Broken Down Breakdown

One of the unforeseen side effects of being "rickety" after my accident is that it makes it a little hard to keep up with my two hurricane hellions.

OK, not exactly a shocker there.

But one of the lovely lasting impacts of that little escapade is that we have been a whole lot less active the last two weeks than we would be otherwise. John went back on the road this week, I can't drive with my pain killer/muscle relaxer cocktail and walking is still pretty painful, so our getting out options are fairly slim.

Which means the inmates are getting restless. And destructive. And button pushy.

For instance, there is a well known rule in this house that no matter how poorly secured the kiddie gate, Sterling is not allowed to go up the stairs alone. She knows it. I know it. Hell, even Bennett probably knows it.

Yesterday, she was jacking around with the kiddie gate and discovered that she could get it to swing open. She looked over at me, waggled her eyebrows, and put her foot on the first step.

I gave her the "eye", reminded her about time out, and asked her to shut the gate so Bennett couldn't climb the stairs.

She looked at me, and gave me that devilish smile, then walked away.

Patting myself on the back for my exemplary parenting skills, I went back to preparing lunch but I watched her out of the corner of my eye the whole time. This isn't my first time at the rodeo folks.

She appeared to be playing with Ben.

They were doing this odd little game where she would hold a toy out to him, then move a step back just as he would get to it. It wasn't until they got to the gate, she opened it, threw the toy up the steps, and said "Ben Ben, get toy" under her breath that I realized what the little turkey was up to. Naughty fetch, awesome.

Today she asked for milk, then proceeded to climb up behind me in my chair at the table. I thought she was giving me a hug as she wrapped her little arms around my back... up until she did her best human sprinkler impression and spewed milk into the back of my head.

It was dripping from my hair, down my back, and poured all over the seat I had been sitting in.

I looked at her with what I was certain was a menacing glare of fury. She looked at me, smiled angelically, and said in the sweetest voice ever "more milk pweeze, Momma".

Not a chance in hell.

And because I am moving a bit more slowly than usual, one of her favorite tricks right now is to grab something naughty and run away with it while giggling like a loon. Because "gimp keep-away" makes you popular with the people who control things like bed time and access to cookies.

Not exactly.

*as an aside, that last piece is an empty threat in a household where grandparents are more likely to hook a kid up with a cookie than mom ever was*

So yeah, no one is taking it easy on momma just because she isn't feeling so great. Not even a little bit. And because alcohol is off limits with the pain killers I am on, looks like I'm on my own...

The Real World... Hickman Style

Tonight is the last night before we move into our new house.

If you have been following my blog, you might already know that we move into our new house on the exact six-month anniversary of the day we moved in with my parents.

If you are new to my blog, lemme explain. We moved in originally expecting it to last a month or two, but our old house sold in 2 weeks and then it took us MUCH longer than we expected to find the right new house. Yep, 6 months.

It was a wait well worth it though, the new house is amazing.

And it will be wonderful to get back to all of the play dates and birthday parties and brunches with our friends that we have been missing out on.

But the impending change is definitely making all of us a little introspective.

The last 6 months have been interesting. It has challenged us, it has helped us grow and evolve our relationships, and it has given my kids a special opportunity to get to know their grandparents in a way that many kids don't ever get an opportunity to.

And oddly, we still all really like one another. I won't pretend it's been perfect, but we have done a good job of being honest and respectful of each other.

I think that when we move, it's going to be a big change for everyone.

I have been amazed at my parents' gracious willingness to let us invade their space. I cannot say that if given a similar opportunity, I would be as accommodating.

Living here has given me an opportunity to catch my breath again after Bennett's severe acid reflux, it enabled me to be close in my grandfather's final days, and it has given my kids some invaluable time with their grandparents.

I look back and it was actually an incredibly lucky stroke that landed us here.

We moved in at a time when I was so run down that I was hardly functioning, yet I didn't realize at the time how badly I needed the help. It gave me extra support when I needed it most. When John suddenly went to the ER and then had his gallbladder out, having my parents around enabled me to focus on him completely.

Although it will be wonderful to get our stuff out of storage and have our own space again, we will miss the crazy, hectic, wonderful times in Chesapeake City.

