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Big or small, old or young, I’m letting them all have the fun.

Just a short message from me today.

There has been so much discussion, blogs, and articles about the appropriate age for trick or treating. When are kids too old? What’s the cut off age?

Well, isn’t it funny how we constantly point out that the kids today seem to be leaving childhood behind so quickly? Whether it’s how they dress, use social media, are exposed to sex and violence, etc.

So on this holiday of fun and child’s play, let’s let the kids be kids. Whether they are 5 or 15.

If someone comes to my house in a costume and politely says ‘Trick or Treat” I will give them candy. If they look like they probably drove here with their friends in their dad’s car, that’s okay.

My kids are 11 and 14. Our neighborhood is one of those neighborhoods families drive to to take their kids door to door. It’s busy and bustling, kids and families are out in packs. My kids are trick or treating.

Emma, 14, is heading out with a group of her friends. And I’m certain that because they will handle themselves appropriately, they will get candy at every door they knock on.

Owen is with a bunch of kids age 11 to 14. They will go door to door as well.

Because they are all still kids!!

My friend Jen over at Real Life Parenting said that when a teenager comes to her door without a costume and seems to expect candy, she tells them they can have the candy but after they sing a song or do a dance. It makes great entertainment around their friends!

I love that idea. Remember the old, old, old days where Halloween was more tricks? Kids soaping windows, building bon fires in the middle of the town square, throwing flour on folks? Okay, I watch a lot of old movies and Little House.

So I’m letting the kids be kids. Everyone gets candy here.

Of course, it might be some leftover Easter candy or last year’s candy, but hey- Tricks on you!

Happy Halloween.

Be safe.

Frugie Halloween Let the kids trick or treat

 

A kid’s guide to how to ask your parents for a hamster

 

A kid's guide to how to ask your parents for a hamster by Frugalista Blog

My daughter knew her father would be a tough sell on getting him convinced she could have a hamster.

We have a cat and a dog and despite my request for a houseful of kittens, he says that we have all the pets we’ll ever have.

Emma is a pretty clever kid.

So she knew that if she left the gate with just, “Dad, can I have a hamster?” the answer would be “NO”.

She decided to come up with a plan.

First- clean your room or bathroom, wherever you plan on keeping the little furry rodent’s dwelling.

Second- don’t ask for anything for awhile and come across as very low maintenance.

Three- have ovary surgery where they rearrange your insides.

Okay, that’s not fair. Not every kid can pull the surgery card, but it does work well if you do have it in your deck.

Find a time when dad isn’t stressed or just came home from work, isn’t distracted by a World Cup game, watching the NBA draft, or finishing his roster for coaching your brother’s soccer game. Yeah, if you understood that sentence, that means there’s very little time dad isn’t stressed or distracted.

Have a whole bunch of your babysitting money saved up so you don’t ask your parents for funding this furry venture.

Once you’ve accomplished all the above, sit down with your dad casually. Probably while he’s chilling with a beer.

And then in your sweetest, yet direct on mature, but not too mature voice, ask, “A lot of my friends have gotten them, and I know it seems weird at first, but I think you’ll consider the idea, can I get a belly button piercing?” Then hold for dramatic pause.

Then when he looks at you in shock, appease his worries with soft laughter,

“Ha ha, I’m just kidding.” “But rather, actually, can I have a hamster?” Then look him squarely in the eye and smile.

Ha! See? It’s the old ‘bait and switch’ tactic!

Once the shock of the thought of his little girl getting some kind of ornamental piercing hanging from a part of her body that he once bathed and applied ointment to the first few days after birth to ensure it healed properly, he can wrap his head around a furry little friend joining your home that pees and poos in a cage of wood shavings.

If at first he gives you the no answer answer, which goes like, “Oh, a hamster, ha ha. I get it. Hmmm…”  and then goes back to his beer and laptop, don’t fret. That’s not actually a ‘No’. It’s a non-answer that just hangs in the air.  What’s critical here is not to press him. Just go with the flow.

If you’re mom is already on board and supporting you with the decision, then let her do the closing.

Do your research and maybe mention a few people you know who have experience with hamsters as pets. Stress the low maintenance feature. Dad’s appreciate this.

