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Hands-On Mom?

“Dear God –” my mom prayed when I was 2 years old and she was pregnant with my middle sister.

You might think she prayed for a certain gender, for a healthy baby, for an easy delivery. But her prayer was along different lines:

“Please make this baby not persnickety about its hands the way Lori is.”

Apparently I was born fussy. I have always disliked having dirty hands. It doesn’t stop me from doing much because I can accommodate — gloves are my friends.

I am always attuned to whether my hands are clean or dirty. Mostly they are clean. But if I handle garden tools, take the kids to Chuck E Cheese, unwrap a package of chicken, pet a dog or hold my son’s hand for any length of time, I am keenly aware of their sullied nature. I do not touch my face, clean dishes or clean clothes until I wash my hands and restore my inner harmony.

On my own eve of motherhood, my prayers (unsaid because I was just happy to finally become a mom) would have been the reverse of my mom’s: “Please, God. Give me

A wonderful place for a picnic

Momma writes at The Casual Perfectionist, and just like the name indicates, she is an admitted perfectionist, but she’s trying to be casual about it. She and her husband have a 3-year-old girl named Claire. Momma is a firm believer in the fact that if you haven’t laughed today, you weren’t really paying attention.

Our little girl turned three at the end of November. Finally she’d reached the magical age printed on most toys. She’d officially graduated into the 3+ realm. Awesome!

One of my aunts sent Claire a birthday present, and I was so excited when Claire ripped open the paper to reveal a board game! It was Chutes and Ladders™! I hadn’t thought about that game for years, and I was so happy to realize that Claire had finally reached the age where we could start exploring board games together.

As cliché as it sounds, it is amazing how quickly time flies. My little girl is ready for board games? Who knew!?

Knowing how much of a perfectionist I am, the realistic part of my brain issued the rest of my body a warning: Yes, she’s only three. Yes, she just turned three. Yes, I know to be patient with her. Still, I couldn’t wait! I love board games! I love Chutes and Ladders™! Or, at least I thought I did. Who doesn’t like Chutes and Ladders™? This is going to be so much fun!

Later that day, Claire begged to get out her new game. She didn’t have to ask twice, because I was excited to open up the box and check out the blast from my past. As we were setting it up, I was wondering how this would go. Would she want to take turns? She doesn’t usually have a problem taking turns, so we’ll be fine. She loves counting things, so jumping her little cardboard person on each square should be fun for her, too! And, there’s the number wheel! Who doesn’t love spinning the spinner-dealie!?

I got all the plastic parts punched out of the packaging grid, and I let Claire choose her person. She wanted to set up all the characters, so I let her do that. Once all the little blue plastic bases were assembled, we’d be ready to go!

And it all went downhill from there.

Introducing the Newest Member of Our Family

Guess what the Greeblemonkeys got for Christmas???


Technically his full name is “Poe Hamster.” Poe as in Edgar Allan. Because Bryan loves Edgar Allan Poe as a writer and Poe was from Baltimore (where we grew up) and also Poe the dog was born in October – so it was a slightly creepy name we could both live with as an alternative to Bryan’s first choice for a name: “Zombie.”

And Hamster? Um. Declan kinda insisted on it. I have NO IDEA where he gets his penchant for weird names.

Anyway, Poe is a Bernese Mountain Dog with 1/8th Great Pyrenees mixed in to help him live longer. So, yes, that means he is gonna be HUGE. At 10 weeks, we think he is already about 12 pounds. But the good news is, Berners are especially lazy for giant breed dogs. Perfect for lazy owners like us.

So far, so good. The first night was rough… but he’s already doing pretty well at getting outside for bathroom business and clearly loves Bryan to death. Which is good because that is who is going to take him for walks and clean up his poop.

What tips do you have for bringing a new puppy into your home?

Entertainment Overload?

