Thirty Then, Thirty Now

To celebrate this milestone birthday, I decided to do something I do well: make a list.  What are your “then’s” and “now’s”?

30 Things I Did Before Turning 30

  1. Graduated with two undergrad degrees in four years
  2. Traveled to Italy, Germany, England, Finland, Denmark, Holland, France
  3. Honeymooned in Ireland
  4. Bought our first house
  5. Quit smoking (8 years ago)
  6. Went skinny dipping in the ocean on the coast of Spain
  7. Birthed a beautiful baby girl
  8. Birthed another beautiful baby girl (at home)
  9. Kept decade-old friendships alive and made a 30th birthday celebration girl-trip to Portland happen
  10. Had a couple blurbs published in Mamalode
  11. Watched the movie “Clueless” so many times I have the entire script memorized
  12. Beat my goal of losing 30 pounds in 30 weeks by losing it in 15 weeks (a loss that now hovers between 36-40 pounds, depending on the day)
  13. Started writing for fun again and joined the throngs of “mom-bloggers,” teaching myself how to use wordpress in the process
  14. Married my perfect match
  15. Played “Kate” in “Taming of the Shrew” (among many other roles)
  16. Dabbled in oboe & piano
  17. Taught violin lessons
  18. Became an Auntie
  19. Wept with joy as my three closest friends married their loves
  20. Got my motorcycle license
  21. Attended my 10-year high school reunion
  22. Discovered makeup (finally, at age 29)
  23. Learned the ins and outs of QuickBooks and Excel (and loved every minute)
  24. Joined a book club and continue to delight in fresh reads and new perspectives
  25. Figured out forgiveness is the key to letting go of resentment
  26. Had every color of hair
  27. Secured a job that let me spread my wings
  28. Taught three freshman-level college classes
  29. Visited my familial roots in Belize and Sweden
  30. Rocked the song “Manic Monday” countless times during karaoke nights

30 Things I Will Do Before Turning 60

  1. Travel to Napa and eat at French Laundry
  2. Hire a housekeeper…or figure out that secret to controlling clutter
  3. Make my kid’s birthday celebrations unforgettable
  4. Use my fabulous fabric and sew, sew, sew
  5. Say “thank you” everyday, appreciate the little things and be grateful for all aspects of my life
  6. Have a second honeymoon in Ireland
  7. Maintain healthy, mindful eating habits
  8. Sing everyday and play my violin more
  9. Go to NYC for fashion week
  10. Publish a novel/book
  11. Continuing working to keep my marriage successful and happy and celebrate many more anniversaries
  12. Rent an RV and travel around the USA
  13. Support my daughters’ dreams, be it college, or travel, or wherever the journey takes them
  14. Buy a pair of designer heels
  15. Own a restaurant/cafe/food truck/b & b/something food related with Jake
  16. Buy a house to grow old in
  17. Interview my grandmothers about their experiences being moms
  18. Cherish and love my children everyday
  19. Take a dance/ballet class
  20. Organize photos into albums
  21. Save money for retirement
  22. Raise my tiny girls to be incredible adults
  23. Run/walk the half marathon with L. & M.
  24. Volunteer somewhere as a family
  25. Visit Australia
  26. Become a grandma (?!? Crazy to think about!)
  27. Use our set of china dishes more
  28. Create new art
  29. Be in a local production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show
  30. Continue being open to learning, growing, living through the next few decades
Posted in Family, Fashion, Friends, Identity, Marriage, Parenting, Pregnancy, Work | 4 Comments

Glimpses Into My Life of Hilarity

Driving in the car, Lily asks what a skyscraper is. “They are really tall buildings. You usually see skyscrapers in big cities where lots of people live.” “Yeah,” she replies, “But not in this tiny town.”


We dance a lot at home, and listen to music that usually falls into the categories of punk, classical or kid’s. Vivienne’s favorite is The Ramones. Now, when we try to play anything else, she angrily shouts, “Mones! Mones!”


“Don’t touch me!” Lily, sick with a cold and a 102 degree fever, screamed at Vivienne this morning, “Get out of my way!”  “Lily,” I said, “Please stop using a rude voice. I know you don’t feel good, but doesn’t mean you can be rude to your sister.”  “I can’t help it!” she screeched, “My throat just won’t keep it in!”