It doesn’t hurt to take a trip to a few pet stores and scope out the one you want to get.  Once you find the one you fall in love with, bring back these anecdotes of how you held the cutest, sweetest hamster of the bunch and we wouldn’t want him to get purchased by someone else.

Have your mom approach him casually with, “well, Emma’s gotten all she needs for her hamster and we’ll head to the pet store tomorrow to bring him home. It really was the cutest one and it liked her immediately.”

When your mom helps convince your dad, you’ve hit a home run.

Bring that fur ball home and congratulations! You are now the owner of a tiny rodent.

Oh, and the pee and the bedding do stink. I’m not gonna lie. Be sure to tidy it daily, and clean its shavings weekly. If the smell overwhelms your parents, you’ve failed at the hamster parenting task and they’ll never trust you again.

For part two of this story, stay tuned on how to retrieve your hamster from the floor boards when you lose him behind the bathroom cupboard. That was fun. (sarcasm font)

 

 

 

My America. Your America.

Are you a Republican? A Democrat? Maybe you’re an Independent. Maybe you’re apathetic and seem to just ignore politics and those public figures.

Are you Christian? A Jew? Athiest?

What I’m getting at is, it doesn’t matter. Regardless of your beliefs or ideals, some things are just a big deal and really cool to experience.

Yesterday, I got to do something with my children that we will never forget. It was something only a handful of people get the opportunity to do.

We greeted Air Force One and shook President Obama’s hand!

Yeah! Pretty freaking amazing!!

Have you shaken a standing president’s hand before?

Have you been [this close] to Secret Service? It’s pretty cool.

We have a lot of crap going on in the world. A lot of ills and worries. But there’s also lots and lots of cool and wonderful things. I like to focus on the wonderful. But that doesn’t mean I’m not helping or trying to help the ill or ailing as well.

We took the kids to Washington D.C. in 2010. Seeing the Smithsonian monuments and hearing all the history was a banquet of memories and emotions for the kids and us. We love history. We love this country.

I watch documentaries on presidents all the time. I have a fascination with the Kennedy’s. I modeled my wedding dress after Jackie’s gown. And then I got to see it at the Kennedy Library on our honeymoon, but only by coincidence. I didn’t plan things THAT well!

Politics and politicians can be incredibly divisive. We have a tendency of hearing things on 24 hour news channels and either wanting to believe them because they fit with our ideals, not having the energy to disbelieve because ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’, OR, wondering if everything you hear you need to take with a grain of salt.

I respect the office of the presidency of the United States of America. And whether or not you voted for that particular president that comes to your town, doesn’t matter. The president is in town! How cool is that?

We have a lot to be grateful for. I am grateful for my rights as a citizen and enjoying the freedom to shake a president’s hand, go to my church, and love who I want.

Oh, and I asked about your religion earlier because, had I met the Dalai Lama or Pope Francis, would you spew your religious inclinations my way? Your grievances with the Catholic church or Tibet? I hope not. I would hope that you can understand that it’s awesome and fabulous, and an experience that should be respected.

My kids got to do something they will tell their kids about one day.

So here you go. Our pics with the president.

Frugalista blog with Air Force One

The kids and I  pose in front of Air Force One in Seattle.

 

President Obama with Owen

President Obama chatting with Owen, and Emma’s head in the foreground.

 

The money shot and Owen shaking Obama’s hand.



Birthing a teenager

When you have a baby your thoughts are surrounded by this little bundle of joy. Wait. Scratch that. Bundle of joy? Bundle of crying, pooping, difficult to latch on toothless beast. That’s more like it.

Emma is 14 today. I remember when she was born and the soft skin on her back felt like I put my hand in a vat of warm butter. I had no idea what to expect. I could barely wrap my mind around the number of cells that divided and divided over the 39 weeks bringing me this fleshy, peach fuzzed, pink child.

The sense of overwhelming duty to feed this human was daunting. Everything hurt. My boobs were sore beyond imagine. I couldn’t get her to latch on. Her cries of hunger brought me to tears. Like Pavlov’s dog, her squawks sent chills straight to my nipples. I wanted to run away. But I also wanted to love her and never let her go.

Then a thought occurred to me, somewhere in that first week of having a newborn. What if I don’t like her when she becomes a teenager? What if we clashed and hated each other and didn’t speak? Maybe she would rebel against me. Maybe she would slam the door in my face every time I attempted to connect with her.

