Updated weekly. Usually on Tuesdays. Unless some small person eats my blog post.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


As per months of contemplation, I've finally moved the blog back to WordPress.


Don't worry, the contest is still the same. Only instead of sending people to carolynnthedyer.blogspot.com, please send them to carolynnthedyer.wordpress.com.

And then come and join me yourself!

There's a new header, new layout, new ways to follow, and ALL the old posts. Come on, whatchya waitin' for? Click on over!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I've written a poem. 

For this, I sincerely apologize. 

In an attempt to make it up to you, I'm turning this into a game. Read the poem, make a guess as to what/who the Ode is written to (either via the comments or email), and everyone who is correct will be entered into a drawing for a totally awesome prize that I'll announce when I come back from vacation in Utah (read: I haven't found it yet, but I definitely will!). I promise this prize will not be child- or mommy-centric, so you won't have to be either to enjoy it. 

Last day for guesses is July 31. One guess per poster, please! Want to earn extra guesses? Share this post via Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media platform, and post where you shared it along with your extra guess. 

Please note, your guesses will have to be specific. Meaning a general guess such as "housework" (i.e. a category instead of a specific type of housework) will not count. Feel free to email with questions!


Ode to ---------

Lofty goals that mothers make
Include not eating too much cake
And keeping you, my dear old friend
In check;
A goal to send me ‘round the bend.

For you, my soul, are always near
Always present, always clear; 
With need for me to take the time
To wash
A pile a mile high.

Methinks, at least just once or twice,
That to be done would be so nice.
But then I think, What would I do
With me
If there was no you?

Fly to Paris, dance in Spain, 
Maybe take some time rein
In my children, who like to scream
And cry
When’ere I try to keep you clean.

Not that they dislike, perhaps,
It’s just that washing and timely naps
Never seem to find a way
To coincide.
Alas, and curse the day.

My time with you is ever sweet
In torture and in triumph neat. 
Water soothes the tortured soul
And reminds
That a shower-less week takes its toll.

I hate you when you’re dirty, true;
And love it when you’re clean, I do. 
I know alone I’ll never be
My children will dirty you just for me.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Mantra

You can't punch a migraine in the fact*, but you can be happy if you've a mind to.

*Please note this typo. It was brought on by the migraine. And I STILL can't punch the dumb thing in the fact.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011





in a 

different way.

Here's hoping you enjoyed yours.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Mantra

Parent with laughter, and pray the rest comes out right.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I say things, and then suddenly become paranoid that I've ruined my children forever. And then I google it because google is the oracle, and inevitably some amazing guru of child-rearing has at some point said that you should never ever never EVER say/allow/do whatever I just said/allowed/did. 

Alas, how my children suffer. 

If I give them a treat, they’re inevitably instructed to "Eat it all up." I'm just trying to prevent a mess (Huh?! How DARE you try to be convenient at the expense of your children?!), but then I’m struck by The Guilt. Here I am, teaching them that they must consume every last sweetly-sticky bite of their treats. They’ll become gluttons, I tell you! What will their first Halloween out of the house be like?

 No, those are lollypop sticks, not cigarettes. StrawBee  totally knows better!

I must prevent such a crisis. So I try to counteract the candy thing by telling the girls to eat healthy so they can keep growing and get tall. However, Ladybug has latched onto this "tall" thing, and now I'm certain she's going to spend the rest of her life worrying about being tall enough. And since short genes are all she’s got, this is either going to end in extensive surgery or stilettos. 

All the rage this summer.

I can’t have a child of mine growing up to be taller than me--*cough, hack*--excuse me, I meant; risking her health like that. So I told my beautiful girls that they are just that: Beautiful. Perfect in the way God made them. However they are, so long as their hearts are beautiful, they are beautiful. 

Did you know that children have selective hearing? 

“Beautiful” is all they got out of that one. 

Which led to this: 

Notice me NOT panicking here.
Way to keep it a non-issue, mom.
I thought I had at least 10 years before I heard this.
Lecture #321
She totally gets this, you know?
Because please beats paper, rock, AND scissors!

Eventually I thought to tell her that only grown up girls communicate with makeup. She, of course, retorted that she was grown up. I told her that when she was grown up to 14, THEN she could have makeup. 

