Follow on Bloglovin>
Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

A DIY Memorable (and budget friendly) Milestone Birthday Party

frugalistablog diy party on a budget

I love a lavish party. But the thought of paying for it and organizing it makes me break out in hives. I also know that my mom detests big and grand affairs but was turning the big 75 this year and wanted something special.

Brainstorming ideas gave inspiration to things like: a trip to Paris, a hot air balloon ride, a sky writer wishing her a Happy Birthday. None of these were feasible.

I kept thinking to myself, “How do I make a fabulous 75th birthday party??!!” And then the answer came to me-

What does any grandparent want? MORE TIME WITH THEIR GRAND KIDS!

So I did what I could. Emma and Owen were available. But her other grandchildren were traveling both abroad and back east. It would rely heavily on Emma and Owen. But we could do it.

First we piled on the sap.

Not the tree sap kind, but the sentimental kind.

We made a list of 75 things we loved about my mom. Our Oma we call her. She’s German. Then Emma cut the list in little strips of paper and we put it in a very affordable apothecary jar (found for cheap at TJ Maxx!). We tied a little ribbon on it.

DIY birthday parties grandparents milestones frugalista blog

I bought an amazing cake at our local bakery, found some glorious, yet not too pricey champagne at Whole Foods, and we ordered vegetarian Vietnamese food from a family run restaurant in town, which I knew my mom would love.

We took a poster board and folded it in half. We found so many old pictures through the years, scanned them and printed them and pasted them in the card.

I found a DIY banner at Michael’s that we also clipped photos too. I also picked up at Michael’s a chalk board sign that we used for the mantle. Using my coupons everything came to around $15!

DIY birthday party grandparents milestones frugalista blog

I picked out two photos of our families featuring the grand kids and printed them off Shutterfly for just a few dollars. I found 8×10 frames at Bed, Bath and Beyond and used coupons there too. This way she had some prints of her favorite people to display in her home.

In our digital age, sometimes, a good old framed photo of loved ones is just what a 3/4 centenarian could hope for!

frugalista blog, diy, birthday parties, birthday table, grandparent ideas, milestone

So without a lot of expense or embarrassing fanfare, we celebrated my mom in the best way we could. She loved the hours of hanging out at our home, listening to her family read 75 reasons why we love her, and cherishing the people closest to her.

I also picked flowers from my yard to add to the decor.

If you have a special birthday coming up for a grandparent, or loved one that you want to add some memorable little touches- feel free to borrow any of my ideas.

 

 

She could have been a doctor, but she’s just my mom

It’s my mom’s birthday today. She is 73. Sorry mom. I suppose divulging your age is the first rule of lady code I just broke.

Well, I say wear your age proudly. Because when you’ve lived 73 years and seen what my mom has seen, I think you just throw your hangups about age out the window.

My mom is my compass. She’s my lighthouse in the dark. She is my mom and that’s my everything.

I am probably one of the luckiest humans to have such a woman in their life that breathes into her hope, inspiration and security.

My mom doesn’t have it easy. She takes care of my sister, who is disabled. Mom has had her own bout of hardships. Three joint replacement surgeries, a life saving surgery when her intestine was blocked and she could have died. OH, and she’s a cancer survivor. So, there’s that.

Also, when you’re born in Frankfurt in 1941 you are surrounded by a world at war. To think this little being and many others like her, came in to this world under Germany’s darkest years. But if there’s a light one can not extinguish even during this dark period, it was my mom coming forth. Little Uta. I think she was born speaking and solving problems, but that’s just my admiration for her. I know she was a regular little girl, a person with her own hopes and dreams before she was my mom. It’s hard for us as children to picture our parents as people. I mean, you’re telling me they had lives before they devoted it all to us? Indeed. This is a hard fact for my own children to accept sometimes. When you wear the badge of ‘MOM’ it’s hard to be seen as anything else.

Sure like other children, I have fond memories of the way my mom smelled (Chanel No 5 during the 70s) and the smells of her kitchen too. We would have her homemade pizza every Saturday night. We watched the Muppet Show from our kitchen table my dad built. Kermit was smaller then on the 18 inch color television that wasn’t even remote control yet.

But I also have memories of my mom when I was in high school and college. The morning after a late night out, she would sit on my bed while I would sip a cup of tea she brought me. I’d share details of the night like I would share to a girl friend. I would preface certain stories with, “Okay, you’re not my mom right now, what I’m going to tell you.” And she would listen without raising an eyebrow. She didn’t judge or scoff. Let’s be real though. I was a pretty square kid. I didn’t really drink, I never did drugs, I was usually home by midnight, and my male conquests were theater boys I would crush on from afar only to find out they were gay. Translation- I didn’t get much action in college!

So there really wasn’t a whole lot for her to judge me on anyway. BUT, I still felt comfortable sharing all my funny stories, crazy happenings when there were some, and girl to girl details only other women get.

I remember one time either in my early adult years or when I was still in high school, my mom and I were having a heart to heart. In one of her somewhat bleak moments, she said to me with tears in her eyes, “You know, I could have been a lot of things. Maybe a doctor. Maybe a scientist. But I’m just a mom.”

It broke my heart. How could this woman not be satisfied with anything more than being my mom?! Had she been a career woman and not stayed home with her kids, what would life have been like? Selfishly, I was glad this was all she was. My mom. Our mom.

But I told her that she is more than ‘Just a Mom’. She is patience, and trust, nurture and light. She helps the downtrodden, she advocates for the helpless. She friends the homeless and the addicts. She counsels the stranger she strikes up conversation with.