When babies grow to be 3 year olds, everyone says, “Wait until they become teens. Then you’ll really have your work cut out for you.”

Guess what? Everything I feared, hasn’t come to fruition. Yet.

I find myself loving and growing with Emma more and more as she enters womanhood. We bond over gross things like tampons and body hair! She tells me about her friends. Her fears and her loves. We still ooh and ahh over Disney princesses.

We have frank discussions about sex. She asks me questions, and I answer. Always trying to wrap it in a context her young mind and heart can relate to. But trying not to sugar coat things to unrealistic proportions. I want her to be a strong, sexually independent adult female. I want her to gain her own claim on her boundaries, intimacies, and relationships.

Radical? I don’t think so. I think one of the greatest hardships we face as parents is letting our children actually leave the nest. I don’t want her to leave. But I want her to. You know what I mean?

She has the spirit and poise and intelligence to do wonderful things. Could she be a UNICEF ambassador to developing countries? Sure. Could she travel the country in a Broadway production? You bet. Do both of those scare the shit out of me? ABSOLUTELY.

But I can’t let her know those fears. I think what scares me most, is if she DIDN’T try those things. If she limited herself and succumbed to her own fears and shut herself in to just stay close to home, and follow the simple path.

Don’t get me wrong. Her happiness is based on her choices. If she goes to junior college and finds a nice job, gets an apartment nearby, and is happy- then perfect.

If she decides to live in Belgium? Then perfect also.

Where am I going with this? All of a sudden I’m breathing in a paper bag realizing I have four more years before she is emancipated in the eyes of the state.

Back to the little girl I’m raising. None of the things I feared have come true. Her door is open, our conversations flow. We’ve had words, she’s rolled her eyes at me. She’s stomped up the stairs and looked at me like I had two heads. But in the end, we connect.

And that’s all I can ask for.

Dearest Emma, I truly want your heart and mind to soar to its fullest potential. To find love and content within yourself and the people you surround yourself with. God bless you and keep you.

xoxo

 

You and me girl. Let’s keep it goofy always.

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without swearing under the tree

We have a fake Christmas tree. Maybe Martha wouldn’t approve.  I’m okay with that. Some families go to tree farms and cut down the tree themselves. Some go to a tree lot and pick out the best looking, least Charlie Browniest they can find.

We used to do that. And then there was the year James brought the chainsaw into the living room, and something had to change.

We never did the tree farm thing with the kids. Just the tree lot. We’d drive down the two miles to the fruit stand that sells the Christmas Trees in December. It’s right across from the Starbucks, that we would visit afterwards, or before, or both. The guy at the lot straps the tree on top of the minivan and off we go to decorate it. It’s like Norman Rockwell. Or the Griswolds. I don’t know if the Griswolds paid $95 dollars for their Fraiser Noble, but we did.

Emma and Owen were smaller. Probably 7 and 4.  They knew what bad words were. Like ‘shit’ and ‘damn’. We tried to keep it innocent. Mostly. That would all change at the holidays.

Now, the tree strapped to the minivan was at least 8 or 9 feet tall. We wanted it grand in front of the living room window. It was also about 7 feet in diameter. And so pokey with all those pine needles. They don’t call them needles for nothing.  We, James and I,  mostly just James would lug the tree through the front door and shove it into the tree holder. This would take a lot of screaming on my part, because of the pokey needles, and that  it weighed 400 pounds at least. Getting it just so, in the hole with the screw thingys all tight meeting in the middle. This would work very easily with a 5 foot tree, about 4 feet in diameter and with a trunk only about 6 inches. This tree we got, had a trunk about a foot wide. Clearly our tree isn’t going to fit. But what’s hard about realizing this, is you are still holding this 800 pound tree (it gets heavier with each minute that passes) with all the pokey needles in your hands and up your nose and stuff. You can’t just lay down a 9 foot tree in your living room. Well, you can, but then your couch will probably have sap all over it and pine needles all over the carpet. Which are anyway after it didn’t fit through the front door and it needed to be shoved over the threshold. So I stood there holding it up and James says he’ll be right back. Meanwhile the children are anxiously putting ornaments on it while you are holding it, and you’re telling them now is not the time to hang Rudolph on the branches and that Daddy is going to fix it so we can get the tree to stay up without mommy holding it up. So BACK OFF. I mean, ‘Go watch Dora for a minute sweeties’.

