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Who Are You, and What Have You Done With My Son?

I remember it like it was yesterday.  Actually, it was only a couple of weeks ago, but seriously, with the current state of this Momma's mom-brain, that's a win.  Anyway, here's how it went down:

Scene: It's after dinner.  Micro is asleep early for once!  Small and Mini are playing nicely, and Geegy is napping in front of the TV.  Momma decides to take advantage of the free-hands time to eat a delightful snack of milk and cookies, an endeavor that requires two hands.

Momma:  Minions, I'm getting some milk and cookies.  Would you like some?

Mini (jumping up and down): YES!YES!YES!

Small: Well, ok, but only one.  I'm trying to eat healthy.

Despite my surprise, I kind of laughed and didn't think much of it.  I mean, trying to get Small to eat "healthy" is like trying to get a snake to do jumping jacks in the snow.  But then, as the week went on, he started to do some REALLY weird things.  Things like, asking me if certain foods were healthy.  And wondering if riding his bike and playing hockey was enough exercise.   And then he stopped eating as much food at breakfast and dinner (no seconds!).  And then one morning,  as he was buttoning up his pants, which were quite loose, he said, "Ugh, my pants are too tight.  I need to go on a diet."

Let me explain something right quick.  Small is skinny.  He is so skinny, that he has no butt.  Pants with elastic adjustments and paired with belts routinely fall off his tiny "waist."  When he was a baby, he was consistently in the 95th percentile for his height, and the 25th for his weight. When he was four, he thanked me for his new shorts.  Shorts that he was wearing.  Shorts that were actually Mini's size 2T sweat pants. Terms like "stick" and "bean pole" don't apply, because those things are not skinny enough.  We buy "slim" pants, and still have to take in the waistband.  Skinny jeans are baggy on Small.  Get it?

Not only is Small skinny, but he is also only 8 years old.  And a boy.  Now, I would be appalled to hear my 8 year old daughter say she needed to diet.  I was absolutely horrified to hear it coming from my BOY'S mouth!  Calmly, I asked him why he thought he needed to diet, while my brain wrecklessly tore through the last couple of months, desperately trying to figure out where he heard me complain about my weight, or needing to diet.  I was only slightly relieved when he said, "Two girls at school said I was fat and I need to go on a diet."

Ok, whew, it wasn't me.

But seriously, what the heck?!? 

I mean, it's bad enough that kids these days are having to grow up faster than ever.  They are exposed to things at school that I would never allow at home.  And I have had some serious issues at the Minions' school when it comes to bullies and inappropriate classroom behavior.  But really?  Do I REALLY have to teach my 8 year old, super skinny son, that he is NOT FAT?

I want my boys to be confident.  I want them to be happy with who they are.  I want them to feel comfortable and special BECAUSE of who they are, not in spite of it.  I am actually quite glad that it is now summer, and they won't have to be around those kids, the ones that ridicule and cause others to feel bad just because they can.  And when I hear these things, it takes all my self control to not go to that classroom and get all up in those kids faces, and tell them just what I thought of them and their little attitudes.

This is new territory for me.  I thought that if I gave the Minions all the tools for self-confidence at home, that it would carry over into the world, and that words like that would just roll off of them.  I thought that if they could be kind and sharing and be able to solve problems with each other in the home, it would be easier to do so with friends and classmates.  I thought that if they had  good friendships with great kids outside of school, they would be more interested in playing with the great friends they already have, rather than trying so desperately to "fit in" with the kids that only mock them for trying.

The problem isn't just that he is now feeling insecure, and focusing on parts of himself that others perceive as being a problem.  The additional problem is that now he is starting to ridicule Mini, and calling him fat, and saying mean things just because.  And honestly, I can't stand it.  I despise that kind of talk, and that kind of treatment of others.  I absolutely DO NOT want it in my home!  When I hear it, especially between brothers, I want to rip those words out of their brains with my bare hands and set them on fire.  I get sick at the thought of my Minions really believing that tripe that the ugly, cruel and cynical parts of the world want them to feel about themselves.  And the problem is that the caring, courteous and carefree little genius that graces our home is getting harder and harder to find.

Instead, I have a son who comes home from school and ridicules his younger brother for every. Little. Thing.  I have a son who is can't be proud of winning a gold medal with his hockey team, because he's not good at playing soccer with the kids in the playground.  I have a son who won't eat the special treats I secretly put in his lunch box some days because some kids that are on the "free lunch" program make fun of him for having treats that they don't get.  I have son who won't do his class work because students who aren't as fast call him names when he gets it done before them.  I have a son who is boisterous and disruptive in the classroom, and rude to his teacher, because being "funny" and getting in trouble for it is the only way these hooligans children will "accept" him into their elite little group.  And then once he gets to "hang out" with them, they torment him because he is still different than they are.  I have a son who has become sad and unsure, who is becoming afraid of trying new things, and becomes angry too easily, who comes home from school crying because his "friends" treat him so poorly.