She is an amazing woman that is more than just a mom. But a person who betters this world just by living in it. She raised me and my brother and sister. She looks after my dad and is his partner of 55 years. She reads and swallows up information by the libraries. She is one of the smartest people I know. She can cook up a pie crust and help you with your 401(k) paperwork. I don’t know how this woman does it.

Did I mention she moved here from Germany when she was 17 after marrying my dad? They had my brother a few years later and within less than 10 years had their own two children and fostered troubled children. Mixed race children in the 60s! They took a road trip with their black foster daughter and their own two children down to Atlanta. The guts they had. This is how my parents live. By example.

So yeah. You turn 73 with 3 grown kids of your own, 4 grandchildren, a husband you’ve been married to for 55 years; you wear that age proudly.

And mom,  if you ever think you’re ‘just a mom’ and there was something else you could have been, think for a minute the lives you’ve touched. The ripple effect of what your living has created. How there should be more people like you that are as selfless, reliable and loving. I have never been more proud of you to just be my mom.

Happy birthday.

 

She could have been a doctory but she's just my mom by Frugalista Blog

My mom in the 1950s.

Frugie Blog interviews her dad

It’s my daddy’s 82nd birthday today! Yay glitter cannons everywhere! Oh, wait. Stop. He would hate that. Just some quiet classical music and a tidy floor. The glitter would be messy and he doesn’t like mess.

I’ve written about my dad before. I like to pay tribute to him on his birthday. I’m just so blessed to have a solid father figure to support me. You might know or remember, that he was born and raised in England. Being born before World War 2, and immigrating to America in the 1950s makes for an interesting life and a perspective on the world, most of us aren’t familiar with.

I decided to do something different with this birthday post. I’m going to interview him. This gives you a little insight on his personality. You know, like Barbara Walters if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be, kind of questions. Only, I don’t ask him about being a tree.

So here you are- my dad.

Like high profile magazines and their celebrity interviews, I will include a bit on the setting and his appearance.

Dad came over to the kitchen table wearing a somewhat fashionable sweater vest and plaid shirt ensemble. His hair was neatly balding and he wore glasses like always. We had just had lunch of takeout Thai food. He pointed out I didn’t eat all my vegetables on my plate. <eye roll>

Me- “What’s your favorite part about turning 82?”

Dad- “That I got past 81.”

Me- “What’s your least favorite part about turning 82?”

Dad- “You get old and tired and kind of ugly, and my ears keep getting bigger.” (He’s always had big ears, this is true.)

Me- “What bothers you most about the age we live in.”

Dad- “Cell phones and the people who use them.”

Me- “Just a sec… I need to send this text. OKAY… moving on… What do you think of Miley Cyrus and twerking?”

Dad- “Can you repeat that? Miley who? What? She’s talking?”

Me- “The MTV Music Awards when Hannah Montana danced on stage with a giant teddy bear. Did you hear about it?”

Dad- “Yes! Right. Hannah Montana… she’s a kid, right?”

Me- “What’s your favorite television show?”

Dad- “NCIS”

Me- “What did you want to be when you grew up?”

Dad- “I didn’t want to be anything really. I wanted to ride motorbikes though.”

Me-“What kind of things did you get in trouble for when you were a kid?”

Dad- “Oh everything. Constable Bennett would pedal his bike just about every other week to our house to tell our mother that we were on the train tracks again. We had to be on the train tracks to get to the other side of town. Mother would tell the Constable she would remind us not to go there, but then she forgot about it.”

Me- “If you could only eat one food ever, what would it be?”

Dad- “Fruitcake”

Me-

Dad- “It has all vital nutrients. No meat necessary.”

Me- “What made you want to come to America?”

Dad- “Saw a motorcycle ad in a paper in the village for a service manager in Chicago. So I got it.”

Me- “Would you ever get a Facebook account?”

Dad-“I might if I knew what it was and it didn’t cost me anything.”

Me- “Let’s watch the Miley video now.”

Dad- “Let’s not. I’ve got an episode of NCIS to catch up on.”

Fair enough.

Happy Birthday dad. Love you.

 

 

It’s the Boy’s birthday! RTLF- #34

Today Owen is 10. Ten!!

I still haven’t lost the baby weight.

Owen was born with bright blond hair. Lots of it. He needed a hair cut at 9 months because he had a comb-over, it was so long!

Once my nether regions healed after birthing out this 8 pound 11 ounce child of 23 (22?) inches long with a 95th percentile head- I grew to realize that the ‘mama’s boy’ myth was coming true. He was in love with me and I with him.

I promise to not be a nightmare mother in law. It might be hard. He’s my golden boy.

I figured in honor of this day- I will post a few gems of previous Owen posts. He has always been entertaining. Including this one:

Also, I shall include last year’s post of when I share his birth story. It’s pretty good.

The Difference Between Sons and Daughters

Ha! Answer- HUGE!

Yeah, DUH!  I figure since my son’s birthday is coming up and I wrote a blog post about my daughter’s birthday, I should give him the same credit. Although, he is the second child and sometimes you just forget to do stuff for the next kid, like baby books, home movies, that sort of thing. The five second rule comes in to play a whole lot more. You don’t sweat the little stuff like you obsessed over the first time.