She was delighted. And now she reminds me every day that when she’s 14 she gets makeup. 

Parenting: You just can’t win for losing. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Monday Mantra

Fireworks make everything better.

And chocolate cake sure doesn't hurt.

And homemade ice cream.

And family you haven't seen in ages

And this is far too long for a mantra.

...Happy 4th!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Out of Context: II

Way back at the end of April, I created this post out of a conversation I had with my brother (if you haven’t read it yet, do. Otherwise what follows will make absolutely no sense, instead of okay-I-get-it-but-you-must’ve-been-dropped-on-your-head-as-a-baby sense). I know you’re all hanging onto the edge of your seats (and hold tight, as it’s a long drop) to know how the conversation ended. And because I love nothing more than pandering to others to get attention, here you go: 

Jay: Anyway, no.
What amazing trade show is happening in Las Vegas that you've probably never heard of?

Carolynn: Uh… "The AMAZING Trade Show That Carolynn Has Never Heard Of!"

Jay: I'm sure the internet would tell you if you asked.
But I'll give you a hint first.

Carolynn: Hmm…. National… Arborist… Bacchanalia...

Ah, that was a good year.

Jay: I do like arborists, but they don't get me this excited.

Carolynn: National… American… Brainwashing...

On a positive note, drool makes a great skin softener.

Jay: Nope…another great organization, but not it.

Carolynn: National… Apple… Bath time...

Jay: Nope
Apples don't take baths silly...

Carolynn: They do if they're getting ready for bob-for-apples.

"Mr. Smith? The iLights are still on on your iCar. Can I use your iKey to turn them off?"

Jay: That's apples, not Apples.
This association is related to my job.
I keep thinking of joining.

Carolynn: National… Association… of BOOYA!!

You only wish you were this cool.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Dad Up: Verb. The act of stepping up to relieve the woman who has mommed-up to the point of impending spontaneous combustion; the saving of a super hero; sheer awesomeness.  

Because being a man is only halfway there.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday Mantra

Even if I fail, the trying makes me stronger.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Or, How I Almost Ruined My Mother’s Birthday

The Mother (AKA Giver of Life and Nana to my children) had a big birthday this month (I think she’s 19 now) and The Dad made some major plans to surprise her. He spent the build-up to the Big Day keeping secrets from everyone, and getting people to lie to The Mother. My job was to make her think that I, her oh-so-innocent eldest daughter, was planning something. And then to make her think it had gone horribly, terribly, irreparably wrong.

As you can imagine, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Mustache twirling will cost you extra.
I executed my tasks perfectly and was able to start dressing for dinner out with a clear conscious, knowing I had completely freaked my mother into thinking we weren’t doing anything for her birthday.

My dressing was almost my undoing.

We all do things we shouldn’t do. Eat a little too much chocolate, sneak into work late, use the kids as an excuse to escape, blame the flying monkeys for the late payment. You know, normal stuff. And I don’t think I know many adults who aren’t guilty of, at least once, the Number One High Fashion Crime of Badness: Wearing Squeeze Clothes.

Squeeze Clothes: Noun. Clothing that once correctly fit a frame that has since changed but, by dint of sucking in and squeezing, can still fit onto said frame. See also: Fashion, Crime Against and Sister, Forget It.

Hm. Just cut off a few toes; who needs 'em?

Let me tell you a story: Way back in the land of High School, there was this strange ritual known as Prom. All of the little savages in High School looked forward to Prom, either as the High Point of All Important Things, or as a fun event to throw rocks at people. I, being a good little savage, desperately wanted to go. However, being a “if-a-boy-looks-at-me-sideways-I’m-going-to-die” sort of savage, I dreaded being asked. 

So I avoided all the male savages with all my might. And was still very, very sad when I didn’t get asked to observe the strange ritual by any of them. 

The Dad, surveying the mess of High School, felt very badly for me. Especially when I expressed, with tears flying everywhere, that all I wanted was to wear a
Pretty Dress! His tender heart was mushed, and he gruffly declared that I should go forth, find a Pretty Dress, and join him for dinner the evening of Prom. (It was, by the way, the best Prom in all of savagery.)

