Sunday, June 17, 2012

Why I heart Lauren Rae Jones so much

One of my favorite things about visiting Nashville is the hope of getting to spend some time with Lauren, a sweet girl who married one of Clint's friends.  I didn't know her in college, but, oh, how I wish I had.  Her style is fantastic and so are her paintings.  And I'm an even bigger fan of her photography . . .

I cry every time I look at these because she has captured the personality of my children oh so perfectly.  Swooooooon.

This is my personal fave.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, Lauren. :)  You are too precious.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Why in the world have I not been updating my blog?

Ugh, once again life has gotten in the way of my blogging about, well, my life.

So, so many wonderful things have taken place since my last post about my absolutely perfect marriage to the most perfect man in the world (have you vomited yet?) that you can read here.  And I have absolutely no idea where to begin . . .

The weather has finally gotten warmer in Chicago, and so we spend at least half the day playing in the dirt at one of the amazing parks near our home.  And the rest of the time we're playing in the dirt at another park.  I've become more adventurous and have actually started using public transportation, which is SO MUCH FUN.  I'm officially a CTA nerd now, and it feels super cool to know how to get a double stroller on a bus or a train.  Go me!!!!

Hotel Darby has already opened its doors with my in-laws visiting a couple of weekends ago and a sweet friend this past weekend.  I loooooove having guests and cooking and going fun places and dancing on elevated surfaces.  Wait, what did I just say?  Don't worry -- I didn't take my in-laws to that place . . . although I think my mother-in-law may have enjoyed that (we'll go next time, Shirley).  Anywho, a lovely summer has begun, and I am in heaven.

I have so, so much to rave about and complain about and inform my readers about, but for today I want to write about what is on my mind.  

Or rather who is on my mind.  Here she is.  My tough, little independent sassy girl, Mimi.

She is my first child and my guinea pig with this whole parenting thing.  My goal as a parent is to give her all the guidance and tools to allow her to become loving, kind, selfless, hard-working, and just plain awesome.  And guess what.  Achieving this goal ain't easy, but every day I'm trying.

Our latest struggle has been learning how to deal with conflict -- AKA the mean kids.  This has been a learning experience for both of us, and it all came to a head yesterday at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

This zoo is our happy place.  We take the train or bus to make it more of an adventure, I pack a picnic lunch, and I allow Mimi to decide what we will see.  And then both kids pass out in the stroller on the way home, and I get to have a few quiet moments.  Oh, and the zoo is free, so I get the Frugal Mom Award in the end.

Yesterday we ran into one of Mimi's sweet friends from preschool during Mr. Singer's performance in the zoo barnyard, and they both decided to play in the big red barn.  As the other mom and I were getting our strollers situated, the girls jumped in the big tractor tires that are filled with fake dirt and giggled like crazy.  Within maybe 4 seconds, I heard a grandmother yelling, "No!  YOU need to apologize!!!"  I turned to see what all the drama was about, and I saw her finger pointing right in little Mimi's face.  Both Mimi and her friend looked confused as she turned her fuzzy, blonde head to me, turned the corners of her mouth down as far as they could go, and ran to me crying.  As soon as I could pull her off my leg, I held her and knew something was very wrong.  My tough girl doesn't cry unless she is extremely hurt, so I asked what happened.

She told me, "Mommy, the little boy threw dirt, and I said, 'no, thank you.'  He wouldn't say he was sorry, and then, and then she yelled at me!"  She could barely get these last words out before digging her wet face into my knees again.

I pulled her away and because I still had no idea whose fault all of this was asked if she was also throwing dirt, and she said she was.  I asked if she liked having dirt thrown on her, and her response was, "Yes."  Okay, I guess I needed to take a different route.  I then asked if she wanted dirt in her eyes, and she decided that wouldn't be a good thing.  I asked if she would think about this and then consider apologizing to the little boy because maybe it got in his eyes (I'm trying really hard to not force her to apologize but rather decide to do it on her own.).  She nodded and slowly walked his way with her knees shaking.