As a parent, I know all the "right" things to say.  Intellectually, I know what I "should" say, and how to bolster him, and how to behave so that he can learn by example and blah blah blah.  But I'm unsure how to really, truly get through to him, to help him be that confident person that can rise above the negativity.  I don't know how to make my voice louder and more important than the ones outside our home.  I don't know that anything I can say will help him, because I was once him.  In many ways, I am still him.  I'm not sure that I will ever NOT be that person.  And if I can't teach myself how to be confident and self assured, how will I ever teach it to my Minions?

That's rhetorical.  I don't have the answer to that.
I'm so incredibly glad that I get to have the Minions all to myself for the next two months, because that means I have a hope of reminding them how special they are.  To remind them of how accomplished and awesome they are.  To remind them how friends and family treat each other, and how people treat each other.  To remind them that nice people say nice things.  To remind them that sometimes people are mean because it makes them feel better to make others feel bad, but if you already feel good about yourself, that you don't need other people to tell you that you are wonderful.  And that the people who tell you that you aren't good enough, are not good enough for you.  Because that isn't just something I want them to know in their heads, I want them to BELIEVE it, deep down in the core of their being!  Because I know that if they can see that in themselves, and KNOW that they are two of the most AMAZING children people I have ever known, and that if they will just be the sweet, smart, wonderful, funny, and kind people they are, they can be the happiest people on the planet!

And maybe, just maybe, I can remind myself of that as well.  Again.

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Mini's Hope for Presley

Hey there.  I'm Mini.  I am six years old, and I'm a boy.  I tell everyone that I'm a boy because a lot of people think I'm a girl.  But that's ok, boys don't usually have hair like mine, so I don't mind.  I have long curly hair that I have been growing my whole life.  Everyone always tells me that they like my hair.  Sometimes people say I should cut it, but I never wanted to, and Momma said that I don't have to if I don't want to.  Momma and I spend a lot of time together taking care of my hair.  She helps me wash and brush it.  I'm really good about letting her brush, because I know that my hair looks more beautiful when it's clean and brushed.  And I really like spending time with Momma when she brushes my hair.  We get to talk and laugh, and Momma gets to focus just on me.  I really like having time alone with Momma.

I love to wear my hair down.  At school, Momma makes me pull it back.  But when I'm playing, I like it to fly free!
Momma has been reading about a girl named Presley on her computer.  I don't know Presley, she is my cousin's cousin.  Momma knows Presley's Momma.  Sometimes when Momma is reading about Presley, I like to cuddle with her and read with her.  She has curly hair just like me.  We both like to ride bikes.

I feel sad for Presley.  She got sick, and it is going to be a long time before she gets better.  She has to go to the hospital a lot and get a lot of treatments.  The medicines that Presley has to take have made her body change a lot, and it made her lose all her hair.  I asked Momma if Presley's hair would grow back, and she said that someday it would, but until then Presley could wear a wig.

I wanted to help Presley.  My hair is like hers.  I wanted to give Presley some of my hair for her to wear until she gets better and can grow hair again.  I asked Momma if we could give my hair to Presley.  That made Momma really happy.  She emailed Presley's Momma, and we found out that we could send my hair to a place that would make a wig for Presley.

So yesterday, we went to cut my hair for the first time.

First, Momma wanted to cut a little piece of my hair for her to keep.  She said that she always loved my curls, and wanted a piece for a special box she keeps of my things.

I always photo bomb pictures, even when they're pictures of me!

Here's my little curl for Momma's box.  She tried not to cry when she cut my hair, but I saw her anyway.  I told her that it was ok.  I didn't feel her cut my hair at all.

I wore orange for Presley to cut my hair.

I was a little scared to go into the salon when we got there.  I told Momma about it, and she held my hand and told me that it was my decision to do what I wanted.  But I think she didn't know what I meant.  I was scared that the lady cutting my hair would cut me with her scissors.  Momma told me that she gets her hair cut a lot, and never got cut by the scissors, and Geegy and my big brother Small get their hair cut all the time, and they never got cut either, so then I wasn't scared any more.

When the lady combed my hair, the curls got straight and it was even longer!

After the lady combed my hair, she put it into a ponytail.


 And just like that, I had a ponytail for Presley!

My ponytail measured 15 inches long!  I like the way my hair feels now.  It doesn't get in my eyes any more!  And I like how I look when I see myself in the mirror.  Momma thinks I look older.  What do  you think?

I love you, Presley!