Being of a practical frame of mind, I eschewed the more Prom-like glitter dresses and picked a formal gown that might actually get more than one night’s wear. It came with me to college, where I dreamed again and again that some dashing knight would sweep me off my feet while I was wearing it. I had it tailored to fit, just so I’d be ready when the horse pulled up. 

It fit me very, very well. 

So, back to getting dressed for The Mother’s dinner. And SCs.  

The problem with SCs is that if the fabric is hardy enough, you still look
just fine. Enter the Pretty Dress.

I swore that I was just going to try it on. After all, I’d had my third baby not 3-½ months earlier, and even getting it over my hips would be surprising. Then, after getting that out of my system, I’d put on a church dress and head out for the par-tay. 

Not only did it fit over my hips, it was like a straight jacket for my baby pooch. That thing wasn’t even going to try and misbehave with all that fabric squeezing it in. Okay, so it doesn’t actually zip all the way up the back. Stick a safety pin in the zipper, cover it with the matching jacket.


Magically, I fit into my high school prom dress after 3 kids. 

Just try and tell me you wouldn't have so worn that dress too.

So what if the safety pin popped the second I stooped down to get into the limo? Was I going to worry about such a little thing when I was in a
wow-who’s-the-famous-person-riding-in-there limo for the first time in my life?  

Ab-so-freakin’-lutely not. 

The spots dancing in front of my eyes shortly after we ordered appetizers in the fanciest restaurant I’ve ever been to were a minor inconvenience for such a triumph. The shortness of breath could even be ignored. For a little while. If I concentrated. 

Okay, so I gave in and unzipped my dress a little more. It was a cold night, I had my dress coat, and as far as anyone else knew I was a Pretty Dress NINJA, with super shape-changing abilities and a get-into-the-dress shimmy to bring down empires.

Dinner was fantastic. Conversation was great. Dress looked good. 

Then came dessert. A mountain of oh-no-you-didn’t chocolate torte, piled even higher with the best minty ice cream you have ever tasted. 
I thought I had died and gone to dark chocolate heaven.

And that was just the first bite.

 I knew that even though I was sharing with my sister, I’d never be able to finish my half. But when she said, “Oh, ugh, I couldn’t eat another bite! It’s all yours!” it was on. Me or the dessert. One of us wouldn’t survive. 

The dessert won.

I took one more bite. One, teeny-weeny, chocolate-filled taste of decadent yumminess. It was exactly one too many. With that one bite, The Pretty Dress was suddenly, unquestioningly, and unforgivingly too tight. 

Death is bad, and I saw it
coming for me.

If you’ve never almost suffocated yourself, let me fill you in: Light headed. Dizzy. Seeing spots. Nauseated. 

I bolted for the bathroom, hoping no one had noticed. Shimmied out of my control-top pantyhose (why did I think those were necessary with the belly straight jacket?!), unzipped my dress the rest of the way, and slunk back to the table, only to discover that I couldn’t sit down any longer; the final bite of chocolate torte was squishing the air right out of me. 

The evening was over, and within sight of the finish line I was discovered—yeah, laying down in the back of the car, gasping for air on the way home kind of gave me away.  

Kid Sister is glad Pretty Dress did me in. She was up to inherit.

And because I know you’re all frothing at the mouth with curiosity:
(Presumed) FAQs About Near-Death By Dress: 

1. How do you feel about Pretty Dress not fitting?
My body is no longer a child’s. It’s a woman’s. Thank goodness.

2. How were you able to laugh at yourself when you almost puked all over The Mother’s Super Important Birthday Dinner of Awesomeness?
Very carefully. Laughing at yourself is great fun, but also suffocation-inducing given the circumstances at the time.

3. What did you learn from this experience? That o
ther people look very, very funny when they’re worried you’re about to have a size-related nervous breakdown. 