So the part I haven’t told you yet, is the colorful words that come forth from daddy when the tree doesn’t fit. I don’t know why he’s the one swearing. I’m the one holding the 1200 pound tree. But I’m not swearing in front of the children, because that would be wrong. When he returns to the living room, he is holding a chainsaw. Or was it a circular saw? It was a power tool with ‘saw’ in the end of it’s name. I think it plugged in instead of using a pull string to start it. So maybe it wasn’t a chainsaw. Either way, it looked dangerous. And dirty. And not something that belongs in my living room.

Laying down the tree-very carefully-(because I am NOT holding it anymore since power tools are involved).  James starts cutting the crap out of the bottom of the stump to fit it into the tree stand. There’s wood chips flying everywhere. It was working. Sort of. What was this tree made out of, metal?  It was very loud and I worried that he wasn’t wearing protective eye wear. I think there was a knot in the branch that was at the bottom of the tree. It would be nice if the tree guys could whittle it down like a pencil to fit perfectly in the tree stand. But that’s hindsight I guess. So James fought that knot in the stump with valor. It had no chance. Eventually.

Once we heaved ho-ed it into the stand, screwed in the screws at the bottom, took turns standing across the room squinting to see if it was straight or not, James got the pleasure of getting the massive spider’s web nest of tree lights out of the bin to find that probably 3 out of 5 strands had dud bulbs in them and he needed to go to the hardware store anyway. More swear words. At this point the children have learned the finer language of truck drivers or sailors, or long shore men- just pick a profession that swears a lot and that is what the children learned.

So, to make a long story, kind of longer. We decided that even though it might not be eco friendly- totally sentimental, or even have that piney smell, it was time to get a fake tree. We didn’t care that they were made in China, that you paid about $400 for a decent one. We just wanted to save Christmas from the litany of profanity that came with the tree. It was our duty as parents.

So the next year, we packed up the kids and drove to Ace (it’s about a half mile from our house) and picked the display model that was discounted for only $150 (a steal!) and, you guessed it, went to Starbucks after to celebrate. The cool thing about most artificial trees is they come pre-strung. The lights are all good to go. You pop it together, plug it in and voila, O Tannenbaum.

Now Emma says when we put the tree up, “It’s just not the same without daddy swearing.” Cheeky.

Work at Home Moms- WAHM. Not to be confused with 80s pop sensation WHAM.

Everything needs a label these days and it’s driving me nuts. Do you work at home? Do you stay at home? Do you work away from home?

Are you a SAHM, WAHM, or WAFHM? What? I know! I’m confused too!!

When I chose to have kids, all I wanted to do was just not go back to the job I was currently at. My husband and I saved up my income so that after the baby was born, I could be home with her.

Then it worked out that the company I was employed with went out of business. There wasn’t a job for me to return to. I loved staying home with Emma. I couldn’t imagine having to arrange my lifestyle to go back to an office and leave her with someone. It just never occurred to me.

HOWEVER, I never did mind anyone that did make that choice to go back to work after maternity leave. We all have different reasons why we want to. So who cares?

But it seems lately if you are a mom, you need a label as to what you do with your time. Here’s my rundown of the latest.

Do you work at home doing a job for a client or a boss and check in remotely? That’s a WAHM. Work At Home Mom. This is tricky. Then you have to keep the kiddos occupied while you get your job done. Maybe you have someone come and help with the kids or you take the kids to day care. This might save you from commuting to an office, but still allow you to get some work done. Maybe the kids are off to school while you work.

Or do you work at an office? This is a WAFHM. Work Away From Home Mom. Then you have the same situation of dealing with childcare, commuting, and even if the kids are at school, someone has to be there for them when they come home.

Finally, there’s the moms who stay at home with their kids and don’t get paid anything from anyone. That’s a SAHM. Stay At Home Mom. We know what she does. Wipes up spills all day and poo and puke,  entertains, is a concierge, laundress, cook, nurse, craft adviser.

Then there’s the SITMVAD. Stay In The Mini Van All Day mom. She can be a combination of some of the above and this at the same time. Some may call this a Soccer Mom. I just call it a mom who is busy and needs to drive all over creation for her kids.