Note from Minion Momma:
If you are a fan of my Facebook page, you have seen me post both about Presley and my nephew Reiss.  Presley, 3 years old, and Reiss, 2 1/2 years old, were both diagnosed with leukemia just one month apart from each other.   Please take a moment to browse their blogs.  These two babies are so amazing and strong, they inspire me so much!  You can also follow Presley on her Facebook page.

Words can't express how proud I am of my little Mini.  His kind and thoughtful act for a little girl he has never met is just astounding to me.  He teaches me every day how much love a person can give just through simple acts, and he reminds me that the greatest gift is giving of yourself.  He is such a bright and beautiful blessing in my life.  I am immensely proud to be his Momma!

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Momma's Boys

It only startled me a little bit when, recently, a friend handed Micro back to me with the comment, "He's such a little momma's boy!"

My first instinct was to bristle at the implication, this hockey momma ain't raisin' no sissy boys!  But the tone of her voice told me that she was paying me a compliment.  My secondary thought was confirmed when she immediately followed up with, "It's so obvious how much he loves you.  Look at how he lights up when he sees you.  That's the sweetest thing ever."

I had to think a little on my initial reaction to her comment.  Yes, Micro wants me.  A lot.  It could be that I am a little sensitive about it.  I don't usually get a break from him, and I don't mean leaving him with Geegy to go out for a wild GNO.  I  mean he won't sleep or nap unless I am touching him.  He won't take a binky, preferring to comfort-nurse at will.  He won't settle to sleep for anyone else.  He will go to others, but only for a few minutes.  He wants me, and he wants only me.  So I hold him.  I wear him.  We eat, sleep, play, work, shop, dance, sing, exercise, shower, and occasionally even use the toilet together.  It keeps him calm, and he's happy.  It's tiring, and sometimes aggravating.  Infant Micro is so different than his older two brothers were at that age.  I have to remind myself and Geegy often that we had an unusually EASY time with our first two Minions, and that every baby is different!  Then I go and do something all crazy like, such as leave his line of sight for 10 seconds when I thought he was asleep, and he FLIPS OUT with the crying and yelling!  I sometimes worry that I've spoiled him.  However, he's always been like this, so I'm pretty sure I didn't do it to him.  Sometimes people tell me that I need to teach him to be more independent, that I shouldn't continue to sleep with him, or nurse him when he wakes at night, or even pick him up every time he cries for me.  I try not to think of him as my "difficult" or "needy" baby, but he definitely is deeply attached to his Momma.

I pondered more on the "momma's boy" comment my friend had made while we were on a field trip with Mini's kindergarten class to a fishing lake.  It was Mini's first time fishing, and he was giddy with excitement in anticipation of catching a fish.  About half of his class didn't have a parent there, so each child with a parent was paired up with a child who was without.  Micro caught his fish almost as soon as the bait dropped in the water.  He proudly held it up on the line for a picture, then I helped him remove the hook while he held it's wiggling body firmly in his hands.  "I'm going to call him Squirmy!" he proudly told me as the trout tried to escape his grip.  I told him to hold on tightly and sent him to get Squirmy cleaned (read: gutted) while Micro and I waited with his little kinder-friend to catch his fish.  After another short while Mini's friend and I took his fresh-caught fish over to the cleaning area, where I found Mini sitting on a log, sobbing over a gallon-sized Ziplock bag with a still-twitching trout inside.

Now these were NOT the dramatic fake tears Mini had spent the last school year perfecting, designed to play on my emotions at the drop of a hat, that I had gotten used to.  These were the giant, crocodile, streaks-down-a dusty-face mixed with snot-pouring-out-the-nose tears of devastating and traumatic sadness, complete with gulping, choking, breathless sobs, that made me panic.  Something was terribly, HORRIBLY wrong with my baby!  I plowed over my little kinder-charge trying to get to Mini as fast as I could,  scooped him up in my arms, and held him as close as I could with Micro strapped to my chest.  I let him wet down my shoulder with his weeping goo for a bit, then, after giving him the once over to check for blood, asked him what was wrong.  He held up the bag and said, "Mrs. Ess tried to cut open Squirmy!  I don't want to kill Squirmy!"  Inside the plastic baggie, Squirmy gave a couple of flops as if to agree with his unexpected champion. 

I hugged Mini, and explained that this is what fishing is, that we would take Squirmy home and make some really yummy fish-sticks to share with the family, just like we did when Small came on the same field trip two years ago.  At the mention of eating Squirmy, Mini's eyes grew to the size of a small moon, or maybe a large space station, and the waterworks started flowing again.  "I don't want to eat Squirmy!" he wailed, "I want to keep him as a pet!"  Squirmy gave another twitch, and I could tell he probably thought it a fine idea.  I squished Mini up in a giant hug again, and while smoothing his hair out of his snotty face tried to explain that "fishing" is getting fish to eat, not to get fish for pets, and that we wouldn't have a place to keep a fish like this at our home.  Mini suggested everything he could to convince me to keep Squirmy, from the tiny beta bowl to the leaky koi pond to sharing the bathtub, but I held my ground.  "Sweets," I said firmly, "This is what the fishing trip was for.  We are not taking a pet fish home.  This fish is for eating."