So, my story begins- I was about 16 weeks pregnant with my second child. I didn’t know yet if it was a boy or a girl. I kinda wanted it to be a girl. My daughter was 2 1/2, we had a houseful of girl things, I figured, I know girls. I’m a girl,  I can do girls. What do I do with a boy? Will I want to play with him? When he gets older, how am I going to deal with penis questions? (let me tell you now- I am always dealing with penis and testicle questions.) What if he’s hyper, what if he likes guns and wants to be an Ultimate Fighting Champion when he grows up? What is he going to wear? Boys clothes sure as heck aren’t as cute as girl’s clothes.  These were the thoughts that were spinning around and around in my head. Very shallow, but reasonable thoughts.

A friend of mine gave me a children’s book called “Love You Forever” about a mom so devoted to her baby boy and all his phases of growing up. She would tuck him in each night, she would watch him sleep. And then when he was a grown up she climbed in through his window and watched him sleep. Which is really weird. Then when she was an old lady, he watched her sleep and carried her when she couldn’t walk. And it goes to show you how much a mama loves her boy and vice versa. I thought it was a little creepy with the whole sleep watching part and I thought, “I’m never going to be one of THOSE moms that clings to her son.”

<<SNORT>> Yeah right. Fast forward 9 years from then- no girl is going to be good enough for MY boy!! No girl. Okay, settle down. I’m kidding. But I totally get the mother/son connection. My boy is a mama’s boy for sure. And he IS my favorite. I mean, okay, not really!! He’s just, well, he’s easy to love. So I joke about him being my favorite.*

In those early months of pregnancy, I read in a magazine that if your pee was tinged green you were having a boy. If it’s yellow, you’re having a girl. Of course, I was always inspecting my pee color those early weeks. And it was, well, pee color. I guess, I mean, sort of guess it was kinda greenish. It depended on when I took my vitamin, how much water I had been drinking. It was really hard to determine. Also, I heard that if you crave meats you are having a boy. I totally craved sweet baked goods when I was pregnant with Emma. And strawberries. I ate strawberries all the time. With Owen’s pregnancy, I craved vodka. What does THAT tell you?? I craved lots of seafood. I wanted shrimp and prawns all the time. And steak. So yes, I guess I did crave meat.

We had names picked out for if it was a girl or if it was a boy. Nothing written in stone. We just had ideas. I sure as heck had more options if it was a girl. I loved all kinds of girl names. Not that James agreed with me on most of them. Like, Cher or Genevieve, or Violetta. Something awesome of course! I kind of wanted Charlotte or Olivia. I thought that would go well with Emma. He didn’t want any part of that. Too old fashioned he said. I wanted Margaret or Kathleen. Again, too old fashioned. GEEZE, what did he want- Beyonce?? So we kind of, sort of, chose Sarah. But for the boy, we were leaning towards Henry. Love the name Henry. Yes, it was old fashioned, but we both agreed on it. Then low and behold his Great Aunt one day said if it’s named Henry, she’s calling him Hank. Well, stop the presses, because I’m not having a kid going by the name of Hank! Hank is a name for an old man wearing a wife beater shirt guzzling a Pabst Blue Ribbon in his lawn chair. No offense, I just had this image of what a Hank looked like, and it was NOT my son. So then it just came to us- If it’s a boy, it needs to be Owen, which is James’ middle name and his grandfather’s name on his dad’s side. And you don’t get Hank out of Owen. So Owen it would be. Or Sarah. We weren’t sure yet.

We went to the ultrasound at 20 weeks and found out we had a healthy baby. Brain, heart, all the good stuff- looking fine. And yep, a penis. There it was. The fifth appendage. They told us we were having a boy and I thought, well, okey dokey, a boy it is. Hmm, not sure how I feel about it. I wasn’t disappointed. And I wasn’t over the moon. I was just sort of, content. Yeah, content. Now I WAS convinced I was peeing green.

So the day Owen was born was very different, of course, than the day Emma was born. All birth stories are unique. With Emma, I had the perfect epidural after excruciating labor. With Owen, I experienced labor the way it was intended.  It ebbed and flowed and I got through it. I got the epidural but had to start pushing before it actually kicked in. He was coming hard and fast down the pike. They kept telling me it should be working and I shouldn’t feel a thing. Well, tell that to my burning vagina! I felt everything! I would find out later that the epidural worked perfectly if I was having leg surgery on my right side. Thirty minutes after I pushed out the placenta, I couldn’t feel my whole right leg. Gee thanks Dr. Anesthesiologist! Asshat.

So, I was scared as hell about feeling everything since I felt nothing with Emma’s birth.  You bloody well can bet I wanted to be numb for this one too. Well, I think I pushed maybe three times and out he came. Apparently, I push babies out easily. Despite their head circumference being the size of a bowling ball. What does THAT say about my hoo ha? Wait, don’t answer that.

Because I was more concerned with myself and the BURNGING RING OF FIRE sensation that just ripped through me when Owen came out, that when they placed him on me all warm and slimy, I remember thinking, “I did it!”. I didn’t feel that incredible connection to the universe like when Emma was born. I wasn’t as panicked about his well-being since he wasn’t in any fetal distress like she had been. Maybe because I was thinking more practically after having done it before. He had a full head of hair when he came out.  He looked like a surfer – kinda tan and with bleach blond hair. He nursed immediately. What a boob guy. He wouldn’t let go. The hoo ha survived, and latching on happened like it should have. And then, I fell in love with the little peanut. More like the little ham hock. He was 8 pounds, 11 ounces and I swear 23 inches, but the nurse said 22, but I SAW the tape measure. She totally short-changed him. But whatever. I know.

He cried, but didn’t fuss. If he was hungry- he cried. But honestly, if you held him, he was happy. Emma fussed. Sorry dear- you were a cranky pants sometimes. Oh and the colic! He never had that. He slept better, cried less and was just kinda chill. Maybe he was a surfer? I do remember him surfing across my spleen sometimes, or my cervix. He used to karate chop straight down the birth canal those last few weeks he was gestating in the womb. Holy fallopian tubes he would kick the wind out of me- from the inside!

