“L” is for Lyla

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Every time we pass a big yellow school bus on the street, my 2-yr-old daughter, Lyla, gets thrilled and says, “Mommy, look a schoo bus!” Sometimes she even waves to it and says “hi, schoo bus!” or “bye, schoo bus!” She leaves off the “L” at the end and, to me, that makes it even cuter.

Lyla is my inspiration for going back to school to get my MFA in Creative Writing.

I want her to believe me when I tell her again and again that she can do whatever she sets her mind to and she can become anything she wants to be. That’s what my mom used to tell me. In fact, she still tells me that and I still have no reason to doubt her. So I will teach Lyla the same. I want her to be confident and proud of herself and of her talents, skills and achievements. I want her to understand that no challenge is too big when commitment and hard work are involved. I will tell her that when all else fails, it’s OK to try harder or to try something else. But never stop trying! And most importantly, never stop believing in yourself. We are only limited by our desire to dream and our willingness to believe in ourselves.

She is looking forward to someday being big enough to ride together with the other kids on the schoo bus to the big kids’ schoo where I’m sure she’ll probably learn all about that missing “L.” I’ve been warned that I might cry when that day comes. Maybe so but for now, I plan to simply cherish my time with her as I try my best to teach her whatever I can and help her learn and grow and believe in herself.

To do that effectively, I must continue to learn and grow and believe in myself, too.

So I’m back in schoo.

And even though I don’t get to ride the wondrous yellow bus, I couldn’t be more excited about the journey. So far I’m absolutely loving every second of it.

From time to time, I plan to post some of my projects here on the blog. That way we can share the experience and you can let me know your thoughts on how I’m doing! You can even grade me if you like. Now doesn’t that sound fun?

xoxo

Mommy Confession: Clipping Toenails

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I enjoy clipping my daughter’s toenails.

There I said it. It’s weird, I know.

But when she was an infant, she and I were both afraid of the activity. And by afraid, I mean totally freaked out beyond belief to the point of paralysis. I absolutely dreaded having to clip her fingernails and toenails. I was convinced I’d accidentally clip off an imperative appendage or at the very least make her bleed. I pictured a slasher film with blood spurting and spewing everywhere. I got lightheaded at the thought of it. Come to think of it, I’m feeling a bit queasy now. She didn’t seem thrilled either… maybe she was reading my mind.

Back then, to get through it, I’d do all necessary clipping during nap time. She was relaxed. I was (almost) relaxed. We got through it together. At times, I’d skip the clipping altogether and use an emery board to file her nails instead. Once in a while, my husband would offer to do it for me but the thought of him doing it scared me even more. I’m a weirdo… I totally get that.

But even weirder? When Lyla turned 2, she started asking me to clip her nails. I was like, “Huh? You want me to do it?” She’d reply, “Please, Mommy, please!”

How could I turn her down?

There was a time in my life, a long time ago, when even the thought of someone else’s feet grossed me out. I certainly didn’t want to touch them. Ew. In fact, it took me an even longer time to let anyone touch mine. I did eventually develop a taste (for lack of a better word) for pedicures… most women eventually do, I imagine. There’s just something about being primped and pampered without having to move a muscle. It’s wonderful.

But one day, when I was pregnant and unable to reach my own toes, a spa technician cut me during a pedicure and that completely killed the relaxation… possibly forever. I still shutter and flinch at the thought of it.

So when Lyla asked me to clip her toenails, it freaked me out. What a little weirdo! But she’s my little weirdo so; somehow, I worked up the nerve and clipped away. I started out taking baby steps, no pun intended, by clipping just a teensy bit here and there. But the brave little thrill-seeker pushed me to clip more and more until her nails were actually, well, well-manicured.

I thought that was a once in a lifetime moment. No way would she make the same request again. Right? But then, a few days later, she asked again. And I obliged. And, since that first time, she now comes to me (at least) once a week and asks for her toddler mani/pedi from Mommy. And I’ve started to look forward to this, perhaps oddly untraditional, bonding time with her.

She points to a toe or a finger and says, “Clip this one!” Then she giggles as I clip and then she selects another. I’ve even learned to relax with it and, while I’m still very careful and meticulous with clipper in-hand, I’m no longer irrationally fearful of sneezing and accidentally cutting her arms and legs off. I even throw in a free foot massage, at no extra cost. She loves those, too.

These days, not only does she request her manis and pedis on a regular basis, but she also picks out her own lotions for her massages and she even lets me paint her nails, too. She’s turning into a bit of a diva while I’m turning into a self-proclaimed skillful nail technician.