That's when he turned his waterlogged chocolate brown puppy eyes up at me, his lower lip turned down all swollen and quivering, his dirt-smudged cheeks shiny with the new onslaught of fresh tears.  "But," *gulp* "I," *sob* "don't," *snuffle* "want," *snork* "to," *snivel* "kill," *whimper* "anything!"  *GIANT WAIL* "Momma, PLEASE don't make me kill anything!!"

Squirmy twitched in agreement.

My heart broke and melted, and my mind berated me.  Look what you've done to him! it shouted.  I tried not to notice the disapproving glares of the multitude of other parents and their respective kinder-kids milling about, listening to my little Mini beg me not to make him become a fish murderer.  I desperately looked around in hopes that a miraculous solution would present itself, while noting the brightly colored warning signs every ten yards boldly proclaiming that "catch and release" was absolutely not allowed on this lake.  I rebelliously entertained the thought of yelling out "Free Squirmy" while charging up to the side of the lake, knocking over a barricade of park rangers as I dove off the dock with the open bag into the lake, Squirmy's little body flying out of the bag while in mid-air, scales shining in the sun for a beautiful moment before landing in the water and swimming triumphantly away, all while Mini cheererd him on to just keep swimming!

But instead I hugged my son as tight as I could, and promised him that I would never, ever force him kill anything, ever.  I told him that I was proud of him for not wanting to hurt another living being, and that his sweetness, kindness, tenderness and compassion were parts of him that I loved best.  I then told him that we would find a way to help Squirmy, and then guiltily I carried the bag to the nearest spigot and put some water in for the poor nearly doomed fish.  We put the listless Squirmy in the cooler with the rest of the class's gutted and cleaned fish, while sharing an understanding and empathetic look with the teacher. 

Mini, Micro & I spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the lake, counting turtles on logs, looking for frogs in the lily pads, and supposing what kinds of animals lived in the various sized holes we came across as we walked along the shore & trails.  When we stopped for lunch, I sat there on a log with Micro grabbing at my food from the carrier, and Mini cuddled up as close as he comfortably could get, not caring that he had just smeared his applesauce on my jeans or that he had just left a peanut-butter hand print on his brother's leg.  As we sat there eating and laughing, another mom walked by and asked if Mini had gotten over the "fish thing" and was alright now.  I said we were all just fine.  Then she nodded to Micro, winked at me, and said, "I'm sure next time it will be easier for him.  I bet you hope that one grows out of that thing soon!  Maybe he'll be a little stronger and more independent!"  She chuckled at her own cleverness and walked on.

It never occurred to me to think that, despite children being a challenge, I would ever want them to grow up faster.  It made me sad that she implied there was something wrong with Mini because of his empathy toward a fish.  I'm especially shocked to think that any parent would actually want their child to find it easy to kill an animal.  I admire Mini for being able to stand in the middle of his friends and teachers and other adults and refuse to do what they were all doing when it was against his nature.  Could I ask for a stronger child than that?  And that word, independent, it really sticks with me.  I've heard it several times before, and it's supposed to be this positive thing.  I wonder what it is that makes people want to make babies be independent?   Babies are the most dependent creatures on Earth!  And the only comfort they have is the people who love them.  I absolutely believe that a baby can not be spoiled or trained.  Babies that are left to cry do not learn that crying doesn't get them what they want.  Babies that are left to cry learn that the people they depend on are not there for them.  Is that what makes them independent? 

I don't think the Minions lack strength or character.  I have heard the Minions tell their friends when they think something isn't right, or if someone is doing something they feel is wrong.  They are not shy, or clingy, or scared of new experiences.  Most of the time, when we take them someplace new, be it first day of school, hockey, scouts, or any other of the myriad of first social events a child can have, they jump right in, excited for the chance, sometimes even forgetting to hug, kiss, and say good-bye to their ol' Momma.  Isn't that a sign of independence?  Isn't that a sign of a child who is comfortable with who he is, who knows that no matter what happens, there is a soft and comfortable place he can return to?  Doesn't that give a child the confidence to go out and try MORE things?  Great things?  Impossible things?

