Blueberry Farming

blueberry group shotRemember I had that list of things to do before I turned 30? Well late is better than never, right?

Besides, if ever there was an excuse for putting something off temporarily, the total implosion of a marriage might be it. That or death. Or just plain laziness. But it was definitely the marriage thing in this case.

So here I am, a day late, but not a dollar short (metaphorically at least — this chica is on a budget), and I’m back to trying to do some of the things on my list because gosh darn it — life is for living.

Visit a ‘You Pick’ orchard and pick too much fruit

Last week, one of my BFF’s Nancy and I packed up all six of our kids and visited a blueberry farm. That’s two car seats, two boosters, half a bottle of sunblock, 12 shoes that are bugging at least seven feet, and that’s only because the other five have been kicked off at some point. Oh, and two mamas with cameras. And cameras I mean iPhones. Because it’s 2013.

So we got the place and sauntered shambled in to find out how the process worked. Each kid was given a small bucket. Each bucket had a capacity of two pints. Each pint cost $5. Six kids, six buckets, sixty dollars.


We screamed that at them as they tore off down the rows of blueberry bushes.

We needn’t have worried.

blueberry spoilsI’m going to go ahead and guess that blueberries are friggin expensive because they’re so dang hard to collect. After 10 minutes or so, the kids all had at least three blueberries each.

Eventually we ended up with four pints of blueberries altogether, which may or may not have been too many, but when you think about it … who can have too many blueberries?

And if you do, you put them in the freezer and make pie out of them in December.

P.S. The kids pretended they were ninja power ranger super spy blueberry farmers. They had a blast.

P.P.S. The majority of them declared afterward that they hate blueberries and how dare we suggest they eat them.

GMA Is In the House

Thing 1 and Abbie chatting about fashion

Thing 1 and Abbie chatting about fashion

Aggh!!! TV camera on me right now! I’m totally going to have to blog about this. Hmmm … maybe I’ll turn this into a blog post. Yes, That’s what I’ll do.

Remember when I told you Good Morning America was coming over? You know, just a typical Monday for this girl. You see … I wrote this thing about Victoria’s Secret on The Stir … and people liked it. Of course I’m sure some people didn’t, but you can’t please everyone.

So the film crew is here, and I’m supposed to be looking like I’m actually, you know, writing something, so I thought, why not write a blog post about them being here?

Jeff and Becky are the camera peeps, and they are super duper nice. Plus they like my kids — and anyone that likes my kids can stay. The reporter and producer are on the way, but they had to stop at the mall first, because they wanted an Orange Julius.

Haha! Just kidding. They went for shots of VS. I’m guessing. You know, because this story is on VS. I’m bright like that.

Leif got called away for some urgent something rather-or-other, so my saintly mama dropped everything and came over to help. She. Is. Awesome. Seriously, thank you Mom!


~~~ Approximately five hours later ~~~

Wowza that was a lot of filming! Had so much fun though. The girls were awesome. I think my favorite line was when ABC correspondent Abbie Boudreau asked Thing 1 whom she looked to for fashion advice … like what movie star?

My sweet girl said that she looked to her mom and gramma for fashion advice. Abbie asked her what kind of advice she got from Gramma, and she replied, “Not to wear socks with sandals.”

Amen, Sistah.

Abbie and her producer Derrick were so fun to work with, and I hope I get to do so again some time. Plus — like Jeff and Becky, they seemed to adore my kids. Seriously people, if you want to get on my good side, tell me how awesome my kids are. I greatly enjoy people that can recognize the truth right in front of them. *wink*


~~~ Approximately one day later ~~~

Soooooo … I totally didn’t post this last night. I know there was more I wanted to add, but at this point, I think I’ll post as-is and save more tell-all until after the segment airs.

Tune into Good Morning America on Thursday, y’all! The segment is scheduled to air in the 8-9 o’clock hour.

New Chapter

It’s 8:22 a.m., and I have the next six and a halfish hours to myself. No one asking for a third cup of chocolate milk, no one throwing a tantrum because it’s nap time, no one asking me where something is, only to have me get up and find it exactly where I said it would be.

