Monthly Archives: April 2008

Free Range Kids?

The first thing I think of when I hear “free-range” is chicken.  But kids?  This term is new for me, but the idea behind it is not.  I’m kind of glad there’s a name for it…now I can just say “I’m a free-range parent” and leave it at that.  If you have no clue what I’m talking about(don’t worry; I was clueless until a few hours ago!), then check out this website.  It’s hosted by a woman named Lenore Skenazy who is a writer for the New York Sun.  Apparently she let her 4th grade son(nine year old) take a short subway ride alone.  When she wrote about it in an article, a huge debate began.  She now has a website to support her point of view.  The “mission statement”, as it were, is as follows:

At Free Range, we believe in safe kids. We believe in helmets, car seats and safety belts. We do NOT believe that every time school age children go outside, they need a security detail.

I think there are several key words in this that make this statement plausible.  Obviously she believes that there are some “musts” when it comes to safety.  You MUST wear use a car seat or your seatbelt in the car.  You MUST wear a helmet when you ride your bike or skate.  Those are almost no-brainers in this day and age.  But I also like how she clarifies that she’s talking about “school age children”.  Obviously, I’m not going to let my 20 month old wander around outside unattended.  My three year old either, for those of you who are worrying about Tucker!  But since the weather has been so nice, I havedecided that if I close the gate they can explore the backyard without me.  They’re both past the point of eating random things like rocks and flowers.  We don’t have a snake pit in the backyard.  And there are only a few ants, but I am pretty vigilant about watching those particular areas.  And the worst thing that’s happened so far is that Tucker fell down and scuffed up both of his knees.  He probably would have done that even if I’d been right there anyway.  I think it’s important to let them begin to see that they don’t need me all the time.  (Did I just say that?  Me, the girl who loves to be needed??)  

Tucker’s pretty good at this.  I don’t think I’ll ever have to worry too much about him.  If we lived in “the city”, he’d probably be taking the subway alone by 4th grade, too.  He’s independant like that.  But Emmie…she has her own ideas, and she’s very strong willed, butshe likes to know that there’s somebody there who’s “got her back”.  She is constantly looking over her shoulder to make sure I’m right behind her.  She still cries when I leave her at school or church.   But I want to, I hope to instill in her a sense of confidence and independence so that she’ll be able to function in this dog-eat-dog world.  I want her to be able to walk into a situation without having to have too much hand holding and coddling.  But at the same time, I still want to be needed and I still want to be there for her.  And I want her to call me like I call my mom, and I want to be able to talk to her like my mom talks to me.  There’s nothing quite like hearing your mom say, “You can do it.  I know you can.”  So that’s why, as I’ve heard my own mom say those very same words to me, I try to continue to say it to both of my kids.  My friend Kate talked about her 3 year old getting frustrated trying to put on her shoes.  “You can do it.  I know you can.”  And she did.  Tucker tried to do a new puzzle that was really hard and got annoyed because he was so close but couldn’t quite get it.  “You can do it.  I know you can.”  And he did.  Emmie was trying to “help” me cook lunch, and as much as I just wanted to move her out of the way and hurry up and finish…I said, “You can do it.  I know you can” as much to her as to myself, who was frustrated that we were moving so slowly.  So, see, in trying to make my kids a little “tougher” and a little more independent, I’ve taught myself a lesson!

But hang on one minute: before people go off getting mad at me and calling the Department of Child and Family Services on me for letting my children amble down a road of peril, I just want to clarify that I’m not saying that this way is the right way, the only way, the perfect way or the flawless way.  I’m not saying that it’s what we all should do.  And I’m not saying that it’s a good idea in all situations, even for me and my kids.  But I think there is a lot of value in being aware that being a so-called “helicopter parent” who hovers over their child’s every move in every moment may not always be in the best interest of your child.  I’m a big believer in “they’ve got to learn sometime” as long as you use common sense.  Obviously I’m not going let either of them learn how to use a knife yet…well, maybe a butter knife!  But seriously, I’d rather Tucker learn now that if he tries to climb *up* the slide(which I think is just fine, but Marshall doesn’t), it’ll probably hurt when someone slides down and kicks you in the stomach.  You can’t complain because you were the one climbing up the wrong way.  And what better time than now for Em to learn that sure, jumping down the stairs can be fun…but only if you remain upright.  If you fall, it’s going to hurt.  You probably shouldn’t do that again.  I’m not saying I’d let her jump  down 14 stairs, but one stair isn’t going to kill her.  I hope.