Seeing the waterways and horse farms around us as we run errands, sitting at the beach listening to the waves as we push the babies on the swings, and helping Pop pop with the doo doo every few days. Oh yeah, and the bottomless stash of donuts.

Yes, it's been a crazy 6 months but we have made a lot of wonderful memories and I know I am going to have some sad babies over the next few weeks :-)

I *Might* Be A Bad Influence

I have to admit, I am always a little nervous around other people's kids because I am not ways certain how to behave around them.

I mean, I don't know if you have noticed, but I'm not always exactly "well behaved". Refined? Yes. Socially appropriate? Eh.

Its kind of my charm. I look all buttoned up and well behaved, yet I am kind of famous for my incredibly funny (to me), naughty sense of humor. I always enjoy myself, and usually people around me seem to have fun as well.

But it means that I am not always as on guard as I probably should be.

Why else do you think my 2-year-old uses the phrase "Oh shit" with great aplomb, perfect elocution, and in the correct context?

Am I proud of it? No. Does it leave me wringing my hands and lamenting in despair? Not really. There are way worse things in the world. Like she could join Fred Phelps' church.

*As an aside, I have caught every family member except Bennett using that phrase this week, so I feel its important to note that I am not ENTIRELY to blame*

But back to my point. Yesterday I participated in a clean up day at my daughter's preschool. Or actually, J cleaned up. I'm on crutches, so I sat on a bench and wiped down lots of phallic shaped toys with a cloth. Dead serious.

I was joking with a group of friends about Bennett's parentage being dubious (because he has blonde hair and blue eyes, but both John and I are brunettes with brown eyes), and we all laughed hard, but as I looked out at the yard of wholesome people, it occurred to me that my sense of humor may be a bit more "sophisticated" than some of my compatriots might have appreciate at a preschool event.

They didn't hear the jokes, and I doubt that their kids would have even understood them anyway, but still...

Which made me uncomfortable. And self conscious. Because its one thing to be a bad influence to your own kids. Quite another to corrupt someone else's.

And I realized that I might well have become a bad influence...

Post Accident Pain In The Neck

So I'm officially a week out from being hit by a car, and I'm honestly surprised at how sore I still am.

I had expected to bounce back. There was no blood, I could walk afterwards, I was sore and pretty freaked out, but I thought in a few days I would be fine.

I was wrong.

It's crazy what being hit by a car does to your system. My knees ache. My hips and lower back throb. And I have these awful headaches that gnaw at my skull like little rodent teeth. That whiplash stuff is no joke!

Every time I move, my body creaks and pops like a bowl of Rice Crispies and it's jacking with my sleep.

Nifty, huh?

I recovered from 2 C-sections with nothing stronger than Tylenol and was up walking within hours of both. I had fully expected to take this in stride the same way.

I haven't.

I'm still hobbling around on crutches and looking forward to each dose of pain killer like crazy.

I definitely still feel lucky, it could have been much worse. There was no head injury and the driver didn't hit my kids, that is a pretty wonderful miracle in and of itself.

I am just ready to be back in the swing of things again. It sucks not being able to lift my kids and being stuck in one place. And I'm really ready to get rid of the headaches...

Luckily, I have some pretty cute company while I am recuperating :-)

The New Casa de Hickman!

Yeah, I know, I know. I'm sure it's tacky as hell to share photos of my new house.

But I have had enough requests for photos that if anyone judges me, screw em!

Because if you have read this, or this, or this, you know what a long, crazy trek this has been.

I looked at the first house in this long, crazy journey way back in early February, and went on a weekly shopping excursion almost every week for about 5 1/2 months. Do you have any idea what that kind of house shopping feels like???

Purgatory. Plain and simple. But like purgatory that you have to drive 4 hours round trip to get to. And although I love our agents and thoroughly enjoyed their company, by the end I was sick to death of looking at houses with them. Drinking with them? Sure! House shopping? Only of we drink first. Or during.

Which is why... drum roll... we are closed earlier today on a house!!!! We won't actually move in until mid September, but it's OFFICIAL official.

I will admit, buying and then not moving into a house feels a bit anticlimactic. It's like buying a car and then waiting a month to drive it off the lot.