Owen is a very typical child. He whines, he pouts, he doesn’t always do as he’s told. But 9 out of 10 times, he’s really good. He is always thanking me for doing things for him, taking him places, feeding him. He’s the most grateful child I know. He’s a goody two-shoes like me. Totally keeps track of any swearing or yelling by any family member. He really hates yelling. He likes things quiet. He loves to snuggle. And he loves James Bond and Harry Potter and drinks cups of tea with me. Really? What more could a mom ask for?

I can totally trust him. Emma is the story knitter. She can knit a story into a sweater like nobody’s business. How many times when she was in preschool I had to clarify to the teachers what was going on in our family. Whether she had said her dad broke his leg, which he didn’t, but she wanted the pastor (she went to a Christian preschool at our church) to pray for him so she decided to make up a story. Or when her teacher asked me how Disneyland was, and I told her that we hadn’t been to Disneyland. And she said that Emma had told the class that her Grandpa drove the family down to Disneyland in his RV. Well, Grandpa doesn’t have an RV and we didn’t go to Disneyland at all that year. So you get the idea.

I can look Owen square in the eye and he will tell me exactly what happened. If he got in trouble at school (this has happened twice in his whole elementary career) he immediately came to me with the note from his teacher. Guilty. He hates guilt. So he faces it head on.

The difference with boys and girls is clearly attitude. Emma throws me attitude like a logger at a Highland games. Just pitches it up to fall hard on me, Owen doesn’t do that. You don’t have to walk on egg shells around him. Emma is Miss Moody. Happy and easy-going one minute, in tears and hating the world the next. Typical hormonal pre-teen FEMALE. (*If you’re reading this ever in the future Emma, I think you’re awesome and the best daughter ever. Don’t hate me.)

Well, I could brag on and on about my amazing children, but I will spare you. My point is, despite my feelings while I was pregnant and anticipating a boy, wondering how to love it, how it will love me- I can’t imagine it any other way.  Two girls would absolutely kill me! Oh dear heavens, the estrogen would put us over the edge!! At least with Emma as the first born.  She is so Alpha that I can’t imagine another female between her and I.  Owen balances our family beautifully.

He really is my golden boy.

I pop out some damn cute kids, huge head and all.

All of a sudden, I’m the mother of a teenager

How did this happen? Grammarians, is it ‘mother of a teenager’ or ‘mother to a teenager’? I’m stuck. But either way. There’s a teenager living in my house.

Do you ever day dream into the future? I get caught sometimes jumping ahead of myself and thinking forward to the years of when Emma will be in high school. I have to almost catch my breath. I realize that I will blink and she will be off to college. Am I jumping the gun a little? Maybe. I remember when she was born, I fast forwarded in my head to maybe around her being 2 years old. And I thought, will I still like her? Gladly, the answer was yes. And still is.

Once upon a time, what feels not so long ago, I was anxiously awaiting the birth of this precious girl. I mean very anxiously. I had been on strict bed rest (not able to be on my feet for any more than 20 minutes per day) for the last 10 weeks of my pregnancy. I was ready for her to come out!

When she finally did, I felt the universe shift, my earth mother instincts kick in (okay, not really, sort of) and I could SMELL her. I literally smelled her when they placed her on me and she was the sweetest, most amazing smell ever. It was HER. I would smell her daily many times a day those next few weeks and months.

I miss that smell. Now I smell passion fruit or vanilla body spray or Dove deodorant. Maybe some Pink Sugar perfume or L’Oreal Elnett hairspray. Sometimes I smell some stinky armpits that smell like a Mexican buffet or her stinky shoes that smell like sour vinegar and Gruyere cheese.

When she was just a few days old, she was laying in her bassinet, asleep. She was on her side and her little profile was cherubic. Seriously, she was the most adorable baby. She looked like a painting. I burst into tears. My boobs hurt, my gut and crotch hurt and I couldn’t get over how amazing it was to have this child. I was the happiest woman on the planet, with the best baby on earth. Ever. That’s how it felt anyway.

I won’t sugar coat it (okay, I already kind of have) but there were moments of that first week of post-partum, I wondered what I got myself into. My nipples were torn open and bleeding due to poor latching on Emma’s part. Of course, I didn’t know any better and endured this for a whole week before the Lactation experts told me to get on a breast pump STAT and give my boobses a rest.

I was so tired I couldn’t see straight. Sometimes I would just cry for no reason. Well, duh. Of course there was a reason- I was hormonal and exhausted. Who’s brilliant idea was this??

Somehow I managed to get a rhythm to this parenting thing. The breast feeding finally clicked, it only took 3 weeks (pshaw), she never did sleep through the night, but I adjusted to her waking up at 4 am as part of our routine. She didn’t start sleeping completely through the night regularly until she was almost 5, that little stinker! Now I can’t wake her up for school. Totally figures.

When she was six months old, she was nursing on me. She took a bite of my boob and when I yelped in pain and when I looked down at her to tell her ‘no’, she smiled up at me. Oh boy did that push some buttons! I felt like she knew she was hurting me. Like she knew she was testing me. Maybe I was overreacting. But at that moment, I knew I had my work cut out for me and she would be a challenge. A good challenge. But definitely a crafty little thing.

