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Carrie Elle

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Three is Worse Than Two...But in Some Ways, it's Also Better

If I have learned one thing about the Terrible Twos, it's that the Terrible Twos don't end when they turn three.

Nope.  In gets WORSE.  

In our case, Jack went from a sweet, cuddly little toddler to a defiant, tantrum-throwing maniac (ok, I'll just say it...he went from a cherub to sort of a mini poltergeist) almost overnight.  I was pretty sure that the Terrible Twos were something that happened to other people and other people's I was shocked (shocked, I tell you!) when Jack started acting like a moody little teenager (less the self-control and reasoning abilities) just weeks before Claire was born (excellent timing, Jack).

The Terrible Twos sent me into a tailspin.  Not only was I heavily pregnant, but I was also wrapping things up with my job of five years while Charles was starting a new job (after being laid off twice in twelve months), and we were moving.  So, I did what any mom in my situation would do - I turned to the internet for the sage advice and reassuring words of Mothers Who Had Survived the Terrible Twos.

But the internet made it worse!  Sure, occasionally there was some good advice for diffusing a meltdown or coping with the craziness, but mostly I was finding the same thing over and over again.

Things like: Three is worse!  You'll wish your little one was two again once three hits!  You think the Terrible Twos are bad - just wait!!

And so, rather than getting any real advice, I ended up steeling myself for what was surely to come.


And it turned out, they were right.  No amount of wishful thinking or positive reinforcement could divert Jack from the path that he was (and still is!) on.  I'm not holding my breath, but I've been told it gets easier around three and a half or four.

And you know what?  The last few weeks, we've actually had a taste of what I imagine four will be like...all "yes, please!" and "no, thank you," and "Mommy, may I?" rather than "NOOOOOO!!!!" "I want a CAKE POP!!!" and more "NOOOOO!"

I don't know what has prompted this respite from our daily battles, but I'll take it - no questions asked.  And it's done more than giving me some breathing room and a chance to regroup (I know better than to expect things to just magically stay this way!).

It's given me time to appreciate the fun parts of having a three-year-old and realize that there really is a lot to love about this age (because when strangers ask how old Jack is and then say, "Oh what a fun age!" I usually respond with, "Really?!").

Yesterday, while holding my wedding ring in his little hand, Jack told me he was going to get married when he grows up.  So I asked him who he was going to marry.  He answered (without even pausing to think about it), "Wooby!" (Wooby = Ruby, the neighbor who is a few months older than Jack).  But then he thought about it for a second and said, "When I get older, I'm going to marry YOU, Mama!"  And my heart swelled.  "Not until later though...when I'm big!" he insisted.  "Little kids don't get married, only grown ups."

And as if that weren't sweet enough, he tells me he loves me...all the time.  OK, this is kind of rough when it's a school day and he's crying and telling me he loves me and he's going to miss me when he's at school...but for the most part, it's just awesome.  I love how well he's able to express himself now.

I also love to see where his imagination takes him.  It's amazing to me, to hear his little stream of consciousness coming out in stories, while he plays - I love how he marries reality and fantasy and sometimes can't seem to tell which is which (and isn't that really what childhood long dream that over time sharpens into a more concrete grown-up world?).  Today he built a "birdie house" of blocks and topped it off with a toy caribou (of all things!), and I thought, "Now THAT is what being a kid is all about...who doesn't want a bird house with a caribou on top?"

When we go on walks, he picks me flowers.  Sometimes I have to get on to him about this, because he'll rip flowers from someone's garden as we're walking down the street without thinking twice.  Often, he picks me a weed and I have to drop it when he's not looking because I have flashbacks to the time I picked some wild flowers for my mom and a day later we had aphids crawling all over the kitchen counter because apparently, there had been aphids hiding between the petals.