Even after all that, do we ever really grow so independent that we never really need our Mommas anymore?  I am nearly 40 years old, and there's not a day that goes by where I don't want to talk to my Momma.  There's not a problem I face without wondering what advice my Momma would give.  There's not a joy I have that I don't want to share with her.  There's not a sadness I have that I don't wish she was there to wrap me in her arms and tell me everything will be ok.  When I'm sick I want her to care for me, and when I'm having fun, I want her beside me to laugh with.  Does that make me a Momma's Girl?  Does that make me less independent?  I would like to think that, no matter how old the Minions get, they would always feel comfortable coming to their Momma with all their joys and sorrows, their triumphs and fears.  Is it a relationship built on dependence and uncertainty, or trust and love?

So does allowing Micro to use me as his sippy cup, binky, and security blanket really hinder his ability to grow into a confident person?  Is shaming Mini into doing something that is against his sensitivities really going to make him a stronger person?  Does forcing Small to sleep alone when he has regular night terrors really teach him to be a braver person?  Does comforting my babies when they are feeling alone or sad or scared, whether they are six months, or six years, or sixteen years, truly make them "Momma's Boys?"

And if the Minions are, in fact, Momma's Boys, is that really so very bad?

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Oh, the Barnyard is Busy in a Regular Tizzy

And the obvious reason is because of the season!  Spring, spring, SPRING! 

I can't help it.  Every year it happens.  It gets warm, then my bushes by my front window start to bloom (I don't know what they are, but they smell DIVINE), then one morning I wake up and realize, I won't have to wear a hoodie to take the Minions to school today! I feel like kicking off my flip-flops to go prancing about, skipping through a meadow full of wildflowers, Maria-style. That's right, it's about to get all musical up in here.

The hills are alive, yo!

Now realistically, running around barefoot in the desert is an open invitation for a wild assortment of spiky fauna and possibly a live scorpion two to insert their stingy-pokey parts into my delicate foot-pads, so I won't be actually doing that anytime soon.  But that doesn't stop me from turning my every-day ho-hum life into a mental musical.  Cleaning up the house is so much more fun when you throw in a few pirouettes with the broom.  And singing everything you want to say?  While Geegy says things like, "Why?"  I say "Why NOT?!?"  Who doesn't want more music in their life?  While nobody in their right mind would ever accuse me of being graceful or able to carry a tune,my little household chore performances sure seem to keep Micro entertained.

Even this is more graceful than me.

I gotta say, as much as I adore snow, and completely dislike any kind of heat, the spring-sun really energizes this little California gal.  And now that we've eradicated all the cruds, I say it's time to get out the glitter lotion, throw on a sundress, run outside and get our Spring on!

Lets get outside!  Let's do something fun!  Let's get ENERGIZED!!

Confession time:
I watched this video about dance walking, and I was SOLD.  (You can also watch part 2 here, and part 3 here.)  I don't need any more convincing.  You take something I HATE to do (making a public spectacle of myself walking around outside) and add something that I LOVE to do (dancing) and what do you get?

I wish this would happen to me every day.

Some crazy fun exercise.

So this is the part of parenting I always dreaded.  The part where I do something so far out there and insane, that The Minions would forever label me as "uncool," and thereby they will be embarrassed of me for the rest of their adolescence.  I always thought it would come in the form of discipline, like when I had to sit with Small for a week at school to make sure he was actually eating his lunch and not throwing it around the cafeteria.  (He ended up liking that, and still wants me to come have lunch with him at school.  Sometimes I think he creates his shenanigans so I will come hang out at school with him.) I think every parent does it eventually, and any parent with real parenting creds gets to claim they've done it already, like having a tear-drop prison tattoo.  You got to have some mad parenting skilz to get it over with early.  So far, The Minions think my shenanigans are so glacier! (That's what I call "ultra-cool."  I swear it's going to catch on.)  They are still at an age where anything I do that's extremely fun=cool momma, no matter how silly it seems.  They might get a little bit of social-cool pressure from school (like Small is becoming somewhat worried that he doesn't know any Justin Bieber songs), but ultimately, because I am fun, I am also, by proxy, cool.  And by cool, I mean glacier!

Glacier, all the way, baby!
Now that it's definitely Spring, and I've done the heck out of The Babywearing Workout, I am in desperate need of some "get me the freak out of this stale-aired house before I eat all the ice cream" time. I have decided to dust off the ol' sneakers, dig out the ol' iPod, and try some dance walking.  The Minions will either relabel me, forever shunning me into the "embarrassed of my parents" status, or they will see how much fun it is, and join in.  Either way, I've pulled off this particular parental Band-Aid, and I'll get to have some fun, right?

And now, here's some Gene Kelly.  Glacier.

He would totally dance-walk with me.

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Sharing is caring...unless it's germs. And Mommas don't get to party.

