The child who wakes up covered in puke is exactly the child whose entire bedding set got washed the day before.

The day that your husband has put extensive effort into getting dinner reservations and babysitting lined up BY HIMSELF will be the day that a pregnant woman will come in for her appointment, in preterm labor.  And the night will then consist of corndogs and Blues Clues with a 3 year old.

The one day in a million that you all are ready for church with ample time to spare will be the morning that the youngest steps in a pile of dog shit, and gets into the car, and climbs all over the drivers seat ...before anyone notices.

The one full can of paint that you forgot to tightly seal will be the can that is tipped over by the three year old... on the newly laid kitchen floor.

The kitchen chairs you painstakenly strip and stain will be the exact item your son decides to use as a teething toy.

The rescue dog that you adopt and treat to a day at the puppy spa will be the dog that rolls in cow shit the very next day.

The 30 year old  collectible John Deere tractors (still in the box) are exactly the toys a three year old will stack a chair on top of a table to retrieve and remove from their boxes.

When your nephew asks  "Do we need to take this along?" regarding the bucket filled with tire jacks and tire changing tools, and you reply "Nope!" will be the exact bucket you need when the trailer blows a tire less than 15 miles from your house... in sleeting rain and 40mph winds.

The wallpaper you decide to paint over, for fear of finding paneling underneath it, will be the exact wallpaper your toddler decides to pick at and peel off chunks... in several spots.

We call this style Modern Toddlerism with a hint of Destruction

When on a nature walk with your toddler, the one thing laying on the ground, a dessicated racoon poop, will be the one thing he mistakes for a cheetoh... and eats.

The only household chore that will be copied with zealousness by a toddler will be cleaning the toilet, and walls, and floor... with the toilet brush.

The night you decide to stay up way too late gluttonously watching a Hoarders marathon (in an attempt to feel better about your own house) will be the night before your children will wake up a two hours earlier than normal.

The day you forget to put away your inhaler is the day the 3 year old decides to freshen the bathroom with an "albuterol air freshener."

If you are born a night owl, you will marry a morning dove, and birth only morning doves.

If you wait for 10 years to buy your first home together, the zipcode in which you wish to purchase said house will be declared a Natural Disaster Area due to flooding. Mortgage companies don't particularily like Natural Disaster Areas.

And finally, the expensive vet-prescribed dog food you buy is refused by the same dog that prefers to eat cat poop and dead deer carcasses.

I is smart.

Life exists in the Chaos

Many moons ago, in a previous life that allowed me to use my big girl words and required a daily shower, I was a Critical Care Nurse.  I worked in a 24 bed ICU with the best co-workers possible.  At a mere 23 years old, I was thrust into an environment that forced me to face mortality whether I wanted to or not.  It was a process that wasn't even on the radar of most people I knew who were my age.  We were still at the age of invincibility, teetering on the cusp of  "life" finally beginning after so many years of schooling and preparing.  We could almost taste "life" as it was finally going to happen.

Probably around a year into my circadian rhythm destroying career, I sat on my close friend's deck people watching the patrons of the nearby Dairy Queen on a beautiful summer evening.  As we sipped our micro-brews, because we were now employed career women who could afford better than Keystone or Grainbelt, I said "So this is it, huh?" She asked "Is what it?" I replied, "This is life? This is what we couldn't wait to get through high school, and then college, and then to be employed with a real job for?  Wow. This. Sucks."  We laughed and for me, it is one of those epiphanic moments that changed me.  All I had experienced in that past year had culminated in that moment.  Life wasn't just around the corner, waiting until your check list is completed. Life is everywhere, all around you at every moment.

The Critical Care Unit was not an emotionally easy place to work. There were many days I went home and cried. Cried because life did not seem fair, cried out of frustration, cried because human nature had disappointed me, cried because I was disappointed in myself.  However, those 24 beds and the patients that occupied them gave me gifts that I will never be able to repay.  As much as I would have liked to have avoided the questions that arose from their stories, their persistance in my head was unrelenting. "What if you were gone tomorrow?" "What would you do differently if you found out you had a brain tumor?"  "Do those you love, know you love them?"  The questions go on and on. generated from so many different stories. A dad who went to work like normal, who would never go home due to a freak accident.  A teenager, just being a teen: gone.  An elderly man whose family just couldn't cope with making health care decisions, and so we watched his soul go, months before his body did.  A young woman, a careless car accident, and the only thing that made sense would be others getting life from her organs.  A young man who defied all the rules, who was by all practical purposes was supposed to die, and we watched him walk out of the unit. He got a second chance.

Really the stories go on and on, each one leaving a little brush stroke on my life.  I went into this job thinking I knew where my life would take me and how I would live it.  After my years in the unit, I came out knowing nothing is certain, except change.  Every day is honestly a gift, regardless of how cold it is, and life does not wait "out there" for us.  I learned to love without abandon.