In the meantime, I will just have to content myself with looking at the photos and rearranging

So without further ado, here are a few quick shots of the new Hickman abode!

Mom Nightmare

I had a mom nightmare last night. Woke up with my heart pounding and everything.

In my nightmare, I had taken Ben out to run errands... without a diaper bag! No diapers, no wipes, no bottles. Nothing.

To be fair, that WOULD be pretty scary, Ben is not one to tolerate hunger or discomfort of any kind.

Oh, and I wasn't wearing a bra. Not sure why that was important, but it definitely was.

Yep, this is what it has come to, guess it means I am officially ready to turn in my "cool" card.

Stop laughing, I'm sure I still had one...

Time Out Teammate

It kind of takes the sting out of Time Out when you have a little buddy to play with the entire time.

Due to somebody running interference for his sister when she is in the "Naughty Pen", Sterling's Time Out has come to mean Bennett spends time in his Jumperoo.

Because otherwise, homeboy hangs out and plays with her the entire time, no matter how many times we peel him off.

The awesome part is that Sterling has enough visits in Time Out to give us plenty of opportunities to perfect our method.

Good times :-)

I Love Marriage

I love my life. I really do, its vibrant and interesting and rich with purpose.

More importantly, I love my marriage. And I don't mean that in a sarcastic way at all. Today.

I mean I honestly love my marriage. I really am married to my best friend. Someone who gets my goofy jokes, loves to make me laugh, and with whom life is incredibly fun.

But I am also married to my hero. A man who works tirelessly to provide an incredible lifestyle for his family. And who protects us, from monsters big (like old ladies who can't seem to find the brake) and small (my *slight* aversion to placing take out orders over the phone). And who always does sweet, wonderful little things like filling my gas tank and taking the babies grocery shopping with him.

He pushes me to be a better person, he supports me in all kinds of crazy endeavors that I dream up, he joins me on wonderful adventures and proposes even more amazing ones himself.

He loves me for me, the real me, not some made up me that I constructed to be "normal". And cherishes me enough that I am not afraid to be the real me, no matter how nutty that may be.

He appreciates my smart assery and my need for independence, yet understands that sometimes I still need a strong shoulder to lean on.

He expands my horizons, builds my confidence and pushes my boundaries.

I have heard the saying that behind every great man is a great woman, but in our house, we take turns being the one to help push the other higher.

He taught me what it meant to love completely and honestly and without safely ropes or second thoughts.

And together we learned how to fight honestly and passionately, but with respect and a genuine desire to resolve the issue rather than to be right.

I love how he has a passion for learning, and loves to share what he has learned with me. He has evolved completely from the man I originally met and that makes life with him so incredibly interesting.

Plus, he looks damn fine in a pair of jeans. Or out of them.

So yes, I love my marriage. It's been a winding road but a wonderful one, and I have loved having him as my partner in this crazy, amazing, wonderful life of ours.

My Two Gorgeous Boys

Do You Smell?

I think it's important to stop and smell the roses.

No I mean it. REALLY stop and smell the roses. Or lilies. Or peonies. Or whatever flower is on hand at this moment. It doesn't matter what the flower is, or even that it's a flower. What matters is that you stop and take a few minutes each day, every day to appreciate the joy and beauty around you.

I had a freak accident yesterday, one that easily could have turned out way worse than it did.

On the way to the emergency room, I sat and thought about the "what if". What if that had been my last day? What if I hadn't come home from the accident? Would I have lived the kind of life I wanted to, would I have left behind a legacy that I would have been proud to leave?

Anyone who reads this blog regularly would probably agree, I have some crazy crap happen in my life. But part of that, a big part, is that I live life big. I took the training wheels off a long time ago, and I wring as much living out of my life as I can.

I have GREAT, crazy stories and a lot of that is because I take great, crazy risks.

I love hard and in turn, I am loved equally as intensely.

I tell people what I honestly think and feel, and I value it when they also take a genuine approach with me.

My kids are brilliant, fascinating little monsters and I love fostering their passion and excitement for life.

And I love my life. Every crazy, hectic, mayhem moment.

