My Not-so-typical Teenagers

January 21, 2017

To be a parent to teenagers and toddlers often puts me into a weird parenting tug-of-war. Then I take a step back and realize the advantages I have. This week I focused on a little ode to my beautiful teenage (well Liv, 12, is technically not a teenager yet..) daughters.

I am in my car, with two toddlers. Only a two and half hours until home. I reassure myself. A quick check to the rear view mirror reminds me that I am alone with them. The older two are at home. Help Mommy! Ipad stuck! Jackson shrieks as I pull onto the freeway. He locked it. I curse. Mamamamamamamamamamama!!! Cece chimes in. Her arms reaching out trying to hand me the bag of cereal she was eating. I watch as she sprinkles half the bag onto the car floor I had just cleaned. I see a Mickey Mouse book beyond my reach. Refocusing my attention on the road, I turn up the music. “I had that dream; that you were mine. I had that dream a thousand times; The car seems lonely, I realize how much I miss my girls.  I don’t hear their chatter: silly, sarcastic, intelligent, confusing, and comforting. I want to see their faces when I surprise them with hot chocolate from Starbucks; a gesture of appreciation for them fixing the Ipad for Jackson or replacing the cereal in Cece’s outstretched little arm for the book in front of her feet. My thought haze dissolves as Cece coughs up green Lucky Charm tinted blob of vomit.

