Shop til you STOP

As a parent, I have these grandiose ideas of how things will turn out in my head. It’s always bigger, happier and calmer when I craft a vision in my mind than the reality of what actually happens. Take Christmas shopping with my 5-year old for example…

Miss E had requested some mommy-daughter time, so one Friday when I had wrapped things up at the job, I thought today is the day! I worked out with Hubby to pick up Miss A, so I went into daycare mom-ninja-like and grabbed Miss E and whisked her off to Fargo. I told her that we were going to go shopping so she can pick out a Christmas present for Hubby, Miss A and maybe her Godparents. Doesn’t this sound super fun?!?!? Miss E’s glazed end-of-the-week eyes looked at me lackluster and said “sure mom.” They had “Polar Express Day” in Kindergarten, and the epic energy toll to watch the movie in pajamas must have been immense. I told myself the awesomeness of mommy-daughter time would get her jazzed up, it just hadn’t sunk in yet. She’ll come around.

As we drove into town(less than a 20 minute drive), Miss E asked to watch TV. I said no as it was only a short trip. She started to get whiny, so I tried using some of that super-cool mom redirection by asking her what store she wanted to go to first. She didn’t know. I threw out a couple of options and she still didn’t know. It’s okay! This is still going to be some fun mom-daughter bonding time!

As we approached town, my little angel declared that she was hungry. It is around 3:30…not really a meal time, but I’m just rolling with it in the name of bonding! When I asked if she wanted to eat before of after we went to the store, so said before. Okay…

Where do you want to go to eat? We can go wherever you want.
Costco.
No honey, where do you want to go eat?
COSTCO.
Liiiiiike you want to go try samples?
No. I want to go get pizza at Costco.
Are you sure?
Mom I want to go to Costco.

Alrighty, so as we sat at the bright red picnic table, under the red and white umbrella shielding us from the fluorescent lights of Costco, Miss E is having dinner at 3:37pm. Miss E gets almost halfway through her giant slice of pepperoni and lets me know that I can half of her half-chewed slice. Oh goodie. Oddly enough, she wasn’t as hungry as she thought.

Okay on to shopping. Miss E wants to go around the store now and look at items, maybe she can find something for her dad or little sister. As we walk the aisles of Costco, she insists on pushing the cart which is huge compared to her. She has to look through the cart as she isn’t tall enough to see over. As she zig zags down the corridor trying to control the cart and getting upset with me when I act crazy by preventing crashes and damage, I can almost feel the eyerolls from other patrons trying to get their shopping done. LEAVE ME ALONE PEOPLE-we are friggin bonding!

As Miss E carefully chooses to explore every aisle that has NO possible chance of having something she can give as a gift, I try to direct, suggest and steer, to her just getting annoyed. Then at the end cap, she sees them! She sees the most magnificent gift of all dad-gifts that she knows is the PERFECT gift for her dad!

Mom! I want to get those for dad.
You think dad wants AA batteries?
No. I KNOW he wants those batteries.
I think we should keep looking.
Dad REALLY wants these.
Maybe we should look over-
I want to get him THESE! Or maybe (she picks up a package of C batteries)
No, you’re right. These are perfect (toss an econo-pack of AA batteries in the cart).

It turns out her dad REALLY wanted a copy of the Polar Express movie also(so strange) and then we went through the next hour of her pointing out things that she wanted to get herself, with the crescendo of a meltdown in Kohl’s. We went into Kohl’s and found her new winter boots, that she REALLY liked, but her mood changed because she didn’t understand why I wouldn’t buy her the $139 PJ Masks playset.

To try to bring this bonding trip back to the good side of crazy, we finished our mom-daughter night with a trip to Tutti Frutti. At the yogurt bar, she decided to get a cup of just toppings separate from the cup of just yogurt, okay fine. Then she proceeded to eat all of the toppings, none of the yogurt, and tossed her still full cup of yogurt in the garbage declaring that she was “full”…that was until we got in the car when she immediately asked if we had any snacks. When I said we didn’t, she immediately remembered the trauma of not getting the ridiculously high-priced PJ Masks playset and she sobbed the entire way home telling me things like “You never let me have anything.” “We never do anything.”“We don’t do fun things.”etc, etc, etc.

If you’re wondering, the Rumchatta was extra tasty that night and I’ll be shopping alone for the next 4-46 years.

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Christmas Facebook Lies and Lying Liars.

It’s Christmas weekend and some of us are celebrating the holiday with family.  Some of us also have Facebook and no doubt will be posting about the events that unfold.  I think the two of you who read this blog may have clicked over here from Facebook, so yeah…I’m talking to you.