So ask yourself, are you living your ideal life? And if not, why? Take the training wheels off. You may bang your knees a few times (OK, probably a lot), but I promise that if you stick with it, you will learn to fly.

Because you won't ever get this moment back, but you can make sure it is so memorable that you never forget it.

Love life, enjoy the adventure, and stop to smell a rose or two on the way ;-)

Hit By A Car... And Incredibly Lucky

I got hit by a car today.

And I don't mean that figuratively, like "man, I'm so tired, I feel like I've been run over by a car". Although that's true. But I mean that as in "some some old lady in a white Buick backed into me as I was walking at a street festival".

Dead serious.

Homegirl was cruising backwards down the street in a reverse version of Marty McFly's launch in Back To The Future, and hit me straight on going about 15-20 mph.

Luckily, I was standing between the car and Bennett's stroller so I took the brunt of the hit, Ben just got the aftershock when I fell onto the stroller. But it scared him pretty good.

When she didn't stop, John was able to run around and beat on her window to get her to hit the brake.

The lady stopped briefly, then took off.

Someone called 911 and I sat there mortified as 3 ambulances, 2 fire tricks and 2 cop cars came racing to my rescue with the sirens blaring. This drew even more attention to the huge crowd gathered. All that was missing was a helicopter and a bear in a tutu on a bicycle, but I'm pretty sure they were on the way.

Which made me feel like an idiot.

I have a decent bruise on my calf, my right leg feels like someone worked it over with a baseball bat, and evidently I have a lot of soft tissue damage (whatever that means) so I am on crutches for a few weeks.

Overall, I feel incredibly lucky. My friend M pointed out that getting hit in the first place is about the opposite of luck, but I stand by my "lucky" prognosis.

I was the one that got hit, not Bennett or Sterling. It was a hit that hurt me, but could have been much worse for one of them. John was there to make her stop, things could have gotten much worse if she had kept coming. And there were tons of witnesses and helpers, one incredible man even chased after the car, wrote down the tag info, then made the lady turn around and come back.

I count those all as lucky strokes. I am a little beat up, but it could have been much, much worse.

And I ended up getting a few hours to kick back and relax at the ER. For anyone with a couple of small children, you know what it's like to have a break of any kind.

Even if it is at the ER...

Monkey See... Monkey Annoy

It's kind of funny how quickly younger siblings start to mimic their older siblings... and become annoying as hell.

Right now, Bennett follows Sterling around everywhere she goes, and tries to do everything she does.

His blind adoration is super cute to watch... and if her shrill shrieks of "No Ben Ben" are any indication, super annoying to be the recipient of.

Every object she climbs, he stands below her and repeatedly lifts his chubby little legs, screaming in frustration as he tries to follow her.

Every toy she plays with he instantly has his chubby little hands in the middle of, trying to play with her.

Anything she is doing instantly becomes the most amazing thing ever, and he fixates on it with single-minded determination.

He follows her around grinning in dazed, gummy adoration. And she disdainfully ignores him up until he becomes annoying enough that she cannot possibly ignore him any longer.

I feel bad for both of them. For him to be the giver of such intense, pure, completely unrequited adoration. And for her because she is the recipient of such completely unwanted, determinedly unwavering attention.

I especially love it when, unprompted, she shares whatever it is that she was playing with. Sometimes she is incredibly kind, and sometimes she is completely indignant with her screams of "NO Ben Ben, that's moine".

It will be interesting to see how these two work things out. Can't decide which one to put my money on yet...

Helping Sterling On A Toy
Taking Notes on The Correct Way To Climb A Treadmill

DooDoo Duty

In our house, we believe on chores.

At 2, Sterling is responsible for picking her toys up each night and not throwing things. She spends a fair amount of time in the Naughty Pen for #2, which is a chore for both of us.

Bennett's primary chore is eating. And being cute. I am waiting until he is a little better at walking, and then I am going to teach him to push the lawn mower and rent him out to the neighbors. Joking! Kinda.

Anyway, Pop Pop's least favorite weekly chore is cleaning the "Doggie Doo Doo" out of the backyard. Oddly? This happens to be one of Sterling's favorite chores of all.

Any time he says "Hey Sterling, want to help me with the Doo Doo?" she jumps up and down clapping her hands yelling "YAY, Doo Doo".