I have several parents who believe whole-heartedly in Attachment Parenting(AP), and that’s fine.  If that’s what works for you and your child(ren), then please please do it!  But it doesn’t work for me.  Maybe I’m too selfish! 🙂  I don’t want to share my bed or my nearly sacred “Mommy Time”.  And because of our current lifestyle, it’s impossible for me to schedule our day around my child’s “natural inner rhythms”, as is suggested in one of the AP principles.  You have to nap whenever you can in this house!  🙂  But there are other principles outlined on the AP website that I agree with, such as having a night-time routine, being consistent in discipline, and responding to your child with sensitivity.  Sometimes when I get frustrated with my kids over something that I view as “no big deal”, I have to back up and realize that it is a big deal…some of the time!  That’s where I and other AP enthusiasts begin to disagree.  If little Suzie is having a meltdown because you told her no for the 100th time, then sometimes I feel it’s ok to let her “cry it out”.  You have to stand your ground sometimes.  

I also understand the AP approach to co-sleeping.  I understand that I works for some people.  More power to ya!  I need my space, though!  And I never sleep well with a little rugrat squirming beside me.  Plus, especially when my kids were smaller, I couldn’t sleep if the kids were in my bed because I would worry about rolling over on them, or their little faces getting blocked by all the covers…SIDS scares me!

And my AP friends probably cringe when they hear me say that at bedtime, even when my kids were pretty tiny, we let them cry themselves to sleep.  Not for too long, and not if the screams escalated too much.  But I have to admit: there were times I turned off the monitor or walked outside a few minutes to recapture my sanity.  And, I’m not saying it’s because I let my kids cry it out…I’m probably just lucky…but my kids are great sleepers.  And sometimes they do wake up in the middle of the night, but often the put themselves right back to sleep, and I never know it.  If they were in my bed, we’d probably end up all being awake and talking about Thomas the Tank Engine, Diego or Minnie Mouse!  🙂

So I guess what I’m trying to say in all my ramblings is that I’m a free-rangeauthoritative, democratic ENFP with a dash of AP thrown in for good measure…I do love a good baby sling!   Click here to take a short little quiz to see what kind of parent you are.

A cherry on top…

If I hadn’t already been lucky enough to have a great day after a string of not-so-great ones, my kids asked to go to the book store.  I didn’t promt it…Tucker just straight up asked and the girls nodded their assent.  If you know anything about me, you know I love to go to the bookstore!!  So…today I got a new book anda new cd. 

Before I tell you about my new book, I have to rewind a few months.  There is a book I bought back before Christmas from called “Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay: And Other Things I Had to Learn as a New Mom”.  It had me in stitches! This girl is seriously funny! (She reminds me a lot of my friend Jesse, for those of you who know her and how delightful she is!)  One of my favorite stories she tells is about calling her pediatrician at 10pm because her 11-day old daugher seemed “sleepy”.  He ever-so-politely tries to convince her that her baby is not dying of some rare, dreaded disease.  The baby is probably just fine.  She responds with:  “PROBABLY??”  How many times have I myself said that to Marshall!  🙂  Ha!  Wilder-Taylor also talks about other women who love their babies too much, the fascination with poop once you have kid, social life after kids, and the such.

