Mommy’s Christmas List

Posted by on Dec 13, 2013 in Family Life, From My Perspective, Musings from the Mayhem, Raising Great Kids | 6 comments

Dear Kids,

You have asked me several times what I want for Christmas.  When I tell you I don’t want anything, I can see that my answer disappoints you.  It hurts me to see you frown during the holidays, especially knowing I am the cause of your frustration.  So the past few days I have put a great deal of thought into your question:

“Mommy, what do you want for Christmas???”

As it turns out, I want LOTS of things for Christmas.  In fact, my list is so long that at first glance you’re going to think I’m greedy!  But since you’ve asked with love, I’ll answer from the heart with honesty.  

Mommy’s Christmas List 2013

  1. I would like for you to be just as excited about cleaning up after a craft as you are about making a craft.  Especially when it involves glitter and tiny scraps of paper.
  2. I would like you to put your dirty clothes in the laundry bin, and your clean clothes in your drawers.  Even though you assure me I’m good at it, I do not enjoy washing your clothes.  Especially when they aren’t dirty in the first place.
  3. I would like you to put your clean laundry away.  I know you know it’s clean because you tear through my nice, neat piles and destroy them.
  4. I would like for you to gather your clothes for school the night before so we know where everything is.  I do not enjoy scavenger hunts in the morning, even though I am a pro.
  5. I would like you to brush your teeth – the right way – without having to perform a breath check.
  6. I would like you to wipe out the giant glob of toothpaste that always resides in my sink.  Thus, the breath check.
  7. I would like for you to accept that putting on your shoes and coat are also part of getting dressed.
  8. I would like for you to be ready to leave your classroom when I pick you up from school.  My days of wanting to hang out in the hallway are over.
  9. I would like you to move to the back of the van if you are the first to enter.  The other two do not enjoy crawling over you, and I do not enjoy listening to them snarl at you as they do.  Even if I don’t blame them for being frustrated with your stubborn inconsideration.
  10. I would like you to use the verbal skills I have taught you to end an argument, without me having to referee.  Trust me when I tell you I’ve armed you with the proper language to win on your own.  Ask Daddy.
  11. I would like you to take your belongings – more commonly referred to as “crap” – out of the car and into the house.  I would also prefer you put your crap away after it is in the house.
  12. I would like to see the floor of the mudroom when you are home: Shoes in the shoe bins, coats on the coat hooks, backpacks on the backpack hooks.
  13. I would like for you to hang up your snow gear and leave your boots to dry in the garage.  I understand the term “mudroom” can be a bit misleading.  Consider this clarification.
  14. I would like for you to empty your lunch boxes.  Especially on Fridays.  Please.
  15. I would like you to start your weekend homework earlier than Sunday evening.  It will be a much more pleasant experience for us all.
  16. I would like to share my shower with you without my bathroom exploding.  I get it.  My shower head rocks.  The explosion of clothing does not.
  17. I would like you to return my bath towels so I don’t have to dry off with a hand towel.  I am small, but not that small.
  18. I would like you to hang up your wet bath towels when you return them.  Daddy paid good money to have those silver rods hung on our walls.  They are called towel bars.  It would be nice if their intended function was put to good use.
  19. I would like you to put your brushes and hair accessories away inside the drawers.  It makes a drawer sad and lonely when it is empty.
  20. I would like you to put your outdoor toys away after you are done playing with them.
  21. I would like you to put your indoor toys away after you are done playing with them.
  22. I would like you to put your piles on the stairs away.  I have your eyes checked at every doctor appointment.  I am confident you can see when your stair bins are overflowing.
  23. I would like for you to let Tucker in from outside.  I have your ears checked at every doctor appointment.  I am confident you can hear him when he’s barking.
  24. I would like you to bring your water glasses downstairs in the morning.  All of them.  We are not in the business of growing scientific cultures, nor do I want to be.
  25. I would like you to eat your food so I don’t feel like choking you.
  26. I would like you to drink your orange juice, instead of saving it for later on the edge of a shelf in the refrigerator.  When it spills during the day while you are at school, it causes Mommy to say some very nasty words about you.  Out loud.  Wishing you could hear me.  Afterwards thankful that you don’t.
  27. I would like you to recognize that when I pull out my phone or computer for a breather, I need just that – a breather.  One without you looking over my shoulder asking me what I’m looking at.
  28. I would like you to accept that you have to sleep in your own beds during the week.  Why you wish to continuously sleep on our cold, hard floor baffles me.  The carpet isn’t even cushy.
  29. I would like you to respect the word “No” the first time I say it.  I do not enjoy negotiating with you all the time.  And if you haven’t noticed?  You rarely win.
  30. I would like you to turn the Xbox off after using it.  This also applies to the tv.
  31. I would like you to turn the lights off as you leave a room.  The button on the wall is actually kind of fun to push.
  32. I would like to spend some time in my bedroom with your dad without you feeling the need to knock on the door.  I know you know what we are doing, because I have been responsible enough to teach you about such grown-up topics.  There is no need to discuss it further as it pertains to us.  Especially while you are knocking.

