I am such the procrastinator. It’s August 4 and I’m just getting around to trying to find a sitter for the kids for after school. Granted, I thought our summer sitter would be able to do it and just attempted to confirm that fact with her two weeks ago when she quickly informed me that her classes would not allow her to do it. Lovely.

I immediately signed up Mario for Kids Club at school but am still waiting to hear back about whether they have space. There’s a non-procrastination point for me!

I trust that Ri could head home on her own and stay at the house until we got home from work. She is more responsible than Jon and I combined and is definitely a born mother! The other day Jon didn’t have on his seat belt and she barked at him to put it on…now! When I drove her to Target, my phone beeped and I looked at it for a second to see if it was work and she reached up to the front seat and yanked it from the console.

“Mom, do you know how many people die every year from looking at their phones while driving?”

But Jon and I still feel like she’s too young to come home and be all alone for a few hours. So, the mad search continues. I’ve got other moms helping, colleagues, friends, and babysitting sites. I wish someone wouldn’t have decapitated that robot walking across America – I bet he would have been good with the kids.

Last night, Ri and Mario got on one of the babysitting sites and looked at prospects. Mario wants a boy sitter (a manny) so badly. He’s over girls already…. Ri could go either direction although I know she’d rather stick with a girl. But she’d give that desire up to appease her little brother (as always). Mario found a guy that he thought looked cool. He was an athlete with cropped hair. 

“Can you call him, mom” he asked.

Maria stepped in and covered his contact info. 

“No way! We cannot have him!” She declared with force.

“Why?” Mario pleaded. 

“Because he’s not CPR-certified” Ri responded matter-of-factly. 


The hilarity of life

I woke up Sunday and went for my run. As I was lifting weights at the gym, I thought about something I had overlooked at work. And I thought about it again. And again. My stomach tightened; I felt sick. I had to head home. I started to cry.

When I walked in the door, Jon walked up to me. I started telling him how stressed I was about work. He touched my shoulder and told me the ten reasons why I shouldn’t be stressed. Why is it that he is always thinking the way I should be thinking when it comes to holding my own at work? I think of something I missed and I automatically start damning myself for not being perfect. How could I miss that? What was I thinking? Jon goes straight to “look at the pressure you had on you; you had a ridiculously short time frame to seal the deal; things will be missed and this thing is nothing compared to the big picture.” He does what I have seen other leaders do – stand up for themselves; diminish the matter; look at the big picture. It is so hard for my perfectionist self to do but it’s absolutely necessary to not go insane in my job. Thank god I have a hubby that grounds me.

Thank god I also have two kids that make me laugh about it all. When they saw me upset, they both reacted. Maria said “Mom, in the big scheme of things, does this really matter?” Yeah, there is my philosopher girl who has picked up my stock response when the kids start crying about trivial things. Mario chimed in making goofy faces and saying “Mom, just do this and you will feel better!” They bring me perspective. As I was walking towards the stairs, I kiddingly told them that I was going to take a shower and cry. Maria’s response “don’t cry in the shower, pee instead!” (An inside joke that made me chuckle during my entire shower). If kids are good for anything, it’s making you see that life can’t be taken seriously; it’s pure chaos and you just got to see the hilarity in it.

Jon left that afternoon for business so I let the kids have a sleepover with Sophie and Quinn. We took a stroller/scooter ride to the Chocolate store which always makes me feel better. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation between Mario and Quinn in the stroller:
Mario: “Dude, did you see that?”
Mario:”Ha, nothing. Got ya, dude!”
And so it went over and over. Maria and Sophie were far ahead on their scooters talking about who knows what.

The Chocolatier did not disappoint. Gelato for the kids and dark chocolate nutter butters for moi. Pure heaven. The boys went shirtless into the store and I got a smack down from the owner who told me next time they would not be served. Seriously, at age 5?! I would say its more likely we won’t get served based on these kids being downright nuts!



When we got home, the kids watched Paranorman while I wrote my sis a letter and they were all fast asleep when I peaked in the room at 10:30. I carried each one to bed upstairs.

The next morning I made pancakes with chocolate chips, eggs, and bacon for the crew. Ri and Sophie helped me make the pancakes. They graciously allowed Mario to help stir after he had a meltdown when they told him he couldn’t assist. Quinn was fine watching tv and being waited on.


After breakfast, they didn’t want to go outside and I didn’t want them watching another show so we compromised. We got out paper and magazines and they cut out their favorite pictures from the magazines to glue on their paper. Ri and Sophie cut out horses and puppies and kittens; Quinn cut out an expensive watch and dog; Mario cut out a polar bear and half-dressed women. Yea, that is right. He cut out a woman in a bikini from my Self magazine and a woman with long, luxurious hair from a shampoo ad.

“These girls are sexy, Mom!”
“Mario, girls are not objects and you should not call them sexy. That girl works out hard to get strong and she plays sports.”
“Yeah, yeah, mom, they are still sexy.”

