Life According to Bean

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A few weeks back, the Bean and I dropped Scorch off at his basketball practice then had an hour to kill before we had to go to our PTA meeting. My girl is hot chocolate obsessed, so we went to a local coffee shop to pass the time. We got our drinks and sat in the chairs outside the shop, inside the mall, to chat and enjoy our goodies.

During the 45 minutes we sat there, 5 people we knew came in and out, so we got to catch up with quite a few friends. To me, this is one of the greatest joys of small town living- you literally can’t go anywhere without knowing someone. While I wouldn’t consider myself a full-blown extrovert, when I’m out and about there is nothing I enjoy more than random meetings and quick chitchat. By the time we left, I was tickled at the chat the Bean and I had and all the friends we saw.

“When you get older, I hope you live in a place surrounded by friends and people you love. We are so lucky to know so many great people!”

“Mom, can I tell you something?” she asked. “I really don’t like people. I just want my good friends and family around me and that’s all- all that talking is exhausting.”

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~*~*~*~

Puberty is a big topic around my house. With a 10 year old boy and an 8 year old girl, both of which have friends in various stages of development, it’s hard to avoid. Scorch knows more than the Bean as he’s older, but she knows that she will one day get her period. What she didn’t know is why.

The kids didn’t have school on Monday, so they pulled out the Care and Keeping of You books I have (girls book / boys book). The Bean flipped to a page in the girls book that had a diagram of the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. So I explained what she was seeing – how once a girl hits puberty, once a month her ovaries will release an egg that will travel down one of her tubes and, if she isn’t going to have a baby, come out when her body menstruates.

Shortly there after, the Hubs came home. Without even saying hello, she runs to the top of the stairs and yells down to him: “Once a month, I’m going to lay an egg. Just call me a chicken!

Clearly, I’m killing it at this parenting game!

 

 

 

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Favorite Books of 2016

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My love of books is no joke. One of my greatest joys is finding a book so good that I’m willing to feed my kids cereal for dinner and let them watch TV while they eat so I can keep reading. The type of books that keep you up at night- the ones you can’t put down even when you know there will be hell to pay the next day.

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That love of reading, combined with my love of audio books, means I read a lot in 2016. According to Goodreads, I’ve read / listened to 169 books this past year. That’s awesome. Please note, I don’t read crazy hard books, I read for the sheer pleasure of it. My philosophy is that life is too short to read books you don’t fall into. One day when my life isn’t overflowing with kids, sports and work I’ll have the time to challenge myself. But for now? Now I just read for the fun of it.

And here are the books I loved the most this year:

  • Throne of Glass series, Books 4 and 5, by Sarah Maas: Sarah Maas has fast become my favorite YA fantasy author. I feel like attaching YA to the description discredits how very, very, VERY good these books are- I worry that people won’t take them seriously because they are YA. Don’t make that mistake; this series is simply outstanding. The first book is good, but each one takes it to the next level with the world building, the character growth and the plot. (Honorable mention: Sarah Maas’s Court of Thorn & Roses series. Again book 1 was very good. Book 2? AMAZING.)
  • Morning Star by Pierce Brown (last book in the Red Rising series). This was straight up sci-fi and it was spectacular. Each book in the series was good on its own, but together they added up to a well plotted, intense, totally enthralling series. Morning Star tied the series up perfectly.
  • Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt. Scorch’s orchestra instructor self-identifies as queer…a term I thought was passe and offensive, which clearly shows how much I had to learn. And that led me to this book and the fascinating, scary, intimate look at  what trailblazing for LGBTQ rights looks like when it’s your child you’re fighting for. This book combined a compelling family story with the history of transgender rights in America.
  • One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I wrote about this book back in August when the Hubs and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary and it’s stuck with me ever since. Emma fell in love with her husband, Jesse, when they were in high school and years later, they married and started building their dream life together. The dream shattered when Jesse disappeared in a plane crash. It took Emma years to piece her life together again, but she did it- and finally fell in love again. But on the eve of her second marriage, Jesse came home. Melodramatic? Yes. But also thought provoking, funny, sad and ultimately full of hope.
  • The Year of Yes by Shondra Rhimes. This book should be required listening for every working mom out there because in this book, Shondra learns how to unapologetically own her shit and it’s amazing. There is no balance – there is no magic formula for being a kick-ass mom and an amazing employee. There is just all of us doing the very best we can and giving a fat ton of credit to the people that help us along the way. Do yourself a favor- *listen* to this book, don’t read it. Trust me on this.
  • City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong. I love Armstrong’s Cainsville series- a little bit paranormal, a little bit detective story, a lot sexy- but I wasn’t sure how I’d like her mystery book. I shouldn’t have worried- this was a great book in the vein of Jeffrey Deavers. Very much looking forward to book 2.
  • Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman. I adored A Man Called Ove, but wasn’t a huge fan of My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry so I approached this book with some trepidation. Admittedly, it took me a while to sink into this book, but once I did, I loved it. Loving, sad, heartwarming and uplifting- the perfect book to curl up with for the weekend.
  • The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. A sweet story with a surprising bite about a young girl on the eve of being deported and the love she finds. I love stories where all the lines intersect and this was a perfect example of how we touch each others lives without even realizing it.
  • Dirt Roads and Diner Pies by Shonna Milliken Humphrey. Shonna is an old friend with a hell of a story to tell. As I wrote when I first read this, I hate books that show me real life monsters—give me a werewolf anytime. But sometimes the monsters ARE real and the horror they inflect ripples out and that cannot be ignored. Without a doubt, this was the most important book I read all year.

I also devoured a bunch of fantasy series (urban, mostly)- all of which were fantastic in their own right but may not appeal to everyone: The Others, Alpha and Omega, Mercy Thompson, Charley Davidson, October Daye, Kate Daniels, and Fever.

So, here’s to more books in 2017—I’m already 9 books in! What are you reading? Please, share your favorite—I’m always on the look out for something new!

 

 

Practically Perfect in Every Way

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A year ago at this time, we took the kids to see Peter Pan. It was the first professional play they had seen and it hit all the marks. It was mesmerizing and engaging, with sets that surpassed all expectations and acting that blew us all away! A few months later we took the kids to see the traveling broadway show of Annie annnnnndddd that didn’t wow my kids nearly as much which was a huge disappointment. I want my kids to love live theater. I want them to seek it out and make it a priority, so today we went back to the theater where we saw Peter Pan and saw Mary Poppins.

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I admit to knowing nothing about the play- I just knew we liked the movie very much so it was a no-brainer to get tickets. I did not know this was a full on musical (although, in hindsight, the tag line on the poster should have given that away), all sung in a British accent. About 5 minutes in, the Bean looks at me in disbelief- “Are they going to sing, everything?!”

Well, welcome to musical theater, my loves!

Thankfully the kids adjusted and very quickly got sucked into the show. Like Peter Pan, it helped that the story line was familiar, so the kiddos weren’t asking us what was going on every 2.3 minutes. This show was just as good at the one we saw last year and we all left completely in awe of the talent found around our community. And now, on to find our next show…

 

The Not-So-Picture Perfect Holidays

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Sometimes Christmas is picture perfect. From start to finish, the whole holiday and the time off around it is magical. The kids act and look like angels, the time with family is meaningful and special and everyone glows with happiness.

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Annnnddd sometimes your kid wakes up with the stomach bug on Christmas morning and is so pitiful she doesn’t even unwrap half her gifts. That’s just the way life goes, unfortunately.