4. Was the chocolate torte worth it?
Oh, even yesser! 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Mantra

There is no such thing as "finished"--and that's okay.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Mom Up: Verb. 1: to behave in the manner of a mom, e.g. continuing to work despite sudden illness or impending death from ebola, zombie apocalypse, or ingrown toenail. 2. ultimate call to action. 3. saving the world.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I love it when my family visits. It makes me feel all squishy and warm inside. Mushy, gooshy, ooshy happy. So happy that my brains have oozed out of my head and left me without a real blog post this week. For this I apologize, dear readers. But I do hope that you'll understand. And maybe go give your family an extra squeeze tonight to keep them close.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday Mantra

Remembering is half the battle.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


 You know how, when you were a kid, you'd hear things that wouldn't make much sense? Like when I ruined dinner and Ladybug asked me what happened; she became very concerned when I replied, "I killed it." 

Whoa. Time to hide the meat cleaver.

Then there are colloquialisms such as "you've lost your voice." Kid Sister, when she was about Ladybug's age, was terrified of this one. She caught a head cold and when a lot of the congestion settled in her throat, my mother explained that she was losing her voice. Kid Sister decided this meant her voice had wandered off and was never coming back.

Oh, look. Carolynn does have some art skillz. Hello, grade school horizon line.

She laid in her bed at night, calling again and again, "Hellooooo? Helllllooooo?!?" in her sad, hoarse little voice. 


I had a difficult time with one of these sayings in particular. I always pictured it like this: 

Mmmm! Nothing beats a fresh green salad.   

Put your money where your mouth is?! That sounds so unsanitary! 

I understood that the basic idea was that one was supposed to show that they weren't just blowing hot air when they claimed to believe in something, but I didn't really get it. 

And then I grew up (about, oh, two months ago) and the light finally went on. This had nothing to do with eating your greens, and everything to do with making some kind of real commitment of resources to the causes you claim to believe in. Basically, a call to avoid hypocrisy. 

I've always tried to teach my girls that how you love is more important than how you look. However, I did very little putting of money in my mouth to prove that. Actually, most of my spare change went straight into my clothes closet. 

Let's be clear: There is everything right with wanting to present yourself with your best face. And from there on in my beliefs in fashion, presentation, self-worth, and beauty become very complex; ergo, we'll leave it at that for now, or this post is going to get seriously sidetracked. The point is, I wanted to teach my children that behavior and belief are more important than, say, your haircut, but I wasn't doing anything to show them that. 

But now I've made a commitment to put my money where my mouth is. 

For the next few years, I'll be growing my hair from its usual pixie cut to at least 12 inches in length so I can donate it to Locks of Love. I've always treasured my short haircuts; they make me feel like I can own any situation. They're like portable awesome, renewable by a simple trip to the stylist. 

Today only, buy Awesome and get Supa Kool for half off!

I'm gonna have to learn to be awesome without it. 

I'm gonna have to learn to take care of long hair, so I still present myself the way I want to. 

I'm gonna have to actually spend money on shampoo. 

But gosh darn it, I'm gonna get it done. My time, my effort, my attitude toward myself -- all those resources, I'm putting on the line for something I believe in. For someone else, maybe this isn't a big deal. For me, I'm kicking out the hypocrite in my life. 

I'm putting my money where my mouth is.

If any of you would like to join me in a commitment to grow your hair for someone else in need (or any other goal for others), please post it below. If we get enough responses, I'd love to check in with everyone once a month. I'll create a post with pictures of my hair, and anyone who wants to share their progress can email me pictures to put up alongside mine. 

Go eat your greens.

I've been saving this post for awhile, because the time just never seemed right. Now, however, it does. Take time out today to put your money where your mouth is, wherever that mouth happens to be. And if your mouth (or your heart) happens to be in the general vicinity of Joplin, Missouri, feel free to click here for an article on ways you can help.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


This week has been a really interesting episode of Survivor: Motherhood around the Dyer household. In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, an insidious and evil germ-of-doom entered my unsuspecting body and started enacting its plot for hostile takeover. It started in my throat, then quickly spread both down and up. Our script this week went something like this:

Me: Uuurgh... throat hurts.

DB: Get some rest.

Me: Can't. Gotta do dishes and other stuff.

Me: *Gravelly voice* Uuuuurrghh... *cough cough* Throat hurts.

DB: Get some rest!

Me: Can't. Behind on the laundry. You've got a test. Go study.

DB: ... Fine.

Me: *Man voice* Urrgghhh... *cough sniffle* Throat huuurts...

DB: Get some rest!!

Me: You have to study. And work. And we have kids. And a house. Dishes. Laundry. Bathrooms...