He cares for his sister.  He's protective of her when strangers approach her and asks to hold her every morning (which is cute, but is really more of a pain than anything - he can't actually hold her up so she's usually hanging off his lap in seconds as she tries to crawl down the couch, and it often ends with tears as they bump heads or Claire scratches Jack in the face trying to escape).

When he really wants something and asks (begs) for it and I say yes - be it a walk to the park or a cake pop - he rejoices like only a three-year-old can.  He will jump up and down and yell, "THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!" or, my personal favorite, "Yahooooooo!"

When he wants to tell me something and forgets what he was going to say, he defaults to his stand-by conversation starter: "I like steam engines!"  And then he'll keep going..."I like steam engines and orange juice and milk shakes and ice cream and cement trucks!  Are milk shakes healthy, mama?"  Etc., etc., etc....

He is full of joy and wonder and curiosity.

It's so easy to let that get lost in the tantrums and meltdowns and tears and defiance that come with the  Terrible Twos.  It's easy to feel defeated and like I'm losing at Parenting, like my kid is somehow the only kid on the planet who has ever run up to a little girl at the playground and growled at her so ferociously she cried (come on, tell me your kids growl at other kids...please!).  So when Jack throws me a bone and goes to his room and gets his shoes when he's asked, or puts his own underwear on, or finishes his cracker when I tell him to, my batteries get charged just a little bit, and I think about how awesome my kid is, and I forget (temporarily, at least) how challenging the last few months have been.

A few weeks ago we were at the park and a dad, chasing his 16-month-old around the playground, asked me if it was going to get easier (for the record, those early toddler days were my favorite!).  I said, "No" without skipping a beat.  "No, really," I elaborated (just to make sure I was clear), "it doesn't get easier.  It gets harder."  I was just being honest, and surely my short and decisive answer was also indicative of the kind of day I had been having (also, some context here...we were having a light-hearted conversation and our kids have played together on several occasions - I wasn't just shooting this poor dad down for the fun of it).

But I wish he would have asked me that question today. I would have been honest (sorry, dude, it does get harder!), but I also would have told him awesome it is when your kid can put his own undies on or comes up and gives you a big hug and a kiss on his own free will.

So, to all of you parents with kids who are still sweet and angelic and not-yet-two...hang on.  It's going to get worse (sorry), but there are brighter days to come!

And to all of you who have been there, done that...when *does* it get easy?  I'm assuming between the ages of about 5-12 I can get a little break before the teen years kick in...any possibility that might be true (please say it is true)?

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The 21st of February

Wow.  Six months after my first "21st of..." post and I am still at it.  I am hoping to keep this up for a year.  So far, so good.

However...I did have higher hopes for today.

I fully intended on using the big camera.  After all, today Claire turns seven months old and we take pictures of her every month with the big, fancy camera.  So I just thought I'd lug it around all day and capture amazing shots that would make even the most mundane day look not-so-mundane.

Of course, that didn't happen.  I fell asleep early last night and we woke up early this morning and had to get Jack out of the house early because Charles had an important work call that actually required a quiet house.  Which means we didn't break out the fancy camera anyway, and even if we had, it probably wouldn't have been charged...etc., etc.

No big camera for this girl.  No, my day was captured (kinda like last month) on my iPhone whenever I remembered to take a picture.

7:00 AM

The day starts off...cold.  BRR.

Shortly after we all wake up, Charles makes pancakes for Jack.  Right before I took this picture (literally, as I was standing there with phone in hand), Jack says, "Is today a school day?" and I responded with "yes, today is a school day."  This did not make Jack happy.  "But I don't want to go to school!!!"

Oh!  And that wasn't the first pancake Charles made.  The first one ended up in the trash because Charles poured salad dressing all over it instead of syrup.

And here's Claire, in her bouncer while I get ready, staring at Jack who had followed me into the bathroom to tell me, over and over and over again, "I don't want to go to school today!  I don't want to go to school today!"

8:00 AM

I drop Jack off (this is his fourth week going to pre-school part-time, and for the first time today...there were no tears!) and get thee to a Starbucks.  