The good news is some of our family still braved coming over for dinner yesterday, no one else in our immediate family got sick (sorry extended family, you got screwed) and all this time stuck at home has given me plenty of time to put things away. Now, I need my kid to get better, the rest of us to stay healthy and the rest of this week to go according to plan. #fingerscrossed

Wrapping Things Up (or not)

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So here we sit, on Christmas Eve, Eve, Eve, Eve (I think) and I’m surprisingly zen over the small number of presents that have actually been wrapped. Who ever said life slows down around the holidays lied, y’all. Not when your job needs to hit year end quotas and your kids play sports, and in orchestra and sing in concerts. And I’m not complaining because most of the things that make it super hard to find time to wrap are what makes our life full in some of the best ways. I am, however, wondering when my panic will set in. Check in in 24 hours.

The Hub’s solution to my lack of wrapping is to tell me to take everything to the mall and leave it at one of those places that wrap for charity. Honestly, I think that’s a great idea if I could get past my worry over mislabeled gifts or non-matching wrapping paper. I have a systems- half-assed and last minute as it is- and I shudder when I think of some one breaking it.

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My kids got their video from Santa last night, letting them know if they are on the naughty or nice list for the year. A few years back, the Bean was on the “Could Go Either Way” list, so these videos are met with equal part delight and terror. I don’t know how much longer they’ll love these videos, but for right now they are one of our favorite traditions. I never knew kids could literally vibrate with nerves and excitement until we started getting these.

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That damn wrapping fairy hasn’t showed yet, so it’s time to start binge watching something (suggestions?!) and wrapping. Say a prayer for me.

 

 

Oh, Christmas Tree

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Saturday was the day. We were going to get our tree, come hell or high water. I love Christmas Tree Day. While we don’t cut ours down (we know our limits), we go to a lovely tree lot, and carefully look around until we find the The One.  The One must be a concolor fir- not a very common type of tree- so it can be a pain, but it’s always worth it. We were going to get adorable selfies and a great tree and a great time will be had by all, damn it.

So, Saturday morning the kids and I set off to meet the Hubs at the tree lot. I had an inkling my plans for a perfect day were doomed when the Bean refused to wear her boots. When forced into doing so, she borrowed my phone while I was driving and texted the Hubs to come get her because she needed to be rescued from me. Nothing says family love like a stalemate over footwear and SOS text messages. When we got to the lot, the Bean refused to get out of the car because of said boots. Upon hearing that, Scorch then informed me that if she wasn’t getting out, he wasn’t getting out either- the adults could pick out the tree on their own.

Hell.No.

This is FAMILY FUN, DAMN IT and they would participate and like it even if it killed them! To prove that, I yelled/hissed at the Bean to get her shoes on and for both of them get out of the car before I counted to 10 or so help me God…

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The Hubs still wasn’t there yet, so when the children finally emerged from the car and started to run around like feral animals playing hide and seek between the trees, I found the man in charge and asked him to please point out all the concolor firs to me. And then….I saw it. All 9 feet of it in all its glory and I knew, I knew, it was our tree.  I mean, who cares that the diameter is so large that I couldn’t see around it and that it was 9 feet tall. We could work with that, right?

When the Hubs got there, he initially told me I was crazy but I knew his inner Clark Griswold was going to come out. I gave him a minute and sure enough, I saw him circle the tree a few times. I knew he was hooked. Only the Hubs asked the man in charge to take 1.5 feet off the base of the tree, so it wasn’t quite as majestic when we loaded it on the truck, but common sense does have to come into play at some point.

While the Hubs and the man in charge loaded the tree on the truck, I had the fun of running around yelling for my kids who didn’t want to get out of the car to stop hiding on me and to get back in the car. I’m pretty sure they would have paid us to take the tree had we let the kids run around much longer.

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Our tree goes in our living room. There are only so many ways to arrange our living room furniture, so for the past 14 years, our tree has stood in the same spot… it’s proper spot, right in front of our picture window. But that doesn’t mean the Hubs doesn’t have to spend a good hour trying all sorts of other configurations of our furniture before giving up and moving things to the same spot they go in every year. This year included the extra added bonus of muttering under his breath when he realized that our kids actually *gasp* stored things in the drawers of our coffee table. Doing so evidently made us into “pack rats”. Who knew?