I'm human and therefore get caught up in the chaos of life, worrying about things that really don't matter. Things that are trivial, like the constant pile of Legos on my table and the train tracks built in the center of my kitchen floor. I worry in my current job, where my employers don't require daily showers, but do require a lot of snacks, that my house is in a constant state of disarray and my car is becoming a rolling dumpster.  But every once in a while, life will force be back on my heels and remind me of what is important. Have I loved enough, and do those I love know it? Have I forgiven? Have I stopped, stood still and just inhaled the chaos? Have I looked, really looked beyond the mess and seen the little hands that built the Legos or train tracks or drew the million pictures that in bubble letters say: "Mom I Love You"?  Have I thanked my better half for, in my darkest times, still making me laugh?  I truly hope I have.


My Santa List

ChAoS in MOtiOn
My Santa List

            Dear Santa, I know I am a little late with my list this year, but really, does that surprise you? This time of the year I am lucky if I remember to put on pants, so I’ m happy to find a moment in the chaos to get this off to you.  In no particular order, here is my wish list for this year:

1. Could I get 8 more hours per day?  I think that would be helpful. Ok, I would even be grateful for 6 if you could manage that. 
2.  Socks. I don’t mean running socks because I have oodles of those. I mean socks that adult women are supposed to have, and somehow I have managed to get to almost 40 with about 3 pairs. What is up with that? Preferably in colors that don’t stain when I step in the surprises my cats leaves me. 
3.  I would love a clean car. I don’t mean the outside; that is rather pointless this time of year. I’m talking about the inside. Currently the floor is covered with 3 shoes, 13 mittens (none of which match) wooden blocks, countless matchbox cars, half eaten suckers, quite a bit of white dog hair, several art masterpieces by my daughter, and only heaven knows what the 3rd row seat contains, because no one over the age of 9 has laid eyes on that territory in many months. 
4.  I would really really appreciate if the dog would stop using her feet, legs, hips and back as her personal chew toys, despite the half dozen rawhides and chewy toys laying around the house. Not only would I appreciate it, I do believe in the long run she would also appreciate it. 
5. Laundry prophylactics.  If this doesn’t exist I think your elves can invent it.  It really needs to stop reproducing.  It is getting a bit out of hands these days.  If it came with a bonus laundry elf that would be wonderful!
6.  For my 3 year old to show ANY interest in using the potty like a big boy.  If that isn’t feasible I would settle for him not removing his socks and shoes the moment we walk through Leever’s doors to grocery shop.
7.  Maybe once a month, that my children would approach me about 7:30pm and say, “Parents, we are exhausted. We are going to turn in for the evening. Good night. Love you!”  Now I know that may be crazy talk, but a girl can dream right? You are Santa after all!!
8.  While I appreciate her attempts to serenade me, I would really like if the kitten would not choose 4am as her time to play piano.  She also could use help with her chords, and her timing is a bit off. 
9.  In true Christmas spirit, I want for others too. Specifically I would like young women to realize leggings are not pants. Let me clarify: Leggings with a long tunic or sweater? Perfectly acceptable and stylish.  Leggings with a short sweatshirt or shirt? Nope. They are not pants. The only exceptions are if you are going to or from the gym, or are out running miles.  Jeans are pants, slacks are pants, corduroys are pants. Leggings are not pants. 
10.  What I want mostly though is that my friends and family know how much I love them and how grateful I feel for them.  In my mind there is time enough to create something special for each one of them, to show them how much they have meant to me this past year.  In reality, some may be end up getting a Groundhog Day gift…. That is why #1 would be greatly appreciated!

My Public Break Up

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My Public Break-Up

            As I sit here by the fire, gazing out my window to the vast blanket of frozen white that covers every recognizable surface, sipping on my third cup of coffee, I find myself thinking of you.  Fantasizing about you to be exact.  My mind returns to you and our times together despite the half decorated Christmas tree, the Christmas card that has yet to be created and the “to do” list that stretches to Pingree.  But I realize this behavior isn’t healthy, this longing and wishing is not productive, so as this year winds down to an end, it is probably time to end the farce that our relationship has become, and so here it goes:
            Dear Sleep,
I am sorry to tell you this, but it just isn't working. We have tried for over 9 years, really we have, but its just not working. Please, don't be sad or take it personally, it isn't you, it is me. I have met someone else, well, really three people.  These relationships are just too demanding and necessary for me to continue a relationship with you. Don't feel bad, you are beautiful, satisfying and so many people are blessed to know you. It just can't be with you and me. But believe me, I wish it could be. I will confess to you, that although I am in these other relationships, I daydream about getting in the car and driving to a hotel to meet you... to close the blinds and just be with you for hours and hours. But, it just can't be. I will never forget those Saturday mornings, just you and me.  The lazy afternoons on the couch, under a blanket when you embraced me and all was right with the world.  And how could I ever forget on the floating island, at the lake under the sun. Sleep, you did things to my body I haven't felt in so long... we were so good for each other. But recently, you have become as elusive as Sasquatch or good lutefisk… I hear of these things, but have yet to witness them. 
            And yet, there are times, I think maybe we can make it work. Maybe if I try hard enough, I can find a place for you in my life.  But then the stark reality of vomit, or the dog deciding to eat greasy paper-towels or “I need 2 dozen treats by tomorrow” spoken at 9pm hits me. Then like a ghostly apparition, you dissipate in front of me. 
But go, go and share your beauty with others.  Knowing you well, I suggest maybe you could be happy with a single person, or one without children… or a teenager.   My hope is maybe someday we will meet again. But until that day, I will catch glimpses of you around me, like your romanticized versions in mattress commercials.   I will remember all the wonderful times we shared and will be glad that I once knew you and called you mine.