When Mimi got near him, she stopped and turned to look at me with a "do I really have to?" look.  Right at that moment the grandmother got in her face again while yelling, "You need to apologize to him RIGHT NOW!!"

Oh, holy shit.  No she didn't just yell at my baby.

I had a split second to decide how I was going to handle this crazy grandmother.  Lots of other parents and children were watching.  Mimi's friend who she adores and her mother were watching.  Most importantly, Mimi was watching.

I decided to handle Mimi first, so I went to her and asked if she had apologized.  She told me that she had and that she was so very sorry.  Before I could finish, Crazy was bent over in my face asking if this was my daughter.

getoutofmyfacebeforeicutyou, grrrrrr.  Deep breath.  My child is watching.

"Yes, this is my daughter," I said with a smile.

"Can you believe she had the NERVE to tell my grandson to apologize?!!"  Crazy said.

whaaaaa????? Deep breath.  Stop looking for sharp objects.  Mimi is watching.

"I'm not exactly sure what happened.  Mimi just told me she apologized for throwing dirt.  Maybe she asked him to apologize because she thought he was also throwing dirt like everyone else . . . "

"OH NO, no, he wasn't throwing dirt!"  she spit out while profusely shaking her head from side to side, "YOUR DAUGHTER was the one throwing it."

"Okay,"  I said.  deepbreath, deapbreath, deaapbreath.  "Did she hurt him?  She did apologize, right?  She told me she apologized."

Then Crazy nodded her head confirming Mimi had apologized, and turned to some other random mom who seemed unusually interested in the nonsense, "Can you believe she had the nerve to tell my grandson to apologize, too?  Oh, THE NERVE!"

At this I had to giggle.  I realized the crazy granny didn't give a shiz about Mimi getting dirt on her grandson.  She was completely offended that a three-year-old had placed some blame on her precious little guy.  Oh, honey, welcome to the real life drama of the playground.  Mimi Darby isn't going to be the first cute girl to hurt that boy's feelings.

With a smile on my face at the realization that there weren't razor blades in the dirt and no one was actually hurt, I said to the grandmother, "I talked with my daughter, she understood what she did wrong, and she apologized.  She's three years old."

Crazy kept looking to the other parents for validation of her fury, shaking her head, and repeating, "oh, the nerve."  So once again I calmly said, "She apologized.  She's three years old."

I wanted to hit her.  I wanted to tell her to shut the hell up and chill out.  They're kids.  They play in dirt.  They throw dirt.  I encourage my child to have fun and get dirty, but I am also trying to teach her that she only needs to do this to herself -- not everyone else likes this.  She's slowly learning, and we'll continue working on it.  But holy crap.  It was just dirt.  And it wasn't even real dirt.

The grandmother finally picked up her confused grandson and left the barn.  After the other mom and I had moved to another area, I realized my stomach had turned to Jell-o as self-doubt had set in.  I quickly asked the mom, "Did that just happen?  Did you see what Mimi did?  Did I handle it okay?  What would you have done?  Please don't think I'm a terrible parent!  I know Mimi is wild, but did she intentionally hurt the little boy?  I don't even yell at her like that!"  I was nervous about how the mom would respond because I didn't know her well, but our daughters are crazy about each other.

She told me that I stayed calm, I explained to Mimi what she did wrong, and I asked Mimi to apologize.  She never saw Mimi do anything more than just throw some of that fake dirt into the air, and the grandmother completely overreacted.  Mimi learned that if she throws dirt then she might get yelled at by a deranged grandmother . . . and the little boy learned that if a girl hurts his feelings then his grandmother will make her cry and attempt to embarrass her mother.  Then she added, "And the little boy needs to grow a pair."