So while we were at the bookstore, I couldn’t help but notice that there was a new Stephanie Wilder-Taylor book on sale: Naptime Is the New Happy Hour: And Other Ways Toddlers Turn Your Life Upside Down.  I bought it at 1 this afternoon and I’m already half-way through with it!  It’s not too long, the chapters are broken up into nice, easy chunks…and it’s just funny!  It’s more like reading a letter from a friend than a parenting book.  So far she’s entertained me with stories about how you can go all out on holidays that were previously boring, suburban life, taking your kids to Target for recreation time, other moms who make you feel like crap because they’re so awesome, and minding your mommy manners. I should probably read that last section a few times.  I’m not very good at that!  But just to give you a little taste of her writing, here are two sample passages:

For the first year [of your child’s life] your main job in the parenting biz is to keep the little suckers alive.  Now that’s not nearly enough.  A mom of a toddler has a whole new set of concerns, worries, and questions, like “Who the hell is this Dora chick?  And why does my child need to own everything with her picture on it?”  “Is it wrong to have a cocktail at two in the afternoon?” And “Where did my child learn to say ‘shit’?”  Where’s the book for that?


Real moms will let you in on the fact that they are sometimes inconsistent with their discipline-that they have at times totally lost it over a minor infraction, like their toddler’s totally normal refusal to take a bath when asked very nicely and promised “no washing of hair”.  Real moms will call you in tears because their kid hasn’t stopped barfing since she stupidly let him have three huge pieces of cake at a three-year-old’s birthday party.  Real moms know that trying to limit TV watching to a half hour a day is about as realistic as Kellie Pickler trying to maintain that she didn’t get a boob job.  Real moms will tell you that their four-and-a-half-year old is only 80 percent potty trained.  Real moms know that when it comes to being a parent, there is no perfect scorecard.  No matter how many hours you spend sitting on the floor coloring, reading stories, kissing boo-boos, and singing songs, there will be times that you fall short.  And most of us try to accept that as best we can.

 So…these two books along with Martha Brockenbrough‘s book It Could Happen To You: Diary Of A Pregnancy and Beyond are now on the must-read list for all my new-mommy friends!  And you honestly don’t even have to be a new mommy to appreciate it.  But you do have to have a sense of humor, and you must not be easily offended!  She’s brutally honest! 

So if you need a good laugh, or at least a smile or two, go on over to or drop by your local bookstore, and grab one of these not-life-changing-but-pretty-darn-funny books!

**Disclaimer:  Stephanie Wilder-Taylor does quite frequently use curse words.  To me, they’re all warrented, but if you don’t like books with curse words, these are not for you!

Better. Much Better.

My day began with a bang:  I overslept!!  And at first that probably seems like a bad thing, but (I don’t know about you) whenever I oversleep, I am always very efficient whenever I do get up.  So in the span of an hour I got the kids up, fed, and dressed with teeth and hair both brushed.  I mopped the whole house.  And I managed to get everyone to school not on-time but early!  I’m never early!  But somehow I managed to get all those things and then some complements of the “oh-crap-I-overslept adrenaline rush.”

So once I dropped everyone off in their classrooms, I headed out to help set up for Sports Day.  There were tricycles, an obstacle course, bean bag toss, golf and basketball.  When I asked Tucker what he liked the best out of all of those he said, “the popsicles”.  Ha!  That’s my boy…could care less about the sport stuff…just give me the sugar!

After I helped with Sports Day, I spent a little time with the kiddos in their classrooms.  I love the kids that are Tucker’s age; they are so animated!  I took this dress-up hat and “hid” each one of them & then let them “scare” me.  I’ve never heard so many giggles!  And you would have thought that this was the BEST game EVER!!  They were all captivated!

Emmie’s class is cute, too, but she wasn’t as excited about sharing her mommy as Tucker was.  The only other kid she “allowed” me to hold was Ella.  I guess she’s figured out by now that Ella’s not going to steal me away from her!

Anyway, I had a great time with them.  It was so much fun to go play with all the little kids.  And it was fun to see Tucker feel special because *his* mommy was the only mommy there!  And eventhough Emmie was typically clingy, she did play with the other kids some.  It was neat to see her interact with other kids like that.  That’s not something I get so see very often.  But she’s much quieter than I would have imagined.