Small and Mini like to sleep in the same bed.  It's a repercussion of all the bed-sharing and co-sleeping we did when they were babies.  This is not a complaint, just a fact.  When they first got their "big boy beds" at  2 years old, they used them for about five minutes before they came back to our bed.  A lot of parents might try to think of a "sleep solution,"  but  not us.  We love sleeping with our minions, and even at 8 and 6, they will come get in bed with us on occasion.  It was not a rare event when we woke up in the mornings with a bed full of minions.  But not so much anymore.  Once Small and Mini started sharing a room, they also started sharing a bed.  When we do our bed-time routine, they always start out in their own beds, but before Geegy & I go to bed, they will always be together, sharing in one bed or the other.

They are so sweet when they are sleeping together. I always have to peek in on them, because it's the best part of my day, watching my minions sleep peacefully, their arms around their favorite stuffed animals on one side, and arms around each other on the other side.  They are so beautiful in those moments, so close, sharing their blankets, sharing their pillow, sharing their dreams.  (They actually do this, it's uncanny.  But that's a post for another day.)  Sharing their germs.

Yup, that's the clincher.  Right there.  Sharing. Germs.  It's not bad enough that they bring those icky, nasty little bugs into our home from that bacteria and virus infested petri-dish experiment we call "school."  But then they have to go and share them with each other while they sleep.  All breathing and touching and hugging on each other.  And the result of their precious little bed-time habit is, what should have been  an awesome two week spring break turned into a rousing game of what sickness can we get next? Complete with fevers, coughing, sore throats, runny noses, stuffy sinuses, vomiting, hives, and we did so well we even got a bonus round of pink-eye-for-all!  It was like every morning I'm rolling a d20, and anything below 21 is a new illness for the day.  Roll an additional d6 to see if you get to keep your illness/es from the day before.

So we have spent the last twelve days cuddling under blankets, playing video games, getting intimate with Netflix for Kids, and trying to find new and interesting ways of serving up chicken noodle soup. (Soup again, mom?  Did you forget how to cook?)   Despite sequestering Micro from the larger minions who brought all these germs home, his little undeveloped immune system just couldn't handle the onslaught of the battle-ready germs.  I mean, we were all breathing the same air, and seriously, breast milk can only do so much, amirite?  Even Geegy became a casualty of the Great Spring Break Germ War of 2013 as well, missing two whole days of work.  It's a good thing I have a super-hero strength immune system, because I swear, it would be absolutely miserable to have to take care of all these sickies if momma didn't feel well also.  Mommas aren't allowed to get sick!  Super-Wonder-X-Momma takes care of everyone!

So when you have three sick minions, and a temporary sick Geegy, there's not a lot of time to do things you normally would.  Pretty much all your time is sucked up with washing sheets and blankets and pajamas, constantly wiping down door-knobs, counter-tops, floors, and little fingers.  And running to do every little thing the minions ask of you.  There came a point that I thought it might just be easier to have everyone live in the tub until it was all over.  There's no time left over for actual real-life things.  Like sanity, or showers.  (It's ok, I washed my hands so much this week, I don't ever need to buy sandpaper again.  I can just sit here on the sofa and use my hands to exfoliate myself, and maybe take care of that pesky leg-hair problem, too.)  You also don't get to go grocery shopping.  Or do any cooking of any kind.  Or doing the ACTUAL laundry because of all the aforementioned sick laundry.  Poor Micro even had to wear a ghetto diaper, made from flannel receiving blankets, because I didn't notice the diaper stash dwindling.  Twice.  You also don't get things ready for the two parties you have coming up.  And when, finally, the cruds start retreating and creeping out of the house, the minions are starting to show signs of life, and it's the day of your first party, and you wake up with a small tickle in the back of your throat, you pretty much ignore it.  Because mommas don't get sick.  And dang, this house needs to get CLEANED UP!  Like, NOW!  Cuz I swear if I step on ONE MORE Lego while running in the dark to comfort you in the middle of the night.... uh, sorry.  That's another blog post as well.

Ah, but Minion Momma, you forgot about the One Rule of Mothering:  Momma doesn't get to have a real social life.  Or really, any kind of life that doesn't involve the minions at all.  You forgot that all other rules bow down to this rule.  It is the One Rule to Rule Them All. 

Momma.  Doesn't.  Party.