So I confess…

I’ve developed a bit of a foot and hand fetish. But only with Lyla. I enjoy clipping, filing, massaging and painting her little fingers and toes. I cherish all of our special moments together and I look forward to someday taking her to a real spa and having “Mommy & Me” manis, pedis and massages together.

I love my little girl.

Mommy, kiss it!

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My 2-yr-old daughter, Lyla, recently discovered the healing powers of mommy kisses. And, as a mommy, I recently discovered that it is AWESOME to be able to so quickly and easily kiss away my daughter’s tears.

It’s true. A mother’s kisses are nothing less than mystical and magical, kind of like unicorns. I’ve actually known this since way back when I was Lyla’s age since my mom also has magical kisses. My mom’s kisses had the exact same effect… and sometimes they still do. Now that I think about it, maybe it’s hereditary? Nah, I’m pretty sure it simply comes with the job description.

But isn’t it amazing how something as simple as a kiss can make the hurt instantly go away? When Lyla bumps, falls, bruises or scrapes, a kiss from me is enough to stop the tears. It’s kind of wonderful actually.

So at my daughter’s request, I’ve kissed everything… well, almost everything. I’ll get to that in a moment.

Without hesitation, I’ve kissed her forehead dozens of times. I’ve kissed elbows and knees, arms, legs, feet, hands, fingers and even toes. I’ve kissed the top of her head and her tummy.

I even fell for it the day Lyla said, “Mommy, kiss it” and then puckered her lips. With no questions asked, I puckered up too but as I leaned in for what I’d assumed would be an innocent peck on the mouth, at the last second the little turd stuck out her tongue. I realized too late that she must have bitten it and thought a kiss from me would heal it. I’m not sure if it helped but I now have my guard up for next time she tries to trick me and lick my face. Yuck! But I can’t blame her for trying since biting your tongue sucks and, to her, nothing quite compares to mommy kisses.

“Mommy, kiss it,” she says after each and every ouchy. Bump her head or stub a toe? Better find mommy! It doesn’t always involve a boo-booed body part either. There are times when she asks me to kiss something that wasn’t even an ouchy at all.

On special request, I’ve kissed her best friend, Tags the Tag Ball (it’s sort of like a security blanket-ish item but it’s a ball with tags whose name, for obvious reasons, is Tags). I’ve also kissed a bear or two, a dolly and even a Dora and a Wubbzy.

I know my husband’s jealous too. He’d never admit it, but I’m 100% sure that he wishes his kisses were as magical and mystical as mine. I mean, while he’s no unicorn, kisses from Daddy are obviously good too and they will certainly work in a pinch… I guess. But, in our house, nothing compares to Mommy’s kisses.

If only this could last forever! But I know she’ll someday have a hurt that can’t so easily be kissed away. And, perhaps before then, she’ll probably outgrow asking for kisses altogether. So I’m cherishing this time while it lasts and, at her request, I will happily kiss it–whatever it is–no questions asked.

Well, like I said earlier, almost anything.

I admit there was one time when I turned her down…

Recently, after a rather rough bout of stomach flu and a weeklong case of the runs, Lyla’s tummy was finally feeling better but my poor little angel had a very sore tushy. And I guess baby powder was no longer doing the trick.

So far, that was the only time I’ve drawn the line when she innocently looked up at me and said, “Mommy, kiss it!”

Mommy’s Law

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We’ve all heard about Murphy’s Law. Well, here’s some Mommy’s Law:

  1. The later mommy goes to sleep, the earlier baby will wake up.
  2. Baby will always get a rash, bruise, scratch or some other sort of unexplainable injury the night before a pediatric checkup.
  3. Guinness World Record breaking growth spurts are more likely to occur the night before any occasion for which a formal outfit and shoes have been selected and purchased for baby than any other day of the year.
  4. If mommy should happen to win either a date with daddy or a girls’ night out, the baby’s energy the following day will be multiplied by the quantity of glasses of wine mommy consumed the night before.
  5. The moment the house is finally clean, baby’s diaper will explode.
  6. If mommy buys a new dress, baby will immediately vomit all over it. If said dress or alternate article of newly purchased clothing happens to be white, baby will be sure to have consumed a full tummy’s worth of something in the darkest, most disgusting shade imaginable (strained peas, anyone?).
  7. When mommy decides to bring the stroller along, baby will want to walk. But when no stroller is available and mommy’s hands are full, baby will demand to be carried.
  8. Baby will happily show off clear pronunciation of all her new words and numbers behind closed doors but will only speak baby talk when others are around. If “others” should happen to include mommy’s in-laws, baby will jump at the opportunity to showcase her mastery of the letter “F” and attempt to rhyme everything with the word duck.
  9. The moment mommy brags about anything, baby will enforce a strict no bragging penalty (i.e., “My baby loves to eat her veggies!” Penalty = Baby will never eat anything green ever again)
  10. Baby will be an angel throughout the supermarket, enticing mommy to shop till she drops. But the moment mommy pulls her overflowing cart into the checkout line, baby will turn into a demon. The longer the line, the more head spinning action will ensue.