At Zuma’s (my mother-in-law) house, Lily choreographed a dance routine, complete with classical music, a quilt to dance on, a basket with Easter eggs and dimmed lights. During the show, my mother-in-law was in charge of holding up the make-shift spotlight (aka: flashlight). About half way through, Lily says, “The light has to follow the performer, Zuma!”


I ran upstairs to put away some laundry and found Lily and Vivienne downstairs wiping all available surfaces with wet wipes from the box they pried open. “We’re cleaning, Mama!” Lily exclaimed proudly.


Recently I’ve been saying good-night to Vivienne’s body parts at bedtime, which she finds very amusing. After putting her in her crib last night, I said, “Night-night Vivienne! Night-night ears! Night-night tummy! Night-night legs! I love you.”

And after I walked out and left the door slightly ajar, I heard her repeating, “Night-night legs! Night-night butt! Night-night butt!” Giggles ensue.


On a rainy, dreary day, Lily says on the way to preschool, “Today is an ominous day for a picnic.”


We’ve been on a Roald Dahl kick in our household. Lily was especially enthralled with The BFG. The first chapter is entitled The Witching Hour: that moment in the night when everything is still and everyone is asleep, a time when all the dark things come out and have the world to themselves. When we are driving home in the dark, Lily watches out the window and if ten seconds pass without another car going by, she announces, “Mama, it is the witching hour. We are the only car out and I think everyone is asleep. Watch out for giants.”

Posted in Family | 3 Comments

Artsy-Crafty Self

As I frantically searched the aisles of Michael’s for googly eyes and colored felt, my heart started racing and my brow started to perspire. After standing in line for 15 minutes while eyeing the boxed Sponge Bob and Barbie cards marked $2.99, I muttered under my breath, “Why do I do this every year?”

In my pre-kid life, I was very artsy and crafty. In my present day reality, my artsy and crafty self can most often be found stored in-between the heaps of supplies begging to be used. I now find that in most situations, it is worth the money to save the time and energy spent on making something. But every time this happens, my brain reminds me, “You could make that, ya know. Remember your sewing machine? Remember your glitter scrapbook paper? They miss you.”

For some reason I trick myself into thinking that any arts and crafts project can be done with my daughters. (Possibly this stems from my neurotic issues of needing to multi-task at all times?) Take last year’s Valentines: card stock flowers with a sucker stem. After running to multiple stores, multiple times because somehow I either don’t buy enough supplies or the right thing, and spending an embarrassing amount of money, I realize that my 3 year old can’t cut precise 3 inch circles out of card stock or spread a thin line of glue with the burning hot glue gun.

So she ends up sitting at the table with me, asking every minute if NOW is when she can stick the sucker through the little hole in the petals. And eventually Lily gets bored with watching me and goes off to play while I finish my “this will be so easy and cute” project.

You would think that this experience would alter my future thinking. But last week the preschool memo came home: “We will be celebrating Valentine’s Day with the children. Please bring a box for them to put cards in. If you chose to bring cards for the other kids, here is a list of names. NOTE: BRINGING CARDS IS COMPLETELY OPTIONAL.”

“Okay!” I think, “Must make Valentine’s Day cards. Must hand-make them for all 32 kids and teachers. Must make something more impressive than last year. Totally NOT optional (are they kidding with that or what?).”

Project Valentine 2011: Hersey’s Kiss Gnomes. (This will be so easy and cute!) And again, Lily sits at the table, watching me cut circles of out felt. She tries unsuccessfully to cut circles out of her piece of felt, gets frustrated and decides to play outside with her friends instead. I cut, glue, assemble.

I found my artsy and crafty self grinning as I placed each little hat onto each little kiss, and realized that this is exactly how I would want to spend an hour on a rainy Saturday afternoon, even though Lily can’t help me with every step just yet.

And when she came back to the table and glued on most of those googly eyes with me, exclaiming “Look at this one, Mama! It has four different colored eyes!” it was like icing on the cake.


Posted in Arts & Crafts | 5 Comments

Silence and the Screech Monkey

When you live with the screech monkey, it is easy to forget what silence actually sounds like. The screech monkey, three months shy of being a two-year-old, has a vocabulary that is exploding. However, under any circumstance where she is tired, hungry or just plain cranky, she prefers to communicate through ear shattering screams.