I’ve been home from Boston for almost two weeks, but this is the first day of the New Normal. The girls were out of school for the entire week of Thanksgiving, and even though they went back yesterday, we had a parent-teacher conference at 11:30, then Leif was home the rest of the day.

Side note: Thing 2 is doing extremely well in K-prep. Her cognitive skills rock. Also, her teacher says she shares well and doesn’t get her feelings hurt easily, to which Leif and I asked, “Who??” 

Anyway. This is my first day where I can just get crap done. And oh boy, do I have a laundry list. And laundry. That needs to get done too. And I need to finish Christmas decorating. Write some things. Call some people about a job. Maybe I’ll even have it together to have snacks ready for when we get home from school.

I’ve always heard that it’s life changing when your littlest starts fulltime school — and even though I’m only 20 minutes into it, it’s kinda awesome.

This morning when I went to buckle Thing 2 into her carseat (because they have to stay in them until they’re old enough to drive the car themselves in California — it least it seems like that), she told me that she could do it herself. I rolled my eyes and then watched in disbelief as she did it herself. For nine years, I’ve watched with naked envy those moms that could just tell their kids to get into the car without having to buckle them all up.

I’m officially in the Mom of School-Aged Children Who Can Buckle Themselves Into the Car Club.

Don’t even think about asking me when I’m going to have another baby.

Home From Boston

I’ve been home two days. It’s weird and dazy and strange and hard to believe that less than two week ago, my biggest worry was trying to figure out if I could make a bicoastal commute somehow work within the confines of my family.

Mitt was headed to the White House, yo. And I was going to be part of it.

There are a million reasons I could ponder on as to why we lost. Actually, there’s only one – we didn’t get enough votes. I know! By all accounts, it doesn’t make sense.

Now I could contemplate how we could be so wrong about our numbers and voter turnout, mention Obama’s superb ground game, or wonder why my generation seems more concerned with government-sponsored birth control than borrowing from our Children’s piggy banks, but that would be boring.

Instead I’ll just cliché it up: Nice guys finish last.

I don’t feel like the end of the world is here because Obama got reelected. I just feel like it’s going to be on hold for four more years. At best.

Oh, and I got a letter in the mail saying that my doctor no longer accepts my medical insurance. And my premiums went up about 30% last year. But Big Bird and binders!

Seriously guys, how did we lose this?

Double whammy for having worked for Romney: 1) He lost, and I’m out of a job, and 2) He lost, so companies aren’t hiring because they can’t afford to pay for everyone’s birth control and sex change operations.

I wasn’t there when my kids heard about Mommy’s Governor Romney’s loss, but I’m told that they said, “We may be poorer, but at least we have Jesus and our family.”

Love those goobers.

Meanwhile, I wrote about the 5 Stages of Election Loss Grief over at The Stir. I think I’m somewhere between incredulous and annoyed at the moment.

The Shoe’s On the Other Foot

The number one question I’ve gotten from people when they hear I’ve (temporarily) moved to Boston is, “Where is your family?”

“Home in Sand Diego,” I say, and the response is almost universally, “Oh wow.”

Oh wow is right.

My main hesitation in accepting this position was missing this small chunk of my kids’ lives. Of course I’ll miss Leif, but he and I have a lifetime together, and he’s not growing and changing everyday in the same way that children do. I am missing two months of my kids’ lives that I will never get back.

It’s a heavy thing to realize, and the guilt! I couldn’t wear mascara the day I left, because it would’ve been running down my face with the tears I cried when remembering their tight little hugs and sad little faces when we said goodbye.

Sniff sniff.

I’ve been here a few days now, and have been in touch via phone and little FaceTime. The girls seem ok – happy even. As it turns out, the world keeps on spinning, even when I’m not there. They’ve gotten to and from school, friends’ houses, and spent afternoons at Gramma’s. They’ve done their homework, brushed their teeth, played with Daddy, and got tucked in every night.

They’re ok. And I’m ok, because instead of looking at this as time I’ll never get back, I want to see it as time that Leif gets to be the primary caregiver. Their relationship with him is going to grow even stronger as they depend on him in the way they normally depend on me. The bonds that form between their hearts as they figure out how to survive without Mommy will remain intact for the rest of their lives, and no one will ever be able to take away the knowledge that their daddy stepped up to the plate to take care of them.