Yes, I had done it.  I had Made Plans.  Plans that didn't involve the minions.  And the One Rule did NOT like that at all.  It took my plans, chewed them up, then spit out a bone and used it as a tooth-pick.  The One Rule was about to show my Plans who was boss, Venom Style.  By the time breakfast was over, my "little tickle" had developed into a cough and sore throat.  By the time the dishes were done, I had added in some sinus pressure.  By the time I was ready to sweep and mop, my head felt like it was about to explode.  By the time I was hoping to nurse Micro to sleep and have time to take a shower and prepare the food, I felt the icy hands of death, chilling me to the bone and squeezing all sense and reason out of my fevered brain.  And by the time I had finished contacting everyone to say the party was cancelled, I had completely lost my voice, and realized that I had, in one day, contracted every illness the minions managed to share over the past twelve days.  Because, the only rule that trumps Mommas don't get sick, is that Mommas don't get to socialize.

The evening wasn't a total loss.  Geegy was especially helpful, offering to pick up pizza for dinner, taking Small and Micro with him, setting up a dishes-free picnic in front of a family-friendly movie, and making sure I wasn't going to pass out with food in my mouth. The hot steamy shower was nice, up until Micro needed me to feed him.  Rather than make the effort to get up off the shower floor, I just had Geegy strip him down and hand him to me.  After that I was able to just lay down with Micro in the bed and cuddle and feed him at will, and almost couldn't hear Geegy yelling at the minions to keep quiet up there so Momma could get some sleep! 

And even this morning wasn't bad, despite not getting any sleep and Micro waking up at 5:00 am.  My alarm mysteriously went off at 5:15 to ensure he didn't go back to sleep.  Small woke up early too, and we spent the morning playing Gran Turismo while Mini slept in.  Shortly after breakfast Small and Mini went to a neighbor's to play, leaving me and Micro alone to cuddle up and watch Netflix.  Because the next best thing to having a social life and friends and conversations that don't revolve around farts and Bey Blades is sharing a big fluffy feather blankie with a minion, sipping on some orange juice, and watching Richard Armitage be tall, dark and brooding.

There, there, Momma.  Take a sip.  Good, good.  Now look at that Micro smile.  Isn't that precious?  Now look at Richard smile.  See?  Everything is all better now.  Now close your eyes, dollface.  You don't need that pesky social life.

But that's a post for another day, too.

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Un-labeled Parenting

I read a lot of momma blogs.  I belong to a lot of momma groups on social media sites.  I love having the support and friendship of fellow mommas who are nearly like minded to me.  Mostly, I love knowing that it's not just my little minions who do the wackiest, inconceivable, weirdest things out there.  But for as much support and camaraderie I find out there, there is just as much, possibly more, judgement and drama.  And just a little bit of crazy.  Ok, that last one was a joke.  There's a lot of crazy.  And that's what has inspired me to write this for my first blog post.

Most recently, within the interwebs of momma-blogs, there is a huge debate over whether or not mommas want to be associated with "Attachment Parenting" or the like.  It's not that the principles of Attachment- Natural- Gentle- Whatever Parenting aren't sound.  It's actually a very easy way of parenting that is quite loving and wonderful for children and parents alike.  These people offer up some real, honest parenting advice that works for a lot of families, and most importantly, works for a lot of children.  It's fantastic to have a network of people at all levels of parenting to give you advice and support.   Different people offer different view points.  So many parents have already been through what you are going through right now!  It's fabulous that so many people can come together and mentor each other through their parenting journey.  Why wouldn't you want to be a part of it?  It's the village that you have been looking for!

So the problem isn't necessarily the group itself.  It's the level of cray-cray you have to deal with if you want to associate with these particular groups.   As with any group, be it religious, political, or yes, parenting, there are a few fanatics that make the rest of the group look, well, fanatical.  Go to any parenting site and ask about any parenting subject (Really, go ahead. I'll wait right here.).  Need help thinking of a topic?  Ask about bottle vs. breast feeding.  Or cloth vs. disposable diapers.  Or whether or not to vaccinate.  If you want the mother of all drama, ask about circumcision.  Then sit back and wait for the poo-storm of accusation, debate and drama that follows.

What I don't get is the level of animosity and judgement that happens with the slightest comment.  For every article "for" this or that, you will find an article "against."  You will be accused of not loving your baby because you don't do it one way or the other.  You will be both praised and demeaned for doing exactly what you are doing, no matter what you are doing.  And what I've discovered is that most of these types of mommas are completely unaware of their, um...let's just call it exuberance that they have for their own parenting style.  The level of dedication it takes to raise a child tends to give some people tunnel vision.

And I get it!  I totally do!  Here you are, first-time parents, holding this tiny little person in your arms that is no bigger than a loaf of bread, and the realization that you are now responsible for guiding this tiny, squishy bundle of gas and drool into being some kind of a great human being suddenly hits you in the lady-bits (or nut-jar, if you're a dude) as if Luke Skywalker just fired his proton torpedos into your thermal exhaust port.   It can be just a tad overwhelming.  You read and research and debate and finally decide what is going to be right for your child, and your family, and you proceed down this windy, obstacle-filled path called parenting.  You go out looking for support and advice, and suddenly there's a large group of all-ready-did-its who start telling you that you are going about it all wrong.  Who isn't going to get their hackles up when it's your child's future on the line, and you just found out that you are Darth Vader?