So, as I write this(I wrote this earlier, but just got around to typing it now), I’m in car rider line waiting to pick up the “big girls”, and all three of my little atheletes are sound asleep.  And it’s quiet save the noise of middle school students happy to have finished another day of school.  And as I reflect on the nice, happy day I had today, I realize not once all day had I thought about who’s bringing what to the baby shower, or how empty the IHN volunteer board is looking, or how many nights I’m probably going to be sleeping at the church with our guests, or whether or not someone will actually buy our house soon.  None of those things seem to matter when your knee-deep in the contagious giggles of sixteen 3-year olds.  Maybe I should take lessons from them!  🙂

Everyone knows I'm in over my head, over my head…

Ok…so Marsh and I were having a little conversation about how overwhelmed I am right now.  I just have so much to do and so little time in which to get it all done.  But we had on Pandora Radio which was playing a little song from The Fray called “Over My Head”.  If you ever listen to popular radio or watch Grey’s Anatomy or Scrubs, you’ve probably heard a little of The Fray.  Anyway, I digress…We weren’t really paying attention to the music until it said, “everyone knows i’m in over my head, over my head”, and it was like a little epiphany.  It’s true.  Everyone else knows that I’m in over my head.  I have people say to me all the time, “I don’t know how you do all that you do.”  And most of the time I brush it off, or even consider it a complement.  People are impressed with my multi-tasking, right?  Maybe I can have it all: good kids, good job, good volunteer, good person…but just then I realized that people probably aren’t so much praising me or impressed with me.  They’re probably just trying to ever-so-politely tell me what everyone else knows:  you’re in over your head.  Chill out.  Take a break.  Stop trying to take on the world.  The plates, cups, napkins, and forks don’t all have to be the same color for the baby shower I’m hosting.  It doesn’t matter if 2 people or 200 people come to the shower because it’s not about who comes or who will be impressed by the cute decorations…it’s about celebrating the arrival of a new baby girl.  And if I don’t sing every single word in “Hello, Dolly” on Friday night, no one will know.  There will be at least 7 other people who know them all.  I’ll just have to remember the old “watermelon, watermelon” trick!  🙂  And it doesn’t matter how terrible I am at sports or how much I hate getting hot…I should be glad that I have the opportunity to go spend the day with my kids at their sports day.  They want me.  I shouldn’t be sad that I’m losing my “me” time…I should be glad that I’m so loved.  And I don’t need to complain about having so few people signed up to help with Interfaith Hospitality Network next week. I should just be glad that I have a home, and a wonderful family to fill it with laughter and joy. 

And as I am writing now, the perfect song is on-Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds which says:

Rise up this morning, smile with the rising sun
Three little birds pitch by my doorstep
Singing sweet songs of melodies pure and true
Saying, this is my message to you:

Singing don’t worry about a thing
‘Cause every little thing is gonna be alright
Singing don’t worry about a thing
‘Cause every little thing is gonna be alright

How can you listen to that an not be happy??  Gotta love Marley. 

So I’m off to bed now…tired, but content.  My floors aren’t mopped or even swept.  There are still some dishes in the sink.  But we’ll just be giving the people who are coming to look tomorrow a realistic view of what our house looks like when people actually live here!  🙂 

Every little thing is gonna be alright…

What I just overheard…

I was downstairs doing laundry while the kids were playing up stairs when I hear this through the monitor:

Tucker: If I could just read, I’d know how it works.  But I don’t.

Emmie:  Is otay, Kucker…(It’s ok, Tucker) 

I just thought it was cute!