8:30 AM

This is me, nursing the baby.  Because we are about to head out to Central Market for some serious grocery shopping.

9:00 AM

I love Central Market.  Produce, produce, everywhere!  And with Claire is so...easy.  She just chills in the Ergo.  She had fallen asleep in the car and I hoped she would fall back asleep once she was in the Ergo, but that didn't happen.  She was much too interested in shopping.

10:00 AM

Right after I took this picture, Claire's patience wore out.  She was tired.  And I apparently chose the World's Slowest Checker-Outer to check us out.  So, after standing in one spot for about 10 minutes, this little lady decided she'd had enough.  

11:00 AM

Back at home, groceries unloaded (thanks, Charles), and hummus and a fresh whole wheat tortilla in my stomach,  it's time to nurse Claire again.  I hope she'll go to sleep since she really hasn't slept at all this morning.  She doesn't of course.  And at noon...

12:00 PM

I load her back up to go pick up her brother.  This time, Charles comes with and we all go to the local cake/cupcake shop to buy Jack a treat since he didn't cry once at school.  On the way home from the cake shop, Claire falls asleep.  And then wakes up as soon as I take her out of the car.  But then, falls asleep again.

1:00 PM

She naps on me for over an hour.  See that little scratch on her cheek?  That's my fault...I let her fingernails get ragged (good LORD baby fingernails need to be cut often...) and she went and scratched herself.

While she naps...wonder of all wonders...Jack falls asleep on the couch.  

2:00 PM

She wakes up smiling.  Which makes me smile.

OH...I should add here that although she is usually a poor sleeper, she does have an excuse for the extra-poor sleeping this week has brought us - she cut her first tooth yesterday!  Her bottom front/left one (that would be my technical dentistry talk, ha!), and a full three months earlier than Jack got his first tooth.  Also?  She's pretty much crawling, in an awkward sort of inchworm/bunny hop style.  So, she's been busy - which could very well be contributing to the non-sleeping.

5:00 PM

After everyone wakes up, eats a snack, uses the potty, and gets dressed, we take the kids to the park.  Jack got a new kite and today is the perfect kite-flying day - 70 degrees and a little windy!

This is Jack looking at the playground and struggling over what he wants to do - fly the kite or go down the slide.  He reminds me so much of his daddy in this picture.

Kite-flying wins as the activity of choice.  

And it's all great fun!  Until it crashes.

But then it flies again (and boy do I love this picture)!

And then, Charles takes over and it crashes.  In a tree.

Around this time, a little boy and his mom come over to watch and it ends up being a little friend of Jack's from school!  So, once the kite has been rescued (and flown, and crashed a few more times) we all head over to the playground.  Where Jack and his friend play really well together...until Jack falls.

He falls on concrete and scratches up his elbow and his hand a teeny bit.  Jack is nothing if not dramatic, and I would say on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest) his pain tolerance falls somewhere around a 1-2.  So this little fall was a Very Big Deal.  I was quick to the punch and pulled his sleeve down over his elbow before he ever saw it (there was blood - not much, but enough to send him off the deep end if he noticed).  Unfortunately, he saw the scratch on his hand and from there, the evening went downhill.  Here he is at the top of the slide, after he had recovered from the fall, when he noticed there was a bit of blood on his hand.

We ended up leaving right after he came down the slide because of the meltdown that ensued.

For the next hour (keep in mind his shirt sleeve is still pulled down and he still hasn't seen his elbow), Jack repeats...over, and over, and OVER AGAIN..."Mommy, I have a problem.  I'm hurt."  

As quickly as possible, I feed him and then start the bath.  Things seem to be improving.  He is excited about taking his bath and seems to have forgotten the pain he was in minutes ago.

7:00 PM

This is my bathtub.  MY bathtub.  Full of kid toys and baby baths and probably kid pee, too.  The bathtub I never use.  The bathtub Jack was excited to get in...until...I took off his shirt and he discovered the scratch on his elbow.