DB: ... Okay, fine. At least take it easy.

Me: Of course. I promise. Just don't look at my fingers, 'cause they're definitely crossed.

Me: See previous days, all added together.

DB: Woman! Get back into bed!

Me: Can't. Dress rehearsal. Dad home from surgery. Gotta help.

DB: *Rolls eyes* Fine. Just make sure to invite me to your funeral.

Me: Zzzzzzz....

DB: .... I am so not waking her up for church.

Me: Zzzzzzz....zzzzz....zzzz....zzz-- *cough hack cough cough* Trying to talk, but no voice.

DB: I'm sorry, what was that honey? You want to stay in bed all day until you absolutely have to get up for your performance? Good plan.

Me: *Evil glare* .... .... .... Zzzzzzz....

Me: *Gravelly voice* Ok. I'm not falling over any more. Back to work.

DB: *Facepalm* You still sound like a man! Give yourself a break!

Me: No talking, man person! Go study for your final!

DB: You need to rest!

Me: Gymnastics! Cleaning! Dinner! Children! Laundry and laundry and laundry! Go study!

DB: I hired a cleaning service. Go rest.

Me: ... I was on a roll. Trying to be a martyr here.

DB: Go rest.

Me: Sure, okay. Right after gymnastcis. And keeping the kids out of the house while the cleaning ladies come. And making dinner. And finishing that one thing...

DB: *Sigh*

Me: *Cough cough -- hack hack* Urrrgh... All right, gang. I give up. Daddy is officially finished with finals, so I am going to --

DB: *Cough cough*

Ladybug: *Hack hack*

StrawBee: *Cough hack*

The Captain: *Sniffle*


...At least I'm finally excused from the laundry.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Mantra

If I can sing with almost-bronchitis, I can do anything.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Yes, world. I am officially finished. 

Having babies, that is. 

Why, do you ask? Is it too many late nights and early mornings? Too many days gone un-showered? Too many nights washing peed bed linens? Too many dollars at the grocery store?

No, nope, nah, and nay. It's this: 

It's a hair. 

A dark, curly hair. 

A dark, curly chest hair. 

That I found on my chest. 

That's right. Apparently giving birth turns me into a man. 

I was prepared for a lot of bodily changes from bearing children, and on the whole I accept them gladly. 

Stretch marks?  Got 'em.

Saggy belly? Check.

Saggy breasts? Double check.

Circles under the eyes? You mean that isn't mascara? ...Oh, I guess I would've had to have put some on first. Right.

Hormonal imbalances? I'm sorry, I can't answer that question until I've had some chocolate -- dark, with strawberries  on the side.

Chest hair? Oh, su-- Wha huh wug???

I've noticed that with each birth, I've collected a few dark hairs in places that are generally considered the province of men. Hairs that were easily pluckable and, really, not all that strange (as you find once you get to know a girl well enough that she'll share these things. Why is it that we'll share all kind of weird details about pregnancy, labor, and delivery and not 'fess up to a few stray hairs?). These I have accepted. 

But chest hair? 

Uh, no. 

If DB decides he wants another baby, he'd better bring up the topic by presenting me with a carte blanche gift certificate for laser hair removal. 

Because at this rate, I'll be ushering in Planet of the Apes: Mom Edition before you know it.

That's right, work your sexy bad self.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Mantra

You can't find time, so make time instead.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


My kid brother is out serving a two year mission for our church, and is having some difficulty adjusting to the fact that not everyone out there has a joyful heart. This is probably because he has a particularly soft, kind heart himself. However, I think one encounter is always one too many, and he's had several (dozen).

I worry about my girls meeting these people with less-than-joyful hearts. I admit (shamefacedly) that I harbor bitter memories of some encounters like the ones my brother is describing. Times when people just seem to ...  explode from the absolute lack of happiness within themselves. 

In seems that some people don't just have a case of a not-so-joyful heart; they actually have downright grumpy hearts. And since they have grumpy hearts, they feel this strange need to try and make sure everyone else has grumpy hearts too. It's kind of like when people listen to nasty music and feel the need to roll down the windows and pump up the volume. It's like they're all, "Oh, YEAH?!? You think I'm a MEAN person?! Well, I can make YOU feel bitter and cranky TOO!! So take THAT!!!" 