Continue reading My Not-so-typical Teenagers

Just Add Water

There is a water obsession going on at the Taylor house. It is as much a part of our family as the dog or the cat. It started with Layla’s strange fear of running water. Every bath night was a struggle. If she was anywhere near the bathroom when I turned tub faucet it would end in hysterics and no bath. “TURN THE WATER OFF!!!” She would shriek.  It didn’t help that her bedroom was across from the bathroom so I would have to be extra sneaky in my tactics. I would wait until she was engrossed in something like drawing or talking to her Care Bears to start my plan. Turn on the TV for added noise. When she wasn’t looking I would sneak into the bathroom and shut the door. I slowly put on the faucet so that she wouldn’t hear. I wait a few minutes until there was an adequate amount of water for her to clean herself. Before having Layla, I assumed the best way to get clean was to use the running faucet water and not the sitting bath water that was most likely filled with body dirt. But then again, I am not a fan of taking a bath at all. I am sure Layla spent the first five or so years of her life not getting totally clean..but at least she would let me wash her. Once the tub was filled and the water was off, I would go into her room and announce it was bath time. She would happily get in the tub like the water fear was never a thing.   Sportscaster: In the 5th round of Mom vs. Toddler, Mom goes for the sneak bath. Mom takes this one.
Layla was a very hesitant swimmer. She didn’t want her face anywhere near the water as if she had been drowned in a past life. It took her two sessions of swim lessons before she would go under. Water activities like sprinklers or water balloons were not fun for her. There was a slip ‘n slide incident ended with the F-Bomb heard around the world. My brother in law took her for a slide into the little pool and her face hit the water. She stood up in a fury I have never seen on her before. “Teddy”. She yelled. “You make me so fucking mad!”     Sportscaster: In the 50th round of Mom vs. Toddler – Toddler uses mom’s favorite word in front of family, friends and grandparents. Toddler wins this one by a landslide.
Liv immediately took to the pool. Her first impression of a pool was to immediately jump right in, not even stopping to think about it. No matter how many times I had to fish her out of water that was too deep, she never had a fear for swimming. I got reprimanded by the sixteen year-old life guard at the pool one summer. “Ma’am,” he said looking at eighteen month Olivia and over to three year old Layla who was sitting in the shallowest part of the water playing cautiously to her self. Liv was trying to squirm her way into the deep end. “you need to keep your kids with in arms length of you. Both of them.” He added. “Gotcha.” I said with a slight sprinkle of sarcasm. I knew Layla’s fear of the water would keep her in that spot all day if I let her  and Livs lack of fear would have her throwing a tantrum to go off the diving board if I let her. I hope he ended up with a Liv one day and had to keep track of her at the crowded pool. Another time, We were at a friends house who had a back yard pool and a slide. I was chatting away with the other moms while the kids all hovered around the shallow end. They were all kindergarteners/first graders so they had a limited skillset with swimming that didn’t include the deep end yet but they had a fear of it that kept parents confident they would stay in the shallow end. “Wow, your daughter can go in the deep ends?” one of the mothers asked. I realized she was talking to me when I saw Olivia fly down the slide into the deep end. I mom-ninjaed over to the side of the pool just in time to fish her out of the deep end as she realized she couldn’t swim.  Sportscaster: In the 75th round of Mom vs. Toddler, Toddler shows of bad momming to strangers and other moms. This is a win for Toddlers everywhere folks.
Liv’s water issues were a direct result from Layla’s fear of running water. She didn’t like running or sprinkling water. She was also a runner, so this began my water based parenting tactics. In her early toddlerhood, She would often run down the driveway and almost into the street before I would catch her. Of course the act of chasing a toddler only makes them want to do it even more. So with a determination, anytime I wasn’t looking she took off. Our driveway was an L Shape and our deck was right at the corner. One day I was spraying the deck with the hose when she started her descent into the street. I didn’t mean to but, I turned to yell at her with the hose still on and she got sprayed. She screamed and turned and ran the other way,  toward the back yard. Spraying my kid may make me seem like a terrible mom, but it was for her own safety. And it only took a few times.  They would play outside and I would sit at the corner of the deck with the hose. If she started to run, I would spray. If she kept running she got wet, if she turned and went into the back yard she stayed dry. Sportscaster: In the 101st round of mom versus toddler, mom busts out a secret weapon – the hose! This round goes to Mom!
Jackson is both fascinated and annoyed by water. After I had Cece, Jackson realized acting out was a good way to get us to put the baby down and chase him. So basically, Jackson punished us for having a baby by extra toddlering. He would climb on the end table and start to lean forward like he was going to fall unless I ran over to catch him. He would climb on the couch and try to pull the picture off the wall. If I set Cece down in her chair or swing, he would immediately climb on top of her and try to “hug” her. There was just. so. much. climbing – all the time. I had to come up with some way to get his attention since yelling “No, No”, swatting on the butt and pulling him away only made him want to do it even more. This game was getting old for me since I wasn’t winning at all. I remembered the hose technique with Olivia. Should I? No. That is mean. I am sitting in my recliner nursing Cece. He comes over and pulls the recline button sending me back and putting the foot rest out so he can climb on it via stepping on one of his trucks. I am still feeding Cece with her cradled on my right arm while awkwardly trying to get him off the chair with my left hand. He head butts my shoulder then hugs me, burrowing his face into my shoulder blade. I feel something sharp. “Owe!! Did you bit me?” I scream. He laughs and repeats the head butt into biting motion again. He looks at Cece, then me, and plops down next to her. He grabs one of her hands and gives her a little high five. “Awe, high five.” I say. Then he clenches his fist and punches her in the arm. She hesitates; then lets out a terrified scream. He looks at me and says “Uh-Oh”. “You’re a jerk!!” I scream. He smiles and gives me one more head butt bite hug. Yes, I should. I filled a water spray bottle and when he made the facetious climbing look – I sprayed it at him. The water hit his back and he looked at me with shock and betrayal. I am such a bad mom. I kept thinking. He stacked pillows only to try to reach a glass vase off the high shelf. Spray, spray. “No!” I said. He stopped what he was doing and moved on to playing with his trucks. That was too easy. Now, I don’t really need to spray him anymore. When he starts one of his ass hole behaviors, I grab the blue bottle and point it his way. He cowers for a second then finds something else to play with. Perhaps parenting is just missing a bit of water. Sportscaster: In the 1000th round of Mom vs. Toddler boy, mom deploys the spray bottle decoy. This is all Mom!
I am sitting outside with Jackson. It’s a quiet Sunday morning after a rainy night. It was going to be a steamy day but not for a few more hours. Jackson is running around the yard and I am drinking my coffee and jotting some ideas down in my journal. I want to keep up my weekly writing cadence so i promised myself I would have a post up by Sunday night each week and I even procrastinate on my own deadlines. Jackson waddles up the steps and finds one of his trucks filled with water from the rainstorm. He starts drinking the water. “Ewe. Gross. Ca-ca”. I say. He throws it and finds his bucket also filled with water. He drinks this too and looks at me, knowing I would react the same way. “No!” I yell and grab the bucket, dumping it on the deck. He belly flops onto the deck and starts lapping the water off the deck like a dog while smiling at me. Then he finds a flowerpot base with dirt and rainwater and laps that as well. “Seriously? I just cant. I cant,” I say to him,or the air. He is back to lapping up water off the deck. Perhaps toddlering is also missing a bit of water. Sportscaster: In the 5000th round of Mom vs. Toddler, Toddler realizes Mom can’t make all the water go away after it rains. If he dog can lap it off the deck, so can I. As usual, Toddler wins this one!






The Routine

September 5, 2012

“I’m so hungry. Can I have a snack?” Olivia asks
“Dinner is almost ready…like five minutes.” Josh says
“But I am really hungry.”
“FIVE minutes!!”

We sit down for dinner. There is chatter between the kids of who did what at school, who played with them and some gossip over who got in trouble. As this is a new school, I smile and nod, as I have no clue what they are talking about.