Yep, we are that family.

While he walks around with his shovel, looking like he is working on the worst easter egg hunt of all time, she follows behind him with her miniature rake and yells "Doo Doo" at the top of her lungs. It is both gross and adorable at the same time. And it's one of her absolute favorite ways to spend a morning.

Proud momma right here :-)

After a tough day in the Doo Doo trenches, Sterling relaxes with a quick dip.

Mental Health Monday

I used to be cool. Wait, why are you laughing? I did!

OK, OK, maybe it was just that I used to be cooler than I am now. Whatever.

Regardless, I used to know how to do a mental health day right.

Back in the day, a mental health day included some combination of having my nails done, getting a facial, having a massage, getting drinks with friends, and having lunch out.

Now though? Now a mental health day includes sleeping. That's about it. Oh and vacuuming the floor. And a shower.

The crazy part? I enjoy a mental health day now way more than I ever used to. Which probably gives some insight into my current state of mental health.

Or more accurately, my need of a vacation.

The thing about parenting that everyone tells you about but that is impossible to wrap your head around until you are in the trenches? Parenting is the job with no breaks, ever.

Whereas with a job outside of the home, although you may work crazy long hours, there's always that time when you shut down your computer, leave your office and go home. You may be going home to a whole different kind of chaos, but it IS different.

As a stay at home parent, you spend all day with these little people who tweak your nerves with the skill of a championship banjo player, and then you spend all night with them. 24 x 7.

There are no bitching sessions around the coffee machine, no making thousands of copies of personal documents to "stick it to the man", and no long hours of Internet surfing to escape the tedium.

There are THOUSANDS of diapers, hours of tantrums, and a Masters Degree that goes completely unused. Completely.

For some odd reason, I find parenting WAY more exhausting than I ever found working. And I was your classic corporate overachiever who spent crazy hours at the office.

I'm not saying I don't love my kids like crazy, they are the lights of my life, manic little mayhem makers that they are.

What I am saying is that distance makes the heart grow fonder and I love every second of "fondness development" I get.

Because as much as I love them, I am pretty certain they are colluding to drive me completely insane, and the photographic evidence below shows a meeting of the minds...

Dirty Little Monster

I have seen dogs eat dirt, elephants eat dirt, and I know earthworms kind of eat dirt. But until today, I've never actually seen a kid eat dirt.

Perhaps, my views are a bit skewed from raising Sterling, who doesn't eat much of anything.

Except for donuts.

Most days, I'm not certain she isn't a fruit fly.We will go whole days where the only thing I can remember Sterling actually eating is several cups of milk. And I'm not the only one, a common discussion in this house is "has she eaten anything besides milk today"?

Unusually the consensus runs something like this: two animal crackers, a bite of applesauce, a nibble of a cheese nip and a Cheerio. And lots of milk.

I don't know why it would surprise me that Bennett would eat dirt, the boy eats pretty much anything else that isn't tied down, and I catch him from time to time giving my parents' Pugs the "hungry eyes", but I never would have guessed that dirt would be an option on his menu of choice.

I would be wrong.

While I was busy vacuuming the floor, somebody else was busy shoving fistfuls of yummy, luscious soil into his gaping little maw. And looking pretty cute doing it.

And it was clear that he knew he was being naughty because when I asked "what are you doing???", he jumped about a mile, then gave me one of his characteristic gummy smiles, and a huge, deep belly laugh rolled out of that filthy little mouth. Not even a little bit contrite.

Yep, it's a two bath kind of day...

Where I Am Coming From

Know what you are looking at right there? It's kind of cool.

It's a log from the house I was born in.

See, I have a bit of an interesting birth story.

I was born in a pre-civil war era log cabin, down a long dirt road on the Mississippi/Alabama border. In fact, the house was so much on the border, that when I applied for a passport to go on my honeymoon, it took us over a year to prove that I was a US citizen.

My parents were young and and enthusiastic and idealistic. And dumb. A pair of crazy hippies whose sole contingency plan was an old, unreliable truck with a hole in one tire that my father periodically ran out to pump up with a bicycle hand pump. Just in case.