She challenges me all the time. She keeps me on my toes. Sometimes she brings me to tears because she hurts my feelings. I know she doesn’t mean to hurt me. I know that I probably annoy the hell out of her with my goofy jokes, loud laugh and chit chat with the other moms. But still, she pushes my buttons like a college kid and a microwave. Beep, beep, beep. Pick a setting-‘highly annoyed’, ‘ready to yell’, ‘losing my shit’; that’s how she can be to me.

So here we are. On the brink of another turning point. 13 years old. A teenager. Am I afraid?  A little. Am I excited for all the possibilities she has in store? Yes. More than anything.

I look at her and see a better version of myself. Like a 2.0 of a prototype. She’s already mastered social interactions and fashion taste and make up application far better than I ever did at that age! And don’t even get me started on her perfect teeth. Yes, she’ll eventually need braces, but she sure dodged a bullet and skipped the awkward years. Of course, Owen has made up for that and will need orthodontia probably before Emma gets it!

So Emma, if you ever read this, know how much I love you. Know that even though your heart might break a few times in life, or you don’t find yourself exactly where you thought you would be, you are the best you I could ever ask for. You make the world better. You shine your light wherever you go. No matter what you do, or who you are with, because of you- the world is better with you in it.

 

Do you see this perfection?? She’s ADORABLE! Okay, I’m biased, but COME ON.

My mom, my friend, my soul mate

Today is my mom’s birthday. It wouldn’t be right without a blog post to commemorate her. She truly is the reason for so much in my life.

My friends and even Facebook folks (my mom is on Facebook, has an iPhone and texts her grandkids- she’s the coolest 71 year old ever!) know my mom as this sweet, white haired woman who is fair, crazy smart, and sharp as a whip. But mostly, she has the tenderest heart of anyone you will ever meet. Come on over for a cup of tea- she’ll be your best friend after an hour. You’ll be telling her your deepest concerns, she’ll council you and steer you in the right direction. I promise. It’s true. Just ask the lady that does her nails, checks out her groceries, my friends, the church organist, the Starbucks barista…. yeah- she makes friends with EVERYBODY!

It’s hard to picture little Uta in Germany born during the war. She remembers air raids, US soldiers occupying their house, her own father a prisoner of war to the Americans for two years. Two years. He was a civilian and NOT a Hitler supporter. But that’s politics and war for you. The story of the American soldiers in their house is kind of funny. My grandmother was disgusted that they left their boots on the bed, were messy and didn’t leave things as they found. Their mother’s clearly didn’t teach them what my mom taught me!

Don’t ask when she met and married my dad (shh, she was 17, but doesn’t like to admit!) and moved to the States. My dad was from England, 27, and ready to make a life for them in Chicago.

Struggles, foster children, their own special needs child, English as a second language, 3 children of their own- nothing could stop my parents for creating an American way of life that was comfortable and idyllic. We lived in the ‘burbs, my mom stayed home with us, my dad worked as a mechanic for United Airlines, they put us through college, took us on trips to Europe to visit family, made Christmas and birthdays the best days of the year. We weren’t spoiled. We had only what we needed. But we were exceptionally cared for.

I always bristled at anyone who called me spoiled growing up. My mom brought me a cup of tea in bed. Yeah, so?  Spoiled because she washed my clothes and packed my lunches? Hmm, I don’t think so. I was wearing hand me downs from my sister who was 8 years older than me, that my mom sewed. Imagine wearing clothes in 1984 that were made in 1976. Yeah, I was THAT kid. We traveled to Europe because my dad worked for the airlines, we stayed with family when we were there. These weren’t fancy trips. But they gave me the perspective of the world. My best memories are of time spent in Germany or England.

When I was a teenager my mom and I were still best friends. I told her lots of stuff! She would sit on my bed the next morning to hear about the previous night I spent with friends. I would tell her all the gossip and details. I trusted her. She never judged.

When I got married and was pregnant on bed rest with Emma for 10 weeks, she came and cooked for us so James could work. She saved us!

The best compliment of my life right now is how much my children love their Oma. They ask for special sleepovers where they can spend time with her. Not together, just one of them at a time! Owen loves to sit and read, drink cups of tea, learn to sew, listen to classical music. He is very content to visit there.

I’m off to spend the day with her. We will have lunch and then dinner. Nothing fancy. No shopping sprees or spa trips. We’ve got the kids and their schedules. It will be my dad and sister, James and the kids. We’re just happy to be with her. Our Oma.

Love you Mutti.

The difference between sons and daughters.

Ha! Answer- HUGE!

Yeah, DUH!  I figure since my son’s birthday is coming up and I wrote a blog post about my daughter’s birthday, I should give him the same credit. Although, he is the second child and sometimes you just forget to do stuff for the next kid, like baby books, home movies, that sort of thing. The five second rule comes in to play a whole lot more. You don’t sweat the little stuff like you obsessed over the first time.

So, my story begins- I was about 16 weeks pregnant with my second child. I didn’t know yet if it was a boy or a girl. I kinda wanted it to be a girl. My daughter was 2 1/2, we had a houseful of girl things, I figured, I know girls. I’m a girl,  I can do girls. What do I do with a boy? Will I want to play with him? When he gets older, how am I going to deal with penis questions? (let me tell you now- I am always dealing with penis and testicle questions.) What if he’s hyper, what if he likes guns and wants to be an Ultimate Fighting Champion when he grows up? What is he going to wear? Boys clothes sure as heck aren’t as cute as girl’s clothes.  These were the thoughts that were spinning around and around in my head. Very shallow, but reasonable thoughts.