As I said before, I know this list seems very large.  However, not one single item is new to you.  In fact, you hear me ask for most items every single day.  Having said that, I would now like to ask for the biggest gift of all:

I would like for all of the above to occur without me having to remind you all the time.  

I do not enjoy being a drill sergeant, even though the logo on my blog looks happy and cheery.  I’m actually a very fun person when I’m not in get-shit-done mode.  Yes, I swore.  Again…not the first time you’ve heard this.

All of the above is free.  It will not cost you a cent.  But it will offer me the most valuable gift of all:


Time for me when you’re not around,

so I can have more FUN with you when you are!

I love you very much.

Even when you drive me crazy.



p.s. When I say I would like to poop in peace …I really mean that.  I know you think my exasperated declaration of this is funny, so perhaps that is why you don’t take me seriously.   But for real – it’s a solo activity that I do not wish to share with anyone.

Xmas Wishes


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Picture Perfect Retakes

Posted by on Oct 9, 2013 in Family Life, From My Perspective, Raising Great Kids | 3 comments

“Mommy, today is picture retake day!” Sydney reminded me this morning.

“Okay…Do you want to have your pictures retaken?” I asked her.  We had talked about it, but never confirmed.

“Well, don’t you remember my hair in the last one?” she asked me.

Yes.  I remembered her hair.  I also remember how annoyed I was that the photographer didn’t take the time to push her hair away from her face.  Several messy strands were actually hanging over the front of her glasses.  To make matters worse, the lenses of her transition glasses were tinted slightly brown.  It must have been too bright in the room where the pictures were taken.  Sydney is a beautiful girl.  This was a very average picture of her.

Not to mention the fact that her identical twin sister’s picture was pretty perfect.  Even though I know better, I couldn’t help but compare the two.

Sydney and Taylor

Sydney and Taylor

I dried Sydney’s hair and styled it with a round brush, assuming she had opted for retakes since she brought the subject up.  She pulled her bangs off to the side with a bright yellow bow – it’s become her signature look.  This picture would be precious based on her appearance.

“Momma, there’s only one bad thing about today,” she said with concern as we packed to go.

“What, honey?” I asked her.

“I can’t find my glasses anywhere, and I really wanted to have them on like I did in my last pictures,” she confessed.

“Well, I can’t help you there, Syd,” I said.  “Your glasses are a mystery.  I’m afraid we’re gonna have to buy new pair.”

“I know,” she sighed with some shame, but mostly disappointment.

“Honey, you do know that you don’t have to get retakes, right?” I asked her.

“I don’t?” she asked in surprise.

“No,” I assured her.  “These are your pictures.  If you are happy with them just the way they are, then I’m happy with them too.”

“But I thought you didn’t like my hair,” she said.  My heart sank.

“Sydney, you look beautiful in your picture!  Mommy should have never said that about your hair.  I was just being picky.  I’m sorry if I made you feel like I didn’t like it.  What matters the most is that you like it.  If you feel good about yourself when you look at this picture, then put that packet down and forget about retakes!” I instructed her with authority.

“Really?!” she asked with excitement.

“Really,” I promised.

“Thanks, Mommy.  I really like this picture, so I’m gonna stick with it,” she decided with ease.  She threw the packet on the counter and ran to the car.

I looked down at her picture that before had seemed frustrating and average.  Suddenly it was beautiful.  Probably my favorite picture yet.  In a world of digital takes and retakes, my little girl accepted herself just as she was – imperfections and all.  Shame on me for derailing her confidence with negativity.