The entire idea of which scares the ever loving crap out of me, especially considering that I had an emergency C-section with Sterling and she was in cardiac stress by the time they operated.

But that's part of what makes the story so much fun. The fact that they threw caution to the wind and decided to do things their way. It was a time when no one had alternative births, no one breast fed, and yet they had the independent spirit to do something completely different.

So when I look at this log, it isn't just a big block of old wood to me.

It was there the moment I came into the world, it's steeped in hundreds of years of love and sweat and tears and is a part of my story.

It is reminder of where I came from, but it's also a touchstone to ground me in my leaps into the future.

It is both a physical reminder to be grateful for my family tree, but also an emotional one.

My father was the doctor, my mom was the nurse. My amazing great-grandmother, Sterling Rose's namesake, came out to that house to see me. My recently departed grandfather cut this log from wreckage when the house burned down, then brought it north. And my wonderful stepdad scoured my grandfather's belongings today to reunite it with me.

It is soft, almost velvety to the touch, tempered by decades of storms and sun and life. It still bears a hint of its original pine tang, and a ghost of smoke and creosote from the fire. It's silvered skin bears the marks the settler's axe made when he chose and shaped this log for his home, and the newer marks from where my grandfather cut it loose from the wreckage.

It is a log. It is my birthplace. It is a part of me. This is where I came from. And I am so incredibly grateful to have it back with me.


Sometimes, Sterling is so incredibly cute that it makes my tummy fuzzy. But that's usually on the days that she hasn't ground me down into a sad, exhausted little nub. The quality of this video is crap, I apologize for that ahead of time.

But this is too freakin' cute not to share. Like "I have had a shitty day and I need a bottle of Boones Farm and a bucket of fried chicken stat, but wait, let me watch this video first, holy hell, bad day fixed" kind of cute.

And watching this is WAY less fattening than eating a bucket of fried chicken by yourself, so I am doing you a favor. I promise.

*caveat* As her mom, I know that perhaps my opinions are a bit skewed. But it's still pretty damn cute. If you can watch this the whole way through and not smile, I commend you on your heart of stone.

Working Towards A Walk On The Wild(er) Side

We have a new entry for the "Caraline may never be sober again" category.

See, Sterling was an early walker. She took her first step at 9 months. It took her another 3 months to decide she liked it more than crawling, but once she did, she went straight from crawling to running as her favorite mode of transportation.

But I had seriously hoped Bennett would be my slow to develop child. Because I seriously don't have the bandwidth for him to be anything else.

And because that's how things work, right???

Your first kid is a hellion, so the universe naturally balances itself out by giving you a second child that is sweet and mellow?

Well, somewhere out there my doppelgänger is strolling around with two perfectly mellow, wonderfully well behaved, complacent kids and I got BOTH of the high energy, ornery ones. And the bitch showers regularly. And always has her hair and makeup done. And travels to exotic places with her two mellow kids. And can string two coherent sentences together in a conversation.

Wait, what?

Sorry about that, I got off track there.

Anyway, at 8 months, Bennett is already adamantly pulling himself up on anything he can find.

And yesterday (after the hell trip to the Library, I might add), Ben Ben totally shocked the crap out of both of us when he planted his little hands against the ground, straightened his little froggy legs, and went into a straight up quadruped position.

Ben is the personification of that old adage "where there is a will, there is a way". Sterling may have more naughty (although only time will truly test that theory out), but Bennett has more focused determination.

And right now, that determination appears to be targeted like a laser on learning to walk, because he is progressing through this process way faster than I am ready for him to.


Anyone know a boxed wine distributor that could hook me up with a discount? Anyone?

Horsie of Horror

Want to know why this creeptastic plastic horse is smiling?

If the red eye is any indicator (and I would argue that it is), this horse is smiling because it's coming to eat you soul.

Just kidding! It already ate 3 souls this morning, so it isn't hungry right now. But you might want to watch your back later.

Wonder why my kid was so enamored with it at the library...

Library Lunacy

We usually are SUPER active, getting out and about almost every day for activities. But I have definitely been slacking the last few months. So this morning, I had the bright idea to take the kids to the library. A little time out and about with other kids, books and toys, sounded like a solid idea.