Look, I'm not saying they're wrong.  I'm not saying you're wrong!  The one thing that I'm guessing every parent wants, is what's best.  Every parent wants their child to succeed.  Every parent wants their child to thrive.  Every parent sees potential in their baby, and every parent wants to unlock that potential and watch their child reach Level: Expert at Life.  It could be that your advice is the best thing to happen to the world since Joss Whedon developed the creative part of his brain.  But there are ways to go about saying things without telling a person they suck.  Most people, including me, tend to shut down and stop listening once the criticism starts.  Because criticism isn't helpful.  It's mostly mean. And critical judgmental people are not educating people.  They are hurting their cause by being Meanie McJudgersons, and letting people know that hey, we NPers over here are quite a bag of nuts!

Seriously, who wants into that club?

So can we all just take a breath and CALM DOWN before we start both asking for and doling out the advice?  Because I guarantee that providing education, without judging, will have way more effect on the people who need help than all the rants in the world.  And before you get upset over some bit of advice that a well-meaning, yet passionate advocate manages to offend you with, remind yourself that unless you are hookin' out your child in exchange for rent or crack, (in which case, I doubt you are reading any pages looking for parenting advice), you're probably doing it right.  

Let me offer up this bit of advice:

You are doin' alright, momma!  You are doin' alright, daddy!

So here's the point.  Associate with whom you want.  Follow advice, or not, based on what you decide is right for your family.  How else will you get educated and informed, if you don't go out looking for information?  If you want to label your style of parenting, do it!  If you want to take a modge-podge of different styles and blend them together to work for your family, do it!  If you feel like you have some great advice to offer to another parent, do it!  But, lets do it without all the ridiculous judgement calls and finger-pointing.  You don't know why some mommas and daddies chose to do it they way they do.  I would hope they aren't intending to mess up their kid so that they can know the joys of paying for years of therapy instead of college.  And if you feel you need to educate someone, that's totally fine!  Sometimes new parents are asking because THEY DON'T KNOW!!  But education comes with sharing information (not shoving it down people's throats), and by allowing the other person to learn and discover the answers with your help and guidance, not with your demeaning and obtuse behavior.  Kind of like raising kids.  It's super easy to forget that there are PEOPLE on the other side of that screen.

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Opposite Day Shenanigans

At one time in my life I wanted to be a writer.  Then I wanted to be a photo-journalist.  I always wanted to be a momma.  I also wanted to be a gypsy and a circus arialist. I wanted to do and try and be so many things, I got side-tracked.  For about 20 years.  Then I found, after I became a momma, that I still wanted to be the all those things I wanted to be.  Writer.  Journaler.  Photographer.  As a momma, I was all of those! (I also like to make up words, like Journaler.  I don't consider myself a Journalist.)
I read a lot of momma-type blogs.  I like to know that there are other mommas out there that are about as crazy as I am.  Although I had toyed with the idea of keeping a blog so that my family, who is spread out all over the country, could keep up with our family events, it never occurred to me to keep a momma blog until the night of the "Opposite Day Shenanigans."  I had posted the conversation on my personal Facebook page, and I was overwhelmed and surprised at the response!  The conversation with my two oldest minions went something like this:

Small Minion: Can I take the baby to bed with me?
Me: Of course you can't.
Small: Oh, good, because it's Opposite Day, so I can!
Me: But if it was Opposite Day, and you wanted to take the baby to bed, you would have to ask me if you could leave him downstairs with me.
Mini-minion: Can we leave the baby downstairs with you?
Me: Yes, of course you can.
Mini: ......So we can?
Me: Yes
Small: Wait, what does that mean in opposite?
Me: It's not Opposite Day.
Minions: What?
Me: If it was Opposite Day, you would have to say that it's NOT Opposite Day. So if you say it's Opposite Day, and it is, that means it's not Opposite Day.
Mini: But what if it's not Opposite Day?
Me: Then you say it's not Opposite Day.
(Silent Pause.......)
Small: Um, can I just go to bed?

I have to admit, that this is only one of many Opposite Day conversations.  It is, however, the only one I have "won."  If you think it's easy to "win" a "logic" conversation with a 6 & 7 year old, you don't have a 6 or 7 year old!

Regardless, having this conversation, and the subsequent response to my posting it, kind of firmed-up a thought I had been having.  One to start my own momma-blog.  Because my minions are darned funny!  And if I can help even one momma see that she is not alone on this crazy road we call parenting, then sharing my minion-stories have been a success!

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