77 days and counting…

I love deadlines.  I love countdowns.  Any kind really: school years, pregnancies, birthdays, holidays…anything.  And here we are at the 77 day mark of residency.  77 days to go! 77-a number of completion, biblically speaking.  In some ways it’s hard to believe.  In many other ways it seems like it’s taken us a lifetime to get here!  And as excited as I am about being so close to done, I have such mixed emotions.  I will miss the friends we have made in Augusta.  I’ll miss my cozy little home.  I’ll miss Village Deli and Pizza Joint.  I’ll miss having a Target just minutes from my house.  But after being back in my hometown for a few days, I’m really having a hard time staying in the moment.  Enjoying life as I live it.  Smelling the roses and all that.  I wish that I could move NOW.  I wish that Marshall could be done NOW.  I wish that we could go ahead and get everything settled and ready NOW.  But as I think about this, I am reminded of something I read from one A.A. Milne’s Winne-the-Pooh books: 

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think.  Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you begin to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.

 So I know I need to enjoy this moment just before.  I know I need to savor it.  I know I need to sit back and wait patiently.  But I don’t know how. 

While I was searching online to find that Milne quote, I found a few more that were inspirational to me, and I thought I’d share.  But please feel free to add your own thoughts and ideas on how to better savor the flavor of today…

From Robert Brault:  Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

From Guilaume Apollinaire: Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.

Kimberly and Rob's Wedding

What a beautiful wedding.  Kimberly’s dress looked amazing on her.  And I couldn’t imagine anyone better for her than Rob.  We’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with them, and he even babysat my children at a moments notice before he even knew me!  I knew he was a keeper when he did that!  🙂  It was good to have the whole “carpool crowd” back together.  I don’t think that’s happened since my wedding 7 years ago!  Enjoy the pictures…and feel free to email me more pictures if you have them and I’ll add them to the slide show!

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Walt Disney World

We had the BEST time!  Marshall made fun of me a little bit because there were actually a few moments that I was so overwhelmed with joy and excitement that I teared up!  I’m not a tear-up kind of girl.  I don’t usually cry just because.  Maybe I’m getting old!  🙂  But seeing my kids so happy, and having uninterrupted family time with just the 4 of us never happens!  And looking at them enjoying the same things that I enjoyed as a child, making memories that mirror my own childhood memories was exciting to me.  I know that neither of them will probably ever remember this trip, but I will never forget it!  Tucker hardly said anything.  He seemed to have little to no reaction at all-until we were in the car on the way home.  And then he kept talking about all the things we saw and did.  Emmie, on the other hand, has never been so vibrant in her life.  My Little Miss Fussy-Pants hardly cried the whole time we were there.  And she’s never smiled so much in her life.  As we walked into the park down Main Street, U.S.A. I could actually hear her gasp.  She has never seen anything so grandious in her life, I’m sure.  Main Street still makes me gasp a little, too, to be honest.  And there’s definiately a reason it’s called the Magic Kingdom. 

But on to the pictures and stories behind them.  We got into town on Tuesday evening, and were able to meet Kimberly and Rob for dinner.  They were planning to leave on Wed to head back up to Haddock for the wedding, so it was fun to get some time alone with them before all the wedding craziness began!  Unfortunately our kids had been in the car all day long and we’re exactly the model of perfection that they usually are.  (Ha! Ha! Ha!)  But we had fun…it was DELICIOUS!!!!!!!   After dinner we let the kids go to the LEGOland playground and get some energy out before bed.  It is pretty cool to see all the things they’ve built out of Legos!