Don’t forget the mom we all went to be- SAHWWM. Stay At Home With Wine Mom. This needs no explanation.

Not only is this a handy guide to some of the acronyms you’ve been seeing lately, it’s also a good reminder that ALL MOMS WORK FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

And I respect each and every one for the jobs they do.

The next time someone asks what I do, I will say, “I’m a mom”. And that should be enough.

 

 

My thighs are flabby, and I’m trying to love them anyway.

The other day on my Facebook wall I asked if people could have one wish, what would it be for. About 95% of you said you want to be skinnier, or be able to eat what you want and not gain weight.

I should also add that people wished to be richer too. I wouldn’t mind that either.

But as far as weight goes, let me try and help. Ladies listen up.

I want to tell you that you are just fine.

You want to fit in that swimsuit because online websites like E!Online post pictures like this one-

with a headline called ‘Bikini Body Wars’ and have viewers vote on which one looks better. Really? There’s mommy wars and now bikini body wars? Because I think it’s great to line up three women who look amazing all in their own way, and let the scrutinizing public pick which one ‘rocks a bikini’ the best.

Insert big eye roll. Oh wait, I just saw my brain.

The Girl made a comment to me in the car when I pointed out someone we know who has what I called, ‘a beer gut’ (he does like beer). She said, “well you have a mom gut.” Ouch.

That stung. I told her that I have a perfectly fine tummy that has squishy skin from having babies, but please don’t imply that I am fat.

I sat in the front seat facing forward and pouted a little. How am I to continue my own body love and try to encourage her to love herself, if she makes flippant remarks about my flab?

She apologized and said she was only joking. But it still hurt. Now this isn’t to get all down on Emma. She was just being a sarcastic teenager, which 90% of the time, we banter back and forth and have a good laugh afterwards.

But that particular moment, I wasn’t feeling it. I felt like crying instead. I felt like screaming, “I can’t be perfect, I can just be me!”

Later, she and I had a private exchange that ended in hugs and tears. She apologized again and told me how beautiful and chic I am. Which surprised me because I thought she thought I was a dork.

I told her that I’m always praising her wonderful body for the way it is. And it means a lot if she would do the same for me. That even though I’m older, my thighs are dimpled, my butt jiggles when I run, and my boobs look like sad, sad strawberries left in a food dehydrator too long, I still need acceptance. I work for how I look. I try to take care of myself and do things for my health, inside and out.

And then I realized, I need to stop describing myself with these words- flabby, jiggly, strawberries…

I think she saw me as a woman at that moment, and not just her mom. I’m hoping it was a breakthrough. This is when the tears came and we hugged it out.

I want us all to have these breakthroughs. To be forgiving of each other and ourselves. To know that if you are doing what you can to eat reasonably well, get in some exercise and look after yourself- you don’t have to look like Gisele Bundchen or Jennifer Aniston or Kate Beckinsale. Do I try to improve how I look? You bet. Here’s one way I’ve done it- read here.

I want to be sinewy and sleek. Toned and taut. But hey, I’m okay if I’m not those things. Remember this post about me in my bikini? Am I Fat?  I’m a little soft and squishy, but I think I look damn good.

I want you to say that about yourself too. I want you to look in a mirror and realize that you look damn good. Whatever you’re trying to change- if it’s for your health and strength- keep doing it. Great! If it’s because you think you need to because of what 3% of other gals in this world look like, then pause, and tell yourself how good looking you are right now in THIS moment. Not tomorrow. Not after your diet. Now.

And dear sweet Emma; you are beautiful now and you will be beautiful in 30 years when you have the same stretch marks and cellulite that I have. And I hope you have a child that tells you that you are the most wonderful woman who is beautiful inside and out, just like you told me that night.

 

 

 

Darn. It’s not broken.

I mean- yay. (Pfft.)

 

Remember when you were a kid, and you wanted a cast on your arm, just like the one little Bobby at school got when he fell off the monkey bars, because everyone got to sign it, and he had a note that he couldn’t do PE. Remember that?  And he told the class that his mom bought him ice cream and let him pick what he wanted for dinner that night and he didn’t have to do his chores because of his big owie?

I was so jealous of little Bobby. His life seemed so perfect. Chill-axing, watching cartoons and nursing his big cast-arm.