Happy mommying!

Have you ever seen a cow riding a bicycle?

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Well I have and it was awesome.

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays (3rd favorite to be exact). And ever since way back when I was a kid, I’ve always loved getting dressed up for it, typically alternating clever and disturbing costumes year after year.

Against his will, I usually “urge” my husband to dress up too. In fact throughout our relationship, I’ve tortured him with one awful costume after the next. He claims he hates it. But I don’t believe him since he almost always gives in to whatever I want. One year, I made him dress up like a turd. Yep. It was a group theme. I made the costumes myself. Corn and all. He was a good sport about it… even though it was a little shitty of me. Another year, we were simply ketchup and mustard. He said “no” at first but eventually he agreed and there we were, two condiments at a New York City bar together. He even let me be mustard. That’s love. But he drew the line the year I wanted him to dress up like a vampire. I didn’t see the big deal, really. Honestly he was fine with it until I admitted I planned to dress as a tampon.

Whether I’ve been single, half of a couple or part of a group, I’ve always had fun on Halloween. But being a mom at Halloween is the greatest. Playing dress up with my daughter is so much fun. And rather than simply play dress up once, I get to do four straight days of Halloween festivities with her this year. She and I have already been trick or treating twice in two different towns and it’s not even the 31st yet. If you ask me, that’s pretty awesome.

She’s being a cow for Halloween this year. It seemed fitting since we’ve seen plenty of real cows since moo-ving to Iowa. Like most 2-year-olds, she loves mooing back at them. But she is by far the cutest cow I’ve ever seen!

Today, I put my little cow in her child seat and we went for a bike ride together through town. That was a first! I mean, have you ever seen a cow on a bicycle? I would (probably) never have done that in New York City. But it was great! And you know what? She had a blast being a cow on a bicycle.

Admittedly since Lyla entered our lives, I’ve focused more energy on her costumes than mine or my husband’s. Last year, I didn’t even bother getting dressed up. My husband was stoked when he learned he didn’t have to get dressed up either. Instead, I focused all my creative energy on our daughter. She was a strawberry. Simple enough. But. Cutest. Strawberry. Ever!

My husband doesn’t know it yet but this year, we’ll be making a soft comeback as a family. To expand upon our daughter’s costume, all three of us will be dressing as cows tomorrow night at his parents’ Halloween party.

It’ll be our first Halloween together as a family in Iowa. I can’t skip this one!

But rather than make him dress from head to toe in plush cow apparel like our daughter, I’m simply giving him a button that says “Moo” and a hat that says, “More cowbell!” So yes, I’m going easy on him. But next year… well, that’s a surprise… but if he thought being a vampire was bad!

Tomorrow night, I’ll be wearing a hat that says “I love cows.” And although I’ve never put much thought into that before, this year I know it’s true. If my husband and my daughter are cows, then I must love cows.

Together as a family we plan to party till the cows come home… but really we’re already home so I guess we’ll just party till our little cow needs her nap.

Happy Halloween!

You’re It

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My husband and I made a trip to the DMV yesterday.

That’s never fun… right?

Well I wasn’t looking forward to it. That’s for sure. But we’d put it off long enough. Finally, after (practically) receiving death threats from the New York DMV, we gave in and got our vehicles registered in Iowa (a task we should have done much sooner but our titles had been lost in the seemingly bottomless abyss of boxes still stacked in the garage from our not-so-recent relocation).

Not only was it kind of hard to part with my New York plates (silly, I know), but who wants to spend a day at the DMV? Last I checked it still wasn’t the happiest place on earth. In fact, it’s usually the opposite of that.

But if you were at the Mills County, Iowa DMV yesterday, you wouldn’t have known it by looking at my kid. Nope.

She was as happy as could be, skipping and hopping and having a grand time running up to random people (as if there’s any other kind at the DMV), smiling and joyfully shouting “I see you!!!”

Yes, she was playing Hide ‘n Seek. And, perhaps by default, the people at the DMV ended up playing Hide ‘n Seek too because a 2-year-old reminded them that it was OK to do so. I was amazed how she so easily transformed one of the most hated places on earth into a magical, whimsical playland in a matter of minutes. She actually managed to make it fun.