We got up on Tues morning and headed to the Magic Kingdom.  And at the very beginning of our time in the park, I had a brief moment of hesitation…a “why in the heck did I bring a one and three year old to Disney World???”  See, we were staying in one of the Disney resorts that required a bus trip to the parks.  Apparently Emmie gets car sick if she’s not facing forward in a seat.  We were almost to the Magic Kingdom when I felt it start moving.  I knew that she was about to blow so I tossed Tucker aside-poor thing, I was holding both of them because Marshall had the stroller and I just kind of plopped him down on the floor beside me!  But I ripped her hat off of her head and did my best to catch all the throw-up in her hat.  Good plan except that I didn’t realize that we were about to take curve…so yeah, it ended up all over her and me and floor anyway.  So we get there, get Miss Smelly off the bus, wipe her down, change her into her extra set of clothes which I am now SO glad that I decided to pack!  And off we go…we considered the Tea Cups, but decided that might not be the best ride based on recent events.  We let her stomach settle down a little bit and then Tucker wanted to ride the Dumbo ride.  Ok…it’s not too fast, so it probably shouldn’t bother her.  (It didn’t.)  But as we were in line, Tucker-who was so excited about his first big ride that he couldn’t be still-ran into a handrail and got a pretty good little shiner on his eye.  So here we stand with two weepy children wondering what we’d done…when all of a sudden we get on the ride and the real magic begins.  From then on, there was very little fussing, very little crying, and a lot of smiles! 

I think the highlight of the trip was getting private time with Mickey and Minnie.  We waited and waited in line, and they took people in to see them in groups of 10.  We happened to be at the end of a set of 10, so we were able to be in a room alone with just Mickey, Minnie and the photographer for several minutes.  As you can see in the pictures, Tucker had his stunned face on.  I don’t think he could really believe that he was actually seeing Mickey and that *the* real Minnie Mouse was hugging him!  Emmie was hilarious.  She couldn’t take her eyes off of Minnie.  And she couldn’t stop grinning.  The best picture is the one that the photographer got(I haven’t scanned it in yet…hopefully I’ll do that soon and post it, too).  Mickey, Minnie, Tucker and I are looking straight ahead and smiling.  Emmie is just beaming at Minnie.  It’s adorable!

Emmie also enjoyed all the parades.  She waved the whole time, every time.  I’m pretty sure she thought that each one of the characters going by was waving specifically to her.  And she was so happy to wave back and say “Hey Minnie” or “Hey Ariel” or “Hey Ter-Pan” (Peter Pan).  Tucker did his usual.  Stare straight ahead and try to soak it all in.  Emmie really liked the SpectroMagic parade the best…it was like Christmas lights but they could move and sing!  Tucker liked the SpectroMagis parade, too, but not the fireworks.  He kept his eyes closed both nights.  He said he wasn’t scared.  He never cried.  But he said he just didn’t want to watch. 

We didn’t have a lot of time to spend at Animal Kingdom, but we went over there to do the safari.  Tucker LOVED that!!  I’m so glad we went over there because that’s the only place where he really seemed to be excited right then and there!  We saw some cool animals, although we didn’t get to see the lion or tiger.  We saw a giraffe running though.  I’d never seen that before-they’re fast!

On Thursday, we did MGM-Hollywood Studios and Epcot.  MGM has a Playhouse Disney puppet show with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny, and Little Einsteins.  The kids liked okay, but I was kind of disappointed because we were in the front row and could hardly see any of the characters.  But there was good music and bubbles that came down from the ceiling.  You can make anything better with bubbles!  🙂

In Epcot, we took a little time exploring slow-paced things like the Figment ride and Innovations.  Tucker really liked this one thing that taught you about fire safety.  They had a house that had 4 rooms and they had lights that looked like fire that would “burn” in the house.  The leader taught the kids how and what to do if there is a fire in your home.  At the end of each practice, you’d run the firetruck and it would ding and dong for you since you got out safely!  It’s a cool teaching tool…and he didn’t even realize that he was learning anything!  🙂

We had so much fun together.  We didn’t do a whole lot of rides, but it was enough since it was such a short trip.  Hopefully next time we’ll be able to spend a few more days!  We’re going to try to do the Disney Cruise Land and Sea trip next time…feel free to join us!  It’d be fun to have lots of friends go together!!

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Little Richard??

A little Richard???

Anyone else think she looks like Richard in this picture??

Maybe, but he could never be this cute:


No news probably isn't good news.

We still haven’t heard anything from the people who came to take a second look.  However, the vastly over-priced house across the street now has a sale pending sign out front.  One less house for sale on the street…I guess that’s good.