Cue the meltdown.  This time, it was a big one.

I was able to get him into the bath but he was afraid to put his arm in the water.  While Claire splashed away merrily in the baby tub next to him, Jack was working himself further and further into a frenzy.  Within two minutes or so, he was screaming at me to get him out.  Which I did.  And promptly tried to pick him up.  But, he didn't want to be picked up.  Not by me, anyway.  I got my first, "I don't want you, Mama!  I want Daddy!"

And I admit it.  It hurt.  Probably more than it should have, and definitely more than the little owie on his elbow hurt him.  I mean, he's expressed a preference for his daddy before...on many occasions...but not like this, and not when he's hurt and supposed to want his mama!  Sometimes I fear that spending all this time with the baby is cutting into the bond I have with Jack, and moments like this make me think "Yep, I've messed it all up for sure now."  

I know in my heart that he's three and that kids do this...but still.  It sucked!

8:00 PM

By 8ish, the baby is asleep and I'm about to start this blog post.  Which will be interrupted by the baby as she wakes up about thirty minutes after I put her down.  It doesn't help that I can hear Jack yelling in protest to what sounds like bedtime.   But I let Charles handle that and get the baby back down to sleep.  

See that nightstand?  It was my grandparents.  My Dad said it was in a model home back in the 60's.  I kinda love it and kinda hate it (we have two, plus a big old dresser).  If I were crafty I'd get all Pinterest-y and make it into something nice.  But I'm not, so I probably won't.

And now?  At 10:00 PM - both kids are asleep.  Claire is restless but I'm hoping she'll stay down a bit longer.  Charles has promised me a foot rub, and I'm going to end this now and go collect.  BOOM.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

15 Fun Facts About My Kids

One of my favorite things about blogging (post-kids) is that it gives me a place to keep track of the sweeter (and not-so-sweet) moments of my Parenting Experience.  I've written about why I blog in the past (if you actually click that link and read that post, please disregard the funky formatting at the end of the post - user-error, to be sure), but I can't stress it enough - it's AWESOME to have so many memories in one place.  Every once in awhile I go back through the archives of this blog and reminisce about how much things have changed (we no longer live in fear of scorpions crawling into bed with us at night) - or rue over things that have not changed one bit (the kids still don't sleep, for example).  But even then, with a blog I keep up with semi-regularly, it's still a hodgepodge of information and little facts spread out over the course of many months - not the organized and orderly scrapbooks I kept pre-kids (the kind that was in chronological order and included lots of fun pictures and little notes about almost every event I ever participated in - up to the day I got pregnant, pretty much).

So, when I read The Feminist Breeder's recent post - "15 Fun Facts About My Kids" - I thought, "YES!  I totally need to do that so I will have a snapshot of this exact moment in my kids' lives that I will never forget!"  

And so, here it is (and if you're reading this, write your own and you can link up at The Feminist Breeder's post, here.).

1. Jack loves his little sister so much.  He has started calling her "Baby Ellen" (Ellen is her middle name) and he aspires to be big enough to "walk around and carry Baby Ellen."  I try to explain that she's growing up with him, but he doesn't get it - he's positive that he's going to grow up and she's going to remain a little baby that he can carry around the house!

2.  Jack wants desperately to grow up (mostly so he can carry the baby, as far as I can tell).  He tells every kid he meets that he's "growing up big" and reminds me every day that he's growing. soon as I ask him to do something like pick up his toys, take his own shirt off, or try a new food, he tells me "I'm just little, I'll pick up my room / eat onions / put my own shirt on when I'm big!"

3.  Claire is leaps and bounds ahead of Jack when it comes to meeting milestones.  Jack was generally on the late end of most milestones...he didn't crawl until he was 10 months or walk until 15 months.  Claire, at 6.5 months, is crawling (albeit, a non-traditional crawl...more of a hybrid inchworm / bunny hop move).