A friend of mine gave me a children’s book called “Love You Forever” about a mom so devoted to her baby boy and all his phases of growing up. She would tuck him in each night, she would watch him sleep. And then when he was a grown up she climbed in through his window and watched him sleep. Which is really weird. Then when she was an old lady, he watched her sleep and carried her when she couldn’t walk. And it goes to show you how much a mama loves her boy and vice versa. I thought it was a little creepy with the whole sleep watching part and I thought, “I’m never going to be one of THOSE moms that clings to her son.”

<<SNORT>> Yeah right. Fast forward 9 years from then- no girl is going to be good enough for MY boy!! No girl. Okay, settle down. I’m kidding. But I totally get the mother/son connection. My boy is a mama’s boy for sure. And he IS my favorite. I mean, okay, not really!! He’s just, well, he’s easy to love. So I joke about him being my favorite.*

In those early months of pregnancy, I read in a magazine that if your pee was tinged green you were having a boy. If it’s yellow, you’re having a girl. Of course, I was always inspecting my pee color those early weeks. And it was, well, pee color. I guess, I mean, sort of guess it was kinda greenish. It depended on when I took my vitamin, how much water I had been drinking. It was really hard to determine. Also, I heard that if you crave meats you are having a boy. I totally craved sweet baked goods when I was pregnant with Emma. And strawberries. I ate strawberries all the time. With Owen’s pregnancy, I craved vodka. What does THAT tell you?? I craved lots of seafood. I wanted shrimp and prawns all the time. And steak. So yes, I guess I did crave meat.

We had names picked out for if it was a girl or if it was a boy. Nothing written in stone. We just had ideas. I sure as heck had more options if it was a girl. I loved all kinds of girl names. Not that James agreed with me on most of them. Like, Cher or Genevieve, or Violetta. Something awesome of course! I kind of wanted Charlotte or Olivia. I thought that would go well with Emma. He didn’t want any part of that. Too old fashioned he said. I wanted Margaret or Kathleen. Again, too old fashioned. GEEZE, what did he want- Beyonce?? So we kind of, sort of, chose Sarah. But for the boy, we were leaning towards Henry. Love the name Henry. Yes, it was old fashioned, but we both agreed on it. Then low and behold his Great Aunt one day said if it’s named Henry, she’s calling him Hank. Well, stop the presses, because I’m not having a kid going by the name of Hank! Hank is a name for an old man wearing a wife beater shirt guzzling a Pabst Blue Ribbon in his lawn chair. No offense, I just had this image of what a Hank looked like, and it was NOT my son. So then it just came to us- If it’s a boy, it needs to be Owen, which is James’ middle name and his grandfather’s name on his dad’s side. And you don’t get Hank out of Owen. So Owen it would be. Or Sarah. We weren’t sure yet.

We went to the ultrasound at 20 weeks and found out we had a healthy baby. Brain, heart, all the good stuff- looking fine. And yep, a penis. There it was. The fifth appendage. They told us we were having a boy and I thought, well, okey dokey, a boy it is. Hmm, not sure how I feel about it. I wasn’t disappointed. And I wasn’t over the moon. I was just sort of, content. Yeah, content. Now I WAS convinced I was peeing green.

So the day Owen was born was very different, of course, than the day Emma was born. All birth stories are unique. With Emma, I had the perfect epidural after excruciating labor. With Owen, I experienced labor the way it was intended.  It ebbed and flowed and I got through it. I got the epidural but had to start pushing before it actually kicked in. He was coming hard and fast down the pike. They kept telling me it should be working and I shouldn’t feel a thing. Well, tell that to my burning vagina! I felt everything! I would find out later that the epidural worked perfectly if I was having leg surgery on my right side. Thirty minutes after I pushed out the placenta, I couldn’t feel my whole right leg. Gee thanks Dr. Anesthesiologist! Asshat.

So, I was scared as hell about feeling everything since I felt nothing with Emma’s birth.  You bloody well can bet I wanted to be numb for this one too. Well, I think I pushed maybe three times and out he came. Apparently, I push babies out easily. Despite their head circumference being the size of a bowling ball. What does THAT say about my hoo ha? Wait, don’t answer that.

Because I was more concerned with myself and the BURNGING RING OF FIRE sensation that just ripped through me when Owen came out, that when they placed him on me all warm and slimy, I remember thinking, “I did it!”. I didn’t feel that incredible connection to the universe like when Emma was born. I wasn’t as panicked about his well-being since he wasn’t in any fetal distress like she had been. Maybe because I was thinking more practically after having done it before. He had a full head of hair when he came out.  He looked like a surfer – kinda tan and with bleach blond hair. He nursed immediately. What a boob guy. He wouldn’t let go. The hoo ha survived, and latching on happened like it should have. And then, I fell in love with the little peanut. More like the little ham hock. He was 8 pounds, 11 ounces and I swear 23 inches, but the nurse said 22, but I SAW the tape measure. She totally short-changed him. But whatever. I know.

He cried, but didn’t fuss. If he was hungry- he cried. But honestly, if you held him, he was happy. Emma fussed. Sorry dear- you were a cranky pants sometimes. Oh and the colic! He never had that. He slept better, cried less and was just kinda chill. Maybe he was a surfer? I do remember him surfing across my spleen sometimes, or my cervix. He used to karate chop straight down the birth canal those last few weeks he was gestating in the womb. Holy fallopian tubes he would kick the wind out of me- from the inside!

