Snowed In

Coming off a week of snow days, my mind is mush. I grew up in the snow country of upstate NY, but life is very different when it snows in the south. Only the main roads get plowed and salted here, so driving anywhere is a concern. Hence the run on all grocery stores and the rash of cancellations the minute the weather man whispers snow.

Snow days play with my emotions. One minute I'm feeling happy to see every one around the table playing a board game...

And the next, I'm discouraged and impatient walking into a kitchen disaster zone!

One minute everyone is happy and laughing, and the next I feel like I'll go crazy refereeing one more argument!

But, today I'm thankful...

My car is now parked in the garage instead of way up the street.

I can go to sleep without hearing warnings of frozen pipes and power outages.

My teenagers can drive again! Listening to protests about not being able to drive, and worrying when they had to drive, was by far the worst part of the snow days for me.

I don't need to stock up on milk!  I can go to the grocery store anytime I want.

We had so many sledding days in a row. I think my kids may have done more sledding this week than I did in all my years living in NY. 

Even my dad and his dog walked over to join in the fun!

Halfway through the week, I told my husband this was like Christmas, only better. Everyone is home and enjoying family time, but there's no pressure to decorate, bake, or complete a long list of traditions. No shopping or wrapping. It's the way moms always fantasize Christmas vacation will be!

So even though snow days are not usually my thing, I really did enjoy most of this week and I know my kids did too!

If you want to know what it feels like to be snowed in all week, check out this funny video my friends made about their experience! Click here to see the YouTube video.

Ice and Snow...Oh, no!

Nashville was hit with ice and snow yesterday, so our snow days are finally here. And I predict they'll be here the rest of the week! One snow day, maybe two, is a bit of a respite for all of us. But a whole week, it's a little much.

So in honor of the way I know I'll feel in about 24 hours, I'm going to rerun this snow day post from last year!

Snow nemesis. In the South, a snow day rarely means actual snow. So there's no sledding or outdoor fun to break up the day. Today we have ice.

Ice means you don't know if you should leave or not, you can't let your teenagers drive anywhere, and everything that would maybe make a snow day tolerable, i.e. trips to mall, movies, etc. are out. No one wants to be in an accident because they had to get to Target. So we're home and I've heard "mom" at least 300 times already. Only a handful of those were for pleasant reasons. Mostly it's "Mom! Tell him/her to stop!", or, "Mom, why can't I/we drive here, there, and everywhere because I'm so, so, so bored, even though I hoped for and was so excited that today I wouldn't have any school and could stay home all day!"

This morning, after hearing the twins tell each other to STOP at least 100 times, my husband said, "I don't know how you do it. If I had to stay home and listen to that all day, I'd go insane. I'd rather have my hair plucked out by birds than listen to them argue and say stop all day."

My oldest son goes to the window every few minutes, looks out and says, "Yes, I definitely think they'll cancel school again tomorrow. We will for sure be home." Please, please, please don't keep reminding me. I think he wants me to run screaming from the house.

Everywhere I go, I hear my happy snow day children saying, get out, turn off that music, stop singing, you're so annoying, give it back, make them stop, can I go here, why can't I drive there, I'm so bored, can I have lunch, can I have a snack, can I, can I, and I'm telling mom.

Random scenes from our day-

Received an urgent text from my daughter this morning that we must finish this Annie Oakley costume for school. Mission accomplished!

Proof that all of my kids didn't spend EVERY minute on their iPod, computer, TV, and anything else that entertains and keeps them quiet. Although, one of the twins did come sadly down the stairs this afternoon saying, "Mooooommm, I don't have ANY fun addictive apps." Sad, sad, bad, bad snow day mother!

I can't make any such promises about the boys though. When it's too cold and icy to be outside, PlayStation is a legitimate form of entertainment. And they are interacting. I hear such things as Nooooo, you stink, take that, and, of course, STOP!

Let's see, should I check Facebook and see what other moms are doing? No...that is a recipe for depression. I always wonder if they are really telling the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, when they say things like, We had the best day, my kids let me sleep until 10 and the older children made snow day crafts and hot chocolate with the younger ones, and then we sat in a circle and sang songs and cried tears of joy that we could be trapped together in a small space for a zillion hours. It's a good thing my kids never argue and I never crave a moment to myself. I hope we're out again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day!

Lest you think I never have a Facebook moment, my girls did make some extremely small and expensive Easy Bake Oven chocolate chip cookies.

And as said cookies were baking, we got THE CALL. Yes, indeed we will be doing it all over again tomorrow! 

Valentine's Day Fantasies

When I was in high school, you could purchase carnations for a dollar and have them delivered with a message to anyone in school. There were white and pink, but of course the most coveted ones were red. In my Valentine's Day fantasies, I wished a secret admirer would send me a dozen red carnations. I felt like if I went to school and those were waiting for me, I'd really be loved! Flowers and gifts meant love to me back then.

Now love is spelled T-I-M-E. My husband asked what I wanted for Valentine's Day this year and my mind was blank. There's nothing he can buy in the store that will mean more than time. It's the thing that is most rare right now, so it's become the most valuable. 

When you're younger, you have lots of time and little money. Buying something for someone you love is a sacrifice.  

When you're older, you have money, but little time. Everyone and everything competes for your attention, so setting aside time becomes a greater sacrifice.

I think my husband would actually like it better if I could give him a list of things to buy. That's how hard it is to make time happen these days!

But just in case the stars align, here's a list of ten things I'd love for Valentine's Day:

Walking or bike riding around our favorite neighborhoods. 