4.  Claire loves books!  She likes to put them in her mouth, but she's also fascinated by the pictures and words...OMG the words...she will stare at letters and words with such interest!

5.  Jack loves trains.  And anything else with wheels.  But especially trains.  He is, however, outgrowing Thomas and now asks to play with his trains "that don't have mouths."  Ha!

6. Jack also likes volcanoes.  He always asks to see volcano movies on YouTube.

7. Claire started smiling when she was just 4.5 weeks old.  She is the smiliest baby ever!  We were at a party yesterday and she was in the Ergo - she woke up smiling and pretty much won over every person in the room.

8. Claire wants to eat grown-up food.  She won't let me feed her purees.  She refuses them, and turns her head away and shuts her little mouth.  She's starting to eat a few finger foods (mostly puffs).

9. Jack's new favorite show is The Octonauts.  I am incredibly grateful for this show, because it means a break from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

10. Jack puts his own twist on a few pronunciations of some everyday words.  Pancakes = pan-a-cakes.  Christmas = Crimpsmas.  Stroller = Stro-yer.

11. Jack just started preschool earlier this month.  He goes two half-days a week.  There is serious DRAMA in this house every morning before school, and he still hasn't completely adjusted.  I felt very torn about whether or not I wanted to send him to school, but in the end we did because he desperately needed socialization with other kids.  He was turning into the playground bully.  Despite the morning drama and tears when being dropped off at school (he stops crying as soon as Charles leaves), it seems to be helping.  He has even started playing nice with random kids (rather than growling and making ugly faces and pointing and yelling "NO, Kid!" at every random child he sees out in public).

12. Both kids are terrible sleepers.  Claire wakes up as soon as I put her down.  If I am really, really, REALLLLY lucky she might sleep for 20 minutes before waking up.  If the stars are perfectly aligned, I might on a rare day get 40 minutes from her.  Most of the time, she sleeps in my lap or in the Ergo.

13. Jack dropped his nap right before he turned three.  Booo.  Occasionally he falls asleep late in the afternoon, but I try to avoid this at all costs.

14. At three years and a few months, Jack is *just now* getting his two-year molars.

15. Both of my kids have huge heads.  My friends used to joke that my future children would have giant noggins because both Charles and I have giants heads, and they were right.  Their head measurements are usually off the charts!

OK...your turn!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

Everyone!  I am excited.

Eight Days a Week included little ol' me in her list of bloggers to receive the Versatile Blogger Award!

The rules are as follows:

1. Thank the person that nominated you with a link back to their blog (DONE.  But, in case you missed it - Eight Days a Week).

2.  List seven things about yourself (see below).

3.  Award the Versatile Blogger Award to 15 blogs - share the love.

So, without further ado, I give you Seven Things About Me:

1.  I met my husband of 11 years (and counting) at a Blackjack table in Las Vegas when we were 21 (years old, that is).

2.  I recently discovered I have unclaimed money from the State of Texas and it's totally legit - $10 that I won in a donkey show at the Texas State Fair.

3.  I watch The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and The Real Housewives of Orange County but I can't stand any of the other series.  Fascinating, right?

4.  I love, love, LOVE to read but have not read a book since Claire was born (almost seven months ago!).  The last book I read was the latest installment in the Sookie Stackhouse series.

5.  I'm from San Diego and although I've been in Texas for eight (EIGHT!!) years now, I still consider myself a California girl.  Also?  I told Charles I would never complain about Texas again if we could just get an In-n-Out, a Trader Joe's and a Pat & Oscar's.  Well...there is an In-n-Out that will be opening any day now just minutes from our house and Trader Joe's is coming to Texas, too.  I am running out of things to complain about.