I should have known better when I pulled into the parking lot and a shrill little voice piped up from the back seat "Oh Craaaaap!" That was my cue, and I totally missed it.

Rookie mistake, won't happen again.

I have mentioned before that Sterling is absolutely HILARIOUS... unless you are the one responsible for her. And then she is hell, pure and simple. This was no exception.

There is nothing worse than looking out at a room buzzing with active, busy little bodies, and realizing that the one pitching the tantrum (or throwing the puzzle, or climbing to the top of the library shelves, or running screaming through the stacks) is yours.

The librarian that was laughing indulgently at Sterling's antics like Glenda the Good Witch at the beginning of the visit? That bitch looked frazzled by the end.

At least I wasn't the only one.

And the panicked expression on her face after I innocently asked what their policy was on children who were left at the premises? A thing of beauty, plain and simple. 

Sterling may have single handedly undone a whole host of previously unchallenged library rules, such as the one allowing a lovely bench in front of the fish tank to let little guys get a better view... or to use said bench as a launch pad to climb on top of the aquarium and drop farm animals in. Purely as an example. Purely.

Or the one that allows kids free access to the book shelves.

The second time I had to help one of the poor librarians pick up a shelf of books because someone ran by and swept them off with her arm pretty much did that one in. The fifth time? I wouldn't be shocked if there is a poster somewhere with our faces and a giant red X somewhere.

Or the rule that left tables in front of the library windows.

Come on now, who DIDN'T know that those made the perfect step up to the windows themselves, where you could work your mojo and practice dance moves for an entire appreciative audience.

Because the other kids and parents were exactly that. A highly appreciative audience. Lots of laughter and clapping.

The whole experience kind of reminded me of that scene from the movie The Bad News Bears (the original one) where a little kid is running around the field, a group of adults is trying to catch him, and the kid is totally kicking their butts and making them look like idiots.

Only I'm sure I looked cooler than the adults in that movie. Definitely.

I think today, it's going to take something stronger than wine...

End Note: In all this, I was not standing back, throwing my hands in the air like a heroine in a telenovela. I was going back and forth between protecting Bennett from getting trampled by the older kids, and peeling Sterling from her perch on top of the library shelves. Thus, no photos of the mayhem today.

Sitting quietly and reading were about the
only things that DIDN'T happen at the library today...

A Little Morning Wuv

Somebody pulled himself up to stand at the sofa this morning... and commenced to bugging his sister who was getting her morning dose of "wuv".

It was super cute, and gave me a pretty good glimpse into what our future looks like when Sterling yelled "No Ben Ben, that's MY wuv"!

Shock Therapy Or Parenting Win?

Think a shock collar is a bad parenting decision?

I ask because a friend wants to know. Totally. Sorta.

See, I have this toddler, who is a holy hellion. And we've lived with grandparents for the last four months while we sold our house and shopped for new one, so she has become a holy spoiled rotten hellion.

Over a year ago, she went through a biting/kicking/hitting/throwing things/tantrum phase. We worked through it, found acceptable alternatives, and she found other outlets for her naughty urges.

So imagine my joy when the biting/kicking/hitting/throwing things/tantrum phase reared it's ugly head again this week.

And the awesome part? Poor Bennett has become the target of quite a few of her chucked items. Poor kid, he just sits there and looks at her with gummy, doe eyed adoration as she chucks whatever is handy at him whenever she feels pissy.

I have tried time out. She absolutely loves it. We spend the entire time with her laughing hysterically while she climbs up from her "naughty seat", and I repeatedly put her back.

I have worked hard on my stern, "mad mommy" face. Until I had kids, that face was pretty effective. It got me far in the business world. Now however... it elicits her naughty dimple grin while she waggles her eyebrows at me.

I have tried patiently explaining why her behavior was unacceptable and giving her alternative outlets for her naughtiness. She laughed, then hit me.

I even *might* have tried the highly controversial spanking after she chucked a book at Bennett's head at point blank range. I gave her what I thought was an attention getting pop. She laughed. And completely tested my self control.

So I am at a loss at this point.

I'm pretty certain that grandparents die a little every time a grandchild cries. It has definitely been a topic of discussion. A screaming toddler certainly isn't my favorite thing either, even if I'm the only one in the house that believes that.