“I’m full.” Olivia says

“Five more bites.” I reply without even looking at the plate. I know there is probably somewhere between “the starving kids in Africa” lecture and the “no snacks later” but as I am between diets right now, it was more like the “finishing Olivia’s meal doesn’t really count as seconds” mindset.

“I took five bites, can I be done now?” She asks.

Since the girls have started school, life has started to feel a bit normal…like the natural balance of day and night has returned and now I don’t feel like I am the only one who actually has to wake up at a specific time everyday. Just like my work life, their daily life involves actual people and not Warrior Cats and American Girls. Schedules and routines feel more normal than the long and hot summer days where I am the only one who knows the difference between a Tuesday and a Saturday. Summer is the routine killer. I spend the entire school year trying to the girls on a perfect balance of schoolwork, homework, activities, friends and playtime. It is a fine craft that took a few years to perfect. (Don’t be overwhelmed parents of kindergarteners…I promise it gets easier..or you start caring a little less about what other parents, your parents, teachers, the kids, your husband or even the dog think of you. It is about mid-first to second grade you will realize the impact of school on your child’s life. Before kindergarten, the kids go with you and their lives are pretty much based on what you are doing. After kindergarten, you go with the kids and your life is pretty much based on what they are doing.) Since the theme of our summer was “we moved and our lives are now completely different”, I am now bracing what feels like a familiar routine and that involves them being in school.

After seven days off work, I actually didn’t mind going back to work. For the first time since I have been at my new job, I started to think about what I was going to wear tomorrow. This is a far cry from my new motto of “whatever is clean”. I was starting to wonder if the old “me” was dying a little each day. With a job where I have to do actual work everyday (aka grownup world) and city where I am anonymous as Jane Doe, I was starting to feel a little bit too ordinary. As I lay there in bed dreaming Kelly green mixed with leopard print, my old self decided to make a comeback. Like Doctor Who emerging from a pocket watch, the former me is taking over. (Confession time: I have spent the last three weeks in a total Doctor Who trance…why didn’t someone warn me that show was so addicting? I have skipped the following activities to watch the Doctor: sleeping, shopping, eating, exercising, going out, calling people back, reading emails, blogging, cleaning, etc. etc….)

Now that fall is close and I can picture myself in my heeled boots and pretty much anything from J. Crew, I am starting to feel a sense of individuality again in what I am wearing. To honor that, today I wore a scarf. Welcome back fall wardrobe…(swimsuit, my nemesis, we will meet again next year), hello new Kelly green slacks.

“How long has it been since we had dinner?” Olivia asks

“Ten minutes” I say
“Can I have a snack?” Olivia asks

Welcome back normal family life.






Shirt: Target
Scarf: The Limited
Pants: Gap
Shoes: Charlotte Russe

The Renewal

April 9, 2012


Easter Sunday. The general theme of the Easter season is renewal and rebirth. The idea that you give something up, make a sacrifice and at the end you are completely reborn. I always think of Easter like that. Sacrifice and rebirth…that may be the theme of my life these days. “I am like a Salmon, Mom.” Layla explained. “Salmon wander away from the place they are born and then find their way back.” She was trying to make me feel less anxious about our move..back to the place she, Olivia an my husband were born, Columbus Oh. (It is completely symbolic of our relationship..I am anxious she is way too level headed). The bitter sweet feeling of that I am moving away from my family has made this holiday that much more sentimental. Does your family have any fun holiday traditions? This has been the weekend of simplicity laced with the theme of family. (Grizwald family Easter?). It was the small things like drinks with my sister while our kids were playing to big things like all of us owning our front row pew at church. It was the egg wars and jellybeans and the worst looking brownies I have ever made! Here are some of the highlights of my good old-fashioned family Easter
Good Friday: Sadly we didn’t get the early release from work that I was anxiously hoping for. The past few years, I have gotten off just in time to accompany my mom to the Jesus Christ Superstar performance by eight graders at a local Catholic School. In the past, quite a few of my cousins have been stars in this emotional performance..which makes it that much more powerful. I have been taking the girls for..well probably longer than they should have been there. The first time I took them, Liv was three and Layla was five. I was hoping they would capture the essence of the performance and get a bigger picture of what Easter was all about without having to go into graphic, Jesus was nailed to a cross, sort of explanation. Olivia was antsy about ten minutes into the hour –ish long performance. I kept folding my hands and lowering my head down in my most solemn position hoping she would see my example and follow suit. The woman in front of us crying did not help my feeling of embarrassment as Liv was shaking my leg asking when we were going to leave. I told her we were going to watch Jesus die and it was a very important part of Easter. She was still getting antsy. The music stopped so the narrator could tell more of the story. Liv was pulling my hand and trying to get my attention. “Is he dead yet? I want to go home!” She yelled.
Easter Sunday: The girls got up and found their baskets. Josh and I have a tradition of preparing their baskets well after midnight while enjoying a few grown up beverages. We like to hide the baskets in plain sight. Layla’s basket contained “The Hunger Games” since we saw the movie Saturday and she is obsessed. Liv got a book on style (my protégée). They both got poncho shirts and tanks from the trendiest of children’s clothing stores…Justice for Girls. “I always wanted a poncho!!” Liv declared. We went to my Mom’s for dinner and egg festivities including a hunt and egg wars. Does anyone else’s family play this game of egg crushing? You hold an egg up while another person takes an egg and smashes into yours. The egg that doesn’t crack is the winner. After a dozen or so smashed egg tops, my little cousin proudly held up her egg…like an Olympic victor.