6.  I am new to yoga, but I love it - and I think it might be life-changing.

7.  I just googled "life-changing"  (see above) to see if I needed to use a hyphen or not - I like to hyphenate appropriately.  The general consensus appears to be that it does, indeed, need a hyphen (related story - in third grade I was the only one in the class who knew to hyphenate "red-headed" and I got a pack of Skittles from my teacher as a result - that's the only time, to date, that this skill has paid off).

Enough about me.  Here are 15 blogs that I'm passing the love along to:

1. The Eclectic Element
2. Diapers, Dogs and Deployments
3. Nicci's Craft Corner
4. The Secret Life of a SAHM
5. Slice o' Heaven
6. Spoiled But Not Rotten
7. The Gnome's Mom
8. Unraveling Motherhood
9. According to Jenny
10. Living Water Health and Wellness
11. Mama: All Grown Up
12. The Crunchy Wife
13. Ties and Tutus
14. The Slacker Mom
15. Love & Bugs


Friday, February 10, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again

Today, I am sore.

I am sore, because after about four years off, I rode a horse this past weekend.

That may be small potatoes for some of you.  Maybe you ride all the time.  Maybe you aren't into horses to begin with.  Maybe it's silly.  But to's huge.

These ugly old boots?  They feel like home.  They have been worn only a handful of times in the last four years...mostly when holding Seamus for the vet or the farrier.  Every time I put them on, I feel...happy.  Comfortable.  And sure of myself.  I *know* this person.  I recognize the girl in these boots.

I admit I was afraid they would no longer fit.

After having Claire, my feet have gotten bigger (OK, everything has gotten bigger, but come on feet!?).  I have pair after pair of cute peep-toes and sandals and wedges I used to wear for work that I will never wear again.  I have shoes I bought recently, still in denial about my new foot size, that have rubbed blisters into my heels and left red marks over my toes.  If these boots didn't fit...I would have cried.

So, imagine my excitement when I put them on and they felt exactly like they did the last time I put them on.  Perfect.

Yes, my new riding pants and half chaps were larger than the ones I wore in my previous life.  The "big" jacket I used to wear when riding in cold weather ($4 on clearance at Old Navy, SCORE!) clung to me uncomfortably and barely covered my tummy.  But my boots fit.

I was giddy as I nursed the baby for the last time before I left, and downright bubbling with excitement as I pulled a couple of carrots from the fridge (whoever was going to pack my sorry ass around the arena was going to earn a carrot or two!).

My only fear was that I would end up riding some nutjob.  In case you missed it, I haven't been on a horse for four years...I am out of shape *and* now a mother of two.  When I got to the barn, the first thing I told the trainer was that I needed something easy to ride, to help build my confidence and get me back into shape.  I'm happy to report she had just the horse for me.

A retired Grand Prix horse named Jolly, he was a kind old soul and did indeed pack my sorry ass around the arena.  Better yet, he was lazy, so Lord Almighty did I work.  I felt myself hurting in places I didn't even know I had.  But the best part was - I hadn't forgotten how to ride.

I'm not saying I looked like I did the last time I rode (pre-kids), and for more than one reason.  My timing was off.  My hands were sloppy.  I kept hunching over and my knees were begging for salvation after just ten minutes.  But I felt at home.  Not nervous (like I imagined).  Just incredibly...happy.

My legs were shaking from sheer exhaustion as I climbed off poor Jolly (and you can go ahead and feel sorry for him here...where I used to be light and nimble, and able to pop off of a horse's back with ease, I now felt like a creaky old sack of potatoes clumsily bumping my way to the ground).

He was rewarded heavily in carrots.

And today, I sit here in pain (kind of a lot of pain, and it's been four days) but incredibly grateful for that pain.  These sore muscles are here for a reason.  They are here because I did something I love.

It is easy to get lost in mothering.  Someone once told me (when I was pregnant, no less) that she would never have a kid because having kids changes you and takes away a part of who you really are, and that just made her sad.  Aside from the facts that she was piss drunk and telling this to a very pregnant girl...there was a bit of truth to her statement.