But, the tree is up. It’s gorgeous. The kids are happy and we’re happy. Nothing about getting our tree or putting it up may be picture perfect- but neither are we.

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Thankfulness: This Crazy Life

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One of my favorite rituals is changing over our monthly white board calendar. I wipe last month’s craziness away, carefully pick the colored markers I want to use for the month’s name and days, the colors for each kid’s activities, the color we use for special events and I slowly fill it all in. I try to be neat and clean- I replace my markers often to keep the tips somewhat pointed.  But no matter what I do, it’s a batshit crazy mess when I’m done. And it only gets worse as the month goes on when all the dates that didn’t have anything on it get filled in with rescheduled practices, PTA meetings, sleepovers and birthdays.

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As I was thinking earlier today about all the things I was thankful for this month- all the things I hadn’t had the time to write about yet- I realized that THIS, this is what I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for that monthly calendar and all the batshit crazy things that fill it. The minutia of every day life in this family the Hubs and I created.

I’m thankful for the two healthy, happy, oh-so-active kids that keep us running to basketball, flag football, lacrosse and concerts. I’m thankful that I married a man who cares enough to be on the school board. I’m thankful for holiday parties at jobs that we both value and enjoy 90% of the time. I’m thankful for the family commitments near and far that keep us connected with those we love the most.

I’m thankful for this wickedly crazy awesome life- because it’s AMAZING.

 

Thankfulness: Snow Days

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When Scorch was a baby, I’d stare at him and wonder how in the world I’d ever love another child. I’d wonder why we’d want to try for another child when the one we had was so utterly perfect. When he was 18 months old, I was rolling around the idea of keeping him an only child semi-seriously in my brain. Then I started to notice my body do some odd things, so on a whim I bought a pregnancy test- never expecting it to be positive. I mean- it had taken us almost 3 years to have Scorch- what were the chances?

When that test came back positive, I remember the sheer panic I felt. What were we going to do? I hadn’t been taking my blood thinners, the secret ingredient needed for me to carry a healthy pregnancy to term! Was I going to love that child as much as I loved my son? I sat on the toilet and cried.

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Clearly the Bean joining our family was the missing the piece- the one that completed our family. I couldn’t even list all the reasons she’s amazing.

But the best part? It’s these two together:

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Especially on a snow day when we’re all stuck home together due to a travel ban.

 

Thankfulness: The Green Genie & Butt-hole

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We had the kid’s parent-teacher conferences today. I admit that I geek out over these. We’re super lucky that my kid’s teachers are always accessible but I love having a set time twice a year to sit down and talk about how my child is doing. I talk to the kids at length ahead of time to see if they have any thoughts or worries that I should discuss, we review their report cards, talk about what they like and don’t like about class so I go in prepared.

Scorch is one of the lucky ones- school, both academically and socially, comes easy for him. He pulls in stellar grades, gets along with everyone and is generally a delight (his teacher’s words, not mine- although I agree).  His conferences tend to be quick and easy.

It’s not secret here that the Bean tends to be the more spirited of my kids, so you never quite know what you’re walking into. Her report card was amazing and she’s loving 3rd grade, so I wasn’t expecting anything of note. The only question mark on her report card was her writing- her grades weren’t as high as I would have thought they would be. I mean- girlfriend can write.  For example, here’s a gem from a few week back:

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You have to hear her read it to get the full experience- but this makes me laugh each and every time I read it. She wrote Part 2 and it’s even more disturbing/funny/demented.

So, her writing grade didn’t make much sense to me until her teacher pulled out a recent in-class assignment. The class was asked to write about finding a genie in a bottle- what would the genie look like? What wishes would he grant? Would he be successful? Her story- word for word:

“I found a genie in a bottle. He was green. He let me wish to be rich. It worked.”

*snort*

Ah, the joys of raising/teaching a child who, when she’s game, is 100% committed, but when she’s not? Well, you get a green genie who makes you rich.