Owen is a very typical child. He whines, he pouts, he doesn’t always do as he’s told. But 9 out of 10 times, he’s really good. He is always thanking me for doing things for him, taking him places, feeding him. He’s the most grateful child I know. He’s a goody two-shoes like me. Totally keeps track of any swearing or yelling by any family member. He really hates yelling. He likes things quiet. He loves to snuggle. And he loves James Bond and Harry Potter and drinks cups of tea with me. Really? What more could a mom ask for?

I can totally trust him. Emma is the story knitter. She can knit a story into a sweater like nobody’s business. How many times when she was in preschool I had to clarify to the teachers what was going on in our family. Whether she had said her dad broke his leg, which he didn’t, but she wanted the pastor (she went to a Christian preschool at our church) to pray for him so she decided to make up a story. Or when her teacher asked me how Disneyland was, and I told her that we hadn’t been to Disneyland. And she said that Emma had told the class that her Grandpa drove the family down to Disneyland in his RV. Well, Grandpa doesn’t have an RV and we didn’t go to Disneyland at all that year. So you get the idea.

I can look Owen square in the eye and he will tell me exactly what happened. If he got in trouble at school (this has happened twice in his whole elementary career) he immediately came to me with the note from his teacher. Guilty. He hates guilt. So he faces it head on.

The difference with boys and girls is clearly attitude. Emma throws me attitude like a logger at a Highland games. Just pitches it up to fall hard on me, Owen doesn’t do that. You don’t have to walk on egg shells around him. Emma is Miss Moody. Happy and easy-going one minute, in tears and hating the world the next. Typical hormonal pre-teen FEMALE. (*If you’re reading this ever in the future Emma, I think you’re awesome and the best daughter ever. Don’t hate me.)

Well, I could brag on and on about my amazing children, but I will spare you. My point is, despite my feelings while I was pregnant and anticipating a boy, wondering how to love it, how it will love me- I can’t imagine it any other way.  Two girls would absolutely kill me! Oh dear heavens, the estrogen would put us over the edge!! At least with Emma as the first born.  She is so Alpha that I can’t imagine another female between her and I.  Owen balances our family beautifully.

He really is my golden boy.

I pop out some damn cute kids, huge head and all.

The happiness of being a mother. No- really!

We are celebrating my daughter’s 12th birthday today. And it happens to be Easter. One of the perks of being born in April, there’s a chance your birthday falls on Easter. This is the second time we have celebrated the two together. The last was five years ago. We were at Disneyland for spring break. I don’t think a 7 year old could have had it any better!

This year, Emma is on the brink of teenagedom. She has always been mature- beyond her years. She was uber sophisticated at the young age of 2 when she said very clearly- “Aunt Edna broke her pelvis” to everyone she met on the street. This was true. Aunt Edna had, in fact, broken her pelvis. She also would lay on our family room carpet with the clear plastic toy bin over her head pretending she was Snow White in the casket the dwarfs had made her. And we would have to take turns playing the Prince. Getting on bended knee, lowering our head in sorrow, then lifting the toy bin to kiss her. She would open her eyes and play the princess off to be with her prince. Oh gosh, how I miss those days. Sort of.

Emma was never really a good sleeper. She gave me trouble even in-utero when she decided she wanted to start coming out at 25 weeks. I was hospitalized and on strict bed rest for 10 weeks. When she was born, we couldn’t get her to latch on. Breast feeding was hell. I think this is what caused her to not sleep. Her poor sleep patterns continued until she was about 5.

Now, what do you know? I can’t wake her up in the mornings. She would sleep a solid 12 hours if you let her. Which is hard when you have to get her out the door for school at 7:15 am and most activities and homework keep her up until 9pm. She probably needs as much sleep now as a toddler does, but life doesn’t allow for that.

Well, let’s get back to my original point. Happiness in motherhood. Seems like a paradox huh? Just kidding!

But truly, I wanted to be a mom so badly. I wanted Emma to be born safe and well. I willed her to be healthy. Don’t patronize me. I know that it’s not my thinking that made her. But I prayed hard, I meditated, I focused all my energies to gestating that healthy baby.

When she came out- oh lord, that was something. I had the best epidural known to modern medicine. This was after two hours of my uterus being hypertonic in a contraction that was ‘off the charts’. I thought I would die. When they finally let me have the epidural, the anesthesiologist- Dr. Fritz- performed magic. I didn’t even feel the needle (this could be because I was in such a fit of pain, you could have cut off my toes, and I wouldn’t have noticed it for the pain in my midsection) and then he said that my legs would start to feel warm like in a bathtub of warm water. Oh. He was right!! I could breathe. The pain subsided, my legs went heavenly numb and warm. My thoughts returned to the room I was in and the people around me. Like my darling husband, McSweetie, my mom, and my doula Peggy. The labor nurse, Ruth, was awesome. She got me comfortable and we let everyone go get some breakfast since it had been such a stressful morning of watching me writhe in pain.

She assured them it would be a few more hours before it was time to push.

Tick tock. A whopping 30 minutes went by (tee hee, I kid) and I sheepishly told Ruth I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. You know- I mean, number 2. She’s like, uhm, I don’t think so, let me examine you.

Sure enough- she’s in there with her whole hand. “Oh yeah, I feel the baby’s hair- you’re 10 centimeters”.

Me- “So I don’t have to poop?”

Ruth- “Nope. You’re gonna have this baby!”

In walks husband and mom with lattes and smiles on their faces thinking, la la la, this is a piece of cake. Then I say, “Hey, guess what? I’m ten centimeters so we’re going to start pushing, and by we, I mean ME.”