Seriously, at age 5? The only thing that gives me hope is that Ri got all into boys when she was 4 and she totally grew out of it by 7. However, Jon and I thinks Mario may not take that path. It’s like it’s innate in him. Scary.




He asked if I’d tape his girl pictures above his bed for him so he could see them when he goes to sleep. See why we’re concerned?! Maria schooled him on how “inappropriate” he was being, and she and Sophie cornered him in the living room to tell him that “girls rule and boys drool.”

Needless to say, they kept my mind off work all weekend, and I love ’em for that.

Losing it


A picture of Maria and Mario shocked and amazed to find our house keys in the door after we spent 90 minutes trying to track them down all over Grandview. I could do nothing more in the moment than laugh hysterically at the entire situation – the entire day as a matter of fact (which warrants a completely separate post). The kids thought their mom was turning into a lunatic in front of their eyes, I’m sure.

It all began with an emergency situation at work whereby I had to leave a field trip with Ri to head into work – that right there put me in a foul mood. I got into work at noon and did not stop until 5:30. I proceeded to bolt home in order to see Jon off to Michigan for a few days for work and get dinner ready for Ri and Mario. While cooking dinner, I worked on homework with Ri (and Mario who is determined to start homework now to be ready for kindergarten).

After homework drama and dinner, we searched for shoes and we headed out to walk to Orange Leaf. I had promised it to Ri when I left the field trip hoping that would somewhat cheer her up (she’s like me, food always comforts). We locked up the house and took off. Mario banged his ankle along the way which elicited an unwarranted amount of drama on his behalf. Later, we saw Doris and Kim, our old neighbors, working in another friend’s garden. We stopped and chatted with them for a while and then headed north for ice cream. Mario banged his ankle two more times which warranted more full-blown drama – falling to the ground, writhing in pain, crying, pathetic screams, the whole deal.

As soon as we walked into Orange Leaf, my phone rang. A colleague from work needed to fill me in on meetings for later in the week so I got stuck on that call while Mario filled his bowl past the rim with cotton candy yogurt that he’d never eat (and I despise). We left after watching Three Stooges and playing tic tac toe.

I went back and forth between carrying Mario and pushing him on his scooter during the travel back home. When we got to the top of our street, I realized I didn’t have my keys. Are you kidding me? Luckily I had my car key so we hopped in the car and went to the friend’s house to scavenger her yard for the key. We had no luck so we moved to Orange Leaf. We scoured the place with no luck there either. We moved onto the police department and struck out there, too.

As we drove home, Ri fretted about someone having our keys and breaking into our house. I continued to console her reinforcing that no one would know they were our keys. Mario consoled her by confirming that he’d beat anyone up that broke into the house.

We pulled into the driveway and parked. As we walked to the front door at 9:20 pm, we saw objects glittering in the door. My keys. And that’s the end of the story.

But it’s not the end of days like this, I’m sure. Jon counseled me on slowing down when he called me at 10 pm from the road and I told him about our night. To some extent, he has a point. I need to know my limits based on my day – maybe forego a walk if I’m exhausted; maybe let them watch tv for an hour while I read a book; maybe not start the laundry until another day. But on the other hand, there are times when multi-tasking needs to happen. Kids have homework, sports’ practices, playtime, reading. They have to eat. They need to bathe every once in a while. And you have to push that all into a three hour period of time.

A report on NPR concluded that moms tend to multi-task much more than dads. Women felt more overwhelmed and stressed because they spent 10.5 more hours a week on multi-tasking than dads – such as laundry, dinner, homework. Dads tended to view multi-tasking as talking on a work call while “watching” their kids and didn’t feel as much stress. Well, imagine that…!

Now I love my hubby too death but I think he would fit right into this study. He gets on me for doing too much but homework, dinner, laundry, and dishes need to be done. We always kid each other about me going overspeed and him going to under speed and needing a middle ground for both of us.

I think that can’t be clearer after last night’s insanity. My mind clearly shut down after 8 pm. The fact I didn’t even look at the front door before we took off for a 90 minute key search is scary.

So, how to make it better?

1. Take some breaths in a room without kids. Do some chants. Calm my mind before I do anything.

2. Leave the dishes for a later date.

3. Eat cereal for dinner once a week.

4. Wear dirty clothes more often.

5. Make Jon cook dinner while looking over homework and folding kids’ clothes and watch him lose it, too
– the more the merrier.

Balancing act

I met up with one of my friends this morning. She is pregnant with her second child and feeling stressed about balancing work and family. As soon as we sat down, she lamented: “I feel like I should be able to know everything in my job and be able to do everything at home, and when I don’t or can’t, I get so mad at myself.”

We talked about her particular situation at work and brainstormed about how to manage it. Imagine this: tell people you need help on this particular project because it’s not in your area of expertise. Novel idea for us perfectionists.

We talked about home life. How do we not rip our partners’ heads off when they ask “what’s for dinner?” Another brainstorming session led us to this revolutionary idea: talk to these partners about our stress quotient and ask them to head up dinner for the week. It may be that we are eating Wendy’s and cheese and crackers but there are some weeks that has to happen. Better a little more fats in your diet than a mental breakdown.