This holiday keep in mind, Facebook is NOT real. Don’t set your holiday success bar based on what you see posted. Social media is showing you the glossed-over, shined-up, and one-sided version of the holiday.  Hey, I’m to blame too. Let me admit to my own holiday farce.

First of all, I only posted my “best” pictures. Double-chins, lazy-eyes and gaping-jaws were all deleted.

I posted the photo of all of the grandchildren decorating a gingerbread house with grandma.  I did not capture a picture of when Miss A decided to take the house on a walk, dumped it, shattered it, and then I had to sweep it up because the irresistible urge to eat floor candy mixed with dirt and dog hair was too strong for her to resist.

I posted the photo of the children watching Despicable Me 3 together-the first time…not the third time we turned it on as a hailMary to just get some non-screaming sanity-building time.

My wall has a picture of children happily opening brand new board games, but I neglected to capture the pic of kids standing on and cracking the game that’s been open for less than 10 minutes.

Perfect photo of the freshly baked bread? Got it. Photos of the other two loaves that flopped but I baked anyway out of spite? Nope. I didn’t get those.

Picture of Miss E lovingly hugging her new stuffed animal? Posted.  Any mention of the scream-match over the same stuffed animal complete with sibling whacks and door slamming 30 minutes later? Nope.

Photos of cousins lovingly playing together? Check. Photos of me and Hubby inventing reasons to go to Walgreens just to get 5 minutes of peace? Oops forgot again.

As people are on Facebook “liking” my photos, I’m writing my blog riding home in my car as my 5 year-old is losing her damn mind in the back because she is over tired and suffering from a holiday hangover…and she just woke up the 2-year Old. Hello last 40 miles of Hell.

So when you see these photos of the matching pajama, smiling, holiday cheerful families, remember: they’re probably a bunch of holly, jolly, assholes, a half step from losing it… just like the rest of us.

Merry Christmas!

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Not Enough Time

Last week I learned that a lifelong friend had died unexpectedly. For many reasons I am shocked, but one is because this is the third person, within 2 years age of me, who has DIED THIS YEAR. I am in my mid-thirties. I am young. We are young.

This friend and I hadn’t been particularly close the past several years, as marriage, motherhood and money-making seem to get in the way. We had grown up a few miles from each other. Our parents were in the same circle of friends so for 4th of July picnics, swimming lessons, birthday parties, and sleepovers, we were in the same group. We went to the same elementary school for awhile and then as we grew, my friend found herself on the other side of the school district line, so she went somewhere else. When we hit high school, we found ourselves in the same circle of friends again, cruising, partying and dating friends. After school we found ourselves living a block apart, dating guys who had grown up friends as well.

We both ended up marrying the guys who lived a block apart. Her husband was the best man at our wedding, she cut cake at the reception. We were two of a handful who attended their intimate wedding and backyard barbecue. We spent New Year’s Eves together playing cards and shooting pool. Once we had kids, the interactions were reduced to a random text or IM chat, maybe a quick stop-over, but we were always there: floating in the peripheral of each other’s lives and wishing each other well. My friend left this world and I am shocked and sad.

I am shocked because it was unexpected, fast and final. I am sad for everyone who knew her and everyone who didn’t get the chance to meet her. I’m sad for her brother, her siblings, her parents, her husband and her children. I’m shocked because I feel like no one had even entertained the idea that she’d be gone and there are so many things left unsaid now. There’s a hole in the world that she used to fill. I’m sad because our lives, that seemed to run like two similarly timed parallel lines, has now been cut down to one.

I am shocked because there always seems to be more time: more time to plan get togethers, “we can do this when we aren’t so busy”, more time to plan that date with friends, “we can hang out when the kids aren’t interested in us anymore”, but now there is no more time with her. There is no promise of more time.

Make the most of the time you have. Let your loved ones know they’re loved. Don’t give your time to people who squander time and you. You are important. You are loved.  You will leave a hole in this world when you are gone; make it a good hole.

The Sound of Sirens…

With Christmas and New Year’s just around the corner, I’m sure we are going to get bombarded with all kinds of “Best of”, “Worst of” lists. So to be ahead of the times(I’m trendy like that), I submit to you NoDakKelli’s Top 10 North Dakota Christmas Memories(that might get social services called or send someone to jail now).

10. Baking krumkake. This Scandinavian cookie is A: awesome and B: semi-frightening when made with the old-school krumkake iron. Envision hotel waffle irons used for continental breakfasts, except to heat it you have it on a hot stove. There’s dripping hot batter, smoke, the stove and entire krumkake iron are all flesh-burning temperature. The electric krumkake irons that are available now do seem a lot less hazardous but we don’t have nearly the same adrenaline level while baking.