Cranky people use a lot of punctuation. Don't they know there's a shortage?

And, you know, if they (or any of you, dear readers) feel the need to dump some of those extra exclamation marks somewhere, I'm always on the lookout for more punctuation. I take 'em and clean all the cranky off of 'em and sell 'em on eBay.

It's okay to be carting around some extra punctuation sometimes, you know? No one's going to be calm and period-like all the time. I kind of expect that anyone might need a break from sheer awesomeness on occasion. But to be that way to perfect strangers? Or to children? Or someone who's going out of their way to solve your problems? Yup, I've seen grumpy-hearted people dump buckets of precious "!!!" on people's heads in each of those situations, along with many other endangered marks (@#$%**, for example).

And there's more at stake here than endangered punctuation, dear to my heart though that topic is. Endangered hearts worry me more. Grumpy hearts are more contagious than Ebola. I understand that when you're miserable, you don't want to be alone. However, infecting everyone else's hearts really only isolates you more as everyone around you turns into a pack of snarling, snapping wolves, determined to bite as many people as possible.

Try taking your cranky "!!!" to someone you trust.  A friend? A relative? God? A blank page?

Don't carry them around everywhere. They rot.

They stink.

They ruin you from the inside out.

Don't expect someone to walk up and yank your cankering wounds away from you. Share the burden and while it might not disappear, you'll find it easier to carry.

Don't let it destroy you.

I almost did, once. Long ago. I don't talk about it now -- I only mention it to give credibility to my urging.

Cranky hearts suck. Don't beat others over the head with them; just let them go.

And those of you who are naturally joyful hearted, like my brother, don't give up on the rest of us. You're a gift from God to someone struggling. You keep up a supply of happy, clean "!!!" for the rest of us.

We need you. We love you, and we love to hate you for being happier than us. But we learn to be better by watching you.

Happy "!!!" to you all.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday Mantra

Don't think. Just do. And do and do and do and do. Until the fear is gone.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Out of Context

When you hang around certain people a lot, you start getting way too comfortable when you talk to them. Girls night out, for example, can cover a host of topics ranging from diaper changing to job changing to husband changing. Even better are best friends, who have broken down most barriers between them, discussing such things as a zombie apocalypse and what the return of skinny jeans means for our derrieres. 

By far the best, however, are conversations between siblings.  Brothers and sisters have been with each other practically (or literally) their entire lives, so they have absolutely nothing to hide from each other. Having five siblings myself, I can attest to the fact that pretty much nothing is off limits in either personal details or just plain weirdness.

Actually, my family usually errs on the side of just plain weirdness. It's like we compete in staring contests of strangeness, trying to out-weird each other until someone cracks (up, that is). Our Facebook status exchanges, for example, are often interrupted by an outsider simply posting “What the cheese crud?! How did I miss this kumquat uprising you're talking about?”

Sometimes I wonder what pictures are conjured in the minds of others when they overhear (overread?) these discussions. I imagine they walk away thinking that either we’re insane, or our lives are more awesome than Lady Gaga’s. For your viewing pleasure, and because it was so darn fun, I have extrapolated what an innocent bystander might get out of an IM conversation I had with my brother Jay not long ago. Enjoy.

Jay: Guess why I am so excited today!
Go ahead, guess.

Carolynn: Um… you've got a new magical pet unicorn that breathes out gold dust.

Jay: Nope better than that.

Carolynn: Better that that?! It must be a magical pseudopod!

Unicorn is definitely less than Magical Pseudopod

Jay: Nope, not quite.
I'll give you a hint.
It involves Las Vegas.

Carolynn: You saw Elvis?!

Jay: NO!  Though that would have been AWESOME!
It involves Apple!

Carolynn: You won the Bellagio in a thumb war with Steve Jobs?

Jay: Yeah…but I lost it in the next round.

Carolynn: Bummer

Jay: Jobs upgraded his thumb.

And yes, Mr. Jobs, I do expect to see this product soon--and some royalties.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Mantra

If you can't catch up*, do your best to keep from drowning. 

*"Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing." -- Phyllis Diller

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I Chew My Nails

Yes, I do. It's a terrible, disgusting habit. I've done it for years.