Having a child does change you in ways you will never imagine (uh, I said I might get a minivan - that's not something I would have said pre-kids).  And maybe it does take away part of who you "were" - but that's not sad to me.  I feel more whole since becoming a mother - I feel like my life has been added to in ways I'd never imagined.  But - I am stumbling through motherhood, and I do feel awfully lost a lot of the time.  For me, horses are a way to reconnect to who I really am - they remind me that I am not only a Mom, but a person too.  Riding a horse this past weekend helped ground me.  It helped me find a little balance in life when I didn't even notice I was askew...and that can only make me a better mother.

For all the things I am trying to add to my life (sewing, writing, cleaning on a semi-regular basis - all of which I am pretty much failing at!), there is something to be said for going back to my roots.  Back to what I love and what I already know.

I am happy to report that I am back in the saddle again...and that I couldn't be happier to be there.


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Friday, February 3, 2012

In Which I Recount the Horrors of This Morning's Very Disturbing Revelation

I think all women are changed by motherhood, and often in unexpected ways.

{This is where I wanted to insert a meaningful quote about how motherhood changes us in unexpected and often frightening ways, but after about four minutes of half-heartedly googling "motherhood changes us quote" while Jack hovered over me with snot running down his face and onto my keyboard while he kept repeating, "Show me a picture of a jellyfish!  Show me a picture of a jellyfish!  Show me a picture of a jellyfish!" - I gave up.}

For some of us, the changes motherhood brings might be drastic...quitting a job to spend the days snuggling with a new baby, shelving a beloved hobby for the future because there just aren't enough hours in the day once kids are added to the mix, or buying an entire new wardrobe because you can't drop the last 15 pounds of stubborn baby weight (they lied when they told you you'd lose it all breastfeeding!).  For others, the changes might be subtle, but are still obvious reminders that you HAVE A KID NOW...things like a previously spotless home that no longer sparkles, grumpy mornings because you're tired from being up all night with baby, or bottles of foundation that you bought on sale and stored in a box with some other makeup you picked up cheap but have never even opened because who the heck cares if you are wearing makeup anymore, anyway?

OK, maybe those are just my experiences.  

But, if you have kids, you will know that some things in your life have changed and no doubt, that includes your priorities and you idea of a good time.

Which brings me to this morning and the little light bulb that went off above my head during a very quick encounter with another mom in (where else?) the Target parking lot.  

But first, you need to know this: I am not a "minivan mom."  

Charles and I have had this conversation, and more than once.  He "jokes" about wanting a minivan and I cut him off before he even gets started and tell it like it is:  HELL TO THE NO.  *I* am not a minivan kinda gal.  I'm a big truck girl.  Or maybe an SUV girl.  But a minivan?  Not a chance.  

Never mind that I have never actually owned a big truck, and that the bumper sticker I bought for my future truck when I was 18 years old that says "Geld 'Em!" still sits in a box somewhere, waiting for said truck.  Never mind that I owned an SUV once, and it was ridiculously expensive to keep running if I actually wanted to put gas in it and, you know, go places.  Never mind that we OWN A HONDA ACCORD.  I. Am. Not. A. Minivan. Mom.

"I will not drive a minivan until we have either three kids or I am at least 37 years old" I tell Charles.  

So, that brings me (again) to this morning.  

It went a little something like this.

I go to Target to buy detergent.  This is the only item I need.  But first, I have to return the fabric softener that Charles bought because he can't read a label and bought fabric softener instead of detergent and that just won't help me at all with the giant towers of laundry invading my closet and laundry room.  As much as I love Target, there is really nothing fun about loading up both kids to go there and return fabric softener and buy detergent.  