Geez, I guess we all have different goals for our children.  I don't want Mimi to be a jerk, but I know that sometimes she will be and will have to suffer the consequences.  It's hard for me to watch, but I can't always step in and save her.  Good for Granny for trying to end all injustices among the toddlers in the zoo barn, but what did she achieve in the end?  And I think she was standing around waiting to get a big apology from me and see me punish Mimi, but I don't think so.  This momma has even more pride than she does, and I will NEVER apologize when I feel forced.  Normally, I do apologize to the other parent for not stepping in quickly enough to stop a problem and will put Mimi in a time-out, but not today, Miss Crazy Granny.  I wasn't the one to throw dirt at her grandson . . . but maybe I should have thrown it at her . . .

So this is one of the dramas of being a mom -- dealing with people being mean to our children.  If you want to see a girl's fangs come out, just hurt her child.  And we should stand up for injustice -- especially if someone could get seriously hurt, but in many cases I'm trying to give Mimi a little freedom to figure all of this out on her own.  It started with some mean, older girls at the playground last fall who were pushing little ones out of their way, not letting them on the swings, and pushing them down the slides.  I bit my tongue and observed before acting.  I saw their nannies chatting in the corner and the girls running the show.  They were calling Mimi a baby and telling her she couldn't play with them, but she didn't even notice because she thought she was having so much fun chasing after these wild girls.  When I had all I could stand, I told the girls that they were being very ugly and someone was going to get hurt.  I put Mimi in the stroller and we headed home so I could explain to her why she shouldn't play with those girls.  She was so mad at me for making her leave, and I was completely fuming over these little brats.

The next day a few of the girls were at the same park again, but they were completely different.  Without all their friends, they were very calm and sweet with the little ones.  I had to take a chill pill and realize this -- they were only children.  They didn't realize how they could hurt my daughter's feelings.  They didn't realize why the other moms were so mad at them and taking their children home.  But they will learn when no one wants to play with them.  They will learn by seeing good examples from adults.  Yikes.  That means I have to be nice to them.

Over the past month we've had several run-ins with the big, mean boys at several parks, and of course I always know that Mimi will be drawn to them (you better believe I see junior high flashing before my eyes).  She jumps in the middle of their game, they call her a baby, and then one of them pushes her or tells her to leave.  The first time this happened she cried and ran to me.  I told her that I am not their mom and cannot tell them how to act, so she has to make a decision -- play with the mean kids and get hurt, or play with the nice kids.  She can tell them "no, thank you" and ask them to play nicely, but that doesn't mean they will.

So it happened again.  She spotted the wild boys throwing sticks in a pile, and she couldn't help herself.  She jumped in the middle, and yelled, "Hey guys!  Watch this!" and she started singing and dancing.  The biggest boy called her a baby and got a couple of others to join in.  She told him, "No, thank you!  That's not nice.  Let's dance instead!"  And guess what.  A couple of the boys joined her.  Before I knew it, she had at least five big boys chasing after her and doing her silly dance.

That's what I'm talking about.  Mimi Darby runs this playground.

So I breathe a sigh of relief that maybe I'm doing something right as a momma.  Raising a girl with such a strong spirit is no easy task, folks.  But it is incredibly rewarding when I see her encouraging other kids to have as much fun as she does.

I mean, why wouldn't everyone want to stick a leftover from Easter gooey-filled chocolate egg on her big toe?

Enough of Mimi, here's her sneaky little brother.  I'm still eating up this little guy.

Oh, and by the way, they love each other now. :)

Ring around the roses,

Pocket full of posies,

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!

Sweetest daddy ever.  Want to fall in love with a guy?  Just watch him fawn over his kids.  Swoooon.


Abbo?  Jibba boo boo?  Adda babda ka?  Gee gee oh?  Ah!  Bye bye!

The even play well with toys.  And they sort of share.

Aw, this is our sweet neighbor who just moved to the burbs.  Sniff, sniff.  He and Mack share their love of Woody and Buzz.

Precious little things.

Okay, I'll try to not wait so long before the next post.  But I make no promises.  I may not be so nice to the next overprotective granny, and she may end me . . .