So yeah, I miss my family like crazy. But I am so grateful for Leif to know that center-of-your-kids’-universe feeling. It’s crazy hard, for sure, and I know they’ll have their good and bad days, but they will learn to trust and love each other in ways that they never would if I were there.

Maybe I’m spinning, maybe I’m in denial, but I’m going to go ahead and call this one perspective.

Now I’m going to say a prayer that they all survive.

Cruel Summer

I love these little handfuls

I know I’ve been sporadic at best in updating my blog this summer. Honestly, it’s been challenging enough just keeping up with my regular writing duties over at The Stir. Just talk to my editors … I feel like I’m always just a little behind schedule.

Sorry, ladies!

It’s fair to say that this summer has been a bit rough. Being home with the kids most of the time has taken its toll on my sanity. I told you I couldn’t hack it as a stay-at-home-mom. It’s nothing really in particular; just the day-to-day inconsistencies wrought from the lack of any real schedule. There were a few day camps, a couple work trips for me, and days here and there with the sitter, but for the most part, the kids and I were forced to cope with each other for the majority of the time.

I really hope it made all of us stronger, because it sure as heck almost killed us.

Let me remind you all that I friggin love my kids, and I’d walk across fire for them, or worse, stay home all summer with them. I kiss their booboos, love on them, comfort them, feed them, take them fun places and give them treats, and I discipline them when necessary. It is hard, and it is not my forte.

Everyone always says every kid is different, and before you have more than one, you kinda sorta know that’s true in the back of your mind, but there’s no way you can really fathom how incredibly different two people from the exact same gene pool can be.

The only thing my girls have in common is their blond hair, their daddy’s eyes, and their stubbornness. Which I’m pretty sure they also get from their father. Just saying.

When I was about eight months pregnant with Thing 1, I reached that weird state of pregnancy where my belly started to have angles, as baby’s rapidly growing knees and elbows practiced flexing. There was this one area under my ribs that she would stick her foot out, and you could see the bump on my belly. Since it was our first baby and we had invented pregnancy (because all first-time parents think this, of course), we’d watch the bump on my tummy as I pushed it in, then slowly it would go right back in the exact same spot.  Nothing would deter that girl from her way. “My foot goes here, thank you very much,” she told us in vitro.

Fast-forward a few years to about the same stage of my pregnancy with Thing 2. Oh hey! I remember that little foot! Let’s push it in and see what happens … oh that was interesting … there was no slow creep back out this time. Instead, it was a very sudden kick back out to a place near the original spot, but not quite. Thing 2 was saying, “My foot goes out, end of discussion, fine I will play by your rules, but you never said my foot couldn’t go there.”

My now fourth grader and pre-kindergartener have retained those same personalities to this day. Thing 1 is quietly stubborn – patient and relentless in pursuit of something she wants. Thing 2 has been nicknamed The Destroyer. Just because I never said you couldn’t jump off the barstools doesn’t mean that you should try it, sweetheart.

Between these two, the keeping up with my regular job, and other various matters I won’t bother to get into in order to protect the innocent, I’ve been spread a little thin.

But I’m pretty sure I’ve kept BevMo in business.

Cheers to the end of summer, and Happy School Year to moms everywhere.

The Grocery Store and Rock Star School

I went to the grocery store the other day with the kids, and because I’m me, I added a couple of bottles of wine to the cart. When we got to the checkout, Thing 1 asked if she could swipe my credit card for me.


“Why not?”

“Because it’s illegal.”


“Because California is crazy, and the store could get into trouble by selling wine to minors if you use my credit card, with me present, and my signature is on the receipt.”

The checker stared at me like I had three heads.

Then Thing 1 piped up, “I don’t care if California is crazy, I never ever want to leave. If you and Daddy want to move to Texas, then wait until I’m in college.”

“And just where do you want to go to college, Little Miss?” I asked her with a raised eyebrow at her teetering-on-insolent attitude.