Lesson learned, SydneyRella.  I promise you, it won’t happen again.


Sydney had her own School Picture photo shoot with her American Girl Doll, Kit.

Sydney had her own School Picture photo shoot with her American Girl Doll, Kit.

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Torment of Taylor and The Toad

Posted by on Oct 2, 2013 in Family Life, From My Perspective, Musings from the Mayhem, Raising Great Kids | 4 comments

Often times, I feel like a drill sergeant when parenting my three children – thus the origin of my blog logo.  This is especially true almost every morning before school.

Getting the kids ready and to school on time requires focus.  We all have jobs to do.  We all know what those jobs are.  Those jobs never change from morning to morning to morning.

However…things pop up that you don’t expect.  A forgotten homework assignment that needs to be completed.  A shoe that’s been hidden by the family dog.  A cereal spill that requires an unexpected change of clothes.  Et cetera.  Et cetera.

In order to keep all three kids on task at the same time, it requires great strength in leadership from me – the drill sergeant.

Today Taylor was off in La La Land.

First, she was distracted by student email on her school issued ipad.

“Taylor, put that ipad away right now or I’m not going to let you take it to school.”

Begrudgingly, she closed the case and walked towards her backpack.  On her way, she was distracted by the lego car sitting on the counter.  She stopped to make some improvements.

“Taylor, if you don’t put that lego thing down, I’m gonna break it into a million little pieces,” I threatened with seriousness.

“Momma!  I worked so hard on this!” she was appalled.

“I’m sure you did.  But now is not the time to mess with it,” I scolded her as I nudged her in the direction of her backpack.

“Momma!” she yelled from the mud room.  “I need help!  The zipper on my backpack is stuck!”

Of course it is, I thought.  I went to fix her backpack.  She stood there and watched me.

“Put your shoes on,” I commanded to keep her moving.

She obeyed with a grunt.  She was as unimpressed with me this morning as I was with her.

Finally I got her out of the house and into the garage.  As I followed behind, I noticed her lunchbox sitting on the counter.  I took a deep breath and grabbed it – thankful that I noticed, and annoyed that she didn’t.

Just then, Gabe came bursting through the door.

“What are you doing?” I seethed.  The only thing more frustrating than getting three kids in the car at the same time is convincing them to stay there.

“There’s a frog in the garage!” he exclaimed with excitement.

“A frog?” I asked.

“I mean a toad,” he corrected himself.  “And it’s big!”

“Well, it’s just gonna have to stay there for the time being because we have to get to school!  Now go get in the car!” I shooed him out as I dreaded the thought of coming home to a toad in my garage.  I hate toads.

I reached for the knob to pull the door shut.  When I turned around I collided with Sydney, who was beaming with excitement.  I didn’t care.

“What are you DOING?” I snarled through clenched teeth.

“Look, Momma!!!” she squealed, ignoring my frustration.  “I found a toad!”

She was holding the toad in an upside down costume fedora.  When I looked to see, the toad hopped in my direction attempting to escape the wall of the hat.  I jumped back three feet.

“Sydney!  Get that OUT OF MY HOUSE!” I shrieked with panic.

She giggled, “Okay, Momma.  But what do I do with it?”

“Take it outside!!!” I hollered.

The kids laughed at me.  By now all three of them were back in the house.  I shook my head in disbelief.  I was failing miserably.

“Sydney, how did you get the toad inside the hat?” I had to know.

“I picked it up, Momma,” she answered.

“With your hands?” I shrilled.

She laughed again.  “Yes, Momma!  You know I’m an animal lover!!” she pointed out the obvious.

“Here Sydney!  Let me hold it!” Taylor begged.  “I love animals too, Mommy!” she tried to convince me, even though she had gone to the trouble of putting on her pink fleece North Face gloves.  She wasn’t touching that warty beast with her bare hands any more than I was.

“Go put it outside, Taylor!” I commanded.

She snatched the toad from her twin sister and ran to the garage – where she began to set it down.

OUTSIDE, TAYLOR!” I yelled at her.

“Oops!” she giggled as she picked it back up and ran to the bushes.  As we sat and waited on her, I was thankful that we were finally going to get to leave.