But a few tears ARE a necessary evil in the name of parenting and enforcing the rules of acceptable behavior.

So one of my friends suggested a "play yard" for time outs. Essentially, it's a glorified child cage, but I am getting desperate so I thought "eh, it's worth a try".

Want to know how that one turned out? She LOVES it. Her first time out, she sang and danced in her new fort. As soon as I let her out, she threw a series of massive tantrums to get back in.

That picture below? It was one of said tantrums. She had just finished a go in the "naughty pen" and wanted back in. Seriously. So far, none of the five runs has registered as punishment.

Doesn't quite sound like "winning" at parenting, does it?

In fact, there was so very little winning going on that Sterling repeatedly put her doll in the naughty seat this afternoon. When I asked her why, her response spoke volumes, "it's FUN!"

Yep. Evidently spending time in time out is so awesome that she didn't want her doll to miss out.

So thus the hypothetical shock collar question. Because that's about the only thing I haven't tried...

The Secret of Success

According to Malcolm Gladwell, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill.

And Ghandi said: Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

What do these two things have in common?

Lemme explain.

See, I was watching an interview the other day with a well-known sports figure. He was sharing all of the hurdles he had overcome in achieving his amazing success.

I sat back and as I thought over his story, I realized how common it is for incredibly successful people in every field to have come from incredibly rough beginnings and face insurmountable challenges on the way to their success.

In fact, our nation is built upon the backs of people who had every reason in the world to quit, but didn't.

The truth is, success often comes long after everyone else around you would have given up.

I have a long history of reaching success after being told I wouldn't. In first grade, my class was working on rope climbing. I've never had crap for upper body strength, but I refused to quit even after I was given permission to.

And I climbed that damn rope. My gym teacher pulled me aside afterwards and said "what I like about you Caraline is that you have persistence". At the time, I had no idea what persistence meant. I went home and looked it up, and it meant something totally different from what I had expected based on the reverence in his voice. I was kind of disappointed, I didn't see how being hard headed was a compliment.

But over the years, I have been grateful for that blind persistence. Once I set my mind to a goal, I am pretty much incapable of turning away from it.

And I can tell you, the moment before you break through to success is often the darkest. It is that bleak moment where everyone is doubting you, and you are doubting yourself, where it feels futile to continue on and you just want to quit, you really really do.

But something deep inside you is too stupid to quit and so you keep on putting one foot in front of the other even though it feels like a total waste of effort. That, THAT is the moment right before you break through and everything falls perfectly into place.

So the key to success, as Gladwell and Ghandi show, is to have the unwavering focus on your goal and have the persistence to keep moving forward toward that goal, no matter how unlikely it may seem.

Success comes not to the most talented, but to the most persistent, the most hardheaded, the most dedicated one in the group.

Might as well be you.

Can't A Girl Get A Break?

So Bennett learning to crawl has added a new level of complexity to my world.


Because I had been thinking that my world could use a little extra complexity in it.

For those who don't have kids, let me explain.

Crawling elevates the game considerably. There is a certain luxury to putting a baby somewhere... and having them stay there. It enables you to do frivolous things, like go to the bathroom.

They may scream bloody murder the while time you are gone, but you know where they are. And this is a beautiful thing.

Once a kid becomes mobile, you suddenly realize how poorly baby proofed your world is, and how many different ways a baby can die.

It also means that nothing is safe any longer.

The transition from crawling to walking is another big one because it opens up a whole new vista of mayhem options.

Sterling was an early walker, but it took her a long time to decide she was interested in doing more than a step or two. She was a stellar crawler, and adamantly stuck with what she was good at.

She climbed well before she walked much, but once she walked, life got crazy.

I had kind of banked on Bennett being equally as complacent to stick with crawling, primarily because I needed him to be.

But if today has been any indicator, I am screwed.

Show of hands, anyone surprised by this?

This first shot? It was taken this morning. Bennett turned 8 months a couple of days ago. It's a little early for him to be practicing pulling himself up on stuff, but who am I to judge?

The second shot? It was taken a few hours later. Evidently we are ready to give climbing a try.

In theory, this is an evolution that should have taken several weeks. Not several hours.