I mean, I didn’t WANT a broken arm per say. I wanted the attention, note from PE, excuse not to do chores, and dinner and ice cream.

So when this week I thought for sure I might’ve broken my foot, I admit, I was a little bummed when the doctor told me it would heal eventually on its own and that it was nerve damage, not a break, and to just limit my Zumba.

Limit my Zumba? Have you seen my ass lately doctor? So you’re telling me that my foot really isn’t THAT injured, so I should be able to do all the regular shit and chores I normally do, but just hobble around awkwardly until it heals? Even though I’m in a boat load of pain? Oh swell.

Here- let me catch you up on what happened.

About a month ago, I was playing soccer with Owen. We were goofing around in the front yard. I kicked the ball to him and felt massive pain in my foot. Right at my toe. I knew something was wrong. But I soldiered on and ignored it. I’m tough like that.

For weeks, I’ve been putting pain patches on, acupuncture, and even castor oil packs. Ancient healing methods haven’t been successful. I’m used to living in pain. Migraines, cramps, angry stuck ovaries, and bad feet. So you know, whatever. I can deal.

Went to Zumba for the first time in a LONG time. (Remember this Zumba story here?)

And I had so much fun! I could feel my ass melting away. I must’ve burned 600 calories dropping it low. About 3/4 of the way through, my foot was screaming in pain and asking me to stop dropping it so low. It felt like it was on fire.

So I eased up on my booty shaking and took it easy. That night it was incredibly tender and sore. The next morning it was just as bad.

As I was doing my Target run (hobble) and errands, I was in so much pain, I gimped on over to the Urgent Care that is in the same shopping complex.

Once it was my turn, they have me step on the scale. And to add insult (literally) to injury (literally), the scale mocked me an extra 5 pounds.

My day was going so nicely. (Insert sarcasm) I was in pain, started Aunt Flo, and was gaining weight by the second.

I asked the nurse if they served wine and chocolate. She chuckled. But no, they don’t.

When the initial x-rays showed no break, they sent me to an orthopedic specialist to determine if it was a stress fracture or something. The next day I saw the specialist.

Nice guy. But not nice enough to give me a big boot, vicodin, and a note telling my family to do all the work because mommy has to rest. Dang him!

Instead of that, he gave me a shot of cortisone and told me that the pain was nerve damage, not bone damage. I have a history of  neuromas and they are a bitch. Apparently, I pissed one off. So yeah.

The shot of cortisone hurt like a mother f–ker. I won’t lie. And it took awhile for the cortisone to kick in. I’m not allowed to go for any runs, skips, hops, Zumba classes, or track and field events. Darn- I was really looking forward to those.

What I am allowed to do is- make dinner, pack lunches, scrub toilets, scoop cat poop, vacuum, do laundry and get the groceries.

Dammit. Where is that doctor’s note when you want it??

Oh well, the good news is, since it isn’t broken, I will be in ship shop shape to attend BlogHer in Chicago at the end of July with all my blogging pals and fellow authors of the Pee book. It’s going to be so exciting!

Summer break hasn’t started yet in these parts, so at least while the kids are in school, I should rest up my foot. Excuse me, a new episode of Real Housewives of New Jersey is on. Gotta go.

 

 

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.

The birds, the bees and uhm, ‘other stuff’

Show of hands- how many of you included a discussion about oral sex in the ‘sex talk’ with your pre-teens?

Hmm? Not too many of you I’m guessing. Now I’m no expert on child psychology or ‘the talk’. But let me share with you a little frank discussion I had recently with Emma. And she caught me off guard. We were driving in the car, so I needed to answer these completely sober. No cocktails were involved. No liquid courage to help. Deep breath. We’re going in.

Okay, the other night, Emma and I had some time just to ourselves. Lately we’ve been getting these afternoons or an evening together because the boys are entrenched in select soccer try-outs and spring tournaments. So they get to do their thing, and we do our thing.

Emma asks as we’re driving home from dinner, ‘Mom, was dad the only person you had sex with?’ Cue breaks screeching sound. Uhm, whoa there chica. I didn’t know we were having THIS conversation right now!

Me, “Uhm, yes.” There was a hint of doubt in my voice she detected. (Mom you can stop reading right here. Thanks- love you!)

Emma, “Mom, be honest now.”

