on the Greeley Tribune website:  http://www.greeleytribune.com/news/feature3/8275846-113/motherhood-clean-friends-moms