We were half-way out of our sub when I heard Taylor’s voice from the backseat.  “Mommy!  Wait!  I forgot my notebook!”

I shuddered with fury.  “Do you need it?” I asked with quiet venom in my tone.

“Yes, Mommy!  I do!  It’s really important!” she promised.

I turned the car around, conceding to the fact that we were going to be late.  My patience was fried.  I no longer cared.  I didn’t feel like putting up with the panic attack that would have ensued from Taylor had I said no.  This decision was about preserving my own sanity.

When we finally arrived to school with only two minutes to spare, Taylor was the first to hop out of the van.

“CAR!!!!” I heard Mr. Greg, our school janitor/traffic guard, shout.  Taylor had failed to look before crossing the on-coming line of traffic.  Mr. Chow-wah had to brake suddenly to avoid hitting her.

“Taylor, you have to be careful when crossing!” I heard Mr. Greg reprimand her.  “I don’t want to have to mop your brains off the cement.  That wouldn’t be fun!”

I rolled my eyes with disgust.  “First a brain would have to be present before you could mop one up.  I’m not so sure that’s the case this morning,” I muttered so only he could hear as I passed him.

I followed my bouncy little girl into school.  She didn’t have a care in the world.  I leaned down to kiss her smiley face.  I shook my head and smiled back at her.  I was happy to say goodbye for a little while too.

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Boys and Dumb Dumbs

Posted by on Sep 8, 2013 in Family Life, From My Perspective, Musings from the Mayhem | 0 comments

Pet peeves and marriage go hand in hand.  Craig and I drive each other crazy in silly little ways.  For example, Craig has a tendency to tell stories from my past as though he was there.  I hate it when he does this for the following reasons:

  1. I like to decide when to insert myself in a conversation.  There are times when it’s not about me, so a story from my childhood seems irrelevant.
  2. Most often he gets the story wrong since he wasn’t there.  I’m protective of my stories, so I get irritated when I have to correct him and re-tell the story.
  3. Telling a story about my past involves providing necessary background information, setting the scene, and answering any questions that may arise.  Sometimes I’m just not in the mood.

Craig knows I hate when he does this.  I’ve told him so many times.  Unfortunately his spontaneous urges to share in conversation often cause him to forget.  As a result, I get instantly annoyed when he starts to vomit one of my stories.

It happened last night.  Craig and I took Gabe to dinner while the girls were at volleyball practice.  Upon exiting the restaurant, there was a basketful of free Dum Dums suckers.  Gabe and Craig both took two – Craig was in full child-mode along with his 11 year-old son.

They spent most of dinner in “Man Land” (as they like to call it) ganging up against me and sharing several celebratory high-5s.  They were having a ball.  I was tolerating their fun with sarcasm.  I can appreciate and hang in Man Land with the best of ’em.

However the fun stopped temporarily for me when we got into the car and Craig announced all knowingly, “Hey Gabe!  Did you know Mommy grew up in the town where Dum Dums are….”

I cut him off before he could finish his thought.

“That’s not your story to tell,” I reminded him through gritted teeth, because he was already telling the story wrong.  I did not grow up in Bryan, which is where the Spangler Candy Company is located.  I grew up in Edon – 15 minutes from Bryan.  When you come from a one-stoplight town as small as mine, it’s important imperative to differentiate.

“Ooops!” he giggled sheeplishly, knowing he’d violated our pet peeve agreement but not really caring.  I glared at him.  Both suckers were sticking out of either side of his mouth.  Child.

“What’s he talking about, Mommy?” Gabe asked.  He was eager for me to look at him too.  He beamed as he mimicked his goofy father with both of his suckers also sticking out of either side of his mouth.  I shook my head with dramatic frustration.  He giggled as he awaited my answer.

Flustered, I spit out a generalized explanation that felt accurate enough to satisfy Gabe’s fleeting curiosity: “I grew up where Dumb Dumbs are made.”

The festive noise in the car came to a screeching halt.  The dead silence gave me pause enough to realize what I’d just said.  Oh crap.

“Bahahahahahahahahahaha!” Gabe and Craig erupted into deep belly laughter.

I was not going to beat them on this one.  I conceded and laughed until my stomach hurt.  They celebrated with yet another high-5 – their first legit victory of the evening.  Silly boys.

Dum Dums



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