Last weekend we took Declan to see Michael Franti & Spearhead in concert. This wasn’t just any concert, mind you – it was a kid’s matinee concert on Saturday afternoon between Franti’s two evening shows on Friday and Saturday night. Which absolutely changed the tenor of the show, let me tell you. Like, for example, there was a huge bouncy castle in the Fillmore. Let me repeat that. A huge BOUNCY CASTLE on the floor of the Fillmore Auditorium on Colfax Avenue. Not only that, but there were balloon animal makers, and craft tables, a huge Chinese dragon weaving through the crowd, and a little play put on by local actors before the band took the stage. In a word – surreal. AND FREAKING COOL!

But my son? He was completely overwhelmed.

And when he gets overwhelmed, so do I.

I have what I call “chaos moments.” Where the surrounding stimulation just gets to be too much and I need to shut down. Even for just 10 minutes sometimes, just chill. We are starting to see that Declan gets these “chaos moments” too. And the scene at the Michael Franti could certainly overwhelm a 6 year old.

An Attitude of Gratitude: Don’t Just Express It, Show It This Thanksgiving!

I’ll admit it: I’m not a huge fan of Thanksgiving. Out of all the holidays, it is the one that resonates the least with me. This is probably because it has become very little about gratitude and more about spending the day slaving in the kitchen, only to be rewarded by a football game I do not care about.

At least the pumpkin pie isn’t all bad.

With recent stressful events in my family’s life, it would be easy to throw a bit of a pity party. But this year, I decided Thanksgiving would be different. Or rather, that I would make a difference. Instead of just expressing gratitude, I vowed I would show gratitude. Two great companies made it very easy for me: World Discovery Box and Caring Corners’ Mrs. Goodbee Dollhouse.

[photopress:goodbee_1.jpg,full,pp_image]I am often contacted about doing reviews and giveaways on Mile High Mamas. But the folks promoting the Mrs. Goodbee Dollhouse were different. They challenged me to anonymously give their interactive dollhouse to someone in need. And I did–to a family with several boys and one little girl. A family whose trials and difficult circumstances have humbled me and whose positive attitude through it all inspires me. I heard from a friend of a friend (must not blow my cover, of course) that Mrs. Goodbee’s Dollhouse has been a ray of sunshine in their little girl’s life.

Then, the Colorado-based owner of World Discovery Box contacted me about doing a giveaway on Mile High Mamas. And I just didn’t feel right about it. Don’t get me wrong–I thought this wooden chest of drawers filled with amazing natural items like fossils, shells, geodes and insects was genius. Epic, even. How many toys are on the market that create a family lifestyle and culture around discovery?

But I just felt like I needed to do more.

That “more” came to me as I was retrieving my daughter from preschool.

When The Past Comes Back

I know I haven’t gotten crazy personal here on Mile High Mamas, but to understand this post, you have to understand that my childhood was not all fun and games. My dad was a fairly abusive alcoholic with a narcissist mother who stuck her nose in everything right up until his will was read when he passed away in 1981. Can you imagine how *my* mother felt as *her* mother-in-law tried to take the house away from us? There is so much garbage there in my childhood, I am still – to this day – sifting through it with the help of a therapist.

But the main point I want to make today is not about my past. It’s about my present. It’s about me, and how I act with my son, and holy hell – how much of those crazy people did I pull down from the gene pool anyway? Another thing I sit and discuss in the therapist’s chair.

It’s hard not to judge every reaction you have to your child by the actions of your parents, and grandparents. Especially when some of the examples you have are so off kilter you don’t know which way is up. OR! Am I reading too much into it? Am I just having a bad day and that is OK and I should let myself off the hook once in a while? That everything doesn’t HAVE to go back to those first 11 years with my dad in the house acting like a lunatic, and his mother fluttering around like a lunatic’s enabler?

It’s amazing how much having children makes you think about this stuff. Makes you want to MAKE SURE you aren’t making the same mistakes.

Of course, the sad truth is, I am sure I am making a whole rash of new mistakes. Which makes me wonder what *he* will be sitting in the therapist’s chair for in about 30 years.

It’s the little things that matter

“Mom! At school I got to visit the Treasure Box!”

“Really, Reed? What did you get?”

“I got this ring. It’s a very special ring.”

“What so special about it, Honey?”

“Well, this ring has the power to deSTROY the WORLD!”

“Wow. That’s some ring. How does it do that?”

“It explodes the WHOLE PLANET!”