It was a great weekend..full of over eating and good times. I have been pretty busy with the idea of moving and cleaning lately that I haven’t had time to do much else. I have some great post planned for April..including the return of my shopping addiction! Hope everyone had a great Easter holiday weekend!

Easter 1


Easter 3


The Pet Sitter

March 22, 2012

Olivia is always one to sweat the hypothetical. She asks for something like a cell phone and cries when I tell her I was twenty-five when I got my first phone. “Do you know who old I was?” My dad piped in. She ignored him as the tears started to brew over her eyes. “Can I have an iPad?” She asked.

Me: Do you have any money?
Olivia: Can’t you just put it on your credit card?
Me: No. I don’t need an iPad. You can buy one with your money
Olivia: How much does one cost?
Me: like five hundred dollars.
Olivia: Where am I going to get five-hundred dollars?
Me: Get a job
Olivia: I can’t get a job. Can’t you just make five hundred dollars from paper?
Me: If I could do that don’t you think we would have a house with more than one bathroom?
Olivia: I mean one of those bills. Like you make for my lunch money. Can’t you make a bill for five hundred dollars?
Me: You mean a check?
Olivia: yes. Can you write a check for five hundred dollars so I can get an ipad?
Me: No. I would have to have five hundred extra dollars in my checking account. You don’t just write checks.
Olivia: How am I supposed to get an ipad?
Layla: you could have a lemonade stand.
Me: there you go. You would need to have a couple lemonade stands
Layla: like five?
Me: if you make twenty dollars per lemonade stand, then you would need two hundred and fifty lemonade stands to get an iPad
Olivia: But I want an iPad now.
Me: Why do you need an iPad?
Olivia: For the apps. I like apps
Me: What is wrong with just using a computer?
Olivia: It doesn’t use apps. It is useless.
Me: I see.
Layla: how about a pet sitting business? You could walk and feed dogs.
Olivia. Yeah!! I could do that. Can I start walking dogs for money?
Me: If you want. That is a lot of dogs to walk.
Olivia: I need posters. Can I make posters and put them in the yard so people know I walk dogs?
Me: sure.
Layla: you need to get it laminated. So they don’t get wet. Just like at school. The janitor laminates things for us.
Me: Really?
Layla: Yep. Olivia needs to have the janitor laminate her posters.
Olivia: Can’t I just laminate them at home?
Me: You need a laminator.
Olivia: Can you buy me one?
Me: No. that is silly.
Olivia: Can I buy one? I have ten dollars.
Me: they cost more than ten dollars.
Olivia: How am I going to get my signs laminated?
Me: take them to Kinkos or something.
Olivia: Can I send it to uncle Jeremy? He makes signs
Me: Sure
Olivia: I can’t wait to get home and make a sign.
I remember starting a “business” as a kid. I read tons of The Babysitters’ Club or always imagined having the perfect Lemonade stand. There was so much I wanted to buy and I couldn’t understand why my parents just wouldn’t give me what I wanted. Huffy bike..Barbie dream house (with elevator), Hypercolor T-shirt, Umbros Shorts, a Walkman and New Kids on the Block Tapes, a Nintendo complete with Duck Hunt…there was so much temptation for a kid. And this was before the world of cell phones and laptop computers and iPads. It is funny to watch the kids gradually grasp the concept of why they don’t have everything and how much stuff actually costs. I am sure Olivia won’t walk a single dog…but at least I don’t have to be the mean Mom who won’t buy their kid an iPad (today).
Parenting tip: If you want to keep your children busy for hours…tell them they can’t have an iPad so they spend hours making signs for their new “business.”

Writing prompt: Do you remember starting a business as a child. Was it a lemonade stand or your version of the Babysitters’ Club? What did you want to buy with the money? Were you successful or did you loose interest before you even started?