Then we talked about kids and our guilty feelings around not spending enough time with them. Revolutionary idea no.2: spend more time with them. Drop the laundry basket and leave the dishes and go sit on the living room floor with a deck of cards. Who cares if the kitchen looks like a madman pummeled through it; do we want our memories ten years from now to be that we had a spotless kitchen or that we had some mean ol’ UNO games together? I’d prefer the latter.

These are topics that I see all over magazines (“Juggle it all in five easy steps!”) and books (“Be a better mom today!”) and websites but they never seem to be put to rest. At times I get irritated with the dialogue – yes, it’s hard to juggle all of these things as a woman but how many conversations do we need to have? But today, while watching my mentee struggle with real dilemmas surrounding work and home, my attitude changed. This dialogue was essential to moving her forward in her job. It was essential for reassuring her that we all struggle with balance. It was essential to remind her what was most important to her at this time of her life. It was essential to reinforce in me how grounding female relationships are and how necessary it is to help one another along. God knows I have had my days and I am positive there will be more to come.

At the end of the conversation, she apologized for complaining the entire time. I made her apologize for apologizing – that’s the last thing she should be doing. I gave her a hug and we both promised to keep talking. And then we whipped out our iPhones to show the latest pictures of our babies.

Paint by Numbers

The royal purple in our hall

Remember paint by number activities?  There may be an ocean and an umbrella and a crab and a sand castle and they all had certain numbers in them 1 through 6.  A chart would be on the side listing the colors corresponding with the numbers.  Piece of cake to paint if you knew your numbers.  I want color by numbers in the rooms of our new house.  It would be a lot easier.  

But alas, suffering is a part of life and I must be due up for some based on my recent run-in with interior paint colors.  Meg had come over a week ago and helped me with my palette, deferring to my color tastes but ensuring that the tone and colors all flowed well.  Jon mentioned in passing as we were wrapping up the day “You should probably get samples of those colors to make sure you like them.”  I brushed him off and said “You don’t worry about color – this is my baby.”  He didn’t say another word.  I should have listened to him. 

I instructed our painter to order the colors I chose for the living room, study, dining room and family room.  12 gallons.  Jon went over the next day and the painter threw on some of our kitchen color for him to view.  He called me at work: “This color is awful.”  “What color?” I asked.  He explained that the color was putrid and could never be painted throughout our kitchen.  I took his concern with a grain of salt.  Jon’s taste and my taste can be very different and I figured the color was a little too funky for his style.  We went over to the house that evening and when I walked in the kitchen I thought a baby had pooped on the wall.  The green I had chosen looked like the color of a baby’s poop when the baby starts eating strained foods, e.g., peas.  Lovely.  Because I hate to lose or waste money, I kept trying to look at the green in a different light and find something beautiful about it.  Nothing worked.  We opened another color that was going to serve as an accent color in the family room and that green paint was a tad bit better but still failed to impress us.  All of my work last week down the drain along with a couple of hundred of dollars.  Damn!  I don’t know why but it stressed me out a lot.  I came home and searched the internet for color schemes, examples of colors of rooms, etc.  I even dreamed about the paint (way too complicated and strange of a dream to discuss here!).   I woke up the next morning and took a deep breath as I put on my I-pod to take my morning jog.  “Mary, it’s paint.  Really, let go of it.”  And that was it.  I changed my thinking (stop stressing – paint is not a big deal) which changed my behavior (stop moping – go out and find new paint) which changed my results (feeling helpless to being proactive).  I hit Sherwin Williams at lunch and studied more colors.  I left with five samples.  Our painter kindly painted each sample on the wall for me to contemplate.  I really liked them all!  And so did Jon!  Bingo. 

Maria, Grace, Zach, and Mario

We are still debating over a yellow or green in the kitchen (green is getting a little more love at this time) and a peppery orange or a cream in the dining room (cream will allow us to do more with our accessories so that one is getting some more love at this time).  But I think we have found our downstairs colors.  Now for the bedrooms.  But I will keep the mantra in head… Thinking pushes behavior pushes results.  I need to take myself out of my habitual thinking (e.g., my habit of stressing over everything) and mold my thinking to what is going to get better results.  Yeah, a lot easier said than done.  I can tell you that my brain usually beats down this mantra, especially when I am tired or irritable, but I am a work in progress.  

I tried to explain the mantra to Maria on the way home tonight after she got in a fight with her friend Zach who called her a lazy-butt.  “You just have to understand that Zach doesn’t think about what he is doing.  He just gets mad and acts smart alecky which leads to his friends feeling bad.  If he would think about it how he is feeling and know that it will lead to bad behavior and hurt feelings, maybe he would not do it.”  Maria looked down at the sidewalk, listened for a minute and responded “Zach meant to say those things.  I don’t like him anymore.”  Ok, so maybe Maria is still a bit too young to process the mantra or maybe she did process it but she just knows Zach and knows he knows what hs is doing. 

Who knows?  I don’t know.  All I know is I have some sweet paint colors because I let it all go.