She pondered it for a few seconds, and then thoughtfully replied, “I’m not sure … so long as I can learn to be a rock star.”

“You can start studying to be a rock star right now,” I replied, the mommy-wheels turning in my brain.


“Yup, as soon as we get home, you need to do your piano practice right away. All the best rock stars know how to play piano.”

“They do?”


“I can’t wait to get home and practice my piano!”

The clerk burst out laughing, winked at me, and said, “Kudos!”

Then we went home, I poured a glass of wine, and Thing 1 practiced her piano for the first time without complaining in months.

God bless Rock Star School.

Thing 1 Just Says No to Dog Meat

I was reading this article from Mark Steyn about the exploding attack tactics being used by the Obama campaign against Mitt Romney. They tried to say that women wouldn’t like Romney because his great-grandfather was a polygamist, but somehow overlooked the fact that Barak Obama’s father was a polygamist.

Side note: Why liberals are down with gay marriage but not polygamy confuses the heck out of me. Isn’t that discrimination? Shouldn’t consenting adults be allowed to marry whomever they want to?

Another hypocritical criticism of Romney came when the Obama people decided to cry foul over the fact that the Romney family apparently strapped their crated dog to the roof of the car for a road trip in 1983. Then the fabulous Jim Treacher blogged on the Daily Caller that Obama had, as a child, eaten dog meat.

Better the roof of the car, then the roof of the mouth, Jim astutely pointed out.

The “Obama eats dog” meme has exploded on the Internets, because, well, it’s just so gosh darn hilarious to make fun of it. Dog recipes, anyone? Hall & Oates lyrics changed from Maneater to Dogeater? Brilliant.

Some people (I’m look at you, Leif!) don’t think the thing is funny. There are so many other issues to talk about — this is just stupid. The above linked article from Steyn does a good job laying out exactly why we should be laughing about it: It contrasts the comic value of the situation with the ridiculous seriousness that those on the left take themselves. We laugh; they form a Dogs Against Romney PAC.

He writes:

The exploding cigars are revealing not merely of Democratic hypocrisy but of a key difference in worldview between liberals and conservatives. Jeremy Funk and Governor Schweitzer reflexively believe that their dog-eating polygamy-scion is different from the other guy’s dog-transporting polygamy-scion. This is nothing to do with young Barack being six or ten years old and meekly eating whatever was put in front of him. He was 34 years old when he wrote the passage quoted above and ten years older when he recorded the audio edition. And, as both versions make plain, he thinks it’s kinda cool, and he knows that to the average upscale white liberal it has the electric frisson of the exotic other.

Earlier in the article, Steyn had mentioned dog breeder Kate McMillan, who said the following of the criticism that you can’t blame a child for eating what’s put in front of him:

Try this experiment–sit a normal, American 6 year old down at a plate and tell him it’s dog meat. Watch what happens.

With that inspiration, I grabbed my iphone and recorded this video of my eight-year-old daughter:

After establishing the fact that the girl is a regular carnivore, I asked if she would eat dog meat. She shakes her head and I ask her why that is.

“Because I would think of eating Junie’s* friends … and plus it sounds gross.”

*Furbaby’s real name is June. I guess that cat is out of the bag.

Kids Need to Learn to Tie Their Shoes Before They Take On the World

I was clicking through links the other day at The Stir when a headline grabbed my attention: My Kid Has More Important Things to Do Than Learn to Tie His Shoes. The author makes the case excuse that it’s totally fine that her eight-year-old can’t tie his own shoes because, like, Velcro and lace locks.

That’s just about as nonsensical as saying kids don’t need to learn basic arithmetic anymore because everyone has a calculator in their cell phones, or that teaching penmanship is unnecessary because most documents, letters, and other forms of communication are typed these days.

There is an entire generation of children that are not being raised to be self-sufficient, independent individuals. The mom of the second grader that can’t tie his shoes says, “I’d rather lace him up with double knots myself then send him out to work on his skills at shortstop than sit on the sidelines trying to get him to perfect the perfect knot.”