I reach back and unbuckle Jack's buckles, get out of the car, put the Ergo on, climb into the back seat and pull out Claire (careful not to bump her head on the low ceiling while the door keeps closing on me), stick her in the Ergo, go to Jack's side of the car and help him out (with him deciding it would be fun to just sit on the floorboard for a bit before I literally pull him out into the RAIN).  It rains on us as we run into the store (Claire in the Ergo, Jack holding my hand as I help/drag him across the parking lot).  We enter Target.  Jack is loose.  This is going surprisingly well, and I quickly and easily return the fabric softener.  I start to walk towards the detergent, Jack telling me how good he's going to be and how he's going to "follow directions" - which he does, until he spies a conveniently-placed (i.e., right in the line of this three-year-old's vision) light-up spinning propeller lollipop.  Things quickly take a turn for the worse.  Jack tries to make a run for it.  I grab him by his shirt (baby is in the Ergo, remember) and then by the hand and drag him to a shopping cart, which I lift him into (baby still in the Ergo!).  We buy the damn detergent and I start pushing the cart (with a wily three-year-old and one bottle of detergent as it's only occupants) towards the car.  It has, thankfully, stopped raining.

I pop the trunk and as I'm doing so, see a woman with her kid getting into a minivan next to us.  I notice, as I toss the detergent into the trunk, that the back of her van is open and behind the third row of seats there is a nice little flat spot with plenty of room to change a diaper on!   I look at the the trunk...and think of what a pain in the ass it is to change a diaper in the TRUNK.  But I've done it.  More than once.

I take the baby out of the Ergo and crawl into the back seat of the car with her, bumping my head and maneuvering the baby so she doesn't bump hers, too, as I stuff her into her seat (she likes to straighten up and turn into Stiff Baby whenever it's time to get in her seat).  I buckle her in, the car door half-closed on my leg and Jack in the cart right outside the door.  Then, I get to wrestle Jack into his seat (and he makes a big show out of it because one time he may or may not have hit his head kind of hard on the car as I was lifting him into the seat).  I push the cart into the little cart-area (which I have learned to always park next to for lots of reasons).  

At this point, the Minivan Lady asks me if I can help her with something...she can't find her phone, so she asks me to call it from my phone so she can hear it ringing and hopefully locate it.  I have so been there.  I oblige (I should note here that this same lady has randomly approached me and talked to me now on THREE SEPARATE OCCASIONS...once at the gym, once at the library, and now at Target...I don't think she recognizes me weird is that??).  Anyway, I call the phone and we don't hear it ring.  Apparently she gave it to her son to play with in Target so he would behave and she must have left it there.  She says, "Oh, this is so my life right now!" and I hear her loud and clear.  

With a magical push of a button, the door to her minivan slides open.  She unbuckles her son - not fighting with a door, not crawling half into the car, and not all scrunched over so she doesn't bump her head - removes him from his seat, pushes a button and walks away as the door closes behind her.  

And all of a sudden, the light bulb turns on.

Oh!  So *that's* why people drive minivans.

I get into the Honda and the whole way home, find myself thinking about...minivans.  I start thinking about all the reasons I have to justify trading in Hondy (yeah, we call it Hondy) for a van.  I'm 34 and have been married for 11 years, who the heck do I need to impress with my car, right?  If we have another kid we'll need another car, so why not just get one now and save myself all the trouble of loading up the kids into the Honda every time I need to leave the house?  Surely it has a DVD player for those long drives...OMG, the justifications are endless.  And...more than a little disturbing.

When did I become such a "mom" - one who thinks that not only are minivans OK, but also kind  When did a flat, temperature-controlled spot to change a diaper become more desirable than trunk space?  When did the thought of being way too embarrassed to drive a minivan around town get replaced with the thought "no one cares what I'm driving anyway!"

When did this happen??

We're not looking for another car right now, and even if we were, I still have my reservations.  But, it's safe to say that when we are ready to look for our next car, we'll have to broaden our search to include a few minivans.

The lesson here?  Same old, same old...never say never.

:::Vroom Vroom!!::: (that's me speeding away in my minivan).

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