The weight of things

            Earlier last week, I discovered the equation to making a grown man cry.  “Lice and nits?” You may ask? Heavens no! The Great Lice and Nit invasion of 2013 conveniently coincided with North Dakota Deer opener, and those sporting orange barely noticed the constant washing, drying, cleaning and literal nit picking. 
A couple days before the start of the nit invasion, I came to learn that if you take numerous vintage old toy tractors, (most still in the box), a craft scissors, and a 3 year old with an considerable amount of determination, the end result is a grown man in (almost) tears.  As we stood surveying the damage, looking down at our son with disappointment painted on our faces, he slowly turned his eyes upward to us, and said, “…What?”
After I stopped laughing, I started to help my dear husband literally pick up the pieces of his childhood.  As we were putting them back in their newly redesigned boxes, I was amazed at how heavy they were. These were real toys. Toys that lasted for years. In fact, some of them had been his dad’s toys.  They were metal and not the plastic junk made today.  These tractors had survived almost 40 years. Our son’s John Deere tractor lasted exactly 2 days after last Christmas before the axle broke.  They don’t make stuff like they used to, and I think I’ve stumbled upon an unexplored reason of childhood obesity!
If I take the dog out to do her business at night and were to walk into a modern day pedal tractor, it would skitter across the garage floor and stop.  Now if I were to run my foot into my husband’s John Deere pedal tractor, after my tears and expletives stopped flowing, the next stop would probably be X-Rays and/or stitches.  Stuff was HEAVY when we were kids! It takes a lot of energy for my three year old to pedal that beast around. Think of all the calories we burned if we wanted to move our field of tractors from the living room to the dining room! You could only carry one at a time.  Girls were not immune from the weight of things.  Whatever latex/probably-now-carcinogenic/rubber that our baby dolls were made of gave them weight! If you were one of the lucky girls to get a Baby Alive, with her strange squishy vinyl limbs, you really burned your calories.  Feed her a bottle of water, and she even became heavier, and then you really amped your calorie burn when she filled her diaper.  We didn’t have to watch what we ate because we had toys!
Everything now is made for speed and aerodynamics.  Bikes are made of space age materials and are light enough to lift with one hand.  My pink Huffy bike, with its flowered basket (that no animal would EVER stay in, despite my attempts) had two speeds: slow and standing up.  There were no gears to ease up the hills.  There were playing cards in the spokes however that mimicked the sound of gears.  I’m pretty sure our softball bats were lined with lead, and concrete shoes would have been lighter than wet moon boots.  Though the roller racers we used in gym class didn’t take much energy to operate, the sheer anxiety we put ourselves in, anticipating running over our fingers at any moment, surely amped up our metabolism. 
My theory doesn’t just end in childhood however.  Once we got our drivers license, I can guarantee it took many more friends to push a 1979 Pontiac Grand Safari Station Wagon out of the snow than it does a Kia.  And when your older brother is bequeathed that vehicle, it took even more friends to budge a 1964 Cadillac Sedan Deville.  As teens, just wearing our clothes took more energy. I have no research that backs up the weight of material now versus then, but there was more volume to our clothes.  Pirate shirts, high waisted jeans, brocade vests, and any prom dress from 1970-1990 are perfect examples of heftier clothing.  And then there was our hair….. it took a lot of neck muscles to carry around the coifs of the 1980’s and 90’s… a lot of muscle and a lot of Aqua Net.  My own personal experience that backs this notion is that I cut my hair into a very short style in 9th grade. I subsequently gained 20 pounds before 10th grade.  It wasn’t puberty. It was the hair.
As I watch my 3 year old grunt and pedal the vintage pedal tractor, I think, besides his 85 pound brother sitting in the tractor trailer, there has to be something to this theory of mine.  Maybe I’m way off, but I don’t think so.  Things then had mass.  Steal was our unknown diet aide.   Toys were made to last for years… that is until a three year old comes along.