Come on, people, you’ve got to walk before you can run. How does a kid with the dexterity necessary to play shortstop not know how to tie his own shoes? Of course he has the ability, but has never been encouraged to master a routine, boring task with efficiency and grace so that he can move onto bigger, better things. Tying shoes, making your bed, clearing your dinner plate … these are all mundane things that keeps the wheels of our lives turning.

No wonder we have the Occupy Wall Street children, who instead of hitting the books at the library, volunteering to help others, or apprenticing themselves to learn new skills, just whine and moan that life isn’t fair. Who said life was fair?

Parenting is hard. Teaching life skills to little ingrates wears on my patience. Yes, it is easier to tie my kids’ shoes for them, clean up after them, bathe them, or even do their homework for them than to tell them 18 million times to do it themselves. Yes, I inwardly cringe when the job isn’t done as well as I would’ve done it. That’s not the point. The point is to teach my children to be self-reliant, to help them understand the feeling of accomplishment over something so small as learning to tie their own shoes or floss their own teeth or put away their own toys.

It isn’t about shoe tying. It’s about teaching the values of discipline, practice, patience, overcoming frustration, determination, and eventually affirmation.

God has entrusted me with these little people to raise and send off into the world, and I want them to go into it and make it a more beautiful and wonderful place. And before they step out that door, they’re going to have to tie their own shoes.

Happy New Year, and Watch Out For DUI Checkpoints!

A couple of years ago, Leif went off to hang out with some guy friends to sit around a bon fire and smoke cigars, drink brandy, and talk about manly things like power tools and video games. My husband picked up a friend on the way, who happens to be married to one of my friends, so she and I had a marathon phone chat date once our respective kids were in bed or otherwise out of our hair.

Eventually, the boys texted to say they were on the way home, and my friend and I got off the phone. It took Leif way longer to get home than it should have. I was still trying to decide whether to be mad or worried at him taking so long, and mulling over that decision with (another) glass of wine when he finally walked in the door.

“What took you so long??”

“I got pulled over.”

Horrified, I gasped, “Did you get a DUI?”

“Yes, Honey. Then they let me get back in the car and drive home.”

Oh. Total blonde moment.

Anyway, we were headed home from wine tasting drinking with friends yesterday when traffic came to a standstill two blocks from our house. We had been driving for 45 minutes, I was not the least bit sober, and Thing 2 had been crying most of the way, because apparently that’s what she does now. Leif had had some wine earlier, but he was my designated driver, so he was careful to stay within his limits.

A block away from our house, the police had set up a sobriety checkpoint.

Since I’m me, I immediately notified Twitter of the atrocity, and then told Thing 1 to keep her lips absolutely zipped, and if she said one word out loud, I’d send her new bike back to the North Pole. I could just imagine, “But Daddy, you did drink wine!” and I had no desire to explain to Mr. Just-Doing-His-Unconstitutional-Job-Policeman that that had been hours ago.

She just nodded. Even Thing 2 stopped crying. It must have been a really good mom look.

We finally pulled up for our turn. Leif rolled his window down.

“Evenin’, Sir,” said the officer.

“Evenin’,” responded my sober husband. I kept my mouth shut, because if I opened it, I probably would’ve gone off on the fourth amendment and unreasonable searches and seizures.

“Have you been drinking tonight?”

Two heartbeats later, Leif answered, “Yes.”


The officer peered into my husband’s drained face, saw eyes glassy from listening to a three-year-old scream for 45 minutes straight, and I swear he was about to ask him to get out of the car and take a sobriety test, which of course he would’ve passed, but we all just really wanted to get home at that point.

I did the only thing I could do. I snorted. “I’d hardly call one glass of wine four hours ago drinking, Honey. Officer, if I were driving, you’d totally have to arrest me, but my husband is my designated driver tonight.”

The dude looked at me, and then suspiciously back to Leif. Thing 2, bless her heart, chose that minute to start screaming again. The officer looked in the back seat at the children, one of which had obviously been crying for some time, then back to us.

“Get your family home safely and have a good night.”

30 seconds later, we pulled in the driveway, threw the girls into bed, turned on How I Met Your Mother, and banished Leif’s sobriety with some more wine.

Bah humbug to illegal DUI checkpoints.