9. Cowboy boot car skiing. Okay this was a teenager thing and not sanctioned by any adults, but basically your skis were cowboy boots, hanging off a car was how you projected yourself down the road that was covered with snow and ice, voila! I’m not really sure why this hasn’t caught on as an Olympic event.

8. Child fireplace-tenders. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire… What works better than kindling AND helps cut down on the clutter? That’s right burning super-flammable crumpled up Christmas paper. Here kids-keep this pile by the fireplace and just keep tossing them in…those pieces that float out mostly cinder and still partially aflame? Oh they’ll go out, it’s fine- Timmy stomp the carpet out it’s starting to catch!

7. Bringing the whole family to a Christmas party, downing beer and eggnog like there’s a contest to win and then putting your kids in the backseat of a Chrysler, Ford Galaxie or Pinto cruising wagon and wishing them the best of luck while you try to keep it between the ditches on the way home. Kids didn’t wear seatbelts. Some cars didn’t even HAVE seatbelts and what was a car seat?

6. Forcing a kid to try lutefisk. UFFDA. ‘nuff said.

5. Taking away presents. One year my older cousin found one of our Christmas presents, the one THE only: Hungry Hungry Hippo game tucked in the back of Grandma’s closet. Okay I might have been an accomplice, or ring-leader, but still- Grandma found out that we had discovered the presents. Christmas came around and no one received the beloved game. She KEPT Hungry Hungry Hippo to teach us a lesson and we only were allowed to play it when she deemed it appropriate and for short amounts of time after she gave us the “talk” about sneakiness and dishonesty. Talk about child mistreatment!

4. Kissing relatives. As a child you were expected to not only hug all of your weirdo relatives, but give kisses if they ask. Everyone knows that Aunt Rose smells of moldy cheese, licorice, and peppermint but you’d better pucker up if she wants you to plant one.

3. Licking spoons and beaters while grandma baked. Who can say salmonella poisoning??? Apparently not grandma…or any of us for that matter. As far back as I can remember, no one I’ve known has actually gotten salmonella poisoning or any other kind of baked-good-induced poisoning, but I’m sure it’s there lurking…tempting us with that delicious raw egg-filled cookie dough…

2. Tubing through a field. This post-lunch tradition was eagerly anticipated by all of the children, and let’s face it, the adults who were in the house probably REALLY enjoyed the quiet of all of the kids being outside. If you are having trouble envisioning what I’m saying(think tubing on the lake, but instead of water, you are on unforgiving rock-solid frozen earth)…an uncle, who probably had been drinking wine throughout dinner, lashed the innertube from a tire to the bumper of his pickup using a rope(the kind that had fibers sticking out to burn your hand when you tried to hold onto it), put a kid or two on the innertube, and then take off driving down the road, bouncing in a ditch or through the field and the fun was seeing how long the tike on back could hang on. When the puffer coat-bundled projectile flies off the tube, you’d check that they were alive and the next victim…er…fun-haver would get a turn. No one broke a bone, everyone had fun, and Uncle Eddie would probably be on the front page of every newspaper for child endangerment today.

1.Traumatizing children with Santa. Personally I am guilty of throwing my girls on Santa’s lap to get the screaming photo because there’s some law now that you MUST have a photo of your child sitting on Santa’s lap EVERY year from the time they exit the womb until they drive a car, but my parents took it up a level: when I was four or five, they had someone in a Santa(?) mask come around one night and LOOK IN OUR WINDOWS before Christmas. My sister, who was two-years younger than me, went into full-panic-tornado-drill-mode and ran and hid in the inner-most room of our house in the fetal position. Nothing says Merry Christmas like terrifying your children into thinking Santa is a creeper who is literally watching for when you are awake…and if you are sleeping.

I Heart the holidays. Merry Christmas you filthy animals!!

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Life’s A B**ch…?!?

I was informed something today. I was told that “Life’s a bitch”. Really?? REALLY?!?!?

A bitch is a female dog, wolf or otter(fun fact: all of which can be found in North Dakota). A bitch is me when I am sleep deprived and haven’t been properly caffeinated(can also usually be found in North Dakota, generally before 8AM). A bitch can also be defined a difficult or unpleasant situation or thing. None of these things sound like life to me.

Life is definitely a rollercoaster. There are ups and downs and pleasant as well as unpleasant moments, but in no way would I stretch the all-encompassing definition of bitch to apply to life. Without experiencing the lows, one can never really appreciate the highs. There are ALL KINDS of negative things in this world to drag us down and steal our spark, this is true. There are SO MANY things that enhance our experience on this planet and give us more light to shine in the world.