This becomes a tricky parenting situation. Do you just give her the stupid sippy cup to make the screaming stop, in hopes of regaining some portion of hearing back? Do you calmly and quietly get down to her level and say “Please use your nice voice. You would like your cup? Can you say please?” and then wait, patiently, lovingly wait until she whispers, “Yes. Cup. Please.” The first few times, it is fairly easy to choose the latter. Times four through 100, however, are a different story.

Add to the ear-piercing madness a husband who loves to watch blaring Food Network shows and blast music in the car, a little girl who loves the Ramones and turns the noise control dial up a teeny bit every time I’m not looking, a work day filled of ringing phones and interrupting co-workers, you might begin to understand my intense longing for a moment of silence.

There was no other choice but to escape hundreds of miles away.

Okay, that was not the true reason of my trip to Portland, but I love the dramatic element. One of my dearest friends turned 30 this year, and a birthday trip was organized months in advance. Seven entire days with my three best friends, sans husband, work and the screech monkey? I could surely seek solace in silence somewhere between shopping and restaurant outings and late night girl convos.

But as I lay in bed that first night, the silence was deafening. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was utterly wrong. My first impulse was to jump out of bed, search for the little girl and the screech monkey, who were being much too quiet, and discover them squeezing all the shampoo out of the bottles onto the bathroom floor, “Because I peed a little on the carpet, Mama, and we are cleaning it up,” as my four year old would explain.

I did not sleep very well that first night. How could silence be worse than my screech monkey? I couldn’t wrap my mind around it.

The next night I realized that my body was attuned to waking at the slightest sound of crying, of someone requesting to have “fresh water” in their cup, of my husband’s alarm going off at 5am. I am so used to being sleep deprived that when my body actually has the chance to re-fuel, my brain interferes.

About halfway through the trip, my brain and body understood this was not a mean trick; that as soon as they relaxed into a deep sleep, they would be awoken to stumble out of bed to find a lost paci and soothe a distraught screech monkey. I relaxed into my make-shift bed of couch cushions and found peaceful slumber.

The sound of silence is something I used to take for granted. Now, on the rare occasions that I find myself in this situation, the quiet is cherished.

Which also makes cherishing my little screech monkey all the better the other 167.75 hours of the week.

Posted in Friends, Parenting, Sleep | 1 Comment

Buyer’s Remorse

I still haven’t learned my lesson. Two years ago, I became entranced by the dancing, singing, web-slinging preschool version of a Spiderman doll at Costco (“For only $9.99! I love/hate you, Costco.”). For awhile I was able to block the recorded kid’s laughter, the “Sing with me!” pleas, the Itsy-Bitsy-Spider and Spiderman theme songs. Then I found myself on the brink of “losing him” (Hello, Goodwill!) or removing the batteries (“Sorry, he’s broken!”).

But I didn’t, because she loved that doll, and because I have endured much worse than the sounds coming from a one-foot-tall toy.

And now, I’ve let it happen again. After returning two of the three puppy toys Vivienne received for Christmas, Jake and I decided to get one of the toys on Lily’s list instead: Jo-Jo the Hide & Seek Bunny (“On sale! And with cute little carrot!”). The girls both screeched with joy upon opening their after-Christmas-surprise and proceeded to play with Jo-Jo for the next hour.

I thought I had successfully blocked Jo-Jo’s little counting song when I found myself singing it at work. In the middle of a meeting with my supervisor, I kept drifting off to the song, “One two three, hide away, four five six, we’re going to play, seven eight nine, I’m coming soon, now I’ll find you in the room!” Luckily, she immediately sympathized, as she had “Grandma got run over by a reindeer” stuck in her head for an entire week during the holidays.

But that counting song is…too much. What happened to blocks and dolls and stuffed animals that don’t make noises and sing “teaching” songs? Where is the screwdriver?!? I have to get those batteries out!

And then my girls’ laughter and huge smiles make me pause. Is their happiness worth a little insanity? For now, I vote yes. Sometimes, a little insanity is what parenting is all about.

Posted in Parenting | 1 Comment