“Really. Why would you want to do that?”

“I don’t. I just like having the power.”

“I’m glad we’re safe, then. Reed, what is it exactly that saved the world from TOTAL DESTRUCTION?”

“Chicken nuggets. I love chicken nuggets too much to destroy them.”

If your child had a finger on the button, what would save the world from TOTAL DESTRUCTION?

The day my daughter and I almost froze to death beside a hot tub

[photopress:doghouse.jpg,full,pp_image]OK, so maybe that title is a wee bit of an exaggeration. More like the day Haddie and I almost lost a few fingers to frostbite as my two-year-old son Bode watched us as he played chess.

You didn’t know a toddler could pass a pawn? Me neither.

A little bit of background: my family recently went to Keystone, which is one of the few major resorts in Colorado I had yet to visit since moving here six years ago. I fell in love with the area and am already planning a return trip in January to ski and skate on their huge lake, which boasts the largest Zamboni-maintained outdoor skating rink in North America. And for this Canuck who grew up skating on frozen lakes and rivers, this will surely provide warm memories of my frozen nose hairs.

[photopress:IMG_0886_1.jpg,thumb,pp_image]It was opening weekend for the resort but instead of hitting the slopes, we played in the village and dined at The Bighorn Steakhouse overlooking the lake. The food was delicious, the ambiance refined yet family-friendly and my children miraculously ate every last bite of their prime rib dinner. As for me, I am still trying to work off the 5,000 calories I consumed from the huge dessert platter (click picture to enlarge and yes, we pretty much ate everything).

We stayed at The Timbers, one of SummitCove’s more luxurious properties. Forget the gourmet kitchen and slope-side views–what really made this condo a winner was their on-site pack-and-play, children’s utensils and dishes, and humidifiers. It was my home away from home.

Or so I wish.

But where was I? Oh yes, back to how we almost froze to death. Our [much nicer] home away from home also included an indoor/outdoor pool, a hot tub with a waterfall and a fire pit. Saturday morning, the kids and I were banging away on the lobby’s grand piano and playing with the chess pieces when I noticed the fire pit outside was lit. And then I got a brilliant idea.

Keep your mitts off my baby name, HBO

My husband and I never share what we are naming our babies until after they are born.

Our theory is that nobody will criticize a baby’s name while they are holding the baby or hypnotized by the charm of a photo. Plenty of people have no qualms trashing a particular name while the baby is still in utero, though.

Also, how am I supposed to know the baby’s name until I see his or her face? What if she doesn’t look like a Priscilla or he doesn’t exactly fit Merlin? We go to the hospital armed with a couple of possibilities and chose the name that softly clicks.

The danger in keeping potentially perfect baby names close to our hearts is when someone announces their new baby has been given our top name contender. It’s happened before, but we don’t find ourselves angry or terribly jealous that we were beat to the birth certificate. There are hundreds of other perfectly wonderful names, and I’ve learned that tastes change over time.

When our first child was born in the olden days of 1997, we gave her a predominantly boy’s name. We liked the meaning—little fire. It was so obscure at the time that most people had never heard of it and we were proud of our clever creativity.

I have one thing to say about this:

Are you a morning person or a night person?

I used to think I was a night person, but it’s become apparent to me since adding my third child to the mix that I am most definitely a morning person.

In the mornings I’m refreshed, even if I haven’t had any sleep. I haven’t had to listen to anyone (except maybe a baby) crying. I haven’t had to refill a sippy cup three times within one hour. I haven’t had to mediate arguments over who’s the rightful owner of that headband or those crayons.

That stretch of darkness, even if it’s only a few hours long, is enough to revive my sanity. I awaken (or not) with sufficient patience to chase children in and out of the shower, brush tangled hair carefully, and start refilling sippy cups once more. And I can do it all with a sense of humor.

The witching hour still exists even when kids aren’t babies anymore. By late afternoon, everyone’s hungry and tired, and at least one of us wants a glass of wine. It’s even worse when I have to cart them all to activities like swimming lessons and soccer practice. By the time we get home, my patience is long gone, along with my sense of humor.

I try so hard to maintain