I’ve had some pretty low times in my life: watching my dad slowly deteriorate and die as a teenager-bad times, then watching our possessions getting sold at auction after my father died-bad day, watching loved ones get sick and slowly and painfully get taken from the world-not fun, miscarriages-not a good time, friends and family dying-don’t like it, every morning fighting with two molasses-inspired banshee children to get out the door every…single…morning-so frustrating, or getting passive-aggressively cutout of your family-not super great, there are TONS of things that could make me just decide FORGET IT! I’m just going to stomp around with a world-sized chip on my shoulder and be suspicious, cranky and rude because my life is hard-so I can!

But wait! For every down, there’s an up. For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction right? What about the high times? What about the day Hubby and I met-we ended up driving around just talking for HOURS until the sun came up…that was a pretty good night, when both of our daughters were born-totally epic, when my mom and I drove across-country just the two of us-fun, every time Miss A falls asleep on my chest with her butt in the air and her ear on my chest-melts my heart, when my sister drove three hours to surprise me on my birthday-all the feels, impromptu road-tripping with Hubby to the Grand Canyon for a “honeymoon”-best trip ever, being accepted to Rural Leadership North Dakota-so affirming, watching my best friends get married within two weeks of each other- ecstatic, the view of a sunrise from my kitchen window-glorious, watching walrus, puffins and whales play in Resurrection Bay Alaska-ah-mazing, going from furnishing our first apartment with clean-up week(curb shopping) to owning our first house, and then buying our farm- holy cow, waking up to Hubby snuggles every morning-yes please, sipping a good chai latte- outlook enhancing, waking up the morning after mine and Hubby’s wedding- best…day…ever!

How with all of these wonderful experiences, can life be a bitch? Oh Kelli, but maybe I don’t have a Hubby, so I don’t have the Hubby memories, kid events, etc. To you doubter, I submit: road-tripping to the Montana border(for no reason other than the driver had never been) while trying/failing singing Adele and laughing so hard my face hurt-awesome, showing up at a friend’s house unexpectedly and ending up staying for three days-so many memories, playing matchmaker and it works-winning, or mom power-hours where you sneak in some girlfriend time in the golden hour between when you leave work and pick up the kids from daycare-sanity building! Oh Kelli. You are just a fortunate person, because you have all of these friends. What if I don’t have friends locally or we can’t get together?

Other people don’t determine my happiness. They are excellent happiness enhancers-I LOVE my people, but my happiness, my core belief of myself is inside me. I don’t need people to validate, inspire, acknowledge, or prop me up. Sure it is nice when it happens, but I don’t need others to make me happy…and you don’t either.

Singing along to the radio to my favorite songs, getting my hair done, snuggling in a blanket fresh from the dryer with a good book or Netflix, driving, having a clean house(not so easy to pull off with little humans), sunrises, sunsets, seeing wildlife unexpectedly(there was a bald eagle hanging out in a field on my drive home yesterday), the smell of rain, harvesting vegetables from a garden that I planted weeks before, baking recipes my grandmother taught me, swimming, nature walks, taking photographs, sitting silently in nature just breathing, all of these things make me smile, enjoy life and feel centered.

Life is a gift, life’s a choice, life is perspective, life is short, but not a bitch. Get out there and try to enjoy it.

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This Is Me

Sometimes I overthink this blogging thing, like “Oh-maybe I shouldn’t say that, so-and-so might think I’m talking about them” or “I shouldn’t focus so much on explaining my point-of-view, I might sound like I’m making things all about me”. Do you know what???

I don’t care. I don’t care what you think of me. I don’t care what you say about me.

In fact the only people whose opinion I care about right now are: the Creator(Don’t worry-I’m not going to douse you in some spirituality Kool-Aid right now) and my husband(He’s probably gotta live with me until one of us dies, so I’d prefer he doesn’t want to kill me in the process). I do hope some other people have a favorable opinion of me, like it’s a lot sweeter when my screaming banshee-spawn think I’m a cool chick and a nice mom, but truth be told: I’m trying to raise people who grow up carrying their own weight, contribute and aren’t total A-holes to society, so if they think I’m a jerk in the process-I really don’t care.

That being said, consider this the point in our writer-readership relationship where you “Click now, or forever hold your peace.”

I’ve noticed during the holiday season, the annoyances seem more abundant. That’s probably why my ever-transparent filter seems to be falling completely off.  Oh well.

If these vague promises of semi-entertaining stories, rants and rebuffs appeals to you, you’re twisted-I like it. Feel free to follow my blog by clicking on some link below. I think you promise me your first born and get an email notification when I accidentally click the “publish” button. I’m not sure. I’m not that good with fine print.

I realize that if you aren’t going to follow me, you probably are single-handedly taking my readership down to one. I think Hubby is contractually obligated to follow me.  So farewell one or two readers, it was nice knowing you…

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