It used to be that I chewed my nails to calm my nerves. It never worked. Just left me with raggedy, scary looking nails that I then felt like I had to hide. More anxiety. More chewed nails.

Seriously, I looked like a nervous little squirrel. Dashing back and forth, chewing on stuff. Ew.

Lets just say I never wasted money on manicures.

But about a month ago, I had this strange sensation while I was typing. Like someone was tapping back from the keyboard. I looked down and realized that -- shock -- I had fingernails!  After years of fighting it, tricking myself, lecturing myself, and occasionally trying to gain some control over my nerves, for some reason I had just... stopped.

I'd like to say permanently.

I'd like to say that I do my nails nicely now, like I've always wanted to.

I'd like to say that my nails are long, elegant, and generally stylish like the rest of my ensemble.

(Actually, I'd like to say my ensemble is stylish in the first place. No, wait! Paint spatters and distressed jeans are totally in this year, right? Spit up isn't that far off, and my jeans are definitely in distress. I'm good.)

But I can't.

Because I started chewing them again.

I know. Yuck.

But yuck is better than leaving angry red gashes on my baby's head. And let's face it, nail clippers are an endangered species in this house.

The kids will be big eventually, and then I can grow my nails to my heart's content, without fear of scarring my child for life.

Although I guess if I get Butterfly again, she can always tell her friends in preschool that she's secretly a ninja-pirate who rides velociraptors to save the world from evil unicorns of doom. Scars are good for that kind of thing.

...Nah. I'll just keep chewing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Giving Experience

One of the major perks of being a Momma (and a parent in general) is being able to make things up as you go along. Sometimes this ends in sheer awesomeness, like your kitchen table being covered with a layer of whipped cream almost as thick as the layer that covers your very happy, very hyper children.

Other times, the awesomeness is more along the lines of establishing your own family traditions. I’m a huge sucker for that kind of thing (ask my parents, who had to deal with me pestering them over every major/minor holiday not being exactly the same as the year before) and our little fam already has a list as long as my arm of traditions. My newest favorite is “Jammie Parties” -- all five of us in our pajamas, making a treat, then watching a movie together all cuddled up in a huge pile of blankets. Often a blanket fort, come to that. 

Then there are the times when you get to change things up because you’ve thought about it long and hard, and you really just think it will be best for your family. In some ways, it scares the heck out of me when I depart from how I grew up. It seems like such a grown-up thing to do, but when I look in the mirror I still see a kid, making things up as she goes along. 

Side note: I still remember the day when I realized that adults don’t know much more than kids, they’re just better at bluffing their way through stuff. It was a terrifying moment, and cleared up a lot of the mystery about why politicians behave the way they do. They’re apparently just as clueless as the rest of us. 

Point being, making up a funny story to get my kids in bed seems a lot less important than trying something new with parenting, but that’s where we are right now. Here’s the scoop: I’ve spent a lot of time (and I mean a LOT of time) cleaning up, and helping my kids clean up, mounds and mounds of toys. I frankly don’t know where they all came from. I don’t remember buying the majority of them. In fact, I think they’re like unmatched socks: They multiply if left unattended. 

I’m tired of it. And not just in the “If I trip over one more small plastic thing I’m going to scream!” kind of way.  Toys are well and good. I’m particularly fond of the ones that encourage group play (their play kitchen is a good example) or help develop imagination (Ladybug loves dress-up, and both girls are starting to play-act with dolls). Blocks are good for spatial ability, crayons are good for hand-eye coordination and artistic growth. But let’s face it, most toys are sheerly there to entertain the kids and keep them out of my hair. 

I know, I know. I sound like a scary tiger mother, talking like every moment of my children’s lives has to be productive. That’s not my point -- kids should be kids, but every moment of their lives is productive, whether I like it or not. It’s productive in the way that children are absorbing information about their world, life, and themselves in every second of every day. They mimic what they see, they are formed by what they do. When StrawBee sits down with paper and markers, I don’t say to her, “Oh, I’m so glad to see you practicing your artistic abilities!”, I say “Thank you for playing nicely.” But the fact is inescapable: She’s learning about drawing.