So up my legs go in the stirrups, Dr. Johnson, the best ob/gyn known to woman,  comes by with all the paper gowns and masks, I’m sure they put something on the floor to catch the mess. I had my Mozart CD playing in the hospital CD player, the sun was shining and I didn’t feel a thing. Anything that registered on the pain meter anyway.  I did what they told me and in about 10 minutes, I could see Emma with her eyes wide open staring at the doctor! She was covered in stuff that looks like what babies look like on TV and the movies when they pretend it’s a newborn. The doc was a little concerned. Emma had had the cord around her neck and the fetal monitor showed a morbidly low heart rate. They wanted to get her to oxygen right away. The Dr. didn’t even ask if one of us wanted to cut the cord. My mom with tears in her eyes, is holding my leg in the air, cheering, “She’s here, she’s here!”

I started to cry. But in a good, relief-happy cry sort of way.  I hadn’t heard Emma make a sound yet, but since I saw her color and saw her eyes wide open, I knew she was going to be okay. Within a few minutes they had her wiped off and on my chest. When I placed my hand on her, I thought I put my fingers in a warm bowl of butter. I had never felt anything so soft. It was literally, ‘like buttah’. I could smell her, I don’t know how to describe it, but it was HER smell. I cried and cried for my baby. The universe shifted and my heart opened up to a big giant surge of power. Infinite power that I could never imagine. This is truly what LOVE feels like. I get it. THIS is what everyone talks about.

Bliss lasted for a few hours. Once the epidural wore off and I could help myself to the toilet- that’s a winning moment for post partum moms. You DO NOT want a catheter if your bladder is ‘injured’ in any way. I remember feeling fabulous that I could breathe, my lungs weren’t squished, my pelvis didn’t have 10 pounds of baby weight pushing on it, I felt incredible. Until the next day when my hoo ha, swelled up like a grapefruit and I had to sit with frozen maxi pads. But that’s another story…

The latching on- not so good. The sleeping that night- not so good. The sleeping the next 45 nights- not so good.

Both hubs and I were bleary eyed, happy parents. But we knew we were screwed.

I remember looking at her in her bassinet. She was about 4 days old. I was still miserable. My boobs hurt like mo fo’s and I didn’t know whether to, as my dad says, ‘shit or go blind’, I was so tired. But I looked at her perfectness, and started to weep. I was so grateful she was here and safe. I had this perfect child. Of course, now, I was immersed in worrying all about the things that COULD happen. Is she going to stop breathing? Is her bassinet safe? What if there’s a fire? What if we get in a car accident on the way to a pediatrician appointment? What if she gets a fever? And the worrying never stops.

Now my worries are- who is she hanging out with after school, who is she getting a ride with to the movies, is her school campus safe, is she safe in her friend’s parent’s car on the way to a camp-out… ??? and on, and on, and on….

But today is her birthday. And even while she is right this very minute making a spoof video on her new Flip camera with her brother about murdering a cereal box- she is the apple of my eye, the sun in my day, and the peach in my fruit basket.

YOUR kids make videos about murdering cereal boxes and stuffed animals too, right?

Happy Easter. Happy Birthday Emma. The world is better with you in it.

Forty is the new everything

I’m a little bit giddy, a little bit nervous, and kinda paranoid all at the same time.

Here’s why:

My girlfriend Christin and I are going to the Grammys. Yeah. The real deal. Where Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett and LMFAO are all in the same room. It will be our early 40th birthday present to ourselves. Our friend Jennifer is taking us. She’s got some awesome connections and a super awesome dad that’s how we got to be so lucky.

So between freaking out, figuring out what I’m going to wear, making hair appointments to cover my roots, waxing (I don’t really wax) and telling the hubs he’ll have the kids for a whole weekend on his own, the back of my mind is going through the- ‘does this mean that with something this good, the universe will even the score and something bad will happen?

I know. That’s awful. How cynical of me. Good things happen to people, regardless. Bad things happen when  nothing good has happened. So why do I think because I get a stroke of good fortune, misfortune will come knocking?  Because I’m normal. Or fu*#ed/normal. The new normal.

So on top of all that, yes,  I’m turning 40. In August. But still, it’s there. On the calendar. Like a root canal. Or a pap smear appointment. But it’s also kind of super awesome. Why? Because I feel like now the best is yet to come. Even if the universe wants to settle any scores,  my life is way better than it was 20 years ago. Hell yeah. My twentieth birthday was spent going to my retail job, living in my cramped apartment, a few friends to make me feel special, no bars yet- I didn’t have a fake ID (too much of a goody-two-shoes) and no boyfriend. Now a boyfriend shouldn’t make you need to feel complete. But come on, let’s be real- I was a girl with needs. The need to be romanced, kissed on the neck, kissed on the lips, and snuggled. (More than that, but my mom reads my blog)

The plan is for me and the family to be in Europe with friends in August for my 40th. That’s pretty fantastical. Expensive. But fantastical. Of course, I’m stressed because I don’t have passports for the kids yet. And since the new law requires all of us to go in person so James knows I’m not kidnapping our kids to New Zealand, it makes for a difficult time getting us all together to the appointment, at the Post Office, on a Saturday. Or I’m just procrastinating because it doesn’t sound like fun to get a passport.

So yeah. My 2012 is going to be excellent. Like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. But I doubt there will be time travel.

So the Grammy’s. I promised Emma I would  try and get a picture of Nicki Minaj.

I’m sure the next 5 weeks (FIVE WEEKS!) will be full of outfit questions and other babblings.

Yay me. And Christin. And Jennifer. Happy Birthday to  us.

Emma's favorite. I can't understand a word she sings. Emma says that's probably because I'm old and a parent.

My favorite. Maybe she'll sing to me.