It was wonderful to see complete strangers playing along. Some were DMV employees, while others were patrons waiting their turn or simply passers-by. Some were far more serious than others. A few were dressed in business suits, possibly on their way to the court house. They certainly weren’t dressed for play time. They had other things on their minds. But eventually everyone gave in and played. It was nice. A little odd at first but nice.

In fact it rather quickly turned into Play Day at the DMV. Everyone participated. My daughter saw to it that no one was left out. That’s for sure. People, both children and adults, were peek-a-booing at one another playfully. It made it so, for the first time in my whole life, not only did I enjoy my time spent at the DMV but I didn’t want to leave. Have you ever truthfully (and without sarcasm) been able to say that?

Children are wonderful, aren’t they? Who else could make the DMV fun? If an adult had done what my daughter did today, he or she would have likely been arrested or shot with a tranquilizer dart or something. OK, maybe that’s extreme. But certainly they would have received strange looks and maybe even a twirly-finger-around-the-ear type gesture or two.

Perhaps it’s simply impossible to stay serious when approached by a child, smiling from ear to ear with sweet, inviting “let’s play!” eyes and a face beaming with innocence and excitement.

And, really, what better place for an impromptu game of Hide ‘n Seek than at the DMV? Seriously, I can’t think of one… can you?

Granted, the Iowa DMV is nothing like the New York DMV. Sure, they do the same things. But, for example, my husband and I were first and second in line to have our cars registered. Crazy, huh? Even crazier? It’s a holiday week!

In the past, we’ve waited hours (and not just the minimal quantity of hours to technically qualify as the plural form of the word hour but an actual # of hours long enough to fully cultivate an urge to stab yourself in the eye). New York DMVs have serpentines and electronic number machines and dozens upon dozens of lines, each one with a separate function, and hundreds of rows of chairs full of people who honestly look like they’d been waiting for days, weeks, months maybe. My husband and I once waited for over 4 hours only to be told we were in the wrong line and then had to start over. And it smells there! No, not like cookies. And you wait so long that you inevitably become numb to that smell, then eventually you become that smell.

Here in Iowa, like I said, we were first and second in line. I can prove it too. Our license plates are literally one number apart. Weird, huh? I would post pictures but I’m not sure what the rules of identity theft would say about that (and I’m too lazy to look it up). So you’ll have to take my word.

Even weirder? The people there are nice! They gave my daughter a lollipop. Sure, banks do that all the time… but the DMV? Really? And I feel confident that had I asked, they’d have given me one too. The only thing I’ve ever gotten at the NY DMV was a headache and a receipt.

Not to bag on New York. I have huge love for the state and the city, the people (even those at the DMV) included. I’m just saying that maybe, just maybe, they would benefit from an impromptu game of Hide ‘n Seek. Or maybe Tag is more their speed?

Do you remember how wonderful it was to play games like Hide ‘n Seek and Tag? I loved both, especially Tag though I hated being “It.” I still do.

Sometimes I too want to run up to a random friendly face, smile and say “I see you!!” I would like it if someone (preferably not a violent lunatic with a knife) did that for me. But it’s nice being seen. Isn’t it? Who wants to be invisible? Maybe for a moment but not forever.

Or simply tag them “It” so I don’t have to be “It” anymore. Sometimes I need a break from being “It” all the time. I’m sure it’s not just me. Do you ever feel that way? Maybe you and I could share a laugh and frolic together instead for a moment, letting go of the stress of the day. It might be nice to share “It” – whatever “It” is with someone else rather than struggling with “It” or through “It” on our own, or keeping “It” buried inside. The burden of “It” can be a big one. “It” isn’t always easy. Is it? But if we share “It” maybe the burden of “It” will become easier to bare.

Maybe it’s not appropriate in everyday life to break into Hide ‘n Seek or Tag or any other childhood game. Red Rover, maybe? Nah, probably not. After all, we are grownups and we have very serious matters to attend to. We don’t have the time for silly childish things like games or recess or naps.

Well that’s too bad.

But wouldn’t it be great?

Check that. It is great. Life. Who says we have to be so serious all the time? You’re not the boss of me. Saw that one coming, didn’t ya?

I think children have it right. The world doesn’t always have to be such a serious, uptight, stressful place. After all, it’s full of butterflies and daisies and kittens. I want to laugh and be silly, frolic (yes, frolic! what? you don’t frolic?) and have fun. I want to enjoy this moment while we’re in it.

I bet you do too.

So tag! You’re It!!