This realization has made me take a long, hard look at the way my children spend their time. We already expose them only to educational TV, encourage them to play outside, feed them healthy foods, and do all those other things parents think they ought to do -- up to and including making sure they have “good” birthdays and holidays by buying them new toys. 

We save up all year for Christmas, and in previous years have used the money to buy numerous small, inexpensive toys in an attempt to make our children happy. They love opening presents, they love new stuff (at least for the first day or so), so what could go wrong? 

Well… a lot. They start having so much stuff that they don’t value what they have. They learn that if they break something, it’s okay; just wait for the next holiday and you’ll have more! They learn to just accumulate whatever stuff catches their attention, rather than thinking carefully and choosing to invest their precious spending money on things that will last or will have some kind of positive impact on their lives. 

As I’ve said, though, they don’t need new toys. The toys are perfectly capable of increasing in number all on their own. 

So then, what do you do? 

Stop giving toys. 

But then what do you give them?


DB and I have made a goal to stop looking at gift giving from the perspective of “What toys can we buy to reach the quota?” and to start looking at it instead as “What experience can we give them that will reach them in a positive way?” 

Next month for StrawBee’s birthday, we’re not buying her any toys in the traditional sense. Instead, we’re going to use that money to take her to do something new (ice skating, for example) that we think she will enjoy. There will be a couple of packages for her to open (because, let’s face it, opening things is just sheer pleasure in itself and no one, least of all a two year old, should be deprived of that!), but they’ll be carefully selected to be things we know she’ll use more than once. 

When Christmas rolls around, the kids can expect probably one toy each from us. They can expect the opportunity to give many of their “things” to children who have so much less than them. After that, they can expect that the rest of the Christmas money will go to “experience.”  A new fish tank, for example, that they can learn to take care of. Maybe a train ride. Possibly a new puppy to train and love. Perhaps some swimming lessons, even if it’s just one or two.  Even a trip to a museum or fair. A chance to try something new, different, and hands-on that will stay with them because they’ve learned a new skill. 

Our children aren’t remotely sure who they are and what they like yet. Not because they’re children, really, but because they haven’t had a chance to try that many things yet. What better gift, then, than to gift them the opportunity to try many things so they can decide where their interests lie? What better opportunity than education and experience? What better lesson than that the most exciting, most “fun” you can have in life is to explore something new? 

I know our children will ask for toys still, but I have confidence that soon they’ll be asking to try things, or re-do previous experiences, instead. 

Maybe I’m wrong. I’m just making this up. I’ve made mistakes before. 

All I know for sure is that while I could never recite to you all the toys I’ve received through the years, I remember the things we did. I remember the feeling of rising up in a hot air balloon until the hills dropped far, far away. I cherish the feeling of being special when my dad took me to riding lessons. I often relive my mother’s encouragement as she took the time to read my writing -- she was my first fan. I hold on to the activities we did as a family, that brought us together, taught us to be confident in the love we had for each other. 

I’m making it up but … dare I say it? … this time, at least, I think I’m right.  

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Mantra

Adapt or die... Or at the very least, end up in the asylum.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Nap Time

It's just like party time. Only quieter.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Mantra

Make good use of the sleep you got.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Drum roll, please...

Ta da!

Today is the day we officially welcome our newest addition, Butterfly, to the "Into the Wild" staff.

Say hello, Butterfly: 


Now now, child. No need to look so concerned: Everyone here is ready to love you!

...Okay, no. My newest baby girl is not, in fact, Jean Luc Picard. She does, however, bear a startling resemblance to him on occasion.

Case in point: 

Is that the only course of action?

Wesley, you concern me. Greatly.
This rather striking resemblance has lead to her re-christening as "The Captain." The poor child is supposed to be a Butterfly (ironic though the original naming was), and now everyone salutes when she's carried into the room.

Hum. On second thought, maybe Captain describes the utter, complete control she exerts over every person in the house. She can get StrawBee to part with her beloved blanket. She can keep Ladybug's focused attention for ten minutes at a time. And when she yells, Momma and Daddy jump.

Yup. Captain on deck.

Speaking of, I'm being summoned to mess by said Captain. Excuse me, but duty calls. 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.Creative Commons License
This work by Carolynn Dyer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.