Me, “Well, yes and no. Had I been intimate with some fellas before your dad? – yes. I was 23 when I met your father and I had some time to make out with other guys in college (not many, mind you) before I met daddy and so I had some experience with uhm, that stuff.” AWKWARD!

Emma, “Have you ever touched a pee pee with your mouth?” Her words, not mine!

Me, “Geeze kid! What are you doing with me here?!”

You could tell it was taking a lot of courage on her part. So I kept my cool. I could see she had some things going on in her mind, and I didn’t want to ruin this moment of her opening up to me. I also didn’t want to talk about blow jobs with my 13 year old!

I literally pulled the car over into a neighborhood and put it in park. I realized this conversation needed some attention and I wanted to make the most out of it.

So this is what I told her.  Feel free to take notes because afterwards, I felt like I totally nailed this. Really, parenting win moment coming up in 3, 2, 1…

“A lot of kids in middle school and high school are probably experimenting with oral sex. Guys might tell girls that blow jobs are harmless, don’t count as sex and also, you can’t get pregnant so it’s a win-win, right? No. Oral sex is just as intimate, it counts for sex and it means a whole lot more than you think it means. You can still get an STD from it and it is a big deal.”

Emma, “Isn’t it weird? Who wants a penis in their face?”

This is the right answer coming from a 13 year old!! Yes, who wants a penis in their face anyway? (silent prayer to myself, please help me Jesus that this child will not see a penis until she’s 30!)

I immediately thought of the scene in the movie Bridesmaids when Annie and Lillian are having brunch and Annie (Kristen Wiig) is confessing of her sleepover with her ex and reenacting a penis or a one-eyed snake using her facial expressions.

Me, “What you need to understand is that there will come a time when you’re kissing a boy and he’ll want to go further than just kissing. You will probably too.”

Emma, “That’s gross, I don’t want to do any of that!”

Me, “Now, right. If you think penises are gross, you have no business being near one. This clearly shows you are not mature to handle the situation.  However,  maybe when you’re 15 or 16 you will want to. Not that that’s an okay age either to have sex. You are going to think it feels good to be with a boy and you will be just as interested in having him touch you as he wants to touch you. Sex is a nice thing. It’s awesome. When you’re an adult and responsible and with someone you can trust. Whether those grown ups have intercourse like regular procreating mammals (cue laughter from Girl right here) or decide they want to enjoy each others’ bodies with their hands, OR mouths- is up to them. (Cue grossed out noises from Girl right here.) Let me stress- adults- not teenagers.  Feeling in love, loving someone and enjoying them is a perfectly wonderful thing. Just not when you’re 14.”

Emma didn’t believe me when I told her this. The part about her wanting to be with a boy. And that is understandable considering her age now. She’s convinced she’s not making out with a boy until she’s married to him. I explained that it’s unrealistic to think that. If she doesn’t want to kiss a boy or be with someone until her 20s or 30s, then great. But if she realizes that she’s kissing a boy and she’s 15 and she’d like to see how far it will go, then that’s when she needs to stop and think.

I want her to know that she needs to value herself. No boy is worth compromising for. Don’t do something with a guy because you’re afraid if you don’t that he won’t like you anymore. If you do end up doing anything you don’t want to, you’ll end up not liking yourself. And that’s more dangerous than any boy’s acceptance or rejection. Love yourself more than any other boy out there could ever say he loves or likes you.

But, if she’s the girl who wants the boy to do stuff with her and that boy doesn’t want to, she needs to respect him too. Boundaries are important for both sides. If she feels the little sparks of desire start to flicker, she needs to come to me and we can talk about what’s an appropriate solution with handling that until she’s 18 or 19 and on her own. Well, she already knows all about condoms and birth control. But what I want her to understand is that when urges come on strong, she can figure out what to do to not give in. I’m thinking jogging, shopping, macrame? Just kidding.

So there. I hope this helps you. Because heavens knows I got a few extra gray hairs from it and probably lost a few beats of my heart when it skipped.

Am I glad she asked me this? Hell yes. I’m so grateful to be talking with my teenager. That she comes to me with questions. I’m full to the brim with gratitude that she trusts me. I will cultivate this as long as possible. Even if it’s uncomfortable for me, it’s worth it.

 

For some references on talking to your kids about sex, check out Amy Langs blog, The Birds + Bees + Kids Blog.