Shopping in places other than Sam's Club together. 

Getting away anywhere alone together. 

Going to a romantic movie.

Dining in front of a fireplace.

Going to a quiet coffee shop. 

Taking a scenic drive. 

Watching a movie while cuddling under the electric blanket

Exploring a little town together. 

Getting take-out and spending an evening alone in our house. 

As you can see, shared experiences and uninterrupted conversation are way better than flowers in my book. Feel free to bring a little dark chocolate though! 

How about you? Has your Valentine's Day list changed over the years? 

Traveling Through the Teenage Years

Parenting teenagers can feel like winter. It's cold and barren on a lot of days, interspersed by glimpses of spring just around the corner.

Five years ago, I started watching Parenthood on NBC. I love a good drama and the family dynamics in this show sucked me in from the start. But what I really loved about it was the relationships they showed between teenagers and their parents.

Let me tell you, it's lonely being the parent of a teen. With younger kids, you're still free to share with other parents what's going on in your kids' lives. You can laugh about failures and prop each other up because for the most part, the stakes are small. You can joke that you'll never get your child potty trained or sleeping through the night because deep down you know that all kids learn those things eventually.

Elementary school problems are real, but they don't usually carry long term consequences. In middle school, the parental angst kicks up a notch just when the community of support for parents starts to nosedive. By the time your children are well into their teens, you're lucky to have one or two people you can really talk to and even then you have to be guarded to protect your kids' privacy. You don't have the network of other parents you used to have to bounce ideas off and you can start to feel like you're the only one whose kids are turning life as you knew it upside down. 

And it's not just the behavior of your teens that's a struggle. You will say, do, and feel things you never could have imagined when you brought that precious baby home from the hospital 15 or so years ago. Worrying about or arguing with a teenager will make you not even recognize yourself sometimes. And you won't feel comfortable sharing your parenting failures at this stage because the stakes are too high now. You don't know yet if everything really will turn out okay. 

That's what drew me to Parenthood. It felt good to see other teens push their parents away one minute and reach out the next. I could identify with moms worrying about their kids dating. It was a relief to see parents and teenagers argue and say some of the things I was dealing with in my own home. 

Did I agree with every storyline? No. But I felt the pain. I cheered the victories. I cried at the vulnerability and volatility of the the teenage years. And I had hope. I felt less alone. If someone could write those lines, then they must have experienced these things too. And maybe I can wake up and do it all over again just like they must have. 

Sometimes a TV show is more than entertainment. Sometimes it's therapy.

I'll miss you Parenthood. Thanks for being a sweet spot to rest on the journey of raising teenagers. I'm sure I'll be catching you in reruns because I've still got a lot of traveling left to do!

Bringing Home Baby #2

One of the best parts of blogging is meeting other bloggers. Today I'm guest posting for my friend, Chelsea, over at The Contented Wife Blog. I love reading Chelsea's blog because she reminds me of myself a long time ago! She's expecting her second baby this summer and asked me to share some advice for bringing baby number two home. Writing this post brought back a lot of memories for me and I enjoyed reflecting on that sweet time in my life.

I can still remember how overwhelmed I felt at the thought of caring for two children. It took a lot of wrangling just to get them out the door for this picture. Taking a two week old baby and 22 month old toddler to a photographer is no small feat!

The relationship between my two oldest is a special one though. They were by themselves for almost five years before their younger brother joined them. They're the ones we cut our teeth on. The ones that were raised according to the books with attention to every detail. By the time you have three, four, and five kids, you start to let a few things slide!

Now these babies are 17 and 19. It's been so neat to watch their relationship evolve over the past few years. I think it really started maturing and coming into its own when they were both in high school. My daughter was old enough to drive to both of them to school. I think being in the car alone together started out awkward, but really ended up being the impetus to developing a real friendship. I can see a lot of mutual respect between them now and they enjoy each other's company. That's a blessing for any mom to see!

Click here to

Sister Love

Watching my girls fight and claw their way through life one minute and then be best friends the next, makes me marvel at the sister relationship. As I was scolding my twins for incessant fighting yesterday, I told them many people would LOVE to have a twin. Then I said, I know I would! One of them immediately piped up, You do! Aunt Lisa! Haha, that struck me so funny! Even though we're five years apart, and had plenty of our share of fights growing up, they see my sister and I as "twins" today. How sweet and flattering!  

Here's a snippet of a conversation I recently overheard between my nephew and my girls:

Does your mom ever plop food down on your plate and let it touch the other food? 

Yes! There's a wide open space and she just sets the food down right on top of the other food. She doesn't even care!  She just mixes it all together and says it all ends up in the same place anyway!

Another time, my brother-in-law mentioned in joking frustration that my sister made a pan of dessert and then cut the very middle piece out for herself. He wondered, Who does something like that? My kids immediately said, My mom!! And it's true. If I've made a dessert for our family, I'm not above cutting out the best piece for myself. And sometimes hiding it to enjoy alone later! :)

Of course food quirks aren't the only thing that Lisa and I share. We're often told our laugh and voices sound the same. We share many mannerisms. On two separate occasions, friends of hers have run into me and later told her, I think I met your sister today. She looked and sounded just like you! 

Lisa is the closest thing I have to a twin for sure. But she's more than that. She's fun to be with, a loyal friend, and someone who's always there to listen. I can tell her most anything because she understands things from the same reference point and history that I do. Plus she's seen me at my craziest and still loves me! My sister is a treasure in my life and I hope all my girls will grow up to feel the same way about each other.